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$99 Speaker Showdown: HomePod Mini vs. Amazon Echo and Google Nest Audio

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Apple recently released the HomePod mini, a new $99 version of the original HomePod that's smaller, cuter, and, most importantly, competitively priced. At $99, the HomePod mini can better compete with affordable smart speakers from companies like Google and Amazon.


The HomePod mini has been praised for its high-quality sound at its price point, so we thought we'd compare it to Google's Nest Audio and Amazon's Echo to see how it measures up in terms of sound quality, design, and smarts. In the video and the photos below, the HomePod mini is the white speaker, the Amazon Echo is the black speaker, and the Google Nest Audio is the gray speaker that's taller in size.


First and foremost, the Nest Audio is priced at $99.99, and the Amazon Echo has an MSRP of $99.99, but it's currently on sale for $70, so all three speakers are available at about the same price points. We may not see the HomePod mini drop in price to Echo level anytime soon given that it was just released, so Amazon has an edge when it comes to pricing.


The Nest and the Echo are larger than the HomePod mini, but all three have a similar mesh fabric design. The Nest Audio has a tall, flat design, while the Echo and HomePod mini have a round shape.

The Echo has easy to use physical buttons, while the Nest Audio has capacitive touch controls that aren't exactly intuitive when you're first starting to use it. The HomePod mini has a little touch area at the top that supports touch gestures and lets you know when Siri's been activated.


There is no built-in microphone muting function on the HomePod mini, while both the Nest and Echo have mute switches so you can prevent them from listening to conversations if desired. The Echo has a 3.5mm headphone jack that can connect to other devices, something lacking on the HomePod mini and the Nest.

When it comes to power, the HomePod mini is the only one of the bunch that has a USB-C connector and a separate power adapter, which means it theoretically can be run off of a battery pack with a USB-C port.


As for sound quality, there's not as much difference as you might think and all three sound close to the same. At similar volumes, the HomePod mini has a more balanced sound with nothing blown out, but the Echo and the Nest deliver more bass (perhaps a little too much) and can reach higher volumes due to their larger sizes. Audio equipment inside each speaker is listed below.
  • Amazon Echo: 76mm woofer and two 20mm tweeters.
  • Nest Audio: 75mm woofer and one 19mm tweeter.
  • HomePod mini: Full range driver and dual passive radiators.
The Nest Audio and the Amazon Echo win out over the HomePod mini if you're looking for volume because they can better fill a room with sound. You can pair two HomePod minis together to ramp up the volume, but that requires another $99 investment. Even with a much smaller form factor, the HomePod mini isn't too far off from the larger speakers, and the HomePod mini's sound continues to be impressive for such a tiny device.


All of the speakers are considered smart speakers and work with Siri (HomePod mini), Google Assistant (Nest Audio), and Alexa (Amazon Echo). The speakers can be used to control smart home devices, answer questions, place calls, get news updates, check calendars, and more, so for the most part, regardless of speaker, it's going to do what most people want in a smart speaker.

The HomePod mini is limited to controlling HomeKit-enabled devices and it is not as open or compatible with as many devices as the Amazon Echo or the Google Nest. If you don't have a significant HomeKit setup, the smart home features of the HomePod mini are going to be useless.


Alexa and Google Assistant can do more than Siri and have long been considered to be better at answering queries and completing tasks than Siri. Alexa in particular is great for custom home automation workflows, but Apple's Siri is the most privacy-focused of the bunch, which is worth considering. If you just want basic smart functionality, though, any of the three speakers works well.

Amazon's Echo works with almost all music services, including Apple Music and Spotify, while the Nest Audio works with Spotify, YouTube Music, Pandora, and Deezer. The HomePod mini is designed to work with Apple Music primarily, but Apple has implemented support for third-party music services. Spotify does not work natively on the HomePod mini as of yet, but that functionality may be coming, and Amazon Music and iHeartRadio are adding support.

Right now, the HomePod mini works with Pandora as a third-party music app, and other music services need to be AirPlayed to the speaker using an iOS device.


All in all, these speakers are all fairly similar when it comes to sound and performance. Choosing between them mostly comes down to ecosystem preference. If you already have Alexa-enabled devices, the Amazon Echo is a better choice. Similarly, if you use Google Assistant, it makes sense to pick up a Nest Audio. For those in the Apple ecosystem, especially those who use Apple Music and have HomeKit setups, the HomePod mini is an ideal choice.

Which smart speaker do you prefer? Let us know in the comments.

Article Link: $99 Speaker Showdown: HomePod Mini vs. Amazon Echo and Google Nest Audio
 

FightTheFuture

macrumors 65816
Oct 19, 2003
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that town east of ann arbor
The mini is so tiny. Great to read how the reviews applaud it's fidelity in such a small package. I'm getting two for my Apple TV, but might return one if it doesn't fulfill my watching experience.
 
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rjp1

macrumors 6502
Mar 27, 2015
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I got 3 of the HomePod Mini today. I'm hoping the sound quality is better than the regular HomePod. The lack of the EQ is a huge flaw in the original HomePod. It is even more frustrating that it had an EQ and they removed it.
 
