Google Home Mini vs Amazon Echo Dot

Which small smart speaker wins?

Are you stuck deciding between a Google Home Mini or an Amazon Echo Dot? We've reviewed both devices to help you make a decision.

This article compares Google Home Mini Gen 2 vs. Amazon Dot Gen 3. 

Google Home Mini vs Amazon Echo Dot

Overall Findings

Google Home Mini
  • Excellent response to natural language.

  • Deep access to the web through Google knowledge graph.

  • No audio out option other than Chromecast.

  • Sounds great out of the box.

Amazon Echo Dot
  • Accesses a huge ecosystem through Alexa.

  • Audio out to Bluetooth speakers.

  • Quick set up.

  • Tuned for voice rather than music.

Amazon Prime users are drawn to the Echo Dot, especially those who subscribe to Amazon Prime Music or Music Unlimited or those who built up a collection of audiobooks on Audible. The Echo Dot is a smaller, less expensive version of the Echo, and it uses Amazon Alexa as the voice assistant.

Similarly, the Google Home Mini ties into Google Play and YouTube Music. Android users who have a large Google Play collection and YouTube Premium subscribers will love the Home Mini, which uses Google Assistant to answer questions and follow commands.

But what about everything else? Which smart speaker can do the most, or is the best at answering questions? Let's take a look.

Setup and Ease of Use: Google Home Mini Has a Slight Edge

Google Home Mini
  • Phone app setup includes questions to enhance voice recognition.

  • Responds better than Dot to natural language.

  • Does a superior job of picking up commands from across the room.

Amazon Echo Dot
  • Quick setup through the phone app.

  • Four microphones give it great voice recognition.

  • Doesn't hear as well when your back is to the device.

If you are worried that setting up the Amazon Echo Dot, which doesn't have a screen or keyboard, will be a nightmare, don't be. To set up the Echo Dot, download the app to your smartphone, which passes on information such as your Wi-Fi network and asks you a few simple questions before finishing up.

The Google Home Mini has a setup process similar to the Echo Dot, although it goes into more detail and takes longer to complete. The Google Home Mini asks you to repeat commands to better recognize your voice and sets up a few preferences before you get started.

The Google Home Mini has a slight edge in this category due to Google Assistant's ability to parse the human language, but both are amazingly simple to use.

Listening to Music: Echo Dot Surprises

Google Home Mini
  • Sounds pretty good right out of the box.

  • No audio out options other than Chromecast.

Amazon Echo Dot
  • Includes 3.5 mm audio out and connects to wireless speakers over Bluetooth.

  • Tuned for voice rather than music, so it needs audio out options.

The Amazon Echo Dot has a 1.6-inch speaker and streams music from a variety of sources, including Amazon Music, Pandora, Spotify, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, and SiriusXM. You can also use the Echo Dot as a Bluetooth speaker to stream anything from your smartphone or tablet.

The Google Home Mini includes a 1.6-inch driver that is louder than the Echo Dot. It supports Google Play, YouTube Music, Pandora, and Spotify. Some third-party streaming services such as iHeartRadio can be added by linking your Google account. You can also use it as a Bluetooth speaker to stream anything from your smartphone or tablet.

The smaller entrants into the smart speaker market aren't designed with listening to music in mind. This makes sense because the savings part comes into the equation at the expense of a better speaker.

However, the Echo Dot's ability to easily use an external speaker means its enough to be the center of an entertainment system. With the Google Home Mini, you need a Chromecast and Chromecast-supported speakers to do the same.

The Best Skills and Apps: It's a Tie

Google Home Mini
  • Comes with the powerful Google Assistant.

  • Tightly integrated with the Google knowledge graph.

Amazon Echo Dot
  • Huge selection of third-party skills.

  • Tightly integrated with Amazon and its services.

The Amazon Echo series of smart speakers is two years older than the Google Home series. This may not seem like a huge difference, but the extra two years gave Amazon Alexa time to gain an advantage in third-party skills and support among smart home devices. Ultimately, this means you can do more unique things with the Echo Dot than with the Google Home Mini.

The Google Home Mini uses Google Assistant to power the device. While that name is not as catchy as Siri or Alexa, Google Assistant might be the smartest. The Assistant has the power to channel the Google knowledge graph, which gives it a deeper layer of access to the web than any other smart device not named Watson. Given Google's deep dive into all things artificially intelligent, the Mini has an edge when it comes to understanding your requests and performing tasks.

The Google Home Mini is the perfect choice for those who primarily want to ask their smart speaker questions and get answers. However, the Echo Dot can do more because of the massive ecosystem Amazon has developed with third-party vendors. Google's dogged focus on creating an assistant that can do more, however, is equally appealing for anyone seeking smart speaker that's just smart.

Final Verdict

Amazon Alexa helps power the Amazon Echo Dot to the lead in this race. The Echo Dot is more versatile than the Google Home Mini due to a two-year lead in gathering third-party skills. The sheer size of the ecosystem that connects to Amazon Alexa (and, therefore, the Dot) is unmatched by Google. The ability to quickly hook it up to an external speaker and turn it into a great jukebox also helps. If you subscribe to Amazon Prime, the Echo Dot is going to let you tap into that marketplace and all its services, including Prime Music, with your voice.

If you're leaning toward the Google Home Mini, don't fret. It could ultimately end up with a brighter future. That's because Google's underlying AI draws on a larger part of the web than the Dot does. For those who subscribe to YouTube Music or who built their music library around Google Play, the Home Mini is a good choice, but for now, we'll hand this one to the Echo Dot.

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