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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 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 third generation, the Echo Dot has been wowing Alexa fans for years, and now even has an LED Clock option to make telling time easier at a glance.

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.

You can also check out our price predictions for Amazon Echo deals for Prime Day 2020 before you buy.

Specifications

Google Nest Mini vs Amazon Echo Dot 3rd Gen Clock angle
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 third-generation Echo Dot has a 1.6-inch speaker, and you can connect the Echo Dot to a larger speaker if you want. 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. You can also improve the sound on your Google Nest device by connecting a more powerful speaker through the Google Home app.

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 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 2nd Gen Amazon Echo Dot 3rd Gen
Price MSRP $50, sometimes available for arounf $30 MSRP $50, sometimes available for around $30
Colors Chalk, charcoal, coral or sky Charcoal, heather gray, plum, sandstone, kids blue, kids rainbow
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 GHz/5 GHz) Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5, Chromecast 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 Three far-field microphones Four far-field microphone array
Ports Proprietary barrel adapter Micro USB (Power), 3.5mm audio output

Winner: Amazon Echo Dot

Design

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 serve as a good bedside companion, given its auto-adjust display.

Google Nest Mini on wall
John Velasco / Digital Trends

The Nest Mini 2 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. 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: Google Nest Mini

Connectivity

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. 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 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, 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.

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

Amazon Echo Dot 3rd Gen Clock angle
John Velasco / Digital Trends

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

Audio output

The third-generation Echo Dot has a larger driver and the sound is much better than ever before. The Nest Mini 2 has 360-degree sound, a 40mm driver, and proprietary audio tuning software. But how do they stack up?

Google Nest Mini vs Amazon Echo Dot 3rd Gen Clock angle
John Velasco / Digital Trends

Google Nest Mini delivers clean audio with punchy bass. 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. For the Mini 2, 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 2 only has three mics, it does a superior job at picking up voice commands, even from a distance.

The 3rd gen Dot sounds 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 louder music)

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.

Amazon Echo Dot

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