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10 Best Smart Speakers for 2021

Best smart speakers: Keep your home organised with voice assistance

Best Smart Speaker
  • A smart speaker is a perfect addition to any living room, office or kitchen
  • You can play music through them, as well as controlling smart tech around your home
  • Depending on the brand, you can even do your shopping or video call people
  • Choose from brands such as Amazon, Apple, Sonos and Google

Our Top Picks

The Best Smart Speakers

Smart speakers don’t just tell you the time and play some music these days.

They can also control lighting, turn on your coffee machine and remind you that your MOT is due/you have to pick up something for dinner on the way home. But it isn’t as simple as picking which looks the nicest.

Our pick is the Sonos One (Gen 2) Smart Speaker with Voice Control – not only is it equipped with both Google and Amazon voice assistants, but it also came up top for sound quality in case you’re a fan of music

You have to consider compatibility with existing appliances and products as well as your preferred ecosystem, so whether they’ll work with your existing smart lighting and if you’re constantly ordering off Amazon.

Still lookout for sound quality and voice control too, though. Luckily, we have put all of the latest releases and old classics into one handy guide below, so you can easily find your best pick.

The Essential Smart Speaker Buying Guide

Brand/Virtual Assistant

Companies such as Amazon, Apple and Google are the titans of the smart speaker world. These are the brands behind the Alexa, Siri and Google voice control systems alike.

They are also some of the biggest manufacturers behind the smart speakers which host these platforms, however, they’re not the only ones. Sonos, Bose, Lenovo, and Bang & Olufsen are also providing us with heaps of choice.

They will use one of the main voice control systems though, so if you do opt for a brand like Sonos because music is your main priority, or B&O because they look out of this world, pay attention to the other aspects too.

Music Quality

As much as smart speakers give you a voice control edge over ordinary speakers, many people still use them as music players too. In fact, you can connect them directly to services such as Spotify and Apple Music and play music directly, without the need for a phone.

Some are dedicated to music playback, and others are lacking here (but still fine if you’re not bothered about having the absolute best bass, treble and vocals).

Speakers from brands such as Bose and Bang & Olufsen are likely going to put music at the forefront, with voice control as an added extra, but if you already have a speaker system, you could think about adding a voice control smart speaker to it instead.


Your smart speaker is going to be a pretty focal point of your room, so the colour and style will likely be important, too.

Most smart speakers are available in various colours, such as black, white and grey, which should make it a simple decision once you’ve found which speaker you’re after. You may want to think about the look of the rest of your room, any other appliances and whether you will want to expand the set.

Smart Speakers: Your Questions, Answered

What command/wake word do I use?

  • Amazon Alexa – “Alexa”
  • Siri – “Hey Siri”
  • Google Assistant – “Hey Google”

You can also personalise this in Settings with most speakers, choosing to use a command which is easier to remember or shorter.

Which smart speaker is best for privacy?

Some people are cautious of smart speakers being able to listen in to everything we do. Most will have some form of a button which allows you to turn off the microphone, but look out for it as a redeeming feature if you’re really concerned.

In what may be a surprise for some people, Amazon’s speakers are actually great privacy-wise, as you can turn the microphone off. Turn the video off on their video speakers, too. You can listen back to your voice recordings at any point and delete them as well, which is good if something has accidentally triggered Alexa to listen in.

You can turn off Siri on the HomePod simply by asking her, and Apple products also come with encryption, anonymous IDs, and other privacy features. It uses random identifiers when you make a command, and they are not associated with your Apple ID, email address, or any other data you stored on your Apple devices.

Sonos speakers also feature encryption, and they do not store the voice recordings you have made. Instead, they are sent to the voice partner you have used for the commands, where you can deal with them appropriately.

Google Assistant products delete recordings once they have fulfilled your request, and anything which has been stored can be deleted at any time. You also have control over what it stores or listens to.

Most have updated their privacy policies to say that only anything recorded after the wake word has been said will be stored, limiting what it can do with what you say at other times.

Do I need a Smart Home hub speaker?

Smart home hubs, which connect either locally or to a cloud, are useful for Internet of Things (IoT) devices that use the Zigbee or Z-Wave protocols or Bluetooth, rather than Wi-Fi.

This includes some brands of doorbells, lights, locks, security cameras, and thermostats. In some cases, a singular phone or smart speaker will allow you to give voice commands to one or two items, but if you have multiple devices to both talk to and be controlled, you may need a centralised hub to make communication easier.

But which to buy can be complicated. You need to think about the smart devices you have in your home, the protocols they use and the platform your smart speakers are on. Also, IFTTT (If This Then That) applets are mostly used now, especially with brands such as Nest home security and Samsung smart lighting, allowing you to set up one thing to happen if something is triggered.

There’s a good chance dedicated hubs will fade out in the next few years, such as their integration in smart speakers now. So, if you will have a huge system of smart devices, stick to a smart speaker with a hub for a futureproof pick. But if you just want to get some smart lights and not bother with anything else, a hub is likely unnecessary.