The best smart speakers, updated September 2021
And while the whole thing started on your phone, with the introduction of Siri on the iPhone, to be followed by Google Assistant and others, smart speakers with the same functionality proved to be even more convenient for many users and families, and a great addition to the home. Especially now that it's difficult to interact with friends and loved ones face-to-face, using a smart speaker to connect could be invaluable.
Are you interested in getting one, or several smart speakers for your home? Let's take a look at the best smart speakers available in 2021.
Sonos One (Gen 2)
If you're looking for a speaker from a well-regarded brand, with a nice look that blends well with the furniture and not one but two choices for a voice assistant – Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant – the Sonos One is arguably your best pick.
It sports an appealing, minimalistic and compact design that can easily blend with your décor, and if you own two Sonos One speakers, you can pair them for a grander stereo sound experience.
Apple HomePod mini
As is to be expected, Apple's Homepod mini features the smart assistant Siri, which may lack in some functionality behind the competition.
However, Apple boasts that its HomePod is the more secure, privacy-respecting option, plus it's arguably the best and most obvious choice for users who are already deep into the Apple ecosystem and use Apple Music. You need an iPhone to activate the HomePod mini, so if you're using an Android phone, this smart speaker really isn't an option.
But if you are an avid iPhone user, you'll be able to enjoy plenty of great features, from streaming podcasts, to Ambient Sounds, which fills the room with soothing sounds of the forest, or ocean waves. Obviously, you can also enjoy a good Apple Music experience. In fact, new subscribers get 6 months of free Apple Music when they buy this speaker.
Amazon Echo (4th gen)
Amazon's fourth generation Echo speaker comes in a new spherical shape and features clear and crisp audio with solid bass. On board is Alexa, which is arguably the most capable smart assistant out there.
Ask Alexa to play a song or a genre from your favorite app, be it Apple Music, Spotify, or another one and it just will, with no compatibility issues. Ask it to add items to your shopping list, or for the daily news, or use it to control your smart home lights, thermostats, and more – it can do it all. Great as a gift too.
Amazon Echo Dot (4th gen)
The Echo Dot features the Alexa functionality from the previously-mentioned Echo, but in a much smaller body, for a lower price. This makes it a great choice for most rooms where music streaming isn't a priority, but you still want to have Alexa handy when needed.
Despite its price, it still looks good and can play your music if asked to, songs just won't sound as rich as they would through a full-size Echo. For helping you in the kitchen with recipes, or to control your smart home devices, or to entertain the kids with Amazon FreeTime – the Echo Dot is a smart choice.