What’s the Difference Between Amazon Echo and Alexa?

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If you’re planning to buy a new smart speaker, then Amazon’s Echo is probably something you’ve come across and you’re probably wondering how this compared to Alexa.

The difference between an Amazon Echo and Alexa is that the Echo is the name of the speaker itself, whereas Alexa is the voice assistant that runs in the cloud and can be accessed by talking to the speaker.

Alexa can also be accessed via other devices too, such as smart displays, Amazon’s Fire TV, and even on your phone via the Alexa app.

If you have never used Alexa before, then chances are that you need to buy an Echo smart speaker. I’ve shared the different types of Echo speakers below to help you choose.

What Are the Differences Between Echo and Alexa?

Think of the Amazon Echo as a device or piece of hardware. There’s a number of different devices in the Echo family, each with different features depending upon your needs.

Alexa is different from Amazon Echo because she’s a virtual assistant that runs in the cloud. You can speak to Alexa through an Amazon Echo, but all of the processing is remote.

Alexa is very smart, you can ask her questions, create routines and ask her to control your smart home devices. It’s the equivalent of Siri for Apple or the Google Assistant for Google.

Another key difference between Alexa and an Echo is that Alexa will continue to operate even when all of your Echo devices are turned off. This is because she lives in the cloud. You can also access her features through the Alexa phone app or other devices with Alexa built-in.

So, which one do I need?

If you are brand new to the world of smart homes and wondering whether you need an Echo or Alexa, you probably need an Echo. Once set up, this will allow you to speak with Alexa.

What Are the Different Types of Echo Speaker?

If you’re planning to buy an Amazon Echo smart speaker, you’ll need to choose which device to pick, here is a summary of each:

Amazon Echo

This is the main Echo smart speaker. The latest generation has a brand-new sphere look that blends in well with your home décor.

As for audio quality, it has a 3.0-inch woofer and two 0.8-inch tweeters which can project sound around an entire room.

As well as Bluetooth and an AUX input, it has a built in Zigbee controller which means you can connect certain smart home devices directly to the speaker that would have previously needed their own hub (e.g., Phillips Hue bulbs).

Amazon Echo Dot

The Echo Dot is the cheapest Echo smart speaker. It was also redesigned as a sphere in the latest generation, although much smaller than the Echo.

It has Bluetooth but doesn’t have an AUX input or built in Zigbee hub like the standard Echo device.

The Echo Dot has a smaller 1.6-inch speaker so it’s not really great for general music listening.

Amazon Echo Studio

If audio quality is of paramount importance to you, then the Echo Studio is a premium speaker that puts this at the forefront.

It has 5 built in speakers and Dolby Atmos technology. This is a competitor to a Sonos speaker in terms of audio quality.

It has all the same features as the standard Echo, including Bluetooth, a built-in Zigbee hub for controlling smart devices and AUX input. There is also an optical audio input.

Amazon Echo Show

The Echo show is the only echo device with a screen. This has a number of benefits such as watching Netflix, streaming your video doorbell when it rings or having a recipe in front of you when cooking.

There are two sizes available the Echo Show 5 (with 5-inch screen) and Echo Show 8 (with 8-inch screen).

As for audio quality, the 5 is comparable to the Echo Dot whereas the 8 is better and more like the standard Echo.

Amazon Echo Auto

Did you know you can get Alexa in your car?!

The Echo Auto brings Alexa functionality to your vehicle by attaching to your dashboard.

It uses your phone for internet and connects to your car stereo for audio.

How Much Does an Echo Cost?

Amazon Echo’s range from around £30 for the cheapest Echo Dot, up to around £190 for the premium Echo Studio.

Alexa comes built in and there is no ongoing monthly cost for using the virtual assistant. However, you will need an active subscription if you wish to use services like Spotify.

You do not need an Amazon Prime subscription to use Alexa, however if you do have one, you’ll be able to use Amazon Prime Music and use Amazon next day delivery with your voice.


I have been building up my smart home since 2016 so I'm a bit of a smart home expert by now. On this blog, I share my favourite smart home devices that I've tested along with tips and tricks I learn by watching countless YouTube videos, scrolling through forums, and tinkering around with my own smart devices. I've always been a Google Home user but I'm starting to think Alexa might have the edge, what do you think?