Best smart speakers 2020: the best Amazon Echo, Google Home and other picks for you

Whether you're after the best Alexa speakers, the best Google Assistant speakers, or any other smart speaker, here are our top picks

best smart speakers 2020
(Image credit: Amazon)

Smart speakers are the biggest tech hit since smartphones, and it’s no surprise. The best smart speakers make it so easy to play music when the mood strikes, to get useful information in an instant, and even to control your home.

Great smart speakers even make it easy for people who aren’t tech-savvy to do technical things, because all they have to do is ask. The only issue is that they’ve become so popular that there’s a huge range to choose from, and it’s not always easy to work out exactly which one is the right choice for you.

Well have no worries about that – T3 is here to make it simple. We’ll tell you exactly what the best smart speakers are for both of the main assistants that power smart speakers: Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. 

We’ll talk through where each of our smart speaker picks excels, so you’ll know which one will be the best fit for you.

So you've decided you want one – the next step is finding the best smart speaker for 2020 for you, based on price, design, features, and whether or not it comes with a display attached. Keep your eye on the sales and you might well be able to pick up a bargain, and check the widgets on this page for the most up-to-date discounts on smart speakers.

Amazon Echo Dot best smart speakers

(Image credit: Amazon)

What to look for in a smart speaker?

The first question to consider about smart speakers is which assistant you want it to use. The most common options are Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant – for most people, it’s between these two. Apple’s Siri is also an option, but it’s only available on one (premium-priced) speaker, and isn’t as capable as the other two overall, so it’s more of a niche option for those reasons – though later, we’ll go into why it still may be worth choosing.

But for the majority, it’s Alexa or Google Assistant. And actually, for most people, it won’t make too much difference still – they’re both able to play music pretty comprehensively, they can both answer most question types, they both offer a lot of smart home control. We’ve done an in-depth comparison of the two here:

•  Alexa vs Google Assistant: which should you choose?

But the gist is: we’d slightly recommend Alexa more overall, because it’s a bit more flexible and has more cool additional abilities you can add. Google Assistant ties into the Google ecosystem better, though, so if you’re deep into Google services, that will probably the better choice.

Honestly, though, if talk of advanced extra skills and ecosystems makes you shrug, you can choose either and be happy – it will probably come down to the hardware.

For the speakers themselves, the things to look at are size, design, audio quality and any additional hardware features, such as having a screen to display information too.

Price will obviously be a major factor, but likely in combination with the above – you might well choose a smaller and nice-looking option if it’s going prominently in your living room, but if you want a powerful music speaker for the office, your priorities will be a bit different. When it comes to speakers of all kinds, bigger usually means better sound.

Finally, a vital component of a smart speaker is the microphone, naturally. Everything we’ve recommended has a strong mic setup, designed to pick voices out from other sounds, and to hear you from across a room.

Nest Hub Max best smart speakerT3 Awards 2020

The Nest Hub Max from Google gets just about everything right.

1. Google Nest Hub Max

The T3 Awards 2020 Best Smart Speaker is a powerhouse speaker and screen combo

Reasons to buy
+Lots more screen space+Lots more audio oomph

The Google Nest Hub Max is one of the newer arrivals here, but it wins our T3 Awards 2020 award as the best smart speaker for doing absolutely everything in one package. Sure, some will prefer the compact simplicity of the Google Home Mini, or the smaller screen of the original Nest Hub, but the Nest Hub Max gives you a full-on Google smart speaker experience.

You get a crisp 10-inch screen, a heavy-duty speaker that can fill a room with good-quality audio, a forward-facing camera for making video calls (and using the device as a security camera), and of course all the magic of the Google Assistant.

With that screen, the Google Assistant can do even more, and the touchscreen controls let you pause videos and music. The smart speaker/display does double duty as a central hub for all your smart home gear (as long as it's Google Assistant-compatible), and it works as a Chromecast speaker and display too.

Amazon Echo Plus

The Amazon Echo Plus is a stylish, powerful smart speaker and AI assistant.

