The Google Nest Mini and Amazon Echo Dot are both the cheapest smart speakers available from their respective ranges costing less than £50. These are accompanied by bigger smart speaker such as the new Google Nest Audio and smart displays such as the Echo Show 8 and Google Nest Hub Max.
And, these small smart speakers have proven to be a roaring success with consumers. Both brands deem them to be their 'most popular' smart speakers and in October last year, we saw Amazon release the fourth generation of the Echo Dot.
Both the Google Nest Mini, an upgrade to Google Home Mini, and newest Amazon Echo Dot have been put to the test by our reviewers and received an impressive rating of 4 out of 5 stars. But with the smart speakers so evenly-matched, how do you decide which one to buy?
The answer to this question will largely depend on which features you most regularly intend to use. If you are almost entirely going to use the smart speaker to play music, then good sound quality is essential. However, if you’re looking to use it to control other smart home devices, knowing how sophisticated the speech recognition technology (in the form of Alexa or Google Home) is, should be a priority.
For a comprehensive breakdown of each smart speakers’ pros and cons, read our full Amazon Echo Dot review and Google Nest Mini review. Otherwise, keep reading to find out which of the budget smart speakers will best suit you as we compare design, sound quality, set-up and value for money.
More like this
Want to know how these compare to other speakers? Head to our guide to the best smart speakers or our best Alexa speakers if you're set on having an Amazon device. And see how the Google Nest Mini compares to the brand's bigger speaker in our Google Nest Audio review.
Google Nest Mini vs Amazon Echo Dot: Design
The design of the Google Nest Mini has not changed considerably since the first Google Home Mini and it still has the same small, disc design. It is simple with a fabric top and a recycled plastic bottom. It has touch controls from the volume on either side of the device and a pause/play button on top. These buttons are lit by white LEDs.
In comparison, Amazon has completely given the Echo Dot a makeover for its fourth generation. The new Echo Dot has a spherical design with a bright LED light ring around the bottom of the device. It also has a fabric finish and both devices are small enough to fit on almost any shelf, table or kitchen counter.
Both of these smart speakers are available in a range of colours. The Google Nest Mini is sold in charcoal, coral, sky blue and chalk, while the Echo Dot is available in charcoal, twilight blue and glacier white. The combination of a sleek, simple design and various colour options should mean you have no problem slotting either smart speaker into your existing home set-up.
Google Nest Mini vs Amazon Echo Dot: Sound quality
With a price point of less than £50, we wouldn't blame you for thinking the sound quality of these smart speakers might not be the best. And, it's true that if you are serious audiophile, you might want to consider investing in a more expensive speaker such as the Bose Home Speaker 500 or Sonos Move.
However, the sound quality of the Echo Dot has been vastly improved since the first or second generation speakers and playing music from Spotify was enjoyable. There is a good volume range that can be controlled via the Amazon Alexa app or with the buttons on the top of the device.
Where the Echo Dot excels is speech. It is a brilliant device to listen to audiobooks, podcasts or talk radio on and we had trouble finding any flaws. This was the same when it came to news, traffic and weather updates, or when Alexa was responding to any queries.
Much like the Echo Dot, this is also where the Google Nest Mini performs best. It has excellent voice recognition features and our reviewer found that Google Assistant would always hear any commands over music.
And while it cannot go as loud as the Echo Dot, it has had its bass strengthened compared to its predecessor, the Google Home Mini. However, because the Google Nest Mini has an upwards-facing speaker, it filled the room best when mounted on a wall. In comparison, the Echo Dot's 1.6-inch front firing speaker performs well from any shelf, counter or table, giving you more flexibility on where to place it.
Google Nest Mini vs Amazon Echo Dot: Ease of set-up and use
Both the Google Nest Mini and Amazon Echo Dot have fairly easy and intuitive processes for setting up the devices. As is typical with smart speakers, both have accompanying apps that require you to have either a Google or an Amazon account.
For the Google Nest Mini, you use the Google Home app. Once the app is downloaded, the smart speaker should automatically be detected and then you can set your device settings including choosing a music account such as Spotify or Deezer.
A good feature to set up at this point for the Google Nest Mini is 'Voice Match'. This will allow the device to recognise your voice and distinguish it from others, which is especially useful if you want to use the smart speaker to remind you of any meetings or appointments.
To control the Echo Dot (4th Gen), you download the Amazon Alexa app. The set-up process is extremely similar to that of the Google Nest Mini and you will be prompted to through the steps including choosing a default music service. As it is an Amazon device, it will automatically choose Amazon Music but Spotify, Deezer and Apple Music are also available.
Both smart speakers also offer a range of apps including Philips Hue to control smart lightbulbs and plugs, Hive to control your thermostat, and services such as Domino's and Uber. We have collated the best Google Home accessories and Alexa compatible devices to help you get the most from your speakers.
Google Nest Mini vs Amazon Echo Dot: Value for money
The smart speakers are also competitively priced, with less than a £1 between them. The Amazon Echo Dot (4th Gen) has a RRP of £49.99 and the Google Nest Mini is £49. However, both see regular discounts. We have seen the Echo Dot go as low as £29 and the Google Nest Mini to just £19.
Even at their RRP, both smart speakers were awarded 5 out of 5 stars by our reviewers for their value for money. In our reviewer's opinion, the Google Nest Mini has intelligent voice recognition technology and decent sound quality that could rival more expensive devices. When looking at the Echo Dot, we found that it also had good sound quality for the size of the speaker, had a sleek, new design and felt well-built.
These are some of the cheapest smart speakers on the market but Amazon and Google have vastly improved the sound quality and speech recognition technology since their first iterations. To see how they compare to other brands, read our guide to Echo Dot vs HomePod Mini.
Amazon Echo Dot:
Google Nest Mini: