Google Home vs.Google Home Mini

Which is right for you?

The Google Home and Google Home Mini are part of Google's line of smart speakers. Why should you buy a Google Home when you can buy the less expensive Google Home Mini? Other than a bigger speaker, what exactly are you playing for with that extra money? Is that bigger speaker better, or is it just louder? We reviewed both devices to help you make your decision.

Google Home Smart Speaker
Google

Overall Findings

Google Home
  • Tuned for music.

  • Customization options.

  • 5.6 inches tall.

Google Home Mini
  • Tuned for voice.

  • Limited customization options.

  • 1.6 inches tall.

The choice between Google Home and Google Home Mini comes down to a few characteristics: sound quality, customization options, and size. Google Assistant is the same on both smart speakers.

Sound: Google Home Has an Obvious Edge

Google Home
  • 2-inch driver and dual 2-inch passive radiators.

  • Impressive sound quality for such a small device.

Google Home Mini

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

It may seem like a foregone conclusion that the better speaker is going to win, but the question here is whether it is worth the extra money. In our opinion, Google Home's better speaker is worth it.

The Controls: Google Home's Fun Controls Win

Google Home
  • Several touch controls for volume, play/pause, and asking questions.

  • As you adjust the volume, the top of the Home lights up to show you the volume level.

  • Touch controls don't work as well as buttons.

Google Home Mini
  • Glitch at launch led Google to disable some touch controls.

  • The controls are awkward compared to Google Home's smooth touch controls.

  • Lack of buttons gives Home Mini a sleek look.

Google put a fun spin on the smart speaker by including touch controls on the Google Home and the Google Home Mini.

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 counterclockwise to turn it down. You can also tap the top of the speaker to play or pause music and hold your finger down to ask Google Assistant a question without prefacing it with "Hey Google" or "OK Google." The Google Home's touch controls might be gimmicky, but they work well and give the Home a bit of a fun factor. 

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 Google Home Mini still allows 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.

Aesthetics: It's a Tie

Google Home
  • Customization options to match your smart speaker to your room.

  • The metal bases look fantastic.

  • You can only change the color of the base.

Google Home Mini
  • Comes in chalk, charcoal, or coral.

  • No customization options after you purchase.

  • Smaller size fits in places the Google Home can't.

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.

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

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

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

Google Assistant: The Same on Both Devices

The Google Assistant is exactly the same on both the Google Home and the Google Home Mini.

You can issue the same commands and ask the same questions of both smart speakers. Google Assistant ties into the knowledge graph used by Google's search engine, which makes it the best smart speaker interface this side of IBM's Watson for answering questions. 

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

  • Ask questions ranging 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.
  • Place phone calls.
  • Control your home through compatible smart devices

Final Verdict

Google Home is the better buy, particularly if you are going to listen to it. It is the best smart speaker in its price 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 Google Home Mini saves you a little money.