Second-gen vs. third-gen Echo Dot: What’s the difference?

Echo Dot
Dan Baker/Digital Trends

It’s official: Amazon’s most popular smart speaker is receiving a makeover. The third-generation Echo Dot, unveiled during Amazon’s recent press event in Seattle, sports many of the same features as its predecessors, yet with a few much-needed improvements.

Launched in 2016, the original Dot helped revolutionize the smart home by making virtual assistants more approachable (and affordable), thus ushering in the era of the voice-controlled smart home. The latest iteration — no, not the Echo Dot Kids Edition — will be considerably more powerful than previous models, and will retain its line-out and Bluetooth connectivity for both physical and wireless connections. Alexa is also receiving a commendable overhaul, and will feature fitness tracking, additional games, and a host of new skills.

If you’re still debating between the second- and third-generation models, we’ve got you covered. Read on for our direct comparison of the two Echo devices.

Design

amazon products fathers day sale echo dot second gen

Unlike the plastic exterior found on the first- and second-gen Dots, Amazon’s latest model utilizes a softer, more attractive design. Fabric covers the outside of the device, which now features a rounded top and is void of sharp edges. Aesthetically, it’s more akin to the Google Home Mini, and is available in three new colors: Charcoal, heather grey, and sandstone. The second-gen Dot, on the other hand, is only available in either a white or black finish.

Sound

The new Echo Dot is also supposedly 70-percent louder than its second-gen counterpart, yet still retains the 3.5-millimeter port for connecting to an external speaker. You can also connect it wirelessly to an external speaker via Bluetooth. This means you can easily add your own more speakers to your setup without having to buy the larger, more capable Echo. Amazon also recently announced the Echo Sub, a powerful subwoofer that’s designed to pair with your already-existing devices.

The new device also sports a new microphone arrangement, allowing for better performance overall. Rather than the seven-microphone array found on earlier generations of the Echo and Echo Dot, the latest Dot only utilizes four far-field mics to hear you from across the room. The built-in driver is also bigger, helping the puck-like device deliver more robust sound with lower distortion.

Pricing and availability

amazon alexa powered audio gear subwoofer amplifier echo plus dot charcoal side table

The third-gen Echo Dot is currently available for pre-order, and will launch on October 11 to the tune of $50. The previous-gen Dot is currently available for $40, but it’s difficult to say for how long given the forthcoming launch of the new Echo lineup. An additional $10 is a small price to pay for superior sound and a cleaner look, however, which makes the decision to pick up the new Dot that much easier for those debating between the two models.

Now, if only Amazon’s Alexa-equipped microwave was as appealing…

Product Review

Never invite a Shark robot into your house. Unless it’s this vacuum

Robot vacuums can definitely make chores suck a lot less, but they aren’t capable of cleaning places that are off the floor. Shark has an answer for your couch cushions and your carpets with its new S87 cleaning system, which comes with a…
Deals

How to create a smart living room for under $250

By being shrewd about which brands and products you invest in, you can quickly and easily turn your house into a home that's “smart,” and that's true even if you’re starting from scratch.
Smart Home

Here are the five new Amazon Echo devices available now

Shipping begins on five new Amazon devices, including the Echo Show, Echo Plus, Echo Dot, Echo Sub, and an Alexa-enabled smart plug. Here's a bit more about each device, as well as cost and how to buy.
Computing

Intel's 9th-gen chips could power your next rig. Here's what you must know

The Intel Core i9-9900K processor was the star of the show for consumers, but a powerful 28-core Xeon processor also led announcements. Here's everything you need to know about the latest Intel chipsets.
Computing

More Spectre protection comes with some of Intel’s new 9th-gen CPUs, but not all

Intel has officially announced its 9-series CPUs in both the K and X variants. While some of these new chips feature hardware-level patches for bugs like Spectre, others have been left out.
Smart Home

Top-load vs. front-load washer: Which should you buy?

There's more to the top-load versus front-load washer debate than how it opens. The two types of machines clean very differently and have pretty drastic differences in terms of cleaning power, price, and efficiency.
Smart Home

Sleep Number’s 360 p5 is a smart bed, but can it solve your sleep problems?

Could a smarter bed be the key to a good night’s sleep? Sleep Number has built an entire line of smart beds, ranging from budget to flagship models, that monitor your sleep and offer a simple Sleep IQ score. Is it the secret to sleeping…
Smart Home

Alexa will trick or greet you with custom doorbells this Halloween

Amazon released new Alexa-compatible smart doorbell application tools for developers. These let smart cameras and doorbells use motion sensing and doorbell presses to start Alexa Routines.
Smart Home

Like many of us, this tiny home keeps itself running with coffee in its system

Dunkin' partnered with a biochemical company, a tiny home manufacturer, and Olivia Wilde to build a 275-square foot transportable home powered by coffee ground-based biofuel. The Home That Runs on Dunkin incorporates reclaimed materials.
Product Review

Alexa, annoy my neighbors! The Echo Sub brings the boom you've been missing

Amazon’s Echo Sub is aimed at Echo speaker owners looking to inject some room-moving bass into their smart speaker experience. We quickly learned that it’s a niche product, but one that does its odd job extremely well.
Product Review

Hotter than a Dot? Google's Home Mini outsmarts, doesn't outperform Amazon rival

With voice match and improved artificial intelligence capabilities, the $49 Google Home Mini is a voice assistant that seamlessly puts the Google platform on the tip of your tongue.
Smart Home

Google Home Mini vs. Amazon Echo Dot: Which is better?

We put the two most popular smart home speakers -- the Google Home Mini and the 3rd generation Amazon Echo Dot -- together and tested them on appearance, audio, and abilities. So which should you buy? Find out how they did in our showdown.
Smart Home

Put away that sponge and let us help you pick the best dishwasher for your buck

Tired of doing dishes by hand? Take a look at our picks of the four best dishwashers currently available and let a machine do the dirty work for you. They’ll do a much better job, anyway.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: DIY smartphones and zip-on bike tires

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!