Google Nest Mini Review: A Smart Speaker With Value

In the past few years, virtual assistants have become commonplace in homes. More and more products are gaining smart home functionality to work with these virtual assistants. With growing popularity and need for functionality, it is key that companies making these assistants put out products that are fast and effective.

The Nest Mini 2 improved from the original Google Home and is one of the best value options when looking to invest in a virtual assistant. Not only can you get arguably the best virtual assistant but you get a pretty decent speaker to tie in the experience.

Let’s find out if the Google Nest Mini 2 is truly good and investing in Google’s Assistant will benefit you.

Google Nest Mini

The Verdict

Rating: 5 out of 5.

If you have been looking for a smart speaker with great value, the Google Nest Mini (2nd generation) is a fantastic option to consider. It is a speaker with good sound and even better functionality.

For those who want a greater smart home experience or just want a virtual assistant. You get a lot of support with the Google Home App and arguably the best virtual assistant with Google Assistant.

Google Assistant can answer a countless number of questions while being quick. You can settle disputes or ask or get work done faster through fast translations and calculations all with a virtual assistant.

You can even use the Nest Mini as a desktop speaker. It can sit on a desk or be moved around due to its compact size.

The sound quality is pretty solid especially for the price and it is a step over a monitor and even phone speakers.

Google’s Nest Mini also has a great build and look. It can fit in any environment with a stylish but minimalistic build and multiple color options to choose from.

If you want something more powerful or a more premium setup then getting something like the Nest Mini’s bigger brother, the Google Nest Audio Speaker, or a more premium speaker setup if you don’t want or need a virtual assistant..

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In The Box

Google Nest Mini Unboxing

When you open up the box everything is packaged quite nicely.

Included in the box are all the essentials you need to use the device and get started. Aside from the speaker, inside the box you will find:

  • The AC Power Cable: You get a standard single pin AC power cable. It’s quite nice quality and doesn’t distract from the look of the speaker.
  • Manual/Quick Start Guide: This will tell you the basic functions of the device and how to get started.

If you ever lose the manual or need more help the google home app can provide you with the resources you need, as well as just asking Google Assistant.

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The Build and Style

Close up of Google Nest Mini

Google gives us quite a nice looking and well made device with the Nest Mini 2.

The frame of the device is made from sturdy plastic and is quite rigid. There is no flex in the device anywhere. On the outside of the device, it is made from some sort of mesh fabric and rubber.

The bottom and sides are made from the rubber allowing it to stay in place well and not move around on a surface no matter how slippery. The top of the device looks and feels quite nice due to the use of the fabric. The fabric is inviting when wanting to use the touch functions for doing things like changing volume. It also makes the device look better rather than the use of all plastic which can make a device look cheap.

Google made the Nest Mini very compact with a diameter of about 3.85 inches a height of 1.65 inches. It is also quite light, weighing in at only 0.4 pounds. This makes it a great option on the go. You can easily bring the device to a hang out with some friends or move it to different rooms when you need it.

Google gives you four color options to choose from. Chalk (White), Charcoal (Black), Sky (Blue), and Coral. All look pretty good with a slight contrast from the fabric to the rubber.

As for the interface, the Nest Mini has one physical switch and three touch-sensitive buttons. The switch is used to mute the microphone. Then you have the three buttons for volume control on each side. The button top button is used to play and pause media, stop an alarm or timer, and if you press and hold for 15 seconds you can factory reset the device.

On top of the device, there are four LEDs. These turn on when you are talking to Google Assistant, the mic is off, or you are pressing any of the buttons. On the sides, there are two additional LEDs but those only turn on when pressing any of the buttons to show you where to press to increase or decrease volume. When changing volume the LEDs will be used to show you what volume you are at by using different brightness for the four LEDs.

Google Nest Mini on mute

When you mute the mic the lights will turn red and will not turn off until it is unmuted. For all other situations, the LEDs will be white. When you are talking to Google Assistant the four LEDs will activate and have a breathing effect as you talk to it. Overall the system is quite intuitive and works well.

To power the device there is one plug for AC power that goes to a plug, in the wall. It is a bit unfortunate that the Nest Mini 2 doesn’t use USB, but not a huge deal.

Overall the Google Nest Mini 2 is has a great build, especially for the price. The build of the device is strong and it has an appealing look. The use of materials even competes with smart speakers in higher price ranges. I’m quite impressed here.

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Sound Quality

Since this is ultimately a speaker one of the most important factors is the sound quality. In comparison to the competition and for the price the quality of sound is pretty good.

The sound quality is probably good for most people in general. It is cleaner and packs more of a punch than the different monitor speakers I tried and the speakers from modern smartphones including the iPhone 11 Pro and Oneplus 7T Pro.

If you are used to using monitor speakers these will have a lot more clarity and will deliver a lot more bass. As for phone speakers, the sound will still be better with minimal improvements in clarity, just punchy bass, and an overall fuller sound where you can hear more of each sound.

This is not mentioning the fact that this speaker can get considerably louder than both monitor and phone speakers. Either may be good in a situation where you are right next to the device but if you want to actually fill a room with good sound, the Nest Mini will blow the other two out of the water.

When comparing the Nest Mini 2 to dedicated speakers it is able to compete in lower price ranges. The Nest Mini delivers similar sound quality with bass and treble that is solid to those of speakers in the sub $30 category. If the speaker unit does have a subwoofer the Nest Mini just can’t compete as it won’t be able to provide as much clarity and bass as those units.

For a single speaker the sound is good and it will be just as good as many portable speakers.

If you want to use this speaker as a desktop speaker you can connect to your computer, assuming it has Bluetooth, there is some latency added. This is not an issue when listening to music but it is not recommended to use this speaker for gaming if you wish to use your Nest Mini as a desktop speaker.

