The smaller the better has never been truer than when describing Bluetooth headphones and there’s none smaller than the Rowkin Mini. While it’s true that the size is incredible and that the Rowkin Mini ($59.99 on Amazon) has a truly neat charger, it’s not flawless. It’s probably not for everyone, but I can help you decide if it’s right for you based on my testing.
Bluetooth headsets really seem to have gone out of fashion in the last several years — probably because they are, in fact, not very fashionable. But a device like the Rowkin Mini could change that.
Portable Charging Case
I want to start by talking about what is probably the coolest feature of the Rowkin Mini (aside from it’s tiny size, of course). And that is the small, cylindrical wireless charger that can easily fit in your pants pocket.
The charger has a magnetic end on it — that’s where the earpiece actually connects (hence the wireless connectivity). But you still need to charge the wireless charger and that does require a short USB cable.
Popping the earpiece into the charger is effortless and, to be honest, pretty fun. It zips into place with a satisfying click and gets to charging. It’s a very convenient charging system.
I’d say that the charging cylinder is about the length and width of a grown man’s index finger.
Sound Quality & Connection
When it comes to sound quality the Rowkin Mini is acceptable: when it works. It’s not the world’s best audio but neither is it the worst. Let’s face it: earphones usually have one great feature and in Rowkin Mini’s case that is definitely the small size.
It’s not that a small earphone can’t have incredible sound — it’s more that a small earphone can’t have incredible sound at this price point. I have, for instance, tested earphones that have two different speakers inside: one dedicated to mids and high and one dedicated to lows (bass). Those earphones (while not wireless and geared more toward an audiophile audience) were about eight times the price of the Rowkin Wireless.
But the target audience for a device like this is more concerned with utility. More specifically, talking on the phone (and in this case as inconspicuously as possible). And that audience will find that they will be somewhat to mostly happy with the Rowkin Mini.
I say mostly because my test device had a spotty Bluetooth connection about 10% of the time. Not enough to bomb the whole experience but enough to be annoying. If it edged any more it would make the experience close to unusable (or at least unreliable). There’s nothing worse than having a conversation with someone and not being able to hear important words or phrases or having to ask someone to repeat themselves.
I found that that Bluetooth connection gets worse as the battery drains. On the other end of that equation, the Rowkin Mini performs best on a full charge (which, thanks to the pocketable charger, can be most of the time if you plan right).
The Rowkin Mini is not the most comfortable earbud I’ve ever tested — even with the included ear tips of varying sizes (which you can use to get a better, more personalized fit). Speaking of ear tips there’s a few sets to choose from (including the one that is pre-installed when you unbox the device), but it’s far from the most I’ve seen packaged with earphones. I’ve seen premium sets with close to ten ear tip sets to choose from (and made from different materials).
There’s a little discomfort when wearing the Rowkin Mini which I think is caused by the body not being distanced enough from the ear tips in your ear. In other words, the plastic of the body rubs against your ear a bit and and ear tips are padded enough to offset it — at least in my ear.
Still, given the intended use case of the Rowkin Mini — making and taking phone calls without looking like a dork — the device is totally usable. That’s because phone calls are typically short affairs (not always, though). For phone calls the Rowkin Mini will be comfortable enough, but I definitely wouldn’t want to listen to music for more than two hours at a time.
The Rowkin Mini looks pretty cool. Mostly because it stays mostly out of sight when you’re wearing it. But when someone does see it, it ends up looking more premium than it actually is thanks to the white and gold color scheme. Still, when you examine it unclose you come to see that it’s mostly plastic.
Setup and Pairing
Setting up the Rowkin Mini was a breeze. As soon as I unboxed it and turned it on it went into pairing mode and I had it connected to my iPhone 6s in something like ten seconds.
While initial setup was quick and easy, I did find that I had to re-pair the Rowkin Mini with my phone several times. In other words, just turning it on didn’t mean it would automatically reconnect with my phone (which is unfortunate as it’s something I’ve come to expect from other similar devices). To reconnect I had to go into my phone’s Bluetooth settings and click on the device again at which point it always quickly connected (quicker than many Bluetooth speakers I own, in fact).
I can’t help but compare the Rowkin Mini to the last Bluetooth earpiece I reviewed, the Jabra Eclipse. In all but two areas I’d say the Jabra Eclipse has the Rowkin Mini beat. The Eclipse sounds better and is more reliable. But the Rowkin Mini is about half the price and is thus going to be more appealing to people on a budget. And the big distinguishing feature is it’s the Rowkin’s much, much smaller size — which really does count for a lot in this product category.
I definitely enjoyed using the Rowkin Mini as a covert audio source. Over the last few days I’ve worn it under a beanie making it effectively invisible. That’s something I definitely couldn’t do with the Jabra Eclipse or just about any other Bluetooth earpiece. It was great for gaming on my iPhone without disturbing people nearby, for listening to music discreetly (while still being able to hold a conversation thanks to my other ear being free).
If you’re looking for a tiny Bluetooth headset at an affordable price that’s convenient to take with you anywhere — and can be a little forgiving in terms of performance — then the Rowkin Mini might be a good choice for you.
This is a cool device and I’m looking forward to seeing how it evolves — and hopefully improves a bit — in the future.