Putting Xiaomi’s speaker next to any other smart speaker of the same value is like sizing up David and Goliath. Its audio might not shame the Silicon Valley giants but the pricing is enough to convince the price-sensitive folks.

Setting the Mi Smart speaker at the centre of your home automation is the ideal way to squeeze performance from this thing. There’s a Google AI butler sitting inside which answers all your questions and executes smart home commands with prompt and gusto.

Performance

The Google AI responds in the same way it would on any of your devices that have a Google Assistant. It’s quick, easy and very intelligent for smart home automation. Activating the never-sleeping butler are the magic words ‘Ok Google’ which can be yelled from a decent distance depending on the ambient noise and the music from the speaker itself. We could trigger Google over full volume music. Depending on how far the speaker is and how loud the music is, you might have to move and yell accordingly. On full volume, yelling from one room to the other is not going to help. You might want to get in the firing line of the speaker and then give it a go. That said, the mics are capable and quite efficient. 

At full volume, the speakers tend to squeal a bit. It’s not a lot but enough to send audiophiles looking elsewhere. The speakers don’t pick up energy when playing Dive In by Dave Matthews Band. Maximum volume might be the enemy here but as soon as you pull the reins, the speaker starts to behave. It’s clear that these favour vocals but also maintain the toe-tapping rhythm for bass-heavy songs like Super Sick by Maydien. You Don’t Know by Leon Bridges is met equally with rhythmic fun. Albeit, it lacks the full-body sound and richness that we’re used to seeing from other (read as also expensive) smart speakers. However bass-favouring the Mi smart speaker might feel, it does the job with finesse for its price category. The bass is fine. We could give more credit here but when we played Feel Alright by Poolside, it becomes apparent that sophistication isn’t its virtue. 

You can feel the lack of energy and emotion here in Lewis Capaldi’s voice in Someone You Loved but expecting anything more than what the Mi Smart Speaker can deliver is not fair because of the price at which it delivers said sound quality. Judging from those metrics alone, the Mi smart speaker is offering simple sound quality that can possibly be trumped by Ultimate Ears’ Wonderboom 2 but that doesn’t have a talking AI in it, does it?

Design

Every time you beckon the AI butler, a ring of blue light circles the top of the speaker almost like an answer to your needy cries. This is stolen straight from Amazon’s Echo line of smart speakers but unlike those, these don’t have an indicative value to show with colour. It’s just a dull blue light and quite thin to see if it’s above your eye level. Echo does a better and brighter job with its LED ring.

Even then, we’ll take it. It’s here and it adds value to your voice commands by indicating that the AI has heard you.

The metal grill on this thing is not for our taste. We’re spoiled by the fabric finishes by, again, expensive smart speakers. Thankfully, you don’t have to touch this one bit after setting it up. There are touch controls on top but who will waste energy in physically controlling the audio? Not us. We’re happy with voice commands. 

Xiaomi’s speaker doesn’t have an audio out port behind. There’s just room to plug the power cord in. So if you’re looking to lend some AI goodness to your dumb speakers with this, forget it. The Echo Dot is a better option as it comes with an audio-out jack. Xiaomi did tell us that the Mi smart speaker can be used in stereo if you place two of them and pair them up much like the Apple HomePod.

Verdict

The smart speaker that brings the voice of the AI butler to your living room at a throwaway price. You’re no stranger to our reviews and we’ve said this time and again, Xiaomi’s way of offering more for less couldn’t have been best told without this speaker and it speaks volumes for the brand. For ₹3,499 you’re getting a smart speaker with Google AI and sound quality to match. 

The audio won’t have a profound impact on your listening habits but it's enough. Just enough for us to love it and its audio. If you’ve been holding back on smart speakers, Xiaomi Mi smart speaker is an inexpensive way to step in that direction.

Stuff says... 

Xiaomi Mi Smart Speaker review

Not the most sophisticated listen but if you can’t break your savings, the Mi smart speaker is the best way to invest in a smart speaker
₹3499
Good Stuff 
Value for money
Light ring helps
Clean design
Google AI is fast and responsive
Mics are done correctly
Bad Stuff 
Not for picky audio nerds