Alexa users can always count on Amazon’s voice assistant for a hand, and with the $129.99 Echo Loop smart ring, they can have Alexa wrapped around their finger. Currently available on an invitation-only basis, the Loop is an Amazon Day 1 Edition product (essentially a beta device you pay for) that gives you access to Alexa with the tap of a button. As usual, you can ask Alexa to answer questions, set reminders, create to-do and shopping lists, get directions and the weather, control connected smart home devices, make calls, and more. If you’re a virtual assistant power user, it offers a new level of convenience, letting you summon not only Alexa but Google Assistant or Siri wherever you are without having to reach for your phone. But some features didn’t work in testing, and the ring is bulky, especially on smaller hands. It’s an interesting wearable for sure, but not necessarily one I see many people wearing.
Design and Sizing
Made of black titanium-coated stainless steel, the Echo Loop has an action button on the outside that summons Alexa when clicked. It features two microphones so Alexa can hear you, and a tiny built-in speaker so you can hear the virtual assistant’s response. The microphones and speaker are both located on the bottom of the ring.
The Echo Loop is scratch-resistant and safe to wear when washing your hands, but Amazon warns against wearing it while swimming and showering. The company also advises against exposing it to food, oil, sunscreen, cosmetics, detergents, solvents, and sanitizers, as doing so can degrade its (already weak) audio performance.
You can decide for yourself whether you like the way it looks, but know that this isn’t a delicate ring. It measures 0.6 inches wide on the top and tapers down to 0.4 inches on the bottom. At its thickest point, it measures around 0.25 inches.
The Echo Loop comes in four sizes: Small, Medium, Large, and X Large. When Amazon extends you an invite, the company will send you an email to order a free fit kit so you can determine your size. Amazon says to start with the largest size first, and make sure it’s easy to press the action button. The company says to wear the fit kit version throughout the day and see how it feels for activities like typing and opening a door.
In the company’s Echo Loop imagery, all the models are wearing the ring on their pointer or middle fingers. Because there are only four sizes, there’s a big difference between each one. The small was very tight on my pointer and middle fingers—it got stuck on my pointer enough that I had a small panic attack trying to take it off. The medium, on the other hand, was so big it was even falling off my thumb. I tried the small on my ring finger, and it fit decently, albeit a touch big, so I decided it would be my best option. It’s somewhat of a stretch to reach the action button with my thumb when wearing it on my ring finger, but it’s doable. If the Loop ever becomes generally available, I hope Amazon offers it in more sizes.
The Echo Loop connects to your Android or iOS phone via Bluetooth, so it won’t work if your handset is out of range. It uses your smartphone’s cellular or Wi-Fi connection and the Alexa app for connectivity.
To get started, plug the included micro USB cable into the charging cradle and the other end into a USB power adapter, then place the ring on the cradle, making sure to line up the charging contacts. When it’s charging, you’ll see a yellow light flashing on the cradle. When it’s fully charged, the light turns green. If you don’t see a light, it’s not charging.
The device is outfitted with magnets, which help you position it for proper charging, but it’s still easy to misalign the charging contacts, so be sure you see the light on top of the cradle illuminate. It took about 90 minutes to fully juice up, though I did take it off the charger a few times to examine it.
While it’s charging, you can download the Amazon Alexa app if you don’t already have it, and enable Bluetooth on your phone. Open the Alexa app on your phone when the Loop is charged and off the cradle and it will automatically find it. A notification instructed me to press Set Up, after which I followed the on-screen prompts to complete the connection process, which only took about a minute.
The app asks if you want to select a top contact who you’ll be able to speed dial by double clicking the action button on the ring. If you skip this during setup, you can do it any time in Settings.
How to Use the Echo Loop
Unlike most other Echo devices, you don’t say, “Alexa,” to summon the virtual assistant. When you want to talk to Alexa via the Loop, you need to click the action button quickly. When you feel a vibration, hold the ring near your mouth and speak your command or question into its microphone.
Image of the Echo Loop’s speaker and microphone
The Echo Loop also makes it easy to talk Google Assistant or Siri. To do so, just press and hold the button for one second to activate whichever voice service is active on your phone. When you feel the vibration or hear a chime, speak your command or question.
To check its battery life, press the action button and ask, “What’s my battery level?” In response, the Echo Loop will tell you battery life for both your phone and the ring.
Aside from letting you speed dial your top contact with a double click of the action button, the Echo Loop offers some other neat calling features. When you get a phone call, the ring will vibrate to let you know. To answer or end a call, you can simply click the action button once. To reject an incoming call, just press and hold the action button for a second.
To turn off the Echo Loop, click the button once, then press and hold it for three seconds. When it’s powering off, you’ll feel a long vibration.
Performance and Battery Life
Most of the time, the Loop had no problem recognizing my questions or requests, but a few times it said, “Please try again,” perhaps because I spoke too soon after tapping the action button, so be sure to wait for the vibration before you speak.
When I asked if I had any notifications, the Loop said a package was delivered from Amazon, it read my new Slack messages, and it read the notifications on my phone. The speaker is very low, so I had to put the ring up to my ear to hear Alexa’s responses.
I had no problems using the ring to set reminders and add items to my Alexa to-do list. If you ask Alexa “What’s on my calendar,” and don’t have your calendar connected, it will offer to send a link to your phone to set it up, which is convenient.
For me, the ability to control connected smart home devices is the Echo Loop’s most convenient feature. I have Alexa connected to a Wyze Bulb, and was able to turn it on and off via the ring without issue. You just tap the action button and say, “Turn off my living room lamp.” I also have Alexa connected to the Proscenic M7 Pro robot vacuum/mop, and I was able to make it start cleaning via the Echo Loop by tapping the action button and saying, “Alexa, ask smart bot [the robot’s nickname] to start cleaning.”
Unfortunately, I couldn’t get the calling feature to work. I assigned a top contact in the Alexa app, but every time I double tapped the Echo Loop’s action button to call them, it said, “Calling your top contact,” and then never did, or “Connecting…please try again.”
The only way I could make calls via the Loop was to summon Siri on my connected iPhone with a one-second press of the action button. When I asked Siri to make calls, they had no problem going through.
As for battery life, Amazon says that with intermittent usage, the Echo Loop will last a day. In testing, however, it didn’t last a full 24 hours before dying.
The Echo Loop smart ring puts Alexa (or your voice assistant of choice) close at hand at all times. Just press the action button to add something to your shopping list, set a reminder, ask about the weather forecast, or control Alexa-connected smart home devices. It’s a neat idea, but the current iteration is bulky, and limited sizing options make it tough to get a good fit. Moreover, some of the Echo Loop’s calling features wouldn’t work in testing, and its audio and battery life are weak. Unless you’re an Alexa power user with $129.99 to burn on what is essentially a beta product, you’re better off relying on your phone or smart speaker until Amazon makes some refinements to the Loop.