Jabra Solemate Mini Review

SolemateMini_1
Jabra’s Solemate Mini has a unique form factor for a portable speaker, alongside seriously loud output.

Jabra Solemate Mini: On the plus side

Hey, there’s this new category of products on the market. Small Bluetooth-enabled portable speakers. They’re pretty niche — you probably haven’t heard of them.
Sigh. Sarcasm is so hard to do properly online. There are, of course, billions of Bluetooth speakers flooding the market right now, with many, many choices if you want a little cable-free music from your smartphone to entertain and/or annoy others.
In any case, the Jabra Solemate Mini is, as the name suggests, the smaller brother of the Solemate, a Bluetooth speaker with a sneaker-based pun title and a somewhat rugged design aesthetic.
This is the Solemate boiled down into a smaller form factor, and as such that means that if you simply watch the video I shot of the Solemate from a couple of metres away from your screen, you’ll get the full Solemate Mini experience.

There are a few tweaks and changes with the Solemate Mini. It supports NFC pairing for a start if that’s important to you, and the supplied 3.5mm audio jack is orange rather than yellow. Battery life is stated by Jabra at 8 hours, and it’s talk capable if you want to use it as a desktop speaker.

It's a brutal fight for survival in the Bluetooth speaker market. Here we see a Solemate Mini triumphant over the larger and older original Solemate.
It’s a brutal fight for survival in the Bluetooth speaker market. Here we see a Solemate Mini triumphant over the larger and older original Solemate.

It can manage that eight hour figure, although if you’re using it at higher volumes or for lots of calls you may find it falls a little short of that. Bluetooth range was quite good in tests, managing a solid music connection up to 10 metres away — including a wall — before breaking up in my tests.

Jabra Solemate Mini: On the minus side

Easily the most impressive thing about the Solemate Mini is the output power, even at lower volumes. That’s great if you want room-filling sound, but it’s not so ideal if you want a desk speaker, because even at low volume settings, the Solemate Mini is loud.
Loud is also a problem at higher volume settings, simply because even with its rubber feet, it does distort noticeably. There’s only so much you can do with a speaker this small to avoid that, but it’s still quite apparent.

To appreciate the design, you've got to have some sole love
To appreciate the design, you’ve got to have some sole love

The rugged aesthetic works within its mission of being splash and dust resistant, although Jabra doesn’t specify figures for that, so swimming with it would be unwise. At the same time, though, this is a market where there a lot of choices, and many of them are more aesthetically pleasant than the Solemate Mini.
One odd design choice that marks the Solemate Mini out from its bigger brother are its volume and call buttons. On the full size Solemate, they’re flush with the top of the speaker, but on the Mini they’re slightly extruded. That makes them a little easier to tap, but within the context of it being a rugged speaker I wonder if that extrusion might not catch on other objects within a bag and wear over time.

Jabra Solemate Mini: Pricing

This review originally stated the price of the Solemate Mini as $179; this was an error.
Jabra’s RRP for the Solemate Mini is $99, which is entirely average for a small portable Bluetooth speaker.

Jabra Solemate Mini: Fat Duck verdict

The Solemate Mini is a solid little speaker, both in construction and the general quality of the audio it pumps out. Those wanting something showy might not like the brutal design concept, but if you’re after something portable it’s definitely worthy of consideration alongside the massed armies of very similar speaker products.

About the author

Alex Kidman is a multi-award winning Australian technology writer, former editor at Gizmodo, CNET, GameSpot, ZDNet, PC Mag, APC, Finder and as a contributor to the ABC, SMH, AFR, Courier Mail, GadgetGuy, PC & Tech Authority, Atomic and many more. He's been writing professionally since 1998, and his passions include technology, social issues, education, retro gaming and professional wrestling.

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