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

Google and Amazon are well-matched competitors in the smart speaker space, with both boasting 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 large portfolio of smart speakers, displays, and other gadgets. Now on its fourth generation, the Echo Dot has been wowing Alexa fans for years, and this year’s product announcement brings a couple of variants to give you more choice.

So, Google Nest Mini versus Amazon Echo Dot — which is best? We put the two devices side by side to find out which device is better to buy on Black Friday. As we approach it, you can also expect many other bundles and deals for gadgets in the smart home.

Specifications

Amazon Echo Dot (4th Gen) vs Google Nest Mini
John Velasco / Digital Trends

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.

The fourth-generation Echo Dot has a 1.6-inch speaker, and you can connect the Echo Dot to a larger speaker if you want. With advanced Bluetooth audio support, voice control, and a 3.5mm audio jack, the Echo Dot is a low-cost Alexa controller.

In contrast, the Google Nest Mini has three far-field microphones for voice detection, as well as a 1.57-inch speaker driver. There’s Bluetooth support, but the device lacks an audio port. Integrated Chromecast and enhanced audio format support demonstrate Google’s belief that the Nest Mini can serve as a competent, if compact, stand-alone speaker, alongside other duties. But the Echo Dot (4th Gen) still has the Nest Mini beat.

Google Nest Mini 2nd Gen Amazon Echo Dot 4th Gen
Price MSRP $50, sometimes available for around $30 MSRP $50
Colors Chalk, charcoal, coral or sky Charcoal, glacier white, or twilight blue
Dimensions 3.85 inches x 1.65 inches 3.9 inches x 3.9 inches x 3.5 inches
Weight 6.4 ounces 12 ounces
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 GHz/5 GHz) Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5, Chromecast Built-in 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (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 Bottom-mounted color light ring. The Echo Dot (4th Gen) with Clock also has an LED display screen
Speaker 360-degree sound, 1.57-inch (40mm) driver 1.6-inch driver
Microphone Three far-field microphones Four far-field microphone array
Ports Proprietary barrel adapter  Proprietary barrel adapter, 3.5mm audio output

Winner: Amazon Echo Dot

Design

When it comes to aesthetics, the two smart speakers differ in size, but are both covered with fabric and use LED lights to visually communicate. Set next to one another, it’s apparent that the new spherical shape of the Echo Dot (4th Gen) makes it look larger than the Nest Mini — nearly double its height. Despite this, it’s a refreshing design change that we appreciate.

The Echo Dot and the Dot with Clock both retain the iconic color changing LED status ring around their base. It adds a bit interest, but also makes the Echo Dot more noticeable with its dazzling and mesmerizing glow whenever it’s accessed. The Echo Dot with Clock can serve as a good bedside companion, given its auto-adjust display and display of the time.

Google Nest Mini on wall
John Velasco / Digital Trends

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 the Nest Mini’s pincushion form gives the device its own identity. Google’s recent design upgrade made the nest Mini more eco-friendly too. But, 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: Amazon Echo Dot

Connectivity

Amazon’s Echo Dot has been around much longer than Google’s Nest Mini, which has given Amazon time to build out a relatively strong ecosystem. Alexa gains more and more features like whisper mode, doorbell concierge, and Blueprints that let you make (and even publish) your own Alexa skills — and 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 variety 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 still lags Amazon, whose Alexa can control more than 85,000 smart home devices.

Amazon Echo Dot (4th Gen) with Clock on table
John Velasco / Digital Trends

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, and you’ll need to study each smart device carefully to make sure it’s compatible with the Nest Mini.

Winner: Amazon Echo Dot

Features

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.

Amazon Echo Dot (4th Gen) vs Google Nest Mini
John Velasco / Digital Trends

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 undergo 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.

Google Nest Mini on table
John Velasco / Digital Trends

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 features touch-sensitive volume controls on either side of the device, all of which work well.

Winner: Amazon Echo Dot

Audio output

The fourth-generation Echo Dot has a larger driver and the sound is much better than ever before. The Nest Mini has 360-degree sound, a 40mm driver, and proprietary audio tuning software. But how do they stack up?

Amazon Echo Dot (4th Gen) vs Google Nest Mini
John Velasco / Digital Trends

Google Nest Mini delivers clean audio with punchy bass. You can use the equalizer to adjust the treble and bass. sure, it’s a step up from your phone’s speakers, but not a match for a decent, dedicated Bluetooth speaker. For the Nest Mini, Google Nest doubled the bass and made it possible for the speaker to adjust its volume based on the level of background noise in the room. Although the Nest Mini only has three mics, it does a superior job at picking up voice commands, even from a distance.

The 4th Gen Dot sounds significantly louder than the Nest Mini. The Dot also offers perks like a 3.5mm jack. But the Echo Dot’s microphones simply aren’t as sensitive to voice commands. All in all, the Nest Mini wins for voice recognition, and the Echo Dot wins for music playback.

Winner: Tie (Nest Mini has better voice recognition, Echo Dot plays music louder)

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 brothers, but at a fraction of the price. It’s clear that Google’s Nest Mini 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.

Google Nest Mini

If you are a loyal Amazon customer, you’ll probably 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, but we suggest starting with the Echo Dot as an easy way to see how you like these smart devices. On top of that, the clock version of the Echo Dot (4th Gen) adds the usefulness of telling time instantly — while its superior audio performance makes it far more tolerable with music playback.

Amazon Echo Dot

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