Roomba J7 vs. I3

Roomba J7 vs. I3

We’ll be comparing two Roomba products in the opposite ends of the price spectrum: the I3 and J7.

These models have a self-emptying feature but with different selling points.

The I3+ is Roomba’s least expensive auto-empty robot, while the J7 is their first model with a front-facing camera, enabling it to avoid objects better than any robot I’ve tested.

So which option is better? I’ve put each through a grueling series of tests to find out.

An overview of the Roomba J7+ and I3+

Roomba I3+

Roomba I3+
  • Airflow: 7.27 CFM
  • Deep Cleaning: 84.7%
  • Navigation:Gyroscope + Optical Sensor
  • Self-empty: Yes
  • Bag capacity: 2.4-liters
  • Clean base Station: Yes
  • Map saving: Yes
  • Number of maps: 10
  • Containment: Yes
  • Keep out zones: Yes
  • Selective Room cleaning: Yes
  • Recharge & Resume: Yes
  • Brush roll: Twin rubber extractors
  • Dustbin capacity: 400ml
  • Side brush: One
  • Battery: 1800 mAh Li-ion
  • Run time: 75 minutes
  • Noise: 64.9 dB

Roomba J7

Roomba J7
  • Airflow: 7.27 CFM
  • Deep Cleaning: 85.7%
  • Navigation: Front Camera + Gyroscope + Optical Sensor
  • Self-empty: Yes
  • Bag capacity: 2.4-liters
  • Map saving: Yes
  • Number of maps: 10
  • Containment: Yes
  • Selective Room cleaning: Yes
  • Recharge & Resume: Yes
  • Brush roll: Twin rubber extractors
  • Dustbin capacity: 400ml
  • Mopping: Yes
  • Water tank capacity: N/A
  • Side brush: One
  • Battery: 2410 mAh Li-ion
  • Run time: 90 minutes
  • Noise: 63 dB

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Introduction to the Roomba J7+ and I3+

iRobot was a pioneer of self-emptying robots and continued to expand its product line.

These two variants are examples of that expansions, and each brings something unique to the table.

The Roomba I3+ is iRobot’s budget auto-empty robot alternative and its least expensive option.

While it moves in straight lines, it doesn’t have a map saving feature and doesn’t have containment or selective room cleaning.

It relies heavily on a gyroscope and optical sensor to track location and determine the area’s perimeter.

The Roomba J7+ is iRobot’s first robot with a front-facing camera, capable of avoiding objects other Roomba products cannot.

Another change is the clean base station. iRobot chopped off a good chunk from its height and made up the difference by making it broader.

The increased width doesn’t matter since it’s within the robot’s diameter.

Budget Roomba Auto-Empty Option: Roomba I3+

Roomba I3 front view

With the influx of cheap self-emptying robots like the Yeedi Vac Station and Ultenic T10, iRobot had to develop its budget version to compete. Thus, the I3+ was introduced.

Unfortunately, it’s iRobot’s most basic self-emptying option, devoid of the bells-and-whistles you’ll see in Roomba’s higher-end options.

You’ll notice it doesn’t have a top-mounted camera: a stape of most Roomba products.

This omission means doesn’t have VSLAM and imprint smart mapping. Therefore, it cannot save maps.

Not having a map saving feature means consumers won’t have access to keep out zones or selective room cleaning.

It’s basically a smart robot vacuum that can’t save maps.

However, one silver lining is that the Roomba I3+ is more efficient than the J7+ with navigation.

It completed the test run (small room) in around 22 minutes, more than 10 minutes faster than the J7.

I’m unsure how it’ll do in larger spaces, but its algorithm is far more decisive than the more expensive J7 in tight quarters.

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06/11/2022 02:35 am GMT

Best Obstacle Avoiding Robot: Roomba J7+

Roomba J7 w/ clean base station

Ever since Ecovacs unveiled the T8 AIVI, more brands have adopted some sort of obstacle avoidance technology into their products.

Roborock has the S6 MaxV. Dreame with the L10 Pro and Z10 Pro, and now Roomba joins the fray with the J7+.

Here’s the kicker. It’s perhaps the best obstacle-avoiding robot of the bunch.

It’s the first with a front-facing camera and LED combo, helping it evade objects better than any robot I’ve tested.

The LED helps the Roomba J7 navigate through low light areas, helping illuminate the path ahead of the robot.

iRobot’s algorithm is another plus. It doesn’t get too close to an object, reducing the risk of touching pet feces or tangling against wires.

Aside from its obstacle avoidance capability, the J7 retains most of the features of the I-series.

It utilizes the same counter-rotating extractors and side brush without a top-mounted camera.

Why no top-mounted camera?

The front-facing camera doubles as its navigational sensor. It functions like the I6 and S9’s top-mounted camera.

