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Narwal Freo Robot Vacuum Review: An Advanced Cleaning Assistant

Rating: 8/10 ?
  • 1 - Absolute Hot Garbage
  • 2 - Sorta Lukewarm Garbage
  • 3 - Strongly Flawed Design
  • 4 - Some Pros, Lots Of Cons
  • 5 - Acceptably Imperfect
  • 6 - Good Enough to Buy On Sale
  • 7 - Great, But Not Best-In-Class
  • 8 - Fantastic, with Some Footnotes
  • 9 - Shut Up And Take My Money
  • 10 - Absolute Design Nirvana
Price: $1,400
The Narwal Freo vacuum on hardwood floors
Tyler Hayes / Review Geek

There are plenty of premium robot vacuums that can mop and empty their own dirt into a docking station, but the Narwal Freo puts a fresh polish on the whole experience with advanced features and solid cleaning performance. It’s a combination that makes its high price slightly easier to swallow.

Here's What We Like

  • Touchscreen on docking station is thoroughly useful
  • Effective vacuuming and mopping performance
  • LiDAR mapping creates detailed floor maps
  • Mobile app is easy to navigate

And What We Don't

  • More expensive than similar solutions
  • No remote camera viewing

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Design: A Fancy Cleaning Solution

  • Robot dimensions: 13.84 x 13.78 x 4.17in (351.5 x 350 x 106mm)
  • Base station dimensions: 16.34 x 14.57 x 17.13in (415 x 370 x 435mm)
  • Weight: 9.59lbs (4.35kg)

Even high-end vacuum assistants are mostly utilitarian in nature. They suck up dirt, scrub away grime, and empty all the filth into a station that also serves to recharge their battery. But there’s not much style or grace to the products. This is where the Narwal Freo vacuum stands out from the pack.

Its docking station is more of a hibernation cave that encompasses the entire vacuum. It’s large, in general, but it doesn’t feel too big. I found a spot for it right away. The station measures 16.34 x 14.57 x 17.13in. Its facade was rounded and sleek, which gave off a hint of elegance—admittedly a strange thing to say about a cleaning product.

The touchscreen on the top of the station is what really gives it an edge over other similar options on the market, like the Roborock S7 MaxV Ultra. The screen provides quick access to cleaning routines so anyone can start a job, even if they don’t have the app installed. (There’s a child lock for the screen to keep little fingers from getting into trouble.)

In practice, I didn’t use the docking station’s screen every day, but the times it was used by my wife or me, it was invaluable. A truly handy and luxurious aspect of the whole Freo vacuum experience.

Features: Made to Be Self Sufficient

The top of Freo's docking station has a touchscreen to control it.
On the top of the docking station is a circular touchscreen.Tyler Hayes / Review Geek

  • Surfaces for mopping: Vinyl, tile, laminate, hardwood floors, marble
  • Feature highlights: Intelligent mop lifting, auto mop washing, dirt detection sensor, edge cleaning, scheduling
  • Available color: White
  • Battery life: 3.5 Hours

With a retail price of $1,299, you would expect the Freo robot to be loaded with features—and it mostly is. The only thing I found lacking was the ability to use the camera on the vacuum to view its surroundings remotely. I found this feature to be largely superfluous on other robot vacuums in the past, but once, during a termite tenting with poisonous gas in the house, I used the remote viewing capability to check the house’s status.

So it is worth pointing out that remote camera viewing through the Narwal Freo app (more on this later) is missing, even if most people won’t notice or would even use it.

The Freo is also outfitted with more practical features, though, like the extra large dust bin that holds plenty of dirt and dust to clean for long periods of time. The dust bag in the docking station held enough dirt that I haven’t needed to change it after a few weeks of use.

The docking station can incorporate gentle heat up to 104 degrees Fahrenheit while cleaning the mop pads to keep bacteria from growing. It’s a nice addition, but be aware that it can take up to 5 hours to dry the mop pads (though this process can go faster depending on the setting selected). Drying the pads created a low noise hum. It was certainly noticeable, but it wasn’t loud enough to annoy me into turning it off or stopping it before the cleaning process was completed.

The Narwal Freo can also adjust the downward force (and humidity) of its mops depending on the flooring material, both for effectiveness and to avoid damage.

A Worthy Cleaning Performance 

Narwal Freo vacuum has two pads for mopping underneath.
Tyler Hayes / Review Geek

It doesn’t matter how great a vacuum looks or what features it has. Ultimately, this product’s only job is to keep your floors clean. The better it can do that task without human intervention, the more meaningful its impact will be.

