Google Nest Mini Speaker Review

Tested using Methodology v0.8
Reviewed Jan 06, 2021 at 08:24 am
Google Nest Mini Picture
5.6
Music
4.9
Videos/Movies
6.4
Podcasts
8.2
Voice Assistant
4.8
Outdoors
Bluetooth
Yes
Wi-Fi
Yes
Speakerphone
Yes
Voice Assistant
Yes
Battery Powered
No

The Google Nest Mini is a small, budget-friendly speaker with built-in Google Assistant capabilities. It's voice-activated and can understand you even if you aren't close to the speaker. However, it doesn't get very loud, and because it's only powered by AC, it isn't suitable for outdoor use. Its default sound profile lacks a lot of low-bass, but there are bass and treble adjustments in the Google Home app to help you customize its sound. While it has built-in Chromecast capabilities, its latency over this connection is likely too high to be suitable for watching videos or movies, which is a bit disappointing.

Our Verdict

5.6 Music

The Google Nest Mini is middling for music. Its balanced mid and treble ranges reproduce clear and accurate vocals and lead instruments. However, it's lacking a lot of low-bass, so you don't feel the deep thump and rumble in bass-heavy genres like hip-hop. It doesn't get very loud, either, and it has to downmix stereo content into mono to play it, which doesn't sound as immersive. On the upside, there are bass and treble adjustments to help you customize its sound profile.

Pros
  • Bass and treble adjustments.
Cons
  • Doesn't get very loud.
  • Downmixes stereo content to mono.
4.9 Videos/Movies

The Google Nest Mini is poor for videos and movies. While it can reproduce vocals and dialogue clearly and accurately, it lacks low-bass, so you don't feel the deep thump and rumble in action-packed scenes. It doesn't get very loud, either, and there's compression when you play it at max volume. Also, its latency with iOS and Android devices and with Chromecast is likely too high to be suitable for watching videos. However, some apps compensate for latency, so your real-world experience can vary.

Pros
  • Bass and treble adjustments.
Cons
  • Doesn't get very loud.
  • Downmixes stereo content to mono.
  • High latency.
6.4 Podcasts

The Google Nest Mini isn't bad for podcasts. Its balanced mid-range can reproduce vocals clearly and accurately. However, this speaker doesn't get very loud, and there's a lot of compression at max volume. Also, because it's powered by AC, it isn't very portable.

Pros
  • Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and Chromecast compatibility.
Cons
  • Doesn't get very loud.
8.2 Voice Assistant

The Google Nest Mini is great for voice assistant. It has built-in Google Assistant capabilities. You can activate the speaker using your voice, and it can understand you even if you're far away from it. There's also a mic mute switch so you can control when the speaker is listening to you. Unfortunately, it doesn't get very loud.

Pros
  • Built-in Google Assistant capabilities.
  • Mic mute switch.
Cons
  • Doesn't get very loud.
4.8 Outdoors

The Google Nest Mini is only powered by AC, so it has to be plugged into an outlet to work. As a result, it isn't suitable for outdoor use.

  • 5.6 Music
  • 4.9 Videos/Movies
  • 6.4 Podcasts
  • 8.2 Voice Assistant
  • 4.8 Outdoors

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style
RGB Lights No

The Google Nest Mini is a small speaker with a simple design that should fit discretely into your existing decor. Four horizontal lights illuminate when you use the commands, such as adjusting the volume. There's also a screw slot in the back so you can wall-mount it. You can choose between 'Sky', 'Coral', 'Charcoal', and 'Chalk' variants.

5.9
Design
Portability
Volume
25 in³ (403 cm³)
Weight
0.4 lbs (0.2 kg)
Power Source
AC Only
One-Hand Carry
Yes

This speaker isn't very portable. Despite its small size, it's powered only by AC, so it has to be plugged into a wall outlet for it to work.

6.4
Design
Build Quality
Material Quality
Good
Water Resistance
No
Dust Resistance
Unspecified
Impact Resistance
No
Floats In Water
No

The Google Nest Mini's build quality is acceptable. It's mostly made of plastic, which feels thick and solid. There's a tight-knit fabric covering the top of the speaker, which doesn't seem like it could tear easily, though it may collect dust over time.

8.0
Design
Controls
Ease Of Use
Great
Feedback
Great
Music Play/Pause
Yes (Tactile)
Call Answer/End
Yes (Tactile)
Volume Up/Down
Yes (Tactile)
Track Next/Previous
No
Microphone On/Off
Yes (Physical)
Additional Controls
No

The control scheme is great. There's a switch on the side of the speaker that lets you mute and unmute the microphone. Also, there are touch-sensitive controls on the top of the speaker. You can tap the center of the speaker to play/pause audio and answer/end a call, and you can tap the left or right sides to adjust the volume.

Design
In The Box

  • Google Nest Mini speaker
  • Power cable and adapter
  • User Manual

Sound
5.2
Sound
Frequency Response Accuracy
Slope
-0.52
Std. Err.
2.91 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
138.5 Hz
High-Frequency Extension
15.3 kHz

The Google Nest Mini has disappointing frequency response accuracy. Its sound profile is quite balanced and neutral, especially in the mid and treble ranges where vocals and lead instruments are reproduced. However, it lacks low-bass, so you don't feel the deep thump and rumble from bass-heavy music like EDM. Fortunately, there are bass and treble adjustment features in the app to help you customize its sound. For a speaker with a better-balanced sound out-of-the-box, consider the Apple HomePod mini.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
Binaural Recording @ 1m
Binaural Recording @ 2m
6.9
Sound
Soundstage
Directivity Index
2.10 dB
Stereo
No (mono)

The soundstage is okay. The directivity is excellent, resulting in a large soundstage. However, it doesn't have separate speakers for the left and right channels, so it downmixes stereo content to mono, which doesn't provide as immersive a listening experience.

