Google and Amazon are well-matched competitors in the smart speaker space with a slew of feature upgrades, device integrations, and new hardware. The Nest Mini, an upgrade of the Home Mini, is a great companion device that can also act as an independent assistant, with the same Google Assistant controls that larger Nest devices leverage.
On the other side of the fence, Amazon and Alexa have been tied together for quite some time building up a portfolio of gadgets used by many people. Now on its third generation, the Echo Dot has been wowing Alexa fans for years and now even has an LED Clock option. The third-generation Echo Dot can be fetched for around $35, while the LED clock variant generally sells for $45.
So, Google Home Mini versus Amazon Echo Dot — which is best? We put the two devices side by side and ran them through the gauntlet (OK, not literally) to find out which device is better. It’s showdown time!
While you could be forgiven for thinking that Google Nest Mini and Amazon Echo Dot are similarly priced devices offering similar specifications, a dig into the spec sheets reveals some important differences. Yes, these are both entry-level, compact, smart assistant controllers, but there are nuances.
The third-generation Echo Dot has a 1.6-inch speaker, and you can connect the Echo Dot to a larger speaker if you want. You can also improve the sound on your Google Home device by connecting a more powerful speaker through the Google Home app. With an array of four far-field microphones, advanced Bluetooth audio support, and a 3.5mm audio jack, the Echo Dot is a low-cost Alexa controller.
In contrast, the Google Nest Mini only has three far-field microphones for voice detection, but it does have a 1.57-inch driver. There’s Bluetooth support, but the device lacks an audio port. Integrated Chromecast and Chromecast Audio streaming and enhanced audio format support demonstrate Google’s belief that Nest Mini can serve as a competent, if compact, stand-alone speaker, alongside other duties. But, the Echo Dot 3rd gen still has the Nest Mini beat.
|Google Nest Mini||Amazon Echo Dot 3rd Gen|
|Price||MSRP $40, available for $35||MSRP $40, available for $35|
|Colors||Chalk, charcoal, coral or sky||Charcoal, heather gray, plum, or sandstone|
|Dimensions||3.85 inches x 1.65 inches||3.9 inches x 1.7 inches|
|Weight||6.4 oz||10.6 oz|
|Audio formats||HE-AAC, LC-AAC+, MP3, Vorbis, WAV (LPCM), FLAC||AAC/MP4, MP3, HLS, PLS, and M3U|
|Networking||802.11b/g/n/ac (2.4 and 5 GHz) Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5 (input), Chromecast & Chromecast Audio Built-in||802.11 a/b/g/n (2.4 and 5 GHz) Wi-Fi Bluetooth Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP) A/V Remote Control Profile (AVRCP)|
|Voice support||Google Assistant||Amazon Alexa|
|Controls||Touch controls & mic mute switch||Volume buttons, action button, mic off button|
|Display||Four LED lights||Top-mounted color light ring. The Echo Dot with Clock also has an LED display screen|
|Speaker||360-degree sound, 1.57-inch (40mm) driver||1.6-inch speaker, 3rd gen has a larger driver than the previous generations|
|Microphone||Two far-field microphones||Four far-field microphone array|
|Ports||Micro USB (Power)||Micro USB (Power), 3.5mm audio output|
Winner: Amazon Echo Dot
When it comes to aesthetics, Amazon and Google have taken slightly different approaches that have wound up in almost the same place, with two small puck-like devices covered with fabric and using LED lights to communicate.
The Dot and the Dot with Clock both retain the iconic blue and orange LED status ring. It adds a little interest, but also makes the Echo Dot more noticeable. The Echo Dot with Clock can also serve as a good bedside companion, given its auto-adjust display.
The Nest Mini may not have a clock option, but it still uses LED dots to communicate, and it’s available in chalk, charcoal, coral, and sky. Again, build quality is excellent, and Nest Mini’s pincushion form gives the device its own identity. What sets it apart is the notch on its underside, which allows you to hang it on a wall Google’s designers have even spent time crafting Nest Mini’s circular power adapter, which fits neatly in the hand and protrudes from the wall far less than the Echo Dot’s power supply. There are even clips on the power cable to tidy up any slack. These are small touches, yes, but they demonstrate a level of design detail and care that’s the hallmark of a great device.
