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iPhone 14 review: Is good enough good enough?

At a glanceExpert's Rating ProsAction Mode is brilliantFaster low light shots so you don’t have to hold the iPhone still for as longConsPrice increase in many parts of the worldNo Dynamic Island or always-on displayFew changes as compared to the now cheaper iPhone 13Our VerdictThe iPhone 14 has enough new features to make it an excellent choice if you are looking to upgrade from an older iPhone. While it’s not a huge leap up from the previous model, the new camera features will be enough to make iPhone 13 users jealous. Best Prices Today: Apple iPhone 14 128 GB mitternacht Retailer Price €999.00 View Deal €999.00 View Deal €999.00 View Deal €999.00 View Deal €999.00 View Deal €999.00 View Deal €999.00 View Deal €1069.00 View Deal Price comparison from over 24,000 stores worldwide View more prices The iPhone 14 is basically an iPhone 13s. It features a very similar processor and has a very similar appearance as the previous generation, but like the S iPhones of old offers a bunch of new camera features that improve photography in impressive ways. Starting at $799, the iPhone 14 costs the same as the iPhone 13 in the U.S.—though if you live elsewhere you will be paying more. In the U.K. for example the iPhone 14 costs £849 while the iPhone 13 was £779. This bump in price means the standard iPhone is less affordable than it was for many, and when you consider you could save $100/£100 by buying a new iPhone 13, the question is: Do the new features justify the price? What’s new (and what’s the same) With the arrival of the iPhone 14, Apple has increased the gap between the standard and Pro iPhones. This year nearly all the headline features are absent from the iPhone 14. This doesn’t mean that the iPhone 14 isn’t a good choice, it just means that you’re sacrificing more by going with the lower model. One thing you won’t be sacrificing is the notch. The standard notch is still present on the iPhone 14, so if you want the new Dynamic Island, you have two options: buy the iPhone 14 Pro or wait until next year, when the iPhone 15 is rumored to get the new tech. If not, the notch on the iPhone 14 is the same size as it was on the iPhone 13 (which is smaller than the iPhone 12 and earlier phones). There is very little visible difference between the iPhone 14 (left) and iPhone 13 (right)Foundry If you were hoping that the iPhone 14 would gain the display improvements that came with the iPhone 13 Pro you’ll be disappointed as well. ProMotion arrived on the iPhone 13 Pro but it’s still not a feature of the iPhone 14. Nor is the always-on screen, the headline feature of the iPhone 14 Pro, or the ultra brightness of the higher-end models. 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The HomePod was discontinued after just three years on the market, but Apple isn’t giving up on its smart speaker ambitions. Released in 2020 alongside the iPhone 12, the HomePod mini was meant to be a smaller alternative to Apple’s high-priced, high-fidelity speaker, but now it’s the only game in town. And if you want to set up a Siri-based smart home, it’s essential.

The latest news and rumors

An August report by Mark Gurman of Bloomberg states that Apple is working on a few new smart devices, but he did not say anything in regards to the HomePod mini. Apple may be releasing a new full-sized HomePod for 2023, as well as a speaker with an iPad-like display and an Apple TV with a camera, both for 2024.

Size and design

The HomePod mini still has the mesh grill exterior available in space gray or white, but it has an entirely different shape than the HomePod. It’s a sphere rather than a cylinder, and its look is somewhat reminiscent of the mesh-protected apples you might find at the supermarket and isn’t much bigger. The HomePod mini measures 3.3 inches tall, less than half the height of the HomePod, but it feels even smaller than that in person. The entire top is a display, but it’s mainly for Siri and status lights and can be hard to see from across the room. Like the original HomePod, the mini’s cord is permanently attached and somewhat inflexible, but no matter where you put your HomePod mini, it’s certainly a statement piece.

Speakers and microphones

While it might look small and unpowered, the HomePod mini is actually just as capable as the larger model, while its size means that it has fewer speakers and microphones than the larger model. As Apple describes, the HomePod mini has a “full-range driver, powered by a neodymium magnet and a pair of force-canceling passive radiators,” but its sound isn’t nearly as deep as the larger HomePod. It’s particularly lacking in bass, which was the original HomePod’s strongest suit, but the mini is still plenty powerful enough to fill a room with sound, especially if you pick up a pair of them and set them up as stereo speakers on an iOS device or Apple TV.

Since the HomePod mini is a Siri device, it has three microphones that are always listening for voice prompts, as well as an internal mic to help isolate the speaker’s sound so it can hear the “Hey Siri” command even while playing music. Apple uses the S5 chip to process the sound, the same processor in the Apple Watch SE.

Like the HomePod, the HomePod mini plays 360-degree audio.