Another under-the-radar upgrade is the clean base station with a shorter stance.

iRobot chopped a good chunk off its vertical size by going wider, providing enough space for a storage slot for an extra bag.

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10/25/2021 06:03 am GMT

Similarities between the Roomba J7+ and I3+

We’ll look at the similarities between these robots in this section, and there are plenty.

1. Shape

Roomba J7 vs. I3 shape

The most obvious is the shape and dimension. Both robots utilize a round frame, similar to most Roomba products.

2. Extractor and Side Brush Layout

Roomba J7 vs. I3 underneath

Since both have the same shape and dimension, the brush layout for the J7 and I3 are similar.

If you flip these robots, it’s hard to distinguish one from the other because of the similar extractor and side brush placement.

The side brush color may look different, but the functionality remains the same.

Roomba J7 vs. I3 side brush

3. Dustbin Size and Placement

Roomba J7 vs I3 dustbin comparison

These products utilize the same dustbin, having the same volume (400ml) and placement (rear). 

And it’s possible to interchange the containers for both brands.

4. Motor and Battery

The J7 and I3 share the same motor and battery (1800 mAh). I say this because both have the same airflow (7.27 CFM) and run time (75 minutes).

5. Auto-Empty Bag

Roomba J7 vs I3 clean base station bag comparison

The J7 and I3 use the same bag despite having a different-looking auto-empty dock.

So kudos to iRobot for making these components forward and backward compatible.

There will be no issues with availability since consumers can purchase I3 or I6 bags, and they’ll fit the J7.

6. Ramp-Style Dock

Roomba J7 vs. I3 ramp style dock

These robots utilize a ramp-style dock, which I like since it offers better stability than a vertical port.

The ports at the right connect to a slot on the robot’s dustbin where debris passes.

One difference is the pattern on the J7 that’s absent in the I3. The J7 uses it to locate the clean base station since there’s no more IR sensor.

Differences between the Roomba J7 and I3

Next, we’ll look at the differences between these robots.

1. Obstacle Avoidance [Roomba J7 only]

One significant upgrade iRobot put in the J7 is the front-facing camera, enabling it to avoid obstacles other Roomba options can’t.

It’s probably the best robot at evading objects because it doesn’t get too close.

This trait is critical as other robots with a front-facing camera or laser venture too close and brush against objects.

It’s the case with the Dreame Z10 Pro, where it avoided wires and poop initially but touched them because it got too close.

The J7 is an excellent option for pet owners looking for a robot that avoids pet feces.

2. Clean Base Station

Roomba- J7 and I3 with clean base station

The following variance is the base station design, with the J7 having the shorter but broader version.

There’s no difference with the functionality as both will empty the dustbin every time the robot docks, but the J7 base station is more practical with the slot for the extra bag.

Roomba J7 clean base station open

The added girth isn’t a big deal since it doesn’t exceed the robot’s width.

3. Cosmetic Variances

Roomba J7 vs I3 cosmetic variances

While both robots have the same round frame and dimensions, there are some cosmetic changes with the J7.

I noticed that it doesn’t have an IR sensor, the tiny, disc-shaped contraption protruding on the front bumper.

The robot uses this to connect to the base station when docking.

iRobot has taken this off with the J7 (by necessity, I’m guessing with the front-facing camera), so it has a slightly lower profile.

Roomba J7 under sofa

It certainly helps it go underneath low clearance furniture like the photo above.

There’s also a slight variation with the button layout. The I3 has the three-button layout seen in earlier Roomba variants, while the J7 has a single-button interface.

App Features

The Roomba J7+ and I3+ are compatible with the iRobot home app and for the most part, have similar features.

We’ll go through the most helpful ones in this section.

1. Map Saving [J7 only]

Roomba J7 map saving

The Roomba J7 has the map saving (up to 10 map levels) feature since it has a front-mounted camera and VSLAM, while the I3 can’t save maps because it uses gyroscopes and an optical sensor, but no VSLAM.

VSLAM unlocks other features like keep-out zones and clean zones, absent in the I3.

2. Customize Maps [J7 only]

Folks can customize each map level and add partitions, custom names, clean zones, and containment.

However, iRobot recommends purchasing extra clean base stations for homeowners living in a multi-level home, which is an added cost.

Moving the robot from one level to another without extra clean base stations is possible, but more babysitting is involved.

3. Keep Out Zones

Roomba J7 no-go zones

One of the benefits of the map saving feature is keep-out zones. This feature enables consumers to draw boxes as off-limit areas, blocking the robot from entering.

It’s helpful if you have pets or toddlers since you can block the robot from going into these locations.

4. Clean Zones [J7 only]

Roomba J7 clean zone

The opposite of the keep-out zone is the clean zone.

