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
17 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
17 months ago
Apple’s iPod HiFi still sounds better than all of the HomePods.

Attachment Image
Score: 46 Votes (Like | Disagree)
RamGuy Avatar
17 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
17 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
17 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
17 months ago
Technically speaking, the original did have a removable power cable.
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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