Old vs New HomePod Buyer’s Guide

First of all, following Apple’s reintroduction of the full-size HomePod, how does the new model compare to the divisive original model that the company introduced in 2017 and discontinued in 2021?

Secondly, 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.

Third, 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

  • Refined design with acoustically transparent mesh fabric
  • Larger backlit touch surface that illuminates from edge to edge, matching HomePod mini
  • S7 chip from 2021’s Apple Watch Series 7
  • U1 ultra wideband chip
  • Five horn-loaded tweeters
  • Four far-field beamforming microphones
  • 5.6 inches tall
  • Weighs 5.16 pounds
  • Removable power cable
  • Wi-Fi 4 connectivity (802.11n)
  • Thread support
  • Temperature and humidity sensor
  • Available in White and Midnight

Original HomePod

  • Design with acoustically transparent mesh fabric
  • Backlit touch surface
  • A8 chip from 2013’s iPhone 6 and ‌iPhone‌ 6 Plus
  • Seven horn-loaded tweeters
  • Six far-field beamforming microphones
  • 6.6 inches tall
  • Weighs 5.5 pounds
  • Wi-Fi 5 connectivity (802.11ac)
  • Fixed power cable
  • 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.