At Amazon's 2021 hardware event, the company announced a home robot, a 15-inch Echo Show and a lot of other devices. But it did not unveil any new Echo speakers.
So the Echo 5 - and Dot 5 - remain rumours for now.
There's no doubt that Amazon will at some point launch a successor to the 4th generation Echo, but that's not going to happen this year.
When is the Echo 5 release date?
- Expected October 2022
With no new Echo smart speakers announced this year, there is a chance Amazon could do an ad-hoc launch as it did when it updated its Echo Show 5 and 8 in May. But it's more likely we'll see it at the next hardware event in September 2022. And it would then go on sale in October.
How much will the Echo 5 cost?
- Likely to be the same as the Echo 4
Last year, in 2020, Amazon revamped the Echo range completely. The fourth-generation models have a spherical design and the Plus and regular models were effectively merged because of the fact that Amazon put the speakers and Zigbee hub from the previous-generation Plus into the £89.99/US$99.99 model.
We think it’s likely Amazon will keep this price for the Echo 5.
What features will the Echo 5 have?
Given that the Echo 4’s design still feels new, wholesale changes are probably off the cards. Amazon also says the latest design improves sound quality, which is another reason it will probably iterate on the design.
What we're expecting - partly off the back of announcements made at Amazon's developers conference which happened in July 2021 - are new features:
One potential addition is a radar for sleep tracking. Just recently, Bloomberg reported that Amazon has been granted approval to use a radar sensor in non-mobile devices. It 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, 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 as Google has said it will if customers want to use sleep sensing from 2022.
A radar sensor can 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.
Support for Matter
Matter is a new smart home standard that's been developed by Amazon, Google, Apple and a lot of other companies. The 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.
It now looks like Matter-enabled devices won't go on sale until the first half of 2022 because of yet more delays. The standard was originally announced in 2019 but various factors including covid and a lot of companies that wanted to get on board meant it will miss the 'end of 2021' target.
That could be good timing for the Echo 5, as it'll be a more compelling reason to buy one.
Amazon has improved the audio quality of Echos year on year, 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.
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 temperature sensor in it (a little-known fact!) which could be put to better use if it had a display like the Echo Dot 4. So, if you’re listening Amazon, how about the option of an Echo 5 with Clock?
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.