Xiaomi MI vs ILIFE A4 Robot Vacuum: Predictable vs Random Cleaning
I’ve been privileged the past few months to test several robotic vacuums from GearBest.
Today I will be comparing two of them.
These two products are as different as a Neato and Roomba before Roomba decided to improve their robot’s navigation and Neato decided to add a side brush.
We’ll compare every aspect of this robot from the features, navigation, what comes in the box and finally the cleaning performance.
Editor’s note: GearBest has a new promo called the “Awesome April Home Gear” where you’ll get great deals on ILIFE robots like A4, A4S, V1, V7, V5 Pro and V7 Pro. You’ll also get great deals from Xiaomi, Coprose and much more.
To help guide you through this review I’ve created a table of contents section…
MI has taken cues from the Neato BotVac in terms of features. But it does not have the same D-shape design that made Neato famous.
It uses the same laser-based navigation as the Neato as well as the SLAM algorithm.
It also has an app-based control system that allows you to control this robot even remotely – when you’re not at home.
Several of Xiaomi’s products have WiFi capability which makes it possible for you to control several appliances inside your home using the MI Home App.
Update (April 5, 2017): ILIFE has unveiled two new variants – the A4S and A6.
This vacuum features a bristled brush and an IR-based navigation that is similar to the previous generation Roomba so it goes about its cleaning cycle in a random pattern.
It has a remote where you can schedule, control where the robot goes and turn on the default cleaning cycle.
Editor’s note: ILIFE has released two new robot vacuums – the A4S and A6.
Before I continue with this article I’d like you to watch a video I recorded on the differences between these two products.
In terms of size, the MI robot vacuum is much bigger and heavier because of the larger 5,200 mAh battery plus the laser sensor and all 3 microprocessors inside it.
This heft is actually good because it helps the robot on surfaces like carpet to really dig down and allow the motorized brush to do its work and pick up dirt.
Unlike the Neato robotic vacuum that it got inspiration from this robot has a round shape and a matte white finish. As much as I like the color, any smudge is immediately visible and you would need to constantly clean it to keep its condition immaculate.
On the upper middle is the Laser Distance Sensor that acts as the “eyes” that sees obstacles and creates an internal map that it saves inside the memory.
Below the LDS is a huge door that houses the dirt bin and the two main buttons – the home and clean.
Press the two buttons together and it will reset the internal WiFi.
Like the Xiaomi, the A4 also has a round shape with a single button at the center that activates the default cleaning mode.
But the orientation of the dirt bin is different. A4 utilizes a drawer type bin that pulls from the back.
Underneath the MI robot vacuum you will see that it only has one side brush to complement the main motorized brush right in the middle.
On top is a caster wheel that is responsible for steering.
It also has around 4 cliff sensors that detect any cliff points like drop offs in stairs. Unfortunately, these cliff sensors will not go over a black rug. If your rug has black accents – you may want to use a stick vacuum to clean these areas because the Xiaomi will not go over it.
The A4 has a similar layout only it has two side brushes that flank the main cleaning brush in the middle. You will also notice two shiny silver objects on top on both sides of the caster wheel are the charging points.
When the robot docks on the charging station these two points go over the two pins on the dock to charge.
Xiaomi’s motorized brush is considerably larger than the A4, not just in width but the overall diameter as well.
This design has been proven in tests at least on the Neato to perform very well in picking up stuff like hair on bare floor and carpet.
But make no mistake the A4’s brush also works well – able to pick up fine stuff like powder to larger stuff like rolled oats with equal ease on bare floor.
I combined these two because they go hand in hand. How the robot navigates will dictate how efficient it is and how it will take to clean a particular area.
Here’s a cleaning test between these two robots on bare floor…
The overhead shot gives you an idea how these two robots differ in terms of navigation.
You’ll notice that it cleans the edges first before going through the middle part of the room. And it goes through this cycle twice. But you’ll need to upgrade the firmware to enjoy this feature.
Here’s the first run I did with the Xiaomi…
And here’s the second…
You will notice that during the first run, it only went around the room once hence cleaning performance suffered. Ever since that first cleaning test, I’ve upgraded the firmware and it has paid dividends with how this robot cleans.
For the A4, it really goes around in a random pattern which affects efficiency.
It took longer for the A4 to complete the task but remember that the price difference between the two is rather substantial so if you don’t mind the inefficiency then go with the A4.
