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? Perhaps the most important thing to consider when shopping for a smart speaker doesn't have to do with specifications or a specific feature. It has to do with the ecosystem itself. 

Amazon Prime users will be drawn to the Echo Dot, especially those who subscribe to Amazon Music Unlimited or who have built up an impressive collection of audio books on Audible. The Echo Dot is a smaller (and cheaper) version of the Echo and uses Amazon Alexa as the voice assistant.

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

But what about everything else? Which smart speaker can do the most or is the best at answering questions?

Setup and Ease of Use

For a device without physical buttons, the Google Home Mini is amazingly easy to set up and use.

Amazon Echo Dot

If you are worried that setting up a smart speaker that doesn't have a screen or keyboard will be a nightmare, don't be. You can set up the Echo Dot by simply downloading the app to your smartphone, which will pass on information like your Wi-Fi network and ask you a few simple questions before finishing up.

What We Like

  • A fast set up process means you'll be up-and-running in just a few minutes.
  • The quick set up may be even longer than it takes to start using the device, which is as simple as saying "Alexa, tell me about cats" or "Alexa play Justin Timberlake." 
  • The Echo Dot has seven microphones giving it great voice recognition to the point of even knowing which Echo device to answer you with based on distance to the device, which is great if you are using multiple Echo devices in your house.

What We Don't Like

  • The Echo Dot does great when facing the device, but it doesn't hear as well when you are talking in the opposite direction.


Google Home Mini

The Home Mini has a set up process similar to the Echo Dot, although it will go into a bit more detail and take longer to complete. This mainly has to do with the Google Home Mini asking you to repeat commands to better recognize your individual voice and setting up a few preferences before getting started.

What We Like

  • Overall, the Google Home Mini responds better to natural language, which makes it slightly easier to use than the Echo Dot.
  • It may take a bit longer to set up, but it's still much quicker than a smartphone or tablet.
  • While it doesn't have as many microphones, the Home Mini does a superior job of picking up commands across the room without your voice.

What We Don't Like

  • It can sometimes be too smart. This includes rattling off a Microsoft Office tutorial on shortcuts when you were just testing to see if Google Home Mini shortcuts could be set up by voice. This means you'll have to get used to saying, "Hey Google, stop!"

Our pick: Google Home Mini

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

Amazon Echo Dot

The Echo Dot has a 0.6-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.

What We Like

  • The Echo Dot is tuned towards voice, so it sounds great when having conversations with Alexa. 
  • It's also great listening to podcasts or having it read a Kindle book to you.
  • The includes of a 3.5 mm audio-out and the ability to connect to wireless speakers over Bluetooth means you can really upgrade the sound to compete with the likes of Sonos and Apple's HomePod.

What We Don't Like

  • You are probably going to need those audio-out options if you love listening to music. The Echo Dot underperforms the Home Mini when it comes to this area.


Google Home Mini

The 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, and some third-party streaming services like 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.

What We Like

  • The Home Mini sounds pretty good out of the box. It won't compete with the Google Home, of course, but it is more than adequate compared to other $49 Bluetooth speakers and comes with a quite intelligent assistant.
  • You can tell it to stream music and set the volume all in one command, which can be nice if you don't like to stumble over an awkward wake up phrase multiple times in a row.

What We Don't Like

  • The lack of any audio out capabilities outside of Chromecast limits it to a speaker system that is great in the kitchen but not so much in the living areas.

Our pick: Echo Dot

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. But 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

Amazon Echo Dot

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 has allowed Amazon's Alexa to gain quite an advantage in third-party skills and support among Smart Home devices. This ultimately means you can do more unique things with the Dot than the Google Mini.

What We Like

  • Shopping with Amazon Prime is a breeze. You can also check order updates and track packages you bought from Amazon.
  • The ability to access calendars and set meetings on multiple platforms including Google Calendar and Apple's iCloud calendar.
  • Routines allow you to string multiple commands together with one key phrase. You can even schedule routines!
  • Works with the most Smart Home devices.
  • 25,000+ third-party skills expand Alexa's abilities.

What We Don't Like

  • You can't edit your cart or checkout with your cart.
  • You cannot create shortcuts for longer commands.


Google Home Mini

The Google Home uses Google Assistant to power the device. While not as catchy of a name as Siri or Alexa, Google Assistant may 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.

What We Like

  • Google Home is the king of answering basic questions. It will also remember the context of your questions, which makes followup questions smoothly.  Of all smart speakers, you can speak the most naturally to Google Home.
  • The ability to buy items from stores like Walmart and Target is a cool feature added by the expansion of Google Express.
  • You can string two commands together or create as shortcut to a longer command.
  • Quickly catching up with Smart Home support.

What We Don't Like

  • Limited to Google's own services in key areas such as the calendar.
  • While you can set up a routine of commands, you cannot schedule them.
  • You are stuck with the wake words "Hey Google" or "OK Google."

Our pick: Echo Dot

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 will simply do more at this time.

And the Winner Is...

Our pick: Echo Dot

Amazon's Alexa helps power the 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 gathering third-party skills. The ability to easily hook up an external speaker and turn it into a great jukebox also helps. And if you subscribe to Amazon Prime, the Echo Dot is going to let you tap into that marketplace with your voice. It's definitely cool having the Echo Dot read one of your Kindle books to you.

The Google Home Mini may end up with the brighter future. Google's underlying AI can draw on a larger part of the web, and 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.