Roborock S5 (S50) Review: Cheaper Alternative to the Neato BotVac

When Xiaomi introduced the world to their first robotic vacuum, a lot of people were skeptical (myself included) on how it would perform.

Well to make the long story short, the first generation Xiaomi exceeded expectations.

And I’d say it was more successful than much-hyped Dyson 360 Eye in terms of reviews and sales.

This 2nd generation Xiaomi (they call the Roborock S50) robot will cost upwards of $450 depending on the plug type. So that’s a few hundred dollars more expensive. So is it worth the premium?

Deal Alert: GearBest has it’s own Black Friday sale, and you can get excellent deals on different Xiaomi products such as Jimmy and Roborock on their website. Please click on this link to see those deals that run through the entire week until Cyber Monday!

If you want this robot now is the time to purchase but don’t forget to watch my video review if you’re going to catch a glimpse of what this robot is all about.

Let’s closely look at the features and improvements that this product has over the previous generation Xiaomi.

Features of the Xiaomi Roborock S5 (S50)

  • Top-mounted Laser Distance Sensor (or LDS) that scans its surroundings 360 degrees, 180 times per second to map out the area it’ll clean
  • Inside the robot are three processors that tract its movements real-time
  • The Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (or SLAM) algorithm help it calculate the most efficient cleaning path making this robot fully capable of cleaning multiple rooms without getting lost
  • MI Home App allows remote access to this robot even if you’re at work
  • 2-in-1 functionality of a robot vacuum and mop
  • App has a feature to customize an area you want it to clean
  • 5,200 mAh lithium-ion battery will run for about 2.5 hours or cleaning a house 250 sq.m before having to recharge
  • Suction improved from 1,800 Pa to 2,000 Pa
  • Capable of climbing obstacles up to 2cm tall
  • Washable HEPA filter


  • Improved power
  • Now has a mopping functionality
  • APP feature gives you more control on the areas you want to clean
  • Larger dust cup capacity than the previous generation
  • The smartphone app allows remote access
  • Washable HEPA filter


  • More expensive – almost as expensive as a Neato BotVac Connected
  • Mopping function will not remove dry stains – it’s only good for maintenance mopping on a relatively clean floor
  • Not compatible with Alexa

What to expect from the Xiaomi Roborock S5?

Watch this video to get a glimpse of what this product is all about.

If you have not read my review of the first generation Xiaomi, please read it over here.

Initially, before upgrading the firmware and app, I was disappointed with how it performed in the first cleaning test. I mentioned at the time that “it was too efficient” meaning it lacked thoroughness.

But after the firmware upgrade, everything changed. Cleaning performance improved more than two-fold because of the thoroughness.

Expect more or less the same performance because this product uses the same motorized brush, single side brush but with slightly more power.

Top View

From the top, you’ll immediately notice the difference between the first and second generation Xiaomi. Whereas the first get robot’s buttons are at the bottom of the fascia, the newer generation is at the upper part right before the LDS sensor.

You won’t be able to schedule cleaning on the robot, only through the smartphone app unlike in the Neato BotVac.

This feature can be a bad thing or nothing depending on your preference.

Bottom view

Flip the robot over, and you’ll see the same layout as the previous generation Xiaomi. It is a single side brush that’ll help clean dirt on the edges and corners and sweep them towards the middle.

But there’s another function that Xiaomi added to this new machine that’ll I discuss below.

What are the improvements with the Xiaomi Roborock S5?


The most significant upgrade, in my opinion, would be the addition of the mop. Some folks have gone as far as using double sided tape to stick a microfiber towel at the bottom of the robot.

With this new product, you don’t need to go through all that trouble because it comes with a mop.

And it’ll give you the ability to wet mop or dry mop with the vacuum on.

Yes, it is that versatile which makes it similar to products such as Jisiwei I3, ILIFE V5 Pro or the Liectroux B6009.

Xiaomi says it uses a “smart water effusion” system that where water only trickles down so you won’t have a big puddle of mess.

I have not tested this product, so I do not know how well it works. But I’ll update this article once I get my hands on the test unit.

But to give you a glimpse of how it mops, please watch this video.

The Xiaomi Roborock mops the same way it vacuums – in a back and forth predictable pattern. Take note that it will vacuum and mop at the same time. There is no feature in the app that tells the robot to shut off the motor.

More Powerful Motor

The first generation Xiaomi was already a beast in terms of power with 1,800 Pa of suction. This second generation robot adds 200 Pa to the equation.

Does that make a difference in day to day cleaning tasks?

Well, probably not but it’s a step in the right direction. And having more power is something you’d want if you have lots of carpet at home.

Improved App

I mentioned earlier that you could use a smartphone app to control this robot autonomously even when you’re not physically at the same location.

It also gives you the ability to schedule this multiple times in a day, something that you can’t do with the Neato BotVac or Roomba 980.

Another feature found in the new Xiaomi is that it allows you to clean a specific part of your home without having to physically block it or use a virtual wall (something that iRobot uses).

It is a massive improvement in my opinion because it gives you more control and options.

The more options you have, the better it is.

Zoned Cleaning

One improvement I like is the “zone cleaning” feature where you can ask the robot to clean a specific part of your home. There’s no need to put any physical barrier or any magnetic strips of tape.

All you need to do is draw the area on the app then the robot does the rest. It’ll go around the area twice then go back to the charging station.

