Roomba 980 Review

Roomba 980 Review

The Roomba 980 is the first iRobot product with intelligent navigation. Is it as good as a Neato or Roborock product?

I’ve put this product through a series of tests to find out, and I’m sold on the results.

It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty darn good at what it does.

iRobot's First Robot Vacuum with Smart Navigation
  • Navigation - 94%
  • Surface Cleaning - 99.56%
  • Deep Cleaning - 91.9%
  • Quality - 94%
  • Design - 94%
  • Value - 92%


After almost two decades, iRobot finally changed its course and utilized a more advanced algorithm in the Roomba lineup. The 980 is a pivotal moment in iRobot’s history and the first Roomba to navigate in straight lines with the top-mounted camera and SLAM. One feature separating this from other brands is dirt-detect, which instructs the robot to do additional back-and-forth passes on dirtier areas. None of the other robots have this since iRobot has a patent.


  • It’s more efficient navigation than the previous generation Roombas like the 675 and 690.
  • The dirt-detect feature makes it thorough.
  • 600-ml dirt capacity.
  • It has recharge and resume.
  • 120-minute run time.
  • It has a lower profile design than Neato and Roborock.
  • Deep cleans carpets well.


  • No containment features.
  • The iRobot Home app lacks advanced features.
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Introduction to the Roomba 980

Before introducing the 980, all iRobot products utilized a standard navigating algorithm, so their products only bounce around in a random direction.

Coverage wasn’t a concern as the software was sophisticated enough to clean the whole area. But efficiency was another matter, as older Roombas were not smart.

All of it changed with the 980. It was the first Roomba with a top-mounted camera and the iAdapt 2.0 navigation. So it can draw maps internally.

This upgrade translates to better efficiency and the ability to cover a vast space without getting lost.

How does the Roomba 980 navigate?


You can see how the Roomba 980 differs from the Roborock S5 Max with navigation.

The 980 will traverse in what iRobot terms “neat rows” – straight back-and-forth patterns like a Neato and Roborock.

But unlike these brands that rely on LIDAR, it utilizes a camera to aid it in recognizing obstacles and pinpointing its location.

Another tracking sensor is underneath the robot in case the lights dim. This redundancy helps prevent the robot from getting lost in areas with low visibility.

It’s a similar sensor in the Roborock E4 or the Roomba I3+.

iAdapt 2.0

iRobot calls this technology iAdapt 2.0. It’s a fancy term for Visual Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (VSLAM).

iAdapt 2.0 draws maps internally based on snapshots from the camera. It also helps it remember where it’s at, so it doesn’t go into vacuumed areas.

However, version 2.0 doesn’t have the map-saving capability of version 3.0 found in the newer I6, I7, and S9.

Since it can’t save maps, users won’t have access to containment features like keep-out zones.

Consumers will not see the live map when the robot is running. Only after the run is the map accessible by tapping the history menu.

Will the Roomba 980 scuff furniture?

iRobot products have significantly improved in this area. The Roomba 690 was notorious for bumping into furniture at full speed. This is no longer the case with the 980. It slows down and nudges objects instead of ramming into them.

How will it do in cramped spaces?

I also tested the 980 and how it navigates in tight areas under chair legs. It can move around without getting caught, especially with the office chair, where the Roomba 690 had trouble.

One of the strengths of the 980 is moving in and out of tight zones.

Can it avoid wires?

Nope. None of the Roomba options can avoid wires. It’s best to tidy these up before running it. Only the products like the Roborock S6 MaxV or the Ecovacs T8 with the front camera will have some success avoiding it.


Top view of the Roomba 980

The 980 retains the round frame as older Roomba options like the 675 and 690. But there’s an overhaul with the interface.

You’ll see the camera in the middle with three buttons above it. But I don’t think you’ll use it as much because of the app.

Below the camera is the lever to remove the dustbin.

Bottom view of the Roomba 980

Underneath, the 980 has one side brush and the counter-rotating extractors that iRobot utilized from the 800 series onwards.

These rollers don’t have any bristles, so they resist tangles better [more on that later].

App features of the Roomba 980

iRobot Home App main interface

This model is compatible with the iRobot Home App. Please note you’ll need a router to connect the app and robot. The process is straightforward, with good connectivity.

Once inside, you’ll notice it doesn’t have a map. It shows an image of the robot with the “vacuum everywhere” button below it.

Since the 980 can’t save maps, the live map won’t be accessible.

Cleaning preferences

iRobot Home app cleaning preferences

Users can customize the cleaning preferences like power settings, the number of passes it makes, or turn on edge cleaning.

iRobot Home app power settings

There are three options – automatic, one pass, or two passes.

The 980 has two power modes – performance and eco. You can also set it to automatic so the robot will only go into the max setting on the carpet.

