Old vs. New HomePod Buyer's Guide

Following Apple's reintroduction of the full-size HomePod earlier this year, how does the new model compare to the divisive original model that the company introduced in 2017 and discontinued in 2021?

HomePod Gen 1 vs 2 Feature
The new ‌HomePod‌ is priced at $299. The original model debuted at a $349 price point, before being dropped to $299 in 2019. Following a period of appreciation last year, prices for the original ‌HomePod‌ on sites like eBay are now falling and it may still be possible to pick up a unit at a price well below $299.

First-time ‌HomePod‌ customers, those considering upgrading from the original, or anyone considering adding another ‌HomePod‌ to their setup to create a stereo pair may be wondering whether it is worth buying an original model or the new one, so it is important to weigh up exactly what was added with the reintroduced ‌HomePod‌.

See the detailed breakdown below for each new feature, change, and improvement that was added with the new ‌HomePod‌ compared to the original model:

New ‌HomePod‌ Original ‌HomePod‌
Refined design with acoustically transparent mesh fabric Design with acoustically transparent mesh fabric
Larger backlit touch surface that illuminates from edge to edge Backlit touch surface
S7 chip from 2021's Apple Watch Series 7 A8 chip from 2013's iPhone 6 and ‌iPhone‌ 6 Plus
U1 ultra wideband chip
Five horn-loaded tweeters Seven horn-loaded tweeters
Four far-field beamforming microphones Six far-field beamforming microphones
6.6 inches tall 6.8 inches tall
Weighs 5.16 pounds Weighs 5.5 pounds
Passive cooling Active cooling
Removable power cable Fixed power cable
Wi-Fi 4 connectivity (802.11n) Wi-Fi 5 connectivity (802.11ac)
Thread support
Temperature and humidity sensor
Sound Recognition
Available in White and Midnight Available in White and Space Gray

Final Thoughts

If you already have an original ‌HomePod‌, most users will not gain much by replacing it with a new model. In fact, in some senses, the new ‌HomePod‌ is a step back from the original, with fewer tweeters, microphones, and downgraded support for Wi-Fi 4. The original ‌HomePod‌ still receives software updates with new features and improvements, and the new model is unlikely to sound better owing to its scaled down audio hardware, so you may be better off waiting for your current ‌HomePod‌ to reach the end of its usable life before upgrading to a future HomePod model that has more to offer.

A minority of users who specifically want a better handoff experience with the U1 chip, the temperature and humidity sensor for smart home automations, Thread support, and perhaps even the new Midnight color option and tweaked aesthetic may have justifiable reasons to upgrade – but this certainly won't be the case for most existing ‌HomePod‌ owners.

  • Original ‌HomePod‌ user: Don't upgrade to new ‌HomePod‌ unless you want specific new features
  • Original ‌HomePod‌ user looking to create stereo pair: Get discounted original model or buy two new models
  • Prospective ‌HomePod‌ customer: Buy new ‌HomePod‌, don't buy discounted original model

The new ‌HomePod‌ cannot be stereo-paired with the original model, so if your intention in buying another ‌HomePod‌ is to create one, you will need to track down another original model. If you can afford it, it may be easier to simply replace your original ‌HomePod‌ with a new one and create a whole new stereo pair with two of the reintroduced models.

If you are simply looking to add a ‌HomePod‌ to your smart home and audio setup, it will be much better to get the new model over the original. The new model offers improved performance, a significantly better handoff experience, a more modern design, is unlikely to sound much different from the original model, and should have much better longevity.

Related Roundup: HomePod
Buyer's Guide: HomePod (Buy Now)

Top Rated Comments

WiiDSmoker Avatar
11 months ago
How can you do a comparison when the focal point about the HomePod is sound and you don’t know if it sounds different yet or not with less speakers
Score: 82 Votes (Like | Disagree)
DMG35 Avatar
11 months ago
Apple’s iPod HiFi still sounds better than all of the HomePods.



Attachment Image
Score: 46 Votes (Like | Disagree)
RamGuy Avatar
11 months ago
WiFi-4/802.11n is most likely a result of migrating from the Apple A8 SoC to the Apple S7 SIP, and the Apple S7 SIP was just a rebranded Apple S6 SIP, it features the same model number T8301. The WiFi chipset is integrated into the SIP package so it makes little sense for Apple to go with a dedicated WiFi chipset when adopting the Apple S6/S7 SIP as it already features WiFi-4/802.11n 2.4GHz and 5GHz integrated into the package. That would just add to the cost and increase power usage for no apparent gain. It's not like wireless streaming of music, even if you do HiFi Lossless it going to saturate WiFi-4/802.11n throughput. I'm also pretty certain Apple has made updates to both watchOS and audioOS to ensure that even when utilising WiFi-4/802.11n the WiFi firmware still supports modern security enhancements such as WPA-3 encryption etc. This was never required as a part of the WiFi-4/802.11n standard, but is something you want to have in 2023 so you don't have to still make WPA-2 encryption available just to have WiFi compatible with your Apple Watch and HomePods.

