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Review: Amazon Echo Pop

The latest tiny addition to the Alexa family focuses on style rather than sound.
Amazon Echo Pop
Photograph: Amazon
Amazon Echo Pop
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Loud, front-facing sound. Great for desks and tabletops against the wall. Fun colors that you won't find on other Echo speakers!
Weaker bass and less-robust sound than the similarly priced 5th-gen Echo Dot.

Amazon's ecosystem (Echo-system?) never stops growing. Its newest player has arrived: the Echo Pop, a $40 smart speaker with a half-circle body instead of the fully rounded forms of Amazon's other Echo speakers.

I've been enjoying the Echo Pop as a small desk companion. Its sound is fine enough for its price—though other, similarly priced Amazon speakers will be a better music experience—but the biggest appeal of the Echo Pop is easily the fun colors and interesting form factor it has.

Small Footprint
Photograph: Amazon

When it's next to the Echo Dot (5th Gen), the Echo Pop looks to be the same size—that is, if you're looking head-on at the Pop's flat, circular face. But when you take a look at the Echo Pop from the side, you can see it's only about two-thirds as deep. Where you really can see the size difference is on the bottom. The Echo Pop's base is nearly a full inch thinner than the Echo Dot, giving it a slim oval base instead of a large rounded one.

That smaller size and base helps make it easier to place into various spots around your home. With its half-moon form and single flat face rather than an entire rounded speaker, it's a good fit for desk corners and small shelves or side tables.

The Pop also has slightly larger front-firing speaker than the fifth-generation Dot—1.95 inches versus 1.73—letting it sound plenty loud from whichever space you've squeezed it into. I placed mine on the corner of my desk and added it to my Alexa app in what felt like seconds. I already had Spotify connected, so I was jamming to Dua Lipa's new song in moments.

The Echo Pop sounded great with pop music (ha!) and electronic lo-fi. But when I turned on sounds with lower bass notes, I found those got lost on this little speaker. When it comes to sound quality, the Echo Dot is a little better and only costs slightly more. You'll get slightly more robust sound thanks to better bass, though neither will compare to a bigger smart speaker like the fourth-generation Echo (8/10, WIRED Recommends).

Sweet Style
Photograph: Amazon

If you're less worried about fantastic sound and more interested a stylish speaker, this is Amazon's best offering, and maybe the best style choice out of the world of cheaper smart speakers. I have three different smart speakers on my desk, and out of any of the pint-sized offerings from Amazon, Google, and Apple, I'd rather look at the Echo Pop than any of the others.

The Pop's flat circle with a thin trim is reminiscent of the eye-catching Bang & Olufson Beosound A9 (obviously at a fraction of the size). It's got a couple fun colors unique to the Pop that feel aimed at the Taylor Swift fans of the world, with the names Lavender Bloom and Midnight Teal. Those cute colors also put it on the map to compete with the Google Nest Mini but offer freedom from the puck-like smart speakers that have haunted our halls for too many years.

I do miss one thing about the round and puck designs, though. The Echo Pop tapers downward, away from the speaker front, and I can't easily see the buttons—two volume controls and a microphone mute—that sit on the top. I had to lean forward to see the buttons, both while I sat at my desk or stood nearby.

The buttons are also flat and round rather than raised shapes, so it wasn’t easy to recognize by touch, either. I found myself consistently grabbing the entire speaker in my hand to angle the buttons toward me to then select the button I was looking for.

It did encourage me to control the volume by voice more, though. And the little light bar on the top of the speaker would light up part of the bar to show how loud my chosen volume was, which I preferred to the bigger light on the bottom of an Echo Dot.

If you're looking for something eye-catching for casual music listening, and you aren't looking for a clock or full-bodied sound, the Echo Pop is a fun choice. Even if you don't use it often, you'll enjoy looking at it more than other affordable smart speakers.