In this review, I’ll be comparing three self-emptying robots from two competing brands – the Shark IQ,
These three models are the only options (aside from the Proscenic M7) that utilize a second vacuum situated at the cleaning base to empty the robot’s dust receptacle when it docks.
So, which of the three is the best self-emptying robot vacuum? We’ll have a close look at this 3-way evaluation.
Shark IQ: Cheapest Alternative with an Auto-Empty Bin
The Shark IQ is easily the least expensive alternative of the three models in this comparison. And despite the price discrepancy, it has slightly more airflow than the more expensive S9+. Sure the navigation algorithm may need some fine-tuning, but it will clean your home autonomously with minimal supervision. The high airflow translates to better performance than the I7 on hard floors and carpet. It was able to do better at cleaning embedded dirt than the I7 with an 84% score.
Roomba I7+: Less Expensive Alternative to the S9+
If the S9+ is too expensive, then you might want to consider the I7+ as it utilizes the same navigational software. However, this robot has less airflow, thus will somewhat struggle with cleaning heavier debris like sand on hard floors and carpet. It did the worst of the three in deep cleaning tests with an average pick up of 79%, which is still a good score. Aside from that, it does well in all other areas, mainly picking up surface debris like dust.
- 1 Roomba S9+: High-End Navigation and Cleaning Performance
- 2 Shark IQ: Cheapest Alternative with an Auto-Empty Bin
- 3 Roomba I7+: Less Expensive Alternative to the S9+
- 4 Introduction to the Shark IQ, Roomba S9+, and Roomba I7+
- 5 Similarities of the Shark IQ, Roomba S9, and Roomba I7
- 6 Differences of the Shark IQ Robot, Roomba S9, and I7
- 7 How does the Shark IQ Robot, Roomba S9, and I7 navigate?
- 8 App Features
- 9 Airflow Comparison
- 10 Cleaning Performance Comparison
- 11 Edge Cleaning Comparison
- 12 Deep Cleaning Comparison
- 13 Hair Wrap Test
- 14 Noise Level Comparison
- 15 Run Time Comparison
- 16 Availability of Parts
- 17 Which is better Shark IQ or Roomba?
- 18 Is the Shark IQ good?
- 19 Is the Roomba S9 worth it?
- 20 Can I use the Shark IQ without the WIFI?
- 21 Spec Comparison
- 22 Other Roomba Comparisons
- 23 Where can I buy these robots?
- 24 The Verdict: Roomba Is Still The Better Product
Introduction to the Shark IQ,
Roomba S9+, and Roomba I7+
These models are three of the best auto-emptying robot vacuums. iRobot, in particular, has been in manufacturing robot vacuums for more than two decades and has pretty much perfected their robotic system.
Sure there may be other brands who may try to copy Roomba and Shark, but if you want a proven product that will clean your floors seamlessly, these three are the alternatives to consider.
The I7+ was the first robot to introduce this feature a few years back and is one of the popular options with the auto-empty system.
It isn’t as powerful as the S9 but isn’t as expensive, so more people will choose this model over the S9.
There are two I7 options, the I7 and I7+. The model without the plus doesn’t have the clean base station, but it’s cheaper. Before buying, make a decision on which model to choose as the dust bin of the I7 isn’t compatible with the I7+ clean base station that needs a slot to clear the contents.
The S9+ is perhaps the best performing autonomous cleaner available right now. Even better than the Dyson Heurist because of it’s lower profile enabling it to go under furniture with at least 4 inches of clearance.
This model isn’t an upgrade but a complete redesign from the previous generation Roomba versions.
Gone is the round shape that all Roomba robot vacuums utilize and now has a square front-end.
I don’t know what spurred iRobot to make this change. Perhaps it’s competition, with the likes of Roborock and Neato breathing down its neck.
But it is a welcome change as it has several positives. First is the position of the rollers. Whereas the I7 has it in the middle, the S9’s brushes are in front of the robot.
