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Echo Dot 4 vs 3 (2021): Is It Worth the Upgrade?

The puck-shaped Amazon Echo Dot (3rd Generation) has now been succeeded by the spherical Amazon Echo Dot (4th Generation), which is a huge jump in design, needless to say. But beyond appearances, not much has changed. There’s still the same Bluetooth and Wi-Fi protocols and smart home integration, as well as the same Alexa you know. 

Despite the arrival of the new model, the third-generation Echo Dot is far from the end of its life. In fact, it’s still readily available. On that note, we compare it with the new fourth-generation Echo Dot to help you decide which one you should get.

Echo Dot 4 vs 3 Comparison Chart

ModelAmazon Echo Dot 4Amazon Echo Dot 3
 Echo Dot (4th Gen) | Smart speaker with Alexa | Twilight BlueEcho Dot (3rd Gen) - Smart speaker with Alexa - Charcoal
PriceCheck PriceCheck Price
ProcessorAZ1 Neural EdgeMediaTek MT8516
Speaker1.6″ front-firing1.6″
Headphone JackYesYes
ControlsAction, volume up and down, mic off buttonsAction, volume up and down, mic off buttons
Connectivity802.11a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 and 5 GHz)802.11a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 and 5 GHz)
Alexa Guard PlusYesYes
Alexa Care HubYesYes
Dimensions3.9” x 3.9” x 3.5” 3.9” x 3.9” x 1.7”
Weight0.7 lbs0.6 lbs
ColorCharcoal, Glacier White, Twilight BlueCharcoal, Heather Gray, Plum, Sandstone

Design and Build

The Amazon Echo Dot 4 departs from the Echo Dot 3’s iconic puck shape.

Echo Dot 4 vs 3 Design and Build
A side by side look at the Amazon Echo Dot 4 (left) and Echo Dot 3 (right).

As noted, the real differences are physical. First off, the Echo Dot 3 takes the form of a puck and sports soft edges and a fabric covering. Its top is made of plastic where you’ll find the action, volume up and down, and microphone buttons, as well as its surrounding light ring.

Meanwhile, the Echo Dot 4 is more of an orb, moving its light ring to the bottom. But it retains its four buttons on top, and in comparison, they’re more pronounced. It’s noticeably taller at 3.5 inches as opposed to 1.7 inches, but it keeps the same diameter of 3.9 inches. It goes without saying that it won’t fit in as many places as the previous iteration, but it’s not much of an issue.

The Echo Dot 4 is also slightly heavier at 0.7 lbs instead of 0.6 lbs. That’s not only because it’s bigger, but it’s also because of its aluminum parts. Speaking of, it boasts the Climate Pledge Friendly badge, and according to Amazon, it’s built with 50 percent post-consumer recycled plastics, 100 percent post-consumer recycled fabric, and 100 percent recycled die-cast aluminum.

As for color options, the third-generation Echo Dot comes in Charcoal, Heather Gray, Plum, and Sandstone. The fourth-generation Echo Dot is available in Charcoal, Glacier White, and Twilight Blue. There are also “with clock” variants of both, which add an LED display to show the time. Then there’s the Kids Edition, but the latter is arguably better in that it has a face of a tiger or panda as compared to just a colorful design.

Audio and Specs

The Amazon Echo Dot 4 has a faster AZ1 Neural Edge chip than the Echo Dot 3’s MediaTek processor.

Echo Dot 4 vs 3 Audio and Specs
Here’s an X-ray look at the speaker of the Amazon Echo Dot 4 (in photo).

Right off the bat, you can expect the Echo Dot 4 to be more responsive, thanks to its new AZ1 Neural Edge chip. Amazon even goes as far as to say that it’s two times faster. On the other hand, the company didn’t say what’s powering the Echo Dot 3 under the hood, but teardowns have revealed it’s a MediaTek processor.

Even though there has been a drastic change in design between the two, the fourth-generation Echo Dot still has the same 1.6-inch speaker as the older model, but it’s now front-firing. Moreover, it has a larger body, and that means it can handle high volumes better since there’s going to be less vibration.

Just like the Echo Dot 3, the Echo Dot 4 also has a 3.5mm headphone jack, so you can connect, say, external speakers or headphones.

Click here for our comparison between the third-generation Echo and second-generation Echo Plus.

Features and Alexa

Both the Amazon Echo Dot 4 and 3 are on par with each other in features and capabilities.

Echo Dot 4 vs 3 Features and Alexa
Feature-wise, the Amazon Echo Dot 4 (left) can do anything the Echo Dot 3 (right) can and vice versa.

In terms of smart home integration, both will deliver pretty much the same experience. In other words, any smart home device you can connect to the third-generation Echo Dot can be connected to the fourth-generation Echo Dot. The same goes for streaming devices. 

When it comes to Alexa, the two are using the same technology as well. It’s no secret that Amazon makes it a point to keep older Echo devices in the loop for new features and such. In this case, that means even the new Alexa Guard Plus and Alexa Care Hub will work not just on the Echo Dot 4 but also on the Echo Dot 3.

For the uninitiated, Alexa Care Hub is an accessibility feature that allows you to check in on loved ones who may have disabilities or are of old age. It will keep you up-to-date with what they’re doing in a noninvasive way and let you know right away if they’re trying to contact you. Then there’s Alexa Guard Plus, an improved version of Alexa Guard. It’s a home security service designed to deter intruders and alert you to possible emergencies. 

Verdict

The Amazon Echo Dot 4 is clearly an improvement, but it’s not worth the upgrade coming from the Echo Dot 3.

All things considered, the differences aren’t too significant, except for their design. If you already own the Amazon Echo Dot (3rd Generation), then the Amazon Echo Dot (4th Generation) isn’t much of an upgrade, unless you’re really sold on its new spherical form factor. If nothing else, the new model does have a faster processor and better audio, and if you’re big on the environment, it even has a Climate Friendly Pledge tag.

In short, the Echo Dot 3 is still a decent buy despite the new Echo Dot 4 since it can do more or less the same things, not to mention that it can fit in more cramped places like bookshelves or other tight spaces. You can probably even get it at a more affordable price now that there’s a new Echo Dot in town. 

FAQs

📌 What’s the difference between Echo Dot (3rd Generation) and Echo Dot (4th Generation)?

The Amazon Echo Dot 3 has a puck shape, while the Amazon Echo Dot 4 has a spherical design. Aside from their looks, the latter also has slightly better audio and a faster processor, but there’s little to no difference in terms of features and Alexa technology.

📌 Is Echo Dot (4th Generation) worth it?

Yes, the Amazon Echo Dot 4 builds on its predecessors with a front-facing 1.6-inch speaker and speedier AZ1 Neural Edge chip and has the same Alexa technology and features. That means it can do everything your old Echo Dot can do but faster and better.

📌 Which is better, Echo Dot 4 or 3?

Even though it isn’t that big of an upgrade, the Amazon Echo Dot 4 is still a clear improvement over the Amazon Echo Dot 3. For one thing, it has better performance and audio, and it packs the same Alexa features along with new initiatives like Alexa Care Hub and Alexa Guard Plus.

📌 Is Echo Dot 4 worth the upgrade?

Coming from an Amazon Echo Dot 3, the Amazon Echo Dot 4 doesn’t feel like a meaningful upgrade. It’s only worth getting if you don’t have a third-generation Echo Dot or if you have a second-generation Echo Dot or older.

Last update on 2021-07-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Vincent Lanaria

Senior Editor, researcher and writer passionate about running, cooking, and how technology mixes with the two.