Instead of blocking an area, these “zones” are designated cleaning areas, helpful for targeting high traffic areas.

It’s an iRobot feature not available in other brands.

Consumers could draw boxes in areas like the dining or living areas and vacuum these more often without drawing them again.

The custom naming feature helps with recall, and consumers can utilize it with the scheduling feature to automate the task.

5. Customize Cleaning [Both]

Roomba I3 cleaning passes and full bin options

Consumers have some control over how the robot cleans through the app.

One of these customizations is controlling the number of passes, depending on the need.

Another is if the robot continues cleaning if the dustbin is full or not. It will alert consumers if it is full, and they’ll have to empty it manually.

6. Cleaning History [Both]

Roomba I3 cleaning history

Another similarity is the cleaning history that functions like a car’s odometer, showing how much the robot’s been used and the corresponding maps.

It’s the only tab in the I3 app where users can see the maps.

One difference is the J7 uses this feature as a springboard to another feature we’ll look at in the next point.

7. Obstacle Areas [J7 only]

Roomba J7 obstacle database

One of my favorite features of the J7 app is the obstacle areas, where consumers can go through each object and determine whether it’s a permanent obstacle or not.

Choosing the former will automatically add keep-out zones.

Roomba J7 keep-out from obstacles

It’s a helpful feature if you have lots of wires lying around (for those working from home).

8. Robot Health [J7 only]

Roomba J7 robot health

Another J7 only feature is robot health, which shows the status of consumable parts like the filter, side brush, and extractors.

It also provides access to how-to guides on replacing or cleaning each component.

Navigation Comparison

The Roomba J7 and I3 are intelligent robots that move in straight lines, but the similarity ends there.

I’ve already mentioned it earlier, but I’ll repeat it. The J7 is the smarter alternative, thanks to VSLAM.

It can save maps and avoid obstacles better than any robot (I’ve tested).

The I3 relies heavily on a gyroscope and optical sensor for navigation, so it cannot save maps and lack the bells-and-whistles of the J7.

Coverage Comparison

I tested both robots how much debris each will pick up in a small area.

Not surprisingly, there wasn’t much difference between the J7 and I3 since both use the same motor and brushes.

So it’s even in this category.

Efficiency Comparison

One silver lining with the I3 navigation is it’s more efficient despite being “dumber.”

It completed the run more than ten minutes faster than the J7 (22:43 mins vs. 35 mins).

The I3 was more decisive in traversing around tight quarters than the J7.

However, the I3 can’t clean specific rooms or areas.

Choosing between these robots will boil down if you need the extra navigational features that the J7 offers.

Airflow Comparison

Power setting
Roomba S9+
Roomba J7+
Default
7.27 CFM
7.27 CFM

The Roomba J7 and I3 have the same airflow output at 7.27 CFM. It’s not surprising since both options use the same motor.

Both are decent with cleaning performance despite the low airflow, as we’ll look at in the next section.

Cleaning Comparison

Model
Roomba I3+
Roomba J7+
Overall
92.39%
94.45%
Hard Floor
95.3%
96.65%
Sand on hard floor
95.5%
98.46%
Carpet (Surface Pickup)
96.22%
96.92%
Carpet (Deep Cleaning)
84.7%
85.75%

The J7 picked up more debris across the board and made cleaner passes based on the eye test.

However, the difference isn’t much, but it’s something to think about when choosing between these two.

Both have the same issues with the fast-spinning side brush scattering debris and the narrow extractors.

Which is better on hard floors?

Based on the scores, I’d go with the J7 as it picked up more sand, which is my barometer for hard floor cleaning (98.46% vs. 95.5%).

7

It picked up more and made the cleaner pass. Another thing I noticed is it didn’t scatter as much sand as the I3.Roomba I3 sand on hard floor

It was consistent in the three tests I did and picked up 100% in the last two runs.

Edge Cleaning

The round frame of these robots hampers their edge cleaning performance.

Let’s look at how the J7 did in this experiment.

Roomba J7 edge cleaning

And let’s compare it to the I3.

Roomba I3 edge cleaning

There isn’t much difference between the two as both picked up a good chunk.

I’d say the results are excellent, considering both are round-shaped robots.

Hair Wrap Comparison

Model
Roomba I3+
Roomba J7+
5-inch strands
42%
49%
7-inch strands
40%
30%

Another area both robots struggle with is hair pick-up. The J7 was better with shorter strands, picking up (49% vs. 42%).

Roomba J7 5-inch hair wrap on axle

However, the I3 is better with longer strands (40% vs. 30%).

Roomba I3 hair on axle after seven-inch test

Regardless, these robots will struggle with longer hair strands with low airflow and narrow extractors.

Which is better on carpet?

