Smart speakers play a pivotal role in smart homes and make voice control a seamless experience. With so many different smart speakers out there, Google Home and Amazon Echo are some of the most popular. So, when it comes to the question of Google Home vs Amazon Echo, which one will come out on top?
Since Amazon kicked off the smart speaker war with original Echo back in 2015, they’ve sold more than 100 million devices.
Although Google was later to the party launching Home in 2017, they’ve made up for lost ground. Last year, Google Home smart speakers outsold Echo devices for the first time.
Despite the Apple HomePod and a bunch of third-party smart speakers from likes of Sonos, when you’re looking at buying a smart speaker for the purposes of home automation, it’s still a two-horse race.
With so many models in each ecosystem, we’ll start by highlighting each of these lines then we’ll do a head-to-head across the categories that count. We’re going for a broad overall comparison today so we won’t be awarding winners by category. The entire decision is based on so many subjective factors and so many variables, it’s tough to declare a flat-out winner.
You should leave today with one thing, though.
A clear idea of which smart speaker or smart display would make the best solution for you.
We’ll kick off with a look at the Google line-up.
Google Home Ecosystem
Google has a slimmer line than Amazon with the following models as of September 2019:
- Home Mini
- Home Max
- Nest Hub
Google Home Mini is the baby of the line and is shaped similarly to Echo Dot.
Available in chalk, charcoal or coral, this fabric-covered smart speaker is a pocket-friendly entrance point to home automation through voice control. You’ll enjoy robust smart home control and great interoperability thanks to Google Assistant onboard.
As you’d expect from a speaker this compact, audio is somewhat lacking.
Designed to compete with the standard Echo, Google Home is sized similarly, too.
You’ll enjoy the superior sound with this model but it’s still hardly a room-filler.
Smart home control is wide-ranging and this is the most popular Home speaker.
Home Max is our personal favorite if you have deep pockets and you’re looking for more than an Alexa vehicle.
Thanks to a pair of powerful woofers, the soundscape really pops with Home Max. You’ll get a deep and thumping bass with no distortion, even at a higher volume.
Home Max also evaluates the dimensions of your room and optimizes audio settings so you can relax with the machine learning doing all the work for you.
You’ll get all the smarts you’d expect since Google Assistant is baked in, too.
Google Nest Hub
Rebranded now that Nest has been folded back into Google, the confusingly-named Hub is actually a smart display rather than a home hub, so be clear what you’re buying here.
Google Nest Hub completes the line-up for now and is in direct competition with Echo Show.
There’s a newer, larger smart display due for release on 9 September called the Google Nest Hub Max.
So, that’s how things stand if you’re considering a Google Home speaker.
How does Amazon’s line compare, then?
Amazon Echo Ecosystem
While Amazon continues to expand its home automation line, it never neglects the Echo range.
Here’s the current range:
- Echo Plus
- Echo Dot
- Echo Spot
- Echo Show
- Echo Show 5
The second-generation Echo sees an improvement on the audio front along with a tweaked aesthetic.
If you’re looking for a no-frills portal for smart home control with average audio capability as a bonus, Echo remains a relevant choice for anyone on a budget.
The key selling point of Echo Plus is the onboard Zigbee hub. This gives you enhanced smart home control without needing to immediately invest in a third-party hub.
Audio is rather more impressive than the limp soundscape on the base device.
For a flexible and convenient entry to home automation, Echo Plus is the pick of the range.
Now into its third generation, Echo Dot goes mano-a-mano with Google Home Mini.
You’ll get all of Alexa’s smarts in a minute form factor.
Enjoy full access to your favorite digital assistant at a whim purchase price-point.
The smallest smart display on the market, you’ll get a 2 ½-inch screen to throw in a visual component to your AI voice assistant experience.
Echo Spot works well as a bedroom device enabling you to control other devices in your home hands-free.
The second-generation Echo Show packs a 10-inch HD display and Dolby processing on the highly capable speakers.
This full-sized smart display works especially well in the kitchen.
Where Google has caught up admirably in terms of smart speakers, they’ve still got some distance to go with smart displays.
And if this large screen is a little too large for you, the all-new Echo Show 5 is the perfect compromise.
Coming in at half the price of Echo Show and boasting a dinky 5 1/2-inch screen, Show 5 is marketed as a smart display for your bedroom.
For a great way to control other smart home devices and to take advantage of a visual aspect to search, Echo Show 5 will go head-to-head with Google Nest Hub.
