The past couple of years have witnessed a drastic change in audio technology. On one hand, audio quality, even in the mid-budget devices, has improved dramatically, on the other hand, the smart speakers market is expanding radically. Amid these changes, the humble Bluetooth speaker has taken a backseat with devices from companies like Sony, Boat and JBL capturing the majority of the market. Xiaomi, on the other hand, has been present in this market for quite some time. However, its portfolio so far has been limited to a handful of products. But the company tried to change this by launching the Mi Portable Bluetooth Speaker (16W) in India at an affordable price of INR 2,499.
The Mi Portable Bluetooth Speaker (16W) has all the right ingredients...err...features that would make a great portable speaker, especially in the pocket-friendly range of under 5K. To give you a quick brief, it has IPX7 waterproof coating, a 2,600mAh battery, two 8W speakers and support for the voice assistant of your choice. But the real question is -- is the Mi Portable Bluetooth Speaker (16W) good just on paper, or does it perform equally well? We will try to answer that and more in the review below. So keep reading...
Mi Portable Bluetooth Speaker (16W): Design
The Mi Portable Bluetooth Speaker (16W) features an ergonomic design that is easy to operate and practical to use. It features a cylindrical body with a mesh design all over, which gives it a rugged yet durable look, one that wouldn’t get knocked out by occasional splashes of water or an accidental drop. It certainly helps to have the IPX7 waterproof coating.
On the top, it has six buttons and an LED light that can be used for controlling various aspects of the portable speaker, everything from volume to connectivity to the voice assistant. These buttons are secured under a silicone coating, which makes it a tad bit more resistant to water and increases its outdoorsy appeal. On the right, it has an AUX port and a USB Type-C port. Both these ports are covered by a silicon cover -- making it completely bulletproof...err...waterproof.
Overall, the Mi Portable Bluetooth Speaker (16W) features a very practical design. The only caveat is that the Mi Portable Bluetooth Speaker (16W) is heavy, so if you are planning to take it on a hike, you might have to watch those extra kilos.
Mi Portable Bluetooth Speaker (16W): Performance
Coming to the performance, Mi Portable Bluetooth Speaker (16W) is a decent performer. It is loud. In fact, it is so loud that it can handle a soiree at your home with ease with the sound permeating through almost every corner of your house. What is good about it is that even at relatively high volume levels, it manages to balance the sound quite well, especially for a portable speaker in its price range. The cherry on the cake is that it offers a booming bass sound when the right music is played.
I have a variety of songs on the Mi Portable Bluetooth Speaker (16W). From country classics like Jolene by Dolly Parton and Take Me Home by John Denver to Rock classic and my personal favourite -- Summer of 69 by Bryan Adams -- to EDM hits like Titanium by David Guetta. And in my experience, I noticed that it produces a booming bass sound that is hard to miss. You can even feel the thumping on the surface where it is kept.
I also listened to songs like Last Christmas by Wham! And Carol of the Bells by Pentatonix and I noticed that the sound is clear, especially when for a Bluetooth speaker that costs less than 3K. The only caveat is that this clarity is maintained until around 50-60% of the volume level. As you go higher on the volume scale, clarity takes a nosedive.
Coming to the battery, the Mi Portable Bluetooth Speaker (16W) comes with a 2,600mAh battery, which the company says can last for around 13 hours. In usage, the Mi Portable Bluetooth Speaker (16W) lasted for me for around four to five days with light usage. I mostly listen to songs while cooking in the morning and in the evening and it served me well during that time. Charging, on the other hand, took close to three hours using the accompanying cable. You will have to get your own adapter to charge it.
Mi Portable Bluetooth Speaker (16W): Conclusion
So, we are back to our initial question: is the Mi Portable Bluetooth Speaker (16W) worth buying or not?
To answer the question in one word: Yes. The Mi Portable Bluetooth Speaker (16W) is one of the most affordable yet incredibly efficient portable speakers in the market right now, especially at a sub-3K price point. It is loud and it offers a booming bass sound that is hard to miss. Add to that a long battery life and an ergonomic design. It’s true that its sound quality dips at extremely high volume levels and it is a bit heavy. But those things can be easily ignored. All in all, the Mi Portable Bluetooth Speaker (16W) offers value for money.
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