iLife vs Roomba

The iRobot Roomba has solidly cemented itself as the best-known robot vacuum brand, with a reputation for quality. iLife is one of Roombas man competitors which offers many solid cheaper options for robot vacuums. We will break down for you the most important features in this iLife and Roomba comparison. If you are interested in finding out more about Roombas check out our article;  compare Roomba models.

iLife vs Roomba

Comparison Table

The key features that of our iLife and Roomba article are as follows:

    • Size, weight & design
    • Navigation methods
    • Smart home enabled & app features
    • Vacuum motor & its power
    • Mopping
    • Battery type & life
    • Self-recharge & self-resume features
    • Full bin indicator
  • Price & warranty

Size, Weight & Design

Practically all robot vacuums come in very similar dimensions and weight, and this is the case with the iLife and Roomba. The circular shape and low height are by far the best for effective cleaning as it prevents robot vacuums being stuck in corners or under a piece of furniture, and generally lets those harder spots get cleaned.

Size: Every iLife model is smaller than the smallest Roomba. The default Roomba height is 3.6 inches, whilst iLife models come in a range of heights between 2.8 and 3.15 inches. Their diameter is smaller too, ranging from 11.8 and 13. 4 inches, whilst Roombas are more towards 14 inches.  They are clearly smaller, but the difference is negligible so it is unlikely to make any difference to your robot vacuum getting to the harder to reach spots.

Weight: The relative difference in weight is more obvious than in the size. The lightest iLife, the X5 which weighs 4.5 lbs. The heaviest Roomba is the 980 which weighs almost double this at 8.7 lbs. All Roombas are heavier than all iLife models. Realistically, a few lbs are not going to make it more of a hassle, especially since these robot vacuums find their own way back to the charging point. A lighter iLife model may be preferable if it needs to be regularly transported from one spot to another.

Design: Robot vacuum all look fairly similar in regards to their shape and size. There are a few subtle differences in the design of iLife and Roomba models. I personally prefer the Roomba design as I feel it has a more substantial and classier look. Just a personal preference though, look at the images and choose for yourself!

Section Summary:

    • Both are round
    • All iLife models are smaller than all Roombas
  • All iLife models are lighter than all Roombas

Navigation Methods

The Roombas have a more complex and efficient navigation method, especially the more recent smart home models such as the 690, 890, 960 and 980. That said, iLife has responded with the new V8s, which shares some of the same technology.

Roomba Navigation Methods

Smart Mapping & VSLAM: The Roomba 960 and 980 have the best navigation methods currently available in robot vacuums. These Roombas use a camera to effectively create a virtual map of your home, so it remembers the most effective routes. This map is built and viewable on your smartphone via the iRobot Home App, with some seriously useful features that as we will discuss later in this article. The result of this means that the Roomba will more effectively cover the whole floorspace in a much more efficient manner. Combining this navigation technology self-recharge and resume cleaning feature of the Roomba means that the vacuum will remember exactly where it stopped cleaning and immediately resume from their after charging.

iAdaptAll other Roombas use this simpler form of navigation. This is sensor-driven, so the Roomba will detect objects around it and responsibly move around them. This movement is more random and does not guarantee that all areas will be reached.

Section Summary:

    • Smart Mapping & VSLAM is used by 960 and 980
    • Smart Mapping & VSLAM much more efficient
    • Smart Mapping & VSLAM integrate with iRobot Home App
    • iAdapt is used by all other models
  • iAdapt is more random

iLife Navigation Methods

PanoView Navigation: This method is effective, iLifes response to brands like Roombas camera and VSLAM navigation. This system is comprised of a 360-degree live vision and an advanced CV-SLAM algorithm. In essence, it achieves the same outcome as the Smart Mapping & VSLAM of Roomba. iLife does have an accompanying app, but at this stage, there are multiple reports of it not working as the vacuums can' connect to it. It is only used in the iLife 980.

Standard Navigation Cleaning Modes: These are found in the older versions of iLife vacuums.

Auto: The default cleaning mode which is sensor driven like iAdapt navigation in the Roomba.

Edge: This gives focus to edges in the room using the iLifes side brushes.

Spot: Circling motion in a small spot to target specific dirt.

Manual: You can drive and direct the iLife vacuum using a remote. Only available with models that have a remote.

Scheduling: Schedule your weekly cleans.

Section Summary:

    • PanoView Navigation is iLife responses to Smart Mapping & VSLAM
    • PanoView Navigation is only used by the iLife A8
  • Standard Navigation Cleaning Modes used by all other models

Smart Home Enabled & App Features

The Roomba 690, 890, 960 and 980 all have the ability to connect to the iRobot Home App, a well very reviewed user interface. This makes operating Roombas that bit easier whilst getting some cool features. The app acts as a remote too:

    • Start or pause cleaning cycles
    • Schedule cleaning
    • Monitor activity of the Roomba
    • Get real-time notifications
    • Review information
    • Contact support
  • Choose preferences

With the Roomba 960 and 980 Smart Mapping &  VSLAM navigation, you get detailed map reports and various statistics about the cleaning.

iLife does have an app called the iLIFE Robot App, but at this stage, it is reported to not be functional by several users. Eventually, the aim will be for iLife to have an app that carries out the same features as the iRobot Home App.

