Amazon Echo Show 15 vs. Nest Hub Max: Battle of the big displays

Amazon seems to be constantly releasing new smart speakers, and its latest is also the largest. At 15.6 inches, the Echo Show 15's picture frame-inspired design begs to be hung on the wall or rested on a countertop. On the other side of the spectrum, Google's largest smart display to date came out over two years ago, and is still smaller than the latest Echo Show.

However, that doesn't mean the Nest Hub Max is obsolete. Google Assistant keeps it leading the pack in the intelligence department, as does its excellent hardware. But between these fantastic smart speakers, should you get the Amazon Echo Show 15 or Nest Hub Max? Let's see if we can help you out with that.

Amazon Echo Show 15 vs. Nest Hub Max: Making use of space

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Amazon Echo Show 15

(Image credit: Chris Wedel / Android Central)

Bigger isn't always better; what does matter is that the space on offer is utilized. Until the Amazon Echo Show 15 and its 15.6-inch display, many smart display users were perfectly happy with the largest display sizes being 10 inches, which is what the Nest Hub Max offers.

However, Amazon has been continuously working on the UI for its smart displays to introduce new features to make better use of its products' screens, including Alexa Widgets. Just like we see on our smartphones, widgets are smaller, more compact versions of a larger app on the home screen, and it works great here.

Because there is so much screen real estate on the Echo Show 15, you can see glanceable information on your shopping list, sticky notes, weather, calendar, and more when you're not using it to display pictures from Amazon Photos or Facebook. And Amazon will add Sticky Videos Notes and the ability to view two security camera feeds at once by the end of 2022.

Google Nest Hub Max

(Image credit: Android Central)

While the Nest Hub Max does offer similar types of information as well, it isn't really customizable. It's all shown automatically based on the time of day and what your Google Assistant thinks you want to see.

On the Echo Show 15, you're able to pick and choose from a handful of widgets to display on your device. Today, the only widgets available are those made by Amazon, but the company has opened up the ability to create third-party widgets for developers. The smart display also works in both portrait or landscape orientation, whether it's wall-mounted or set on a tabletop using a stand sold separately.

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Header Cell - Column 0 Amazon Echo Show 15Google Nest Hub Max
Price$250$190
ProcessorAmlogic Pop1 SoC with Amazon AZ2 neural edge processorAmlogic T931
Smart AssistantAlexaGoogle Assistant
Touchscreen15.6 inches HD10 inches HD
Speakers2 x 1.6-inch full-range speakers2 x 0.7-inch 10W tweeters, 1 x 2.95-inch 30W woofer
Camera5MP + Shutter6.5MP with 127º FOV
Privacy controlsPhysical cover for camera, electronic switch for micPhysical switch to electronically disable mic and camera
Wi-Fi802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4GHz/5GHz), dual-antenna (MIMO)802.11 b/g/n/ac (2.4GHz/5GHz)
BluetoothA2DP, AVRCP5.0
Chromecast built-inNoYes
Smart Home IntegrationSidewalkWorks with Google Assistant
Face MatchYesYes
Voice MatchYesYes
Gesture controlsNoYes
PhotosCan display Amazon or Facebook photos on home screenCan display Google Photos on home screen
Low Power ModeUses less power when not in useDims screen to ambient lighting when not in use
Security system compatibilityWorks with Guard PlusWorks with Nest Aware
Can you delete old recordings?YesYes
Size15.8 x 9.9 x 1.4 inches9.85 x 7.19 x 3.99 inches
Weight4.88 pounds2.91 pounds

Of course, with a screen as big as the Echo Show 15's, it seems obvious to use it for content consumption. Luckily, it has access to the expected streaming services like Netflix and Disney+, and Amazon will add the Fire TV interface to Echo Show 15 by the end of 2022 because so many users like to use it as a mini-television. The only glaring omission is YouTube.

The Nest Hub Max, meanwhile, has access to YouTube, Netflix, and other streaming services, while also being able to connect to Google Photos library with live albums. But it doesn't have Google TV to easily access recommended shows, the way the Echo Show 15 will get a Fire TV widget with your watchlist and shortcuts to recently streamed shows. You have to rely more on Assistant, which isn't as intuitive.

One design flaw that both smart displays suffer from is rear-firing speakers. When watching something or listening to your favorite audio, the sound is focused away from the screen, which means you'll probably crank the volume far louder than necessary. Our Echo Show 15 reviewer noted that it sounds best when wall-mounted but is very hard to hear when using a stand. And arguably, thanks to the dedicated woofer, the Nest Hub Max has a fuller sound between these two devices.

Amazon Echo Show 15 vs. Nest Hub Max: It's about the optics

Amazon Echo Show 15

(Image credit: Chris Wedel / Android Central)

Another way the Echo Show 15 makes good use of its screen size is with picture-in-picture. This allows you to follow along with a recipe in a large view with a smaller inset feed of your security camera, for example.

