Xiaomi Mi Portable Bluetooth speaker (16W) review: light on wallet, big on sound

The Mi Portable Bluetooth speaker is among the better-sounding budget speakers

For as long as I can remember, Xiaomi’s modus operandi has been to offer the most value with its products across different categories. Be it smartphones, IoT accessories, or even audio gear, the company is constantly raising the bar with its wallet-friendly offerings. A fine example of the same is the brand’s all-new Mi Portable Bluetooth speaker which retails for just Rs 2,499 in India, albeit punches way above its weight. I’ve spent some time listening to tunes on the same and here’s what I make of it. 

The Lowdown

Xiaomi has definitely taken a page or two from Logitech’s Ultimate Ears brand in the design department. To that note, the Mi Portable Bluetooth speaker comes outfitted with a woven mesh-like fabric and can be easily mistaken for the Ultimate Ears Boom 2. That doesn’t take anything away from the speaker’s good looks, mind you. and for the price, you’d be hard-pressed to get better-looking portable speakers in the market. What’s more, the unit feels sturdy and the chassis doesn’t offer any give when subjected to pressure from the sides either. I’d also like to point out that despite its modest MRP, Xiaomi has managed to squeeze in IPX7 certification and correspondingly, the Mi Portable Bluetooth speaker should be able to power your pool parties easily. 

Now, unlike most UE speakers, the Mi Portable Bluetooth speaker isn’t entirely encased in fabric and features a rubberised strip that runs across the length of the unit. The strip comprises a slew of buttons that allow users to do everything from putting the Bluetooth speaker in pairing mode, to variating the volume levels and jumping from one track to the next. The buttons offer ample tactility and the rubberised strip hasn’t deteriorated or chipped over my longish stint with the speaker either, which is fantastic. Lastly, the unit ships with a rubberised flap at the bottom which can be undone to expose the unit’s Type-C port as well as the 3.5mm analogue input, which will surely come in handy for when you want to go old school. 

Coming to the meat of the matter, the Mi Portable Bluetooth speaker features a set of 8W full-range speakers for a combined 16W output. The unit connects to compatible devices over Bluetooth v5.0 and features support for SBC codec only. So, how does the speaker sound? Well, to no one’s surprise, the Mi Portable Bluetooth speaker offers a bass-forward sound signature and consequently, the unit puts a greater emphasis on the low-end in any given soundtrack. What that entails is voluminous, punchy bass that does justice to most, if not all tracks from the hip-hop genre. So, if your playlist comprises artists like Travis Scott and Anderson .Paak, you’ll enjoy your time with the Mi Portable Bluetooth speaker.

Thankfully, unlike other affordable Bluetooth speakers, the Mi Portable Bluetooth speaker doesn’t subdue the mids and acoustic blues from artists like James Arthur sounded pleasant and enjoyable, with the unit reciprocating the artist’s vocals admirably. That said, the highs don’t sound as energetic as I would’ve hoped for and although the speaker can get quite loud, I would advise you against maxing out the volume levels as the audio gets quite muddy. 

As for the speaker’s battery backup, I was able to use the unit for around  9-10 hours off a single charge. What’s more, the device’s Type-C port ensured that I didn’t have to pack in an extra cable when venturing out with the Bluetooth speaker, which is great. I was also quite satisfied with the speaker’s Bluetooth connectivity and was able to play tunes seamlessly even with the unit positioned around 10 feet away from the source. The speaker also comes with a built-in microphone to answer calls, though the call quality leaves much to be desired as the audio output felt oddly echoey.

Verdict

The Xiaomi Mi Portable Bluetooth speaker retails for Rs 2,499 and for the price, hits the ball out of the park. Not only does the speaker offer a robust chassis, but it sounds good and gets audaciously loud as well. Those in the market for an affordable Bluetooth speaker need not look any further than the Mi Portable Bluetooth speaker.

Editor’s rating: 4 / 5 

Pros:

  • Robust chassis
  • Loud audio output 
  • Enjoyable, bass-forward sound signature
  • Long-lasting battery backup

Cons:

  • Doesn’t ship with a travel adapter in the box 
  • Uninspiring design