Let's start with the good news about Harman Kardon's Esquire Mini 2 micro Bluetooth speaker : Its design has been upgraded along with its sound and battery life.
It also charges via USB-C now instead of micro USB. And its list price ($130, £130) is lower than what the original Esquire Mini cost when it first came out a few years back, though that discontinued model is now half the price of this one.
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So, what's the bad news? Well, the fact is you can only get so much bass out of speaker that's not much bigger or thicker than today's phones -- perhaps appropriately since, like the original, this doubles as an external battery charger with a USB out port. So while its performance is impressive for its small size, don't expect to rock the house with this little guy.
It really is a nice-looking device, available in three equally appealing color options (black, copper and silver). Weighing in at 8.8 ounces or 250 grams, it's 12 grams heavier than the original Esquire Mini and virtually the same size as an iPhone but thicker, with a depth of a little over an inch or 26mm. The metallic border and tiny raised buttons are also in keeping with what you'd expect from a phone design. A faux leather case is included (it looks a fatter eyeglass case) along with a USB-C charging cable.
The back is finished in faux leather and the built-in kick is wider and better designed than the kickstand on the original Esquire Mini. It props the speaker up at a 45-degree angle.
There are volume controls on top of the speaker along with a pause-play button that doubles as an answer-end button for speakerphone calls. Double tap that button to skip a track froward and triple tap to skip back.
Battery life is rated at 10 hours, up from 8 hours for the original Esquire Mini. There's a 2,200-mAh battery integrated into the speaker, which means you're more likely to get a partial charge for your phone than a full one, but the charging option is there to use in a low-battery crisis.
Since this is touted as a high quality speakerphone -- and it is a good one -- it's not surprising that the speaker sounds best in the midrange where vocals live. Acoustical tracks such as Haley Reinhart's "Last Kiss Goodbye" or Kacey Musgrave's "Slow Burn" sound quite decent. But hit it with a track that has bigger bass like Dua Lipa's "Want to" or Post Malone's "Better Now" and it sounds restrained and a little clipped.
That said, it outputs more bass than you'd think a speaker this slim would. If you're playing background music and using the speaker to augment the audio from your laptop, iPad or other tablet while watching video, the audio quality is fine. You may sometimes experience some syncing issues between audio and video with Bluetooth speakers and headphones, but I was able to watch an iTunes movie and YouTube videos without a problem. You can go wired if you want -- there's an audio input, but no cable is included to plug in.
There are other micro speakers out there that sound a little better: There's the more expensive B&O BeoPlay P2. And Bose's SoundLink Micro, which can be found for as low as $80, delivers more bass and richer overall sound. JBL's Clip 3 sounds about the same or a touch better, meanwhile, and costs less than half the price.
It's also worth mentioning that for around the same price you can get Harman's slim HK Traveler, a 2017 model I haven't tried but probably offers similar sound. The Esquire Mini 2 arguably has a better design, though. And although you're paying extra for the slim body and swanky looks, it's certainly one of the better travel speakers available.