Google Home v Google Home Mini: Little and large battle it out

Go big or go Home (Mini)

Google Home v Home Mini
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The Google Home and Google Home Mini speakers have been around for a while now, and it's only in how they look that they're remotely recognisable as the speakers they were born as. Continual updates from Google have transformed these two devices into much more capable and, yes, much smarter devices.

The Google Home arrived in 2016 and the Home Mini followed nearly a year later. The Mini is, of course, just a shrunken version of the Home, but that in itself brings certain benefits (and drawbacks).

Read this: The best smart speakers

Below, we'll lay it out for you plain and simple. We've lived with both these speakers long enough to be sufficiently knowledgeable to help you pick the right one. Let's get to it.

Google Home v Google Home Mini: Little and large battle it out

Google Home v Google Home Mini: Design

Herein lies the most obvious difference. The Google Home stands at 5.6 inches tall while the Mini is much shorter at 1.65 inches. Side by side, it's Arnie and DeVito.

But it's not all about the height. The Home has a more obvious two-tier design – white on top and a grey material-covered speaker on the bottom. That bottom base can be swapped out for other colours, but you'll need to buy them in addition to the speaker as they're only sold separately.

The Google Home Mini has a wider range of hues out the box, with a choice of chalk (white and grey), charcoal (black), coral and aqua. Those last two are much nicer looking than the mundane black and white options, in our opinion.

Google Home v Google Home Mini: Little and large battle it out

The other major design difference is that the Home has touch controls on the top for adjusting the volume, ending phone calls, talking to the Assistant and other handy quick commands. The Mini does have a touch interface on the sides, but its top touch controls (which were similar to the taller Home) were disabled due to a design fault, and probably won't ever return.

That means there's no way of waking the Assistant without using your voice. Both speakers do have a physical mute switch on the back, should you not want to risk waking the Assistant accidentally.

Read this: What Google is doing with your smart speaker data

While the Home uses a full power adapter, the Mini is powered by Micro USB, which is less of an energy suck. Neither can be used wirelessly, so you'll need an outlet to run them at all times.

Google Home v Google Home Mini: Little and large battle it out

Google Home v Google Home Mini: Sound quality

Sound quality will probably be the biggest reason to choose the Google Home. With a 2-inch driver and dual 2-inch passive radiators, it goes fairly loud but it's nothing compared to a Sonos One or even one of the latest Echo smart speakers. Crank it up loud and the audio gets muddy.

The Mini offers 360-degree sound with a 40mm driver, and for its size is pleasantly punchy. But again, a music speaker this is not, and the sound quality is inferior next to the Home, particularly in the bass department (which you might expect).

Neither speaker has an auxiliary input option but both can be paired to Bluetooth speakers. Here's our guide on how to do it. It means you can hook up an existing (much better) Bluetooth speaker to the Home/Mini and essentially make it Google-smart.

But for simply hearing the Google Assistant and maybe listening to podcasts, both deliver a perfectly adequate experience on their own.

Google Home v Google Home Mini: Little and large battle it out

Google Home v Google Home Mini: Features

Both speakers run Google Assistant, and the experience here is identical. As these are Google's own speakers, they get served first with the latest features, while third-party speakers are normally less of a priority.

Voice calling, for example, is available on both these speakers, but has only slowly crawled onto Google Assistant devices built by other companies. And these days there's rarely a long gap between features. The most recent is the ability to send reminders to other house members through Google Home speakers.

Google Home v Google Home Mini: Price

Google has permanently slashed the price of the Home to $99 and the Mini to $49 but chances are you can pick it up even cheaper. Right now the Home Mini is selling at Best Buy for $30, as well as at Google's own website, and you can often find it for this price. The Home is also on sale for $70 on Best Buy and at Google.

Google Home v Google Home Mini: Little and large battle it out

Google Home v Google Home Mini: Which is the best?

It's easy to say "Whichever works best for you," but we really feel like the Mini is the better deal right now. Unless this is going to be your sole smart speaker – and you don't have any Bluetooth speakers to hook it up to – you're better going for the Mini. It's smaller, cheaper, and you can pick up two of them for the same price as a Home.

Of course, if you really do plan to use your smart speaker for listening to a lot of music/podcasts, the Home brings better sound and would be recommended in that case. Remember though, aside from the cosmetic and acoustic differences, both speakers offer the exact same Google Assistant experience.

TAGGED    google    speakers

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