Google Home Mini vs Amazon Echo Dot

Which small smart speaker wins?

Dot vs Mini

 Lifewire

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. 

Overall Findings

Amazon Prime users are drawn to the Echo Dot, especially those who subscribe to Amazon Prime Music or Music Unlimited or those who have built up an impressive 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 built up a large Google Play collection and YouTube Premium subscribers will love the Home Mini, which uses Google Assistant to answer questions intelligently 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
 Google, Inc.
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. You set up the Echo Dot by downloading 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 thanks to Google Assistant's ability to parse the human language, but both are amazingly simple to use.

Listening to Music: Echo Dot Surprises

Amazon Echo Dot 3rd Gen
Amazon
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 the ability to connect to wireless speakers over Bluetooth.

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

The Amazon Echo Dot has a 1.6-inch speaker and can stream 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 considerably 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.

It's clear the smaller entrants into the smart speaker market aren't designed with listening to music in mind, which 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 a great entertainment system, while with the Google Home Mini, you'd need a Chromecast and Chromecast-supported speakers to do the same.

The Best Skills and Apps: It's a Tie

Google Home Mini
 Google, Inc.
Google Home Mini
  • Comes with powerful Google Assistant.

  • Tightly integrated with Google's knowledge graph.

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

  • Tightly integrated with Amazon and its services.

Amazon's Echo series of smart speakers is two years older than Google's Home series. This may not seem like a huge difference, but the extra two years gave Amazon's 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 Google's 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, but 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 plain, well, smart. 

Final Verdict

Echo Dot 3rd Gen in white
Echo Dot. Amazon 

Amazon's Alexa helps power the Amazon Echo Dot to the lead in this race. The Echo Dot is more versatile than the Google Home Mini thanks 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've 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.