However, aside from the lackluster rear-firing speakers, the camera is one of the other areas that suffers. At only 5MP, it does an OK job with video calls, but the picture comes out muddy. If you are using it in less than ideal lighting, then the dynamic range struggles, and the person on the other end will get a bad feed. The poor camera quality also contributes to the Visual ID, the feature that identifies household members for customized experiences, being hit and miss.

Google Nest Hub Max

(Image credit: Android Central)

Where the Nest Hub Max lacks in widgets and screen size, it more than makes up for in the optical department. Even though the camera on Google's smart display isn't much higher in resolution at 6.5MP, the sensor handles video and light far better. It also has a wider field of view at 127 degrees, rather than the 110 degrees on the Echo Show 15. These metrics combine for better video call quality and far more customized experiences based on what the camera sees.

Where the Nest Hub Max lacks in widgets and screen size, it more than makes up for in the optical department.

Subject tracking is also a nifty feature on the Nest Hub Max. During a video call, if you move around in the image frame, the camera will digitally follow you to make sure you remain the focus. Google manages to do this via software magic, rather than physically moving like the Echo Show 10 (3rd Gen) does.

Still, on the subject of cameras, this is something more about what isn't seen. Both of these smart displays can disable the microphone and camera but do it in different ways. Disabling the microphone and camera on the Nest Hub Max is done electronically — albeit via a physical switch. In the Echo Show 15's case, the microphone is disabled with a button to electronically disconnect it. Disabling the camera is done by sliding over a physical shutter to hide it.

Amazon Echo Show 15 vs. Nest Hub Max: Getting some assistance

Amazon Echo Show 15

(Image credit: Chris Wedel / Android Central)

Both the Echo Show 15 and the Nest Hub Max are smart displays, which means there is access to digital voice assistants. On the Echo Show 15, you'll get Amazon's Alexa, and for the Nest Hub Max, there is Google Assistant. Now, the side of the Google Assistant vs. Amazon Alexa fence you're on could be a major deciding factor towards which display is better for you since each one has strengths.

In some ways, Google Assistant can be more personable because it tightly integrates into the best Android phones. This integration allows the digital assistant to get to know you, help you with tasks easier, and offer the same experience across various devices, including the Nest Hub Max.

Google also recently added Look and Talk to Nest Hub Max, which lets you walk up to the smart display and start making requests without needing the "Hey Google" wake-up phrase. The camera recognizes you and answers your questions based on your profile. Compared to this useful tool, Amazon's Visual ID has been less reliable thus far.

Also, Google will eventually add custom wake phrases so "Hey Google" can become a thing of the past. We appreciate how Google continues to improve the smart display years after release.

Amazon continues to evolve Alexa's capabilities and ease of use, too. Both assistants can help answer questions, tell you the weather, control your smart home devices, and more. It is possible to have both in the same home if you are willing to learn the limits of each option to have the device that best fits your needs.

Amazon Echo Show 15 vs. Nest Hub Max: Which should you buy?

Google Nest Hub Max

(Image credit: Android Central)

These two smart displays represent the biggest displays available from Google and Amazon. Both pack a lot of features into the devices, but which is best for you really comes down to a few things: need, use, and which digital assistant you prefer.

Based purely on size, the Echo Show 15 wins. It isn't just big for the sake of being big. Amazon has done a good job of making use of the big display with Alexa Widgets. Customizing the info you see on the screen is unique and adds a ton of utility. If you're a busy individual managing schedules and tasks, being able to see information quickly at a glance is wonderful. The Google Nest Hub Max kind of does this, but it isn't customizable and offers less utility in this way.

Google and Amazon both have winners to offer, but which is best for you depends on a few key factors.

If you want a smart display that you'll often use for watching videos, then the Echo Show 15 is also great due to its size. The question is what kind of videos you'll want to watch in the kitchen or wherever you put your smart display. The Nest Hub Max gives you YouTube, which is better for quick, casual viewing and how-to guides for cooking or repairs. But the Echo Show 15 receiving a proper Fire TV OS is a game-changer if you want to watch full TV episodes on it.

Finally, while it doesn't have to be a deciding factor, it may be just that to some. If you are deeply rooted in the Google Assistant world, then you may have trouble adjusting to using Alexa on the Echo Show 15. As I said before, both are very capable digital assistants. But, depending on which smart home ecosystem you are used to and your willingness to flip-flop between the two could ultimately end up being what decides for you. Whichever smart display you pick, you'll be getting an impressive device.

Chris Wedel
Senior Editor - Smart Home
Chris Wedel is a fan of all things tech and gadgets. Living in rural Kansas with his wife and two young boys makes finding ways to get and stay online tricky. By utilizing his years of experience with the tech and mobile communications industries — success is assured. When not conquering connectivity challenges and testing new gadgets, he enjoys cruising a gravel road in his UTV with some good tunes.
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