We don’t hear many major releases in the category of portable wireless speakers these days. Also, there aren’t a lot of big brands in the affordable part of this market, with options from JBL, Boat, Anker Soundcore and Sony dominating online listings and offline store shelves. That being said, low-cost portable Bluetooth speakers still have a lot of appeal. Xiaomi has been present in this segment for some time, but product launches have been few in recent years.
The company recently made a re-entry into space with the portable Bluetooth speaker Mi (16W). Price at Rs. 2,499, this speaker has an affordable price for what is offered, at least on paper. As the name suggests, you get 16 W of rated sound output, IPX7 water resistance and more. It is Mi Portable Bluetooth Speaker 16W the best you can buy in the segment of portable wireless speakers for less than Rs. 5,000? Find out in this review.
The Mi (16W) portable Bluetooth speaker looks and feels good
While many low-budget portable wireless speakers have sharp lines and bright colors to make them look more attractive, I like the simple, punctual style of the Mi (16W) portable Bluetooth speaker. It has a design similar to the Bluetooth Mi Outdoor Bluetooth speaker, launched in 2020; the fabric-wrapped exterior, the elastic cord, and the rubber buttons reminded me of the smaller speaker.
Although you can position the Mi (16W) portable Bluetooth speaker vertically, it is ideally placed horizontally on a table and has rubber handles at the bottom to stay safe. With this orientation, the speaker drivers pull forward and the buttons are at the top. Controls include power, volume, playback, Bluetooth pairing, and a dedicated stereo wireless pairing button, which can be used if you have two of these speakers and want to use them together.
The buttons are easy to press and leave no room for water to seep into the sensitive electrical components of the Mi Portable Bluetooth speaker (16W). They cover most of the functions you need to operate the speaker directly, without having to lift your associated source device too often.
The IPX7 water resistance rating for the Mi (16W) portable Bluetooth speaker means that all types of exposure to the elements and even complete immersion in water for a short period of time should not harm the device at all. There is a Type C USB port for charging under a tight-fitting rubber flap on the right side, along with a 3.5mm jack for auxiliary connectivity. Of course, the main speaker connectivity mode is Bluetooth 5, with support only for the SBC Bluetooth codec.
The Mi (16W) portable Bluetooth speaker has a rated power of 16W, split between two identical 8W full-range drivers. There are two equalization modes – deep and normal bass – that can be switched between simultaneously pressing the play / pause button and “+”. You can also invoke the default voice assistant on your smartphone by pressing the power button twice when the speaker is turned on.
Battery life is decent for a speaker of this size and output; The portable Bluetooth Mi (16W) speaker has a 2,600mAh battery, which operated for about 9-10 hours on moderate volume charging. Charging is done via the USB Type-C port and took about 3 hours to fully charge the speaker using a 10W wall adapter. It is worth noting that you only receive one USB cable in the box, so you will need to use your own adapter.
Loud and loud sound on Mi (16W) portable Bluetooth speaker
The design isn’t the only resemblance between the Mi (16W) Portable Bluetooth Speaker and its more affordable sibling, the Mi Outdoor Bluetooth Speaker; the larger device has the same strong sonic signature, but is, of course, slightly louder due to the two drivers emitting 8W of sound each. This also makes it a little more detailed in sound, and the performance is decent even at lower volumes.
When I listened to “Standby” by Oliver Heldens in my office, I had the speaker at a volume level of 30-40 percent, which made a decent sound within walking distance. Part of this is due to the fact that the drivers pulling in front make sure that the sound is directed and precise. While the banging of the lower range of this dance piece was heard even at small volumes, it did not have much unity; instead, the speaker tended to impressively mid-range, creating a detailed and pleasing sound in the voice.
Increasing the volume to about 60%, Jaago de Lifafa sounds considerably different, with deeper lows, tight and loud bass and a much more energetic sound, especially in the last part of the song, where rhythm and tone are everything. Apart from the fact that it is incredibly loud and full of room, the sound remained clean and precise, the voices in the first half of the song sounding very clear. The sound quality at reasonable levels was significantly better than I heard from most of the other options available for less than Rs. 5,000.
However, increasing the volume close to the maximum level changed the sound a little again. The lows started to sound boom and muddy, the highs started to crack under pressure, and the mid-range tended to break as well. Like any affordable speaker, the Mi (16W) portable Bluetooth speaker does not withstand intense power. I couldn’t hear too many differences between normal equalization modes and “deep bass”; the first sounded a little cleaner, and the second gave the minuses a slight swelling.
At higher volumes, it becomes strong enough to cover a large room or even more spacious outdoor spaces. That being said, the Mi (16W) portable Bluetooth speaker is best used at moderate volumes, at which it is powerful enough for reasonable listening at home. This is the basic difference between a product like this and more expensive options, such as the EU Boom 3, which sounds good even at high volumes.
The decent midrange produced by the Mi Portable Bluetooth Speaker (16W) meant I had a decent experience using it for occasional voice calls, although generally a speaker won’t give you as much accuracy in this department as a good pair of wireless headphones.
The Mi (16W) portable Bluetooth speaker is impressive considering its price, for a key reason: it’s very loud. The sound quality is decent and there are plenty of beats and drives to satisfy the bass lovers as well. It also helps the speaker to have an IPX7 water resistance and provide good battery life for a device of its size and capabilities. Overall, it has very little to complain about with the Mi (16W) portable Bluetooth speaker; it is quite easily the best one you can buy for under Rs. 3,000.
Although this speaker is not maintained at the highest volumes, listening even around the volume level of 60-70% still makes for a pleasant experience. At its price, the Mi (16W) portable Bluetooth speaker is great value for money and definitely worth checking out if you’re looking for an affordable wireless speaker right now.
HomePod mini is the best smart speaker under Rs. 10,000? We discussed this on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and wherever you get your podcasts.