Google Home vs Amazon Echo by Category
Now that you have an overview of all the smart speakers and smart displays in each ecosystem, we’ll see how Google fares against Amazon by category…
- Google Home vs Amazon Echo: Smart Home Compatibility
- Google Home vs Amazon Echo: Digital Assistant
- Google Home vs Amazon Echo: Audio
- Google Home vs Amazon Echo: Design
- Google Home vs Amazon Echo: Skills and Search
- Google Home vs Amazon Echo: Streaming Music and Video
- Google Home vs Amazon Echo: Making Calls
- Google Home vs Amazon Echo: Cost and Overall Value
1) Google Home vs Amazon Echo: Smart Home Compatibility
Using a digital assistant for hands-free control of other smart devices is one of the core purposes of any smart speaker.
You can currently control more than 60,000 smart devices with Alexa.
Google Home allows you to control 30,000 devices.
What counts here is whether Alexa or Google Assistant can be used to control the devices you have in place or plan to buy. As with all aspects of home automation, keep things personal and you’ll find it easy to get a great connected home. Expect a boilerplate solution and you’ll end up coming unstuck.
As long as you have devices singing from the same hymn sheet and any hub needed in place, smart home control with either Google Home or Amazon Alexa is a seamless experience.
2) Google Home vs Amazon Echo: Digital Assistant
Google’s major advantage in terms of digital assistant functionality is the power of search as you’d fully expect.
Alexa, on the other hand, is a nimble virtual butler you can configure to speak in different accents and languages.
In terms of basic functionality, there’s little to choose between these AI-powered digital assistants.
If your home uses more than one language, Google Assistant is the more flexible option. The default choice is Alexa for her sheer ubiquity.
3) Google Home vs Amazon Echo: Audio
Here, it’s tough to compare like-for-like across the ranges.
If you’re looking for a primary listening device, the only unit worth consideration is Google Home Max.
You can still get more than the serviceable sound from Echo Plus and the standard Google Home but for real foot-tapping audio, it’s got to be Max.
For a small speaker that doesn’t sound atrocious, Echo Spot is well worth your time if you can justify paying extra for the screen in place.
4) Google Home vs Amazon Echo: Design
Both Google and Amazon serve up cylindrical full-sized devices in the form of Echo and Google Home. Neither of these will run off with any design prizes, but both are more than functional.
If you’re looking for a smart speaker for your bedroom, Echo Dot or Echo Spot work well. Google Home Mini is set up to compete with these.
The larger speakers occupy a fairly large footprint, so make sure you have somewhere in mind for them.
Overall, all these smart speakers are designed to blend in rather than standing out. As more of a portal into the Google or Amazon ecosystem, more of a background device, none of the models are particularly over-the-top on the design front.
5) Google Home vs Amazon Echo: Skills and Search
Both digital assistants allow you to set up routines to automate smart home control.
Alexa has 80,000 skills, but Google doesn’t get left behind with a supple and powerful search capability. You’ll tend to get more complete answers to your requests with Google Home than with Alexa.
For all basic tasks, like organizing your day and playing back the traffic or weather for you, both virtual assistants come with their own pros and cons. As with all aspects of this buying decision, you need to focus on which ecosystem best gels with your needs.
6) Google Home vs Amazon Echo: Streaming Music and Video
You’ll have access to all the same type of streaming channels on both Home and Echo.
You should ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you really need video and do you frequently watch video content? If so, you need either Google Nest Hub or one of the Echo Show or Echo Spot smart displays. If not, you can focus on the other key issues.
- How important is top-notch audio to you? If you’re an audiophile, Google Home Max is the only speaker here worth considering. See our model-by-model breakdown above for the smart speakers that deliver in terms of the soundscape. There are surprisingly few
7) Google Home vs Amazon Echo: Making Calls
You can make two-way video calls between Echo Show devices.
With no camera on Google Nest Hub, you get the same freedom using Google Home.
Think about how often you would use a house intercom rather than obsessing about this feature if you won’t even take advantage of it.
8) Google Home vs Amazon Echo: Cost and Overall Value
You can get some great bargains from both brands and when it comes to value… Well, that’s always fairly subjective.
If you’re looking for a cheap portal for smart home control and little beyond, both Google Home Mini and Echo Dot make highly effective budget options.
Amazon wins out in the mid-range offering far more functionality and flexibility with Echo Plus than you’ll find with the base Home model. Audio is stronger, you’ll get a Zigbee hub and you won’t need to pay too much for that added oomph.
Google steals the high-end speaker vote with Home Max. None of the Echo devices can compete on this front which is one of the reasons why Amazon are working on an upscale Echo.
For smart displays, Amazon edges ahead with Echo Show and the newer, smaller display of Echo Show 5 both outperforming Google Next Hub.
Whatever your budget and whatever your requirements, you’ll have no problem finding the best smart speaker or smart display.
Well, you should now have a clear idea of whether you want a smart speaker or a smart display and which ecosystem makes most sense for you.
And remember, that’s what we’re talking about when you invest into an Echo device or a Google Home speaker. You’re committing to a specific digital assistant and to a locked-down ecosystem, so make sure you choose wisely!
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