To sum up this Amazon Echo Show 15 review: this is the best smart speaker for anyone who wants a smart display to sit at the heart of their busy home.
Not only is this the first-ever wall-mountable Echo device with a 15-inch screen but it’s also the first to include Alexa widgets, making it easier than ever to incorporate the display into your daily routines.
In the past Amazon has impressed us with its range of smart displays - the Amazon Echo Show 10 won Best Smart Speaker in the T3 Awards 2021 while the smaller Amazon Echo Show 8 (2nd Gen) picked up 5-stars in its T3 review. So naturally, I was expecting a lot from the Echo Show 15.
Since getting my hands on one, I’ve been putting it through its paces, testing out as many features as I possibly can to help you figure out if this is the best smart display for you, or not. To cut a long story short, this is an incredible piece of kit and it’s unlike any other smart display you can buy but it does have its flaws. Read on to find out more about it in the full Amazon Echo Show 15 review.
Amazon Echo Show 15 review: price and availability
Available to buy now at Amazon, the Amazon Echo Show 15 will set you back $250 in the US, £240 in the UK and AU£400 in Australia. Take a look at the widgets on this page to see whether there are any deals on it available right now.
Amazon Echo Show 15 review: design, display and setup
When you first take the Amazon Echo Show 15 out of the box, you will be struck by just how big the screen actually is, 15-inches is no joke! It’s surrounded by a white border and a matte black frame which makes it look just like a photo frame. Measuring 402 x 252 x 35 mm it is quite a hefty piece of kit.
Tucked away in the white border there’s a 5MP camera and along the top edge, you’ll find the camera privacy shutter, microphone mute button and volume controls.
In the box, you’ll get everything you need to mount it on your wall but if that’s not something you want to do, you can choose to buy the Made for Amazon Tilt Stand for an extra $30 / £30. I tested the Amazon Echo Show 15 out with the stand - it was sturdy and stable so you won’t need to worry about it moving and damaging the device.
Once you’ve chosen the right spot for it, the setup is just as easy as you’d expect from an Amazon Alexa device. You just need to plug it in, connect it to your home Wi-Fi and login to your Amazon account - it’ll pretty much do the rest for you. After taking it out of the box, it took about 10 minutes to get it set up and ready to go.
If you already own Alexa devices, the Echo Show 15 will automatically get hooked up to the rest of your smart home so you can control it all from there. You will also be prompted to create profiles for each member of your household, which includes facial recognition, but more on that later.
To get the smart speaker's attention the wake word is ‘Alexa’ - you can see the microphones have heard you when the slim blue light appears along the bottom of the screen. The range on the microphones is excellent, it picked up my voice from the other side of the room even with the TV on.
The 15-inch Full HD display is obviously the main talking point here and the quality of it is brilliant. It’s bright, colourful and clear - even watching videos the quality of the screen is as good as a lot of tablets even though it won't compete with an actual TV. You can really see the benefit of the 1080p screen when it’s set to Photo Frame mode, images look sharp and vibrant adding a bit of flair to your wall or countertop.
Controlling the display doesn’t just have to be by voice, it’s got a touchscreen so you can tap and swipe to manage your widgets, switch on one of the best smart bulbs in the house or type in a sticky note. I found using it manually was just as responsive as using your voice.
Amazon Echo Show 15 review: features and audio
There are so many features - it’s hard to know where to begin. Like with any Alexa smart speaker, you can use the Amazon Echo Show 15 to get the answers to your burning questions. You’ll be able to see the answer written down in front of you as well as hear it spoken. If you ask for the news or weather, those responses will also be accompanied by handy graphics and images to help you digest the information more easily.
You can also use this to control your smart home by voice. You just need to say ‘Alexa turn on the living room light’ for example, and voila. The great thing here is that not only will the display show you that the light is now on, but it’ll also display a slider on the screen to adjust the brightness. If you own compatible smart security devices like one of the best security cameras or one of the best video doorbells, you’ll be able to see a live view from it on this display as well.
Like on a large tablet or smart TV you can watch shows on this display with the choice to stream from Netflix, Hulu and Prime Video. But not every streaming service is available, for instance, Disney+ is missing from the lineup.
If you plan to use the Amazon Echo Show 15 in your kitchen, there is another feature you really ought to know about. You can ask Alexa for recipe suggestions, then display them on the big screen while you cook and add the ingredients you’ll need to your shopping list.
When you ask Alexa to show you recipes, you’ll get a list of suggestions and you can even set it to certain dietary requirements so you only see vegetarian recipes or gluten-free meal ideas, for example. Each recipe is even given a rating out of five to help you decide which one you’d like to make.
