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Apple's new HomePod is late to the smart speaker market, which is already crowded with speakers from companies like Amazon, Google, and Sonos. The latter two companies, Google and Sonos, have released speakers with high-quality sound and robust voice assistants, giving the HomePod some serious competition.

We decided to pit Apple's $349 HomePod against both the $399 Google Home Max, which comes with Google Assistant, and the $199 Alexa-powered Sonos One to see how the HomePod measures up.


To compare the three speakers, we focused on design, sound quality, and the overall performance of Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant.

When it comes to design -- and this is certainly subjective -- we preferred the look of the HomePod with its fabric-wrapped body and small but solid form factor. The Sonos One looks a little more dated with its squarer body and standard speaker mesh, while the Google Home Max has a much larger footprint that's going to take up more space.

homepoddesign-800x450.jpg
Apple's HomePod​

All three offer touch-based controls at the top of the device, but the Google Home Max has one design edge - a USB-C port and a 3.5mm audio jack for connecting external music sources. The Sonos One has a single Ethernet port, while the HomePod has no ports.

Though we liked the HomePod's design, Siri, as you might expect, did not perform as well as Alexa on Sonos One or Google Assistant on Google Home Max.

googlehomemax-800x450.jpg
Google Home Max

On questions like "Is Pluto a planet?" or "What's the fastest car?" both Alexa and Google Assistant were able to provide satisfactory answers, while Siri said those weren't questions that could be answered on HomePod.

Siri was not able to sing happy birthday, create a calendar event, or even provide the release date of the HomePod itself, directing users to Apple.com for more information, while the other smart assistants were able to do these things.

Apple execs have said in the past that Siri was not engineered to be Trivial Pursuit, but it would be nice if Siri had a more competitive feature set.

Though only briefly touched on in the video, Siri does, in fact, do well with HomeKit commands and controlling music playback on the HomePod through an accompanying Apple Music subscription.

sonosone-800x450.jpg
Sonos One​

Sound quality is a controversial topic because there's a heavy amount of personal preference involved when judging these three speakers. We thought the HomePod sounded the best, with the Google Home Max at a close second, followed by the Sonos One.

The Google Home Max gets the loudest, but sound becomes somewhat distorted at the highest volumes, while the Sonos One offers robust sound that's not quite as good at a lower price point. HomePod does have one major benefit: a fantastic microphone that picks up Siri commands even when you're across the room.

All three of these speakers offer great sound, and if you're attempting to pick one based on reviews, make sure to read several. We thought the HomePod sounded best, but other sources, like Consumer Reports and Yahoo's David Pogue found that the Google Home Max and the Sonos One sounded better than the HomePod.

homepodgooglehomemaxsonosone-800x450.jpg

So which speaker is better? The answer to that question depends on the other products you own. If you're an Apple Music subscriber with a HomeKit setup, the HomePod is going to work great. It only works natively with Apple Music, iTunes Match, and iTunes purchases, so if you have a Spotify subscription, for example, support isn't as robust.

For that reason, if you're not locked into Apple's ecosystem already, or if you have Apple devices but subscribe to Spotify, HomePod probably isn't the best choice for you.

Article Link: Smart Speaker Showdown: HomePod vs. Google Home Max vs. Sonos One
 

Bill Killer

macrumors 6502
Dec 29, 2011
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I know this comparison is meant more from the perspective of audiophiles, but HomePod isn’t even an option until Harmony Hub is added as a integrated option.
 
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maflynn

macrumors Haswell
May 3, 2009
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Regardless of the comparisons, I'm really happy with what I have and that's the bottom line. Some will like the Sonos, other the Google speaker. For me the HomePod fits my needs/wants
[doublepost=1519154412][/doublepost]I have to mute my HomePod when I watch these videos, since Siri tends to wake up
 

Stella

macrumors G3
Apr 21, 2003
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A nice, non bias overview of the three products.


