Google Nest Mini review: A Google Assistant for any room

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Google Nest Mini

The Google Nest Mini is a compact, reasonably priced, and decent-enough sounding Google Assistant speaker.

9.2/10 average rating

Digital assistants are here to stay and there are plenty of assistant-enabled devices. Our Google Nest Mini review looks at the tech giant’s second iteration of their small speaker with Google Assistant functionality. Read on for our full review!

Specifications

The Google Nest Mini has the following features and specifications:

  • Materials: Durable fabric top made from 100% recycled plastic bottles, external enclosure made with at least 35% post-consumer recycled bottles
  • Processor: Quad-core 64-bit ARM CPU 1.4 GHz, High-performance ML hardware engine
  • Speakers: 360-degree sound with 40mm driver
  • Microphones: 3 far-field microphones with Voice Match technology
  • Sensors: Capacitive touch controls, 3 far-field microphones
  • Connectivity: 802.11b/g/n/ac (2.4 GHz/5 GHz) Wi-Fi, Bluetooth® 5.0, Chromecast built-in
  • Power and ports: 15W power adapter, DC power jack
  • Power cable length: 1.5m
  • Colours: Chalk, Charcoal, Coral, Sky
  • Dimensions: 98 x 42mm (3.85 x 1.65″)
  • Weight: 181g

Requirements

  • Wi-Fi use requires 802.11a/b/g/n/ac access point (router)
  • Google Home app running on a compatible mobile device

What’s in the box

  • Google Nest Mini
  • Power adaptor and cable
  • Documentation bundle
What's included with the Google Nest Mini
What’s included with the Google Nest Mini.

Design

The Google Nest Mini is a round, fabric-covered speaker. It is just over 3 3/4-inches in diameter and just over an inch-and-a-half in depth. Decent looking, Google is keen to point out that fabric covering is made from 100% recycled plastic bottles. It certainly doesn’t feel like it and looks like any regular fabric finish. While our review unit was a darker charcoal grey colour, the Nest Mini also comes in Chalk (white), Coral (pinkish), and Sky (light blue) colours.

The Google Nest Mini in Charcoal
The Google Nest Mini in Charcoal.

The main soft feeling plastic base, made with at least 35% post-consumer recycled bottles, comes up to just under the halfway point of the side of the device. On the back of the enclosure is a wall-mount cutout near the top of one side. On the bottom is the power connection port and to the right of this is the physical microphone mute button. Interestingly enough, the default orientation of the Nest Mini has you set the power port at the top — more on that later.

The included power adapter has a proprietary barrel plug and is about 5 feet in length, not including the AC plug. Depending on where you want to place the Nest Mini, the cord should be long enough. In addition, it is nice and thin so if you are wall mounting the unit, although still a bit unsightly, it won’t look as bad as a thicker power cable running up your wall would.

The underside of the Google Nest Mini
The underside of the Google Nest Mini.

When plugged in, the device powers on and there are four white LED lights centered across the center of the unit. When you invoke Google Assistant, these light up to indicate that the Nest Mini is listening to you and awaiting your commands.

Setup/Installation

Setting up the Google Nest Mini is straightforward. While you’ll likely already have it installed, if you don’t, you’ll need the Google Home app for Android or iOS. Once it’s plugged in, you can add the device to your Home through the app. The app walks you through the steps required and literally takes about two minutes.

Once detected, select the Nest Mini on the “Nearby devices” screen. Next, you’ll hear a sound to indicate that you are connecting the right device to your Google Home app. You’ll also set up the Wi-Fi network you want to use and you can also assign the Nest Mini a room.

If you wish to mount it to a wall, you’ll have to place a screw in your wall where you want the speaker and then simply hang the speaker on the screw. Once installed on the wall and set up in the app, you can then go into the settings to reverse the device controls so your left and right side controls are properly oriented.

Ease of Use

Once set up, the Google Nest Mini is as easy to use as saying “Hey Google” followed by various commands. Like anything else that has Google Assistant on board, you can use it to set timers, check the weather, play music, control other smart devices in your home, and more.

As for physical controls, you can tap the middle of the device to play or pause your music. Tapping the left side will increase the volume while tapping the right side will decrease it. As mentioned in the previous section, if you are wall mounting this, you will need to reverse the device controls so left and right taps function accordingly.

Google Nest Mini controls
Google Nest Mini controls.

Finally, the physical mic switch allows you to shut off the microphone completely. When off, the four white dots on the front of the Nest Mini will turn orange to indicate the microphone is off. The microphone can only be toggled with this switch and cannot be remotely turned on or off, which is great for privacy.

Sound Quality

Google claims that the Nest Mini has bigger, richer sound and 2x stronger bass than the original Mini. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to review the original Mini but if the new version has double the bass, I can only imagine how poor the original sounded.

That being said, the Google Nest Mini does have pretty crisp, clear, and loud sound. Even at full volume — which really is quite loud — there wasn’t any discernable distortion. As far as the bass goes, I found that while the speaker was at 50% volume or less, the bass was noticeable, albeit not overpowering or super strong. Once above that volume level, the bass seemed to disappear completely, especially when listening to music. This led to mid- and high-range heavy leaning audio.

Microphone Quality

During testing, we set up the Google Nest Mini in our main basement room which is fairly large and open. The 3 far-field microphones with Voice Match technology had no issues hearing my voice from anywhere in the room.

The Google Nest Mini showing red LEDs indicating the microphone is disabled
The Google Nest Mini showing red LEDs indicating the microphone is disabled.

Price/Value

With an MSRP of US$49/CA$69, the Google Nest Mini is bordering on impulse buy territory. If you’re looking to add a Google Assistant-enabled speaker or two to various rooms in your house, you can definitely do worse than the Nest Mini at that price. With Black Friday around the corner, the Nest Mini is currently selling for US$29/CA$39 which is a steal.

Wrap-up

The Google Nest Mini is a compact, decent-enough sounding Google Assistant speaker. Reasonably priced, its fabric exterior colour options are sure to fit into just about any room decor.

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Google Nest Mini

US$49/ CA$69
9.2

Design

9.0/10

Setup/Installation

9.5/10

Ease of Use

9.5/10

Sound Quality

8.0/10

Microphone Quality

9.5/10

Price/Value

9.5/10

Nailed it

  • Compact design
  • Environmentally friendly construction
  • Google Assistant functionality
  • Physical microphone mute button
  • Wall mount option
  • Affordably priced

Needs work

  • Loses bass after 50% volume

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