Winner: Google Nest Mini (unless you really need a clock)
Amazon’s Echo Dot has been around much longer than Google’s Nest Mini, so that has given Amazon time to build out a relatively strong ecosystem. From calling features, whisper mode, doorbell concierge, and Blueprints that let you make (and even publish) your own Alexa skills, Alexa seems to learn new stuff almost every day. Alexa’s reminders and routines are getting more advanced too, allowing users to set location-based reminders and create advanced routines (you can have Alexa turn off your lights, wait 15 minutes, and then turn off the TV for instance). You can also announce messages through all of your Echo Dots throughout your home.
Both devices can connect to and control a swathe of smart home stalwarts like Philips Hue lighting, power outlets, smart locks and more. Google is working with partners to rapidly build out hardware integrations, but Amazon still has its nose in front. Alexa can control more than 85,000 smart home devices. Nest compatibility is a thornier issue: In 2019 Google revamped its Nest brand with a new focus on privacy — some compatibility partnerships ended, some continued, and some were stuck in development limbo for the foreseeable future. This has slowly worked itself out over time, but Nest compatibility is simply more limited than it was, and you’ll need to study each smart device carefully to make sure it’s compatible with the Nest Mini today.
Alongside hardware connectivity, both devices can also access “skills” or “actions” that deliver enhanced features like news reports, recipes, reservation bookings, jokes, quizzes, and more. Again, the Echo Dot leads here, with a plethora of different types of skills available for the device (some of which you may actually wish to use). Google’s offering is certainly smaller at this point but is expanding quickly, adding features like a multilingual mode, a translator mode, and step-by-step cooking instructions.
Before jumping in with Amazon Echo or Google Nest, be sure to review the streaming entertainment services you currently use. As per usual, Amazon very much sees Echo as a gateway to service subscriptions and heavily promotes Amazon Music over other options. However, Amazon has begun to support more services on Alexa like Spotify Premium, Pandora, iHeartRadio, TuneIn Radio, and even Apple Music.
With Google Nest Mini, there are fewer compatible music services sources, but you can use Spotify, Pandora, YouTube, Deezer, and Google Play music, among other options. Both brands continue to add services.
Winner: Amazon Echo Dot
Ease of use
One thing you should know before purchasing either smart speaker is that both Amazon Alexa and the Google Assistant are in active development with perpetual changes. This means both devices are regularly enhanced with new features, but you may also find that commands that worked previously no longer work or might require a slightly nuanced voice instruction. Or, they might seemingly work for everyone else except for you. It can be a real frustration with both Amazon and Google services.
That said, both devices work well at picking up voice commands as long as you enunciate, even when you’re blaring out tunes at full volume. The Echo Dot’s design, with an overt LED status ring and physical buttons for volume, mic muting, and triggering Alexa on the top of the device, gives Amazon a slight edge in terms of usability. Google Nest Mini supports microphone muting via a rear switch and subtle, LED indicators, touch-sensitive volume controls on either side of the device, all of which work well.
Winner: Amazon Echo Dot
The third-generation Echo has a larger driver and the sound is much better than ever before. The Nest Mini has 360-degree sound and a 40mm driver that makes it a “smart speaker for any room” (according to Google). But how do they stack up?
Google Nest Mini delivers louder audio with punchy bass. At full volume, the speaker manages to keep distortion in check, but there’s a lot of treble, and it’s quite harsh. There’s little-to-no separation, and the overall effect is muddy. You can use the equalizer to adjust the treble and bass; and sure, it’s a step up from your phone’s speakers but not a match for a decent, dedicated Bluetooth speaker.
However, it’s Amazon that has really made the biggest strides here. Since Amazon upped the sound game on the third-generation Dot, the Dot has the 3.5mm jack, and the Dot third gen is louder and boasts a much richer, fuller sound, so it edges out the Nest Mini.
Winner: Amazon Echo Dot
Which should you buy?
If you’re already invested in a smart assistant ecosystem, neither Amazon Echo Dot or Google Nest Mini delivers compelling reasons to switch to the other side.
Amazon should be celebrated for creating this compact, smart controller category with the original Amazon Echo Dot, which delivers much of the magic of its big brother(s), but at a fraction of the price. It’s clear that Google’s engineers and designers have spent time understanding and then building on the Echo Dot’s foundations. It looks better, and while it lacks the Echo Dot’s wealth of integrations, Google is catching up quickly.
If you are a die-hard Amazon customer, you’ll want an Echo Dot so it agrees with your existing devices (like Fire TV), and likewise for the Nest Mini. However, if you don’t have Amazon or Google products, the decision becomes more difficult. We suggest starting with the Echo Dot as an easy way to see how you like these smart devices. However, know that these smaller devices often function better as satellites or little desk helpers rather than as full alternatives to large smart devices.
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