Apple execs have said in the past that Siri was not engineered to be Trivial Pursuit, but it would be nice if Siri had a more competitive feature set.


Probably a limitation of Siri I imagine at the moment. If Siri was able to answer such "Trivial Pursuit" questions, Apple would be advertising the fact, heavily.

The article did miss the fact that the Google and Amazon devices can be used with IFTTT workflows, and others, which is great for building custom workflows / extending the capability set, but I imagine Homepod cannot do so yet?
 

Legionnaire

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Oct 10, 2011
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It seems to me that Siri came long before the other two assistants. You’d think by this point it would be way ahead, but it’s way behind. I’m guessing Apple is aware of this and that’s the reason it’s being marketed primarily as a music speaker.

Its because from what I understand, Siri all questions and data from it is private, not farmed out. Google etc. farms and it grows. So Siri slower progression.
 
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Stella

macrumors G3
Apr 21, 2003
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I know this comparison is meant more from the perspective of audiophiles, but HomePod isn’t even an option until Harmony Hub is added as a integrated option.

Thats something Logitech has to add, and it costs more $$$ to get devices certified to work with Home Kit?

It's free to add a device to Google Assistant / Amazon?
 

pradeepbabloo

macrumors member
Mar 1, 2016
86
386
I absolutely love my Homepod.
- Super simple to setup (I remember it took a lot of steps to setup Echo Dot).
- Amazing sound, with very less footprint.
- Siri does respond even at high volumes. I had to literally scream at Alexa to listen to me.
- Both Sonos and Google Home Max are ugly looking for me!

However, Siri can improve the abilities.
 

mi7chy

macrumors G4
Oct 24, 2014
10,495
11,155
Based on listening to the video the Google Home Max is the only one that doesn't sound like it's in an echo chamber. However, I'm not yet sold on these stand alone home assistants when they seen redundant and less versatile than using a phone or tablet but if I were to receive one as a gift I'd pick the Google Home Max. If it's going to add clutter it'd better sound great and have smarts.
 
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1JPK1

macrumors newbie
Feb 12, 2018
3
12
I would recommend the "What HIFI" review for people who care about the audio part, as reviewers there are used to listening to high quality audio equipment (being used to what good audio sounds like makes a difference in judging audio equipment just like when you have heard a real good violin or piano, you know better how to judge other violins or pianos you play on or hear).
 

dtb200

macrumors newbie
Oct 28, 2016
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Constructive criticism - the volume on your video is way too low. Otherwise, thank you for the review
 
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ApfelKuchen

macrumors 601
Aug 28, 2012
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Between the coasts
(emphasis added) On questions like "Is Pluto a planet?" or "What's the fastest car?" both Alexa and Google Assistant were able to provide satisfactory answers, while Siri said those weren't questions that could be answered on HomePod.

Siri was not able to sing happy birthday, create a calendar event, or even provide the release date of the HomePod itself, directing users to Apple.com for more information, while the other smart assistants were able to do these things.

Apple execs have said in the past that Siri was not engineered to be Trivial Pursuit, but it would be nice if Siri had a more competitive feature set.

Though only briefly touched on in the video, Siri does, in fact, do well with HomeKit commands and controlling music playback on the HomePod through an accompanying Apple Music subscription.

Isn't part of a review supposed to be a test of what a product is designed to do? Over and again, the HomePod reviews focus on HomePod's Siri command set, and make its effectiveness at executing its designed command set a footnote.

And if you are going to make a statement like,
The Google Home Max gets the loudest, but sound becomes somewhat distorted at the highest volumes, while the Sonos One offers robust sound that's not quite as good at a lower price point. HomePod does have one major benefit: a fantastic microphone that picks up Siri commands even when you're across the room.
, shouldn't the microphone comment be part of the section reviewing Siri performance, rather than buried the section evaluating speaker performance? I'd think the ability to "hear" commands would be a primary review criterion, rather than a footnote shoveled off into a corner.
 
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