The HomePod mini went up for purchase last week and the first orders will arrive to customers on November 16. Ahead of that availability, the first reviews of the HomePod mini have now been published, and the sound quality is being almost universally praised.
TechCrunch says that the $99 HomePod mini offers “remarkably big sound” for its size and price point. The review specifically praises the 360-degree sound:
Where Amazon switched to a front-facing speaker for the new Echo, Apple continues to focus on 360-degree sound. Your preference may depend on where you place the speaker, but this model is more versatile, especially if you’re not just seated in front of the speaker all day. I’ve used a lot of different smart speakers in my day, and honestly, I’m really impressed with the sound the company was able to get out of the 3.3-inch device.
It’s full and clear and impressively powerful for its size. Obviously, that goes double if you opt for a stereo pair.
Engadget also praises the HomePod mini’s sound quality, with the qualification that it’s “still a small speaker.”
Ultimately, the HomePod mini sounds pretty great — but, it’s still a small speaker. The HomePod mini stacks up well from a quality perspective compared to the Nest Audio; I was surprised at how close the overall bass presence was between the two, and the HomePod mini seems slightly clearer, particular with vocals. But Google’s speaker has a bit of an edge on overall volume, and the clarity differences are less pronounced at higher volumes. Apple says its new speaker provides room-filling sound, but that only holds true if the room isn’t very large.
On the flip side, however, The Verge says that the HomePod mini “doesn’t sound as good as similarly priced competitors.
So it sounds good, but I can’t say the HomePod mini sounds great. And next to the larger Echo and Nest Audio, both of which cost the same, it simply can’t keep up. It doesn’t have the presence, volume, or sound stage of either, and it certainly can’t match the Echo’s bass output. As they say, there’s no replacement for displacement.
Despite not being quite up to the Echo’s sound performance, the HomePod mini does sound pleasant for most any genre of music and for podcasts and other vocal performances. It has good balance in the mid tones and a very vocal forward sound profile. You’ll hear the lyrics to your favorite song easily, without them getting overwhelmed by bass. The bass that’s there can be heard but not felt.
CNBC tried out the improved Handoff features, noting that some features won’t be coming until a future software update:
I also really like that I can start playing a song on my iPhone and tap the HomePod Mini and it’ll start playing on the speaker. Or a song can start on the speaker and I can walk by and transfer it to the iPhone with another tap. Apple will release an update in the coming months that will improve the hand-off experience with vibration and colors so it feels more like a song is moving from one device to another.
CNET emphasizes that people who already use and appreciate Siri and the Apple ecosystem will benefit most from the HomePod mini:
If you’re an Apple fan, you’re going to love this $99 smart speaker. It’s as cheap as Apple products will likely ever be. It sounds great, looks good and delivers the smart speaker functionality we’ve all come to expect thanks to its competitors. If you have an iPhone and an Apple TV, it’s a no brainer to go the HomePod Mini route for setting up your smart home.
The Wall Street Journal on the battle between Nest Audio, Amazon Echo, and HomePod mini:
For my multiplatform household, Nest Audio is my pick. Google Assistant has the smarts and the Nest Audio delivers dynamic audio fitting for my small space. And they just look nice. While I wasn’t a big fan of the new Echo speaker, it isn’t bad if you’re already locked into Alexa’s feature-rich world. However, for an all-in iOS home, the new HomePod Mini is a far more compelling product than the original—and a way for Apple to finally horn in on the smart-speaker action. For fewer features and higher fidelity, Sonos is always an option.
Across the board, the consensus among the early reviews seems to be that the HomePod mini is an excellent speaker for its price point, particularly for people who are already deep in the Apple ecosystem. Devices like the Amazon Echo still have the advantage for non-Apple households because of the cross-platform support. The HomePod mini, however, is more accessible than the original $349 HomePod (now $299).
More HomePod mini reviews:
HomePod mini video reviews
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Samsung begins rollout of Android 11 and One UI 3.0 to latest phones – The Verge
Samsung is starting to roll out updates to Android 11 and One UI 3.0, its customized interface, to some of its latest phones. The first up are Galaxy S20 series devices in the US, Korea, and most of Europe, which will start receiving updates today. Updates for the Note 20, last year’s Note 10 and S10, and the Z Fold, Z Fold 2, and Z Flip are planned to arrive in the “coming weeks.” Updates for the Galaxy A series will arrive in the first half of 2021.
The updates come three months after the launch of Android 11. Samsung has historically been slow to deliver Android updates even to its latest phones. Three months isn’t a huge wait (it maintains the same pace as last year), but a number of other phone manufacturers, including OnePlus, Xiaomi, and Oppo, managed to deliver Android 11 on day one this year. Samsung’s updates take longer in part because it heavily customizes Android with its own interface.