Update (April 3, 2019): iRobot has a better version of this with the Roomba I7. Instead of having to manually draw the area you want the robot to clean, it has this feature they call persistent maps that save the maps that it draws in its previous cleaning cycles. Once it has the data in place, you can assign names to each room and tell the robot to clean that area through the app or Alexa.

Washable HEPA filter

Another significant improvement would be the washable HEPA filter. No longer will you have to replace it as soon as it gets soiled, just run it over water, let it dry then you’re ready to go.

But here’s the catch, you can only wash it once a week.

Unfortunately, you’d still have to replace the filter but not as often as the old Xiaomi. It will reduce costs because you’ll buy filters much later.

Larger Dust Capacity

The dust bin is also slightly larger at around 0.50 liters which is 0.08 liters bigger than the first generation Xiaomi.

Not a huge improvement but at least it has a bit more storage space. Compared to the Roomba 980 that has a 700ml dust bin, the Xiaomi bin pales in comparison.

So you’ll have to empty this more often compared to a Roomba.

5,200 mAh battery

Xiaomi has perhaps the largest capacity lithium-ion battery in the industry.

Having this much capacity is does add to the weight but who cares? It is an autonomous cleaning robot that does the job for you.

Unlike the Dyson 360 Eye that only runs 45 minutes, this robot will run for 2.5 hours! Think about that; a Dyson will cost close to a thousand dollars while this will cost $600 at most.

Now that is value for money!

Laser Distance Sensor

Like the first generation Xiaomi, this also uses a Laser Distance Sensor to map out the shape of the room.

It is the same technology found in the first gen Xiaomi. But they did something unusual. Engineers relocated the sensor towards the middle of the robot instead of leaving it close to the back.

I’m not sure why they did this, it could be because of clearance issues so that the there’s less risk of the elevated cover rubbing on an overhanging cabinet. Or it just cosmetic to make room for the instrument cluster located at the back.

SLAM algorithm

Inside the robot are three processors that help the robot process all the information gathered by the LDS sensor to map out the most efficient path.

To put it simply, it divides the rooms into subsections when it cleans.

Again you’ll see this in the videos I’ll post so please bookmark this page or subscribe to my YouTube channel to see that video when I post about it.

At the heart of all this is the Simultaneous Localization and Mapping algorithm (or SLAM) that drives the robot around different areas inside your home. It is the same technology that you’ll see in the Google driving car a.k.a. Waymo.

Cleaning Performance

Even with the slight bump in power do not expect a dramatic improvement in cleaning performance. This robot will have the same performance as the first generation Xiaomi.

Check out these before and after photos…

It did an excellent job cleaning the middle parts of the room. It picked up nearly every bit of dirt I scattered on the floor. But it struggled somewhat cleaning the edges near on both sides of the door. The side brush did struggle in reaching to the edge and corners.


One of the most significant upgrades in the Roborock would be the mopping feature.

It comes with a bracket that can hold up to 60 ml of water and two microfiber pads.

However, don’t expect this feature to replace your traditional mop. It mops the same way it vacuums – in a straight back and forth pattern.

Things I like:

  • You don’t need to flip the robot over to attach the mop bracket – slide it until you hear a “click.”
  • The mop is easy to attach and remove
  • It comes with one extra pad so you can still use one mop while the other is in the washing machine

Things I don’t like:

  • You can’t turn off the vacuum
  • It has the same pattern vacuuming as it has mopping – I was hoping that it would have a separate mopping function

If you’re doing a small room fill the tank halfway or else, it’ll leave streaks.

Where can I buy this robot?

You can buy this robot from GearBest and Amazon. Buying this from Amazon would mean free 2-day shipping if you join Prime. Yes, it’ll be more expensive but if you want it fast then buy there.

Buying in GearBest would be cheaper. Check the links below for the latest prices.

  • White/Rose Gold Version (GearBest USA site)
  • Black Version EU Plug (GearBest USA site)
  • White Version International Version (HK warehouse) *Flash Sale (31% OFF)

If the 2nd generation Xiaomi is too expensive you, their first generation robot is a great option. Click on the links below for the latest prices.

  • White International Version (HK warehouse & GearBest USA site)

Click this link for the MI Robot accessory sale. You can get the 5-piece set for just $39.99.

The verdict

So the big question is this robot worth the $600 price tag? It depends on your preferences, the size of your home and if you can afford one.

This robot would suit best in a medium to large sized home thanks to its 2.5-hour range and efficient cleaning pattern.

You wouldn’t need to worry about it getting lost because it’ll rarely get lost thanks to all the gadgetry installed.

It also has the best smartphone app in the business (in my opinion) because of all the options it gives you.

It is the only app I’ve seen (aside from the Dyson 360 Eye) that can schedule more than once a day. So you can schedule this morning, noon and night if you so choose.

The new app that you can use with the second generation Xiaomi allows you to program it to clean a specific area of your home.

However, it’s not like the Roomba I7 that allows you to clean a specific room – you’ll have to mark that rectangular area through its zoned cleaning feature.

And the best part is you don’t need to physically block it with a magnetic tape.

It’s the tech that you’ll get that makes this a great budget option (if consider $600 cheap) to the Roomba 980.

You’ll get a robot that’ll run for 2.5 hours and clean every room in your home with efficiency.

If you live in a mansion, it’ll clean on its own after recharging if it can’t cover the whole area in a single charge.

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