In the UK, Alexa finds these on BBC Good Food so there are literally hundreds of meals to discover. Once you’ve chosen, the recipe is displayed in a large, easy-to-read font with information on calories, serving size and cooking time.
Alexa widgets make using this smart display super easy so it quickly becomes a part of your day-to-day life. Designed specifically for the Amazon Echo Show 15, you can choose which widgets are displayed on the home screen depending on what you will make the most use out of. The only downside is that you can’t resize them so the more widgets you have, the more crowded the screen gets, and you’ll be limited as to how many you can have displayed at once.
So what kinds of widgets are there? Well, you can leave sticky notes reminding your partner to take the bins out, show a new recipe suggestion each day, display the weather forecast or have your shopping list ready to go. There’s a smart home widget that shows you a list of your other smart devices so you can see what’s switched on and what isn’t, as well as controls to quickly turn them off if needs be.
One widget that will be really handy for busy households is the calendar, you can set new events from your Echo devices as well as sync it with your Google, Microsoft and Apple calendars. I think this was my favourite widget because there’s always confusion in my house as to what we have planned for the following week and now we know exactly what each one of us has going on, and when.
When you’re not using the Amazon Echo Show 15, you can set it to Photo Frame mode which will display a slideshow of pictures. One minor niggle is that you do have to manually switch it on using the menu that appears when you swipe down from the top of the screen.
You can either upload your own pictures or sync the display with Amazon Photos or your Facebook albums. If you pick specific photos to upload to the Alexa app, you’ll be limited to just 10 images whereas if you sync the display with your Amazon Photos or Facebook albums, it’ll roll through all of the images you have on there. You'll have to pick and choose which albums are shared because there may be some images you don't want to display in that way.
Another option is to show stunning photography from Amazon’s library, there are a few different categories to choose from including Nature, Abstract, Art and Travel.
Amazon Echo Show 15 review: audio and camera
The Amazon Echo Show 15 does of course have a speaker built-in as well. You can play music through Amazon Prime or Spotify, and you’ll get the added bonus of being able to play tracks from YouTube as well.
The sound quality is mediocre, you can’t expect it to match bigger more powerful audio devices because the system is much more stripped back than what you get elsewhere. It'll be loud and accurate enough for most kitchens or living rooms but you are better off having a separate home speaker if you listen to a lot of music.
Tucked away in the frame, the 5MP camera can be used to make video calls and it doubles up as a home security camera as well, so you can check on the room while you’re away through the Alexa smartphone app. While it’s not the sharpest or brightest, the quality of the camera is good enough for what you can use it for. You won’t get the camera tracking feature here as you do on some other Amazon Echo Show devices which is a shame.
Facial recognition is another way you can use the camera, you can create your own profile on the Echo Show so the display will recognise you when you look at it. When it recognises your face, you'll get a personalised view of the home screen with everything you might like to see including your own recently played music as well as your appointments and reminders.
When I tested it out, I found that it works very quickly each time you approach it although the music it displayed was from Prime Music when actually I mostly listen on Spotify.
Amazon Echo Show 15 review: verdict
You won’t find a better smart display than the Amazon Echo Show 15, but you can find better smart speakers. It has a stunning 15-inch screen yet won’t be a replacement for a more powerful home speaker because the audio just isn’t up to it.
Whether you mount it on your wall or prop it up on a stand, it’s a good-looking piece of kit, although it is thicker than you'd expect. When you aren't using it, the Amazon Echo Show 15 transforms into a digital photo frame which is a really nice touch.
Alexa widgets are genius as well, and I personally found this smart display was much more useful and usable than other Echo Show devices that I’ve tested out. It means you can manage your whole household in one place, whether that’s controlling your smart lights, organising school pickups or telling your housemate to do the washing up.
There are a few little niggles here and there like the fact that the audio quality isn’t quite as good as it could have been and the camera doesn’t have digital tracking, but I wouldn’t say those are major downfalls. If you want a big-screened smart display to sit at the centre of your home then this is still an excellent choice and I definitely recommend it.
Amazon Echo Show 15 review: also consider
Already use the Google Assistant at home? The Google Nest Hub Max is better suited to you. It’s not quite the same as this because it won’t look like a photo frame on your wall but it will fit in perfectly on a side table or kitchen countertop. It has a big 10-inch display and a powerful speaker built-in.
For a more bedroom-friendly display, the Amazon Echo Show 5 (2nd Gen, 2021) is a miniature version of the Show devices. The 5-inch screen will be ideal for your bedside table, and it’s much cheaper than the Amazon Echo Show 15.