Chuwi ILIFE A4 Review – Budget Bare Floor and Carpet Robot Cleaner

Last updated on December 11th, 2018 by Garrick Dee

Gone are the days when you have to pony up at least $300 for a decent robotic vacuum.

Face

This product I’m about to share with you has some similar features with the more popular Roomba 700 series robotic vacuum and it costs just a fifth of what you’d pay for a Roomba.

Let me introduce the Chuwi ILIFE A4 smart robotic vacuum.

I’ll show you in this review a complete lowdown on the features, a demonstration on how it navigates and a cleaning test so make sure to scroll down and read the whole review.

Of the 9 robots in the ILIFE robotic vacuum product line, the A4 would be a great option for carpet and rugs because it has the most power.

It also has a motorized brush and a wider cleaning path compared to the brush-less X5 I previously written about.

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ILIFE has discontinued manufacturing the A4 and have released two new variants – the A4S and A6. These new variants come with upgraded brush, motor and other new features.

A quick look at the features

  • Equipped with an anti-collision system sensor that detects potential roadblocks and avoids them (you will see in the video below how this feature works in real time so make sure to scroll down)
  • A single charge can cover 180-200 square centimeters
  • You can schedule this robot to clean your home at a fixed time everyday
  • 1,000pa suction – strongest of the 7 ILIFE variants
  • Remote control has an LCD screen for easy scheduling and operation

Pros

  • One of the more affordable robotic vacuums capable of cleaning both bare floor and carpet
  • Easy to remove dirt bin and motorized brush
  • Low profile (only 2.99” tall) allows it to clean under more furniture
  • It does not bump into wide solid objects (such as a wall)

Cons

  • It lacks the sophisticated navigation system of a Roomba 980 or Dyson 360 Eye but heck it’s hard to expect that from a robot at this price range
  • Prone to bumping into legs of furniture – something to think about if you own expensive furniture
  • No virtual wall

What to expect from the ILIFE A4?

In terms of looks, I like the sleek design of the A4. The charcoal gray finish gives it a modern look and it’s interface is as simple as can be – only one button that also serves as the battery indicator light (more on that later).

Face

While the top looks simple, underneath is what makes this thing go. You will notice that it has a bristled motorized brush that works best on carpet because of the added agitation.

Just a warning though, if you have sensitive easily scratched hardwood, you may want to opt for the X5 because it does not have any brushes plus you can utilize the mop feature.

What comes in the box?

What's in the box?

I must say that ILIFE is generous in terms of what they include with their products

You’ll get one extra of every wear and team item which means you’ll get an extra pair of side brushes plus an extra HEPA filter.

There is also a remote plus two AAA batteries. I suggest you invest in a rechargeable AAA battery (I personally use an Eneloop).

Lastly, the charging base – this is where the robot docks when it detects its batteries are low.

Make sure to leave at least 2 to 3 square feet of space so that the robot will not have trouble docking. Also make sure to place it against the wall so it doesn’t move.

You can stick on a double sided tape underneath the charging base so it doesn’t wiggle around – only do this if you’re not moving it around the house.

HEPA filter isn’t washable

Before I move on, I’d like to mention that the HEPA filter isn’t washable. I confirmed this with GearBest and they told me the exact same thing. What you can do is tap the filter on the dirt bin and then use the brush to scrap off excess dirt.

Here’s the photo of the dirt bin with some dirt (this is after the initial run)…

Dirt bin

The dirt bin with the 3 filters disassembled (below)…

Dirt bin and filter disassembled

I like how they designed the dirt bin. As you can see with the photo above it has 3 filters – the primary fine mesh filter, a secondary foam filter and then the HEPA filter.

The fine mesh filter blocks larger particles of dirt but fine dust will still seep through it so make sure to clean the HEPA filter regularly to extend its life.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bnn0aXYaC9U

The HEPA filter isn’t washable and needs to be replaced once every 3 to 6 months.

Here’s a short video I recorded on how to empty the dirt bin…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YnabiHrYvnU

Just a warning, you may hear a squeak.

The first time I used this, I heard some squeaks and as it turns out it came from the rubber squeegee underneath.

Not this shouldn’t be a problem on most hardwood surfaces just make sure to give it a good wipe down with a damp microfiber towel after each use so dirt doesn’t build up. Don’t use any alcohol as it can dry the rubber.

Low profile

The A4 has a really low profile. It measures a smidge under three inches (around 0.04 inches shorter than the X5) so this will easily go under a lot of furniture and overhangs.

Scheduling

A4 Remote

The A4’s scheduling feature has improved somewhat over the X5. Instead of counting how many minutes or hours from the time you set it, you can actually set the robot to clean at a specified time.

For example, you click on plan and set it to clean on 9:45, it will clean at 9:45AM but you will have to set the time first for this to work.

Remember that ILIFE uses military time here so if you want the robot to clean let’s say at 3:30PM you have to program it to clean at 15:30.

