Apple HomePod Mini vs. Amazon Echo Dot (4th gen): Which should you buy?

Mini-smart speakers have become commonplace. Go to anybody's home and you are likely to find one in the kitchen or living room. Both Apple and Amazon currently have similar-looking, yet very different, versions of a mini smart speaker available. Let's take a look at the Apple HomePod mini and the Amazon Echo Dot and see what is similar, what is different, and which one is the best for you.

HomePod mini vs Amazon Echo Dot: Let's compare

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You may buy a smart speaker for many reasons, including playing music and podcasts, controlling smart home devices, and asking a voice assistant to play the news or weather report. Both of these smart speakers can help with that, but what else is there on offer? Let's take a look at some key similarities and differences.

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Header Cell - Column 0 HomePod miniEcho Dot
Price$99$50
Voice AssistantSiriAlexa
Color choiceSpace gray or whiteCharcol, glazier white, or twilight blue
Size3.3-by-3.9-inches3.5-by-3.9-inches
Weight12.16 oz12.00 oz
Speaker technologyFull-range driver and dual passive radiators1.6-inch front-firing speaker
Airplay 2YesNo
Ultra-WidebandYesNo
ThreadYesNo
IntercomYesYes
Audio outNoYes
HomeKitYesNo
Smart home hubYesYes
Touch controlsYesYes
ServicesApple Music, Apple Podcasts, iTunes, iCloud Music Library, TuneIn, Pandora, iHeartRadioApple Music, Spotify, Pandora, Sirius XM, TuneIn, iHeartRadio, Audacy, and many more

The HomePod mini and the Echo Dot have very similar visual designs. They are both spherical smart speakers that weigh virtually the same. The HomePod mini is actually 0.2 inches smaller than the Echo Dot, but they both have the same 3.9-inch width. As far as color choices go, the HomePod mini is available in space gray or white, while the Echo Dot can be purchased in charcoal, glazier white, or twilight blue.

The HomePod mini has more networking features such as Thread and Ultra-Wideband. Both are smart hubs and the HomePod mini integrates directly with HomeKit accessories. However, the Echo Dot has an audio out jack so that you can use it with external speakers, while there is no way to output audio with the HomePod mini.

HomePod mini vs Amazon Echo Dot: Exploring the features

Amazon Echo Dot

(Image credit: Amazon)

The HomePod mini is, at its heart, an Apple speaker. It has great sound coming from its relatively small body. It uses Siri for voice control, so iPhone users will immediately be familiar with how to use it. It integrates with HomeKit so it will control all of your HomeKit devices. All you have to do is ask Siri to play your favorite song or turn on the lights, and you're all set. It works best with an Apple Music subscription, although selected other music services will integrate with Siri, such as Pandora, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, and Deezer. You can also play anything from your iPhone or iPad on your HomePod mini via AirPlay 2, but that somewhat defeats the purpose of a voice-controlled smart speaker.

The HomePod mini is, at its heart, an Apple speaker.

The HomePod mini will also integrate with your Apple TV, so if your TV speakers don't cut it, you can have a less expensive way of adding high-quality sound to your favorite TV shows and movies. You can even use it as an intercom to reach other HomePods or HomePod minis in your home, as well as any iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch on your account.

Using the Echo Dot is quite similar. You can use Alexa to find the music you want to listen to from almost any music service available, not just limited to the few that are compatible with the HomePod mini. Simply link your account in the Alexa app and the Echo Dot will recognize the command when you ask for it. For example, "Play Queen on Apple Music" or "Play Howard Stern on Sirius XM". You can also control your smart home with any device that is integrated with Alexa, and even play audiobooks and podcasts throughout your home from your favorite services.

The Echo Dot has an intercom feature that you can use to call other Echo devices throughout your home. You can also make announcements that will reach every Echo device in your home, so instead of yelling that dinner is ready, you can simply ask Alexa to relay the message.

The Echo Dot is a direct portal to your Amazon account, so you can easily place orders on Amazon through Alexa. Your Echo Dot will send notifications when a delivery has arrived or a reminder if it's time to reorder a product that you consistently order.

HomePod mini vs Amazon Echo Dot: Controls and sound

HomePod Mini

(Image credit: Stephan Warwick / iMore)

The HomePod mini has a touchpad on top with volume up and down control. You can use the touchpad to tap commands such as advancing tracks or summoning Siri. The Echo Dot features volume up and down buttons, a mic on/off button, and an action button that has different uses in different scenarios.

According to Apple, the HomePod mini has a "full-range driver and dual passive radiators for deep bass and crisp high frequencies." This means that you can expect clear, loud, undistorted sound pumping out of the HomePod mini. In contrast, the Echo Dot has a single 1.6-inch front-firing speaker. At peak volumes, the Echo Dot has some distortion, but that's not surprising for a speaker that costs $50. If it's sound quality you're after, the HomePod mini will produce better sound than the Echo Dot overall.

HomePod mini vs Amazon Echo Dot: Which should you buy?

The decision on which mini smart speaker to buy comes down to many factors, one of the most important being price. The HomePod mini is $99 and the Echo Dot is $50 (although you can frequently find it on sale for less). Is paying double the price worth it for the Homepod mini? Or should you save some money and grab an Echo Dot? Or even buy two Echo Dots for the price of one HomePod mini. 

Your choice also comes down to your preferred ecosystem. If you are deep into the Apple ecosystem, an Apple Music subscriber, want a hub to control your HomeKit devices, and want a great-sounding small speaker, then you'll be happiest with the HomePod mini

If you are a regular Amazon customer, subscribe to multiple services that you want to control with your voice, want more robust voice control, or shopping on a budget, then the Echo Dot is for you. Just keep in mind that you are not going to get stellar audio performance out of it, but you will get a more versatile speaker. 

Whichever speaker you choose, you are getting a relatively inexpensive way to enjoy your music and control your smart home devices. 

**Mark Goldschmitt** is the father of three boys and loves anything Apple. Born and raised in Queens, NY, and currently residing on Long Island, Mark is a lifelong New York Mets fan. {.end}

With contributions from