While there's no doubt in my mind that the HomePod mini is the best smart speaker for a lot of people, I wasn't sure it was going to be for me. But, when the orders went live, and I didn't have enough money to buy a new iPhone this year, I ended up purchasing a HomePod mini as a bit of retail therapy.
When it arrived at my home, I eagerly opened it up, plugged it in, and just stared at it. I almost instantly regretted my purchase because I know that I barely will use a fraction of its actual features. Nevertheless, I have been using it for months now, and I can't imagine my life without it.
My dumb home
For some context, let's talk about how dumb my home is — spoiler alert — it's pretty dumb.
I live in a relatively small one-bedroom apartment. Although I am an avid Apple user, meaning I have an iPhone, MacBook Air, and Apple TV, I have absolutely no HomeKit accessories at all. No smart lights, security cameras, nothing.
On top of that, I only bought one single HomePod mini. That means no stereo sound and no intercom use (duh). However, over the past couple of months, I have come to love this little speaker. I agree with most points that our writer Stephen Warwick made in his HomePod mini review, about its strengths and weaknesses, but I have loved having one in my home.
Music to my ears
Obviously, having no smart home equipment means I mainly use the HomePod mini as a speaker. Whether I'm just playing my favorite playlist from Apple Music, taking a phone call, or using AirPlay to play YouTube videos from my MacBook Air, my HomePod mini is regularly playing sound. And, I've been impressed with the HomePod mini sound quality. It's certainly loud enough to fill my entire apartment with sound and never seems to crack or distort the low or high tones in any music I have listened to. I have tried many small portable Bluetooth speakers over the years, and a ton of them are around the price range of the HomePod mini, and the HomePod mini holds its own against most of them.
Of course, the HomePod mini needs to be plugged into an outlet, unlike a portable Bluetooth Speaker, which excels at being able to go with you, which makes it perfect for taking with you to a party even on a camping trip. But, as a reliable speaker to use in your home, the HomePod mini will serve you well.
Siri feels like a roommate
While I was happy to use my HomePod mini as a speaker, I was delighted to have Siri be more present in my home. I have been using iPhones since Siri came out, and I'm no stranger to Siri's limitations and usefulness. It was a different experience getting used to my HomePod answering rather than my phone.
Suddenly, Siri felt more present and more accessible than ever before. When I'm in my bedroom, and I shout, "Hey, Siri, what's the weather like today?" down the hall, I can hear the response loud and clear. Plus, the HomePod mini has an incredible array of microphones that allow it to listen to you better, so when I'm calling Siri from another room, it responses with the right answer.
It's the added functionality that I didn't even know I was getting that makes simple tasks so much better on the HomePod mini rather than just your iPhone. You know, those mundane things like adding something to my calendar, setting a timer for the laundry, or even asking for a word translation. It's something you have to experience to understand fully, but it's lovely.
Is the HomePod mini worth it in a dumb home?
I have loved every minute with my HomePod mini, and I'm certainly glad I bought it — however, my experience is somewhat niche. Having absolutely no smart home accessories that are compatible with HomeKit, and only have a single HomePod mini means I'm barely experiencing even half of what the HomePod mini offers. Plus, since it is a smart home speaker, it's not meant to be carried around with you everywhere you go like the best Bluetooth speakers for iPhone, iPad, and Mac.
That being said, it is a great sounding speaker, and it's probably the best Siri experience I have ever had on an Apple product. If you happen to be in the market for a speaker to use in your small home, or even just a room in your home, then you could do a lot worse than the HomePod mini.
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Luke Filipowicz has been a writer at iMore, covering Apple for nearly a decade now. He writes a lot about Apple Watch and iPad but covers the iPhone and Mac as well. He often describes himself as an "Apple user on a budget" and firmly believes that great technology can be affordable if you know where to look. Luke also heads up the iMore Show — a weekly podcast focusing on Apple news, rumors, and products but likes to have some fun along the way.
Luke knows he spends more time on Twitter than he probably should, so feel free to follow him or give him a shout on social media @LukeFilipowicz.