After the Roborock S7 Auto Empty Dock release, I thought it was the perfect time to compare it with another premium self-emptying robot – the
These two products are close, in terms of price, so I’m sure you’re curious to see which variant is better? I’ve spent many hours testing both these products on different categories like navigation, cleaning, app features, and much more.
I’ll share all the results in this review. There’s a lot to unpack, so let’s get into it.
A quick overview of the Roborock S7 and
I’ve tested these products extensively and summarized some of the results below. For airflow, I used an anemometer at the brush roll. I rubbed 100 grams of sand on mid-pile carpet for deep cleaning tests, then ran the robots for at least five minutes. Scroll down below to see the complete results and commentary.
- Airflow: 13.91 CFM
- Deep cleaning: 78.85%
- Mopping: Yes
- Auto empty: Yes
- Bag capacity: 3-liters
- Navigation: LIDAR & SLAM
- Map saving: Yes
- Number of maps: 4
- Containment: Yes
- Selective room cleaning: Yes
- Recharge & Resume: Yes
- Dustbin capacity: 420ml
- Water tank: 300ml
- Side brush: One
- Battery: 5200 mAh Li-ion
- Run time: 180 mins
- Noise: 69.8 dB
- Airflow: 25 CFM
- Deep cleaning: 93%
- Mopping: No
- Auto empty: Yes
- Bag capacity: 2.5-liters
- Navigation: Camera & SLAM
- Map saving: Yes
- Number of maps: 10
- Containment: Yes
- Selective room cleaning: Yes
- Recharge & Resume: Yes
- Dustbin capacity: 500ml
- Water tank: N/A
- Side brush: One
- Battery: 3300 mAh Li-ion
- Run time: 75 mins
- Noise: 74.1 dB
Introduction to the Roborock S7 and the
The Roborock S7 and
While these products are close in price, their features vary. However, one similarity is their self-emptying capabilities that rid consumers of this menial task.
Robot Vacuum/ Mop Hybrid: Roborock S7
Roborock has been making waves recently with its product releases.
First, the S5 Max, the first variant with an electronic water tank, came the S6 MaxV with its dual-lens front-facing camera, enabling it to avoid obstacles better than any other Roborock.
The S7 is, perhaps, Roborock’s best product to date with their latest mopping technology, VibraRise. It’s the first robot mop hybrid I’ve tested with a vibrating pad, accentuating its mopping capabilities, and enabling it to mop stains better than most robot vacuums out there.
This variant also introduced a host of other upgrades, like the floating brush assembly and the new brush roll minus the bristles, providing high-end agitation and fewer hair-wrap issues.
While the S7 has an auto-empty dock, it’s an add-on item you’ll need to purchase separately.
I’ve asked Roborock if they’ll sell it as a package like Roomba and Ecovacs, but they haven’t committed to anything, so it’s your only option to enjoy the self-emptying feature.
The Roborock auto empty dock is unique with its dual-cylinder design, wide port connecting to the brush roll, and two additional filters to complement its bagged system.
Roborock says the wide port will accommodate larger debris, but there’s a limit (hint Fruit loops) because of the narrow pathway going to the bag.
I tested it extensively, and while I had my doubts, it proved to be an excellent design since it also cleans the build-up on the brush roll assembly.
Roborock just released the Roborock S7+ which combines the robot + auto-empty dock in one package at a cheaper cost than the
Best in Class Cleaning Performance:
Many challengers have come and gone, but none beats the
Its high airflow, wide cleaning path, and superb agitation make the S9 a class leader in vacuuming debris.
This variant picked up the highest surface and embedded dirt averages, furthering its claim as the best-in-class cleaning robot.
If you want a no-nonsense vacuuming robot that will inhale debris, look no further than the
The plus version comes with a clean base station that empties the dustbin for you after every run.
Like the Roborock S7, it utilizes a bagged system but with a lower capacity of around 2.5-liters.
You’ll have to purchase one of iRobot’s Braava products to get this functionality.
The high cost may deter some from getting the
If that’s the case, you could look at Roomba’s cheaper options like the I3 and I6 (or I7), but these variants don’t have the wide extractors or monster airflow the S9 brings to the table.
Similarities between the Roborock S7 and
These robot vacuums don’t look alike, but there are similarities under the hood.
Both products are smart navigating robot vacuums that move in straight lines. Each utilizes a bevy of sensors to help it track its location and draw maps.
