While the Google Nest Audio and Google Home speakers are full-size devices, there are two much smaller variants available: the Nest Mini and the Google Home Mini. Smaller in size, the two miniature smart speakers are packed with more than enough features to stand right up there with their bigger brothers. Both the Nest Mini and the Home Mini can play music, update Google apps, respond to voice commands, and more. So what makes these two different enough to be separate products? Read on to find out.
To learn more about when is the best time to buy, check out our guide to the best Google Home deals.
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Prices and availability
In many ways, the Nest Mini was meant to be a replacement for the Home Mini, with several major updates and a renewed focus on the “Nest” brand and the data security it provides. Since the Home Mini is essentially an older version, it’s available for $40 or less, while the Nest Mini is available for $50. This also stacks up well against competing products like Amazon’s fourth-generation Echo Dot, which retails for $50.
Is the Nest Mini worth the extra money? Given the sound enhancements and built-in wall-mount capability, we certainly think so.
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Home Mini is a small cloth-covered disc. The top of the unit uses three LED dots to communicate functions such as running a process, listening, or running configurations. You can tap the sides of the Mini to change the volume, stop the process, or mute the sound. However, this can be a bit difficult since they are not properly labeled; it often takes a few taps to find them. There’s a small mic switch at the bottom to turn the mic off completely as needed. The Mini comes in several different colors, including navy blue and orange.
At first glance, the Nest Mini looks the same. It’s a bit smaller (so small it’s hard to tell) and comes in slightly different colors. There is also a wall mount built into this model, where the Home Mini requires the purchase of a wall mount accessory. The touch controls on both sides of the device and the LED lights on top work the same on both models.
We will also notice that the factory reset is different between the two devices. For the Home Mini, there’s a small factory reset button just below the power cord that you hold down for 10 seconds. The Nest Mini does not have this button. Instead, mute the microphone, then press and hold the center of the speaker when the LED lights turn orange and hold for 10 seconds. If you reboot, don’t confuse these two different processes.
smart home control
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Since both the Nest Home and the Home Mini use the Google Assistant to control smart devices, they have the same function: anything that works through the Google Assistant will work on both devices. Both can connect to and control many smart devices around the home, both can run on Android or iOS, and there isn’t a significant difference.
Google has revamped its Works with Nest program in recent years, and many smart devices have lost compatibility as a result. Google replaced the old program with a stricter version of Works with Google Assistant (with a focus on privacy) and is slowly building compatibility with newer smart devices. You can learn more about the new program and device compatibility here.
speakers and sound
The Home Mini has a 40mm sound driver, about the same size as the large headphones. This is a significant reduction in range and sound quality compared to larger Bluetooth speakers like the Google Nest Audio. Unfortunately, this version of the Home Mini only has a micro-USB port for power, so you’ll need a wireless Bluetooth headset to connect (you can then connect to your computer). It’s not really designed as a music player.
This is where we run into one of the biggest differences to the Nest Mini, the speaker upgrade. The Nest Mini still has a 40mm driver, but Google reports that it’s redesigned the sound system to deliver bass that’s twice as powerful as the original model. It’s hard to tell when the specs are the same, but there is a significant improvement in sound. However, neither model will come close to the level of performance that a full-fledged smart speaker can achieve, so they’re not good for listening to music across the room. The Nest Mini, however, has the edge when it comes to notifications, reports, sports tracking, and other audio-related uses when the speaker is nearby.
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The Nest Mini and Home Mini serve similar purposes as smaller helpers for larger hubs. Use them in smaller spaces to upgrade your home system where a larger hub would be too much. Minis are mostly at home on desks, in bedrooms, hanging out next to workplaces, or in smaller workplaces where people will be working nearby. They don’t work as well as alarm clocks because there’s no simple function to tell time, but they can serve as alarm clock companions if you prefer a voice assistant in the morning.
You can also connect two speakers for a cool stereo effect, which is definitely worth trying. To do this, you just need to place the speakers about 10 feet away. It will work best if they are both about the same level. You can then connect the two speakers through the Google Home app. When you do this, you suddenly transform a large space into an epic surround sound theater.
We want to highlight a few key things to remember with this method: only one of the speakers will listen and respond to your commands, and the speakers must be identical models for this to be successful. This means you can connect two Home Minis or two Nest Minis together, but you won’t be able to connect a Home Mini and a Nest Mini together. Therefore, it is always better to buy two or more pieces of the same model.
The Nest Mini is the clear champion between these two smart speakers. The best part is that it only costs around $10 more than the Home Mini (at current retail prices) and offers improved sound quality, updated hardware, and a wide range of mounting options. The Nest Mini is the best option for any homeowner who wants great sound quality. The only reason you should buy the Home Mini is if you can snag it when it’s on sale.