The year 2019 is bringing up battle in smart home speaker market. While the 3rd Gen Amazon Echo Dot selling at mere $30 as on 27 Jan 2019, chk price the Google Home Mini still sells for $50. Looks like while Google trying to catch up Amazon quickly, the price of Echo dot will make it super tough battle now. So which smart speaker is worth buying? Lets discuss Google Home Mini vs Amazon Echo Dot in this Review.
Smart speakers becoming more and more affordable and super smart are making part of each home be it smart home or normal home.
Both worlds of Apple iOS as well as Android are being integrated smartly in these speakers, so bridging gaps to sell more and more in 2019.
So both these smart speakers are power packed for controlling your smart devices, playing music and assisting you with daily tasks.
I have tried to answer the question, which smart speaker to buy out of Amazon Echo Dot and the Google Home Mini and why? Which is right speaker if you own a iOS device or have love for Amazon or Google!
Google Home Mini vs Amazon Echo Dot Review – Which is the best & Why?
I will be speaking on individual elements of both speakers and then conclude on which is recommended for what purpose by me (again its my personal testing and opinion, feel free to take your own call based on personal taste)
In terms of size, both the Echo Dot and the Home Mini are compact designs featuring rounded edges with mesh fabric wrapped around which blends into the surroundings easily.
Both speakers have silicone-based rubber bottom which keeps them secured on surfaces and prevents any accidental slips.
When you speak the magic words like Okay Google or Hey Alexa the speaker acknowledges by attractive LED lighting.
The Dot features a ringed LED which lights up Blue when its listening to you or shows RED when muted. The ring looks beautiful and bright, spotting easily from a distance.
Home mini have Small LED lights indicate when Google Assistant is listening to you. Since the LED’s are located on the top and below the fabric, they are somewhat difficult to see from a distance. As against, Dot has clear visible light ring on sides.
One more thing that’s different in Echo dot is presence of physical buttons, Volume control as well as buttons to activate Alexa or mute the microphone. I like presence of physical buttons since it does not need specific guessing or attention, easy to understand and operate even for a novice user (say guest at home)
The Home Mini has capacitive volume controls, which means they are not marked as volume up/down but all you have to do is to touch the speaker on sides to change the volume. Although it is damn easy to operate, its not intuitive. I mean if you have a guest at home, you need to teach him how to do it.
For Home mini there is also a single button to turn the device ON/OFF and the mute button is located at speaker bottom which is not good.
Color choices and selection guide
The Dot is available in Charcoal (black), Heather Gray and Sandstone (white) fabric colors. If you are planning to use it at home, best is to go for Black color which will forgive the stains (if kept in kitchen etc)
Google mini also comes in wider range of colors like Charcoal, Chalk (white) and Coral (red).
While buying any of both speakers, choose the color based of Office use or Home use.
Echo dot uses proprietary power port as well as consumes more power (15 Watts). So you must carry separate charger with this speaker.
As against that Google home mini is powered by micro USB port, which is standard port. So you need not carry separate charger for this speaker. Also it consumes only 9 Watt power as against 15 Watt of Echo dot mini.
Overall Winner in Design section – Echo Dot
Both speakers looks attractive, compact and get merged perfectly with the surroundings.
Looking at look and feel, ease of physical operations which are intuitive for guests too and acknowledging from a distance, Amazon Echo Dot is clear winner.
Also Dot provides an easy way to mute the microphone without turning off the device.
2) Sound Quality
First thing to be kept in mind is that these are small smart speakers and not home theater sound systems, so keep expectations to provide basic functionality rather than looking as a audiophile.
These are not meant to use as a party speaker but assist you for many things including playing a soft music as you work at home or office. Sometimes reading books while you want to sleep off in bedroom.
Anyway, if you compare both these speakers, I found that Echo Dot delivers much clearer, cleaner and louder sound than the Home Mini. Also Alexa’s equalizer allows me to adjust the bass, treble and mid-tones.
When it comes to vocals, Home mini is clear winner, delivering more forward and defined as compared to the Dot.
Dot provides somewhat muddy vocals!
Connectivity to other speakers
When you wish to use these small speakers for home party, you wish to connect them to the home audio system.
And here Echo Dot comes to a rescue with its 3.5 mm audio output port, which allows connection to home old audio systems, working as a smart extension.
