What sets the Echo Dot apart from the HomePod Mini?

Cupertino, September 21, 2023

This article compares the key features of the 5th generation Echo Dot and the HomePod Mini so you can make an informed choice.

Overall findings

  1. Echo Dot sound is good
  2. Recordings are saved
  3. Good compatibility with different systems
  4. Can add a screen
  5. Cheap
  1. HomePod Mini sound is excellent
  2. Recordings are not tied to your account
  3. Truly designed to work best in the Apple ecosystem
  4. No screen option
  5. Cheap, but more than Echo Dot

These products are both good and both target the same customer. If you have more than one computer system in your home, the Echo Dot will likely work with whatever you have. The HomePod Mini offers impressive sound and a higher price tag, but it's intended to work with iPhone and iPads, so if you're an Apple household it's probably a better fit.

Audio features:

Echo Dot

  • Good sound quality
  • Built-in support for many streaming services
  • Home-wide audio support for multiple devices
  • Home theater support, plus optional subwoofer
  • Play/pause on-device

HomePod Mini

  • Excellent sound quality
  • Built-in support for Apple Music; other services via Bluetooth
  • Audio support for multiple devices throughout the home
  • Home theater support
  • On-device play/pause and volume control

Both devices give you a lot of options when it comes to music playback. The Echo Dot has the edge in streaming services thanks to its easy ability to add Amazon Music, Spotify, and Apple Music through the Alexa app. The HomePod Mini has built-in support for Apple Music, while streaming services like Spotify work with the HomePod via a connected iPhone, iPad or Mac. Both devices let you combine multiple speakers into a whole-home audio system, and two (two Echo Dots or two HomePod Minis; you can't mix and match) can be linked to your TV for a home theater experience. Only the Echo line includes a dedicated subwoofer for deeper bass (that's an additional purchase, though). Although they offer similar features, the sound quality is a key difference. Apple's commitment to audio quality is clearly evident here. The Echo Dot has solid sound, but the HomePod is great.

Intelligent assistant:

Echo Dot

  • Alexa voice assistant
  • Amazon says it doesn't sell Alexa user data
  • Recordings from Alexa are saved to your account
  • Can turn off the microphone

HomePod Mini

  • Siri voice assistant
  • Apple says it doesn't sell Siri user data
  • Siri recordings are not saved to your account
  • Can mute microphone

Both smart speakers feature voice-activated intelligent assistants. While Alexa has long been seen as the most capable tool, Siri has made significant strides, and both platforms can do most of the things you could want thanks to a range of third-party skills (for more, check out The 60 Most Useful Alexa Skills and The 134 Best HomePod Skills to Know). However, an important point of difference is privacy. While both Amazon and Apple say they don't sell user data collected through the speakers, they take different approaches to privacy. Amazon stores Alexa recordings with your account, while Apple's recordings are anonymized and cannot be linked to you.

Smart Home Features:

Echo Dot

  • Matter support
  • No HomeKit support
  • Creepy Wi-Fi system support
  • Built-in temperature sensor and motion detection
  • Intercom function
  • Echo Guard event detection at extra cost

HomePod Mini

  • Matter support
  • HomeKit support
  • No Creepy Support for Wi-Fi system
  • Built-in temperature and humidity sensors
  • Intercom function
  • Event detection: smoke and carbon monoxide detectors

Smart speakers can be the centerpiece of your smart home, and both the Echo Dot and HomePod mini perform well here. Both support the emerging Matter smart home compatibility standard, with the HomePod adding Apple's HomeKit platform. Both contain useful sensors and support room-to-room intercom communication. While the HomePod can detect and respond to events such as smoke alarms, the Echo Guard service (an additional monthly or annual subscription) performs event detection and connects you to emergency services. The Echo Dot builds in Amazon's creepy Wi-Fi system for better connections and longer range, which the HomePod doesn't have.

Cross-platform compatibility:

Echo Dot

  • Compatible with Apple devices, Windows, Android
  • Moderate ecosystem integration

HomePod Mini

  • Most compatible with Apple devices
  • Powerful ecosystem integration

What other devices you use can determine which speaker is best for you. The HomePod integrates best with other Apple devices, such as the iPhone. If you have an iPhone, you get access to cool features like the ability to easily move a song you're listening to on HomePod to iPhone for music on the go and expanded support for Apple's robust ecosystem. The Echo Dot has the same kind of transfer, but you have to enable it as an add-on. On the other hand, the Dot has much better support for Android, Windows, and non-Apple devices than the HomePod.

Other features

Echo Dot

  • Built-in screen for clock, weather, song names
  • Price: $59.99
  • Size (inches): 3.9 x 3.9 x 3.5
  • Weight: 0.67 pounds
  • Colors: Glacier White, Cloud Blue

HomePod Mini

  • None screen
  • Price: $99
  • Size (inches): 3.3 x 3.9
  • Weight: 0.76 pounds
  • Colors: White, yellow, orange, blue, space gray

In the catch-all category of other features, there are only two important things you need to know. The Echo Dot offers a built-in screen behind the speaker grill (adding $10 to the $49.99 base model), which can display the time, temperature, and song playback. The HomePod Mini doesn't offer this kind of quick information. The other crucial detail is the price. The Echo Dot, with a built-in clock, costs just under $60, while the HomePod Mini costs $99.

Final Verdict

Both the Echo Dot and the HomePod Mini are capable, useful smart speakers. Both have strong, intelligent assistants, offer similar features and can power your smart home. While the HomePod Mini excels in its audio quality and integration with Apple's ecosystem, the Echo Dot has a lower price and greater compatibility. Ultimately, what's best for you probably comes down to what other devices you'll use with it, the most important features for your needs, and what you're willing to spend.

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