You can mod a 3.5mm headphone jack on to your Google Home Mini… but you probably shouldn’t

There has never been a better time to be a lazy person. Once upon a time, getting the news would involve heading to the shops and buying a newspaper. That was too much like hard work, so we put all the news in our pocket – but who needs that workout on our arms? Better to just say “What’s in the news?” and have some kind of omnipresent butler just read the headlines from your news source of choice.

You’re spoilt for choice too: Siri, Alexa, Bixby and Google Assistant are figuratively queueing up to answer your questions and tell you jokes. Of these, currently just two live in smart speakers: Alexa in the Amazon Echo, and Google Assistant in the Google Home. For my money, the latter is actually better as an assistant – it just seems to understand questions more clearly and deliver better answers – but weaker as a speaker. Amazon understands that audiophiles may not want to use the built-in speakers and provides a 3.5mm headphone jack to connect to something stronger. Google Home and the Home Mini do not. It’s why I couldn’t seriously recommend the latter as a worthwhile buy when I reviewed it last month.

But wait! An enterprising modder has managed to put a 3.5mm headphone jack into the Google Home Mini, and it’s not a mean-spirited prank, like the iPhone 7 version either. This genuinely works, so should you rush out and buy a Google Home Mini right now, given they’re still available with a tempting £15 discount?

Don’t try this at home

Remember how I began this piece by saying it was a golden age for the lazy? Yeah, the surgery you need to perform on the Google Home Mini to add a headphone jack is definitely not for the kind of person who buys a smart speaker for an easy life. On the bright side, it won’t cost you very much – assuming you don’t charge yourself an hourly rate for your handiwork.

And the chances are your hourly rate will be pretty high, as you’ll need the steady hand of a surgeon to pull off what’s required. Boiling the adhesive off the bottom of it is the easy part: finding the right place to drill a hole for a headphone jack is harder, and the wiring looks really fiddly. Suffice it to say, if you follow all the steps, your warranty will be well and truly voided.

If you follow all the steps, you’ll find your Home Mini works with whatever sound system you plug it into… just like the equally priced Echo Dot does out of the box.

In fact, slightly worse, because using the jack doesn’t disable the built-in speaker. In short, you’re probably better off either:

  1. Buying a Chromecast Audio and connecting via that
  2. Buying an Echo Dot
  3. Waiting for a second generation Google Home Mini, where if Google doesn’t add a 3.5mm headphone jack, I’ll eat my hat

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