Amazon holds a hardware & services event each year, typically in September or October. This makes it easy to predict that we’ll see new Echo devices in just a few months’ time.
The company recently updated its Echo Show 5 and 8, so those smart displays are unlikely to get another revision in 2021.
But the huge popularity of its Echo smart speaker means there’s an incentive to continue developing it and provide new reasons for people to upgrade – or add yet another one to their homes.
When will the Echo 5 launch?
Going by Amazon’s track record the Echo 5 will likely launch in September/October, and then go on sale within a few weeks.
If history is anything to go by, it’s a good idea to pre-order as soon as possible, as stocks are usually sold out quickly. This is even more important if you want a specific colour.
How much will the Echo 5 cost?
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.
Expected Echo 5 features
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 we don’t expect any changes at all on this front.
More likely 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.
Amazon has improved the audio quality 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. So, a more powerful AZ2 could be on the cards for the Echo 5.
As rumours begin to circulate for the next Echo release, we’ll update this article.
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