(Image credit: Amazon)

2. Amazon Echo Plus

The most powerful Echo on the market, with excellent built-in smart home control

Reasons to buy
+The most capable Echo+Seamless smart home integration

The full-fat, top-of-the-line Amazon Echo with all the bells and whistles is the Plus – essentially, you get better-sounding audio and tighter integration with other smart home kit for another £50/$50. Is the extra price worth paying? For most of you, probably not.

That said, if you want the ultimate Alexa-equipped device and have the budget to match, this is the best smart speaker of 2020 to go for (and Amazon offers some excellent bundle options on its site). The 2nd-gen model has improved hugely on the looks of the Amazon Echo Plus as well.

Sonos One Best smart speakers Best Amazon Echo speakers Best Google Home

For music streaming, the Sonos One is the best smart speaker on the market.

3. Sonos One

A winner for music streaming, this is the best Sonos for Alexa-wanting audiophiles

Reasons to buy
+Top-quality audio+Intuitive, powerful apps

Sonos has been making top-quality wireless speakers for years, capable of streaming tunes from multiple online services and local media libraries all around the home. With the Sonos One, they've started adding some AI to the mix – specifically, Amazon Alexa (with Google Assistant on the way).

You get the usual Sonos quality plus the ability to use your voice to change songs (and check the weather and so on). It's an appealing combination, and the Sonos One is easily one of the best smart speakers around in 2020 in our expert opinion.

Amazon Echo Studio

Amazon takes on Sonos with one of the newer Echo devices, the Amazon Echo Studio.

(Image credit: Amazon)

4. Amazon Echo Studio

The best-sounding Amazon Echo out there

Reasons to buy
+Superior sound quality+Rather fetching design

Watch out Sonos and Apple, because Amazon has unveiled its best-sounding Echo yet: the Amazon Echo Studio. It comes with support for the Dolby Atmos and Sony 360 Reality Audio standards, so it's capable of filling a room and then some with rich, vibrant acoustics. Three 2-inch midrange speakers, one 1-inch tweeter, and one 5.25-inch woofer are fitted inside.

As well as the superior sound quality, you do of course get all the smarts of Amazon Alexa, and it's reasonably priced too. Amazon recently launched a HD version of its music streaming service as well, which is probably the perfect app to pair with the Amazon Echo Studio.

Amazon Echo Show 5 best smart speaker

An Amazon Echo with a dinky screen: the Show 5.

5. Amazon Echo Show 5

The best smart speaker for compact Alexa-on-a-screen

Reasons to buy
+Mic and camera switches+The price is just right

The smart speaker category continues to be invaded with smart speaker/display combos, which brings us to the Amazon Echo Show 5 – it's obviously intended to go head to head against the Nest Hub, with a smaller display (5.5 inches) than the standard Echo Show.

It's significantly smaller than the big Echo Show but it's significantly cheaper as well, and has all the magic of Alexa on board. The screen is still perfectly readable when it comes to weather forecasts, recipes, calendar entries and so on, just not so great for video footage.

Apple HomePod Best smart speakers Best Amazon Echo speakers Best Google Home

The Apple HomePod is the best smart speaker for iPhone users.

6. Apple HomePod

The best smart speaker for Apple fans

Reasons to buy
+Superb design and build+Works well for Apple fans

Here's the Apple HomePod, which has a lot going for it: very impressive sound quality, for instance, which can adapt to the room its in to make sure your ears are always hearing your tunes at their best. It also looks and feels fantastic, a proper premium bit of kit, and definitely one of the best smart speakers of 2020.

On the downside, you're going to be disappointed if you need to go beyond Apple Music, Siri and the iPhone with your HomePod: support for the likes of Spotify or anything else not made by Apple is pretty much non-existent (though you can stream audio from iTunes on Windows). Still, it's the best smart speaker for those already heavily invested in the Apple ecosystem.

Google Nest Mini best smart speakers 2020

The Google Nest Mini is a small but worthwhile upgrade over the Google Home Mini.

(Image credit: Google)

7. Google Nest Mini

Great assistance in a compact package, the Nest Mini is a perfect small smart speaker

Reasons to buy
+The smartest smart assistant+Small form factor that goes anywhere

Besides the rebranding that's taken place to reflect Nest becoming the umbrella label for everything in the Google smart home range, the Nest Mini adds a wall mounting hole and boosts the audio from the original Google Home Mini.

