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Amazon Echo Pop review: A cheaper challenger to the Echo Dot

It’s a race to the bottom in terms of price, but will the Echo Pop come out on top?

Alex Lee
Thursday 06 July 2023 17:35 BST
Will we soon have Echo Pops dotted around every room?
Will we soon have Echo Pops dotted around every room? (The Independent)

Just when you thought Amazon smart speakers couldn’t get any cheaper, the company has one-upped the Echo Dot with an even more budget-friendly buy that will give your smart-home Alexa smarts for less.

The Amazon Echo Pop is the latest Alexa smart speaker in Amazon’s growing Echo family. It looks starkly different to the other devices that have come before it, boasting a semi-spherical design in a range of colours.

It’s the cute baby of the bunch, but it’s that enticing £45 price tag (which is evidently going to get discounted in perpetuity during the company’s frequent Prime Day events) that is the most attractive thing about the Echo Pop.

While the Echo Dot has positioned itself as the budget Echo for years, consumers now have an even cheaper option. But is it just as good as the original smart ball-shaped smart speaker? What are the differences between the two? Are we going to have Echo Pops dotted around every room? We put the new device to the test.

The Amazon Echo Pop pictured from the front and the side
The Amazon Echo Pop pictured from the front and the side (Alex Lee/The Independent)

How we tested

We’ve replaced our fifth-generation Echo Dot with the Echo Pop and have been testing the miniature smart speaker since its launch in June. We’ve moved it from room to room, tried it in different positions, tested out its features, music and sound quality and the strength of the microphone. These are our thoughts.

Amazon Echo Pop

echo pop.jpg
  • Dimensions: 99mm x 83mm x 91mm
  • Weight: 196g
  • Why we love it
    • Cheap as chips
    • Fast responses with the AZ2 Neural Edge processor
    • Cute design
  • Take note
    • The Echo Dot sounds a lot better
    • Missing some useful features on the UK version
    • Microphones could be improved

In pictures, the Echo Pop looks like someone’s taken a saw to the Echo Dot and sliced it in half. It doesn’t look as weird in real-life, however. The Echo Pop is a fun, pretty cute-looking Alexa device with a slanting fabricated speaker-front and a plastic rear. Unlike the Echo Dot, it’s directional, and is designed to be placed in a corner or beside a wall, which is where we have our Echo speakers positioned around our home anyway.

The Echo Pop comes in four different colours, including glacial white, a lilac colour and teal, but we’ve been testing out the more reserved charcoal black variant. It’s a simple little speaker, with three buttons – two for adjusting the volume and one for muting the microphone, but there’s no action button like other Echo devices, so you can’t summon it without using the wake word. The mute button now doubles up as the pairing button and low-energy-mode toggle.

Which design do we prefer? The spherical shape of the fifth-generation Echo Dot does look a little more distinctive, being fully sheathed in fabric, but we do like that the Pop comes in more eye-catching colours and that it has a cleaner design when popped onto a bookshelf.

Unlike the Echo Dot, which lights up blue at the bottom when you shout “Alexa”, the Pop has a small bar on the top, which glows blue to tell you it’s active and listening. Out of the box, the Echo Pop paired to the Alexa app and updated a lot faster than the fifth-generation Echo Dot, which spent about five minutes updating before we could use it.

Like any Alexa smart speaker, the Echo Pop let us play music, podcasts and the radio through our streaming service of choice, we could ask it stupid questions, ask it to sing rhymes, get the weather, set timers, alarms, play little audio games, run Alexa routines and turn on smart home devices. Every question we chucked at it gave us a very quick and immediate response, no doubt due to it sporting the most recent Amazon AZ2 Neural Edge processor – not many Echo devices boast the next-generation chip.

The sound quality on the Echo Pop is decent for such a small device, featuring a 1.95in front-firing speaker, but nothing to write home about. It does lack that oomph you get with the Echo Dot 5th generation in terms of bass. It gets very loud when positioned towards you, but it’s not a hugely refined listening experience, with some mildly muddy vocals. The sound never grated on us, and we still enjoyed listening to Grimes’ 4ÆM.

Audio dramas, books on Audible and podcasts sounded decent. You get what you pay for in terms of sound. We also preferred the fact that the Echo Dot delivered 360-degree audio instead of the Echo Pop’s directional sound. We really heard the difference whenever we went out of its line of sight. We can imagine a pair of these would get you some good surround sound when linked together, however

As with the newest Echo Dot, there are a couple of frustrating differences between the Echo Pop sold in the UK and the one in the US, which severely hinders the product. Firstly, there’s no eero mesh wifi built into the device, like there is with the US model. Secondly, there’s no accelerometer in the speaker, so you can’t tap it to snooze alarms or pause music.

It’s a slight annoyance given that the three microphones aren’t the best at picking up voices. Our Amazon Echo Studio in the next room sometimes answered our questions instead of the Echo Pop right next to us. There’s no temperature sensor either, so you can’t have temperature-based routines kick into gear. These three features would have bumped up its value massively, so it’s disappointing that they’ve been omitted on the UK edition of the Echo Pop.

  1. £44 from Amazon.co.uk
Prices may vary
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The verdict: Amazon Echo Pop

The Amazon Echo Pop is exceedingly good value. It’s fast and responsive, thanks to the improved processor, and it’s one of the cutest Amazon Echo devices we’ve ever laid eyes on, with two bright, deep colours and two more muted colours to choose from.

But it’s not for everyone. While it’s super wallet-friendly, we found the sound was just so much better on the Echo Dot. The Echo Pop is a great little device for popping into the bathroom or the box room or the nursery, where you might not need amazing sound, but still want Alexa at hand to answer questions, run routines and set timers, but there are many things the Echo Dot does better.

If your priority is audio quality, we’d still go for the Echo Dot over the Echo Pop, seeing as it only costs an extra £10. But if the Echo Pop is on sale and you just want a cheap smart speaker for every single room in the house, the Echo Pop is a cheap and cheerful device that will do the job.

Want something more powerful? Have a read of our round-up of the best Alexa smart speakers

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