We tested the Amazon Echo Dot and Google Home Mini to see which one is the best small smart speaker
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- Both Amazon and Google build great smart speakers for those who want an inexpensive device with a smart digital assistant inside.
- The Google Home Mini and Amazon Echo Dot are both great smart speakers, but they each offer a few clear advantages and disadvantages.
- Ultimately, while the Google Home Mini is a great device for avid Google fans, the Amazon Echo Dot is the better small smart speaker for most people.
- You can also read our full guide to the best smart speakers here to learn more about how they work and the privacy concerns many people have with them.
The humble smart speaker has come a long way over the past few years. The Amazon Echo kicked off the smart speaker race back in 2014, and since then, we've seen a slew of others go on sale, including the Google Home lineup. Some people want a smart speaker for each room in their house, and if you're buying full-sized speakers, that can get expensive quickly.
That, however, is where smaller speakers like the Amazon Echo Dot and Google Home Mini come in. The speakers don't sound quite as great as their more expensive and larger counterparts, but they're just as smart, plus they're a whole lot cheaper.
But which is better, the Google Home Mini, or the Amazon Echo Dot? We put the two smart speakers head to head to find out. We've used both for years, so these observations come from first-hand, day-to-day experience.
Specs and dimensions
*At the time of writing, the Google Home Mini was on sale for $29 and the Amazon Echo Dot was on sale for $29.99. The original prices are listed below.
Both the Google Home Mini and the Amazon Echo Dot are short, puck-shaped speakers, and they're more or less the same size, too. The overall look, however, is slightly different - while the Google Home Mini has a fabric covering over the top of the device, the Amazon Echo Dot has a fabric covering around the side and a simple plastic top.
When it comes to controls, the Google Home Mini has small touch controls on the top - you'll tap the side of the top to control volume, and there's a switch on the back to turn off the microphone.
The Amazon Echo Dot takes a slightly more straightforward approach. It has four buttons on the top, including volume controls, a microphone mute button, and a so-called "Action" button, which may be pressed for things like linking devices.
Both the Google Home Mini and Amazon Echo Dot look relatively nice. They both come in a few different colors, though the Google Home Mini's colors are a little more vibrant. Still, if we had to decide which speaker looked better we'd give that title to the Amazon Echo Dot - though again, both will look perfectly fine in any home.
Setting up the Google Home Mini and the Amazon Echo Dot is a simple process. To set up the Google Home Mini, simply download the Google Home app and plug the speaker in, after which it should pop up for setup right away within the app. Then follow the on-screen instructions to connect it to your Wi-Fi network.
The process is very similar for the Echo Dot. Start by downloading the Alexa app and hit the "+" button in the top right-hand corner of the Devices tab.
The Google Home Mini and Amazon Echo Dot are speakers, but they both emphasize their smart features a little more than sound quality. After all, if you're truly looking for high-quality sound, then you're probably better off investing in one of the larger smart speakers, like the Google Home or Home Max, or Amazon Echo or Echo Plus.
Still, that doesn't mean that you should ignore sound quality, and thankfully both of these speakers sound pretty good for their size and price.
While the Google Home Mini beats out older generations of the Amazon Echo Dot in terms of sound quality, the third-generation Dot seems to have a slightly deeper, richer sound compared to the Google Home Mini.
That's not to say the Google Home Mini sounds terrible - while a little midsy and devoid of a ton of detail, it'll do the job for most who don't plan on using the device primarily for listening to music anyway. Neither of the two speakers can get super loud, but they will be loud enough for most basic use.
Of course, perhaps the most important thing to consider for either of these speakers is the smart features they have on offer. The Google Home Mini comes with Google Assistant, the digital assistant that Google has been working on for some time now. The Amazon Echo Dot, on the other hand, features Amazon Alexa.
Both digital assistants have a lot to offer. They can both control most mainstream smart home devices, can both find information from the web, connect to music streaming services, and so on. The different assistants do have their advantages, however.
For example, Alexa may be able to connect to a few more smart home devices than Google. Google, however, is better at finding information from the web, thanks to its long history in search. The Assistant is also better with accents and languages.
Perhaps the biggest advantage Google has over Amazon is that the Google Assistant is the default digital assistant on most Android phones, so if you have an Android phone and use the Assistant on it, having it on your smart speaker will more closely integrate your digital life.
There are other features, too. Alexa works well with Amazon's Fire TV and other devices, while Google Assistant can cast to Cast-enabled devices, like the Google Chromecast. In the end, the digital assistant that's better for you really depends on the ecosystem you're already in. If you have and use an Android phone, then we recommend getting the Google Home Mini. If, however, you're an iOS user, then Alexa will do the job perfectly well, and Alexa can connect to your Apple Music account.
The bottom line
Neither of these two speakers is really better than the other - it just depends on which smart ecosystem you're already using. Generally speaking, the Amazon Echo Dot is probably the better option for most people, but if you use an Android phone and are pretty plugged into Google's ecosystem, then the Google Home Mini may be the better way to go.
Buy the Google Home Mini for $29 from Best Buy, Target, or Walmart (originally $49)
Buy the Amazon Echo Dot for $29.99 from Amazon, Best Buy, or Target (originally $49.99)
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