Google’s October 4th event gave us two new Pixel phones, a new Pixelbook laptop and added two new members to the Google Home family. Here’s everything you need to know about the Google Home Mini and the beefier Google Home Max, including specs, pricing and when you’ll be able to pick them up.
The original Google Home made its debut in the US almost a year ago, whilst Brits weren’t able to pick up the company’s first connected speaker until April, 2017. As we established in our full review, it offers much of the same functionality as Amazon’s Echo speaker, letting you ask questions, search for information, stream music and control smarthome appliances, such as lights via the Google Assistant, the company’s Amazon’s Alexa rival.
Read next: Best voice-controlled AI assistant
The advantage of opting for Google’s speaker over Amazon’s is primarily the interplay it offers between other Google products and services, like music streaming service Google Play Music, as well as the Chromecast, Chromecast Ultra and Chromecast Audio streaming devices.
Check out our in-depth Google Home Mini review, and stay tuned for our complete Home Max review.
What is the Google Home Mini?
As the name suggests Google’s new Home Mini aims to shrink down the experience offered up by the original Home into a smaller, less obtrusive package. At about 12 centimetres across, this little pebble-shaped connected speaker features an inverted design to that of the original Home, with a fabric mesh covering its top face and a rounded plastic underside with a mute switch and a single lead trailing out of the back for power.
Unlike some smaller connected speakers, such as JAM Audio’s Alexa-laden Voice speaker, Google hasn’t opted for battery-powered functionality, likely to allow for an always-on microphone setup that would otherwise drain power too quickly if it were left unplugged. The top face of the Mini also conceals a bank of white LEDs that react and respond in time with voice input and output, under which sits an upward-facing single driver for 360-degree sound.
The original Home speaker featured interchangeable grille segments to suit your environment whilst the Mini will come in three separate colour options at launch: Charcoal, Coral and Chalk – reminiscent of the launch colour found on the company’s Daydream View virtual reality headset.
As with the existing Home speakers, the Home Mini is set up using Google’s own Home app for Android and iOS.
What is the Google Home Max?
The Google Home Max made its debut immediately after the pint-sized Mini left the stage.
Codenamed ‘Biggie’, likely after famed east coast rapper The Notorious B.I.G. if the company’s existing naming convention is anything to go by, the Max is designed to take on the likes of Sonos’ PLAY:3 speaker whilst also offering near-identical functionality to that of the standard Google Home and the new Home Mini.
The biggest change is a greater focus on audio quality, with a significantly larger rectangular body that houses two 4.5-inch high-excursion woofers and two 0.7-inch tweeters. Google says that it offers up to 20 times the overall loudness of the standard Google Home speakers and similarly to Sonos’ own Trueplay calibration tool, however, Google’s Smart Sound technology is automated and also adjusts the volume in relation to the surrounding ambient noise.
As with the existing Google Home offering, both free and paid Spotify users will be able to stream anything they fancy on Max and you can connect to it directly using Google Cast, Bluetooth or physically through an integrated aux lead. Microphone beamforming technology means Max can recognise users’ voice commands even when music is playing loudly too.
Like Sonos’ speakers, the Home Max can be laid horizontally or vertically and features a detachable rubberised magnetic base for grip in either orientation. It also comes in two colours: Chalk and Charcoal.
Users in the US will also receive a free 12-month YouTube Red subscription to test their Maxs out with.
How much does the Google Home Mini/Max cost?
The Google Home Mini costs $49 on pre-order in the US and £49 in the UK, whilst the Home Max will cost $399 Stateside and a predicted £349 when it hits the UK.
When does the Google Home Mini/Max launch in the UK?
You can pre-order the Google Home Mini direct from Google’s own store now whilst it should hit the market on October 17th. A UK launch date for the Home Max meanwhile is still undefined, save for being cited for 2018, however, US users can expect it to arrive in December this year.