This redesign makes it not just more efficient at picking up debris but also enables it to clean more dirt from the edges and corners – something that round shape robots can’t do proficiently.
The side brush is also upgraded, from a three-pronged design to a more compact five-prong with a toned-down RPM.
All the changes in the S9 aim to improve its cleaning performance and the results confirm it.
Like the I7, the S9 also has two options – the S9 and S9+. The variant without the “plus” doesn’t have the auto-empty dock, but it’s less expensive.
Shark is a new player in this industry, but the high-end specs of the IQ robot should make you at least consider this option.
Interestingly, the IQ RV1001 (without the self-emptying base) has more airflow than the IQ. with the self-empty feature. However, the difference is only minimal and could be just the bin design altering airflow.
The most significant selling point of the IQ robot is its price. You don’t have to spend a premium for a robot with an auto-empty system.
So it lowers the cost of entry for folks looking for a truly independent robot for cleaning their homes with minimal babysitting.
Instead of having to empty the dust bin one (or more) daily, consumers can do this task once a week thanks to the bagless vacuum situated on the dock.
Similarities of the Shark IQ,
Roomba S9, and Roomba I7
Let’s quickly go through the similarities of these three robots.
These three models all have a second vacuum built-in the charging base that automatically empties the robot’s dust receptacle every time it docks to recharge.
Tests show that each model does well at sucking all the dirt from the container. Yes, even from the filter.
One difference is the Roomba uses a bagged system, while the Shark IQ. does not.
Roomba does not specify precisely the quantity of dirt it can carry, but says it can hold up to 30 “bin fulls.”
The IQ robot has a capacity of up to 1.85 liters, which almost the same as the Shark ION P50, so it holds quite a lot.
2. Smart Navigating
Another similarity is each model relies on SLAM and a top-mounted camera for navigation. The navigation pattern is similar, as both will go in straight lines.
There are nuances, with the
3. Compatible with Alexa, Google Assistant, and WIFI
The IQ, I7, and S9 are all compatible with devices like Alexa and Google Assistant. You can also pair it with their apps through WIFI to get access to advanced features.
It also permits you to access the robots even outside the home.
So if you have Alexa or Google Assistant and prefer to use voice over tapping on your device, these two are excellent choices.
4. Recharge and Resume
These robots are smart navigating robots capable of determining its location on the map. So this gives each one the ability to recharge and resume cleaning when the battery runs low.
Combine that with its smart navigation, these robots can clean many rooms with minimal risk of not return to dock.
Differences of the Shark IQ Robot,
Roomba S9, and I7
Now, let’s investigate how these robots differ.
1. Shape and Design
The Roomba I7 and Shark IQ have similar round frames, while the S9 has a squarish body identical to the Neato BotVac Series.
All three have an uncluttered interface with the camera at the middle pointing upwards.
The Shark IQ and
I doubt you’ll be using these buttons much as most of the features are only accessible through the app.
2. Brush Design and Layout
Most of the differences between these three are seen underneath. The Shark IQ has two side brushes, whereas the S9 and I7 have one.
Roomba S9 and I7 side by side
But it doesn’t end there. If you look closely, the IQ’s brush only has one arm, the I7 has three, and the S9 has five.
Shark IQ view underneath
The RPMs also differ with the I7 spinning most rapidly. One downside with a high-velocity side brush is it scatters debris before it picks them up.
The Shark IQ and
Another difference is the design of the main brush. The S9 and I7 are similar as both utilize dual rollers, while the IQ has a more traditional design.
Rollers of the
Close up of the Shark IQ main brush
The S9 has the widest brush measuring close to 10 inches, while the I7 and IQ have narrower brushes at around 6 inches.
Here a rundown of the size difference.
To summarize, all robots are similar in terms of height, all measuring 3.5 inches tall. The I7 is the widest at 13.34 inches tall, and the S9, the narrowest at 12.25 inches wide.
All three are smart navigating robots going in straight lines.
