Google may have shown up a little late to the smart speaker party, but the tech giant is doing its best to make up for lost time. Google voice control and Chromecast are fighting for primacy against Alexa and Siri, with many smart speakers on the market making use of Google Assistant. Such devices can be smart options if you're using other devices such as Pixel phones or Nest products and/or Google services such as Gmail, Maps or the Google Calendar already.
Amazon's Alexa and Apple's Siri-powered HomePod range are obviously huge rivals, and choosing a Google product will tie you quite firmly to your chosen brand. If you love the Google way and want to keep your home in line with the rest of the company's range, the models we've personally tested below will suit your smart (and sonic) needs.
All speakers below have been tested in our dedicated listening facilities as well as in reviewers' homes (where possible) to ensure we test how the speaker performs in daily use, how effective Google Assistant is and, of course, how it sounds no matter where it's placed in the home. You can read more about our testing process at the bottom of the page, or simply scroll down to see our pick of the best Google-equipped smart speakers you can buy today.
I'm a staff writer who has listened to and reviewed dozens of products – from smart speakers to many, many headphones – during my time at What Hi-Fi?. I love a great and convenient home speaker, especially one with smart capabilities baked in, meaning I've had first-hand experience with the majority of entries on this list. I'm looking for ease of use, a voice assistant that's helpful and responsive and, of course, sound quality that's great with all kinds of music, too. If you want the lowdown on the best Google-enabled speakers around right now, I'm here to make things a lot simpler.
How to choose the best Google Assistant speaker for you
Why you can trust What Hi-Fi?
Thanks to Google's class-leading Search engine and the latest Google Home app, there's no denying that the best Google Assistant speakers deliver excellent results when trying to test your general knowledge. The tricky bit is making sure you get a Google speaker that delivers good sound quality for your music as well as delivering on the voice assistant promise.
But we're here to help. Whether you want Bluetooth or wi-fi streaming, an aux input for wired connection, compatibility with a specific music streaming service, a screen for visual answers as well as verbal ones, or even help with getting a good night's sleep from Google (yes, really), we can help you find the best Google Assistant speaker for your needs.
Of course, how useful Google Assistant is will depend on the apps and programs you use in daily life. For instance, a Gmail account with a Google calendar will make organising your life easier. We're What Hi-Fi?, of course, so we do put a lot of importance on the audio performance of these smart speakers, as well as their general use and features set, to ensure you're getting the best value for your money.
Ultimately, which Google Assistant speaker you choose will depend on your priorities and your budget, but we hope we can help you choose one which entertains on the music front, too.
The second-generation Sonos One might have been superseded in recent times, but it was a five-star product when we rated it a few years back and still has a lot going for it even today. The integration of Amazon's Alexa smart assistant for voice controls alongside Google Assistant made the Sonos speaker a big hit with users and our test team, while its expansive sound helps the One stand out from its similarly-priced rivals. Throw in Apple's AirPlay 2 tech and the fact that the One fits seamlessly into a multi-room set-up and you've still got a versatile, engaging and increasingly well-priced performer.
We'll admit that the arrival of the Sonos Era 100 means that there's a more-up-to-date (and better sounding) alternative out there, but sadly, the new Era speakers range has seen Sonos drop its compatibility with Google's voice assistant. Moroever, a newer model still doesn't diminish the qualities of one of Sonos' most popular wireless speakers, especially when you factor in the One's compatibility with Alexa and Google for a choice of the two popular smart assistants.
The Era range's arrival also means that bargain hunters can find the One at a much lower than price than when it launched, especially during sales periods. Result.
Read our full Sonos One review
The Sonos Move was the first Sonos speaker to be portable and the first to offer Bluetooth streaming, things that we rather take for granted nowadays. There's a new Move on the block courtesy of the Move 2, but the original model still provides everything you'd expect at this level, including multi-room streaming functionality, access to Google Assistant and Bluetooth connectivity.
Physically, the Move towers over the One above, and it's certainly a lot chunkier than most portable Bluetooth speakers you'd expect to find, boasting a height of 24cm and a rather burly weight of 3kg. It does have a battery, but the Move is more the sort of speaker that you'd pop into your car and take for a picnic rather than something you'd carry around with you while hiking or, heaven forbid, going for a jog.
Sonically, the Move reveals itself to be weighty and full-bodied, with a broad, expansive sound that will carry regardless of where it's placed. If you want the portable Sonos experience with Google Assistant on demand, look no further than the Move.
Read our full Sonos Move review
The best speakers are usually handsome enough to be considered as furniture as well as hi-fi, but we don't get many that are made explicitly to be the former. We were in uncharted waters when IKEA and Sonos released this rather left-field collab, but the results are actually quite impressive. The Symfonisk bookshelf speaker is the cheapest Sonos multi-room component on the market, originally retailing at half the price of a Sonos One and two-thirds that of the other IKEA speaker in the new range, the Sonos IKEA Symfonisk lamp speaker.