Even with a pair of speakers, however, the HomePod mini doesn’t support Dolby Atmos, Dolby Digital 7.1, or Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound like the larger HomePod.

Apple Music and other streaming services

The HomePod mini greatest strength is playing music, and if you’re an Apple Music subscriber, it’s an excellent companion. It also works well with the Apple Podcasts app, and radio stations from iHeartRadio, Radio.com, and TuneIn. During the HomePod mini announcement, Apple teased support for third-party music services, but so far only Pandora is supported. The Google Home and Amazon Echo both support Amazon Music and Spotify, so it stands to reason that more services are on the way.

Siri

Like the full-sized HomePod, HomePod mini relies on Siri as its main interface, using voice commands to play music and podcasts, control smart home devices, and answer general knowledge questions. You can also use Siri for personal updates, such as asking about your schedule, the weather, traffic, and reminders as well as any Siri Shortcuts made on your iPhone or iPad.

If you plug HomePod in with a power adapter that isn’t 20W or higher, it’ll get angry.

Michael Simon/IDG

Apple continues to protect your privacy while using Siri. Siri requests are sent to Apple’s servers only when Siri is activated, and those requests are not associated with your Apple ID. Apple also says it does not sell your personal information to third parties. It does, however, store some anonymous audio recordings to improve the accuracy of Siri, but you can opt-out in the Privacy tab in Settings on your iPhone. You can also delete your entire Siri history in the same tab.

Home hub

Apple lets you set up a device as a home hub to control HomeKit devices remotely from a central location, and the HomePod mini is the most economical of the options. And the beauty of it is you don’t actually have to do anything to set it up. Once you sign into your iCloud account, your HomePod mini will automatically set up as a home hub so anything you add to the Home app will be able to be controlled when you’re not around. You’ll also be able to create scenes and automations based on time or location that do things like turn on the lights when you get home or shut them off with a simple command.

Your HomePod mini is a small but powerful hub for your Apple smart home.

Michael Simon/IDG

Intercom

In addition to playing music and summoning Siri, HomePod has a nifty Intercom feature that lets you send and receive messages from one HomePod mini to another, or an iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple Watch, and CarPlay-connected car. When you ask Siri to “Intercom” or “ask everyone,” it will display an alert on all available devices with Intercom turned on and provide an audio recording that can be played. Oddly, the Mac isn’t part of the Intercom feature.

An Intercom message is sent to other HomePod minis, as well as your devices.

U1 Ultra-wideband chip

The HomePod mini has Apple’s U1 chip, which provides the device with ultra-wideband, a radio communication technology that uses very little power, works in a short range and has a high bandwidth. The U1 allows for some cool iPhone tricks as well. You can “hand off” music playback from your iPhone to the new HomePod, as well as receive pop-up media controls without having to unlock your ‌iPhone‌. You can also get personalized listening suggestions as well as visual, audible, and haptic effects when transferring sound between devices.

But Apple likely has much bigger plans for the U1 chip. It could create an API that lets smart device makers tap into the U1 chip and create automations and interactions that don’t need an app to be installed. Or it could tap into Siri Shortcuts to generate room-based responses and actions from HomeKit devices without calling on Siri to act. There are lots that Apple can do with the HomePod mini’s U1 chip, so we’ll have to wait and see what arrives in future updates.

With its U1 support, you can hand off audio from your iPhone to the HomePod mini.

However, to use these features, you’ll need devices that are equipped with the U1, according to Apple’s HomePod mini website. That means you need an iPhone 11 or later. Older iPhones won’t be able to perform these features.

Apple

Price, availability, and device compatibility

The HomePod mini is $99 USD, and is available in space gray, white, blue, yellow, and orange.

HomePod mini is compatible with the following devices:

iPhone 6s or lateriPhone SEiPod touch (7th generation) running iOS 14iPad Pro, iPad (5th generation or later)iPad Air 2 or lateriPad mini 4 or later running iPadOS 14Conclusion

If you’re looking to set up an Apple smart home, there are three options for a hub—an iPad, Apple TV, and HomePod mini. At $99, the HomePod mini is the most economical of the bunch and it’s a smart speaker, so you can ask it to perform actions and routines just like an Amazon Echo device. HomeKit devices are becoming cheaper and more prevalent, so setting up an Apple smart home is easier than ever especially with a HomePod mini to control it all. It doesn’t sound as good as the original HomePod, but it’s still better than an Echo Dot, and for $99, it’s a must-have device.

HomePod mini

Read our review

Best Prices Today:

$99.00 at Adorama |
$99.00 at Apple |
$99.99 at Best Buy

Consumer Electronics, HomePod, Smart Appliances, Smart Home, Speakers