Best daily deals

Links on Android Authority may earn us a commission. Learn more.

Echo Dot 2020 fourth generation ring of light from the front
Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

Amazon Echo Dot (4th Gen) review: A bit better, a bit worse

Amazon's affordable smart speaker gets a bold new look.
By
September 21, 2022

Amazon Echo Dot

The fourth-generation Echo Dot takes two steps forward and one step back. Compared to the model it replaces, sound quality and connectivity have improved and the design definitely stands out. However, the updated design isn't as versatile in mounting options and the hardware buttons are much harder to reach.

What we like

Improved connectivity
Marginally improved sound quality
Design stands out compared to the competition

What we don't like

New design isn't as versatile as the original puck-like style
Hard to reach buttons

Amazon Echo Dot

The fourth-generation Echo Dot takes two steps forward and one step back. Compared to the model it replaces, sound quality and connectivity have improved and the design definitely stands out. However, the updated design isn't as versatile in mounting options and the hardware buttons are much harder to reach.

Now in its fourth generation, the Amazon Echo Dot has a whole new visual identity. While the three models before it had a puck-like shape, the popular Alexa speaker is shaped like an orb this time around. It echoes the design language of the larger Echo speaker and stands out tall as a unique alternative to some of the best smart speakers on the market.

But should you upgrade to the Echo Dot 4th gen or look at some of the other great Alexa-powered speakers? We find out in the Android Authority new Echo Dot review.

Update, September 2022: This review has been updated to reflect changes in the market since the Echo Dot (4th gen)’s original release.

Amazon Echo Dot (4th Gen)

What’s the Amazon Echo Dot 4th gen?

Echo Dot 2020 fourth generation ring of light 1
Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

The Amazon Echo Dot 4th gen is a spruced-up take on the ubiquitous Echo Dot. It’s an affordable entry into the world of voice assistants and automation.

The speaker is powered by Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant. Thanks to the thousands of skills that can be enabled using the app, it can answer any query you might throw at it and more.

The Amazon Echo Dot is just as smart as larger Amazon speakers, except for Zigbee support.

Echo Dot brings almost all the smarts of the higher-end Amazon Echo, save for Zigbee support, in a form factor that makes it easy to place on a bedside table or office desk. The speaker is available in two variants: the standard Echo Dot that we’ve reviewed here, as well as a version that integrates a digital clock readout on the front.

The most obvious update is the design. Beyond that, not much else has changed. The 4th gen Echo Dot sports the same 1.6-inch speaker, a barrel connector for power, and an auxiliary port for audio-in or audio-out, as we’ve seen on previous Echo Dot speakers.

What I like about the Amazon Echo Dot 4th gen

Echo Dot 2020 fourth generation buttons top down
Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

No matter what you think of the updated orb-like design, it certainly is distinctive. The spherical shape looks more visually appealing when placed on a desk, compared to the utilitarian puck-like shape of the outgoing model.

Related: Smart home devices: The best you can buy

As someone who already has a range of Echo devices handling home automation across my apartment, I often look at the ring of LED lights running around the top of the Echo Dot to ensure it has picked up my voice command. I was, therefore, a bit skeptical about shifting the lights to the base of the device. However, that didn’t cause any problems. The updated Echo Dot’s LED ring is bright enough to reflect off most surfaces and remains visible even from a distance.

Echo Dot 2020 fourth generation comparison with older Echo Dot
Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

While previous Echo Dot speakers were designed to output 360-degree audio, the fourth generation model sports a forward-firing speaker. Additionally, while the Echo Dot won’t replace your dedicated bookshelf speakers anytime soon, audio quality has improved marginally with better separation between highs, mids, and lows.

Audio quality hasn't improved significantly, but you'll get much better Wi-Fi connectivity.

There’s a bit more detail in the audio output, and instruments don’t sound quite as cluttered as they would on older hardware. The updated Echo Dot also sounds quite a bit better if you prefer hip-hop or bass-heavy trap music. That’s likely due to the larger volume of the speaker, but don’t expect any miracles here.

Another aspect of the Echo Dot fourth generation that stood out to me was the much better wireless connectivity. The newer model fared significantly better when placed at the same spot as a 3rd gen Echo Dot that would constantly drop its Wi-Fi connection.

What I don’t like about the Amazon Echo Dot 4th gen

Echo Dot 2020 fourth generation media controls
Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

There’s honestly not much to dislike about the 2020 redesign of the Amazon Echo Dot. It gets all the basics right, and it can control your entire smart home just as well as any other device in the portfolio.

That said, the newer model significantly reduces your options as far as placing the speaker is concerned. For one, you can no longer mount it up to a wall socket. The additional height also means the volume and mute controls are now placed along the curvature of the speaker. Placed in a corner, the buttons are needlessly hard to reach when you don’t want to use voice control.

Should you buy the Amazon Echo Dot 4th gen?

Echo Dot 2020 fourth generation in hand showing controls
Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

If you’ve already got an Echo Dot 3rd gen, there’s little reason to upgrade to the newer 2020 Echo Dot model. It might, however, be worth looking into if you’ve been facing issues with connectivity or care about the new aesthetic.

If you’ve got an older model, the latest Echo Dot fourth-gen offers a reasonable upgrade in audio quality. However, the Echo Dot third-gen packs a very similar-sounding speaker. The older model is also now available at a discounted price, making it a better buy for anyone looking for a bit more flexibility while placing the speaker.

There’s also the Google Assistant-powered speaker ecosystem to consider if you aren’t fully invested in Alexa as your smart assistant of choice.

Amazon Echo Dot (4th Gen)
Amazon Echo Dot (4th Gen)
Meet Echo Dot with clock - Our most popular smart speaker with Alexa. The sleek, compact design delivers crisp vocals and balanced bass for full sound. Perfect for your nightstand - See the time, alarms, and timers on the LED display. Tap the top to snooze an alarm. Ready to help - Ask Alexa to tell a joke, play music, answer questions, play the news, check the weather, set alarms, and more. Control your smart home - Use your voice to turn on lights, adjust thermostats, and lock doors with compatible devices. Start Routines with your motion - Turn on compatible lights, play your Flash Briefing, or turn on the coffee maker when you walk into the room. Connect with others hands-free - Call friends and family who have the Alexa app or an Echo device. Instantly drop in on other rooms or announce to the whole house that dinner's ready. Designed to protect your privacy – Amazon is not in the business of selling your personal information to others. Built with multiple layers of privacy controls including a mic off button.

Consider the Amazon Echo (4th gen) over the Echo Dot

Amazon Echo 4th gen hero
Adam Molina / Android Authority

The Amazon Echo (4th gen) looks nearly identical to the Echo Dot (4th gen) but bigger. The larger size of the standard Echo allows for a more advanced speaker array: it houses a 3.0-inch woofer and dual front-firing 0.8-inch tweeters for a louder bass response compared to the Echo Dot. The Amazon Echo also features Dolby audio support, and it doubles as a Zigbee smart home hub. The Amazon Echo is a bit pricer than the Echo Dot, but it’s still a very good deal, especially relative to its direct competitor — the Google Nest Audio.