5.3
Sound
Dynamics
SPL @ Max Volume
76.5 dB SPL
DRC @ Max Volume
2.58 dB

This speaker has a disappointing dynamics performance. It doesn't get very loud, and there's some compression when you play it at max volume. It may not be suitable for listening to music at large, crowded parties.

Active Features
0
Active Features
Battery
Battery Life
N/A
Charge Time
N/A
Power Saving
No
Charging Port
No Battery

This speaker doesn't have a battery. You can only use it if it's plugged into a wall outlet.

8.9
Active Features
Voice Assistant
Alexa
No
Google Assistant
Built-in
Siri
No
Voice Activation
Yes
Microphone Mute
Yes
Far-Field Performance
Excellent
Ambient Noise Performance
Mediocre

The Google Nest Mini has amazing voice assistant support. Like the Google Home Max, it has built-in Google Assistant, which you can activate using your voice. The speaker can understand you even if you are far away, which is nice. You can also mute the microphone when you don't want to use the voice assistant. However, its ambient noise performance isn't as good as the Amazon Echo Dot Gen 4, so it may struggle to hear your voice if you're a noisier environment.

9.3
Active Features
App
App Name
Google Home
iOS
Yes
Android
Yes
EQ
Bass/Treble
Stereo Pair Mode
Yes
Party Mode
Yes
Multi-Room
Yes

The Google Home app is outstanding. There are bass and treble adjustments to help you customize the sound profile. You can also configure multiple Google speakers via the app, or use two Nest Minis to create a larger stereo setup.

Connectivity
Connectivity
Wired
Aux Input
No
USB Audio
No
Other Ports
No

This speaker doesn't support any wired connections.

6.7
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
5.0
Bluetooth iOS Latency
232 ms
Bluetooth Android Latency
263 ms
Bluetooth Range
262.5 ft (80.0 m)
Multi-Device Pairing
No

The Google Nest Mini has fair Bluetooth connectivity. It's Bluetooth-compatible, and it can receive audio from your phone or tablet even if they aren't very close to the speaker. However, its latency is likely too high to be suitable for watching videos or movies. Some apps can compensate for latency, so your real-world experience may vary.

6.5
Connectivity
Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi Version
Wi-Fi 5
Wi-Fi Frequency Band
2.4GHz & 5GHz
Apple AirPlay
No
AirPlay Latency
N/A
Google Chromecast
Yes
Chromecast Latency
862 ms

It's Wi-Fi compatible, and it has built-in Google Chromecast capabilities. However, its latency with Chromecast is very high, especially compared to other Chromecast-compatible speakers like the Google Home Max. As a result, it likely isn't suitable for watching videos or movies.

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

The Google Nest Mini comes in several different color variants: 'Sky', 'Coral', 'Charcoal', and 'Chalk'. We tested the 'Sky' variant, and you can see the label for the model we tested here. We expect the other color variants to perform similarly.

We also tested the 2nd Generation variant of this speaker, which comes with a few additional features compared to its predecessor, including stereo pairing with other Mini speakers. The 1st Generation variant may perform differently than our model.

If you come across another version of this speaker, let us know in the discussions so we can update our review.

Compared To Other Speakers

The Google Nest Mini is a small, stylish speaker with built-in Google Assistant capabilities. The speaker can understand you even if you aren't close to it, and you can mute the microphone when you want. Like other Google speakers, you can pair it with other Nest Mini speakers to create stereo pairs. While it has built-in Chromecast capabilities like the Google Home Max, its latency is much higher, so it may not be suitable for watching videos or movies.

Google Nest Audio

The Google Nest Audio and the Google Nest Mini are very similar speakers with great voice assistant performances thanks to their built-in Google Assistant capabilities. However, the Nest Audio is better for music and watching videos. The Nest Audio has a more extended bass, and it can get louder. Also, it has lower latency over a Chromecast connection.

Amazon Echo Dot Gen 4

The Google Nest Mini and the Amazon Echo Dot Gen 4 are similar speakers, so depending on your usage habits, you may prefer one over the other. The Amazon is better for voice assistants since it has a better ambient noise performance, so the voice assistant can understand you better in noisy settings. While the Amazon has built-in Alexa support, the Google has built-in Google Assistant. Unlike the Amazon, the Google also supports Chromecast.

Apple HomePod mini

The Google Nest Mini is a better voice assistant speaker than the Apple HomePod mini. The Google comes with a mic mute button, which gives you more control over when the speaker is listening to you. It also offers bass and treble adjustments so you can customize its sound. However, the Apple is a better choice for music and videos, as its default sound profile is better-balanced with a more extended low-bass, and it has a better soundstage performance.

Apple HomePod

The Apple HomePod is a better speaker than the Google Nest Mini. The Apple has a more neutral sound profile and a better soundstage. It also gets louder, and its built-in voice assistant does a better job understanding your voice in a noisy setting. However, the Google's bass and treble adjustments offer more sound customization, and it's still a great choice for voice assistant capabilities.

Google Home Max

The Google Home Max and the Google Nest Mini both offer impressive performances for voice assistant, but the Home Max is a better choice for music and videos. Out-of-the-box, the Home Max has a better-balanced sound profile, and it can get louder. Also, it has lower latency over a Chromecast connection.

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