by Garrick Dee
Updated March 13th, 2019
For those who aren’t familiar, ILIFE is a Chinese manufacturer of robotic vacuums. They set up their first R&D facility in Shenzhen and slowly gaining traction with their affordable yet high quality products.
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Before anything else watch this video I recorded on the main differences between these two robot vacuums…
Interface (Top View)
Both these products are polar opposites. The A4 which you will see first utilizes a simpler design with only a single button on top.
Update (April 5, 2017): ILIFE has unveiled two new robots vacuums – the A4S and A6. Both these variants come with upgraded motors and beater bars that they claim improves performance. I’ve written about both these but please standby for video reviews in my YouTube channel.
A4 Top View
That button also doubles as an indicator that tells you the status of the battery.
Green = full
Amber = half empty
Red = empty
Red could also mean an error code.
I like the design – it’s simple and sleek, easy to use. You’ll need the remote to access the other features.
X5 Top View
There is a digital monitor on top and four buttons below it – clean, plan, home and spot.
Clean button turns on the robot and activates the default automatic cleaning mode.
Plan allows you to schedule when the robot and the readout will appear on the digital screen on top. Now the X5’s screen isn’t particularly high tech, it reminds me of mid 90s cellphones that have a single line screen.
Home tells the robot to stop cleaning and dock.
Spot activates the spot cleaning mode but before you can use this, you’ll have to press the clean button first to use this function.
You’ll also notice that there is a door in the middle that allows you to access the dirt bin and change it up to a water tank.
Yes the X5 has dual functionality as a mop and vacuum, actually three because you can use it as a vacuum and dry mop.
Dirt Bin (A Visual Comparison)
Just by the eye test the A4 has a much larger dirt bin compared to the X5 and the numbers confirm it. The A4 can hold around 0.45 liters of dry dirt while the X5 can only hold 0.3 liters so the A4 can hold around 33% more!
This means you don’t have to empty it as often as you would in a smaller bin.
The bin is in a different location points. A4 has a tray-like pull out bin that comes out from the back (similar to a Roomba 650). The X5 bin drops in through a door on top of the robot.
Dimension and Height
Of the 7 ILIFE robot vacuums the X5 is the smallest measuring around 11.81 inches in diameter, the A4 is slightly bigger at 12.2 inches.
But the X5 is slightly taller at 3.03 inches and the A4 only measures 2.99 inches.
This allows it to fit under most furniture below 3 inches tall and cabinet overhangs.
As much as these two are different from the top, these robots are also different underneath.
A4’s view from down under
Combine the motorized brush, wider cleaning path and two side brushes, you have a dedicated robot vacuum capable of cleaning bare floor and carpet.
The side brushes helps in terms of reach to pick up dirt scattered on the edges.
While having two side brushes does have its fair share of critics, it does have some benefit at least in my experience using this robot.
Cleaning tests show that side brushes do have a tendency to scatter larger messes around. But it does a good job funnel them towards the vacuum when these messes get smaller.
In the real world, you won’t be cleaning a mess that big every day and chances are if you run this robot at least once a day, your floors will be cleaner and there will be less dirt to worry about. The key here is preventing dirt from piling up.
At the center of it all is the motorized bristle brush that helps in terms of agitation when cleaning carpet flooring. If you’re home has only bare floor I’d pass on this and buy the X5 because you don’t really need a motorized brush on bare floor (I’ll explain in a bit).
Having a motorized brush means hair will wrap around it and you’ll have to clean it regularly to maintain efficiency.
X5’s view underneath
With the mop attached…
While the A4 has a motorized brush, the X5 does not have this feature and relies solely on suction to clean your floors.
ILIFE engineers added something clever – rubber flaps that create a seal so dirt goes in and not past it.
Don’t worry about the inferior suction power, on bare floor it does not really matter. I rarely engage the A4’s max function because it does well even on default mode and I don’t like the noise.
You’ll also notice it has a bracket with a microfiber mop that you can stick on there. That bracket doesn’t cover the vacuum so it is possible to use it to dry mop and vacuum simultaneously.
Dry mopping using a microfiber towel helps pick up statically charged dust. You can even spray some cleaning solution on the mop.
Power and Noise
In terms of pure suction power even in default mode, hands down the A4 produces more suction than the X5.
As per the information shared in GearBest’s website the A4 produces 700Pa of suction in normal mode compared to the X5’s 550Pa, if my math is correct, that’s around a 20 something percent difference.
Of course with more power comes more noise and the A4 can get loud especially when you turn on the Max feature that increases suction to around 1,000Pa.
The X5 also has a max feature that increases the power to 850Pa, again a 150Pa difference.
This will not matter when cleaning sealed bare floor but on hardwood surfaces with crevices, having strong suction helps in sucking up dirt on those crevices.