Again, the Roomba J7 picked up more in the deep cleaning test than the I3 (85.75% vs. 84.7%) and had higher surface debris pick-up scores (96.92% vs. 96.22%).

But the difference is smaller than on the hard floor results, so I’d say both will have the same real-world results.

Run Time Comparison

The J7+ has a larger battery (2410 mAh vs. 1800 mAh), so it’ll run further than the I3 (85 mins vs. 75 mins).

Not a huge difference, but it’s still an improvement.

Noise Comparison

Power setting
Roomba J7
Roomba I3
Default
63 dB
64.9 dB

Strangely, the Roomba I3 is noisier than the J7 in the noise test, based on the sound meter.

I tried how much noise both produced from a few feet away, and the I3 is slightly louder (64.9 dB vs. 63 dB).

Maintenance

All Roomba products will need upkeep to function at their peak for years. You’ll spend hundreds of dollars for any of these options, and it makes sense to ensure it’ll last as long as possible.

I’ll enumerate the components you’ll need to clean or replace and the intervals.

  1. Extractors: Check these rollers at least once a week for hair accumulation and clean as needed.
  2. Side brush: Like the extractors, check for any hair strands wrapping on the prongs or base. Remove the screw holding it to remove hair buildup on the base. Do this at least once a week.
  3. Dustbin and filter: There’s no need to empty the dustbin manually for “plus” versions with the clean base station. However, consumers will need to check the dustbin and filter, at least once a month. Clean the filter and dustbin to reduce debris buildup.
  4. Bag: Empty the clean base station bag once it’s full. The iRobot app will notify consumers if it reaches capacity.
  5. Clean Base Station: Ensure that the port is free from obstructions, so the self-emptying functionality runs smoothly.
  6. Drop sensors: The J7 and I3 have multiple drop sensors underneath that help the robot avoid falling from cliff points. Clean these sensors once a month using a Q-tip or clean microfiber towel to prevent an error code from firing.

Availability of Parts

Another plus for Roomba products is the availability of parts. There will be no issues with parts like the battery, extractors, side brush, etc. 

The neat thing is even hard-to-find parts are not difficult to find. So these options are excellent for long-term use.

Product Specifications

Model
Roomba I3+
Roomba J7+
Roomba I3+
Roomba J7+
Width
13.34"
13.34 "
Height
3.63"
3.63"
Filter
High-Efficiency
High-Efficiency
Navigation
Smart Navigation
Smart Navigation
Run time
75 mins.
85 mins.
Recharge and Resume
Yes
Yes
Map Saving
Yes
Yes
Number of Maps
10
10
Dustbin capacity
400 ml
400 ml
Auto empty capacity
2.4-liters
2.4-liters
Airflow
7.27 CFM
7.27 CFM
Warranty
1-year limited
1-year limited
Price

Where can I buy these robots?

The Roomba J7 and I3 are available in online stores like Amazon. Check the links below for the latest pricing information.

  • Roomba J7+ on Amazon (with clean base station)
  • Roomba J7 on Amazon (no clean base station)
  • Roomba I3+ on Amazon (w/ clean base station)
  • Roomba I3 on Amazon

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 Roomba J7 or I3?

These robots offer something different to the table.

The Roomba J7 is the more expensive option, but its best-in-class obstacle-avoidance feature can be helpful for pet owners who don’t have to immediately clean pet feces when running this robot as it can avoid them.

The I3 is the cheaper option but without the bells and whistles.

I’ll enumerate reasons why to opt for the I3 or J7 below.

4 Reasons to Choose the Roomba J7+

  1. Best-in-class obstacle avoidance: The J7’s front-facing camera and LED is excellent at avoiding obstacles, better than any robot I’ve reviewed.
  2. Extra bag: Its clean base station has a slot for an extra bag. Not a massive deal for me, but it could be for some consumers.
  3. Slightly longer run time: The J7 will run around 10 minutes longer thanks to the larger 2410 mAh lithium-ion battery.
  4. Lower profile design: The IR-sensor-less body gives it a sleeker design and will fit under lower clearance furniture.

2 Reasons to Choose the Roomba I3+

  1. Cheapest option: The Roomba I3+ is the least expensive Roomba auto-empty option.
  2. More efficient navigation: Surprisingly, the I3 is the more efficient navigating robot, completing the run more than 10 minutes faster than the J7.

The Verdict: Choice Will Depend on Preference

Two variants. Two varying strengths and price points.

Choosing between these robots will boil down to how much you’re willing to spend and if you want the navigational bells and whistles of the J7.

The Roomba I3+ is the cheapest option by a few hundred dollars, and it’s something that budget-conscious shoppers should consider.

It doesn’t have the high-end features or the obstacle avoidance capability of the J7, but it cleans almost as well, and it’s more efficient.

The choice will depend on your preference.

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