Amazon Echo Pop review: Alexa on a budget
New for 2023, the Amazon Echo Pop is the tech giant’s cheapest smart speaker yet, allowing you to get Alexa’s smarts in every room without spending a fortune.
It’s modest but fun with some cool new colours available to help the speaker fit in with your home’s decor, or to add some vibrancy to a more stripped-back space. In the Echo family lineup, this dinky device sits just below the Amazon Echo Dot, and does a lot of the same things, although it does ditch a few features to drop the price even lower still.
All in all, the Echo Pop is one of the best smart speakers for a tight budget. You can buy it for $40.99 / £44.99 but if you buy one at the right time, like on Amazon Prime Day or Black Friday, you could get it even cheaper than that.
Amazon Echo Pop
$23 $40 Save $17
Amazon’s most affordable speaker with all of Alexa’s smarts, the Echo Pop is the perfect choice for stretching your smart home into every corner of the house – and in some pretty vibrant colours too.
- Compact size
- A choice of four colors
- Can be used to extend your Eero network
- Front-firing speaker limits placement
- No ultrasonic motion detection or temperature sensor
- Best used for solo listening
Small with style
A smart speaker with a semi-spherical design, the Amazon Echo Pop is the smallest of all the current Alexa devices from Amazon, making it an excellent option for bedrooms, hallways, and home offices. Measuring 8.28 x 9.93 x 9.09cm, it won’t take up too much space on a shelf or side table, and the shape means it’ll tuck neatly into tight spaces too.
What’s really appealing about this speaker is that you can buy it in a few cool colours, including Midnight Teal and Lavender Bloom as well as a more standard Charcoal and Glacier White. For some extra customisation, you can buy a coloured sleeve too – they come in all sorts of colors, although they’re quite pricey at about $17.
The front-facing speaker is covered in a tight mesh with a light bar on the top edge that turns blue to let you know when Alexa is listening, or orange when the device is in setup mode. You’ll need to hook the speaker up to power using the included cable, which will be long enough to reach up towards most tables or low shelves.
To control the speaker there are a few buttons placed behind that light strip, one to mute the microphone, one to increase the volume, and one to decrease it. Each is well placed to use quickly as you pass by, responding well to every press.
Like a lot of Amazon’s recent kit, it’s worth mentioning the Echo Pop’s eco credentials. It is built using 100 per cent post-consumer recycled yarn, and the included aluminum is made from 80 per cent recycled aluminum, plus the packaging is largely made from wood fibre-based materials, from sources like responsibly managed forests. It’s always a plus point to see manufacturers trying to make their devices more sustainable and the Pop certainly gives it a good go.
If you need a bedside alarm clock or an office speaker, and you only really intend to listen to podcasts, the radio, or to a little bit of music here and there then the Amazon Echo Pop will sound perfectly fine. It’s crisp and clear, although it admittedly gets a little muddy at higher volumes.
The front-firing directional speaker projects sound forward into the room, so it’ll need to be placed accordingly to get the best experience, which will most likely be in a corner. The Amazon Echo Dot is the better option if you want to place the speaker in a more central position, pushing sound in more directions.
The Amazon Echo Pop is not built to fill big rooms with booming audio – it’s meant to be an affordable way to get Alexa across the whole house, and because of that, it’ll do its best work in quite a small space. You won’t be using this for entertaining, it’s simply not powerful enough. This is more of a solo listen. If you are looking for a home speaker to soundtrack social occasions, then you’ll need to spend a fair amount more money on something like the Amazon Echo, or if you can stretch that far, the Amazon Echo Studio.
Smarts and setup
Like any other Alexa smart speaker, the Amazon Echo Pop has tonnes of uses, ask Alexa to set timers and alarms, ask for answers to your burning questions, play music from your streaming services, create shopping lists, turn your smart lights on or off, make calls – the list is endless. It works alongside all sorts of Alexa-compatible smart home tech from popular manufacturers including the likes of Hue, Ring, Lifx, and TP-Link. Setting it up is as simple as any other Alexa smart speaker, just plug it in, wait for the orange light, and then add a new device to your Alexa smartphone app.
The microphones placed at the top of the speaker will pick up your voice, and they almost never miss the wake word, even when there’s music playing. Plus, because it’s loaded with Amazon’s brand new AZ2 Neural Edge processor, it responds quicker than older Echo devices when it comes to certain commands.
Not only will the Amazon Echo Pop do everything you’d need a smart speaker to do, but it can also extend your Eero mesh Wi-Fi network. That is pretty impressive, adding up to 1,000 square feet of coverage and stretching your connection to every corner of the room.
One downside to picking this more affordable Echo over some of the other pricier options is that it won’t double up as a Zigbee hub to directly control compatible smart home devices. However, as long as you have one elsewhere in your home, that won’t matter too much, and you’ll still be able to use this speaker to control your tech by voice.
As well as that, and unlike the other Amazon smart speakers launched in 2023, the Amazon Echo Pop doesn’t feature ultrasonic motion detection meaning you’ll miss out on certain features like having the lights turn on when you enter the room. There’s no temperature sensor either, which smart heating users might find frustrating.
If it’s affordability you’re after, and you don’t mind missing out on a few more advanced features, then the Amazon Echo Pop is a great little device that allows you to stretch your smart home further.
You can make use of Alexa all over your house thanks to this little speaker and I love having the choice to pick a color that suits your space too – it’s certainly the most fun-looking Echo device that isn’t tailored to kids.
While modest, the solid performance of the speaker and the microphones is what makes this an easier sell than something like the Echo Flex, a smart plug-style Alexa device that didn’t quite take off because it couldn’t be used in as many ways.
I’d recommend using the Amazon Echo Pop in a guest bedroom, a hallway, an office, or another small space. In most other cases, it won’t be as good a choice as the Amazon Echo Dot, purely because you do have to make some sacrifices on the features and sound.