Another similarity is each one utilizes a top-mounted camera to determine its location and identify areas not yet covered.
Roomba has pretty much ironed out the navigational bugs from the time it rolled out the 980 to the current models as the S9 will traverse efficiently in open spaces and constricted areas under furniture.
It’s one of the most efficient and best navigating robots, along with the Roborock.
The IQ isn’t as good as the Roomba in this aspect.
While Shark advertises this as a smart navigating machine, I’ve seen consumers complaining about issues, to be specific, how it navigates around cramped areas like chair legs and going to a particular room
It can navigate around these spaces, but it takes longer to finish. In short, it’s not as efficient as the Roomba and Roborock in this aspect.
There won’t be an issue with the default cleaning mode as it will go around the area efficiently. It starts moving along the inner portions of the room before proceeding to the edges.
The Shark app has the “room select” feature, but it’s a bit rough. While the robot will identify and traverse to the selected area, it takes longer than usual.
The Shark IQ, S9+, and I7+ all have apps compatible with your smart devices.
I won’t go super detail with the features as you can read those in individual product reviews.
iRobot Home App
I will highlight some notable features.
It is a feature I’ve only seen so far in the iRobot Home App. When you run the S9 or I7 in this mode, it will navigate around your house without the motor running.
The purpose is to save battery, so it runs further in a single charge. One the map (or maps) are saved, you can then proceed to name different zones and assign keep out zones (if applicable) before letting the robot do the actual cleaning run.
This feature, in many ways, prevents headaches, as the robot already knows the layout of the area.
Saves up to 10 maps
You can save up to ten different map levels in the iRobot Home App. Yes, you heard it, ten maps.
In each of the maps, users have the option to assign names to each area or room. This feature works in conjunction with Alexa, so instead of firing up the app, you can just say, “Roomba, please clean the master’s bedroom.”
No-Go Lines and Keep-Out Zones
It also has the “no go lines” features that act as a virtual wall blocking the robot from going past the drawn lines.
The Keep-Out Zones is another “convenience feature” I like enabling users to draw boxes or rectangles on off-limits areas.
The IQ robot utilizes the SharkClean App. From what I’ve seen, it doesn’t have the refinement of the iRobot Home App as it lacks in several areas.
Only One Map
One of the most significant issues (reviews will confirm this) with the SharkClean App is it can only save up to one map.
Compounding the problem is the number of runs it takes to build the map. Shark says it will take five runs to complete the map, but reviews vary, requiring as much as 40+ runs.
Compare it to let’s say a Roborock S5 Max; it takes as little as one run to draw the map entirely.
If you’re particular with this feature, then stay away from the IQ, as limitation will drive you nuts.
I’ve heard about consumers buying more than one Shark IQ. to compensate, but it’s counter-intuitive and expensive.
Despite the limitation, the lack of a multi-level map may only matter for folks who live in a multi-level home as it is smart enough to navigate and return to home base in bungalow type houses.
Lack of a No-Go Zone Feature
Another drawback is it doesn’t have any containment feature like the Keep-Out Zones of the Roomba or the No-Go Zones of Roborock.
You’ll need to use a physical object to block the path of the robot or lay a magnetic strip of tape.
The iRobot Home App is obviously the better software with more features and superior responsiveness when it comes to creating the map.
Shark has to work doubly hard to improve this facet of their product if they want to compete with Roomba.
Despite being the less costly option, the Shark IQ produces more airflow than the S9+ or I7+ with 23 CFM The S9+ isn’t far behind with 22 CFM, while the I7+ only has 7 CFM.
By the way, these results are from an airflow test using an anemometer.
You can see the airflow difference in the cleaning performance test as the Roomba I7+ struggles with heavier debris on hard floors like sand. But it’s still good at over types of debris like Cheerios, Fruit Loops, coffee grounds, and other lighter bits of rubbish.
The S9+ and Shark IQ don’t have this issue and are both very good at surface pick up on hard floors.
