Google Home vs Google Home Mini: Which Do You Need?

Is the Google Home worth it? Or should you go with a Google Home Mini?

Google

The Google Home and Home Mini are part of Google's line of smart speakers, but why should you buy a $130 Google Home when you can buy a $50 Google Home Mini? That's the $80 question. Is the extra money justified? Other than a bigger speaker, what exactly are you playing for with that extra money? And is that bigger speaker actually better or is it just louder?

How Much Better Is Google Home's Speaker?

The biggest difference between the Google Home and the Home Mini: the sound they produce. The Google Home Mini is clearly meant primarily as a voice-enabled assistant for your home, while the bigger Google Home is designed to add music to the equation.

Google Home

The Google Home sports a 2-inch driver and dual 2-inch passive radiators.

What We Like

  • The radiators give the Home a nice boost to bass.
  • Sound quality is tuned for music.

What We Don't Like

  • Slightly more expensive than the competing Amazon Echo
  • Doesn't sound as good as similarly priced Bluetooth speakers.

Google Home Mini

  • The Mini has a single 1.6-inch speaker.

What We Like

  • The speaker is great for voice communication, and the Google Assistant is easy to hear and understand.
  • The Home Mini is louder than the competing Amazon Echo Dot.

What We Don't Like

  • The lack of bass is a negative on an otherwise nice-sounding speaker.

Our pick: Google Home

It may seem like a foregone conclusion that the better speaker is going to win, but the question here is whether or not it is really worth the extra money. And Google Home's better speaker is worth it.

Are the Controls the Same?

Google put a fun spin on the smart speaker by including touch controls on the Google Home and the Home Mini. These controls allow you to change the volume and stop the music by touch or gesture, but the speakers can also be fully controlled by voice.

Google Home

The controls on top of the Google Home allow you to perform gestures such as moving your finger clockwise to turn the volume up or counter-clockwise to turn it down. You can also tap the top of the speaker to play/pause music and hold your finger down to as Google Assistant a question without prefacing it with "Hey Google" or "OK Google."

What We Like

  • As you adjust the volume, the top of the Home lights up to show you the volume level.
  • Once you get adjusted to it, the controls are very smooth.

What We Don't Like

  • The controls aren't as easy to use as simple buttons.

Google Home Mini

The Google Home Mini was designed to have a touch control on the top of the device as well, but a glitch that caused the Mini to inadvertently record everything it heard forced Google to disable the functionality. The Home Mini will still allow you to control the volume by touching the sides of the speaker, and if you hold your finger on the side of the speaker, it acts as a play/pause button.

What We Like

  • The lack of buttons other than a power button on the bottom rim give the Home Mini a great look.

What We Don't Like

  • The disabled controls on top of the speaker gives you less functionality.
  • The controls are awkward compared to the Google Home's smooth touch controls.

Our pick: Google Home

The Google Home's touch controls might be gimmicky, but they work well and give the Home a bit of a fun factor. 

What About Aesthetics?

The obvious difference between the Google Home and the Home Mini is size, but there are a few other differences when it comes to appearance.

Google Home

The Google Home stands 5.6 inches tall and comes with a mesh base that is designed to be easily replaceable. Google sells a $20 coral fabric base and $40 metal bases that come in carbon and copper.

What We Like

  • The ability to match your smart speaker to the room where it will sit.
  • The metal bases look fantastic.

What We Don't Like

  • Paying extra to glam the Home up.
  • You can only change the color of the base.

Google Home Mini

The smaller Mini is only 1.6 inches tall, and while slightly wider than the Home, the difference is minimal (3.86 inches vs 3.79 inches).

What We Like

  • The Mini comes in chalk, charcoal or coral.
  • The smaller size allows the Home Mini to slip onto a shelf or in a space the Google Home simply can't go.

What We Don't Like

  • Limited colors.
  • No customization options after you purchase.

Our pick: Tie

The Google Home definitely has more customization options, but the Home Mini may be the coolest looking of any smart speaker on the market. 

Is Google Assistant Any Different Between the Home and the Home Mini?

While Google Home has some nice added features, it is important to point out that the Google Assistant is exactly the same on both the Home and the Home Mini.

This means you'll be able to issue the same commands and ask the same questions of both smart speakers. Google Assistant ties into the same knowledge graph used by Google's search engine, which makes it the best smart device this side of IBM's Watson for answering questions. 

Here are a few things you can do with Google Assistant:

  • Ask questions from "What are the best pizza places in Dallas?" to "Why do cats have fur?"
  • Play Music from Google Play, YouTube Music, Spotify, Pandora and other streaming music services.
  • Add events to your Google Calendar.
  • Shop using Google Express.
  • Place phone calls.
  • Control your home through compatible smart devices
  • And many more...

Our Pick: Google Home

The only caveat here is music. If you are going to listen to it, the Google Home is worth the extra money. It is the best smart speaker in the $100-$150 range when it comes to listening to music, so this side of a Sonos, it's the smart speaker to get.

If you are only planning on asking the Google Assistant questions, controlling your smart home devices or shopping, the Home Mini will save you about $80. But if you are going to crank up the jams, the extra money is worth it.