Voice detection should be improved with the introduction of a third microphone, and Google has brought back the tap controls as well – just touch the top of the speaker to pause or resume audio playback, and slide along it to change the volume.

Otherwise the Google Nest Mini is very much like the Google Home Mini: all the power of the Google Assistant in a very compact, aesthetically pleasing form factor. Your choices for colours are chalk, charcoal, coral or sky.

Amazon Echo best smart speakers 2020

The Amazon Echo is not just one of the best Amazon Echo devices on the market, but one of the best smart speakers full stop.

(Image credit: Amazon)

8. Amazon Echo

Say hello to the third-generation Amazon Echo

Reasons to buy
+Where it all started+Better looks, improving Alexa

Amazon recently unveiled the third-generation of its standard Echo speaker, and it's better than ever: more stylish, more capable, and better sounding. All you are really missing out on in comparison to the Echo Plus is that additional smart home integration that lets you ditch some of the other hubs you might have set up – though Alexa works just fine as a smart home hub anyway.

Amazon has kept the price the same as it was for the previous edition, and the colours have been tweaked a little bit too. There are now a host of Amazon Echo speakers to choose from, but this might hit the sweet spot in terms of audio quality and price.

Amazon Echo Dot Best smart speakers Best Amazon Echo speakers Best Google Home

The Amazon Echo Dot may look understated, but it is one of very best Amazon Echo speakers available today.

9. Amazon Echo Dot

The cuter-looking Echo competes strongly with the best smart speakers on the market

Reasons to buy
+Compact, cute, capable+Recently updated

All the smarts of Alexa and all the compactness of a Google Home Mini make the Echo Dot a very appealing option in our best smart speaker 2020 list – especially considering its latest refresh, which gave it a more curved appearance and added some attractive-looking fabric finishes to the Echo Dot mix.

If you're just getting started with smart speakers then the Echo Dot is an excellent entry point, and unlike the Google Home Mini you can hook up a different speaker with the 3.5mm audio jack or via Bluetooth. At this price you might as well get one for every room. It's also now available with an integrated clock.

Google Home Best smart speakers Best Amazon Echo speakers Best Google Home

The Google Home now looks a little dated, but if you can get it cheap, it is still one of the best smart speakers lining store shelves.

10. Google Home

One of the very best smart speakers, but it now looks a little dated

Reasons to buy
+Google Assistant is fantastic+Choice of colour finishes

Google gladly name-checked the Amazon Echo when unveiling its very own smart speaker, and the Google Home does everything you would expect – it has the excellent Google Assistant on board of course, which continues to lead the pack of AI apps for the moment.

The Google Home is a little lower in our listings because we think the Google Home Mini is a better value proposition and this speaker is now getting on for a couple of years old. The software keeps getting regular updates though, and it remains a fantastic smart speaker and one of the best Google Home speakers available.

Google Home Hub Best smart speakers Best Amazon Echo speakers Best Google Home

11. Google Nest Hub

A recent arrival gatecrashes the best smart speaker party

Reasons to buy
+Clean and simple interface+Perfect for videos

Relatively new to the best smart speaker scene – or should that be the smart display scene? – is the Google Nest Hub, essentially a Google Home with a tablet attached. It acts as the centre of your smart home operations, controlling other devices and all your Google apps.

So, you can watch YouTube videos, see a slideshow of Google Photos, change the temperature on your Nest thermostat, ask Google a question, and so on and so on. We like the style and feature-set of the Google Nest Hub (originally called the Home Hub), and there's no camera to worry about.

Amazon Echo Show Best smart speakers Best Amazon Echo speakers Best Google Home

Amazon Echo Show

12. Amazon Echo Show

Alexa gets a display, and the 2nd-generation unit looks better than ever

Reasons to buy
+An Echo with a display+Much better 2nd-gen design

The Amazon Echo Show is pretty easy to explain: an Echo with a screen. That means Alexa can show as well as tell you information about your schedule and the upcoming weather forecast, for example. Video calling and movie watching are easy with the Echo Show too.