I found that the Narwal Freo did a great job cleaning the hardwood floors in my house. It reached under tables and all visible areas well enough to keep me from reaching for our traditional vacuum cleaner. Freo’s navigation, guided by LiDAR, was able to see the legs of furniture and other objects to clean around them without thrashing into them. It mostly avoided cables and other temporary objects in its path as well.

Across my kitchen’s hardwood floor, the Freo vacuum was able to clean chip pieces in a single pass of the room after I had purposefully sprinkled the bits on the ground. If you want to run the vacuum less often, you can also have it do two passes for each space to make sure it gets all the dust and dirt.

Narwal’s Freo wasn’t perfect with its cleaning, though. There were occasional crumb bits left behind, but it performed at least as well as its $1,000 robot peers. The Freo leaving occasional crumbs was also rare and not the norm.

There are settings for either vacuuming and then mopping or simultaneous vacuuming and mopping—as well as just one or the other. I didn’t notice much of a difference in setting it to vacuum first compared to simultaneous mopping, but I suspect with certain kinds of messes, it could make a meaningful impact. I did think it was nice that there was the choice to choose between multiple options.

I was happy with the cleaning performance of the Narwal Freo in direct comparison to other robot vacuums. This category of cleaning devices still falls behind stick vacs and other manual options, but the Freo did pull its weight and kept dirt at bay with minimal human intervention.

Compared to other similar vacuums from Dreametech or Roborock, the Freo seemed to glide across the floor. Its noise level was what I expected while it was actually suctioning, but it was much quieter getting to its cleaning locations and then leaving them.

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Mobile App: Solid, but Less Neccesary

Inside the docking station are two buckets for clean and dirty water.
Inside the docking station are two buckets for clean and dirty water.Tyler Hayes / Review Geek

Typically, a robot vacuum’s mobile app is critically important. It’s how you control nearly all aspects of the device. In the case of the Narwal Freo, its mobile app (available on iPhone/iPad and Android) is still important, but the touchscreen on the docking station lessens how mission-critical it is.

For example, because you can start vacuuming or mopping with a few taps on the screen, it means other people in the household can operate the machine without your involvement. You can also change some settings and do other minor things from the control center as well. The touchscreen felt fluid to swipe around on and was easy to read.

The mobile app features scheduled cleaning, map management, and will show the robot’s real-time cleaning process, among other things. It wasn’t a groundbreaking app in any way, but it didn’t need to be.

The Narwal Freo mobile app falls somewhere in the middle between the five brands of robot vacuums I tried in 2021 and 2022. Most functions are accessible with a few taps, but the app isn’t overly cramped or crowded. If you’re curious, iRobot’s Roomba app still takes the cake as the best-designed robot vacuum app.

After creating a recurring cleaning schedule, I did find it hard to go back to change and pause automatic starts, but that was mostly due to it using the terminology “plan” and button placement. My mind was looking for something that said “schedule.”

Should You Buy the Narwal Freo Robot Vacuum?

The Narwal Freo fits completely inside its docking station.
The Narwal Freo fits completely inside its docking station.Tyler Hayes / Review Geek

After testing the Narwal Freo Robot Vacuum, it’s hard to argue that its performance, features, and style don’t make it a clear winner. While it’s not perfect, it does get a lot of things right and, ultimately, makes cleaning a much less manual chore.

Of course, it’s also hard to argue that at around $1,300, the Freo is a good value. It’s a premium product, no matter how you look at it. Setting the money aside, I do think the docking station’s touch screen makes it incredibly helpful for certain households and gives it a leg up over other cleaning robots. This vacuum with mopping capabilities is a worthy choice for anyone willing to splurge.

Rating: 8/10
Price: $1,400

Here’s What We Like

  • Touchscreen on docking station is thoroughly useful
  • Effective vacuuming and mopping performance
  • LiDAR mapping creates detailed floor maps
  • Mobile app is easy to navigate

And What We Don't

  • More expensive than similar solutions
  • No remote camera viewing

Tyler Hayes Tyler Hayes
Tyler Hayes first started freelance writing for Fast Company after spending a decade as a computer technician repairing computers and setting up home networks. Since 2013, he has contributed to dozens of publications, including The New York Times, WIRED, PCMag, Vice, and Shondaland. Read Full Bio »