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Best smart speaker 2022: Our pick of the smartest voice assistant speakers

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Use voice control play music, make calls and execute all manner of useful commands with one of the best smart speakers around

If you like the idea of being able to control household devices and access the near-infinite amount of information online without lifting a finger, one of the best smart speakers should be high on your shopping list.

Thanks to the wonders of artificial intelligence, we're now able to place an Amazon order without ever touching a screen or keyboard and play music from our favourite band just by saying their name.

The best smart speaker can do that and a whole lot more, including being able to tell you the weather forecast or what time the local supermarket closes.

Read on and we'll explain which smart speakers will work best for you, and run through everything you need to know about the different brands and types on the market. And if you already know everything there is to know and just want to buy one right away, then simply scroll past our buying guide and dive into our top picks.

Cheapest EVER Amazon Echo (4th gen) deal

As our favourite Alexa smart speaker, the Amazon Echo (4th gen) has a lot going for it – especially if you’re already wedded to other Amazon products. Now the cheapest it has ever been, and almost half what it was when we reviewed it, this is a smart speaker deal worth your attention. Amazon Was £79 Now £55 Buy Now


Best smart speaker 2022: At a glance

Google Assistant

Amazon Alexa

Siri

Facebook

Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa


How to choose the best smart speaker for you

Why should I buy a smart speaker?

Unlike Bluetooth or wireless speakers that need to be controlled via a smartphone or tablet, a smart speaker is a far more versatile choice. Whether you're lying on the sofa or cooking in the kitchen, you're in control: you can pause and play your music, choose a new artist or genre, ask for a news update, or even add products to a weekly shopping list, all with a set of simple voice commands.

In short, you can ask them anything you'd otherwise ask your smartphone's assistant, such as Google Assistant, Apple Siri or Amazon Alexa.

READ NEXT: Unbeatable Bluetooth speakers for indoor and outdoor use

How does a smart speaker work?

Smart speakers need to be woken with a wake word – such as 'Alexa' or 'Ok, Google' – before you can ask questions or issue commands. These instructions can be as simple as asking the time, or what the weather will be like, but you can also ask for more specific facts and details, such as asking your assistant basic maths questions, to perform conversions from ounces to grams, or just to find out opening times for a local store.

If you also subscribe to a music streaming service such as Spotify, then you can play music simply by searching by artist, album or track name, genre or year.

And as the name suggests, smart speakers can also be used to control your smart home appliances. So, if you've got a Philips Hue bulb (or preferably several) you can adjust the brightness, colour and power all with a simple voice command.

READ NEXT: Our favourite desktop speakers for gaming and music

What features should I look out for, and does size matter?

Smart speakers come in all shapes and sizes. The Amazon Echo Show is the biggest of them all. Its features a 10in touchscreen, a large speaker, a 5-megapixel front camera, and looks rather like a digital photo frame. At the other end of the scale, there's the Amazon Echo Dot and Home Mini, both of which are tiny devices that will fit unobtrusively anywhere around the house – these have multiple microphones to hear you from across the room, and a small, basic internal speaker.

Then there's the likes of Sonos' One, which is roughly around the size of a bag of flour – still small enough to sit unobtrusively on a side table, but has amplification and drivers big enough to fill a room with full-bodied, crisp-sounding music.

It all depends on what you're looking for. If you want a speaker with competent sonic capabilities, then size does matter – if you want to enjoy your music then you'll need to look at Google and Amazon's mid-sized devices, and if you want the very best then you'll want something like the Sonos One with Amazon's Alexa built-in. If, however, music isn't your top priority, or you just want to have access to your virtual assistant in every room in the house, then the Google Home Mini or Echo Dot are cheaper, smaller alternatives that take up barely any room at all.

READ NEXT: The best wireless in-ear, on-ear and over-ear headphones

Which voice assistant is best? Amazon Alexa vs Google Assistant vs Apple Siri

There's no right or wrong answer here, as it all depends on what you use more often, or what you're used to.

If you're an Amazon Prime member, an Amazon Alexa device would make more sense, as it'll connect with your Amazon account and allow you to place orders on a whim. If, however, you've got an Android phone and have got used to Google Assistant (or Google Now), then you'll probably prefer a Google-enabled product.

Regardless of your affiliation, one current big plus point for Amazon's Echo devices is the Drop-In function. This allows you to call any Echo in your home (or someone else's) and use it as an intercom – you can chat, hands-free, with someone in any room with an Echo device. Google's approach is a little different: you can broadcast a message to all your connected Google Home devices, only; it's not an intercom.

