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I looked at the top smart speakers available, and these are unbeatable

You can't go wrong with my pick of the best smart speakers.
Written by Lena Borrelli, Contributing Writer on

It used to be that a speaker could play music, and that was it. However, those days are over, with speakers becoming increasingly intelligent and well-appointed with the best of features. The right speaker can transport you to faraway lands, transforming your mood with fine clarity and booming bass. But they can also automate our lives.

In fact, the best smart speakers offer everything from premium sound to intelligent home control. They not only play music but also set reminders, make phone calls, answer questions, and allow you to control other smart devices in your home all through voice commands. ZDNET's experts have reviewed the most popular smart speakers, and I've rounded up my favorite five. 


Pros & Cons
  • Google Assistant and Alexa
  • Streaming services
  • Fantastic clarity
  • Expensive
  • Lacks Bluetooth
More Details

Tech Specs: Compatibility: Alexa, Siri | Tweeters: 1 | Woofers: 1 | Dimensions: 6.36 x 4.69 x 4.69 inches

Sonos One is a fantastic bookshelf speaker that wins our vote for the overall best smart speaker. It features easy Wi-Fi connectivity with the option to pair your speaker with other Sonos speakers, or you can create a home theater system with Sonos Arc or Beam. Either way, you have the simple convenience of voice control with Amazon Alexa, or you can use Apple AirPlay2 or the Sonos app. This speaker is compatible with 80 different streaming services like Spotift, Apple Music, and Pandora. Plus, it's compact enough to go with you anywhere, thanks to a humidity-resistant design that is even fit for the bathroom. 

Read the review: The best Sonos speakers

Pros & Cons
  • Excellent bass
  • Powerful smart home hub
  • Affordable
  • Odd shape
  • Some Alexa quirks
More Details

Tech Specs: Compatibility: Alexa, Siri, Ring | Woofer: 1 | Tweeters: 2 | Dimensions: 5.7 x 5.7 x 5.2 inches 

The Amazon Echo speaker integrates Alexa into your smart speaker, as well as the Zigness smart home hub to greatly simplify life. There is also a temperature sensor, plus compatibility with Zigbee and Ring Smart Lighting products. Connect to one of several available services, including Sirius XM, Amazon Music, and Apple Music, and hit play. This speaker can adapt itself to any room, changing the highs and lows to suit its surroundings.

Read the review: The best Echo speakers

Pros & Cons
  • Full-bodied sound
  • Excellent response time
  • Convenience features
  • Some connectivity issues
  • Restricted to Siri
More Details

Tech Specs: Compatibility: Apple HomeKit | Speakers: 1 | Microphones: 4 | Dimensions: 3.3 x 3.9 inches

With the Apple HomePod Mini, you can easily connect to your favorite devices with the help of Siri built right in. Siri can recognize the difference in each user's voice to offer greater personalization when it comes to your favorite apps, tunes, and services. Once you pick your song, this speaker offers 360-degree audio, especially when you pair your speaker with other Homepod Minis. Use the intercom feature to check in with family members in other rooms, an especially convenient feature at dinnertime. 

Read the review: HomePod mini review

Google Nest audio speaker on a table
Image: Google
Pros & Cons
  • Google Assistant
  • Mute feature
  • Available pairing
  • Some voice command quirks
  • Lacks wired input
More Details

Tech Specs: Compatibility: Google Assistant, Nest, Hue | Tweeters: 1 | Woofers: 1 | Dimensions: 3.07 x 4.88 inches

With the words "Hey Google," you can automatically summon automated help for a number of tasks, like changing tracks and stopping the music. Nest Audio is built-in, allowing you to erase your Google Assistant history and adjust the mic. It can also adjust the music to fit the room, offering thumping bass and crisp vocals that improve your overall listening experience. You can also connect to several other products, like Nest speakers and displays and Chromecast devices. Set up is simple to get you going that much faster.

