Content is created by CNN Underscored’s team of editors who work independently from the CNN newsroom. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn more
When it comes to smart speakers, Amazon’s Echo, the Nest Audio from Google and Apple’s HomePod Mini are currently the three most popular models. When you distill their functionality down, they all do mostly the same thing — effortlessly allowing you to get answers, control your home, make phone calls and even play music — all by using your voice. They even cost the same at around $99.
However, these three small speakers have some noteworthy differences in terms of size, design and sound quality, and your experience with each one will vary based on which Apple, Google and Amazon products you already own.
Not sure which smart speaker is for you? We’ve tested the Echo, Nest Audio and HomePod Mini extensively, and are ready to help you make that decision.
Google Nest Audio
Apple HomePod Mini
Smart assistant Alexa Google Assistant Siri Smart home ecosystem Alexa Google Home HomeKit Integrated smart home hub Zigbee N/A N/A Bluetooth audio Yes Yes N/A AirPlay 2 support N/A N/A Yes Chromecast support N/A Yes N/A Size and weight 5.7 x 5.7 x 5.2 inches, 2.1 pounds 6.89 x 4.89 x 3.07 inches, 2.65 pounds 3.9 x 3.3 inches, 0.76 pounds Color options Charcoal, Glacier White, Twilight Blue Chalk, Charcoal, Sage, Sand, Sky White, Yellow, Orange, Blue, Space Gray Price $99.99 $99.99 $99 The 4th-Gen Echo isn’t just a smart speaker — it can also help get smart home gadgets online and keep them connected using its built-in Zigbee hub. Thanks to the combination of the Alexa app and Zigbee, setting up additional smart home devices is a painless process; tap a few buttons, the Echo finds compatible nearby smart home devices and asks if you want to use Alexa to control them. While other smart speakers require you to have a dedicated hub for, say, pairing a set of Philips Hue lights, the Echo lets you do it all from a single device.
You want the most robust and most reliable smart assistant Amazon started the smart speaker craze with its Alexa digital assistant, and in our testing, has generally been proven to be the fastest to respond — and capable of doing the most. For example, you can ask Alexa via your Echo to turn your lights on or off, run a custom smart home routine and make an announcement that it’s movie time across the rest of your Alexa-enabled devices.
If you shop on Amazon often, you can not only place orders with your voice — say, “Alexa order more toilet paper” — but also receive updates about any Amazon deliveries. A short chime and a yellow LED light let you know there’s an alert, which will then tell you when to expect delivery of your latest order. It sure is handy, but can also be dangerous, especially if your kid asks Alexa for the newest Lego set.
While all of these speakers sound good, we found the 4th-Gen Echo to offer the strongest, loudest audio of the bunch. It got notably louder than the Nest Audio and HomePod Mini in our side-by-side tests, and doesn’t get noticeably distorted at full volume.
With Amazon’s Echo lineup, you’re able to place audio (or video, for devices that support it like the Echo Show) calls to other Echo devices and talk with friends or loved ones. Once a family member adds you as an approved contact, you’ll be able to “Drop In” on their Echo device(s) whenever you want to have a quick chat or see how their day was. Conversely, you can approve loved ones who you want to have access to your Echo. Though you may want to think twice before you add your mother. Just saying.
You want a smart speaker with Bluetooth Not only can you ask the Google Assistant to play your favorite tunes, podcast or other audio service, you can also connect to the Nest Audio from any Bluetooth-capable device and use Nest Audio as an external speaker. To be clear, you can use an Echo as a Bluetooth speaker as well, but Apple’s HomePod Mini lacks the same feature. For the Nest, you’ll need to use the Home app for the initial pairing process, but after you can just to say “Hey Google” or “Ok Google,” followed by “Connect” to reconnect Nest Audio to your phone, computer or tablet.
You want to fine-tune your music playback — and use multiple speakers The Nest Audio sounds pretty good out of the box, but we appreciate that you can fine-tune the audio within the Google Home app for iOS and Android. Amazon offers a similar feature for Echo speakers on the Alexa app, but you won’t find any customization options on the HomePod Mini.
And while all three of these speakers support multi-room audio — you can pair multiple Echoes, Nests or HomePods to spread sound around your home — we found the Nest Audio to offer the smoothest pairing process. It took us about 10 seconds to pair two Nest Audio devices and assign them as separate left and right speakers, creating a more immersive stereo mix with minimal hassle.
Nest Audio uses the Google Assistant for all voice interactions, which is the same assistant Android phones and tablets rely on when you use the phrase “OK Google” or “Hey Google” before asking for things like a weather update or to check on a local store’s hours. By using Google Assistant, Nest Audio is able to do things like look up your daily Google Calendar agenda, or take advantage of Voice Match to identify who is talking so you can get tailored answers or play podcasts or music from your linked streaming accounts.
If you use the Google Home app on your iPhone or Android phone to control smart home devices, then a Nest Audio is a natural choice. You can continue to use the Home app on your phone, but you’ll also be able to use Google Assistant to control lights, adjust your home’s temperature or control any of the hundreds of smart home devices that work with Google Home.
The HomePod Mini is the smallest out of the lead
We compared the top smart speakers to find the best one for you
Go To The SourceRead More