One more benefit of Dot mini is connectivity in two dots, they can be used as intercom, where as home mini can’t.
Whereas the Google Home Mini lacks a jack port, still you can connect it to a third party device using a Bluetooth, however since most of older gen music system lacks Bluetooth you wish to have a 3.5 mm jack.
Google’s speaker can stream audio through Chromecast-enabled devices and TVs running Android TV.
But Alexa’s Chromecast-like feature aka Alexa Cast, currently only works with Amazon Music.
Both Echo dot and Home Mini speakers can place a call to landlines and mobiles across US, Canada, and Mexico. This is managed using a VoIP call so it’s free of cost.
Overall Winner in Sound section – Echo Dot
The Echo Dot features far superior sound quality compared to Home mini.
Further Alexa’s equalizer enhances the music experience.
3) Smart Home Device Control
With latest introduction of 3rd Gen, now both smart speakers are capable of controlling your smart home devices via Alexa or Google Assistant.
Both do not contain integrated smart home hub, so you will need additional device like the Echo Plus or Samsung’s SmartThings, to set up devices that aren’t Wi-Fi enabled.
Now in this area again Amazon gets an early bird advantage, they entered in this market long back and hence they get more support from smart device manufacturers.
So in 2019, you will find almost all the smart devices work with Alexa, whereas Google Assistant integration is available for most of the best smart device, however some of the top sellers like LG’s premium TVs and the Ecobee4 thermostat, still only work with Alexa.
Although you can add any smart device to Alexa or Google, it is slightly difficult to do it with Google!
As an example Alexa App automatically scans and adds new devices.
Where as surprisingly when you wish to add new device to Google Home mini, you will have to goto App and select the device manufacturer and then follow a set of instructions, and believe me the complexity varies brand to brand, but not easy.
Overall Winner in Smart home device section – Echo Dot
Again due to more devices supporting Alexa, with intuitive and auto-device scanning and addition, Echo Dot mini wins the battle.
Google, although a leader in being intuitive in all other things like the voice assistant, needs to work a lot more to get them to Alexa level. Come on Google work hard plz. (remember I am die had fan of Google)
4) Voice Assistant
Now coming to the most powerful section of smart speakers, which is the voice assistant power. This is like heart of any smart speaker.
First thing to note is that Alexa and Google voice assistants are far advanced and better as compared to their competitors like Siri, Cortana and Bixby. But in this section we compare only these two.
It’s a well known fact that Alexa being first in market features more than 50,000 third-party skills, including games, useful apps, podcasts and more.
As against that Google Home features around 2,000 skills as on Jan 2019 (no precise info available to me on this aspect)
Having said that, both these assistants are well capable of handling the basic tasks like setting alarms, knowing whether, calling Uber taxi, ordering a pizza, setting reminders, streaming music etc.
Alexa ranks good when it comes to general knowledge (GK) and communications, may be due o more skills learnt over time.
However in terms of being intuitive, I mean understanding the way humans speak, no one can ever beat Google assistant. Mini understands more natural phrases and answers more logically.
As an example if I tell Google home mini to call “mom” it calls my mom, and when my wife tells Google home to call “mom” it automatically calls her mom and not mine! Wow !! super intuitive!!!
One more example is Google home mini can handle two commands at the same time, say if you tell Google to play music and set timer, it will execute both tasks, however Alexa executes first command and ignores the second!
Alexa provides accurate answers providing context and citing sources.
Google Assistant again proves it a powerful resource when it comes to getting directions and time estimations to destination, may be since it has direct access to its own Google Maps and live traffic data, whereas Alexa is not that well and accurate over time estimations and directions to places.
Google also performs well for suggesting public transportation.
Overall Google voice Assistant has more powerful speech recognition engine, and mingles easily with all voices at home, identifying each one separately.
If you are a Amazon prime member, you get an edge over in online shopping experience.
But overall in shopping or food ordering or music listening both performed at par.
Overall Winner in Voice assistant section – Google Home Mini
In terms of web searches, place guidance, speech recognition and intuitiveness handling multiple people voices, Google Home Mini is a clear winner.
With built-in microphones both speakers are able to listen to your commands.
In this area both devices almost perform at par, specially in the tough area of identifying commands from a distance when they are playing music!
