Amazon Echo Dot (5th Generation) review

The 5th Generation of Amazon’s Echo Dot really hits the spot Tested at £54.99 / $49.99 / AU$79

Smart speaker: Amazon Echo Dot (5th Generation)
(Image: © What Hi-Fi?)

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

The 5th Generation of Amazon’s affordable smart speaker may be small and sweet, but it’s more than capable of punching above its weight


  • +

    Impressively expansive sound

  • +

    Great Alexa integration

  • +

    Pleasing, understated aesthetic


  • -

    Sound distortion at the higher ranges

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Smart speakers are becoming more and more integrated into our daily lives. No, we haven’t quite arrived at the point at which all aspects of our domestic existence can be governed by a series of brusque commands to Alexa or Siri like something from 2001: A Space Odyssey, but voice-controlled speakers hooked up to the wi-fi aren’t going anywhere any time soon.

Amazon Echo Dot (5th Generation) tech specs

Smart speaker: Amazon Echo Dot (5th Generation)

(Image credit: Amazon)

Bluetooth Yes

Power source Mains-powered

Features Alexa voice control, smart-device compatible, on-surface touch control, snooze alarm

Dimensions (hwd) 10 x 10 x 8.9cm

Weight 340g

Finishes x3 (Charcoal, Deep Sea Blue, Glacier White)

Amazon has been at the forefront of the smart speaker explosion, its Alexa AI assistant now practically synonymous with the whole concept of smart domestic audio. Apple’s own effort in the form of Siri in the HomePod speakers is one of the few that can challenge Jeff Bezos’ bid to dominate the so-called home of tomorrow, but Alexa remains by far the most popular.

The Amazon Echo range, consisting of the standard Echo model, the hefty Echo Studio, the touchscreen Show series and the Echo Dot, has been a great success for Amazon. We have to admit that we too have been broadly impressed with Amazon’s broad plethora of smart speaker options, particularly the very affordable Dot range which has earned five-star reviews for its 3rd and 4th Generations of the model.

With that consistency has come the weight of expectation, a weight that could be too much for the new model to shoulder. The new Amazon Echo Dot (5th Generation) isn’t just tasked with fighting off its rivals, but competing with its own past.


Smart speaker: Amazon Echo Dot (5th Generation)

(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

The fifth incarnation of the Amazon Echo Dot doesn’t exactly break from its predecessor in the looks department, retaining that round shape and understated aesthetic that served the 4th Generation so well. Available in a choice of three colours – white, charcoal and blue – the Echo Dot’s subtle, unobtrusive look is pleasingly un-impactful. It’s not a boundary-pushing artistic tour de force, but it hardly ever looks out of place whether positioned in your swanky modern kitchen or happily perched on your expensive mahogany bookshelf. 

There’s not much going on in terms of physical on-device features and controls, either, but that’s hardly a bad thing. Atop the dimpled dome sit four buttons – volume up, volume down, microphone off and an action button that deals with things like pairing and Alexa control – with the blue “Alexa ring” encircling the bottom of the speaker’s rotund form. Considering the fact that you’ll spend most of your time speaking to the Echo Dot, this minimalist approach makes sense.

Build quality is reassuringly substantial, too. Amazon’s latest smart speaker isn’t exactly heavy, but there’s a pleasing solidity when you hold it in your hand. The small-knit speaker mesh, meanwhile, sits tight to the frame without any noticeable bulges, feeling even more premium than the rival (and more expensive) HomePod Mini. It’s also pretty tough to knock out of place thanks to a wider base area than the Mini, as well as a non-slip rubber bottom to keep it from slipping.


Smart speaker: Amazon Echo Dot (5th Generation)

(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

Yes, the 5th Generation of the Echo Dot is a proudly Amazon product, but that doesn't mean it’s limited in its capabilities out of brand loyalty. Practically all ‘rival’ music streaming services are supported alongside its own Amazon Music, including Spotify, Deezer and Apple Music, meaning the Dot isn’t tied down to a single platform. Our favourite music streamer, Tidal, is sadly not catered for, but setting up and using the Dot with Amazon Music, Spotify and Apple Music is a stress-free experience, as is flitting between the services via the designated Amazon Alexa app. 

Speaking of Alexa, Amazon’s AI assistant is as matronly and helpful as ever. “Hey Alexa,” said in pretty much any tone of voice or accent grabs her attention, while a wide range of voice-activated functions is supported, including setting alarms, receiving weather forecasts and playing music on the platform of your choosing. From football scores to the meaning of life, Alexa usually has it covered.