One feature I like is “bin behavior,” where the robot will automatically dock if the bin is full. It prevents messy mishaps from running the robot with the dustbin full.

Unfortunately, there’s no access to containment features.

Scheduling feature

iRobot app scheduling feature

The iRobot app also has a scheduling feature where you can set a time and date when the robot will vacuum your home. Compared to the Xiaomi Home app, the functionality is quite basic.

One limit is you can only schedule one run per day. After setting the time and date, there’s no option to set more runs on the same day.

iRobot app scheduling

As you can see in the screenshot above, the days on the right are disabled. It means you’ve already set a scheduled run for that day.

I hope iRobot remedies this and adds unlimited scheduling in future app versions.

How much power does the Roomba 980 have?

I use an anemometer to measure airflow directly from the robot’s brush roll to check power.

Here are the results for the Roomba 980.

  • Eco: 13.74 CFM
  • Performance: 19.74 CFM

The 980 has as much as 19 CFM in performance mode, one of the highest I’ve tested.

It’s one of the more potent Roomba options with more airflow than the more expensive Roomba I7 and Roborock S6 MaxV.

This high airflow translates well in cleaning floors thanks to the extractors’ excellent design and the “dirt detect” sensor.

Cleaning performance

I put the 980 through a series of pick-up tests on various types of debris like sand, quaker oats, quinoa, pet litter, Cheerios, fruit loops, and more.

Here are the results.

  • Overall: 97.65%
  • Hard floors: 99.35%
  • Sand on hard floors: 100%
  • Carpet (surface): 99.35%
  • Deep cleaning: 91.9%

The marks were consistent in all the tests. It’s up there with the Roborock S5 Max with the surface debris test but with better results in the deep cleaning tests.

One reason it cleaned well is the “dirt detect” technology focusing on dirty spots.

Hard floor results

Roomba 980 hard floor cleaning test

  • Quaker oats: 98.4%
  • Coffee: 100%
  • Quinoa: 100%
  • Pet litter: 99%

The 980 didn’t do as well with quaker oats because of the side brush scattering some of it. If I could nitpick, the fast-spinning side brush would spread debris lumped together like this. It shouldn’t be a concern for daily cleaning since you’re only dealing with mostly dust particles or hair.

Sand on hard floor test.

Roomba 980 sand on hard floor test

I scattered 50 grams of sand on a test area to see how much the 980 will pick up. It picked up an average of 100% in two tests.

As the clip above shows, it could clean most of the sand in the forward pass. Dirt detect kicked in and did another backward pass.

I did not have to wait for the cycle to finish for it to pick up everything. So efficiency is excellent.

Hair wrap test

Another area to consider when buying robot vacuums is how well they resist tangles. I spread one gram of five to seven-inch human hair to test. This is a loose estimate, as some strands were over seven inches.

The 980 was able to resist tangles up to seven inches.

Roomba 980 hair wrap on hard floor

Hardly anything wrapped on the rubber extractors after the hard floor test.

Roomba 980 hair wrap test

But the cut-off point is seven. Anything over seven inches will wrap around the brush and axles.

Remember that cleaning this much long hair isn’t realistic. But it’s a good experiment to find out the limits of the extractors.

Edge cleaning

Roomba 980 edge cleaning results

The round shape 980 will limit how it cleans dirt on the edges. I scattered coffee grounds on this corner of my home office to see how much it cleaned.

It got most of the debris, but the edge wasn’t spotless. Cleaning edges will be an issue with most robots with a round frame.

Large debris test


The Roomba 980 can clean large debris like Cheerios and Fruit loops.

Cleaning large and extra-large stuff like Cheerios and Fruit loops won’t be a concern for the Roomba 980. The rubber extractors will easily sweep up these types of debris.

However, the cut-off will be Fruit-loops-sized particles. It won’t pick up two Fruit loops stuck together.

Carpet results

Next, we’ll check how well the 980 picks up dirt on carpets. I

Low pile

Roomba 980 low pile cleaning test

  • Quaker oats: 99.2%
  • Coffee: 98%
  • Quinoa: 100%
  • Pet litter: 100%

It had excellent scores on low pile carpet. You can see the “dirt detect” and rubber extractors at work here.

In most cases, the back-and-forth passes were enough to pick up most of the debris.

Mid pile

Roomba 980 mid pile cleaning test

  • Quaker oats: 98.6%
  • Coffee: 99%
  • Quinoa: 100%
  • Pet litter: 100%

Results on mid-pile carpet are also excellent, with two 100% scores and the other two in the high 90s. Strangely, it cleaned coffee grounds on mid-pile carpet slightly better than on low pile.

Deep Cleaning Test

To see how well the 980 cleans embedded dirt, I rubbed 100 grams of fine sand on mid pile carpet.

This robot picked up a tidy 91.9% in two tests, one of the highest I’ve recorded (so far) with robot vacuums.