However, the similarity ends there – Roborock utilizes LIDAR as its primary navigational sensor, which I like since it doesn’t rely on light. Lasers are precise and will work even in a completely dark room.
Roomba relies on a combination of a top-mounted camera and floor sensors for navigation.
A camera won’t be as precise as a laser, relying heavily on a light source to function.
iRobot recommends this in their app, and without it, the S9 won’t complete the map-drawing process, and users can’t save it.
2. Map saving
Another similarity between the Roborock S7 and
Here’s a screenshot of the iRobot maps tab.
This feature unlocks other nifty features, my favorite of which is containment (more info below).
Users can add containment boxes to each map they save and block these robots from going into restricted areas.
Since these zones are added through the app, there’s no need to add physical boundaries.
One helpful feature these variants offer is containment. Consumers can draw boxes (through the app) that act as “off-limit” zones, preventing the robot from entering them.
However, the iRobot app only has the “keep out zones,” which are box or rectangle areas but don’t have an invisible wall feature – something available with the Roborock app.
Invisible walls are lines with a similar function as a containment box [keep out zones or no-go zones] blocking certain areas, but with an option to block diagonal regions.
Consumers can purchase these robots with their auto-empty docks, emptying the robot’s dustbin after every run.
Roomba offers the S9+ as a package, while the Roborock S7 does not, and you’ll have to purchase its auto-empty dock separately.
Roborock offers more customization with four auto-empty modes plus the option to turn off the self-emptying feature.
In comparison, Roomba does not empty the dustbin after every successful run.
Both variants utilized a bagged system, but Roborock’s dock has two additional filters to complement the bag’s filtration.
Roborock has a (larger) capacity of 3 liters, while Roomba is slightly smaller at 2.5 liters.
Another similarity is the ramp style design, which I prefer over vertical ports since there are no alignment issues to consider.
Consumers can safely use both docks on hard floors or carpets.
Differences between the Roborock S7 and
Next, we’ll look at the differences between the Roborock S7 and
1. Primary brush
One noticeable difference between these robot vacuums is their primary brush design. Roborock utilizes a single roller with rubber fins spiraling around it, which departs from the combo brush on previous models.
I like this design better than the older combo brush since it resists tangles better and offers better agitation, especially on surface debris.
In contrast, Roomba utilizes its patented counter-rotating extractors, spanning nearly the entire robot width.
It’s wider than iRobot’s previous iterations – the I3, I4, I6, and I7, and providers much better efficiency combined with the high airflow.
2. Side brush
Roborock utilizes its five-prong, all-rubber side brush, which I like since it offers better durability.
In comparison, the
While the side brush diameter varies, the velocity to which it spins is similar, meaning it isn’t prone to scatter debris, thus helping with efficiency.
The S9+ is the only Roomba in the iRobot lineup with a D-shape design. This framework is a rarity in the robot vacuum industry, with only a handful of brands adapting it (e.g., Neato and Dibea).
In comparison, the Roborock S7 utilizes a more traditional round frame.
Put these two robots side-by-side; the Roborock S7 is slightly wider than the
4. Dustbin design and volume
Between the two, the
However, dustbin volume shouldn’t be a factor with the auto-empty docks since both options will empty themselves.
I like the
In comparison, the S7 auto-empty dustbin doesn’t have the front gate you’ll see in the default container, except for the top door that houses the filter.
If you buy the S7 auto-empty dock, it comes with a separate dustbin explicitly designed for the base station.
It’s identical design-wise but with an opening on one side, which I think is a release valve, so air flows smoothly when the base station engages.
Another difference between these dustbins is the port location. The
5. Auto-empty dock filtration
Roborock prioritized filtration with its auto-empty dock, where the first cylinder houses two filters – a primary and HEPA-rated filter.
It can filter up to 99.99% of dirt and allergens, up to 0.3 microns, equivalent to high-end bagged vacuum filtration.
Roomba doesn’t have any additional filters but only relies on its bags.
Consumers may need to purchase original iRobot bags to enjoy this benefit since there’s no guarantee that third-party brands offer the same type of material.
6. Live map [Roborock S7 only]
Only the Roborock S7 has this feature, helping users keep track of the robot’s location in real time. LIDAR enables it to draw these lines on the map, which is another gauge of where it is at in its cleaning cycle.