Pros & Cons
  • Convenient design
  • Welcomes multiple users
  • Phenomenal sound
  • Expensive
  • Lacks night vision
More Details

Tech Specs: Compatibility: Google Assistant, Nest, Arlo, Hue, Wink, Ring, SmartThings| Tweeters: 2 | Woofers: 1 | Dimensions: 7.19 x 9.85 x 3.99 inches

Google Nest Hub Max is far from just a speaker. This smart speaker incorporates a 10-inch HD touchscreen that allows you to do so much more than just listen to your favorite audiobook, thanks to the help of Google Assistant. The 6.5MP camera allows you to take photos and make video calls with ease. For hands-free use, choose Duo to create video messages or make video calls. Either way, you do not have to sacrifice sound with this smart speaker that incorporates a 30W subwoofer and dual tweeters.

What is the best smart speaker?

I love the Sonos One smart speaker for its fantastic performance, clear audio, and smart features. It may be among the more expensive smart speakers, but in this case, you get what you pay for with excellent value and reliability.

To see how the best smart speakers compare, here is an overview of each model.

Best smart speaker



Sonos One


Alexa, Siri

Amazon Echo


Alexa, Siri, Ring

Apple HomePod Mini


Apple HomeKit 

Google Nest Audio


Google Assistant, Nest, Hue

Google Nest Hub Max


Google Assistant, Nest, Arlo, Hue, Wink, Ring, SmartThings

Which is the right smart speaker for you?

Finding the best smart speaker for your needs is not always so easy.  Consider my expert recommendations to help you find exactly the right smart speaker for your home or office.  

Choose this best smart speaker...

If you want...

Sonos One

An affordable smart speaker with excellent sound quality

Amazon Echo

A smart speaker with Alexa

Apple HomePod Mini

To use Siri with your smart speaker

Google Nest Audio

Google Assistant for your smart speaker

Google Nest Hub Max

The best display for your smart speaker

How did we choose these smart speakers?

When searching for the best smart speakers, I considered a number of factors.

  • Integrations: The best smart speakers incorporate voice control, whether it is through Apple's Siri or Google's Google Assistant. 
  • Connectivity: The best speakers offer a wireless connection via Bluetooth or WiFi. 
  • Size: Not all speakers are meant to take on the go. If you want something that is easily portable, consider a smart speaker of a smaller size that offers a wireless connection.
  • Budget: We know that not everyone shares the same budget, so we look for smart speakers that suit a number of different budgets. 

What is a smart speaker and which brands make the most popular ones?

A smart speaker is a type of audio device that combines the functions of a speaker with a virtual assistant and voice control. The most popular brands that make smart speakers are Amazon, Google, Apple, and Sonos.

Amazon's popular smart speaker line is the Amazon Echo, which comes in a variety of sizes and styles, including the Echo Dot, Echo Show, and Echo Studio. These all have Alexa. Meanwhile, Google offers the Google Nest line of speakers with Google Assistant, and Apple's smart speaker range (HomePod) has Siri. Then there is Sonos, which offers premium sound in conjunction with support for popular voice assistants.

This guide tells you which of these smart speakers are worth buying, and what you'll get for your money.

What can you do with a smart speaker?

A smart speaker works like a traditional speaker in that it plays audio content. However, that is far from all it does. Smart speakers also feature integrations like Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant, and provide access to your favorite streaming apps. You can also use a smart speaker for voice control, phone calls, and even video messages, depending on the smart speaker you choose.

Which smart speaker has free music?

The best smart speakers offer a wireless connection that allows you to connect to a number of programs. Stream from services like Pandora, Apple Music, and SiriusXM, with the cost all depending on which subscription you have.

How much do the best smart speakers cost?

Smart speakers can range significantly in cost, as seen here. The best smart speakers range in cost from $70 to about $180, depending on the model you choose.

Are there alternative smart speakers worth considering?

In our search, we also found these options that almost made our list of the best smart speakers.

For more options, check out our picks for the best Bluetooth speakers, the best bookshelf speaker, the best portable speakers, and the best stereo speakers!

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