On carpet, more suction helps and the A4 would be a better fit here because of the motorized brush.
This is another area where these two robots differ immensely.
First let’s look at the control of the X5
You will notice that the X5’s control does not have any screen on it, it’s all buttons.
So what if you need to schedule?
Point the remote to the robot and press the button with the time icon right beside the “max” button.
You’ll notice this brings out a digital clock on screen of the robot. Use the up and down arrows to set the schedule the hour and minute settings but take note there is a quirk in the scheduling feature.
To give you an example, setting it at 09:30 will not mean it’ll clean at exactly 9:30AM. It will clean 9 hours and 30 minutes AFTER you set it.
The other buttons on the controls are pretty straight forward. Like all ILIFE vacuums to access features like edge cleaning and spot cleaning, you will have to press the clean button first.
The A4 has a very different remote compared to the X5. First thing you will notice is the digital screen on top that shows you the clock and scheduled cleaning time.
Icons on the A4’s control are pretty clear – the top part has the arrow buttons and the “max” that increases suction. This also doubles as the down button when you set the time and schedule.
On the second row you will see the plan and clock that allows you to schedule the robot and set the time respectively.
Last row of buttons are the spot cleaning, dock (or home) and edge cleaning.
Only the A4 comes equipped with a motorized brush. In terms of agitation it works well on bare floor and carpet. But don’t expect this to deep clean carpet because it lacks power.
But when you compare the brush to older upright vacuums like a Hoover, it has more bristles so agitation is still pretty good.
In the comparison between the A4 and the V7S I mentioned that there are differences between the navigation pattern but as I’ve used the A4 and the X5 for the past few weeks.
They are more similar than different when you talk about navigation.
Let’s look at how the A4 navigates…
Then let’s look at how the X5 navigates…
As you can see with both videos above, both of these robots have the same cleaning pattern that alternate from a random crisscross pattern and edge-cleaning and back.
Both of these robots are fully capable of cleaning multiple rooms but to maximize efficiency and its chance to go back to the docking station.
I would suggest to let it clean one or two rooms at a time or if you’ve watched the videos above, let it clean one room and a hallway then move to another room.
It will simply run until the battery runs low and go back to home base to recharge.
Here’s another video to show you how the X5 navigates with the mop and the water tank attached…
With the mop attached and the vacuum turned off, it behaves slightly differently.
You can also use it to vacuum and dry mop at the same time.
Dust Bin and Filtration
These two robots have different style dirt bins.
Let’s look at the A4’s bin…
The A4 has a larger capacity bin capable of holding around 0.45 liters of dry dirt but you have to be careful when you empty this because the inlet is at the center so dirt inside can fall.
Make sure to tilt this part slightly upwards as you remove it from the robot.
It has a total of three filters – a primary mesh filter, a secondary foam filter than gives additional protection to the HEPA filter which is the third filter.
A cleaning brush is also provided to help in emptying the filter.
The primary mesh and secondary foam filter are both washable, the HEPA filter isn’t.
The X5’s bin is much, much different from the A4 in terms of design.
It has the same primary mesh filter as the A4 but it does not have the secondary foam filter. However, it does have a secondary HEPA filter that isn’t washable.
The bin as I’ve said can be accessed through a top door and is interchangeable with the water tank.
One advantage the X5 has over the A4 is the virtual wall feature that literally acts like a wall.
Once you turn this on, it sends out a signal to tell the robot not to go enter whatever area you don’t want it to go to so for example you don’t want it going into the laundry area and it does not have a door, simply place the virtual wall on the pathway and the X5 will not enter it.
The A4 does not have this feature. In fact only the X5 has the virtual wall and you cannot use it on the other ILIFE robots.
Where can I buy this?
Click on the links below to get the latest prices. Some of the links below are coupon codes that you can use to get more savings.
- A4SJZ (EU Plug) – $139.99
The ILIFE A4 is no longer in production and has been replaced by the A4S. You can also have a look at the ILIFE A6 – it’s their latest robotic vacuum with the bristle-less beater bar that is easier to maintain.
Both of these vacuums are great options depending on the type of flooring you have at home.
The A4 is great for homes with a mix of carpet and bare floor thanks to its superior suction and motorized brush. It has a larger dirt bin which would be able to store more dirt than the X5.
In my opinion it has the better remote control of the two and the slightly lower profile allows it to navigate under furniture better (though the difference is really small).
The X5 would suite homes with only bare floor thanks to the wet mopping feature. It doesn’t have a beater bar which good because that’s one less part to clean. You save time.
Rubberized flaps underneath funnel dirt toward the bin.
In addition to the vacuum and wet mopping functionality, you can simultaneously use the dry mop and vacuum feature because it doesn’t vacuum so this can also be great for dusting your floors.