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Icculus

macrumors 6502
Jun 2, 2007
377
36
Frisco, TX
In my opinion the soundstage of the mini cannot be topped in this price category. I have had google and Alexa speakers and getting loud is not a selling point. I want my tv shows and movies to have a good soundstage and depth and the HomePod mini accomplishes that to a T. Bass? Not important for me. These are for my bedroom tv and not blasting it loud as I have kids. However the HomePod mini crushes it. I couldn’t be more impressed.

forgot to mention I do have 2 of these for stereo. And Siri for me works perfect. I only use it for basic stuff and never had a problem, and also I don’t have to yell for the HomePod to hear me unlike Alexa and google where if it’s playing music I have to yell for the speaker to hear.
 
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chelsel

macrumors 6502
May 24, 2007
442
201
I lucked out and got a HomePod mini when visiting the Apple Store. I love it. I only wish I had bought more. I also decided to try the Echo Dot 4th generation (a better comparison in my opinion) and the sound quality is absolutely terrible in comparison (the Dot is going back). That being said, Alexa is a bit smarter than Siri... if you primarily use it for music/audio and don't talk all that much to your smart speakers then I would definitely get the HomePod mini.
 
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gaximus

macrumors 65816
Oct 11, 2011
1,281
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So you can't mute the microphone on the Homepod mini, so in reality it's Apple that's "always listening" not Amazon or Google, interesting that the company that bangs on about your privacy all the time doesn't give you an option to be private 🤣
An unmuted mic doesn't mean they(Apple) are listening, it(the HomePod) listens for "Hey Siri" locally, doesn't even need an internet connection.
 
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omenatarhuri

macrumors 6502a
Feb 9, 2010
782
486
I don't think I'd want anymore microphones in my apartment, there's already so many connected gadgets everywhere.

There's been so many cases where we discuss something IRL using voice only and then start seeing related ads. It's really freakish.
 
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danmaldesign

macrumors newbie
Mar 29, 2017
18
8
*keeps it old school with his Ultimate Ears MegaBOOM 3 ... none of these speakers can match UE's fidelity ... sometimes it's important to "disconnect" and just listen to music without interruption.
 
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Hodar1

macrumors regular
The mini is so tiny. Great to read how the reviews applaud it's fidelity in such a small package. I'm getting two for my Apple TV, but might return one if it doesn't fulfill my watching experience.
I wish you luck. You may be happier taking that $200 to Costco or Sams and grabbing a screaming deal on a LG/Samsung/Sony or other Soundbar with Subwoofer. You will realize better bass response (movies have explosions, car crashes, and others with a nice rumble that neither the $99 nor the full size Homepod can match). You will also have a variety of sound settings for your theater, such as Music, Sci-Fi, Vocal, Cinema, Drama etc. None of these are available as an option with either the Homepod nor the smaller pods. What you get - is what you have.

AppleTV does have a calibration set up for the delay that is inherent in almost any home theater set up, so that is a plus. However, you may find that the AppleTV does not want to stay paired with the Homepods, and you may have to use your iPhone to re-pair them nearly every time you watch a movie.

Siri - well, it's no surprise that Siri is just pathetic. I WANT to like the Homepod product, I WISH I liked the Homepod product, but it falls so far short as a home theater device, that I just cannot recommend them as such. For the price of two, you are better off with an off-brand Soundbar w/woofer.
 
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Manwe

macrumors newbie
Feb 26, 2020
5
1
I'm looking forward to a comparison article on here that says something other than 'they do the same kinds of things... depends on which ecosystem you prefer.'
 
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falainber

macrumors 68020
Mar 16, 2016
2,345
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Wild West
The mini is so tiny. Great to read how the reviews applaud it's fidelity in such a small package. I'm getting two for my Apple TV, but might return one if it doesn't fulfill my watching experience.
I suspect that all reviewers scale their expectations of SQ based on the speaker size. So, when they say that SQ is excellent one should understand that they really mean to say "SQ is excellent for this tiny speaker". It's not wrong. One just should not expect the same SQ that large speakers can deliver.
 
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BF1M

macrumors 6502a
Nov 17, 2018
586
755
Strongly considering trading in all HomePods we have for the mini simply for the aesthetics. Their uses are 75% HomeKit commands, 15% music, 10% calls so the trade off in the quality in sound isn’t that big a deal.

Then the question becomes what do I do with the big ones?
 
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Icculus

macrumors 6502
Jun 2, 2007
377
36
Frisco, TX
Strongly considering trading in all HomePods we have for the mini simply for the aesthetics. Their uses are 75% HomeKit commands, 15% music, 10% calls so the trade off in the quality in sound isn’t that big a deal.

Then the question becomes what do I do with the big ones?
Sell to me. :)
 
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LeeW

macrumors 68020
Feb 5, 2017
2,104
3,631
Glasgow, Scotland
when the privacy difference between the 3 devices is not addressed
Privacy is what you believe in relation to what they tell you. If you believe what you are being told then make your decision based on that, if you assume there is potential in any device to collect more than claimed whether intended or not then trust none of them. The correct answer is to trust none of them.
 
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