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The Apple HomePod is down to £199 at John Lewis

Apple’s excellent smart speaker is over a third off – and it’s a better product than ever

Apple isn’t used to being in third place, but that’s where it finds itself in the smart speaker war with the HomePod. A distinct third to Google’s Nest Home and Amazon’s Echo family of smart speakers, the HomePod was in a tricky position when we reviewed it: it had the best sound quality but quite restrictive uses and the worst virtual assistant of the three. Worse, it was also quite a lot more than the other options at the time, retailing at £319.
But two years on from release, the HomePod is certainly worth considering. Not only has new functionality been added – including support for third-party streaming services in this week’s beta software release – but the price is now quite a lot more competitive. Case in point: John Lewis is selling the HomePod in grey or white for just £199.   
That’s a great price for a device that, at the time of launch (the £399 Sonos Move has superseded it now), offered by far the best sound quality available in a smart speaker. As Jon wrote in his review: “It’s a stunning example of how engineering and technology can be put to use in new and exciting ways, to improve the way small speakers sound, no matter where you put them.
“In fact, were this a regular Bluetooth and Wi-Fi speaker, I’d have no qualms in recommending it, even at £319. It really is that good.”
The reason it ‘only’ got four stars from us was that, at the time, the ‘smart’ integration wasn’t that, well, smart. But Apple has been slowly ironing out these problems over the last two years, and it’s now a much better product that it was back in February 2018. The company has added multi-user support, recognition of individual voices and the ability to ‘hand off’ audio from your phone to the speaker so you don’t use your place. The added support for third-party audio is going to be huge when it comes out of beta, too. At this price, it’s certainly a good time to buy.
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