It’s up there with the Roomba S9 and 980 – both with a 90+ percent average.

Hair wrap test on carpet

I also did another hair wrap test on carpet. This time, I spread strands longer than seven inches at a little over one gram.

Roomba 980 hair wrap test on carpet

How long should a Roomba 980 battery last?

The Roomba 980 has a 3,300 mAh Li-ion battery and will run for up to 120 minutes in the eco setting.

Remove Roomba 980 battery

A close look at the Roomba 980 battery.

Please take note that its close sibling, the 960, uses a smaller 1,800 mAh battery, so it has a shorter run time of 75 minutes.

Since this robot has “recharge and resume,” run time shouldn’t be much of a concern. If the battery runs low and has not finished cleaning, it will recharge and return to the same area it last cleaned in the previous run.

What I like about the Roomba 980 is how easy it is to replace the battery. It’s a modular design, so there’s easy access to the battery. You’ll only need to remove two bolts underneath and not have to remove the whole base plate.

This feature helps the 980 be a viable long-term option if you want a robot that will last for years.

How loud is the Roomba 980?

Unfortunately, the powerful motor of the Roomba 980 has a bad side effect: it’s loud. Very loud.

I used a sound meter to measure noise, and here are the results.

  • Eco: 66 dB
  • Performance: 74.2 dB

In performance mode, it sounds like a rocket. Even in Eco mode, I wouldn’t advise using this robot at daybreak or late at night, as it may annoy your family or neighbors.

Product Specifications

ModelRoomba 980
Battery3,300 mAh Li-ion
Run timeUp to 120 mins.
Dirt Capacity (dry)600 ml.
Weight8.7 pounds
Diameter13.5 inches
Height3.6 inches
Smart NavigationYes
Recharge and ResumeYes
HEPA FiltrationYes
Side BrushYes
Extra FilterNone
Warranty1 year
PriceCheck Price

Is the Roomba 980 discontinued?

Yes. The Roomba 980 is no longer available on the iRobot website. You could opt for the cheaper Roomba 960 with a smaller battery and motor or buy a related model like the 981 or 981. These models are the same products as the 980. There might be variations with the accessories included.

Roomba 980 Maintenance

As with all Roomba products, maintenance is an essential component for its longevity. Don’t worry, I’ve outlined a step-by-step guide in cleaning the different components of the Roomba 980 to keep it in tip-top shape for years.

Where can I buy the Roomba 980?

The Roomba 980 is no longer available on Amazon brand new. But there are alternative options like the 981 or 985 with the same features.

You could also opt for a renewed 980 since parts are abundant. It is a good, less expensive option.

Disclaimer: I will earn a commission if you purchase through any of the links above, but at no extra cost, so it’s a win-win for us!

Is the Roomba 980 worth it?

Even if there are cheaper options that offer comparable cleaning performance, I think the 980 is still worth considering.

One reason is performance. It’s one of the best robot vacuums for cleaning embedded dirt on carpets.

Roomba products do so well because of the dual brush and dirt detect that does extra passes on filthier areas.

None of the other brands have this technology because iRobot owns the patent.

If you need a robot vacuum that can deep clean carpet, the 980 is one of the better alternatives.

4 Reasons why you should buy the Roomba 980

  1. Excellent on carpet: The 980’s high airflow, dirt detect, and rubber extractors all work in unison, making it one of the best robot vacuum options for cleaning carpet.
  2. Extended run time: The 3,300 mAh battery enables the 980 to run further than the 960 – up to 120 minutes.
  3. Capable of deep cleaning carpet: It picked up over 91% of embedded sand on mid-pile carpet. It’s one of the best performing alternatives in this category.
  4. Large dustbin: The 0.6-liter capacity is the largest among all Roomba options.

The Verdict: Best Mid-Priced Option for Carpet

While the Roomba 980 may not have the bells and whistles of the top-spec S9+, it’s much cheaper and cleans carpets well.

It’s not far off the S9+ in deep cleaning tests with its 91% score. I’m impressed by iRobot’s “dirt detect” system and how it could make extra passes on areas with lots of sand.

The 980 is still expensive, almost at the same level as the S5 Max, but it has more functionality. But if you prioritize carpet cleaning and do not mind the lack of containment and mopping features, the 980 is an excellent option.

Change log:

  • Added links to newer reviews I published and changed parts of the article for better clarity and readability.

About the author: Garrick, the visionary behind Cordless Vacuum Guide, brings over a decade of hands-on expertise in cordless vacuum testing to his insightful reviews showcased on this platform. Beyond his passion for empowering consumers with informed choices, he cherishes precious moments with his family, exploring global cuisines and exploring different horizons with his beloved wife and son. Follow him on Youtube, Tiktok, Facebook, and Instagram.