There's also Siri, the voice assistant that only features on the Apple HomePod. It works in the same way as it does on an iPhone. It might not be as comprehensive as the other two assistants, but if you're devoted to the Apple ecosystem, it's worth a thought.

Do voice assistants work together?

Speakers with different virtual assistants can be used on the same Wi-Fi network, however, if you want a multi-room setup, you'll want to ensure all your speakers run on the same service (i.e. all using Amazon Alexa) – they'll talk to you, but they won't talk to each other, sadly.

There are a few options that don't leave you tied to one specific voice assistant, however. For example, the Sonos One supports both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant – you can use either for assistance.

Is a smart speaker always listening to everything I say?

By its very nature, a smart speaker 'listens' to everything you're saying, as it needs to be ready to pick up a voice command. You can, however, disable the automatic voice detection by turning off the mic through a hardware switch found on the device.

If you're worried about your privacy, or are talking about something you believe is of a particularly sensitive nature, then simply toggle the mute switch - just remember to toggle it back on again if you want to interact with the speaker hands-free.

In practice, you may find yourself disabling the microphones during phone calls or video calls, as these voice assistants can tend to be triggered by any speech which sounds like their wake word. When confronted by everyday noise and conversation, they may occasionally pipe up and start listening for commands (and responding) when they're not meant to, which can be annoying.


The best smart speakers in the UK

1. Google Nest Audio: The smartest speaker of them all

Price: £90 | Buy from John Lewis

Google’s latest smart speaker is a real gem: it looks great, sounds great and with Google Assistant on board it’s the smartest speaker you can buy, too.

Coupled with Google’s clever Ambient IQ tech, which adjusts volume and EQ on the fly depending on background noise, the Nest Audio is a joy to listen to and a pleasure to interact with.

The only thing it lacks, in comparison with Amazon’s smart speakers, at least, is a 3.5mm input/output. Otherwise, it’s a winner and a big upgrade on the original Google Home speaker.

Read our Nest Audio review for more details

Key specs Voice Assistant: Google Assistant; Compatibility: Android and iOS; Drivers: 2; Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth; Dimensions: 174 x 124 x 78mm; Weight: 1.2kg

Buy now from John Lewis


2. Amazon Echo 4th gen (2020): The best Alexa smart speaker

Price: £90 | Buy from Amazon

The fourth-generation Amazon Echo is quite a departure from the previous tin-can shaped speakers. Now spherical in shape with the LED light ring surrounding the base of the speaker instead of the top, the Amazon Echo is still a great smart speaker.

It sounds pretty good – although it’s not quite up to the same standard as the Nest Audio – and it comes with a Zigbee radio integrated so it can pair with and control smart home devices directly.

It’s a great speaker and often discounted in Amazon’s regular sales so it's well worth waiting for the price to drop before you invest.

Read our Amazon Echo 4th generation (2020) review for more details

Key specs Voice Assistant: Alexa; Compatibility: Android and iOS; Drivers: 3; Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth; Dimensions: 144 x 144 x 33mm; Weight: 970g


3. Apple HomePod mini: The best smart speaker for iPhone owners

Price: £99 | Buy from John Lewis

Taking a leaf out of Amazon’s book (or perhaps it was the other way around?) Apple’s latest smart speaker is a much more affordable device than the first HomePod.

It’s smaller than the regular 4th generation Echo but it punches well above its weight when it comes to sound quality. Apple’s computational audio smarts ensure that whatever you feed it will sound great.

To make the most out of the speaker you do need to own an iPhone or an iPad, however, and although support for third-party music and radio services is now much better than it was, you still can’t play Spotify or BBC radio by asking Siri.

Read our Apple HomePod mini review for more details

Key specs Voice Assistant: Siri; Compatibility: iOS; Drivers: 1; Connectivity: Wi-Fi; Dimensions: 84 x 84 x 98mm; Weight: 345g

Buy now from John Lewis


4. Sonos Roam: Phenomenal sound for its size

Price: £159 | Buy now from Sonos

Sonos Roam review front view

An outstanding speaker, the Sonos Roam packs a surprisingly wide soundstage into a compact, Toblerone-shaped form. It’s not the cheapest speaker in its bracket, but you’ll be hard-pushed to find a more fully-featured, rounded and better-sounding compact speaker. The killer feature is Sonos’ Auto Trueplay EQ tuning, which scans the speaker’s surroundings and tweaks the EQ to make the best of the room it’s in. Whether it’s shunted against a wall or popped on a bookshelf, it will deliver a balanced sound where it happens to be.

