Tiny and LOUD

Amazon Echo Dot (3rd gen)

Clever and colorful

Google Home Mini

Amazon has refined its smart speaker design and doubled down on audio quality to make a great system with an even better price tag. Alexa is still not nearly as good to use as Google Assistant, however.

$50 at Amazon

Pros

  • Incredibly good speakers for its size
  • Great microphones
  • 3.5mm output for bigger speakers

Cons

  • Alexa isn't the best system out there

While colorful and compact, the microphone and speakers on the Google Home Mini just scream "you get what you pay for" when it comes to quality.

$25 at Best Buy

Pros

  • Google Assistant is excellent
  • Speaker colors are fun

Cons

  • Microphones are just OK
  • Speaker isn't particularly loud
  • No 3.5mm jack for bigger speakers

Google and Amazon are competing for control of your home, and right now it's a battle of superior hardware and superior software. With exception of the Google Home Max, the Home line isn't particularly well recognized for its audio quality. The Google Home Mini was designed to be the cheap Home you could put in any room in the house so Assistant could be there for you everywhere, and it accomplishes that goal just fine. However, it isn't until you put it next to the new Amazon Echo Dot that you see just how massive the difference in audio quality really is.

Loud and tiny and surprisingly good

Amazon's Echo Dot has always been the speaker you buy because it was cheap and it connects to bigger speakers if you actually want to listen to music. The 3.5mm jack is a big deal for making an otherwise generic speaker suddenly much smarter, something only the Echo Dot has ever had for some reason. Google's Home Mini was able to outperform the previous Echo Dot, but that was an incredibly low bar. This year, Amazon dropped in a vastly superior speaker with the 3rd Gen Echo Dot and the difference between it and Google Home Mini couldn't be more clear.

However, that huge speaker increase didn't come at some other sacrifice. The 3.5mm jack is still there, the microphones are still great, and the speaker itself is still nice and small. The only real downside to this speaker from a hardware perspective is the huge new power adapter you have to use with it. The Micro-USB port of the previous generation is gone, making it a little more difficult to plug in anywhere and have Alexa at the ready.

Amazon Echo Dot (3rd gen) Google Home Mini
Dimensions 99mm x 43mm @ 300g 98mm x 42mm @ 173g
Speaker 1.6-inch speaker 40mm driver
Microphone 4 (far-field voice recognition) 2 (far-field voice recognition)
Power 15W through unique power adapter 5V, 1.8A through Micro-USB
3.5mm jack Yes No
WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
Microphone mute Button on top Switch in the back

Google's Home Mini is clearly inferior as a hardware product, but there's no denying Google Assistant is superior to Alexa in just about every way. It's easier to use, you have access to more useful features, and the multi-account system on Google Assistant actually works. Google Assistant simply has access to more of your life, and is able to use that information to be more useful to you. Alexa is mostly just in your house for now, and unless you do a lot of shopping through Alexa there isn't a compelling reason to use it over Assistant most of the time.

The hardwear calculus changes though when you compare the updated Nest Mini (2nd Gen) to the Echo Dot (3rd Gen). The improvements to the speaker, microphones, and on-device intellegence make that Google/Nest device a no-brainer to buy.

The choice comes down to hardware versus software. If you're deep in the Google ecosystem and don't care so much about speaker quality, you should participate in the Google Home ecosystem with a Home Mini. However, if you know you're alright with Alexa being limited or all you really care about is a cheap speaker to stream music to, you absolutely want to get yourself an Echo Dot.

Surprisingly loud

Amazon Echo Dot (3rd gen)

The best little connected speaker you can buy

Amazon has refined its smart speaker design and doubled down on audio quality to make a great system with an even better price tag. Alexa is still not nearly as good to use as Google Assistant, however.

Surprisingly capable

Google Home Mini

Feature-complete speaker

While colorful and compact, the microphone and speakers on the Google Home Mini just scream "you get what you pay for" when it comes to quality.

Nicely done, Nest

Nest Mini (2nd Gen)

Improved assistant and better bass

There isn't much room in such a small device for large improvements, but somehow Nest pulled it off. 2 X better bass and more on-device smarts make this a smart buy.

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