Gift guide: Apple’s HomePod Mini is the perfect Christmas gift for smart home beginners

This stylish home hub takes care of music and productivity

Gift guide: Apple’s HomePod mini is the perfect Christmas gift for smart home beginners
(Image credit: Apple)

Apple’s HomePod mini may look like a futuristic nick-nack or a fancy room diffuser, but those lucky enough to receive one this Christmas will soon discover it packs a punch as speaker and smart home device to make life a little easier.

Despite measuring just 8.5cm tall, the pretty gadget, which is available in black or white – can fill a room with music, control a smart home and can do all sorts of useful things, like add items to a shopping list, control a smart home appliance and answer burning questions like, who first played Santa in a film.

It’s a great option for someone who would like to make their home smarter, and so far, the reviews, like the top of the rainbow-hued hub – are dazzling. 

Who's it for?

Apple aficionados: The HomePod mini works effortlessly with Apple devices, so it’s a great pick for people who have iPads, Macs and iPhones galore. The gadget means they could pick up an incoming call from their iPhone, listen to music on their Mac, or upgrade the sound from their Apple TV by connecting to the HomePod mini. 

Music fans: Despite its diminutive size, the HomePod mini can fill a medium-sized room with rich sound, making streaming music sound better. Users can access streaming services easily and control what they listen to via Siri. Furthermore, iPhone owners who need to pop out mid-way through an album or podcast can keep on listening without missing a beat simply by bringing their phone close to the hub, which is a rather neat feature. There are also new personalised listening suggestions coming soon, which is lovely for people who want to discover new music.

People who need help getting organised: We all know someone who is always late or is continually in a panic thanks to their woeful ability to keep on top of things. This little smart speaker could help, by letting them add to a shopping list or calendar entry using Siri, or control smart appliances. It’s simple to use and can be set up to meet their needs.

Best smart speakers HomePod mini

(Image credit: Apple)

Age range:

There's no official age range for the Apple HomePod mini. Like all gadgets that rely on voice control, it’s not unusual for kids to be able to use them, but this is intended for older teens and adults.

What makes it the ideal Christmas gift?

Good looks: As you might expect from an Apple product, the HomePod mini is designed to look good. Its elegant shape is wrapped in a perfectly seamless mesh, while a backlit Touch surface on the top provides quick control. Best of all, at just 8.5cm tall, it doesn’t take up much room but can still fill a room with sound. 

Great sound: The device acts as a smart and great quality speaker, offering 360-degree rich sound, but adding more devices makes things more interesting. For example, owners of a HomePod mini could add some more around the house to create a connected sound system for their whole home. This means they could ask Siri to play one song everywhere – which would be ideal for parties – or a different song in each room, which would be a big win for families. They could even use them as an intercom system. Or, users could create a stereo pair by placing two HomePod mini speakers in the same room to create left and right channels for watching films.

Home help: Users can control their HomePod mini and get it to help with lots of everyday tasks by talking to it, using Siri. This means they could control smart appliances, play songs or add to calendars or lists. The clever device recognises the voices of up to six family members, so there’s no confusion when sending messages or adding events to calendars, and no excuse for everyone not doing their share of the chores.

Simplicity: Apple is known for its intuitive user interfaces and the HomePod mini is no exception. During set up, the device is automatically added to the Home app and users can control all its functions with their voice. Users can control it remotely, which might be handy of they have smart cameras or other devices, and there is always the glowing control panel on top of the device if they mislay their phone…the pod can even help them find it!

Security: Privacy can be a big concern when it comes to smart devices, but Apple is keen to stress that the device only listens for ‘Hey Siri’ so users can speak freely knowing nothing they say is sent out of their home until they activate Siri. And, when they do ask Siri something, their request is associated with a random identifier, not their Apple ID.

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Sarah Griffiths

A journalist with 10 years experience, Sarah specialises in Science and Technology, writing for the BBC, national papers and consumer magazines, including T3, of course. Sarah has reviewed a range of products for T3, from children’s electric toothbrushes to water bottles and photo printing services. There's nothing she can't become an expert in!