Google’s original compact smart speaker, the Google Home Mini is still a great buy for those starting out in the smart home realm. Fantastic value with all of the features you could want, it’s not to be dismissed.
Small enough to blend into any décor style
Different color options to suit taste
Easy to set up and use
Voice match for personalised results
Falls down on sound quality
Has been usurped by the Google Nest Mini
The main selling point of the Google Home Mini is undoubtedly the price tag, which immediately makes smart home features accessible to everyone. As such, it’s a brilliant jumping off point for those still unsure how much use they’ll get out of its features beyond a Bluetooth speaker, as well as anyone looking to extend their Google Home set-up into more rooms across the house.
Music fans will struggle with the comparatively low audio quality, but when it comes to value it’s important to note that the Mini does pretty much everything Google’s range of smart speakers and smart displays do, just in a tiny package.
Read on to see what we thought of the Google Home Mini or, if you want to keep your options open, check out our rundown of the best smart speakers across a variety of brands.
Google Home Mini: Setup and Specs
Dimensions: H4.2 x W9.8 x D9.8cm
Colors: Black, Pink, Silver/Grey
Mobile: Android, iOS
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, Chromecast
The Google Home Mini is incredibly simple to set up and use, using the Google Home app on your mobile device to control it. Once you have plugged the speaker into the mains, connected it to your home Wi-Fi, and placed it in your desired location, you simply need to perform a quick voice match process and then you’re ready to delve into its various capabilities.
These are detailed below but, once you have routines and commands programmed in, you can largely use your speaker completely hands-free, only opening the app to tweak your settings from time to time.
Note: you will need a Google account in order to set up your speaker and, if you want to get the most out of it, then we’d recommend linking it to things like Google Calendar, YouTube and Google Play.
Google Home Mini: Features
Where the Google Home Mini really impresses is with its range of uses, offering everything the larger Google smart speakers do taking up a fraction of the space.
By far the feature we used the most is routines, which give you the ability to automate actions around the home without lifting a finger.
For example, simply saying “hey Google, good night” sets up a chain of events that includes switching off lights (plugged in with Teckin smart plugs (opens in new tab)), turning on the bedside essential oil diffuser (Meross Smart Wi-Fi Ultrasonic Diffuser), playing soothing rain sounds, and setting a time for the morning routine to begin the next morning.
When morning comes, you simply need to quiet the alarm by saying “stop” (no need for a ‘hey Google’ at this time in the morning!) and it can play your favourite playlist or radio station, tell you about upcoming events in the day and warn you about the weather outside.
Obviously this is just one example of a routine, with the possibilities also including home heating adjustments, playing a favourite podcast as you get ready for the day and so much more.
An update to the Google Home platform now means that you can send voice messages to other speakers on your network (for your Google Home Mini in the kitchen to another in your kids’ rooms, for example) so you’ll never have to shout to get people to the dinner table again.
One worry caused by the popularity of smart speakers in the home is privacy, as by their nature Google speakers need to be listening all the time to detect when you say the buzzwords of ‘Hey Google’. Thankfully, the Mini has a convenient switch on its side that allows you to completely turn off the device’s microphone when you don’t want it listening in. When you want to use it again, simply switch it back on.
Google Home Mini vs Google Nest Mini
Google recently brought out the Google Nest Mini, which is incredibly similar to the original compact model but with a few key differences. The main one to know is that audio quality has been improved slightly (though it is still not the best), which makes sense given that this has always been a criticism of the original Home Mini.
Except for an additional color option of Sky blue, the designs are pretty much identical. The Nest Mini is more eco-friendly, however, now using recycled plastic to create the fabric top.
Google Home Mini: Design
The diminutive design of the Google Home Mini will suit many, able to be tucked away on a shelf, a sideboard or even mounted onto the wall. Google sells these wall mount kits, and we’d wager that the speaker is so lightweight that strong 3m tape could work just as well should you not want to drill into the wall.
The big drawback is that the speaker only works when plugged into the mains, so when wall mounting it you can’t avoid the unsightly wire trailing down the wall.
In addition to being small, the Mini also comes with an attractive fabric cover that may blend into home décor better than the more ‘futuristic’-looking offerings from Amazon or Apple. Of the leading offerings, this stands out in its environment the least.
The different color options are also popular for this reason, with the speaker available in coral, chalk and charcoal to suit individual tastes. We went for chalk, but the coral would be good for anyone who likes their tech to make more of a statement.
Google Home Mini: Our Verdict
Capable of facilitating an entire smart home set-up, the Google Home Mini (now Google Nest Mini) is by far the most cost-effective way of introducing smart speakers into your home. Use it on its own or put one in every room of the house - we guarantee you will find the way (or ways) it makes your life easier.
About our review
Caroline is ecommerce editor for Livingetc, looking after technology and smart device content to determine what is worth incorporating into your home and what is not. All reviews are based on her real experiences of using technology as part of daily life, making sure they perform in a real-life context.
This particular review is based on her experience using the Google Home Mini over a period of three years, after purchasing when she moved into her current home.