Read our Sonos Roam review for more details

Key specsVoice Assistant: Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa; Compatibility: Android and iOS; Drivers: 2 ; Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth; Dimensions: 168 x 62 x 60mm; Weight: 450g.

Buy now from Sonos


5. Amazon Echo Dot 4th generation (2020): The best cheap Alexa smart speaker

Price: £50 | Buy now from Amazon

A top choice for smart-home buyers on a budget, the 4th generation of Amazon’s Echo Dot revamps the online behemoth’s bestseller with a spherical design. Gone is the plastic hockey puck of the first two generations, and the slightly fatter fabric look of the third: in its place, a sphere slightly larger than your average cricket ball.

Looks aside, you’re getting much the same internals as you are with the 3rd generation Echo Dot, although our reviewer believes there’s a distinct improvement in sound quality: “Maybe it’s something to do with the new round design, but I had both the 2019 and 2020 Echo Dot side by side on my desk, switching the same tracks between the two via Spotify Connect, and it was pretty clear which was better.”

Spend a little more and you can get the Echo Dot with Clock, which has a LED clock built into the speaker’s fabric. As well as the time, it can show the temperature, the volume number when you make adjustments, and displays the time left on any timer you set.

Read our Amazon Echo Dot 4th generation (2020) review for more details

Key specsVoice Assistant: Alexa; Compatibility: Android and iOS; Drivers: 1; Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth; Dimensions: 100 x 100 x 89mm; Weight: 328g


6. Google Nest Mini (2nd gen): The best Google Assistant speaker under £50

Price: £49 | Buy now from John Lewis

The Nest Mini is Google's second-generation low-cost smart speaker. The design hasn't changed much. There are a couple of extra LEDs on the side to show you where the touch zones are, and sound quality is marginally better than before, but largely it's the same smart speaker as before and still lacks a 3.5mm input/output socket. Despite the marginal improvements, however, the Echo Dot remains the best low-cost smart speaker around.

Read our Google Nest Mini review for more details

Key specs Voice Assistant: Google Assistant; Compatibility: Android and iOS; Drivers: 1; Connectivity: Wi-Fi; Dimensions: 42 x 98 x 98mm; Weight: 177g

Buy now from John Lewis


7. Amazon Echo Show 10: The best Alexa touchscreen

Price: £240 | Buy now from Amazon

The third generation of the Amazon Echo Show - the company’s video Alexa device - updates the formula by giving its 10in display the ability to tilt its screen as you move around the room.

This is achieved thanks to a 13-megapixel camera and beam-forming microphones that pinpoint your location and pivot the touchscreen accordingly. It’s a useful addition for video calls. Not only can the camera turn and track you around the room physically, its object tracking technology is also able to recognise how far you are from the camera and digitally reframe and zoom the view to keep you centred.

Aside from the moveable screen, the Echo Show 10 upgrades a range of other features over its predecessor, including superior screen quality, improved UI and better-balanced audio.

Read our Amazon Echo Show 10 review for more details

Key specsVoice Assistant: Amazon Alexa; Compatibility: Android and iOS; Drivers: 2; Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth; Dimensions: 251 x 230 x 172 mm; Weight: 2.6kg


8. Edifier MS50A: Best smart speaker for privacy

Price: £130 | Buy now from Amazon

The MS50A does away with a built-in microphone in favour of providing smart functionality via the Amazon Alexa app or an Amazon Echo device, thus removing the risk of it eavesdropping on your private conversations.

It’s seriously stylish too, combining a slick walnut veneer with a subtle touchpad via which you control volume and audio playback. The sound profile is impressively detailed, with clear mid-range articulation and plenty of weight in the lower end. For such a compact speaker, the MS50A also gets loud enough to fill a reasonably sized room and does so without suffering distortion.

As for connectivity, there aren’t any physical ports, but the speaker makes up for that by supporting both wireless and Bluetooth, as well as casting from Apple AirPlay 2 and Spotify Connect. If you’re looking for a grander sonic experience, you can pair two MS50As to create a stereo effect, or set up a multi-room speaker system using the Alexa app.