So while listening to music Google home performed more accurately listening and executing commands as compared to Echo Dot. (Alexa needs slightly louder voice while playing music)
One more is from what distance you can command these speaker, here also Echo dot mini performs better than Google Home mini, reason may be Echo’s large 4 Far Field mics which work better catching your voice from longer distances.
Overall Dot performs slightly better than Home mini in microphone sensitivity.
Overall Winner in microphone section – DRAW
With minute difference, I can say both are at draw with minor plus for Echo dot.
Why I am saying so is looking at basic function of smart home speaker, the distance from which you give command is not that important as far as they are able to listen from distance of approx 10 meters.
6) Music streaming
As one of the main purpose of being around these smart speakers is to listen to music while working at home or office, so lets look at how they perform.
Echo Dot basically plays music from Amazon Prime Music, and Home Mini uses Google Play Music.
Alexa provides more music streaming options than Google.
Alexa supports Amazon’s music service, Deezer and Spotify, as well as radio services Gimme, iHeartRadio, Pandora, Pandora Premium, SiriusXM and TuneIn.
Whereas Google Home supports YouTube Music and Google Play Music, as well as Pandora, Deezer and Spotify. However services like Gimme, iHeartRadio, SiriusXM and TuneIn are absent.
Overall Winner in Music streaming section – Echo Dot
With support to more music streaming services and 3.5 mm jack output, Echo dot has an edge over Google home mini.
Google home wins only if you have Chromecast devices or an Android TV to stream music.
Some times ago both these devices were selling at price-point of around $49.
However when I checked on 27 Jan 2019, Echo dot 3rd gen was selling for discounted price of $49 for two, chk latest offer on Amazon, there are more offers for bundle with TP-Lnk Smart Plug or Philips kit or the Fire TV Stick..
Whereas the Home Mini was priced around $49 for one device.
However, you need to check for bulk buy offers on both devices. As an example Google offers a pack of two for $78 or a pack of 3 for $114, and you can further save to bundle it with Chromecast or Google Wi-Fi or Nest Thermostat E (one of our top-rated smart thermostats).
Remember that both these sellers keep offering whooping discounts, so irrespective of price first devicie which one to buy and then keep close watch on offers on Amazon and Google for sales.
Overall Winner in Price section – DRAW
Both devices priced around $49, although Dot is sold for $30 on 27 Jan 2019, both companies offer variety of discount deals from time to time, so its draw.
Echo Dot 3 vs Google Home Mini – Specs Comparison Table
Google Home Mini
Echo Dot 3
|Offers||$49||Best Buy Echo Dot 3|
|Build/ Body||ABS plastic/Fabric material||ABS plastic/Fabric material|
|Connectivity||Wifi dual band|
802.11b/g/n/ac (2.4 and 5 GHz) Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1 (input), Chromecast & Chromecast Audio Built-in
|Wifi dual band|
802.11 a/b/g/n (2.4 and 5 GHz) Wi-Fi Bluetooth Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP) A/V Remote Control Profile (AVRCP)
|Light interface||RGB LED ring||4 RGB LED array|
|Mic||2 Far-field mics||4 Far-field mics|
|Headphone jack||N/A||Yes (3.5 mm)|
|Buttons interface||Capacitive Touch Buttons||Mechanical Buttons|
|Audio formats||HE-AAC, LC-AAC+, MP3, Vorbis, WAV (LPCM), FLAC||AAC/MP4, MP3, HLS, PLS and M3U|
|Power cable||Micro USB||Proprietary|
|Dimensions||98 x 42 mm||99 x 43 mm|
|Weight||173 g||300 g|
Looking at price-point which lies in same level …
Both speakers have its own set of unique features …
So look at what hardware of smart home systems and smartphones you have at home, since your decision will mainly be governed by this information.
If you are Amazon freak –
If you have kindle, Amazon prime, Audioable, Fire stick at your home, then Amazon Echo Dot is the way to go.
Echo dot mini offers superior audio quality, a nice design and slightly better smart-home integration.
If you are Google freak –
If you are used to android devices and use Google maps, do lot of web searches, Chromecast etc, Calender, Gmail
And subscribed to Google Play Music, then Google home mini is way to go.
Surely Google packs in a powerful voice assistant.