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Echo 3rd Gen vs Echo Plus 2nd Gen (2021): How Are These Smart Speakers Different?

With identical dimensions in every way, the latest Echo (3rd Gen) and Echo Plus (2nd Gen) are easy to mistake for the other. Other than a sizable gap in their price tags, which is particularly significant in this case, there are only a few notable differences separating these two popular smart speakers. Here’s a comparison post detailing Amazon’s Echo 3rd Gen vs Echo Plus 2nd Gen in terms of design, features and overall performance.

Echo 3rd Gen vs Echo Plus 2nd Gen Smart Speaker Comparison Chart

ModelEcho (3rd Gen)Echo Plus (2nd Gen)
 Amazon productAmazon product
PriceAmazon productAmazon product
Dimensions5.8″ x 3.9″ x 3.9″5.8″ x 3.9″ x 3.9″
Weight27.5 oz27.6 oz
Speakers0.8″ tweeter, 3″ woofer0.8″ tweeter, 3″ woofer
Dolby ProcessingYesYes
Music StreamingYesYes
3.5 mm Line-outYesYes
Smart Home ControlsYesYes
Smart Home HubCertified for HumansZigbee (built-in)
Temperature SensorNoYes
ColorsCharcoal, Heather Gray, Sandstone, Twilight Blue, RedCharcoal, Heather Gray, Sandstone


The Echo 3rd Gen has a few more color options than the Echo Plus 2nd Gen.

Here’s the (RED) Edition of the Echo 3rd Gen (left) and the Charcoal variant of the Echo Plus 2nd Gen (right).

As mentioned, the Echo 3rd Gen and Echo Plus 2nd Gen look the same in every way, from size and weight to button layout and fabric finish. Amazon essentially took the Echo Plus, made some adjustments, and released it as the latest Echo smart speaker. Still, they have three important differences, and the first is that the Echo 3rd Gen is available in Twilight Blue and Product RED in addition to the Charcoal, Heather Gray, and Sandstone that the Echo Plus 2nd Gen comes in.

The new colors of the Echo smart speaker make the latest version stand out from previous models, but even more so because of the plush fabric exterior. The Twilight Blue Echo looks particularly lovely, adding a nice touch of color to the grayscale shades of older Echo speakers.

At the top of both Echo devices are the action button, volume controls, and a mute button. The last one turns off the mic for privacy and turns the normally bright blue light ring to red to indicate that Echo cannot hear you right then. At the bottom of both cylindrical speakers are the power port and a 3.5 mm audio jack, which can be an input or output port depending on how you set it up.


The Echo 3rd Gen and Echo Plus 2nd Gen have similar sound quality.

Play music on either Echo speaker using a variety of platforms, including Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, etc.

Once again, Amazon borrowed the more powerful drivers of the 2nd Gen Echo Plus for the latest Echo refresh. Both sport 0.8-inch tweeters and 3-inch woofers, enabling them to produce excellent sound. Bass has noticeably improved from the previous Echo, enough so that most owners won’t need a subwoofer to fully enjoy their favorite tracks.

Both Echo smart speakers have the same 360-degree design that lets them fill rooms with rich sound despite their small sizes. Volume can reach levels that are more than sufficient for small parties. You can further connect them to surround systems and other third party speakers using Bluetooth or the audio out. In either case, connectivity is flawless, and you’d get fantastic sound quality all the way.

Of course, you won’t get the same richness and depth that you’d get from premium speakers and high-end sets, especially around the midrange areas. However, these Echo speakers are without a doubt among the best you can get for their price range, especially the lower-priced 3rd Gen Echo.

Smart Features

The Echo Plus 2nd Gen has a built-in smart home hub and temperature sensor which the Echo 3rd Gen lacks.

Control your other smart home devices with voice commands for either Echo.

We now come to the second crucial difference between these Echo smart speakers. Amazon took out the built-in smart home hub and temperature sensor when they updated the Echo using the Echo Plus’s best features. But while the temp sensor is a small loss, most won’t miss the smart home hub at all.

Back when the 2nd Gen Echo Plus was launched in 2017, Amazon gave it a Zigbee hub as it was the most popular smart home protocol at the time. Since then, Amazon has introduced its Certified by Humans program, making smart home devices easier to set up and use and less reliant on such hubs. Other brands have also developed hub-free options which make Zigbee less and less needed.

Moreover, connecting devices to the Echo Plus’s Zigbee hub means you can only control them through Amazon’s app. You’ll be unable to utilize any advanced features that are only available through the device’s own app, such as for Philips Hue smart bulbs.

Otherwise, both 3rd Gen Echo and 2nd Gen Echo Plus are very capable voice control devices. They have Alexa already ready to go, and Alexa’s only getting better and better at recognizing voice commands, especially as she can now speak English and Spanish.


The Echo 3rd Gen is simply the better choice over the Echo Plus 2nd Gen.

Amazon product

We’ve already actually mentioned the third difference between the Echo 3rd Gen and Echo Plus 2nd Gen, which is price. For very similar devices, price becomes an even more important consideration since you wouldn’t want to spend more when you can get a cheaper alternative that works just as great.

That’s the case here, as we feel the Echo 3rd Gen smart speaker has all the best things the Echo Plus can do while being much more affordable. Even with considerable discounts, which both devices often get nowadays, the 3rd-generation Echo still costs less. You get the same excellent audio and voice control functionalities and can pick from new colors, too.

The Echo Plus 2nd Gen smart speaker becomes the more worthy choice if you specifically need a smart home hub, since it can function as one. Having a temperature sensor is a nice plus and provides extra temp-related routines. Just note that you may not get full functionality for some smart home devices by using its Zigbee hub.


๐Ÿ“Œ What is the difference between Echo 3rd Generation and Echo Plus?

The 3rd-generation Echo smart speaker is cheaper than the 2nd-gen Echo Plus and is also available in Twilight Blue and Product RED colors. In addition, the Echo Plus has a built-in smart home hub and temperature sensor while the Echo 3rd Gen doesn’t.

๐Ÿ“Œ What is the difference between Echo 2nd Generation and 3rd Generation?

The Echo 3rd Gen has improved sound quality over the 2nd Gen thanks to larger drivers and enhanced sound architecture. In particular, the Echo 3rd Gen has an 0.8″ tweeter and 3″ woofer while the Echo 2nd Gen has 0.6″ tweeter and 2.5″ woofer.

๐Ÿ“Œ Does Echo 3rd Gen have a battery?

No, the Echo 3rd Gen needs to be connected to a power outlet in order to run.

๐Ÿ“Œ What’s the difference between Echo and Alexa?

Echo refers to a series of devices with built-in mics and speakers to enable voice control and audio playback. Alexa is an AI software that can recognize commands and queries via voice inputs.

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Derick Bondoc

Managing Editor at Compare Before Buying. Writer and researcher passionate about gadgets, gaming and snacks.