The Google Nest Mini is the successor to the company’s most affordable smart speaker, the Google Home Mini – and while they look very similar, there are a few key differences between the two desk buddies.
While popular, the Google Home Mini did have its issues; namely poor audio quality, which the tech giant hoped to rectify with the newer Nest Mini.
The finished result is an entry-level smart speaker that doesn’t have the same power or clarity of, say, the Apple HomePod, Amazon Echo Studio or Google Home Max, but its low cost and spectacular feature set makes it a great jumping off point for folks just getting into smart home voice control and automation.
So how does the new model stack up against its predecessor? We put Google's cutest speakers to the test.
[Update: There's a new Google Nest speaker in town – the Google Nest Audio comes with upgraded sound quality, a new design, and costs $99 / £89 / AU$149. It launched alongside the Pixel 5 and a new Chromecast at the company's Launch Night In event on September 30.]
- Read our Google Pixel Buds review
- Google Pixel 5: everything we know so far
- Check out the latest Amazon Echo
Google Nest Mini vs Google Home Mini: price and availability
One of the most attractive aspects of the Google Home Mini was its low price; at just $49 / £49 / AU$79, it’s consistently one of the most affordable smart speakers on the market.
Before the Nest Mini launched, you could typically buy it for just $19 / £19 in the US and UK, which is outrageously cheap; however, it's increasingly difficult to find the first-gen Home Mini these days as it's phased out by its successor.
Again, discounts are not hard to come by, with Google Nest Mini prices routinely dropping to around $30 / £30 / AU$60.
Happily, the new Google Nest Mini costs exactly the same as the Home Mini's RRP, so you won’t be paying a premium to get your hands on the newer Google Assistant speaker.
Google Nest Mini vs Google Home Mini: design
Design-wise there’s not a huge amount of difference between these two smart speakers; they’re exactly the same size and shape, with the same chic fabric grille and four-LED display.
However, the Google Nest Mini’s fabric grille is now made entirely from recycled plastic bottles, while the external enclosure is made from “at-least 35% post-consumer recycled plastic”, according to the company.
Like the original Google Home Mini, the new Nest Mini comes in Chalk, Charcoal, and Coral, as well as a new color, Sky (in case you hadn’t guessed, this is a light-blue shade).
Both speakers feature capacitive touch controls, which allow you to control your music playback, while a microphone switch enables you to turn off active listening, stopping Google Assistant from constantly picking up your voice.
New to the Google Nest Mini is ultrasound technology; this means that when audio is playing, the LEDs will light up as you approach the speaker to help you see the volume buttons. According to Cnet, it does this by emitting tiny inaudible chirps that “bounce off objects in the environment, reflect back to the microphones and tell the device if someone is near”.
You can also now play/pause your music by tapping the top of the Google Nest Mini.
Unlike its predecessor, the Google Nest Mini is wall-mountable, making it a cool design focal-point for your home, as well as a hub for all your smart gadgets.
Google Nest Mini vs Google Home Mini: features
As they’re both powered by Google Assistant, you’ll find the Google Home Mini and Google Nest Mini share many of the same features, allowing you to control your smart home devices hands-free with your voice.
The things Google Assistant can do are incredibly varied; the powerful voice assistant is capable of anything from answering your general knowledge questions, to checking your emails and appointments.
It’s getting smarter all the time, using artificial intelligence to learn and adapt, maturing and becoming more useful with every passing day
For example, both speakers can place calls for free in the US, a feature that's also recently launched in the UK, as well as stream music through an assortment of music apps like Pandora, Spotify, YouTube Music, iHeartRadio and more. The new Nest Mini has been updated to support Bluetooth 5, which offers a stable connection when playing music wirelessly from your device.
Thanks to Google Assistant, the Home Mini and the Nest Mini can also send requests to pull up a YouTube video over to your Chromecast-enabled TV and control Internet of Things (IoT) devices like smart lights, smart security cameras, and more.
One new feature that’s coming to the Google Nest Mini (and all other Nest smart speakers and displays), is the ability to use it as an intercom; this allows you to talk to anyone in your home using your phone or another Nest speaker.
Google Nest Mini vs Google Home Mini: sound
Audio fidelity was never the Google Home Mini’s strong point, but as a desk buddy, the audio works just fine. Its 40mm driver won’t exactly blow you away with powerful bass and the 360-degree sound that Google promised back in 2017, but this mini speaker can get fairly loud.
Google says that the newer Nest Mini has twice the bass power of the original Home Mini, with “a richer and more natural sound that allows you to hear more detail and is authentic to the artist’s intent”.
This boosted bass is made possible by a custom 40mm driver that’s designed to bring those bass frequencies to the forefront of the soundstage, while the company’s proprietary tuning software helps to “perfect the sound”.
We found that the audio quality offered by the Google Nest Mini was fairly average; it has good clarity in the mid-range that’s perfect for speech reproduction (great for podcasts), but it’s not very musical, especially in the high or bass ranges. It will absolutely surprise you by how loud it can get but the fatiguing treble and anemic bass don’t make for the best experience when listening to your favorite songs.
Need a bigger sound? Both speakers can be grouped with other Google Home or Nest speakers to fill your entire home with music. New to the Google Nest Mini is the ability to pair two speakers for true stereo sound, bringing it in line with the third-gen Amazon Echo Dot.
Google Nest Mini vs Google Home Mini: takeaway
Even if you can still find the Google Home Mini, we'd recommend going for the newer Google Nest Mini.
Subtle design changes, like the ability to wall-mount and the use of eco-friendly materials are a step in the right direction, while ultrasound technology makes the Nest Mini smarter than its predecessor.
The ability to connect your phone via Bluetooth is another useful feature, and we like the fact that you can pair two to create a stereo sound system – and they're so cheap, that this really won't break the bank.
The audio quality still isn't the best on the market, but there is a slight improvement compared to the original Google Home Mini. The Nest Mini is never going to win awards for its audio fidelity, but as a desk buddy for casual listening, it's a great choice.