In the X5 if you set it at 1:45 – it will clean an hour and forty-five minutes after and not at 1:45 am in the morning.

See the difference?

Another thing, when scheduling you can only set the minutes part in 15 minute increments.

Navigation

Much like the X5, the A4 has a similar type navigation system which is a cross between a Neato and a Roomba. It isn’t entirely random but more of a crisscross pattern and then moving to its wall cleaning mode and then back.

This pattern will isn’t the most efficient but since this robot simply runs until the battery is low and then docks, it should pretty much cover most of the area but there are some things you need to know before you start using this.

To maximize how the cleaning prowess of the A4, you will need to do the following…

  • Tidy up any loose wires on the floors
  • If you own a large home, consider cleaning one room at a time

The A4 is fully capable of cleaning multiple rooms but it lacks the sophisticated navigation to remember areas it has cleaned.

It will just run in random directions until battery runs low and then it tries to find the charging base.

When you clean one room at a time, you’ll be sure that miss fewer spots and get back to home base safely and more often.

Overhangs are another trouble spot for this robot.

It does try to wiggle itself out but there are instances where it just stays there but don’t worry when it detects trouble the motor shuts down.

Motorized brush

This comes equipped with a motorized brush that allows this to clean carpet flooring.

Bottom view

The main beater bar in this robot has bristles for agitation on carpet but it works well on bare floors.

Maintenance is a must to keep it functioning at top form. GearBest recommends that you clean it after every use.

From experience I’d say you can extend the clean interval to one every three uses but that would depend on whether or not you have pets. If you have pets, the more often you will need to clean it because it will pick up a lot of hair.

One option would be purchasing the V-brush (the standard brush for the V7S) and slot it in the A4. This brush design is suited for cleaning up pet hair and the added squeegee makes it easier to clean as well.

No virtual wall

Unlike the X5 the A4 does not come with any virtual wall.

If you don’t know what a virtual wall means, it acts as a wall that “blocks” the path of a robot from entering an area you don’t want it to go to.

Bare floor performance

Against rolled oats

As I expected the side brushes scattered the larger bits of oats out of the way but it was able to pick up the other pieces that didn’t get in the way.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EEFejKIsZl4

These side brushes did a pretty good job funneling dirt but it tossed around the bigger ones.

The good news is that the robot eventually cleans most of the dirt in its path.

A stick or handheld vacuum would be an essential tag team partner for this robot to clean dirt trapped in base boards.

Now let’s see how the A4 performs on smaller bits of debris – this time a combination of some rock salt and grounded pepper.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YMUA9Q_GiZg

Here’s the ILIFE A4 going up against the MI Robot Vacuum cleaning rolled oats and baby powder…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=61bFC5yncKw

The MI robot vacuum obviously won  this head-to-head cleaning test but it was close.

Thanks to its more advanced laser-guided navigation system it did the job much faster than the A4 but you have to remember that the Xiaomi robot costs almost 3 times more than the A4 and cleaning performance didn’t reflect that price difference at all

Product Specifications

Battery typeLithium ion
Charger typeCharging dock
Charge timeapprox. 5 hours
Dirt capacity (dry)0.45 liters
Run Time 110 - 120 mins
Net weight (with battery)4.85 pounds
Shipping weight8.7 pounds
Diameter12.2 inches
Height2.99 inches
Multi Room
Yes
Self docking
Yes
Remote control
Yes
Hepa filtration
Yes
Cliff detection
Yes
Self adjusting
Yes
Side brush
Yes
Full bin indicator
No
Stair Cleaning
No
Cleaning sessions per week 7
Extra Filter1
Containment None
Brush cleaning tools1
Accessories includedCharging base

A/C adapter

Remote (AAA-batteries included)

1 extra HEPA filter

1 brush cleaning tool

2 extra side brushes
Voltageauto volt
Manufactured inChina
Warranty1 year (learn more)

Where can I buy this?

Right now ILIFE and GearBest has discontinued the sale of the A4. This will only be available in Amazon for just a little over $200. My recommendation would be going for the newer ILIFE A4S or the A6.

Here are the latest prices and coupon codes:

A4S

A6

To Wrap Up

This modern day Rosie would be a good option for folks who cannot or aren’t willing to cough up $$$ for a high-end robot like a Roomba or Neato.

In terms of cleaning performance, it does a very decent job on the tests I’ve done on hardwood. For everyday cleaning, this machine will do the job but you’ll have to do your part for this machine to work at its best.

That means removing all wires, cables, slippers, toys, every potential road block that can disrupt how it navigates.

I mentioned earlier that you shouldn’t expect sophisticated navigation from this. It will just do it’s navigation sequence until the battery runs low so the best way to utilize this machine is to let it run one room at a time then move on to the next.

That way you’ll ensure complete coverage with only few missed spots.

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