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Apple’s latest smart device is finally available to pre-order

Apple released the first HomePod in 2018, and fans have eagerly awaited an upgrade for years. The latest HomePod promises audio-quality enhancements, Matter support and more. We interviewed our tech expert, Jaime Vazquez, to learn more about this exciting new smart speaker.

In this article: Apple HomePod (2nd Generation), Apple TV 4K (3rd Generation) and Echo Studio with Echo Sub

What you should know about the new HomePod

What happened to the original HomePod?

The original HomePod boasted incredible audio and a sleek design, but it was discontinued on March 12, 2021. Apple shifted its focus toward its HomePod Mini, but it lacked the high-end audio associated with the original HomePod.

“This is huge news for a variety of reasons,” said Vazquez. “The primary reason is that original HomePod owners can now breathe a little easier. All electronics die eventually, and the first-generation HomePods have been gone for years. Some are prone to problems or failure, and there aren’t a lot of great replacements.”

Sound quality

Apple promises the second-generation HomePod will deliver “incredible audio quality, with rich, deep bass and stunning high frequencies.” This device is built with five tweeters and an S7 chip that should help maximize the speaker’s potential.

“The second generation has fewer woofers and tweeters than the original, and there is some debate over whether this is good or bad,” Vazquez said. “That said, I trust them. The second-generation AirPods proved that Apple engineers are serious about improving audio quality and spatial audio. To me, any audio quality improvement is worth the price of admission.”

Matter support

Matter is a relatively new smart home interoperability standard that will allow devices from various brands to interact seamlessly. “In the next few years, when you buy a Matter-certified device, it doesn’t matter if it’s Google, Ring, Eufy or another manufacturer; they will all talk to whatever your platform is,” Vazquez said.

The new HomePod can connect to and control Matter-enabled devices, which is a massive win for Apple users. Historically, Apple HomeKit has had fewer compatible smart devices than its competitors; thanks to Matter, this will be a thing of the past.

Other considerations

Like its predecessor, you can connect two second-generation HomePods to create a stereo pair. Vazquez said, “The differentiator is that every other smart speaker is a great add-on for people with existing stereo setups, but a HomePod, and certainly a pair of them, are good enough to replace your existing setup.”

The second-generation HomePod has built-in temperature and humidity sensors, making it easier to create automated routines based on the room’s environment. This is a huge leap forward for smart speakers, as most require secondary smart devices to monitor a room’s environmental conditions.

The newest HomePod also features a large touch surface, making it easier to navigate. It’s illuminated from edge to edge to give it a unique aesthetic. “It feels like a work of art with the glossy top. It’s just beautiful,” said Vazquez.

Apple HomePod second generation and related products our expert recommends

Best Apple HomePod (2nd Generation)

Apple HomePod (2nd Generation)

This Matter-enabled device features high-quality audio and can be paired with other HomePods to enhance the sound and loudness. It has built-in temperature and humidity sensors. It encrypts your voice data for an added layer of security. It’s available in black or white.

Sold by Best Buy

Best Apple HomePod Mini

Apple HomePod mini

The voice-recognition features let each household member tailor their experience to them. Many were impressed with this small device’s sound quality. It can be connected to another HomePod mini to create a stereo pair. It’s available in various colors, such as black, orange and white.

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Best Apple TV 4K (3rd Generation)

Apple TV 4K (3rd Generation)

This can be used as a home hub and is compatible with HomeKit or Matter-enabled Thread accessories. It has Dolby-Atmos capabilities for enhanced sound. Many said this is the best Apple TV device yet. 

Sold by Amazon and Best Buy

Best Sonos One (Gen 2) Smart Speaker

Sonos One (Gen 2) Smart Speaker

This smart speaker’s audio quality is nearly as good as the HomePod 2nd-Gen. It works with 80 streaming services and is compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. You can pair it with a Sonos Sub for a top-notch listening experience.

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Best Apple Gift Card

Apple Gift Card

This is an excellent gift for those planning to buy the new HomePod, as it can be used for an Apple Music subscription. You can load it with up to $500 and include a gift message.

Sold by Amazon

Best Echo Studio with Echo Sub

Echo Studio with Echo Sub

When paired with the Echo Sub, the Studio’s sound quality is comparable to the HomePod 2nd Gen. You can control it with Amazon Alexa voice commands. It’s available in black or white. 

Sold by Amazon and Best Buy

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Cody Stewart writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money. 

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