Key specs – Voice Assistant: Amazon Alexa; Compatibility: Android and iOS; Drivers: 2; Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Spotify Connect, Apple AirPlay 2; Dimensions: 211 x 146 x 146mm; Weight: 2.26kg


9. Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin: The best-sounding Alexa speaker

Price: £699 | Buy now from John Lewis

This wireless speaker from esteemed British audio manufacturer Bowers & Wilkins delivers its smart functionality courtesy of built-in Alexa. Amazon's smart assistant is perfectly responsive even when the Zeppelin is pumping out sound from its complex arrangement of premium speaker drivers.

That sound is leagues above anything any of the other options this list deliver, with only the Sonos Move coming anywhere close. Mids and treble are wonderfully detailed and the bass is punchy yet controlled. As it's a third-party speaker it isn't as smart as those made by Amazon and doesn't support Alexa's calling features. Its other limitation is that voice controls can only be used to open apps supported by the Zeppelin, which include Qobuz, Tidal and TuneIn.

If you're after comprehensive smart functionality, this isn't the speaker for you. But if you want exceptional sound quality with a handy helping of Alexa, there are few better speakers out there.

Read our Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin review for more details

Key specs Voice Assistant: Amazon Alexa; Compatibility: Android and iOS; Drivers: 5; Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Spotify Connect, Apple AirPlay 2; Dimensions: 650 x 194 x 210mm; Weight: 6.5kg


10. Facebook Portal Go: The best smart screen for video calls

Price: £199 | Buy now from Amazon

The Facebook Portal Go is a great-looking smart display that has a few nifty tricks up its sleeve. Chief among these is its portability: you can remove it from the magnetic charging dock and move it from room to room or even outdoors, offering a level of versatility other smart displays can't match. The 12MP camera is no slouch, and like the device itself it too has a party trick; it can automatically pan and zoom to always keep you in focus, even if you start pacing frantically around the room. It'll even widen the angle to make sure that large groups remain in shot at all times, which is a huge help for anyone who has ever had a family Zoom call.

Audio quality is great, too: the speakers produce a remarkable sound for the size of the thing, and with Spotify support, the Portal Go can serve as your primary home speaker with ease. And despite the name, you don't need a Facebook account to get started on the Portal Go – a WhatsApp account is fine. You can take and make calls via WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Zoom and Microsoft Teams, although app support becomes significantly more limited beyond the realm of video calling: you can rule out many of the big radio stations, for example, and most streaming services are unavailable as well. It's also impossible to pair your phone or similar device.

As long as you don't expect it to do too much more, however, this is a well-design device for your video-calling and music-listening needs.

Read our Facebook Portal Go review for more details

Key specs Voice Assistant: Facebook Assistant (with limited Alexa support); Compatibility: N/A; Drivers: 3; Connectivity: N/A; Dimensions: 173 x 256 x 78mm (HWD); Weight: 1.4kg


11. Google Nest Hub (2nd generation): The ultimate alarm clock

Price: £90 | Buy now from Argos

The second-generation Google Nest Hub makes a series of incremental improvements over its predecessor - previously known as the Google Home Hub - while at the same time throwing in a big new feature that changes the nature of the screen-based speaker.

Instead of an all-purpose smart screen, the second generation device uses Soli low-energy radar technology to track your sleep. This turns it into the ultimate bedside alarm clock; able to detect motion, including small movements such as breathing, and combine this with a light sensor and microphone to build a picture of how disturbed or restful your sleep was.

Free for now, Google eventually plans to charge for the feature via a paid subscription. But even if you don’t want to opt in for sleep tracking, the Nest Hub is more than capable as a smart hub outside of the bedroom, whether you’re planning to use it to control your smart home or watch the likes of Netflix and Disney+ while you cook.

Read our Google Nest Hub (2nd generation) review for more details

Key specsVoice Assistant: Google Assistant; Compatibility: Android and iOS; Drivers: 2; Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth; Dimensions: 179 x 118 x 63mm; Weight: 480g

Buy now from Google


12. Amazon Echo Studio: The best Alexa smart speaker under £200

Price: £189 | Buy now from Amazon

The Echo Studio is Amazon's premium smart speaker but despite its build and fantastic sound quality, the price is remarkably reasonable. No, it isn't as accomplished as the Sonos move and, no, it doesn't come with a built-in battery but, for the money, you're getting one hell of a lot of smart speaker.