The iRobot app doesn’t have the live map feature but only shows a graphic of the robot.
7. Mopping [Roborock S7 only]
One glaring disparity between these robots is the lack of a mopping feature with the
You’ll need to purchase any Braava products to enjoy the mopping feature, and iRobot says you can sync the S9 and Braava Jet, so the latter mops after the S9 finishes vacuuming.
The Roborock S7 is the first robot vacuum hybrid I’ve tested with a vibrating mopping pad. This feature takes its mopping performance to another level.
Here’s a before and after shot on red wine stains.
It also cleaned juice stains well, but I wouldn’t recommend using any robot mop on them since it leaves a sticky residue.
Users will have various options, including adjusting water level settings and the mop-only mode if the deep setting is selected.
It’s perhaps the best robot vacuum/mop hybrid, factoring in the vacuuming and mopping performance.
App features of the Roborock S7 and
These robot vacuums have their respective smartphone apps, and we’ll look at the unique features of each brand.
1. Live map [Roborock S7]
The Roborock S7 has a live map showing the robot’s location in real-time. It helps users track the robot’s whereabouts if it gets stuck.
This feature highlights the differences between these brands’ primary sensors – LIDAR versus a top-mounted camera + optical sensor.
You can see in the screenshot above the accuracy of the laser sensor at drawing the map. It’s the exact representation of the floor plan.
Since LIDAR continually fires signals in a 360-degree pattern during the entirety of the run, it takes less time for a Roborock product to create a map.
As these signals bounce off the perimeter, it then draws a map through the SLAM algorithm. Whatever the laser signals touch represents the perimeter walls on the map.
It also enables the app to have these lines that follow the robot as it goes along its cleaning cycle.
While the iRobot app doesn’t have a live map, you can view it by tapping on this pin icon at the lower right of the robot graphic.
The map you’ll see here vastly differs from what Roborock has drawn. It’s not as accurate since the Roomba relies primarily on this downward-facing optical sensor to find the room’s edges.
So whatever obstacle it encounters during the mapping run reflects on the map drawing.
If you look at these screenshots comparing the Roborock and Roomba maps, you can see the difference.
You can see the difference in how LIDAR and an optical sensor draw the map. LIDAR (left) is more accurate since the laser sensor continually fires signals around the surrounding walls. Hence, it’s more precise while the optical sensor is pointed downward; any obstacle (like doors or furniture) is portrayed as a wall (if that makes sense).
The diagonal line represents the open door going to the hallway, which isn’t the case in the Roborock map.
2. Invisible wall [Roborock S7 only]
I’ve discussed this earlier in the earlier section, but I’ll expound further here. The Roborock S7 has access to the invisible wall feature, enabling users to draw straight and diagonal lines.
Depending on your home’s floor plan, this feature may or may not be helpful.
In my home office, it is helpful since a small portion under my work desk is littered with wires for the router, WIFI connection, etc.
I’ve added hooks to tidy these cables, but there are still exposed wires.
The invisible wall feature will be handy if your home has a similar layout.
3. Map saving
Both brands offer map-saving capabilities. The
Users can add multiple containment boxes (and invisible walls for Roborock) and name each room (both brands support custom room naming) on each level.
One difference is that Roborock has an automatic room recognition feature absent in Roomba.
Again, the LIDAR sensor’s advantage is that the S7 performs an initial 360 scan before the run.
4. Selective room cleaning
Consumers will also enjoy selective room cleaning for both products. This feature is usable with the scheduling tab, as you can set cleaning runs at a specific room at your preferred time.
Roborock has four options in this category, while the
While the Roborock app provides access to these four modes straightaway, the iRobot app does not, and you’ll have to tap on the “custom” option for these settings to appear.
But with Roomba’s excellent agitation, it’s possible to use the low or middle setting and still achieve desirable results.
The Roborock app also has four water level options for its mopping function.
5. Clean zones [Roomba S9+]
One feature iRobot has over the Roborock app is the clean zones feature.
It’s similar to Roborock’s zone cleaning, but with Roomba, it’s possible to save these zones, which is a huge timesaver if your home has areas that require more frequent cleaning.
Lastly, for this section, we’ll compare the scheduling feature. Both robots offer a scheduling feature so you can set a specific time of the day it runs.
And while you can schedule multiple runs per day, iRobot has a minimum gap of three hours between runs, while Roborock does not.