In terms of how much it picked up the difference really is negligible – just a few ounces.
Only the A4 comes with a remote control that looks like this…
This device allows you to turn on the default cleaning mode or use the spot and edge cleaning depending on your need but for me I just turn it on the default mode and let the robot decide.
You can also schedule the A4 to clean once per day at a specific time of your choice using the remote.
The Xiaomi does not come with any remote but you can download an app inside on your smartphone which allows you to control the robot even if you’re at work as long as you have internet connectivity.
It also shows you a map of the area it is cleaning…
Plus some other goodies like scheduling and a log…
The neat thing about this app is that it allows you to schedule cleaning more than once! If you’re obsessive compulsive type of hates dirt piling up in your home, you can schedule this 3 times if you want.
Here’s a video I recorded on connecting the app and robot…
For more a detailed step by step information on how, you can read the full Xiaomi review here.
The MI robot vacuum has a very large 5,200 mAH lithium ion battery that has a 2.5 hour run time which means this robot can clean areas up to 250 square meters in a single charge.
The A4 has a smaller battery – a 2,600 mAH lithium ion battery that also runs around 2.5 hours because it has a smaller motor compared to the Xiaomi.
You also have to remember that Xiaomi also uses a much sophisticated navigation system that consists of 3 microprocessors, a constantly spinning laser sensor and the SLAM algorithm behind the scenes – combine all of this and it will eat through whatever juice that the battery provides.
The great thing about the laser guided navigation and SLAM would be efficiency. It doesn’t wonder around aimlessly going in a random direction but it navigates with a purpose.
Xiaomi would be better suited cleaning a larger home because of its efficiency.
The A4 does not come with any sort of containment, in fact the only variant in ILIFE’s product line that has a virtual wall would be the X5 and you cannot use it on the A4.
For the MI robot vacuum, I have good and bad news. The good news is it comes with a virtual wall or GearBest calls it but it actually
is a magnetic tape similar to the one in the Neato robotic vacuum that looks like this…
This 78 inch long strip of magnetic tape actually blocks the path of the robot but the bad news is, you will not get it out of the box. This piece of tape will cost roughly $16 in GearBest.
See how this magnetic tape works in this video here…
Despite the size difference both of these robots have the same sized bin that has a capacity of around .45 liters.
Another different between these two is the design of the dock.
First let us look at the Xiaomi charging dock.
Again, this design is similar to the Neato charging station with two rectangular pins.
This design reminds me of iPhone products in terms of the simplicity and color. Again it comes in all white and it actually has a storage area for the power cord which is pretty neat.
The A4 dock is much simpler with two pins facing upwards designed to connect with the two metal pins at the bottom of the robot.
Also since this device emits an infrared signal and at a certain radius, the robot will not go near during the cleaning cycle and if there is any debris anywhere close to the bin, you may have to use a handheld vacuum to clean it.
|Battery type||2,600 mAh Li-Ion||Li-Ion|
|Charge time||5 hours||5 hours|
|Run time||150 mins.||150 mins.|
|Dry dirt capacity||0.45 liters||0.45 liters|
|Net weight (with battery)||4.85 lbs.||8.4 lbs.|
|Diameter||12.2 in.||13.58 in.|
|Height||2.99 in.||3.15 in.|
App based control
|Cleaning sessions per week||7||Unlimited|
|Containment||None||Magnetic tape (not included)|
|Brush cleaning tool|
|Warranty||1 year (click here for more details)|
Both these robots are available from GearBest if you want the best deal.
Click on the links below to see the latest price…
You can also buy the A4 from Amazon but expect to pay a higher price.
Both of these products are great options for any home looking for a robot vacuum that performs. Picking one would depend on your budget and cleaning preferences.
If you want a cleaning tool that is efficient, capable of cleaning a larger area that has a pretty sophisticated app-based control system then the no-brainer choice would be the Xiaomi robot vacuum.
The SLAM based navigation system scans the room and based on that internal map determines the most efficient pattern to go about cleaning and even without a virtual wall, segments areas that it will clean to maximize coverage and efficiency.
Just remember that if you have black carpet, avoid the Xiaomi because it will not go over it.
The A4 is a no-nonsense option for cleaning bare floor and carpet. It lacks the sophisticated navigation but it’s costs almost 3 times less!
Make sure to check my detailed ILIFE comparison guide to learn more about this brand.