The Bose SoundLink Mini is a small Bluetooth speaker with a charging dock that makes it ridiculously convenient as a speaker to take around the house with you. Its small-but-stubby design means it's portable too, if not quite pocketable like the Jawbone Mini Jambox.
It is not cheap at £169, but more clever design elements have been put into the Bose SoundLink Mini than most of its rivals.
The Bose SoundLink Mini is the smallest in Bose’s line of wireless speakers. It’s the baby brother of the full-size SoundLink, but the shape and look are very different.
The Mini is stubbier. It's deeper than it is tall. It’s 18cm long, 5cm high and 6cm deep. Unlike some ultra-small Bluetooth speakers, the Bose SoundLink Mini doesn’t try to be as skinny as possible.
We think Bose intends the Bose SoundLink Mini to be used primarily around the house, supported by the inclusion of a neat charge dock. Plug this in and you just need to plonk the speaker on it to charge – there are metal contacts on the unit and the dock. The speaker is small enough to hold in one hand, though, and there’s no reason why you can’t bung it in a rucksack or handbag to take it out of the house. However, we find it spectacularly convenient to use as a mini boom box to take from garden, to kitchen, to resting on the sink as you have a bath.
It’s not much of a looker, though. Where many small speakers opt for a youthful, trendy design, the Bose SoundLink Mini looks straight to the slightly older audience that generally Bose is associated with.
Build quality is excellent though. The front and back grilles are coated metal, the rest is reinforced with a 2mm thick single-piece band of anodised aluminium. The top controls are finished with rubber, giving the Bose SoundLink Mini a bit of minor splash-proofing. It’s a hefty little thing too, weighing just under 700g. It’s not heavy enough to cause any practical issues, but is enough to make it feel like a high-quality speaker.
It’s also reasonably flexible. You can charge the Bose SoundLink Mini without the dock, using an included charger, and there’s a 3.5mm aux input on the side to let you plug in things that don’t have Bluetooth. There is also a microUSB port on the bottom of the speaker. However, this is used to update the firmware rather than to charge the battery. This is a shame given how many phones use the microUSB standard (almost all of them).
There is one other obvious missing feature – a microphone. The Bose SoundLink Mini can’t be used as a speakerphone. This will be a deal-breaker for some, and a complete non-issue for others.
The Bose SoundLink Mini has a driver array that makes great use of the available space. There are two active 1.5-inch drivers and a pair of passive bass radiators.
Using bass radiators is just about the only way for a speaker this size to produce a decent amount of bass. And the bass response is great for a speaker this small. The sound is quite punchy and powerful – much more than you might expect given its size.
The radiators have been expertly applied too. There are two radiators that sit at opposite sides of the Bose SoundLink Mini, in Mexican stand-off pose. This stops any distortion from happening, meaning you can crank up the speaker to its maximum volume without making the radiators distort – as often happens in speakers this like this. Bose clearly knows what it is doing.
Its sound signature is solid, and accessible. Treble is relaxed, the sound is quite warm and bulky – making for an easy, non-fatiguing listen. However, there are limits to what 1.5-inch drivers can do. Definition and dynamics are quite limited. While the Bose SoundLink Mini projects its sound well, it obviously does not have the width and soundstage of a larger speaker. Among its peers, though, it’s a top performer.
The Bose SoundLink Mini is a great little portable speaker. We like the convenience of the charge dock, how easy it is to carry around the house and the power it offers relative to its size.
However, it is a little pricey. It’s a criticism we often make of wireless speakers – like style headphones, the product category comes with its own price bump. And now that the larger Bose SoundLink costs just £30 more online, the price is not entirely easy to live with.
Next, check out our round-up of the best portable speakers.
The Bose SoundLink Mini is portable, convenient, very well-made and powerful for its size. However, it is quite pricey.