I have been using the Nest Mini as my desktop speaker for the past few weeks and although it may not be good as super high-end speakers it is definitely solid at this price range especially considering it can do a lot more besides just being a speaker.

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Google Home Support

One of the key things that enables almost all the functionality of the Nest Mini 2 is the Google Home app.

The Google Home app is essential to setting up the app, connecting to services such as Spotify or YouTube Music, and gives you functionality with smart home capable products such as Philips Hue lights. The software also allows you to change things like the language or languages you want to speak in, the voice of Google Assistant, and much more.

Besides changing the virtual assistant settings and connecting to services you can also edit the EQ to add more treble or bass, play and pause media, and control the volume.

The app enables you to control everything “smart” about the speaker. It has a lot of functionality and for the most part, is pretty easy to use. It’s what makes smart speakers so special.

Google Assistant and Special Features

Google Next Mini next to a plant

The fact that the Nest Mini is a smart speaker provides a ton of functionality to the device and is what makes it special. Google Assistant can do many things from starting timers to setting reminders to answering questions.

Having the functionality of a device that will answer most of my immediate questions right away is very useful. I can have the Google Assistant do a command to figure something out while I am working on another part of the issue as if Google Assistant is a real assistant. Depending on your use case you could greatly benefit from a virtual assistant not just for smart home use.

One capability on the device that I found to be very useful was the ability to pair the speaker via Bluetooth to my desktop. If your device support Bluetooth you can use this speaker rather than something like monitor speakers and you will notice a sound improvement.

To further add to the sound Google also allows you to pair the speaker with multiple other Nest Audio speakers more a more full and potentially more immersive sound. I wouldn’t recommend buying two Nest Minis for this specific feature but if you have two of them it is a nice feature to have at any time

If you want to not have the speaker resting on a desk or counter you can hang it on a nail from the wall. This causes the sound to fire towards you which is nice in situations where just you are listening from the speaker. Hanging the Nest Mini from the wall also can provide a potentially cleaner look or may just blend well with your wall.

Although the small size is not intended for good portability it does make the Nest Mini great for being a device that you can take to a party easily. It is not as good as a portable speaker but if you don’t want to spend the extra money on a portable speaker and you have access to a wall outlet you can use it in most places as it is compact and light.

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Alternatives

Amazon Echo Dot 4th Gen

The main competitor to Google’s Nest Mini 2 is the Amazon Echo Dot 4th Generation. Overall the build, sound quality, and app support are about the same. The major differences are a few more minor features and the amount of support for each ecosystem.

With the Google ecosystem, you could interact with the speaker and an android phone and everything would be seamless. Also, some smart home products don’t have support for Alexa but only Google and Apple Home.

The Nest Mini is smaller in size in comparison to the 4th generation of the Echo Dot. The Echo Dot has more of a rounded shape making it take up more space. As for the construction itself, the materials used are mostly consistent except the Echo Dot uses some plastic where the Nest Mini uses rubber.

The sound is mostly the same but Google takes the edge just by having slightly more clarity and less of a “hollow” sound.

The main difference between the two besides the looks is the virtual assistants. They are quite similar in functionality with apps that can both do basically the same things as well. Google’s Assistant does take the edge in some situations for the most part but it is negligible.

Overall whatever you choose is up to your preference and there are a few minor features to look out for like if you want to hang the speaker from a wall with the Nest Mini or if you want to pay a bit extra and get an integrated clock with the Echo Dot.

Google Home Mini (1st Generation)

Google Nest Mini vs Google Home Mini

The Nest Mini (2nd gen) looks quite similar to the Home Mini (1st gen) with the only build difference is that the sides of the Home Mini use plastic rather than rubber. To power the devices you use AC power for the Nest Mini compared to Micro USB for the Home Mini. Single prong AC power is easier to plug in as it is the same shape all the way around compared to micro USB.

As for sound, there are minor improvements all around but it is not big enough to make an upgrade if you already have the 1st generation. Another minor improvement is the UI. There are now lights to mark where you change the volume just to make it more obvious on the Nest Mini.

The assistant is still the same between the two so both are equal in performance in that field.

Overall the Nest Mini is better than the Home Mini and getting the Nest Mini is definitely the better option even at a slightly higher price but if you already own a Home Mini there is no major reason to upgrade.

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Apple HomePod Mini?

If you are in the Apple Ecosystem or want to get into it then your cheapest option is to go with the Apple HomePod Mini. This isn’t the fairest comparison to the Nest Mini 2 as it is double the price usually so for the sake of argument we will mostly compare the functionality.

The HomePod smart speakers are only truly good if you are in the Apple ecosystem as you will need Apple-specific devices for it to work best. As a result, you pay Apple’s premium for this seamless experience. If you use android or like to use services that are competitors of Apple’s your best experience would be with something from Google or Amazon.

After comparing Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, and Google Assistant I found that Google Assistant and Alexa had the most functionality and could answer the most questions. Google Assistant has some exciting features that neither have like taking calls for you too.

Although Apple is known for having products with quite a good sound quality I don’t believe that investing in the HomePod mini is worth it over getting either something from Amazon or Google unless you are looking for the seamless and easy experience that Apple provides with their ecosystem.


Conclusion

At the $25 to $50 price range, the Google Nest Mini (2nd generation) is a great option for a smart speaker.

It could be the first step in creating a smart home or the final piece to bring everything together. The Nest Mini is a great option for those who want a small yet very functional device at a great price.

Google’s Nest Mini has a great virtual assistant, a ton of support for smart home devices, and has support with the in-depth Google Home App.

The build and sound quality are both strong with the build quality competing with speakers at higher price ranges.

Overall the Nest Mini is quite impressive and a strong option to consider.

If you enjoyed this article consider checking out some of our other posts.

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