Holiday 2020: The Best Robot Vacuums

Shark ION R85 cleaning dirt on laminate floor
Shark

Vacuuming isn’t what most people consider a fun time, but fortunately, it’s also one of the household tasks that can be mostly automated for consumers. Robot vacs have been exploding in popularity and they’re a great gift idea. But there are a lot of options on the market, many of which seem basically the same at first glance. So we found the best robot vacuums available for this list to make shopping for one a bit easier.

What to Look for in a Robot Vacuum Cleaner

Robot vacuums can have many features that set them apart from the competition, but here are the main things you’ll want to look out for.

  • Suction Power: This is generally measured in Pascals (or “Pa”) and represents exactly how much the vacuum can suck up. There are benefits to various levels of suction power; for example, less powerful vacuums tend to be quieter and can have longer battery life. There’s also the matter of what type of home the vacuum will be cleaning in. Hard floors or thin carpets aren’t much of a challenge and can be taken care of by less powerful vacuums, while thicker carpets are going to need a lot more suction power to be properly cleaned.
  • Smart Features: From collision detection to auto-emptying, there’s plenty of stuff for a robot vacuum to include to make operating it a little bit easier. Naturally, these are most commonly found in higher-end models, but budget-friendly vacuums can surprise you.
  • Apps vs. Remote Controls: In tandem with smart features, some robot vacuums let you manage and control them via an app on your phone (or even through voice commands), while others rely on a dedicated remote. Generally speaking, the remote is going to be the more limited of the two and as such, is more commonly found on inexpensive vacuums. However, it is by no means an immediate turn-off. For a straightforward robot vacuum, a remote does a serviceable job when it comes to management.
  • Battery: This is a simple one, but obviously, the longer a vacuum can run without dying, the better. However, some vacuums may come with charging docks, which can allow the machine to pause mid-clean, get a top-up of energy, and then pick up where it left off.

Best Overall: iRobot Roomba i7

iRobot Roomba i7
iRobot

The Roomba i7 is a smart and effective vacuum that should cover most people’s needs well. The Smart Mapping tech builds a floorplan of your home not only for navigating the Roomba, but also so that you can designate specific rooms for it to clean through the app (iOS/Android) or your voice assistant. You can set schedules for the Roomba through the app, and it can even start to learn your personal schedule and preferences to automate some parts of the process.

The rubber brushes are great for dealing with pet hair, and the powerful suction deals with crumbs and other messes excellently. The i7 runs for about an hour on a full charge, and will automatically return to its charging base for a top-up when battery power gets low. It’s compatible with the iRobot Clean Base (sold separately), which allows the Roomba to automatically empty itself up to 30 times.

Overall, the i7 is a great choice for new robot vacuum owners who don’t need the highest-end option on the market, but who still want something with premium touches.

The Premium Choice: iRobot Roomba s9+

iRobot Roomba s9+
iRobot

A step up from the i7, the Roomba s9+ packs in some more features to make it the ultimate high-end choice. This vacuum features iRobot’s most advanced cleaning and guidance tech, along with an hour of battery life and automatic charging. The specially designed corner brush is great for getting to those hard-to-reach places, and it also features a powerful suction.

The included base can both charge the s9+ when it gets low and also auto-empty the vacuum up to 60 times. You can control the vacuum through the app (iOS/Android) or your voice assistant, and it can learn your schedule and preferences and adjust accordingly. You can even get the s9+ bundled with the iRobot Braava M6 robot mop, and the two can work in tandem to vacuum and mop rooms for a better overall clean.

A Roomba Alternative: Roborock S6 MaxV

Roborock S6 MaxV
Roborock

While Roomba is certainly the best-known brand when it comes to robot vacuums, it’s hardly the only option out there, and Roborock’s S6 MaxV does a good job of taking on the giant as a premium choice. The powerful 2,500Pa suction is excellent at dealing with messes, and there’s even a mop built into the vacuum for bare floors. Roborock’s LiDAR navigation system will map out your home for up to four different floors—and you can also set up to ten zones where the vacuum can’t enter, and ten other zones where it specifically won’t mop.

You can fully control the S6 MaxV through the app (Android/iOS) or via your voice assistant. The battery lasts a whopping 180 minutes, with the vacuum returning to its base for a top-up if it’s low.

But the S6 MaxV isn’t the only vacuum Roborock makes; the S6 Pure still provides an internal mop at a lower price, with the main sacrifice being less suction power—2,000Pa, to be precise. There’s also the budget-friendly Roborock E4, which drops the internal mop (but there is a mopping accessory sold separately), but still keeps the great smart features and app management.

A Mid-Range Option: Shark ION R85

Shark ION R85
Shark

The ION R85 may be lacking some premium features you’ll find in more expensive vacuums, but it keeps enough smart features to fit nicely into the mid-range bracket. It has powerful enough suction for crumbs and dust, with the included brushes and filters dealing with hair and allergens and hard-to-reach corners.

The ION R85 is Wifi-enabled, so you can manage it easily through the Shark app (Android/iOS) or via voice assistants. In the Shark app, you can schedule cleaning times for your ION R85 and receive notifications about what your vacuum is up to. The battery lasts for about an hour, with the vacuum automatically returning to its included charging base when it gets low.

For the price, the ION R85 delivers a solid feature set and user experience, which is sure to please those looking for a robot vacuum this holiday season.

Best Budget Option: ILIFE A4s

ILIFE A4s Pro
ILIFE

This is the least expensive vacuum on this list, and while it does have a weakness when it comes to dealing with thicker carpets, it nevertheless provides a good clean for the money. The A4s is equipped with a suction power of 1,500Pa, but it can concentrate that power to a specific spot to achieve 2,000Pa for particularly stubborn messes. The included electro wall stops the vacuum from going into certain areas, the battery lasts for about 100 minutes, and the machine is pretty thin at only 2.95 inches.

The main thing you’re losing out on with the A4s is that it comes with a remote instead of an app. This does limit how automatic the vacuum can be, but it still features sensors for collision avoidance, so leaving it in a room alone won’t be a problem.

Low-Profile: eufy RoboVac 11s

eufy RoboVac 11s
eufy

The eufy 11s is yet another inexpensive model, but we’ve selected it for this list because of its ultra-low height of 2.85 inches (great for getting under furniture) and its quiet operation, which ensures that this vacuum won’t be a bother in the home. This comes at the sacrifice of only 1,300Pa suction power, but for hardwood floors and thinner carpets, it will still perform fine.

The included remote is how you manage the 11s, with some automatic cleaning modes and collision avoidance thrown in to make things easier. The battery lasts for 100 minutes on a full charge, and it comes with a charging base that the vacuum returns to when low.

Eric Schoon Eric Schoon
Eric Schoon is a writer for Review Geek and has spent most of his life thinking about and analyzing products of all shapes and sizes. From the latest games to the hottest smartphones, he enjoys finding the greatest strengths and weaknesses of everything he gets his hands on and then passing that information on to you. Read Full Bio »

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