Added to this, Amazon has included some pretty fantastic features. There's an optical input so you can use it as a TV speaker and the Studio is Amazon's first device to support its novel 3D audio format, which adds a sense of width you wouldn't normally hear from a single speaker, although only in music played via Amazon's music service that features the new tech.

All-in-all, the Echo Studio is a great speaker for the money. If you can't stretch to the Sonos Move, it's not far off as good and a considerably cheaper speaker.

Read our Amazon Echo Studio review for details

Key specs Voice Assistant: Amazon Alexa; Compatibility: Android and iOS; Drivers: 5; Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, combination 3.5mm analogue/mini optical input; Dimensions: 170 x 170 x 206mm (WHD); Weight: 3.5kg


13. Sonos Move: The best mid-range smart speaker for portability

Price: £399 | Buy from Amazon

Sonos has a well-deserved reputation for producing smart speakers that sound great but the Move is the best it has produced to date. Fitted with a battery so it can be lugged from room to room, and rugged enough to act as a garden speaker, too, it’s the ultimate go-anywhere speaker.

It supports either Alexa or Google Assistant (not both simultaneously, you have to choose at setup time), you can connect via Bluetooth or AirPlay 2 and it sounds utterly wonderful. That’s largely thanks to Sonos' TrueTone technology, which senses where in the room the speaker has been placed and automatically adjusts the EQ accordingly so it never sounds boomy or thin.

It isn’t the cheapest smart speaker around – the Echo Studio and Google Home Max both deliver similar muscularity for less money – but neither have the Move’s deft touch and balance or its battery-powered flexibility.

Read our Sonos Move review for more details

Key specs Voice Assistant: Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa; Compatibility: Android and iOS; Drivers: 2; Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth; Dimensions: 160 x 126 x 240mm; Weight: 3kg


14. Amazon Echo Dot Kids: The best smart speaker for children

Price: £60 | Buy now from Amazon

Costing £10 more than the fourth-gen Echo Dot, this child-optimised speaker brings plenty of additional features to justify the price. Most notable is a free one-year Amazon Kids Plus subscription, which normally costs £3.99 per month (or £1.99 for Prime members). As well as immediately covering the additional cost, this service provides access to thousands of hours worth of child-friendly audible books, educational materials and interactive games.

Outside of those functions, your child can use the speaker to play music, ask Alexa questions, and make calls to approved friends and family members. You can monitor all of this via the Amazon Parent Dashboard, which lets you review activity, filter out explicit songs and set daily time limits.

As a final perk, this speaker comes with a two-year, no questions asked guarantee, so you’re covered in the event of accidental drops or spillages.

Read our Amazon Echo Dot Kids review for more details

Key specs – Voice Assistant: Alexa; Compatibility: Android and iOS; Drivers: 1; Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth; Dimensions: 100 x 100 x 89mm; Weight: 341g


15. Sonos One: The perfect addition to the Sonos ecosystem

Price: £200 | Buy now from Amazon

The Sonos One takes its inspiration from the Play:1 speaker, and adds smart speaker functions for good measure. With two Class-D digital amplifiers, a tweeter and one mid-woofer driver, the Sonos One is the best sounding smart speaker money can currently buy – it gets seriously loud without losing composure, and can be paired with a second Sonos One to form a stereo pair. It also integrates with other Sonos speakers with its multi-room capabilities, and as it currently supports Amazon Alexa you can also use it to control music playback on Sonos speakers throughout the home.

Read our Sonos One review for more details

Key specs Voice Assistant: Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant; Compatibility: Android and iOS; Drivers: 2; Connectivity: Wi-Fi; Dimensions: 161 x 119 x 119mm; Weight: 1.9kg


16. Amazon Echo Sub: Add some bass to your Echo devices

Price: £120 | Buy now from Amazon

The Echo Sub isn't like any of the other speakers in this roundup - it's more of an add-on, rather than a standalone device. The Echo Sub pairs with Amazon's Echo or Echo Plus speakers to provide some much-needed bass and stereo 2.1 sound.

Sonically, the Sub's single 100W 6in driver extends down to 30Hz, which means you'll get a deeper rumble and with its 50-200Hz crossover, it'll also give you a better mid-bass thump. It definitively improves the low-end response of your Echo devices, though, should be reserved for those wanting more engaging bass from their Echo devices.

Read our Amazon Echo Sub review for more details

Key specs Voice Assistant: Amazon Alexa, Compatibility: Android and iOS, Drivers: 1, Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Dimensions: 202 x 210 x 210mm, Weight: 4,200g