Best smart speakers 2019: the best Amazon Echo, Google Home and other picks for you

Whether you're after the best Amazon Echo, the best Google Home, or any other smart speaker, here are our top picks

Amazon Echo Studio
(Image credit: Amazon)

Finding the best smart speaker in 2019 can be quite a challenge, with so many great models on the market: but this T3 buying guide will direct you straight to the best pick for you, whether you're just getting started with your smart home or buying additional smart speakers.

Whether you want to know the best Amazon Echo model, the best Google Home speaker, the best Sonos device, the best Apple smart speaker, the best smart speaker for music or any other combination, our comprehensive guide is here to give you a helping hand.

Since the Amazon Echo first launched in 2014, smart speakers have quickly become essential gadgets in many of our homes, and now they're acting as smart home hubs as well. They're cheap, clever, and easy to use, and the designs of these speakers are improving all the time as well.

So you've decided you want one – the next step is finding the best smart speaker for 2019 for you, based on price, design, features, and whether or not it comes with a display attached. Keep your eye on the sales (including Black Friday) 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)

Black Friday smart speaker deals: what we expect to see

Following Amazon's grand unveiling of its latest range of smart products back in September, all eyes have swivelled to see just how the retailer's existing stock would be affected price-wise. So far there have been some small price drops and bundle deals, but from what we're hearing, both the new and last-generation smart speakers are about to get a big price cut for the Amazon Black Friday sale.

Apparently everything from the new Echo Dot with Clock, through the All-new Echo, and onto the Echo Flex and Echo Studio are in line for a cost carve. Many of these products are released in the weeks running up to Black Friday (the Echo Studio, for example, releases November 7, while the Flex releases November 14), so introductory discounts seems inevitable.

You should expect serious reductions, too, not just chump change. Earlier in the year Amazon launched the Amazon Echo Show 5 and then, within a month or so, discounted it by 40 per cent for Prime Day. Expect the same sort of savings come Black Friday 2019, and make sure you bookmark the Amazon Black Friday deals.

How to choose the best smart speaker for you

We hope that our best smart speaker guide makes choosing your ideal device much more straightforward – we've extensively tested just about every product on the market and will talk you through all the options you've got.

Key to picking the best smart speaker of 2019 is the digital assistant you want on board and how well it fits in with the devices you're already using. If you're already firm friends with Google Assistant from your Android smartphone, for example, it might make sense to stick with a Google speaker. Likewise Siri and the HomePod, Alexa and the Amazon Echo, and so on.

After that, you can start to weigh up other considerations, like the design of the unit, its price, available accessories, the audio performance, and so on. Make sure your smart speaker can do everything you need it to (controlling your smart lights, working with your favourite apps, and whatever else you need from the smart speaker you're about to allow into your home).

Amazon Echo Plus

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

(Image credit: Amazon)

1. Amazon Echo Plus

The most powerful Echo on the market, and arguably the best smart speaker for tech enthusiasts

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 2019 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.

2. 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 2019 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)

3. 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.

Nest Hub Max best smart speaker

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

4. Google Nest Hub Max

The best smart speaker for pure Googleness

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 may well be the best smart speaker for many people. 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 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 2019.

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

The Google Home Mini is one of the best Google Home speakers going.

7. Google Home Mini

Great assistance in a compact package, the Google Home Mini remains one of the very best smart speakers

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

Amazon Alexa came before Google Assistant, but such is Google's prowess with AI that its Assistant is generally considered the smartest of the digital assistants out there – at least in terms of understanding natural language and pulling data from the web at large – and that affects your best smart speaker choice.

The AI is enough for the Google Home Mini to beat several other smart speakers: it also has an attractive design that fits into just about any room, it has a clean and appealing companion app, and it just works. We would like to have the option to connect it to an external speaker, though.

Amazon Echo (2019)

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, which launched in 2017, 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 2019 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

The Google Home Hub is new, and one of the best Google Home devices of 2019.

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 2019 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 2019. 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 2019, 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 2019, 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.