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The Amazon Echo was first released back in 2014, and it kicked off a whole new category in tech — the smart speaker. Now in its second generation, the Amazon Echo boasts good sound quality, a nice design, Amazon’s digital assistant Alexa, and access to thousands of Alexa Skills that can control smart home devices, order food, and more.
But unlike in 2014, the Amazon Echo isn’t without competition. Google now has its own line of smart speakers, which were recently rebranded under the Nest name of smart home products, but the original one the search giant launched was the Google Home.
The Google Home features the Google Assistant, a smart voice assistant that can control your smart home gadgets, tap into all of Google’s services like Maps, and search the web for information you might be interested in.
But which smart speaker is better — the Google Home, or the Amazon Echo? We put the two speakers head to head to find out. We’ve used both speakers for years, so these comparisons come from real-world experience and testing.
Specs and dimensions
* Note that the original Google Home and Amazon Echo prices are listed in the image below, but they were both on sale at the time of publishing (Google Home $99.99 and Amazon Echo $64.99).
The Amazon Echo and Google Home may both be cylindrical smart speakers, but they have their own unique design elements that set them apart. For example, the Amazon Echo features a fabric covering around the entirety of the device, and it’s available in a few different colors, most of which are different shades of gray.
It’s also available with a wooden exterior, which may or may not look good depending on the overall style of your home. On the top of the Amazon Echo, you’ll find volume controls, a mute button for the microphone, and a power button. The ring around the top lights up when you summon the voice assistant by saying, “Alexa.”
The Amazon Echo may look good, but that doesn’t mean that the Google Home is ugly. The speaker isn’t quite as evenly cylindrical as the Echo with its slanted touch-sensitive top for quick controls.
The top can also show information like the volume level and whether or not the Assistant is listening. If you see red, yellow, blue, and green lights dancing, Google Assistant has heard you say, “Hey Google” or “OK Google” and is ready to answer. There is a mute button on the back, so you can turn the Assistant off so it won’t respond to you.
The speaker comes with a gray base, but you can get it in a few different colors, including a nice coral or copper. You can even buy third-party bases, which is a nice touch. It’s only the base that you can change, however, so you’ll be stuck with the white top no matter what.
Both the Google Home and Amazon Echo look good in their own way — though I personally think the Echo looks a little nicer.
Setting up both the Amazon Echo and the Google Home is simple, though the process is slightly different for each.
If you’re using the Google Home, you’ll plug the speaker in, download the Google Home app, and the device should automatically pop up in the app. Simply follow the on-screen instructions to connect the speaker to your Wi-Fi network, and you should be good to go.
To set up the Amazon Echo, you’ll plug the device in, then download the Alexa app. Then hit the ‘+’ symbol in the app, and follow the on-screen instructions to get the device connected to your Wi-Fi network.
Both the Google Home and the Amazon Alexa are simple to set up, which is nice to see, so there’s no clear winner here. You’ll also connect smart home devices to the speakers in these apps so you can control devices with your voice (more on that later).
For many, the sound quality of the speaker might be the most important feature, and it’s important to note that they both sound pretty good for smaller consumer-level speakers, though neither will likely impress audiophiles.
The Google Home has a decent sound quality, with an emphasis on the low-end. The Google Home can’t get quite as loud as the Amazon Echo, but it still can get loud enough for the vast majority of users. The high-end on the speaker is certainly present, with a slight dip in the mid-range, though there’s not a huge amount of detail compared to other more audio-focused smart speakers, like the Sonos One.
The Amazon Echo offers a slightly more full-bodied sound compared to the Google Home, so if you like balance, then it might be better suited to your audio tastes. The bass response isn’t quite as heavy as it is on the Google Home, which might be important for some.
Both the Google Home and the Amazon Echo sound good in their own way, though I personally prefer the more balanced sound of the Amazon Echo.
Both the Google Home and the Amazon Echo offer their own smart features, largely through their digital assistants — Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa, respectively.
Google Assistant has fast become the smartest digital assistant out there, thanks to the fact that it leverages Google’s knowledge graph and artificial intelligence for voice recognition and to find what you need, when you need it. Generally speaking, Google Assistant seems a little better at recognizing what you’re looking for, even if you don’t specifically say it. You can also connect Google Assistant to a range of third-party services to make it even smarter than it already is.
Of course, you can connect Alexa to third-party services, too, and Alexa may even have the edge on Google when it comes to smart home connectivity, though both can connect to all major smart home devices.
Ultimately, the better smart assistant really just depends on the rest of your digital life. If you own an Android phone, then it’s probably better to stick with Google Assistant. If you don’t, then Alexa will do the job perfectly well for your needs. Google is also slightly better with accents and languages, so if you live in a multi-lingual household, Google might be your winner.
The bottom line
So which is better: Google Home or the Amazon Echo? Well, it depends. If you’re an Android user that has other Google products, then it will benefit you to stick to the Google ecosystem, as your Google products will work together very well. The Google Home is also currently discounted from $129 to $99, making it a better deal than before.
If, however, you don’t have an Android phone, then you may be better off with an Amazon Echo, which now supports Apple Music, and sounds a little better, too. It also works with more smart home devices, looks nicer to our eyes, and often goes on sale for less than its original $99.99 price.
Buy the Amazon Echo smart speaker on Amazon for $64.99 to $84.99 (originally $99.99)
Buy the Google Home smart speaker at Best Buy for $99.99 (originally $129)