Hands-on: Google Home Mini review

A year on from its big launch event introducing the Pixel, Google has announced a myriad of new devices. As expected, there’s a smaller version of its smart speaker with the Google Assistant so here’s our Google Home Mini hands-on review.

Google Home Mini price and where to buy

Now Google’s smart speaker comes in a smaller size, it’s not much of surprise that the price matches it’s biggest rival - the Amazon Echo Dot.

So, you can get a Home Mini for £49 which seems pretty reasonable to us. Plus, if you’re interested in the new Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL phones, you can get a free Home Mini if you order before certain dates.

Its available from 17 October and buying straight from Google is the obvious choice but you can also buy the Home Mini at a number of retailers including Carphone Warehouse, John Lewis, Argos, and Currys.

You can even get it from EE for £4 per month with no upfront cost for 11 months on EE’s Add to Plan scheme. The network is also giving away the speaker free with contracts for the new Pixel 2 phones.

The original Google Home remains on sale at £129 and there’s also a bigger version called the Google Home Max that will cost $399. It won’t come out in the UK until next year, though.

Also see: Which Google Home should I buy?

Google Home Mini smart speaker

Google Home Mini design and build

The first thing to note is that the Home Mini looks and feel a lot nicer than the Echo Dot.

It’s small enough to fit in the hand - not that you’ll want to carry it around, or maybe you will - and at 173g is a nice weight, enough that a cable won’t move it or anything. There’s also a rubber base to stop it slipping.

The perfectly round pint-sized speaker is like a fabric covered pebble and feels nice to the touch, which you will need to do when not using voice controls.

It’s a more stylish finish compared to the Dot with the microphone switch hidden at the back and no other buttons needed thanks to touch sensitive areas. You can tap the middle to play/pause, tap the side to adjust volume and long press the middle to activate the Google Assistant.

Four hidden LEDs will light up when the device is doing things like listening or thinking.

We think the Home Mini is something you’re more likely to display proudly in your house thanks to the attractive design which comes in three colours - Charcoal, Chalk and Coral - so you can choose which one suits your decor the most.

Google Home Mini colours

Google Home Mini specs and features

It’s no surprise that the Home Mini runs on Google’s Assistant, so if you prefer Alexa that’s one reason why you should get the Amazon Echo Dot instead.

The two are very similar in what they offer. With the Google Assistant, saying “Ok Google”, like with most Android phones, will whip it into action and from there you can do all kinds of things.

Simply ask a question you want the answer to, ask it to play some music (from various sources) or get it to control other smart home devices you might own like Philips Hue lighting or Nest. It’s all pretty seamless once you get it all set up (going by the original Home).

If you’ve got Chromecast or Chromecast Audio devices, then you can use the Home Mini with your voice to task those gadgets with playing music or video content on the devices they are connected to.

The idea with the Home Mini is that is does all of the same things as the regular Google Home or the Home Max but in a much smaller and more convenient form factor. After all, not everyone has space in the kitchen or a bedside table for a larger speaker.

Google Home Mini specs

As you might expect, you’ll connect the Home Mini to your network over Wi-Fi but it also has Bluetooth if you want to connect to it that way.

It being smaller means less impressive sound. The Google Home Mini has a single 40mm driver to deliver 360 sound to the space in which it’s placed. For comparison, the regular home has three 2in drivers so has a lot more power.

We’ve not been able to listen to the Home Mini yet as the launch event was a sort of nightclub-like environment so we’ll bring you our thoughts on sound quality once we’ve got a review sample.

Google Home Mini: Specs

  • Google Assistant
  • 40mm driver, 360 sound
  • Far field voice recognition with off switch
  • Touch controls
  • Dual-band 11ac Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth
  • Android and iOS compatible
  • Chromecast and Chromecast Audio built-in
  • Micro-USB
  • 98x42mm
  • 173g
  • Google Assistant
  • 40mm driver, 360 sound
  • Far field voice recognition with off switch
  • Touch controls
  • Dual-band 11ac Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth
  • Android and iOS compatible
  • Chromecast and Chromecast Audio built-in
  • Micro-USB
  • 98x42mm
  • 173g

OUR VERDICT

We need to test sound quality but we're otherwise very impressed with the Google Home Mini. Initial impressions are that it's a much more stylish rival to the Echo Dot and comes at the same price. There's little to dislike here.