At first glance, Bose's SoundLink Mini 2 doesn't look all that different from the original SoundLink Mini released last year.
That's no bad thing, though, as the first SoundLink Mini had superb build quality, which returns here, and was a brilliant premium Bluetooth speaker.
That holds true for its successor, too, as its aluminium finish remains as sleek and robust as ever, and provides a fine set-piece to add to your living room. I wouldn't recommend taking it outside, though, as it's not ruggedised in any way whatsoever, so you're likely to end up scratching the outer casing if you show a lack of care.
Bose does sell a range of travel accessories, including silicone soft covers (around £21) and a padded travel bag (around £38), to add a degree of protection, but these are still quite expensive for what they are. Third party accessory options are also available, however, so you might be better off seeing what you can find rather than simply going direct to Bose.
Its significant weight also means there are better options for carrying around, such as the Fugoo or UE Boom 2. Nevertheless, at 670g, you'll happily move it room-to-room and it could accompany you on trips if you aren't too fussy about the weight of your luggage.
You have a choice of two finishes, either Carbon (black) or Pearl (white). Both are equally smart depending on your tastes. Silicone buttons are found on the top, which comes in a colour to match your choice of finish. There's the usual volume controls as well as Bluetooth pairing. You're able to pair the SoundLink Mini 2 with two Bluetooth devices at the same time and swap between them. There's also an auxiliary jack on the side of the speaker.
The dedicated Aux button of the original SoundLink has been removed. Instead, the speaker will now automatically swap to the auxiliary mode when it detects a sound signal. Its absence has helped the top of the speaker look a little less cluttered. A microphone has also been added to the new model, meaning you can now use it as a handsfree conference speaker when paired with your smartphone. It works well and picks up your voice with a good degree of clarity. The fact there wasn't a speaker on the original felt like a big omission considering its premium price.
Making a welcome return, is the charging cradle. Rather than having to deal with plugging in a cable, you can instead drop the speaker onto its cradle, which then charges it through contacts on its base. An improvement over the original SoundLink Mini is that the DC jack has been swapped out for a more ubiquitous micro USB connection.
There's such a port both on the cradle and directly on the speaker for times when you don't have the cradle with you. A USB wall adaptor is included in the box, too, when all-too-often Bluetooth speakers just make do with a USB cable and expect you to have your own adaptor.
Battery life has improved over the original and is rated at around 10 hours of medium volume listening, which felt about right. It's a respectable figure but some rivals can manage more; the UE Boom 2, for example, will last up to 15 hours. Battery level and pairing status are read out by a Siri-esque robotic voice, as with many of Bose's headphones such as the Bose Around-Ear Wireless Headphones II.
Inside the SoundLink Mini 2 is a two speaker array with a passive bass radiator to flesh out the low range. Altogether they make for a well-rounded sound. The bass, in particular, is some of the most emphatic I've heard for a speaker of this size. It's perhaps not typical of what many would associate with Bose, but thankfully, the crisp details in the mids and trebles are just as present. This is due in part to some digital signal processing that helps to bring out much of the detail and increase the perceived separation between the different sound frequencies. It meant the SoundLink Mini 2 sounded universally excellent with the test tracks I threw its way. It can also reach particularly loud volume levels if that's required.
Available now at around £150, the Bose SoundLink Mini 2 is a great choice overall. It sounds excellent for the money and provided you're not looking for a ruggedised speaker to take out with you day-to-day, it ticks all the right boxes for a Bluetooth speaker at this price. I particularly like the charging cradle that makes topping up its battery convenient. If you're happy to spend more and want a more distinct design, the B&O PLAY by Bang & Olufsen Beoplay A1 would get my recommendation.