High airflow matters most when tackling embedded stuff like sand on carpets, and this is evident in the deep cleaning test as the I7 lags behind the S9+ and Shark IQ.
Cleaning Performance Comparison
All three robots will do well at cleaning surface dirt with the S9 having the best performance overall because of the wide rollers and high airflow.
However, with the lower clearance of the extractors and the tighter tolerance, it doesn’t seem to like cleaning large and extra-large stuff like Cheerios and Fruit Loops.
You’ll hear a crunching noise as the counter-rotating extractors crush these particles of dirt.
It isn’t a big issue, since these tests are on the extreme side.
The Shark IQ also did well in tests thanks to its superior airflow. It was able to pick up everything from sand, pet hair, Fruit loops, and Cheerios without any hiccups.
Of the three, the I7 did the worst as the lower airflow hampered it mainly in the hard floor setting, where it struggles a bit at cleaning sand.
Edge Cleaning Comparison
This is where the wide rollers of the S9 excel and the redesigned side brush excel. It was able to pick up more debris at the edges compared to the I7 and Shark IQ.
Though the IQ Robot is slightly better than the I7 because it has two side brushes and it doesn’t spin as rapidly.
Deep Cleaning Comparison
Roomba products consistently rank among the best at cleaning embedded sand on the carpet because of the counter-rotating brush design, but other brands are catching up with them.
You don’t see other brands copying Roomba’s design as they have a patent on it. However, Shark has a unique brush design, which a combination of rubber blades and bristles.
I didn’t expect the Shark IQ to outperform the Roomba I7+, but it’s indicative of the innovation that Shark puts into their products.
Hair Wrap Test
Shark and iRobot claim these robots have anti-tangle features that will resist tangles.
Of the three, the
In the case of the Shark IQ, it has a built-in comb right behind the brush roll that will remove any hair from wrapping around it.
The Roomba I7+ did the worst with some strands of hair wrapping around the two rollers and parts of the axles.
If you’re looking for a robot capable of cleaning long strands of hair with minimal wrapping, the Shark IQ or the
Noise Level Comparison
A sound meter (few feet away from the robot) was used to check noise levels, and the S9 had the highest decibel reading recording 72 dB. The I7 is the least noise at 68 dB, and the Shark IQ was at 70 dB.
The noisier part, though, is the noise coming from the second vacuum as it pushes towards the 80-decibel level – almost the same as an upright.
Run Time Comparison
One reason why Shark IQ has a low number is the high power output that drains the battery at a faster rate.
However, run time isn’t much of a factor for these smart robot vacuums since it automatically recharges then resume cleaning when the battery runs low or the bin is full.
The auto-empty feature takes away the need to monitor the dust container and empty it after every run. So it removes one monotonous task making these three robots truly autonomous.
Availability of Parts
One advantage of buying a Roomba product is the sheer availability of parts. You buy just about any component from batteries, wheels, filters, rollers, side brushes, and more from iRobot or third-party sellers in Amazon and Walmart.
Hard to find parts for older Roomba models can be sourced through eBay. So I don’t think longevity should be an issue.
Shark IQ parts are also available, but not at the scale of Roomba. You can easily find consumable parts such as the filter and brushes from online sellers in Amazon. However, components like the battery may be more challenging to obtain down the road.
So if you’re are looking into buying the Shark IQ, get the extra battery if you can.
Which is better Shark IQ or Roomba?
The Shark IQ is a compelling alternative to the
It also offers the same auto-emptying ability but minus the bag, so it’s cheaper to operate over the long haul.
The IQ navigation utilizes a camera and VSLAM to navigate in straight lines, so it’s as efficient as the Roomba in that regard.
However, what’s lacking is the nitty-gritty. These include the ability to save numerous maps or the ability to draw the map in one or two runs.
So the better product is still the
Is the Shark IQ good?
Despite its flaws, the Shark IQ is still a good alternative with excellent cleaning performance on hard floors and carpet.
