A little less than three years ago, we hired a contractor to finish our basement, turning it from a temporary plywood-floored storage room into a multimedia room. As part of the transition, I was finally able to move my record collection and turntable out of the living room and into the basement, which my wife says makes her feel like she’s living in a 22-year-old bohemian’s apartment. , where I can play them as loud and as long as I want.
But I still like to listen to music during dinner and when I’m upstairs doing the dishes and stuff. So in November 2020 I dropped to $299 apple HomePod speaker to replace records and turntable. I chose the HomePod because we’ve become an Apple family. We all have iPhones or iPads as our primary personal devices, and my digital music has been locked away on an old iMac since 2010.
The HomePod sounded great, playing many different types of music—jazz, rock, hip-hop, 80s dance hits, ambient—you name it. Bass was high and the midrange was clean. It sounded better than various cheap Bluetooth speakers I’ve used over the years, and better than any Sonos system I’ve heard.
But the software and overall user experience was always wrong. My eclectic mix of digital files from different sources never fails to impress — I have tons of tunes from ripped CDs and vinyl, as well as a handful of iTunes downloads and later songs I’ve added to my collection from Apple Music. family subscription. It often stifled songs that weren’t available on Apple Music. I guess it was trying to stream everything from the cloud instead of pulling directly from my phone via bluetooth, and although I found a few workarounds, they sometimes stopped working and the music just played in the middle of a song. It was a little annoying, but it sounded great and looked cool, the mysterious black cylinder in the middle of our living room, so we didn’t replace it.
A few nights ago it stopped working completely. Not only did it disappear from my home network, it would no longer open or display anything on the screen. I tried various tricks from Apple’s support sites to reset it, then finally followed support’s advice and made an appointment with the Genius Bar at the Apple Store in the mall near my home.
I explained the problem and the service tech plugged it in, tapped the screen a few times, agreed with me that it was dead, then checked for options on the iPad.
“We don’t repair HomePods in the store,” he said. “We change them, not repair them.”
But they didn’t replace mine because it was out of AppleCare warranty. I asked if they repaired it off site or if they knew someone else who could take care of it. No. But he would be happy to sell me a new one for $279, even though it only came with a 90 day warranty…
Before sending the old HomePod to the landfill, I upped the ante on its AppleCare, thinking I might get something out of it. Maybe they’ll repair it and resell it, like Apple has been doing with older iPhones for a few years now. “Can I get money for an exchange?”
This beautiful $300 speaker I bought less than three years ago didn’t cost much more than the rare earth metals inside. It’s really heavy, which makes it great as a door stop.
According to an Apple Store employee, Apple does not repair HomePods.
Matt Rosoff, CNBC
I checked online again to see if Apple had other options like sending it in for repair. It just took me back to my local Apple Store. So much for that.
I don’t have any deep takeaways from this whole experience, but it crystallized the general lack of enthusiasm I’ve felt for Apple products in recent years. The iPhone is still an amazing invention and I prefer it to every Android phone I’ve ever used, but we’ve all gotten used to them after 15+ years. The improvements seem smaller and incremental each year. I buy a new iPhone when my old ones break, but mostly out of inertia. The Apple Store used to feel like a technology church, with lots of cool gadgets and enthusiastic people helping you use them and fixing them if something went wrong. Now it feels more like a rental car park, where the main goal is to get you in and out quickly while adding as many extra services as possible.
Apple is still a profitable behemoth of a company, and many of its products still inspire loyalty, especially AirPods (I prefer the over-ear Beats) and the Apple Watch. But the original HomePod was always a strange move. Capitalizing on his sudden popularity seemed a bit rash Amazon‘s Alexa speaker, and now that the fad has passed, Apple is no longer particularly interested in the product. Buyer beware.
An Apple spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the company’s repair policy for HomePods.