Anker Soundcore Mini Review

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Pros

  • Fantastic value
  • Metal shell
  • Sounds surprisingly powerful
  • Integrated MP3 player and FM radio

Cons

  • Bluetooth reliability is patchy

Key Features

  • Review Price: £20.99
  • FM radio
  • Up to 15-hour battery
  • microSD MP3 player
  • Aux input
  • Bluetooth
  • Passive radiator

What is the Anker Soundcore Mini?

The Anker Soundcore Mini is the perfect distillation of what Anker does. It’s a tiny £20 speaker that, by all rights, should be an absolute piece of tat. But it’s actually brilliant.

It’s one of the tiniest speakers I’ve seen to use a passive radiator. This makes the Soundcore Mini sound much bigger and bassier than you’d expect. And it’s packed with more features than some speakers 10 times the price.

Bluetooth? Check. Aux? Check. And it also has MP3 playback over microSD, a mic for hands-free calls and, the truly oddball extra, a built-in FM radio.

I haven’t been as pleasantly surprised by a small speaker in years. A few issues with Bluetooth reception and the fact that the now-similarly-priced Creative Muvo 2C has deeper bass keep it away from the highest review scores. But a lot of people will fall in love with this tiny speaker, with good reason.

Related: Best Bluetooth speakers

Anker Soundcore Mini — Design

The Anker Soundcore Mini is a squat bollard of speaker. It fits in the palm of your hand, and barely takes up any space in a bag.

Like a lot of Anker earphones and batteries, it uses a metal outer to give you the impression this isn’t a cheap piece of junk. And it works. While painted aluminium is likely to get visibly scratched quite quickly if you treat the Soundcore Mini carelessly, the look and feel is remarkably classy for something that costs just £20.

It ranks alongside the Creative Muvo 2C for portability. While the Anker looks a lot smaller front-on, its cylindrical shape means it’s a fair bit deeper. Both will fit in a coat pocket, though.

The sound comes out of the top, so you can put the Anker Soundcore Mini more or less anywhere. And there’s a rubber foot on the bottom to stop excessive vibration wobbling anything nearby too much.

Don’t like the black version we have? Anker also makes the Soundcore Mini in pink, gold and silver. These speakers are a little more grown-up looking than the previous go-to tiny pocket-money speaker suggestion, the Jam Classic.

Anker Soundcore Mini — Features

If the Anker Soundcore Mini sounded decent, that would be enough for a £20 wireless speaker to justify itself. But this little thing is almost ridiculously feature-packed.

But let’s deal with the most important part first: the Anker Soundcore Mini is a Bluetooth speaker, so you can hook it up to just about any phone wirelessly. It doesn’t care whether you have an Android or iPhone.

Bluetooth signal is one of the Mini’s few little weak spots. The signal is not ultra-reliable, and occasionally you’ll hear cut-outs, and then what almost sounds like a sped-up portion of audio as the speaker makes up for lost time.

The Bluetooth chip is one part Anker potentially saved a few pennies on.

It does a lot more besides too, though. There’s an aux input for non-wireless sources, a microSD slot lets you play MP3s (and only MP3s apparently) and, oddest of all, an FM radio. Press the Mode button on the back and to start you’ll just hear static.

However, plug in a microUSB cable to act as an antenna, long-press the “play” button on the front and the Soundcore Mini starts scanning for stations. You then long-press the volume up/down buttons to change stations.

Let’s get real — a speaker with no screen is not ideal as an FM radio or MP3 player. However, at £20 these features feel like free extras, and they only add to the unit’s versatility. It also gives you options if you end up in a field in the middle of nowhere without mobile internet. You can still listen to BBC Radio 4.

FM may be headed for the switch-off in the UK, but we still should have a few years of FM radio ahead. The battery lasts for up to 15 hours, which is great for a small unit.

One functional niggle: it’s not that easy to tell which mode the Soundcore Mini is in. Where the Creative Muvo 2C has a multi-colour LED on its top, the one on the Mini’s front only glows white and blue, so you have to learn the mode order.

The Mini is not water-resistant either. Anker does make a version with IPX7 resistance, the Soundcore Mini 2. However, it’s twice the price so loses some of the value edge.

Anker Soundcore Mini – Sound Quality

All the extra features wouldn’t mean much if the Anker Soundcore Mini sounded as bad as most tiny speakers, but it doesn’t. Anker has maxed out the engineering of this little cylinder, packing in both an active driver and a passive radiator.

This amplifies the bass of the main driver, to help avoid the thin, scratchy sound many older speakers this size have.

The Anker Soundcore Mini is perhaps the smallest speaker I’ve used that can be classed as genuinely enjoyable to listen to. It sounds radically larger than it looks, and puts out serious volume for its size.


The Soundcore Mini with a few of our favourites

This speaker easily bests the old favourite Jam Classic 2.0. While that larger speaker has a solid 2-inch driver, the passive radiator here substantially lowers the bass floor so your music sounds fuller, beefier, more powerful.

I was flat-out surprised when comparing the Soundcore Mini to the much larger UE Roll 2. The Anker may have a smaller sound field and lower max volume, but tonally it doesn’t sound too far off.

The mids are the other surprise. You tend to expect a speaker with a radiator and tiny driver to have bass and treble, and not much in between. But Anker has really tried to add some bulk to the mids.

As a result, singers voices tend to sound weightier and thicker here than through the rival Creative Muvo 2C. This switches around when you put on some dance music, though. The Creative has significantly deeper bass, and makes kick-drums thud more convincingly. Its treble is also a little brighter and clearer.

At max volume, the Soundcore Mini’s mids and bass can distort a little with some music. But we don’t expect perfection at the price, and sometimes you just need that ambitious extra hit of volume.

Should I buy the Anker Soundcore Mini?

In a fight between the Soundcore Mini and Creative Muvo 2C, we’re tempted to side with Creative now their prices are very similar online. Slightly deeper bass makes it a shade more fun than the Mini, and its Bluetooth is a little more reliable.

However, the Anker Soundcore Mini is still a brilliant budget buy. An FM radio is an ingenious, and unexpected, extra. It’s the sound that matters most, though, and we think most of you will be very impressed with what Anker has teased out of a speaker this small.

Verdict

A tiny speaker many of you will fall in love with

Score


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