If the price is a major sticking point, I’d strongly recommend the Shark IQ with the self-emptying feature.
It’s as good as the Roomba when it comes to coverage and efficiency, with worst navigating capabilities around cramped areas.
I would recommend the Shark IQ for homes with less complicated arrangements and the Roomba for larger homes since it runs longer.
5 Reasons to Consider the Shark IQ:
- Cheaper than the Roomba: The Shark IQ is much less expensive than the
Roomba S9and I7, but provides similar functionality.
- Outstanding cleaning performance: The high airflow of the IQ robot enables it to clean surface and embedded dirt than most other brands.
- Auto-Empty System: The auto-empty feature removes one menial task from the checklist. Just container on the base once every ten days or so.
- Excellent Anti-Tangle System: Shark employs an effective anti-tangle system, preventing long strands of hair from wrapping around the brush roll.
- Great for pet owners: This model is great for pet owners looking to automate their vacuuming chore.
Roomba S9 worth it?
Despite the extravagant price tag, the
If you want an autonomous machine that can vacuum your home’s floors efficiently, then look no further than the S9+.
It’s up there with the Roborock and Neato as the most efficient. The app has the features you need from a robot vacuum, including the “No Go Lines” and “Keep Out Zones.”
Not only will it tidy up floors, but it also empties the bin after every run, so not much babysitting.
4 Reasons to Consider the
- Deep cleans carpet: The
Roomba S9is the best robot vacuum when it comes to deep cleaning carpet. Nothing comes close to it, even the high-tech Dyson Heurist.
- Efficient navigation: Even if it doesn’t have a laser, the S9 is still one of the more proficient at traversing, at open spaces or cramped areas. It’s almost as good as a laser-guided robot like a Neato and Roborock.
- Convenience features: It has features such as the “No Go Lines” and “Keep Out Zones” that keeps it away from off-limit areas without having to block it physically.
- Hands-free: The clean base station plus the smart navigation make this robot a modern-day, “Rosie” from The Jetsons.
If the S9 is too costly, then the I7 is a good, less expensive alternative with slightly worse cleaning performance. But it retains most of the navigational and software features.
3 Reasons to Consider the Roomba I7
- Less expensive than the S9: If you don’t mind the downgrade in cleaning, the I7 is an excellent alternative.
- Excellent at cleaning surface dirt: The I7 can clean most surface debris as well as the S9, except for heavy stuff like sand.
- Same efficient navigation: The I7 and S9 have the same navigational features, such as the recharge and resume, so expect the same type of efficiency.
Can I use the Shark IQ without the WIFI?
Yes, the Shark IQ is usable even without the router, but you will not have access to the more advanced features like the room select or scheduling. However, even if the SharkNinja app has those features, it isn’t as feature-rich as the iRobot Home App.
I don’t think not having WIFI is a sticking point as the SharkNinja app isn’t as advanced as the iRobot app, so you’re not missing much.
|Recharge & Resume|
|Run time (Turbo mode)|
|Power (Turbo mode)|
|Power (Eco mode)|
< 7 cfm
Other Roomba Comparisons
I’ve written a bunch of articles comparing various robot vacuums. Please check the links below for more information:
Where can I buy these robots?
All these robots are available in online stores like Amazon and Walmart. Please check the links below to see the latest prices.
Please note that if you purchase through any of the links above, I will earn a commission, but at no extra cost to you, so it’s a win-win for us!
The Verdict: Roomba Is Still The Better Product
Despite the strong performance figures of Shark and lower cost, Roomba remains the better option.
It will provide users with a better overall user experience because it has a superior app with more functionality than what Shark offers.
The S9, in particular, will clean carpets better than the Shark IQ and Roomba I7.
However, the Shark is still a fascinating option, being the least expensive, and yet providing the same self-emptying convenience that Roomba has.
And with a few tweaks, especially with the app, Shark can overtake Roomba, but it has to act quickly.