Echo Amazon is a physical Siri Apple

Apple HomePod Mini vs. Amazon Echo (4th gen.): Comparison of the new smart speakers

One with Siri, the other with Alexa. Otherwise, some people might have been amazed at the presentations from the two manufacturers: The Apple HomePod Mini and the 4th generation Amazon Echo have a surprising number of things in common. Let's compare that.

Apple HomePod Mini vs. Amazon Echo 4th Gen: Technical Specifications

Apple HomePod MiniAmazon Echo (4th gen)
Smart speaker with voice control and smart home function for at homeSmart speaker with voice control and smart home function for at home
Voice assistant: SiriAlexa
Dimensions (H / W / D): 84.3x 97.9x 97.9mm, weight: 345 grams133 x 144 x 144mm, 970 grams
Available colors: white, space grayAnthracite, blue-gray, white
Sound, according to the manufacturer: "two passive woofers for powerful bass and clear high frequencies. Special acoustic waveguide for a 360 ° sound field""76.2 mm neodymium woofer and two 20 mm tweeters"
Haptic buttons: tap, volume up, volume downAction button, volume up, volume down, microphone on / off
Connections: -3.5mm audio input and output
Wireless connections: 802.11n WLAN (WiFi 4), Bluetooth 5.0, UWB, Apple AirPlay 2Dual-band WiFi (802.11 a / b / g / n / ac = WiFi 5), A2DP, Zigbee
Stereo-capable: yes (compatible with other HomePod Mini, not with HomePod)yes, with other echo 4th gen and echo sub (no other echoes)
Audio sources: Apple Music, iTunes / iCloud, "third-party music services", radio stations 1Live, SWR3, Antenne Bayern and RTL Berlin Hits Radio, Apple Podcasts, current news, audio streaming from any source via AirPlay using a compatible Apple device such as an iPhone or Apple TVAudio sources: Almost all music streaming services, podcasts and online radios worldwide via Alexa skills
Compatible with: iOS devicesiOS and Android devices
Smart home capability: Apple HomeKitIntegrated Zigbee Home Hub, Alexa Smart Skills
Price (RRP): 96.50 euros97.47 euros

HomePod Mini and Echo 4th Gen: Similarities

At first glance, both smart speakers are pretty similar - both in terms of appearance and price. And the similarities don't end there. Both offer a form of adaptive sound that is supposed to adapt to the respective room. With their respective technology, both are multiroom and smart home capable. One with HomeKit and UWB, the other with Zigbee and Alexa Smart Skills.

In addition, both can be connected to a second device to form a stereo pair. But that currently means that you have to buy exactly the same speaker again and then partner the devices. So a HomePod Mini with a HomePod Mini, not a HomePod. And also the 4th generation Echo only with an Echo of the fourth, no earlier generation and also no Echo Dot. With the Echo 4, however, stereo coupling with an Echo Sub is also possible.

With both smart speakers, it is also possible to use them as an output device for the respective smart TV service of the manufacturer. The HomePod Mini with an Apple TV, and the Echo with a Fire TV (stick).

Both speakers can even communicate across multiple smart devices - albeit in their own way. You can use an Echo with the Drop In function as a kind of house walkie-talkie, for example with an Echo device in the kitchen a networked device in the living room and talk to those present. With the help of the Alexa app you can "drop" an echo from your smartphone and vice versa. At Apple, the function is called Intercom and, in addition to the HomePod (Mini), it also works on other devices such as the Apple Watch, CarPlay or an iPhone.

You can also make calls on both devices. On the HomePod Mini via a paired iPhone, on the Echo via smartphone or landline, depending on the set up skill.

Apple Home Pod Mini vs. Amazon Echo (4th Gen): Differences

At second glance, however, differences between the two smart speakers quickly become apparent, starting with the dimensions. The Echo (4th Gen) is around 50 percent larger than the more compact HomePod Mini and almost three times as heavy.

In terms of functionality, the HomePod Mini seems to focus entirely on Apple's own universe. A device with iOS or iPadOS is required for setup and operation. Apple announces that the Smart Speaker also allows other music services than Apple Music by default. However, there are only a handful of radio stations included. Of course, you can stream the music you want to the speaker via an iOS or iPadOS device (which you need for the setup anyway). But that's just a detour. It should also not be underestimated that you cannot connect the HomePod Mini to an external audio source such as a larger speaker via a cable.

To do this, Apple installs the U1 ultra wideband chip in the HomePod Mini. A compatible Apple or HomeKit device should be able to locate it much more precisely in the home network. The iPhone 12, for example, has the chip.

Overall, Amazon is very open with the Echo 4th Gen. Using Alexa Skills, you can stream practically any radio station worldwide and actually all known music flat rates - even Apple Music. In addition to iOS and iPad OS devices, Alexa and the Echo 4th Gen also work with Android devices. What I personally find exciting: The 3.5mm audio connection on the new Echo is not only an output, but also an input. So you can connect an external microphone to it, for example.

Data protectionists should also be pleased that the 4th generation Echo also has a physical button to disconnect the microphones from the power. Amazon has repeatedly affirmed in the past that the loudspeakers of an Echo do not record any ambient noise as long as you do not wake the system with "Alexa". If you didn't trust that, you can now play it safe with the push of a button.

Apple does not yet offer this option on the HomePod Mini. In terms of data protection, however, the manufacturer promises that the Mini really only listens and processes the request locally if you give the command "Hey Siri". The device associates requests with a random ID and not with your Apple ID.

Google Nest Audio vs. HomePod Mini vs. Echo 4 Gen.

It has no visual similarities with the ball-shaped HomePod Mini and a 4th generation Echo. But otherwise, of course, it belongs in this comparison, the Google Nest Audio. Google recently unveiled it; it currently costs exactly the same as the Echo 4 with an MSRP of 97.47 euros. It is stereo-compatible with another Nest Audio and can also serve as a smart home hub with the help of the Google Assistant and its voice control .

Via “Ok Google” it is of course also equipped with Google search and corresponding skills such as news but also radio stations or music streaming. It is compatible with both Android and iOS and iPadOS devices. Similar to the Echo 4, it has a physical switch to turn off the microphones when needed.

The bread box-shaped Nest Audio just doesn't quite match the other ball-shaped smart speakers in terms of appearance. At 175mm high, 124mm wide and 78mm deep, it is also the largest here in comparison, and with a fighting weight of 1.2kg, the heaviest.

Which smart speaker is right for you?

One thing should be said right away: We are writing this article at a time when none of the three smart speakers are already on the market. So we're only comparing the functions and technical details. We haven't been able to test the sounds of the three yet. With that in mind, it should be interesting to see whether the Apple HomePod Mini, which is equally expensive but otherwise much smaller and lighter, can acoustically keep up with the two larger ones.

Amazon: These new echo and fire devices are coming to Germany

That being said, a lot depends on the ecosystem in which you are already traveling. Do you already have everything from Apple? Then a HomePod Mini could fit perfectly into your home. Are you more on the move in the Android universe? Then it might be Nest Audio. You don't want to commit to any system, maybe you already have a couple of Echo or Zigbee devices? Then it is perhaps most likely the echo (4th gen).

Apple: Four new iPhone 12s and a small, smart speaker

A factor that should not be underestimated, however, is the respective voice control. And there are sometimes clear differences between Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant. Also include that in your selection. You must be able to communicate well with the respective language assistant. Otherwise you won't be happy in the long term with the surrounding smart speaker either.

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