The expected smart functionalities are also pleasingly integrated. The Echo Dot will work with your compatible Amazon smart devices, allowing you to change things like lighting and temperature via Alexa voice command. You can also use the Dot in conjunction with your Fire TV when you set up Alexa Home Cinema for a more immersive and interactive viewing experience. 

There are also a few hidden tricks up the Echo Dot’s sleeve. Tell Alexa you love “her” and it will happily pump out a cheerful tune that finishes with the line: “Know that I’ll be there for you, as always, your trusty AI.” It’s hard to know whether this is the start of a blurred romantic boundary between man and machine à la Spike Jonze’s Her or whether you’re about to be sucked into a scene from Alex Garland’s disturbing 2014 sci-fi Ex Machina.


Smart speaker: Amazon Echo Dot (5th Generation)

(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

Amazon promises that this is its “best-sounding Echo Dot yet”, teasing “clearer vocals, deeper bass and vibrant sound in any room” thanks to a single 44mm front-firing speaker, 4mm larger than the previous gen’s 40mm.

The claims are bold, and yet firing up a range of tracks brings out one reaction above all others: pleasant surprise. Considering the Echo’s diminutive stature and wide-ranging functionality, great sound was no guarantee, but the sonic experience is somewhat remarkable when you also consider the Dot’s remarkably slim price tag and unobtrusive design.

Playing Greta Van Fleet’s Zeppelin-esque operatic ballad Meeting The Master is a stern test for a small speaker, but the dynamics, range and balance of presentation are impressive, and while you’ll get a far superior experience on more dedicated hi-fi speakers, this is an admirable effort from a budget-friendly smart speaker.

Bright, sparky numbers fare even better. Katy Perry's Hot N Cold practically pops with energy, that peppy drum beat given the appropriate amount of spark and spirit as the track bounces along. Over the instrumentation, Perry’s vocals feel authentically like the Californian singer's actual voice, occasionally breathy and then punchy and powerful as the chorus hits.

Where the Echo Dot finds things understandably hardest is with bass, especially with regard to both force and detail. There’s certainly weight at the lower register, even if some of the detail gets lost in the mud, and while there’s no shame in that at this price, it remains worthy of note. 

Volume, too, is always going to be a drawback of a speaker that’s not much bigger than a standard hockey ball. You’ll still receive space-filling sound in smaller rooms around your house, even if the Echo Dot starts to struggle and distort whenever the knob gets turned towards the upper echelons. 


Smart speaker: Amazon Echo Dot (5th Generation)

(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

The latest Echo Dot sees Amazon taking its diminutive smart speaker to the next level as we enter the model’s 5th Generation. We rated the five-star 4th Generation of the Echo Dot so highly thanks to its broad sound, robust Alexa integration and sleek design for the modest price, all tricks that the sequel manages to repeat with unerring confidence.

This year’s model is stylish, fantastically made and quietly excellent on the audio front, providing a peppy, robust and often genuinely musical sound from a small unit at an even smaller price. If you’re serious about hi-fi then you’ll want to invest in a proper speaker, radio or full-blown system, but if you want a versatile, engaging smart speaker that sounds superb on a shoestring, the Amazon Echo Dot (5th Generation) can unquestionably hold its own.


  • Sound 5
  • Features 4
  • Build 4


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    What Hi-Fi? said:
    Amazon’s Echo Dot is up against some stern competition in the smart speaker market, but all evidence shows that it’s up to the task.

    Amazon Echo Dot (5th Generation) : Read more
    So what about OUTPUTS? I suspect there is still no DIGITAL OUT? . . . otherwise your article would have celebrated this. Is there just a 3.5mm stereo jack output socket?
  • Eirinnm
    There is no 3.5mm output anymore on this 5th gen model. The fact that this review doesn't mention it, and gives it 5 stars, is embarrassing.
    Eirinnm said:
    There is no 3.5mm output anymore on this 5th gen model. The fact that this review doesn't mention it, and gives it 5 stars, is embarrassing.
    Oh dear! I agree. I wonder which product Amazon are trying to direct us towards then?
    I use stereo LINE OUT to 2RCAs from a 3rd Gen Dot to my HiFi system (and assume I'm getting 16bit/44MHz?) to access Amazon Music Unlimited via Alexa; sound is acceptable, but a step down from Amazon Music direct to my amp via OPTICAL.
    . . . Actually, is there any Amazon Echo device that outputs digital/optical? If not, why not?
  • daveh75
    DREADZONE said:
    . . . Actually, is there any Amazon Echo device that outputs digital/optical? If not, why not?

    The Echo Link does