But this new HomePod sure is disappointing. As an owner of six OG HomePods, I do love their sound quality. This new model doesn't seem to offer any benefits whatsoever over the original one besides humidity and temperature sensor and support for Thread. The fact that they've decided to scale back on the number of tweeters and microphones has me somewhat sceptical about it sounding as good. My biggest problem with all of this is how it ends up being more expensive in my country compared to what I paid for any of my OG HomePods. Sure we are seeing massive inflation and whatnot, but considering the major complaint about the OG HomePod was the price it feels strange to me to have a new model that seems like a slight downgrade in many areas costing more.

My biggest fear is that Apple will drop support for the OG HomePod to force people over to the new model. Wouldn't be surprised if audioOS 17 will never be available for the OG HomePod, even though there is no technical reason for it being dropped dead in the water considering its SoC and hardware. There is nothing with the Apple S6/S7 SIP that makes it superior to the Apple A8 SoC. The transition makes perfect sense, it's not like the HomePod needs anything more than the Apple S6/S7 SIP and it doesn't make sense for Apple to continue using the Apple A8 SoC in 2023. A move to Apple A12, A13, A14 or A15 wouldn't make sense as there is no need for such performance in this device. But I'd bet they'll somehow spin this in a way claiming that the OG HomePod can't run audioOS 17 as a result of it's dating Apple A8 SoC..
Score: 28 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Kylo83 Avatar
11 months ago
So silly them releasing it’s they stopped it because no one was buying it for that price and now they just re release it for the same price
Score: 28 Votes (Like | Disagree)
vinay427 Avatar
11 months ago
The Wi-Fi was downgraded from Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) in the original model to Wi-Fi 4 (802.11n) in the new model?

I thought this was an error but it appears to match Apple’s specification listing ('https://www.apple.com/uk/homepod-2nd-generation/specs/') as well.
Score: 25 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Sydnxt Avatar
11 months ago
Technically speaking, the original did have a removable power cable.
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

iOS 17

26 New Things Your iPhone Can Do With Next Month's iOS 17.2 Update

Wednesday November 22, 2023 10:57 pm PST by
Apple made the first beta of iOS 17.2 available to developers in October. Since then we've seen two more betas, and with each iteration Apple continues to add more new features and changes, many of which users have been anticipating for quite a while. Below, we've listed 26 new things that are coming to your iPhone when the finalized version is publicly released in December. 1. Help You...
Apple Watch Series 9

5 Reasons to Wait for Next Year's Apple Watch

Friday November 24, 2023 3:46 am PST by
With all the discounted deals on Apple tech currently available, you might be thinking about upgrading your Apple Watch or buying one for the first time. But if your current smartwatch is doing its job just fine and it's only the idea of a good deal that's piqued your interest, it could be worth holding out until next year when Apple unveils its latest and greatest version. There are already ...
best early black friday iphone 2

The Best Cyber Monday iPhone Deals

Friday November 24, 2023 5:16 am PST by
Black Friday is over and Cyber Monday has arrived, and discounts are still available on the iPhone 15, iPhone 15 Plus, iPhone 15 Pro, and iPhone 15 Pro Max. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running. Best iPhone and Accessory Deals iPhone 15 Pro/Pro Max...
iOS 18 Mock Feature Baubles

iOS 18: All the Rumors and Known Features So Far

Thursday November 23, 2023 6:50 am PST by
iOS 18 is still over seven months away from being announced, but there are already a few rumors and expectations for the software update. iOS 18 should be announced at Apple's annual developers conference WWDC next June, and released to all users with a compatible iPhone in September. Below, we recap all of the rumors and information pertaining to the update so far. "Major New Features" ...
General Black Friday Deals 2022 Green

40+ Apple Black Friday Deals Still Available for AirPods, iPhone, iPad and More

Friday November 24, 2023 5:01 am PST by
Black Friday 2023 has officially ended, but we're still tracking some of the best deals of the year on Apple products like AirPods, iPad, iPhone, MacBook, and many more. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running. Specifically, in this article we're...
ipad mini 2021 youtube

What to Expect From the Next iPad Mini Later in 2024

Friday November 24, 2023 1:00 pm PST by
Over 800 days have passed since Apple last updated the iPad mini, as outlined in the MacRumors Buyer's Guide. Fortunately, a new iPad mini is rumored to be released next year, and we have outlined what to expect from the device below. Apple released the current iPad mini in September 2021, with new features at the time including a larger 8.3-inch display, a USB-C port, a Touch ID power...