Each September, Amazon holds what it calls a hardware and services event: a rather dull name for what is usually a fairly exciting launch of new smart home gadgets. Last year the company announced a home robot, Astro, a 15-inch Echo Show and a lot of other devices. But it didn’t launch any new Echo speakers.
This means the Echo 4 and Echo Dot 4 are now coming up to two years old, the ideal time for Amazon to release some new models with better sound and new features.
When is the Echo 5 release date?
Expected September 2022On-sale date in October
Though it’s speculation, we fully expect Amazon will announce new Echo smart speakers at the end of September (possibly Tuesday 27th or Wednesday 28th). The company – as of 14 September – still hadn’t sent out invites to the event, but it did launch a new Kindle.
This bolsters our prediction that a big launch will happen as usual, because Amazon also released new Kindle models just before the main event in 2021.
If it does unveil the Echo 5 then – just as in previous years – the Alexa speaker would almost certainly go on sale in October. That’s assuming there are no issues with chip shortages which could delay the on-sale date until nearer Christmas.
Of course, it almost goes without saying that if the Echo 5 is announced there’s sure to be a new Echo Dot 5 to go along with it.
For anyone wondering if the Echo Studio is getting an update, it’s looking unlikely. The Verge reported on a recent FCC filing under one of Amazon’s shell companies (which it uses to help keep new products secret) that there is a new model, but the sole difference is the processor inside.
In every other respect, the device is identical to the original Studio. And if that’s all true, Amazon isn’t going to bother making an announcement during the event.
How much will the Echo 5 cost?
Likely to be $99.99/£89.99
In 2020 Amazon revamped the Echo range completely. The fourth-generation models adopted a new spherical design, and instead of an Echo Plus, Amazon decided to put the speakers and Zigbee hub from the previous-generation Plus into the cheaper $99.99/£89.99 model and simplified the range.
We think it’s likely that Amazon won’t change this price for the Echo 5.
What new features will the Echo 5 have?
In terms of design, and given that there are still no rumours or leaks, it’s hard to know if Amazon will keep the Echo 4’s design or not. When it launched the fourth-generation models, the company said the shape improves sound quality, which could mean that we’ll see an iteration on that design rather than something completely new.
What we’re expecting – partly off the back of announcements made at Amazon’s developers conference – are some new features:
Support for Matter
One feature that would definitely be included in any new Alexa device is Matter. This is a new smart home standard that’s been developed by Amazon, Google, Apple and many other companies. Its aim is to create proper interoperability between smart devices from different companies. This should make it far easier to use, say, Philips Hue lights with an Amazon Echo. It’s possible at the moment, but setup is hardly seamless.
For anyone following its development, Matter-enabled devices have been a very long time coming. But we could be mere weeks away from some of the first going on sale. The standard was originally announced in 2019 but various factors including coronavirus (plus other companies that wanted to get on board) meant it well and truly missed its ‘end of 2021’ launch target.
Matter isn’t necessarily a reason to buy an Echo 5, though, as Amazon has already said that most of its existing Echo products will get firmware updates that add Matter support.
One potential addition is a radar for sleep tracking. Last year, Bloomberg reported that Amazon had been granted approval to use a radar sensor in non-mobile devices. These can be used for sensing motion and also “contactless sleep tracing functionalities”.
If that sounds familiar, it’s because that’s precisely what Google does with the Nest Hub 2 and it appears Amazon wants to offer the same feature in a future Echo device.
It may not be the Echo 5, of course, and could be in the next-generation Echo Show, but there’s nothing to say such sleep tracking can be achieved only if the device is a smart display. We’ll have to wait and see.
Hopefully, Amazon won’t charge a subscription for this as Google has said it will from 2023, when it will roll Sleep Sensing into its Fitbit Premium plan (which currently costs $9.99 / £7.99 per month).
A radar sensor can also detect 3D motion, which means you could control a device just by waving your hand. And this really only makes sense if the device has a screen, so perhaps a future Echo Show is a more likely candidate than the Echo 5.
Amazon has improved the audio quality of Echos with each subsequent generation, so that’s one obvious upgrade it could make to the Echo 5.
It might choose to tick the 3D Audio box as well. Currently only the Echo Studio supports this, but Amazon is sure to want more people to use Amazon Music HD, and enabling its standard Echo speaker to playback spatial (and HD) audio would certainly help on this front. Maybe it will be the second-ever Alexa speaker from Amazon to support Dolby Atmos (after the Studio)
An optional clock
For two generations, Amazon has offered the choice of an Echo Dot with or without a clock display. It’s a surprisingly useful feature which can also show how long remains on a timer, and even the temperature. The Echo 4 has a built-in thermometer, but the only way to know what the room temperature is is to ask Alexa or use the Alexa app. A display would make this information more accessible.
More processing power
The Echo 4 has Amazon’s custom-designed AZ1 processor which enables Alexa to process a few key commands on the device itself without an internet connection, as well as a more natural-sounding voice.
Amazon wouldn’t have gone down the custom route unless it planned to develop the chip for future generations. Indeed, it did announce a much more powerful AZ2 processor which it has put in the
Echo Show 15. Maybe that will also be used for the Echo 5, but it could get an AZ3 in 2022.
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