One UI 3.0 mostly brings visual refinements to Samsung’s existing interface. Menus and widgets are now presented with a frosty, translucent background, rather than the grayish look they previously had. Samsung has also added some richer lock screen widgets and a redesigned volume menu, and it says animations should be smoother, and camera autofocus should be faster. Android Police has a thorough rundown of the changes.
It’s not entirely clear how soon any given phone will get these updates, even though the rollout is starting today. Samsung’s software rollouts often start slowly, and they’re frequently held up on a carrier-by-carrier basis. To illustrate just how chaotic it can be: Verizon preempted Samsung’s announcement and started rolling out this update to the Galaxy S20 5G UW yesterday.
Samsung begins rollout of Android 11 and One UI 3 on Galaxy S20 series in US – ZDNet
If you use one of Samsung’s Galaxy S20 phones, be it the
then today is a good day for you. Samsung announced on Thursday that it’s officially starting the rollout of
, which includes the company’s One UI 3 interface, for those three phone models in the US.
The update includes Samsung’s own improvements, such as a more minimal interface and new widgets for the home and lock screens. The new widgets add controls for things like music directly to the screen.
The camera app has also seen its share of improvements, with autofocus and auto-exposure leading the way.
Also called out by Samsung is an update to the share sheet, which you use to select an app where you want to share documents, links or photos. You can now customize the share sheet, tailoring it to your preferred apps and contacts.
Samsung is also launching Samsung Free, an app where you’ll find news, games and Samsung TV Plus content on your device. This takes the place of Samsung Daily, a similar app, that can be found by swiping to the right on your home screen.
I almost always disable Samsung Daily the moment I set up a Galaxy phone, so I’m not sure renaming the feed and adding some of its own subscription services to it will entice me to leave it on, but I’m willing to give it a try.
There’s no exact word on when the update will start showing up on devices. Typically carriers will release the update in waves, with unlocked devices randomly getting the update during that time.
As for other Samsung devices, the company has said that the Note 20, ZFold 2, Z Flip, Note 10, Fold and S10 series will all get the update in the “coming weeks.” Based on previous release schedules, that timing can and will easily slip into months.
If you see the update on your Galaxy phone, be it an S20 or another device, leave a comment and let us know which device and carrier you have.
Alleged Xiaomi Mi 11 and Mi 11 Pro specifications surface on Weibo – Notebookcheck.net
With the Xiaomi Mi 11 series’ launch date drawing closer, the internet is abuzz with speculations about the phone’s specifications. Xiaomi and Qualcomm have already confirmed that it will run the Snapdragon 888, so we know that for sure. However, there seems to be a lot of buzz around the Xiaomi Mi 11 series’ camera and battery prowess. A table showcasing the alleged specifications of the Xiaomi Mi 11 and Mi 11 Pro’s side-by-side has now surfaced on Weibo. It shouldn’t be long before we know if this information is correct. Ice Universe suggests that Xiaomi plans on launching the Mi 11 series at the end of December.
It is unclear as to how many cameras both smartphones will come in total. The base Xiaomi Mi 11 is billed to ship with a 108MP Samsung ISOCELL HM3 sensor assisted by a 13MP ultra-wide-angle lens. Things begin to get murky here, as the machine translation fails to tell us the telephoto lens’ megapixel count. It may also come with a hole-punch 20MP selfie camera. There appears to be a macro lens thrown in the mix, too. More details about it should emerge as time passes. The Xiaomi Mi 11 will reportedly ship with a 4,700mAh battery that can be charged at 50W via a cable, and at 30W wirelessly. Prices are expected to start at RMB 3,999 (US$610) for the base variant with 8GB of LPDDR5 RAM and 128GB of USF 3.1 storage. Other Xiaomi Mi 11 features include an under-display fingerprint scanner, NFC, and a 1440p screen with a refresh rate of 120Hz.
Moving on to the better-specced Xiaomi Mi 11 Pro (or Mi 11 Ultra according to some sources), we get what appears to be a 50MP primary sensor. However, an earlier report told us that the 50MP image is a result of 4:1 pixel billing, so we’re likely looking at a 200MP sensor. It will be assisted by a 48MP ultra-wide-angle lens and a 48MP telephoto lens. Xiaomi could very well follow Huawei’s path and throw in a second telephoto lens for good measure. Even the Galaxy S21 Ultra is billed to feature a similar setup, giving Xiaomi additional incentive to follow suit. Things get even more impressive when we look at the Xiaomi Mi 11 Pro’s battery specifications. It will allegedly support fast charging at 120W over a cable and 80W wirelessly. Xiaomi has been working on its 100W fast charging tech for quite some time now, and it’s good to see it make its way in a flagship smartphone. The Xiaomi Mi 11 Pro is expected to cost RMB 5,299 (US$807) for the same memory and storage configuration as the non-Pro variant. Information about the exact screen size is scant, but it stands to reason that the smartphone will come with a 1440p 120Hz AMOLED screen.
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