An audio upgrade on the previous model, the Amazon Echo Dot (5th generation) is now a capable music speaker, as well as a great smart speaker for smart home control and general enquiries. Overall, this is the best value smart speaker you can buy, although owners of the previous generation will struggle to justify the upgrade.
- Improved audio
- Looks great
- Improved tap controls
- No 3.5mm audio output
- ConnectionSupports dual-band Wi-Fi 5.
- Audio1.73-inch front-facing speaker delivers a bigger audio punch than on previous Echo Dot speakers.
After the first Echo smart speaker came out, Amazon went on a spree of releasing huge numbers of new models on a yearly cycle. More recently, things have slowed down, and it’s been a two-year wait for the Amazon Echo Dot (5th generation).
While nothing has changed on the outside, with the same spherical body, Amazon has overhauled the speaker system, making this a far more accomplished all-round smart speaker.
- Same spherical design
- Action, volume and mute buttons
- No 3.5mm audio output
The Amazon Echo Dot (5th generation) looks just like its predecessor. I don’t have an issue with that: the spherical design that Amazon introduced with the Echo Dot (4th Generation), looks as good today as it did when the product was launched two years ago.
About the same size as a baseball, this smart speaker is a great size and will fit pretty much anywhere you’d want to put it, from a bedside table to a kitchen counter.
This version is available in Charcoal, Glacier White and the rather fetching Deep Sea Blue I have on review here. Finished in a soft material, Amazon has got the balance spot on with this device: it has been designed to fit into a home, rather than looking like a bit of tech. Amazon says that 55% of the materials are recycled and 95% of the fabric is recycled.
There’s the standard button layout on this model, too, with volume control keys, a microphone mute button for privacy and an action button that gets the speaker listening for voice commands without having to say ‘Alexa’ first.
As with last year’s model, the light ring is at the bottom of the speaker. It glows different colours, depending on what the speaker is trying to show: yellow for notifications and blue when Alexa is listening, for example. I like the way that the ring lights up in segments as the volume is increased or decreased, too.
The light ring at the bottom makes a lot of sense, too. In this position, it’s easy to see, but it doesn’t light up the room in such a distracting way as on older Echo devices when the light was placed on top.
Gone from this model is the 3.5mm output, although the Amazon Echo Dot (5th generation) can be connected to an external speaker via Bluetooth, or used as a Bluetooth speaker itself. I don’t miss the audio output, and if you did want to hook an Echo up to more powerful audio, you can pick up the Amazon Echo Flex instead.
- New tap functions
- Does everything Alexa can do
There are some new tap controls built into the Amazon Echo Dot (5th generation). If an alarm goes off, a quick tap on top can silence the speaker, putting it into snooze mode. That’s useful for a sleepy morning, but it would be even better if there was a tap action to turn off the alarm completely without saying, “Alexa, stop.”
Tap actions can be used to play and pause music, which is often more convenient than using a voice command.
In the US, the speaker works with Amazon Eero, acting as an additional Wi-Fi node to increase coverage, but that’s not an option in the UK, which is a shame.
Low-power mode has been improved. Previously, speakers wouldn’t enter this mode is Spotify was linked, but that’s no longer listed as a restriction. Only Echo speakers in Eero mode or those with motion detection settings, can’t go into low-power mode.
New to this model is a built-in temperature sensor, which was previously only available on the Echo (4th Generation). This can be used to create Alexa Routines that automatically run according to the temperature, such as turning on a smart fan when it gets hot.
Otherwise, it’s business as usual with Alexa running in the cloud. As my guide to Amazon Alexa goes into more detail, I won’t dive too deep into what the voice assistant can and can’t do here. In summary, Alexa is now very mature and responds well to most queries.
Smart home support is excellent, with Alexa still coming out on top for both the range of supported devices, and the automatic routines you can build.
Alexa has closed the gap slightly on the Google Assistant, and now has pretty good local business searches and traffic updates. Plus, Alexa is better for communication: you can link a Vodafone or EE phone number to make and receive calls, or you can just make free UK landline and mobile calls directly.
- 1.73-inch front firing speaker
- More dynamic range
Although the Amazon Echo Dot (5th generation) is not any bigger than its predecessor, there’s a larger 1.73-inch front-firing speaker (the previous generation had a 1.6-inch speaker). The difference is impressive.
While the old speaker struggled with more demanding tracks, the Amazon Echo Dot (5th generation) sounds a lot better. There’s now a lot more bass, with the speaker delivering more of a thump than its predecessor.
It still struggles a little with very bass-heavy tracks, such as OK Go’s All This Too Shall Pass, with a slightly muddled mix of audio, but the vast majority of songs sound pretty good. Overall, Amazon has improved the balance, with the Amazon Echo Dot (5th generation) delivering smoother, less harsh audio.
Range isn’t as good as with the standard Echo speaker and some tracks and the high-end is a little indistinct. However, for the price, this smart speaker delivers a surprisingly good audio experience to the point where I’d more happily listen to music on this speaker, which is not something I ever thought I’d say about an Echo Dot speaker.
As with the previous generation, if you buy two Amazon Echo Dot (5th generation) speakers, you can create a stereo pair, which gives better stereo separation.
Should you buy it?
If you’re in the market for a new smart speaker, the balance of price, features and sound quality are hard to beat.
If you want the best music experience there are better sounding smart speakers. Those with the previous generation won’t see much reason to upgrade.
The Amazon Echo Dot (5th generation) is a definite improvement over its predecessor, with the tap controls giving a wider range of control and the improved audio making this a half-decent music speaker. Overall, this is the best all-round smart speaker for the money; even though the Amazon Echo Dot (5th generation) costs £5 more than its predecessor, it’s still great value.
For those with an Amazon Echo Dot (4th generation) there’s no reason to upgrade, and those that want a bedside companion may prefer the Amazon Echo Dot with Clock (5th generation).
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We use the same test tracks for each smart speaker to see how well each handles music.
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The new model has a larger speaker, improved tap controls but it loses the 3.5mm audio output.
Yes it can, and it can also send audio via Bluetooth to an external speaker.