The Best Smart Speakers for 2023
Voice assistants are now everywhere, from phones and TVs to kitchen appliances. Smart speakers have become the go-to choice for interacting with Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant, offering various options and price ranges. There are downsides to having a smart home device that’s always listening for a wake word, as giving more personal information to Amazon, Apple, and Google can be a questionable decision. However, these companies have simplified the management of your data usage. You can opt out of human review for certain voice queries, and it’s also easier to handle and delete your history with different digital assistants.
1. Amazon Echo Dot 5th Generation – Best Smart Speakers
Remaining true to its reputation as one of the most compact Alexa-enabled speakers available, the latest iteration of the Amazon Echo Dot follows suit. In addition to its diminutive size, this version incorporates temperature and tap sensors and an Eero Wi-Fi extender. While music playback quality may not be exceptional, it provides a seamless conversational experience with Alexa.
The Amazon Echo Dot is hard to beat regarding quick access to Alexa and managing your smart home routines. While it may not introduce groundbreaking features and falls short in music playback, it excels at its intended purpose. The device consistently recognizes commands, responds swiftly, and comes at a lower price than other speakers with built-in Alexa.
Visually, it may not differ significantly from its predecessor, but it boasts intriguing upgrades under the surface. The addition of a temperature sensor ensures efficient operation of fan routines, while a new tap sensor allows for touch control of audio playback when you’re nearby. Users of Eero mesh Wi-Fi systems will also appreciate the integrated Eero extender. With a price tag of just $50, finding a better alternative is difficult.
- Compact size and affordable price
- Impressive microphone performance
- Improved sound quality compared to the 4th generation
- Not ideal for music playback
- No longer equipped with an audio output jack
This smart speaker costs only USD 30.87 via Amazon.
2. Amazon Echo 4th Generation
Building upon the groundbreaking legacy of Amazon’s original smart speaker, the Echo Dot (4th Gen) represents a significant improvement over its 3rd-gen predecessor, making it one of the most versatile Alexa-enabled speakers available. Equipped with enhanced drivers, it delivers impressive audio quality for enjoying your favorite tunes. Additionally, similar to its predecessor, it boasts an aesthetically pleasing design.
The larger size and speaker driver construction of the 4th-generation Amazon Echo give it a significant advantage over its smaller counterpart. It impressively reproduces your favorite music with a noticeably louder and clearer sound than the Echo Dot.
Moreover, it offers a 3.5mm audio output jack, allowing you to connect it to a larger wired speaker setup if desired. Amazon has also improved hardware in the 4th generation, reducing Alexa’s response times. While the 3rd gen was not slow per se, these enhancements contribute to a smoother experience.
If you’re seeking a visually appealing, great-sounding device that functions flawlessly without breaking the bank, the Echo, with its Death Star-like design, is worth considering. However, if your preferred music genres heavily feature drums or bass, you may want to explore options that cater more specifically to entertainment-focused experiences.
- Impressive sound quality considering its small size
- Swift and responsive handling of Alexa commands
- Equipped with a 3.5mm audio output jack for flexible connectivity
- The bass response may be lacking in certain scenarios
- Relies on a proprietary power cable for operation
This smart speaker costs only USD 69.99 via Amazon.
3. Apple HomePod mini – Best Smart Speakers
For individuals who frequently use an iPhone or iPad in their household, the Apple HomePod Mini offers the optimal solution to access Siri without relying on their phone. It is worth noting that the setup process requires an iOS, iPad, or MacOS device, which is not compatible with Android devices. However, once set up, the HomePod Mini provides access to many features and functionalities.
Drawing inspiration from its main competitor, the Apple HomePod Mini features a spherical design with touch controls positioned towards the front, differing from the top-mounted touch control of the Amazon Echo. However, the dissimilarity goes beyond design.
The notable distinction lies in the HomePod Mini’s requirement for an Apple device (such as a smartphone, tablet, or computer) for initial configuration and most app setups. Although it can connect to Android devices, it falls short of providing the full range of features offered by the larger HomePods, leaving Google Pixel users with some limitations.
Considering this, the HomePod Mini is most suitable for households that utilize a mix of Apple HomeKit smart devices while accessing Android and Apple handsets. If this description fits your situation, the HomePod Mini is a solid choice, especially when two units are paired for a stereo listening experience that delivers impressive sound quality.
- Exclusive HomePod compatibility with Android devices
- Compact design with an appealing aesthetic
- Ideal for controlling HomeKit devices
- The majority of features are limited to Apple devices
- Lack of native support for Spotify
This smart speaker costs only USD 99.00 via Apple Shop.
4. Google Nest Audio – Best Smart Speakers
Google has truly optimized efficiency with its latest addition to the smart speaker lineup, the Nest Audio. Despite its compact and unassuming appearance, its sound quality is far from ordinary. When two Nest Audio speakers are paired for stereo mode, the experience becomes even more remarkable. Moreover, this smart speaker springs into action promptly upon hearing the familiar wake phrase, “Hey, Google.”
Donning a sleek and minimalist design, this smart speaker doesn’t draw attention to itself, but don’t be fooled—its performance and sound quality surpass expectations. Thanks to its larger, completely redesigned drivers and meticulous digital and acoustic tuning, it produces a sound that belies its compact size.