One possible reason I think iRobot adds this threshold is its shorter run time (only 75 minutes).
There’s no minimum gap with the S7 app.
Consumers can also select a room they want to clean at a specific time using this feature. iRobot app has the option to choose cleaning zones, in addition to rooms.
While these robot vacuums are considered “smart navigating robots,” the method each variant executes varies.
The Roborock S7 relies on its top-mounted laser (or LIDAR), and the
Using a laser presents various advantages (and some disadvantages) over a camera. Most obvious is its precision and not being reliant on light. You could run the S7 in a pitch-dark room, and it still functions, whereas the S9 will struggle.
It also has more margin for error with room divisions. Even if the partitions aren’t accurate, it will still complete a selective room cleaning cycle, while the
Also, Roborock can go around up to three times, and Roomba can go around twice at most.
But with iRobot’s “dirt detect” technology, this discrepancy shouldn’t be a sticking point since it does additional passes when it detects more dirt.
Another experiment I do with these robots is efficiency, where I scatter quaker oats in strategic areas to check how much it picks up.
You can see the S9 Plus’s wide extractors at play here with clean passes (watch my review on YouTube to see it in action).
A new test I’m implementing on my robot vacuum reviews is the efficiency test.
I do this experiment with the coverage test, where I add a timer to check how long the robot takes to finish a two-pass run (if applicable).
The Roborock S7 is more efficient finish the run in around 20 minutes and 45 seconds despite the crisscross pattern, more than 10 minutes faster than the
One factor that dragged the S9’s time down was its indecisiveness while navigating through the tight quarters under the desk where I placed two chairs side-by-side.
It wasn’t as precise traversing through narrow spaces.
Since robot vacuum manufacturers don’t have a universal way of disclosing suction and power, it’s hard to compare across different brands.
So to counteract this issue, I have to rely on an anemometer to measure airflow directly at the cleaning nozzle.
The airflow variance is confirmed in the cleaning test results, where the
|Sand on hard floor|
|Carpet (Surface Pickup)|
|Carpet (Deep Cleaning)|
But the Roborock S7 is slightly better than the
On carpet is where the S9+ separates itself from the S7, picking up more debris on both surface and embedded sand tests.
Which is better on hard floors?
You could say it’s a tossup between the two, but I’d give Roomba a slight edge because of its superior airflow and extra-wide cleaning path, making it more efficient.
It picked up 100% of sand on this surface, one of the best robot vacuums in this category. And it didn’t have any build-up on the brush assembly.
In comparison, the Roborock S7 picked up 99.8%, which is still respectable.
The Roborock S7 is excellent, considering it lags in the airflow department; the high scores prove the improved agitation from the redesigned brush.
Edge cleaning comparison
The Roborock S7 didn’t do as well, leaving more debris due to its lack of airflow and round frame.
Hair wrap comparison
I use one gram of five and seven-inch hair strands for these experiments to see how well a robot vacuum resists tangles on the brush.
It’s a good barometer of how well it will tackle pet hair.
Little hair wrapped around the
Most of it was on the axles, but it’s easy to clean.
The Roborock S7 didn’t resist tangle as well as the
Which is better on carpet?
Hands down, the
The airflow difference is evident, especially with the deep cleaning test, as the S9% picked up significantly more (93% vs. 78.85%).
If deep cleaning is a deal-breaker, then go with the
Run time comparison
The Roborock S7, with its larger 5200 mAh lithium-ion battery, will run much longer – up to 180 minutes in the lowest setting.
Recharge and resume somewhat negate the difference, but it will take the S9+ longer to complete the task and may not be as appealing inside larger homes.
I use a sound meter from a few feet away for noise tests using different power settings. Here are the results.
As expected, the
The Roborock S7 isn’t far off at its highest setting at 69.8 decibels, but it’s much less noisy in the other settings, not even breaching 65 decibels.
Robot vacuums will require more TLC than other vacuum types to maintain performance over the long haul. I’ll enumerate what components to look at for it to function smoothly.
- Primary brush roll: The most abused component of any robot vacuum, it’s responsible for picking up debris. Over time, dirt accumulates on the roller and axles. Check at least once a week, especially for folks who have pets, for any accumulation, and clean as needed.
- Side brush: Another abused component is the side brush. Hair is the primary culprit and will wrap on the arms and base. Again, check and clean at least once a week.
