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.


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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.


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

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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…

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