There's a lot to like about the Amazon Echo Show then, especially the redesigned 2nd-gen model, but there are some small reservations. It's relatively expensive, and support for non-Amazon video services (such as YouTube) remains something of a sore point.

Regardless, though, the Show is absolutely one of the Amazon Echo devices on the market, and also one of the  best smart speakers money can buy in 2020. Make sure you consider the new, smaller Echo Show 5 as well though.

Sonos Beam Best smart speakers Best Amazon Echo speakers Best Google Home

The ultra-desirable, ultra-stylish Sonos Beam is the best smart speaker for your TV.

13. Sonos Beam

A fantastic sound bar, the best smart speaker for your TV

Reasons to buy
+Great sound in compact form+Perfect for a home cinema setup

The Sonos Beam is another of the newer Sonos speakers with Alexa built in (and with Google Assistant and AirPlay support coming soon, hopefully) – it's a compact sound bar that can play audio from your television set or from a host of music streaming services.

It's a hugely impressive bit of kit – don't let its lower position on this list fool you – but in terms of smart speakers it's at the pricier end of the range. Only get this if you have the budget and are going to make full use of all the extra features you get with a Sonos device.

Amazon Echo Show 8

For those who find 10-inch screens too big and 5-inch screens too small comes the Amazon Echo Show 8.

(Image credit: Amazon)

14. Amazon Echo Show 8

Reasons to buy
+Could hit the display size sweet spot+Integrated camera privacy shutter

You don't have to be a genius to work out what the story of the Amazon Echo Show 8 is – it's another smart speaker display from Amazon, this time with an 8-inch screen. That puts it right in the middle of the 10-inch and the 5-inch Amazon Echo Shows that were already on the market.

The price is in the middle too, so it might be the sweet spot for some people. For us, it kind of falls between two stools: either you want a compact display, or you want a large one... why would you want a middling one? We do like the design though, which continues to improve with each show.

Lenovo Smart Display best smart speaker

The Lenovo Smart Display is another of the best speakers with a screen, for watching YouTube and other video content.

15. Lenovo Smart Display

One of the best smart speakers with a display

Reasons to buy
+Well built and a good size+Comes with a screen

Another smart speaker with a display, the Lenovo Smart Display is available in 8-inch or 10-inch sizes, so take your pick accordingly. It doubles up as a Chromecast, has decent-sounding audio, and can be used as a video calling device too.

With Google Assistant on board, it's just as smart as any of the best Google Home speakers on the market in 2020, with everything wrapped in a solid and secure device that's perfect for the study or kitchen.

Google Home Max Best smart speakers Best Amazon Echo speakers Best Google Home

The Google Home Max is the best smart speaker for those who love sound quality.

16. Google Home Max

Turn it up to the max, with this beefy smart home speaker

Reasons to buy
+Audio quality sounds great+Wired or wireless connection

Just because the Google Home Max is at the end of our list doesn't mean you should discount it: this is still a list of the best smart home speakers money can buy in 2020, and all these models are worth their place. In this case, you're getting some fantastic audio quality.

Top-level audio quality, plus the excellent Google Assistant on board, plus the option of a cabled connection, plus casting abilities – what's not to like? It'll cost you a lot of money, that's the key drawback, and it's probably overkill for most people's smart speaker needs.

Amazon Echo Spot Best smart speakers Best Amazon Echo speakers Best Google Home

The T3 award-winning Amazon Echo Spot is the best Amazon Echo for adding video to a compact form factor.

17. Amazon Echo Spot

The best Amazon Echo for combining a compact form with video

Reasons to buy
+Dinky little video screen+Fits in any room

We're big fans of the Amazon Echo Spot, which takes the considerable smarts of Alexa and adds a dinky little screen. That small display is more useful than you might think in terms of what you can do with it: watching videos, putting up an alarm clock display, and more.

The Echo Spot looks good in any room in your house, which means it can be used as a timer in the kitchen or a video caller in the study. We would put it higher in the list but the display makes it significantly more expensive than alternatives such as the Echo Dot.