- Drop sensors: Underneath these robots are a bevy of sensors, preventing them from falling off cliff points. These are drop sensors, and contaminants can stick on the surface over time, thus firing an error code. Wipe these once a month using a clean, dry microfiber towel.
- Wheels: Wipe the three wheels (side and caster wheels) with a clean, dry microfiber towel to clean any dirt sticking to the surface.
- Dustbin and filter: Consumers will still need to check and clean the dustbin even with the auto-empty feature. Yes, the dock will empty its contents, but fragments will be left inside the dustbin and on the filter, so do a visual check once a month and clean if necessary.
- Auto empty port: Ensure the ports on the auto-empty base station are clear of any debris build-up and potential clogs.
- Base station: There’s a slight variance for both brands here. For Roborock, you’ll need to clean the primary filter and replace the HEPA filter once it gets dirty. iRobot doesn’t have these filters, so replacing the bag is the only thing to do.
Availability of Parts
iRobot has the advantage here since it’s been in the market longer and more popular. Consumers won’t have any issues sourcing more obscure parts like the side brush motor, brush roll assembly, and even the battery for the S9. Roborock has good availability for consumable parts like filters, side brushes, pads, and main brush, but other components like the battery or drop sensors will be harder to find.
Washable E11 Rated Air Filter
|Recharge and Resume|
|Number of Maps|
|Auto empty capacity|
|Water tank capacity|
25 CFM (Max)
Where can I buy these robots?
The Roborack S7 and
- Roborock S7+ (robot + dock) on Amazon
- Roborock S7 (robot only) on Amazon
- Roborock S7 Auto Empty Dock on Amazon
Roomba S9+ on Amazon (w/ clean base station) Roomba S9on Amazon (no clean base station)
Disclaimer: I will earn a commission if you purchase through any of the links above, but at no extra cost to you, so it’s a win-win for us!
Which is the better option, the Roborock S7 or
Both options are incredibly close with pricing, but the Roborock S7 is the winner when you factor in features. It’s arguably the best robot vacuum and mop hybrid available right now, factoring in how well it did on both facets.
None of the other hybrid products I’ve tested have come close with their vacuuming and mopping performance.
Also, the Roborock app offers a better user experience with features not found in the iRobot app (e.g., invisible wall, live maps, etc.) and more frequent updates.
However, one thing going for Roomba is its performance, especially how well it picks up on carpet.
I also like the modular design of iRobot products, making them easy to clean, so maintenance shouldn’t be a concern.
To help you make a decision, I’ve listed the reasons why you should choose each of the alternatives here.
5 Reasons to choose the Roborock S7
- Two-in-one product: The Roborock S7 offers better versatility than the
Roomba S9, with its ability to mop at a premium level.
- Efficient navigation: One significant advantage of LIDAR over a camera is its precision, enabling the S7 to be much more efficient at navigating, even in tight quarters.
- High-end cleaning: The Roborock S7 holds its own against the
Roomba S9in cleaning tests despite having much less airflow.
- More containment options: In addition to no-go zones, Roborock has an invisible wall feature so that folks can block diagonal zones on the map. It’s a wrinkle not available in the iRobot app.
- Less expensive: If you factor in its mopping capability, the S7 is much cheaper than the
Roomba S9+ Braava combo.
4 Reasons to choose the
- Superior at deep cleaning carpet: The
Roomba S9’shigh airflow makes it a better option for vacuuming embedded dirt on carpet.
- Wide extractors: While the Roborock S7 finished the coverage run faster, the
Roomba S9picked up more debris per pass thanks to its wide extractors and high airflow.
- Better edge cleaning: The square front makes the S9 more conducive to cleaning edges.
- Best in class cleaning performance: Folks who prioritize vacuuming performance over anything else from a robot vacuum should strongly consider the
Roomba S9+. It outperforms all other brands with its combination of high-end agitation and airflow.
The Verdict: Your Choice Will Depend On What You Prioritize
It’s hard to declare an outright winner between these brands as both have something compelling to offer.
The Roborock S7 brings better versatility and better app experience, while the
So choosing one will depend on your preference and needs, since the price difference isn’t much.
Folks who need the mopping feature and don’t want to spend further on another robot should consider the Roborock S7, as it offers both functions and does it at a high level.
But those who want uncompromising cleaning performance should look at the