Best smart speaker 2022: which speaker or display should you buy?
Smart speakers come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, so which brand and model is best for you and your home? Here’s what you need to know.
There’s never been more choice when it comes to picking the best smart speaker or display for your home. In 2022, they come in all shapes and sizes.
Activated with your voice, these devices are helpful companions that let you listen to music, set calendar reminders, hear real-time weather updates, check the latest news reports and even control other smart devices from around your home.
Most are powered by the same technology you likely have inside your smartphone or tablet – specifically Amazon Alexa, Apple’s Siri or Google Assistant.
But the smart products on this list combine that tech with a physical device that’s navigated either solely with your voice – such as the Amazon Echo Dot - or via a built-in touch display – such as the Echo Show 5 or the Google Nest Hub.
With the price of smart speakers ranging from £40 to over £200, it can be tricky to know which model to choose. But our experts have tested and reviewed many of the top devices on the market to help you make a confident decision.
Each of the smart speakers has been given an award to highlight a key strength, from audio quality to the best affordable option. Expanding your smart home? Don’t miss our breakdown of the best streaming device for your TV available to buy now.
Best smart speakers and displays at a glance
- Best display: Echo Show 8 (2nd gen), £119.99
- Best speaker: Echo Dot (4th gen), £49.99
- Best large display: Echo Show 15, £239.99
- Best affordable option: Google Nest Mini, £49
- Best with smart hub: Echo (4th gen), £89.99
- Best premium: Echo Show 10, £239.99
- Best for audio quality: Google Nest Audio, £89.99
- Best small display: Echo Show 5 (2nd gen), £74.99
- Best for features: Google Nest Hub Max, £219
- Best budget option: Echo Dot (3rd gen), £39.99
Echo Show 8 (2nd gen), £119.99
Best all-round display | Buy now at Amazon
We chose the 2nd generation Amazon Echo Show as the best all-rounder smart display as it’s a great overall package. The 8-inch touch display means it can be used to watch video content while doubling as a digital photo frame. The Show 8 houses a 13MP camera with auto-framing - so it’s also great for video calling. It’s not too big, not too small, and will be a perfect smart device with a screen for most users.
Echo Dot (4th gen), £49.99
Best all-round speaker | Buy now at Amazon
If you don’t need a screen, the Amazon Echo Dot is a fantastic little smart device, and is our choice as the best all-round speaker. This ball-shaped voice-powered 4th generation model has great audio, a compact design and is highly responsive to commands. It can control other smart home devices around your home or pair up with other Amazon Echos for multi-room music or announcements. A top choice.
Echo Show 15, £239.99
Best large display | Buy now at Amazon
If it’s a huge display that you want, look no further than the Echo Show 15. It has a 15.6-inch Full HD (1080p) screen and 5MP camera - working well when placed at the centre of a household as it’s essentially an ultra modern family pin board. The widget-based display is great for recipes and watching video content, while the thick black borders around the edges of the large screen give it a sleek, artsy, aesthetic.
Google Nest Mini, £49
Best affordable option | Buy now at Currys
The Google Nest Mini is one of the smallest smart speakers available and can play music via the radio, Spotify or YouTube Music. The durable fabric top is made from 100% recycled plastic bottles. The sound quality is good, if a little directional, and can be mounted on the wall if you prefer. At less than £50, it is ideal for those just dipping their toes in smart home technology and wins our affordable choice.
Amazon Echo (4th gen), £89.99
Best smart hub | Buy now at Very
The 4th gen Amazon Echo is essentially a more powerful version of the Dot and it earns a place on our list as it comes with support for the Zigbee protocol, meaning it’s compatible with a wider range of smart devices without needing an additional hub. Aside from Zigbee, it’s got great audio quality, multi-room support and a bigger overall size. If you need a more powerful speaker with the ball-shape, the Echo is for you.
Amazon Echo Show 10, £239.99
Best premium display | Buy now at Very
The Echo Show 10 is one of the more expensive smart displays on our list, but it is definitely packed with the most premium specs and features. Alongside the usual voice assistant abilities, the 10-inch display comes with support for Zigbee devices and a unique display that can turn 360 degrees to follow your movements. Paired with the 13MP camera, this is not only fantastic for video calls but also for reading online recipes or watching video content while you are moving around a room.
