A cool-looking smart speaker, the Amazon Echo Pop is the new entry-level Alexa speaker. It comes in a wider range of colours, and has option sleeves to mix things up further. If you’re after a basic smart speaker for general requests and smart home control, this speaker could work; however, the better-sounding Echo Dot (5th Generation) costs just $10/£10 more and has a temperature and ultrasound occupancy sensor, making it a better choice overall.
- Low(ish) price
- Matter compatible
- Compact and fun design
- Echo Dot isn’t much more expensive
- No temperature sensor
- ConnectionConnects via Wi-Fi to your home network.
- AudioA 1.95-inch front-facing speaker is loud, but lacks the quality of the speaker in the Echo Dot.
Car companies often go through the same pattern, slowly increasing the size and features of their entry-level models along with the price, until they reach a point where they need to add a new base-level model.
It’s a progression that Amazon seems to have followed, with the Echo Dot having got bigger, better and more expensive, resulting in a new entry-level speaker, the Amazon Echo Pop.
For simple voice commands and responses, this cheaper Echo speaker works well, but spend just a little more and you can get the more rounded (in more ways than one) Echo Dot.
- Like a Dot with the front sliced off
- No Action button
If you took the Echo Dot (5th Generation) and sliced the front of it off, you’d end up with the Amazon Echo Pop, give or take. It’s a cool-looking little speaker, although it doesn’t take up much less space than the Echo Dot.
Available in Charcoal, Glacier White (pictured), Lavender Bloom and Midnight Teal, the Echo Pop has enough variety to keep most households happy.
If you don’t like the colour, there are silicone cases available in seven more colours (blue, glow-in-the-dark, grey, lilac, orange, purple and red) to give even more choice. However, at $16.99/£19.99 a case, buying a Pop and a Sleeve is more expensive than just buying an Echo Dot.
There are three physical controls on top: mute, volume up and volume down. These are simple round buttons with icons printed on them; once I’d remembered the layout, I could use them by touch alone.
There’s no Action button to activate Alexa without speaking on this model. If that’s a feature that you use a lot on your current model, then this is a smart speaker to avoid. Personally, I’ve never had to resort to using it.
A regular power adapter is provided in the box, plugging into the rear of the speaker. That’s the only port on this smart speaker, and there’s no 3.5mm audio output.
- No temperature sensor
- Does what the other Echo speakers can
- AZ2 Neural Edge processor
Fundamentally, the Amazon Echo Pop can do all of the same things as other Alexa-powered smart speakers, using the cloud-based service. My guide to Amazon Alexa goes into more details, but Alexa is a mature voice assistant now, providing simple voice responses to regular questions, such as looking up local businesses or getting the current weather, as well as controlling smart devices, playing music and giving information on upcoming calendar events.
For this model, Amazon has included its AZ2 Neural Edge processor, which lets Alexa process some commands, such as request to turn on a smart plug, on-device. This makes some responses on the Pop slightly quicker than on older devices. Amazon has included the AZ2 Neural Edge processor on its latest Dot speakers, the Echo Show 15 and the Echo Show 5 (3rd Generation).
As with the Echo Dot (5th Generation), the Pop has three farfield microphones that constantly listen for the wake-word. I found the Dot slightly more sensitive, picking up my requests for Alexa over the Pop, but there’s not much in it.
Aside from situations where there’s a lot of loud music or the speaker was placed too close to a blaring TV, the Pop picks up voice requests easily.
To get the price down from the Dot’s, the Pop misses out on a few features. First, there’s no temperature sensor onboard, so the Pop can’t be used to trigger Routines in the same way. Secondly, there’s no ultrasound motion sensor for detecting if a room is occupied or not. Finally, there are no tap gestures to pause/unpause music or snooze an alarm.
If you want an Echo for an alarm clock, the Echo Dot with Clock (5th Generation) is a superior product because you can tap to snooze, and it has an LCD display showing the current time.
- Basic audio with little bass
- 1.95-inch front-firing speaker
Inside, the Amazon Echo Pop has a 1.95-inch front-firing speaker, which is a little larger than the 1.73-inch speaker on the current Echo Dot range. Speaker size alone is not the only hallmark of sound quality, and the Echo Dot is a superior smart speaker when it comes to music.
I found that the Echo Pop lacked the warmth and bass of the Echo Dot (5th Generation). Playing a bass-heavy track, such as OK Go’s This Too Shall Pass, the Echo Pop lacked low-frequency impact, while the high end sounded harsh and muddled.
Playing a more paired-back track, such as Johnny Cash’s Hurt, the Echo Pop does better, generally sounding acceptable, although there are points where the limited range can make the speaker a little fuzzy-sounding. It lacks the range of the Dot but is loud enough to fill a regular-sized room.
I found the Echo Pop better for voice responses: Alexa is loud enough to be understood clearly even in a fairly large room. If you want a small smart speaker around the house for setting timers, general queries and smart home control, then the Pop does a good job.
Should you buy it?
You want a cheap smart speaker for basic use:
If you’re just after a smart speaker for quick responses and smart home control, this model is a good choice.
You want better audio and more features:
Spend $10/£10 more on the Echo Dot and you get better audio quality, and additional sensors for use in smart home control.
The main issue with the Amazon Echo Pop is that it’s not that much cheaper than the Echo Dot (5th Generation): just $10/£10 less.
If your only concern is having a smart speaker for basic voice responses or smart home control, that $10/£10 saving may be worth it; if you want better audio, tap gestures, and the built-in temperature and ultrasound sensors, the Echo Dot is a better choice. Check out our Best Smart Speaker list for even more options.
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We test smart speakers with a variety of smart devices to see how well they control them
We test smart displays with a variety of video streaming services to see how good they are for entertainment.
We use the same test tracks for each smart speaker to see how well each handles music.
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