This article is based on an article from the Japanese edition of Engadget and was created using the translation tool Deepl.

Apple's small HomePod mini speaker was announced at the same time as the iPhone 12 series. It's now available for pre-order and will be released on November 16. We were able to get a first-hand look at it, and here are our first impressions.

The box is also compact.

The cable grows directly from the unit. It is a thicker cable with a mesh coating to make it more durable. The connector is USB-C and comes with a 20W power adapter.

The mesh body has no joints at all. It fits in the palm of your hand, and is my personal favorite size (it's a stationary model, so no battery is built in, just in case).

Available in two colors: white and space gray

It weighs about 345 grams. Despite its appearance, it is solid and stable, and there is no need to worry about it rolling around.

If you couldn't get your hands on the original HomePod because it looked a bit awkward to place it anywhere, you'll be able to put it anywhere. Open the Apple product page on your iPhone (iOS device) and you can bring the full-size HomePod mini into the AR space (below the page). Check it out for yourself and see how it feels in your room.

Related Website: HomePod mini (Apple)

I tried it right away

Pairing HomePod mini with your iPhone takes just a second to get them close together. Immediately after that, it will be linked to a device that is tied to the same iCloud account.

From your iPhone (iOS device), you can manage it on the Home app (if you can't find it, download it again from the App Store).

We have two HomePod minis set up and installed in our trial environment, one for the entertainment room and one for the kitchen, respectively. The leftmost icon is the HomeKit-enabled Nanoleaf bulb.

The HomePod is basically controlled by voice commands to Siri. It can be done with a dialogue following the familiar "Hey Siri" and there's almost no need to learn any special commands. I'm sure there's more than one Siri in your home, and it automatically assigns priority (iPhone will respond for a moment, too, but it seems to give it to HomePod).

The reaction of the upper light is so lifelike and endearing.

Voice control of HomeKit-enabled home appliances via HomePod (e.g., "Hey Siri, make the lights brighter/darker")

There's also a control panel on top of the HomePod mini for direct touch control of music playback.

Amazingly detailed sound

First of all, I was surprised when I tried playing music with just one unit: the HomePod mini's sound emission is omnidirectional (360 degrees), with a bass unit plus a diffuser on the bottom and a full-range (mid and treble) unit on the side. And what surprised me was how clearly the bass and treble came forward, even at very low volumes. I thought this sensation was a monopoly of high-end audio, but the HomePod mini's Apple S5 chip and proprietary software work together to compensate for the sound to achieve this fine-grained sense of breakdown. It's the same machine-learning approach that's used to improve the quality of smartphone cameras these days, but it even felt like the collapse of the last bastion of digital devices that weren't suited to analog.

It's convenient to have one in the family

It's not well known, but if you have one HomePod (mini) in your home, you can have a single Apple Music account in your home for the whole family to enjoy. That's because you can play songs in Apple Music not only with the account holder's commands to Siri, but also with the voice of someone you've added to your membership in the Home app. Even if you don't use the appliance integration feature, I think it would be useful to have one in your living room.

Even if you don't have an Apple Music family account, anyone who added you as a member in the Home app can enjoy the same content on the HomePod as an Apple Music member.

Two units are even more convenient

If you have two or more HomePods, you can play a different song in each room where they're installed, control appliances, and more. You can also connect two HomePod minis to each other to create a stereo environment (the original and mini cannot be combined).

When the two HomePods are close together, a "Create Stereo Pair..." item appears in Home settings.

The left and right speaker assignments can be confirmed and changed while sounding the actual device.

The HomePod icon that appears in Home will also be one that you can see at a glance that they are paired together.

Creating a stereo pair will greatly increase the realism of the sound.

It sounds good enough on its own, but once you listen to this (stereo), there's no going back. The sound, which couldn't be more than twice as impressive as the one I heard earlier, enveloped a room in a rented apartment in a city. However, pairing and unpairing take a bit of work, so it's not practical to use it while switching between them on a daily basis.

Go to your Home settings and select "Ungroup Accessories" to undo it. When it was created, it was "Create Stereo Pair...", which may be a bit confusing (the screen is the iPad version).

If you have an audio room, it's better to create a stereo pair environment for that room.

Room-to-Room Calls on Intercom

You can even set up multiple HomePod minis, one in each room, as voice messaging devices. Say "Hey Siri, intercom" to go into intercom mode, and then say something like "dinner's ready" to send it directly to another HomePod. It's not the same as a real-time conversation, but it could be useful in a house with separate floors.

Intercom will also work with other devices logged in via iCloud, and you can get notifications wherever you are if you set it to "all locations" in your settings.

If you don't have HomePod in the room, you can still use the Intercom from another iOS device, such as the Apple Watch.

Buy one! Preferably two!!

To be honest, I didn't care much about the original HomePod, but I fell in love with the sound quality that I couldn't imagine from the mini's compact body and its versatility as an IoT hub and ease of setup in a day. For now, one unit is only $99, so I strongly recommend that you give it a try. After that, you might want to consider a second one.

Related Articles:

The HomePod mini isn't extravagant, but it's satisfying, and for just over $10,000, it's a bargain price.

Apple's HomePod mini is a smart home-oriented spherical speaker

HomePod mini can make internal calls in Intercom Mode

This article is based on an article from the Japanese edition of Engadget and was created using the translation tool Deepl. The Japanese edition of Engadget does not guarantee the accuracy or reliability of this article.