Most of us would like for our daily lives to be a little more seamless, and one way to do that quickly and (relatively) inexpensively is to get a smart speaker for the home. Able to hook up with countless smart devices around the home, answer queries for you, set alarms and reminders, adjust your heating, or even just play music and podcasts, the best smart speakers can truly transform your daily life.
Maybe you are completely new to smart home technology? Or perhaps you already have some smart devices but aren't sure exactly how to get started? A smart speaker is basically a Bluetooth speaker that has an inbuilt assistant like Google Assistant, Amazon's Alexa, or Apple's Siri.
And they're adding new features all the time, with Amazon recently announcing that it's Alexa assistant could soon answer your door for you even when you're not home! Now that's convenient.
Of course, if you're just looking for something that can play music from your phone, then maybe check out our guide to the best Bluetooth speakers.
We've assembled some of the best smart speakers available right now, so scroll down to see what we thought.
The best smart speaker 2021
Amazon recently announced the launch of the Amazon Echo Studio and not only do we think it might be their best – and more stylish – device yet. But it seriously outdoes anything else on the market, too. Here's everything you need to know:
Stylish smart home hub
Smart speakers are designed to play music and house a smart assistant. In the case of the Amazon Echo Show, that's Alexa. This particularly stylish model is perfect for those who don't want to sacrifice design for the sake of technology.
With built-in Zigbee, it's super easy for users to control their entire smart home system from one, central location. Simply use your voice to control everything from your lighting to your heating, with one simple 'Alexa...'
Immersive 3D audio
Aside from housing Alexa, the Echo Studio offers an impressive audio experience in its own right. Designed with five built-in directional speakers, it has been purposefully engineered to create premium sound with space, clarity and depth.
Sense the acoustics of a space
Designed to sense the acoustics of a space, the Echo Studio automatically fine-tunes audio playback in a bid to deliver optimal sound. This enhances the audio experience.
- Read next: Amazon Alexa review
Next up in our list is the Sonos One – the only smart speaker in our round up that wasn't created by a company that runs a voice assistant. Here's everything you need to know:
The Sonos One is currently compatible with Amazon Alexa and Siri. But, it is also rumoured to be rolled out with Google Assistant, in the not too distant future. So, watch this space if that's your preference.
Impressive audio quality
One for the audiophiles amongst us, the Sonos One offers pretty impressive audio quality thanks to its combination of two class-D digital amplifiers, one tweeter and one mid-woofer. So, if you're looking for a speaker that's impressive in its own right, there's no need to look much further.
Turn your smart assistant off
You can play music through the speaker even when Alexa isn’t on, as well as connecting it up with other Sonos speakers to have the same audio playing throughout your home.
If you’re happy to spend a little more and you want Amazon Alexa as your voice assistant, the Sonos One is perhaps the best choice for your new smart speaker.
By far one of the cheapest smart speakers, the Amazon Echo Dot had to feature on this list as it has all of the capabilities of the top-end devices but in a smaller and more affordable package. Here's everything you need to know:
Make the most of Alexa
Alexa is the voice assistant hiding inside this speaker and you get all of the normal functionality you’d expect on a normal smart speaker. Alexa is able to set timers, play the radio, answer interesting facts and much more, plus there are the third-party apps called Skills that allow you to create an experience that will work on Alexa. For example, the Just Eat app allows you to order a takeaway with your voice.
The Echo Dot is one of the cheapest in Amazon’s range, so if you’re looking for an affordable way to control your smart home this may be it.
Consider the sound quality
Bear in mind, it’s cheaper because it’s not a very good speaker. It may have all of the voice assistant smarts that you’re looking for, but audio quality isn’t particularly good here with low volume and tinny sound.
The good news is you can connect this up to another speaker and still use the smart elements of the Echo Dot, so if you need better audio quality with a speaker you already own you don’t need to lose those smart features.
An option that's sure to be popular with Apple lovers, the Apple HomePod is built for audiophiles who want a top-end speaker in their home that can integrate with Apple’s own voice assistant seamlessly. Here's everything you need to know:
Make the most of Siri
Siri is a little more limited in its general knowledge skills than the other two voice assistants, but the HomePod will suit anyone who’s used to using the voice assistant inside their mobile phone or iPad and wants to build a smart home system using the same technology.
Plus, Siri is constantly being updated with new features and has that top-end audio quality that makes for a different experience to the far more affordable smart speakers we’ve run through so far.
Create a cohesive sound system
If you have any speakers in your home that use AirPlay 2, you can set it up so that they can interact with each other. This makes it super easy to play music around the house.
We're not sure any other smart speaker manufacturer has the same eye for design as Apple, which is why we're pretty keen on this super stylish, streamlined model.
- Read next: Apple Siri review
If you're looking for the best Google smart assistant, it doesn't get much better than the Google Home. Here's everything you need to know:
Make the most of Google Assistant
Often you’ll find yourself asking queries to your voice assistant such as, 'how old is the queen' and the Google Home is generally the speaker that’s going to be better at getting that right. It’s because Google has all of that knowledge from its search engine that it can bring up pretty much immediately – but bear in mind, the two competing voice assistants are getting better at this all the time.
Impressive audio quality
Audio quality on the Google Home is quite impressive and it looks attractive when sat in your home on a countertop or wherever you want to house it. This is more expensive than the Echo Dot, but if you want that better search functionality, integration with Google services and higher audio quality than the Echo Dot, the Google Home may be for you.
- Read next: Google Assistant review
How to choose the best smart speaker
Where to buy the best smart speaker
When it comes to buying the best smart speaker, there are a few factors worth considering to ensure you get the most for your money. These include:
Your choice in smart speaker will be determined by your preference in smart assistant. Popular choices include Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri. Read each of our reviews to decide which is the best option for you:
If you're design conscious, it's worth seriously considering the aesthetic appeal of each smart speaker, ultimately opting for a design that suits the look and feel of your home.
You'll also need to decide if you're looking for a smart speaker with impressive sound quality, in its own right. This will likely cost you a little more than a more basic smart speaker, but it will replace any other sound systems in your home.
If you're looking to build a larger smart home system, it's worth ensuring your smart speaker has the capacity to do everything you're expecting of it.
What is the best smart speaker?
The best smart speaker is the Amazon Echo Studio. This new release from Amazon is taking the speaker world – let alone the smart speaker world – by storm. And it's easy to see why.
It offers a stylish design, seriously impressive sound quality and the best of Amazon's Alexa for less than £190. While we'll admit that it's certainly a little pricey if this is your first venture into the world of smart home tech, for a smart speaker than ticks all the boxes, it doesn't get much better than this.