And yet, it's fully integrated into the existing ecosystem and will link to any other Sonos kit you happen to have. Best of all, you'll struggle to find a better-sounding multi-room speaker from Sonos for this price with a bold, forceful presentation that feels like it's propelling your music forward.
A Sonos + IKEA bookshelf speaker (with added AI assistants)? It’s the team-up we didn't know we needed.
Read our full Sonos IKEA Symfonisk bookshelf speaker review
If you're after a smart speaker that has Google Assistant baked in, decent-sounding audio and the added convenience of a touch screen, the Google Nest Hub might have everything you've been looking for. To put the Nest Hub’s 7-inch (1024 x 600, 18cm) touchscreen into context, it's only marginally bigger than the one sported by the largest iPhone 12 Pro Max when measured across the diagonal.
It may be small but it's not stupid. There are plenty of music streaming and TV services available - including All 4, Deezer, Netflix and Disney Plus - but perhaps the most innovative inclusion is Google's Sleep Sensing tech, a motion-tracking system that analyses your slumber via motion detection alongside light and temperature sensors to assess your nocturnal habits.
The Amazon Echo Show 10 provides a similar smart-speaker-with-screen alternative, but it's almost three times the price of the Google Nest Hub. Thanks to Disney Plus, Sleep Sensing tech and the delivery of a solid soundscape, the Nest Hub is a worthy proposition if it meets your criteria.
Read our full Google Nest Hub (2nd Generation) review
How We Test
How we test the best Google Assistant speakers
The What Hi-Fi? team tests hundreds of products every year – and that includes wireless smart speakers. How do we come to our review verdicts and why should you trust them? Give us two minutes of your time...
We have dedicated facilities in London and Reading, where our team of expert reviewers handles every step of all our independent testing. This gives us complete control over all the products we test, ensuring consistency and impartiality.
When testing smart speakers, we download the accompanying app and test how well each speaker responds to voice commands, as well as how it handles third-party music app integration, such as BBC Sounds, Spotify, Tidal and internet radio. If possible, we also take smart speakers home to test how we would naturally use them in our daily lives, and test their connections, user-friendliness, and sound quality with a variety of music genres and sources.
All smart speakers are tested in comparison with rivals in the same price category (always five-star class leaders and often What Hi-Fi? Award-winners) and all our review verdicts are agreed upon by the team as a whole rather than an individual reviewer. This helps to ensure neutrality and avoid any personal preference.
Finally, we choose the culmination of our efforts – the best products from all of our in-depth reviews – to feature in our Best Buys, which is where you are now. If you take the plunge and buy one of the products recommended above, or on any other Best Buy page, you can be assured you're getting a What Hi-Fi? approved product.
What does a smart speaker do and do I need one?
Our definition of a smart speaker generally revolves around whether or not it has voice control. If not, it's usually categorised as a wireless speaker if it has wi-fi capabilities for streaming music from a device. Smart, AI-assistant voice control is becoming increasingly common across many of the world's most famous speaker brands, with Sonos, Apple and Amazon all desperate for a slice of the pie.
Do you need one? Well, if you like using voice commands to control music playback hands-free, and have a desire to get a speaker that will integrate into your existing smart ecosystem, it could be a clever choice. Bear in mind, though, that mixing and matching speakers and ecosystems isn't all that easy, so it's best to pick a side – Amazon and Alexa, Apple or Siri – and see which units will integrate into that smart system. A Google Assistant speaker, for instance, won't play nice with Alexa products made by Amazon, say, as the brands are direct rivals and would rather you pledge your loyalty to them alone.
Is Google Assistant better than Alexa and Siri?
This depends on which ecosystem you are already using and what you'll be using voice commands it for, along with which third-party apps and smart home features each AI assistant works with. We think Alexa and Siri have come on leaps and bounds in the last few years, to the extent that it's almost frightening how much they can do these days. We tend to find that better-sounding wireless speakers have Alexa and Siri built-in, making the extra voice control features a bonus.
Google Assistant is a solid option, though, and it has the world's most powerful search engine behind it. If it's an answer to any question you need answering, then Google will behave exactly like, well, a Google search (which is far more powerful than Siri's search engine). Google's own products haven't impressed us on the sound quality side as much as its rivals, however, and it's not built into speakers as widely as Amazon's voice AI is. Sonos' new range of speakers, for instance, no longer supports Google Assistant.
Prefer Alexa? See our pick of the best Amazon Alexa speakers
Or check out our guide to the best wireless speakers fot all budgets
See also: the best portable speakers