The smartest of smart plugs

Amazon Echo Flex

From home to a smart home

Amazon Smart Plug

When Amazon introduced the Echo Flex they managed to solve one of the Echo's biggest drawbacks — true ubiquity. Now there is practically no space that you can't squeeze Alexa into.

$25 at Amazon

Pros

  • Great starting price
  • Alexa built-in
  • USB-A port to charge devices
  • Available nighlight or motion-sensor attachments

Cons

  • Attachments not currently bundled
  • Speaker for Alexa not suited for music
  • Can't plug other appliances into it

The Amazon Smart Plug is the easiest way to add Alexa smarts to your regular dumb devices. It sets up in a flash and allows you to set up routines and schedules with Alexa.

$25 at Amazon

Pros

  • Super easy setup with Alexa
  • Turns any device into a smart device
  • Often available in bundles with other devices

Cons

  • Alexa not built-in to the device
  • No built-in lights or speakers
  • On the pricier side for a smart plug

Both Amazon-branded devices plug into a typical wall outlet to bring added smart home features and convenience, but which is the better fit? We've picked them apart to determine which you should add to your smart home.

Plugged in to the scene

These two smart devices have a similar look and price point, but there are some significant differences that you should be aware of before making your purchase decision. Let's break down the specs before we dive in further.

Amazon Echo Flex Amazon Smart Plug
Size 2.8" x 2.6" x 2.0" 3.2" x 1.5" x 2.2"
Weight 5.3 oz 3.5 oz
USB-A port Yes No
AC outlet No Yes
WiFi Dual-band Wi-Fi supports 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 and 5 GHz) networks 2.4 GHz networks only, 802.11 b/g/n
Audio Built-in speaker and 3.5mm jack for audio output No
Alexa built-in Yes No
Works with Alexa Yes Yes
Certified for Humans compatability Yes Yes
Available accessories Motion sensor (purchased separately
Night light (purchased separately)
NA

Smart plug

Pictured: Amazon Smart Plug.

The Amazon Smart Plug is a great little product that can turn just about any electronic gadget in your home into a smart device. Setup is dead-simple: Just plug it into the wall, ask Alexa to discover new devices, and it's ready to go! You probably want to name the plug (or give it the name of the device that is plugged into it), and perhaps even add it to a group of connected devices (e.g. if you plugged a lamp into it, you may want to name the Smart Plug "Living Room Lamp" in your Alexa app, and then add that device to the "Living Room" group). From there, you can set up schedules and/or routines and really have fun automating your home.

In addition to how seamlessly it works with Alexa, one of our favorite things about the Smart Plug is that Amazon often packages it with other Echo and Alexa devices as part of a bundle. This means you can get two (or more) great Amazon smart products at a discount. For example, right now Amazon has a bundle where you can pick up an Echo Dot (3rd Gen) and Smart Plug for only $5 more than the Dot by itself!

As great as the Smart Plug is, there are a few things it can't do in relation to its comparably-priced cousin, the Echo Flex. The Smart Plug doesn't have any speaker or light functionality built-in, and you need a separate Echo device to communicate with it via Alexa. It doesn't have a USB port, and it also only comes with one AC outlet. If you don't need that extra flexibility though, and you want something simple that is easy to set up and use, then the Amazon Smart Plug is a good choice.

Smarter plug?

__alt__Pictured: Amazon Echo Flex with both available attachments.

The Echo Flex is yet one more manifestation of Amazon's desire to squeeze Alexa into every possible physical space in our lives... but we're not mad. One drawback to other Echo products is that they take up physical space and require a cord to plug and power them. That's not the case with this little device! With an AC plug integrated into the back of it, you can plug this into any wall outlet, from your garage to your guest bathroom.

The base configuration of the Echo Flex comes in at the same price as the Amazon Smart Plug, but it actually has more smarts built-in. It features an on-board speaker and microphone allowing you to communicate directly with Alexa, and you can also either plug in an additional speaker (or headphones) to its 3.5MM audio jack, or connect it via bluetooth to another speaker device. You can charge your phone through the USB-A port at the bottom, or you can purchase one of the two currently available accessories and plug them into the bottom of the Echo Flex.

One of the first accessories announced for the Echo Flex is a motion sensor, which you could use to create a routine to turn on some smart lights or trigger a smart camera. The second accessory that Amazon announced at launch was a nightlight, which makes perfect sense for where many might place this device, such as a bathroom, hallway, or garage. Both products are made by a third-party partner and can be purchased as add-ons for $15 each.

While the Echo Flex is more capable in most respects than the Smart Plug, it doesn't actually serve as a traditional smart plug itself — meaning, you can't actually plug other devices into it (with the exception of the add-ons mentioned above). Just note that the Echo Flex will be taking up valuable plug real estate when you stick it in a wall outlet.

Pull the plug and pick one

While the Amazon Smart Plug truly is a solid device that works exactly as Amazon promises, for my money the Echo Flex is the product to get here. Not only does it feature loads of included smarts like Alexa built-in, but it has more flexibility to do a lot of cool things that the Smart Plug just can't do on its own. Plus, you can find lots of "smart plugs" that are compatible with Alexa for much cheaper than the Amazon version.

Of course, if you find the Amazon Smart Plug on sale or bundled with an Echo Dot or other Amazon smart home tech, then go ahead and jump on that deal. Otherwise, we'll be happy putting a few of these Echo Flex devices around our house to take full advantage of Amazon's smart assistant.

Full-featured smart plug

Amazon Echo Flex

Smart speaker, charger, and sensor in one.

The Amazon Echo Flex is a unique new offering that allows you to bring Alexa to tighter spaces where an Echo Dot might not fit. You can also use it as a USB charger or a smart home sensor.

Make any device "smart"

Amazon Smart Plug

Amazon's initial smart plug play is still one of our favorites. It works beautifully with Alexa to turn any device into a smart device, setup takes just a few seconds, and it blends seamlessly into the background.

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