Google Nest Audio, £89.99
Best speaker for audio quality | Buy now at Currys
The Google Nest Audio serves as a replacement to the original Google Home, and comes in a minimalistic new design that's even simpler than the original. Via “Hey Google”, it can handle all the usual smart speaker requests, but it's audio quality that really stands out. There’s no screen but the speaker’s volume range is superb, the bass is powerful and it can hear you over any loud background noise.
Echo Show 5 (2nd gen), £74.99
Best smaller display | Buy now at Amazon
If you want a new smart display but would also like to save some money, the only compromise with the Echo Show 5 over our top pick of the Show 8 is the screen size. This is a fantastic fit for someone new to smart display technology, and can be connected to other devices like video doorbells or lightbulbs via the Alexa app while doubling as a digital photo frame. It houses a 2 MP camera for video calls.
Google Nest Hub Max, £219
Best for features | Buy now at Currys
If you prefer the touchscreen of a smart display, the Google Nest Hub Max is one of the best options - with a responsive 10-inch display and a 6.5MP camera. Not only is it fitted with Google Assistant, but you can make video calls, watch YouTube or see who is at the door with the aid of a compatible device like the Arlo Smart Video Doorbell. There are two attractive colours: Silver Grey and Charcoal.
Echo Dot (3rd gen), £39.99
Best budget option | Buy now at Amazon
The 3rd generation Echo Dot may be the older model but this puck-shaped device has a compact design that’s covered in an attractive fabric. There’s no display, but this Echo Dot can handle all of the usual voice assistant comments - music, news, weather reports, radio and basic smart home control - alongside really solid audio quality. The best part? As it is the older Dot generation, it sells for under £40.
How to choose the best smart speaker
Choosing the best smart speaker in 2022 will largely depend on your budget, what you intend to use it for and which voice assistant you think you'll prefer.
An AI virtual assistant aids the ability to control a smart speaker with your voice. The two most common are Amazon's Alexa and Google Assistant, also Apple has its own series of smart speakers called HomePod that’s powered by Siri.
A speaker having a built-in voice assistant means that you can skip songs, turn up the volume and pause music with your voice hands-free. The other option is to buy one with the display - so you can also navigate using touch controls.
While most devices fulfil the same role, there will be additional features unique to one brand. Some speakers excel at setting reminders, alarms and routines, while others are dedicated to sound quality and more detailed music controls.
For example, Google prides itself on its voice match technology that allows Google Assistant to identify when different people are using the speaker. This allows the speaker to set reminders unique to an individual in the house, such as meetings or dentist appointments. Amazon has pioneered the automatic tracking technology that follows you as you move around the room, alongside the use of widgets.
It’s worth spending a bit of time thinking about these preferences as it will quickly narrow down your search. At the same time, consider your budget. These days it’s not a massive limiting factor as most of the brands have an affordable option.
Read more home audio coverage:
- Best soundbar of 2022
- How to set up Alexa
- What can Google Home do
- Sonos Beam gen 2 review
- Bose Smart Soundbar 900 review
- JBL Bar 5.0 MultiBeam review
- Sonos Arc review
- Roku Streambar review
- Google Nest mini vs Echo Dot
How we test smart speakers and displays
Smart speakers are tested against four main categories during our time with the device; ease of set-up, sound quality, design and value for money. Depending on how it performs, the speaker is then awarded a final rating out of five.
Within these categories, our technology experts consider everything from the speaker's size, weight, and portability to whether the voice assistant responds quickly and accurately to a range of commands and questions.
To test out each of the variables fully, the smart speakers were trialled in various settings, including with loud background noise, different room sizes and whether the response varied with different voices. Finally, the price is weighed up against the speaker's performance to assess whether it is worth the money.
Within this, we compare its price to competitors' devices to see if a better value for money is offered elsewhere or if a brand offers something unique. The final result? You get our list of the best smart speakers to buy this year, tried and tested.