Sonos One vs. HomePod: Which should you buy?

Sonos One

If you're subscribed to Apple Music and are looking for a speaker with built-in voice assistant support for it, get a HomePod, you'll love it. But if you're looking for something that can work with most music services (including Apple Music), features a versatile voice assistant, and still sounds great, the Sonos One is for you.

The big differences

Between the Sonos One and the HomePod, the biggest factors for most people are sound quality and price. There are virtual assistant capabilities to consider, but we'll focus on sound quality and price primarily as both products seem to be designed as speakers first, and assistants-in-cans second.

Looking at sound quality alone, I'd have to pick the HomePod. Computational audio does a lot of excellent work to get that tiny speaker to fill a room, and the sound the HomePod produces is outstanding. Yes, only Apple Music support is built in right now, but with AirPlay 2, that's not as big of a hurdle as it would have been even a year ago.

But then there's the other major factor: price. For the sound quality you get, it's hard to beat the Sonos One at that price. At $199, it's $150 cheaper than the HomePod. Does the HomePod sound $150 better? That depends on the person. As someone who owns a HomePod, it sounds wonderful. While the Sonos One doesn't sound quite as good, but it still sounds great, and it's probably good enough for most people.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 Sonos OneApple HomePod
Size4.8" x 4.8" x 6.4"5.6" x 5.6" x 6.8"
Voice controlYesYes
Virtual AssistantAlexaSiri
Multiroom audioYes (Sonos, AirPlay 2)Yes (AirPlay 2)
BluetoothNoYes (not for music playback)
Smart home controlYesYes (HomeKit)
Line outNoNo

Pictured: HomePod speaker

Pictured: HomePod speaker

If we look at the virtual assistants packed into these speakers — Alexa for Sonos One and Siri for HomePod — some important differences manifest themselves. Both assistants have similar base capabilities, answering questions about the weather, setting timers, letting you set reminders and calendar events, and more. Both also allow you to control various smart home devices with your voice. However, Alexa has thousands of skills available from developers all over the world, turning it into an assistant capable of so much more than Siri on the HomePod. Because though Siri for iPhone and iPad has seen its abilities expand exponentially with the launch of Shortcuts, those Shortcuts don't run natively on Siri on the HomePod, but instead, run on your iPhone if you trigger them using your HomePod.

While Siri is a great Apple Music assistant, music is where another advantage of Sonos One comes to light. In addition to Amazon Music, you can set up other music services with Alexa, including Spotify, Tidal, and Deezer (Apple Music also recently came to Alexa, but it's restricted to Echo devices for now). So in addition to whatever streaming service you already have linked to Sonos, you can command others using Alexa. This is something that Siri can't do just yet. Hopefully, Apple will add this capability one day, but for right now, because of this limitation, the Sonos One is the best pick for use with most music services.

The bottom line is this: the HomePod is great for Apple Music subscribers, and I highly recommend it. It's the better-sounding of the two speakers. That being said, most people should get the Sonos One right now. It has the more capable assistant and natively supports more music services.

The HomePod beats the Sonos One when it comes to sound, but the Sonos One still sounds great and is much less expensive than the HomePod. Most people should probably get the Sonos One. Getting a bundle of two, which you can then stereo pair, actually only costs about $30 more than getting one HomePod. However, if you're already all-in on Apple products, you might still want to consider a HomePod. It really does sound amazing.

Joseph Keller

Joseph Keller is the former Editor in Chief of iMore. An Apple user for almost 20 years, he spends his time learning the ins and outs of iOS and macOS, always finding ways of getting the most out of his iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Mac.