Additionally, if you opt for two units, you can effortlessly pair them for an impressive stereo experience or multiroom playback. While sound quality is crucial, this smart speaker excels in design and performance, making it an easy recommendation.
Furthermore, its microphones flawlessly captured our commands without raising our voices or repeating ourselves, even when playing music at high volumes. It boasts near-instantaneous responsiveness to commands (subject to your internet connection), and its Bluetooth connectivity rivals that of any Android device used.
- The impressive sound quality exceeds expectations
- Understated design that seamlessly blends in
- Reasonably priced, offering good value for money
- Bluetooth latency is slightly higher than average
- Lack of an audio input jack
This smart speaker costs only USD 129.99 via Google Store.
5. Google Nest Mini Smart Speakers
The latest Nest Mini takes the crown regarding size and affordability, leaving no room for smaller or more budget-friendly options. Boasting enhanced processing hardware and an additional microphone remarkably improves response speed and accuracy compared to its predecessor, the Google Home.
Designed as a direct competitor to the Echo Dot, the second-generation Google Nest Mini is a compact device that excels in receiving voice commands, answering questions, and providing casual music playback. While it’s evident from its size that it doesn’t prioritize high-fidelity sound or booming bass (quite the opposite).
It does offer sufficient volume for voice commands and clear responses even from a distance. The Nest Mini’s remarkable feature is its ability to self-adjust the volume, intelligently sensing the ambient noise level in the room, and making automatic adjustments.
Considering the Echo Dot’s compact size and affordability, it is no surprise that the Google Nest Mini is the preferred choice for individuals seeking swift access to Google-based voice assistance without needing a smartphone or tablet.
- Compact design that occupies minimal space
- Improved microphone performance for enhanced voice recognition
- Automatic volume adjustment for convenience
- Limited maximum volume capability
This smart speaker costs only USD 49.00 via Google Store.
6. Sonos Era 300 Smart Speakers
Although it comes with a higher price tag, the Sonos Era 300 has established itself as one of the top-tier standalone wireless speakers worth the investment in recent years. It captures attention with its visually intriguing design and delivers a remarkable audio experience characterized by its powerful impact and immersive atmosphere. Its cutting-edge spatial audio technology and support for Dolby Atmos streaming make this possible.
While some exceptional speakers have been on the market for a while, new contenders like the Sonos Era 300 are truly setting a new standard. However, it is more accurate to consider it as a high-end speaker integrated with smart technology rather than just a voice command interface for your smart home devices.
Sonos, renowned for its audio expertise, meticulously designed the hardware and physical shape of the Era 300 to optimize the performance of this bookshelf-sized speaker, resulting in an unparalleled music-listening experience. For instance, if you are a user of Apple Music, Tidal, or Amazon Music, the Era 300’s support for Dolby Atmos enables spatial audio playback, which utilizes clever technology to simulate surround sound.
Furthermore, if you can acquire a pair of Era 300 speakers, you can combine them for an immersive and genuinely rare true surround sound experience, a feature seldom found in smart speakers. If sound quality is paramount to you, there is no better option than the Sonos Era 300.
- The exceptional sound quality that is difficult to surpass
- Spatial audio technology creates a simulated surround sound experience
- USB-C connectivity and the option to use an audio input or Ethernet jack
- To achieve true surround sound, a pair of speakers is required
- The speaker is relatively large
This smart speaker costs only USD 499.99 via Amazon.
7. Sonos Era 100 Smart Speakers
Distinguishing from certain smart speakers, the Sonos Era 100 was purposefully crafted to excel in music playback and smart home control. It delivers exceptional sound quality without the hefty price tag of other high-end offerings from renowned audio manufacturers.
The Sonos Era 100, like its pricier counterpart, prioritizes music playback while integrating built-in Alexa functionality. Despite its compact size, it offers a stereo configuration and a room correction feature that utilizes the microphone of your Android or iOS device during setup to analyze the surrounding space and adjust the audio accordingly. Although it could benefit from being slightly louder, it still outperforms most other smart speakers in terms of sound output.
The Sonos Era 100 is such a compelling option that we strongly contemplated designating it as our Premium Pick. It delivers an excellent audio experience comparable to the Era 300 while being more affordable. Although it doesn’t quite match the exceptional qualities of the Era 300, it remains a fantastic high-end choice that will satisfy the needs of many users.
- Compact size that occupies minimal space
- Audio quality is characterized by cleanliness and spaciousness
- Impressive bass output
- Comes with a higher price point
This smart speaker costs only USD 339.99 via Amazon.
To choose the right speaker, prioritize smart speakers that align with your preferred ecosystem, be it Google, Amazon, or Apple. Next, consider whether you prioritize exceptional audio quality or simplified voice control without relying on a smartphone.
Our top recommendation is the Google Nest Audio, which offers excellent smart control from Google and delivers impressive performance as a speaker. Also, consider purchasing Nest Audios for an immersive stereo sound experience. However, if you prefer Alexa and desire outstanding music playback, opt for either the Sonos Era 100 or 300, depending on your budget. For those solely seeking Alexa voice support at an affordable price, the Echo Dot is your most suitable choice.