Amazon Echo Dot 3 Overview — Significantly better audio and aesthetics

The all-new 3rd-gen Amazon Echo Dot is out and it is a shockingly impressive device. Even though it’s only slightly larger than the previous model, it sounds so much better than the old Echo Dot that you likely wouldn’t regret upgrading for the significantly better audio alone. On top of the better audio, you’re also getting a much more attractive device. Here’s an overview of the Echo Dot 3.

The new Amazon Echo Dot looks great. Gone are the cheap feeling glossy plastics and the sharp edges of the 2nd-gen Echo Dot. The new model has a slightly curved top that flows perfectly into the LED light strip and new fabric covered sides. It comes in a nearly black Charcoal color, a nearly white Sandstone color, and a Heather Grey color that splits the difference. The light Sandstone color now thankfully comes with a matching white top, which was something I always wished was available with the previous model. The housing of the new Echo Dot is not interchangeable, like the housing of the 2nd-gen Amazon Echo.

Amazon has thankfully chosen not to put any visible logos or text on the new Echo Dot, which gives it a very clean minimalistic aesthetic. The LED light bar on the new model is also more subdued and not as jarringly bright as the older Echo Dot. It still has a light sensor to turn the LED brightness up during the day and down when it’s dark, so it’s still easy to see.

The Echo Dot now uses a power brick with a round plug, instead of using the micro USB port and USB power adapter that the previous models used. The power adapter is nearly identical in shape to the ones that come with Fire TV boxes/cubes and all other Echo models. The power adapter and cable come in white if you opt for the Sandstone color, to better match the white face, and come in black for the other two colors. The switch to a traditional power brick was necessary because the new Echo Dot now requires 15 watts of power, compared to the old model’s 9 watt power adapter.

The extra power will become immediately evident the first time you crank the new Echo Dot’s volume up. Despite being only slightly larger than the previous Echo Dot, it sounds so much better and gets so much louder. I can’t stress this point enough because it really is a shocking upgrade.

The new Echo Dot set to volume level 5 out of 10 is as loud as the old Echo Dot set to maximum volume. The audio isn’t only louder, but it’s much richer and better sounding. At equally loud volume levels, the new Echo Dot is much more pleasing to listen to than the old one. There’s still a notably disappointing lack of base with both models, but while I wouldn’t recommend the Echo Dot 2 for music listening, I can definitely see people using the new Echo Dot for music.

The new Echo Dot sounds so good that, if you’ll mostly be using the speaker to listen to spoken words, such as podcasts and news briefings, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it as an alternative to the full-sized Amazon Echo. At maximum volume, the new Echo Dot is as loud as the full-sized Echo set to volume 7 out of 10. With the Echo Dot set to 10 and the Echo set to 7, I could not tell a difference between the two while listening to a podcast. The larger Echo still sounds notably better than the Echo Dot for music, thanks to its deeper bass, but the audio gap between the two devices is surprisingly small.

Functionally, the new Echo Dot is identical to the older models. It still does a great job of hearing the wake word in noisy environments and while loud music is playing. It still has a 3.5mm audio out jack that, unfortunately, still completely cuts off the internal speaker with no way to switch to the internal speaker unless you physically pull out the cable. I really wish Amazon would add support for the Fire TV Cube’s “Alexa, I can’t hear you” command that causes Alexa to switch to the internal speaker on that device.

The new Amazon Echo Dot has significantly improved audio in a compact and attractive body that manages to still cost just $49.99.

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11 comments
  1. Erin says:

    Nice review! I think there is one functional difference: you can pair two 3rd gen Dots for stereo, but not two 2nd gen Dots.

    Don’t know why it took Amazon so long to make a white top and power cord for white Dots, but glad they finally did!

  2. Dave in NJ says:

    The 3rd generation Echo Dot is also the first Dot to support stereo pairing, according to the chart at https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=GWMXCP6AN3QDTLA9

    Supposedly this will let you set up two of these Dots so that one plays the left channel and one plays the right channel.

  3. Len Mullen says:

    Should have stuffed a LION battery in the case.

  4. JFC says:

    I lately picked up an extra/second Echo Dot (the prior version) for home when Woot had refurb vervsions on sale for about $20. And then I think they had another similar sale on the Dots just this past week.

    The new Dots are fine with the larger and better speaker, but for me, it’s largely irrelevant.

    My original Dot at home is plugged into a portable stereo unit in the living room giving it Alexa smarts. And my newer Dot (same prior version) is plugged into a spare stereo soundbar I have in the bedroom. I think in both cases, the sound from my two different Dot/stereo setups is going to be better than from the newer Dots alone.

    Absent some more significant improvement than just a better/larger speaker, I’m happy to stick with the prior version Dots. And FWIW, I actually like the original non-fabric exteriors that are easy/easier to clean and wipe down. Not sure how the fabric material on the newer ones is going to fare over time, especially in dusty/dirty environments.

    • Flokic says:

      Same here, can’t imagine having an echo dot as a standalone player!

      • Erin says:

        But the Dot is the entry point for most people, so having it sound better than a Google Home Mini and look more high-end is important for Amazon. Once people buy into a voice system, they don’t switch easily.

  5. Chris Lenfert says:

    I would say that the 2nd get dots are more flexible and utilitarian. Using micro USB and having a more basic shape (no fabric, basic curves) there are tons of options for adding accessories to it, mounting it on walls, powering it by alternate means (battery for example). The newer 3rd gen is more geared toward a basic user.

    Personally I’d probably go with the 3rd gen for the sound improvements as I use my dot in a basic standalone way. But it’s certainly not a step up in every way.

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