Vacuum Motor & Suction

The cleaning ability of your root vacuum is mostly dictated by the power of your vacuum. When it comes to thicker and heavier debris and carpets that have denser and higher piles, this because more and more important.

Roombas Motors

There are 3 different Roomba motors that are divided along iRobots product range. They include:

    • 3-Stage Cleaning System
    • Aeroforce 3-Stage Cleaning System
  • 3rd Gen Motor

The 3-Stage Cleaning System is the oldest that previously used to feature in all of Roombas products. This is a pretty standard strength motor that will do a reasonable job at most dirt and objects, for example, pet hair. The Aeroforce 3-Stage Cleaning System is five times as powerful as the original and this is found in models such as the 890 and 980. Finally, the 3rd Gen Motor is relatively new and found in the 980. This is ten times as powerful as the original 3-Stage Cleaning System.

In practice, the Roomba 980 has a suction power of 1700 Pa and the Roomba 690 has a suction power of about 800 Pa. This means that Roombas generally are between these two levels.

iLife Motors

Motor power is an area where iLife clearly lags behind Roombas. They also use 3-Stage Cleaning Systems, but their maximum suction is limited. The iLife V8s has a maximum suction power of 1000 Pa, showing that is clearly not up to match with the likes of the Roomba 980. However, it will still likely do a good job for easier to clean dirt and debris. Where the extra suction power comes in handy is for carpet mess. This may or may not be relevant to you depending on what your floors are made of.

Section Summary:

    • Roomba suction power range from about 800 Pa – 1700 Pa
    • iLife suction power only goes up to 1000 Pa
    • More suction is more important for carpeted floors
  • In our iLife and Roomba comparison, this is one of Roombas strongest features


Some of iLifes models have wet mopping modes built into their systems. An example is the V5 Pro or X5. This is one area in our iLife and Roomba comparison where the former takes the lead. For now, iRobot has divided its product range into robot vacuums and robot floor moppers. The Roombas are the robot vacuums and the moppers are called Braavas. This will be a personal choice as it depends on whether your home is hard floored or if you plan to mop it yourself or not.

Section Summary:

    • iLife has a mop inbuilt to some models
  • iRobot has a different product called Braava which mops

Battery type & life

The duration of battery life is another area where iLife takes the lead over Roombas. However, in a comparison of iLife and Roomba batteries, there isn't much in it and it depends what model you are getting.

Roombas Battery: iRobot has used many different types of batteries in their robot vacuums which reflects their age. The older models used nickel metal hydride batteries, but more recent years has seen a greater adoption of lithium-ion batteries. The battery life of Roombas range from 60 – 120 minutes, the latter being the 980.

    • Nickel metal hydride
    • Lithium-ion
  • 3,000 mAH lithium ion

iLife Battery: On average, iLife has a longer battery life with times ranging from 70 – 150 minutes. The iLife A4s can run up to maximum 150 minutes on a good day.

    • On average longer battery life
  • Best battery is 2,600 mAH lithium ion

Section Summary:

    • iLife has better average battery life
  • Depends what models you are comparing

Self-recharge & self-resume

The charge time of the robot vacuums across both brands is fairly around 2-3 hours. An interesting development in robot vacuums has been the introduction of the self-autonomous restarting of cleaning after charging is finished.

For a while, models have been able to find their way back to their charging station when the battery is low. Only recently have models bee able to restart, and there aren't many which can actually do this. This includes:

    • Roomba 960 & 980
  • iLife A8

This advance has in practice made battery life a less important factor. With this feature, you can now leave for hours or days and be sure that your robot vacuum is cleaning without needing to be manually restarted.

Section Summary:

    • Only a couple models can resume charging by themselves
  • Makes total battery life less important

Full bin indicator

All new Roombas come with a full bin indicator that lights up red on the robot vacuum. This inevitably cleans up the cleaning process as brands such as iLife do not have such a notification. They recommend regular bin clearing usually after every clean.


The budget is the clearest factor that defines the iLife brands from flashier and more feature dense robot vacuums such as Roombas. iRobot does cater for quite a wide range of budgets but has more option for higher end vacuums. The is a large difference in price between iLife and Roomba robots.

At the top end, you have the Roomba 980 which sells for up to $900 and the Roomba 960 which is around $700. At the bottom end, you have the Roomba 614 that is sold typically for less than $300.

In contrast to this, iLife settles at the lower end of the spectrum with products that are normally priced between $160 – $350. This is why it is a great budget option of robot vacuum.

Section Summary:

    • Roombas are between $270 – $900
  • iLife vacuums are between $160 – $350

Final Word

The comparison of iLife and Roomba models gives you a satisfactory outcome as each brand has its distinct advantages. Roombas are the old and well-established robot vacuum company that leads the market. Having been in the game for years, they have been able to release quite the range of products that vary in price, motor power, and features. Any purchaser who is looking for a top end robot vacuum should go with iRobot as models such as the 960 and 980 have the most rounded and cutting-edge features. Those with carpets should also go with these Roombas for extra suction power.

iLifes robot vacuums still provide solid cleaning outcomes and a few perks, such as mopping mode. The defining difference and benefit of iLife is the budget. They really cater to the low end of the price range.

Please also read out other brand comparisons articles against Roombas:

iLife vs Roomba Comparison Table

 Height (inch)Diameter (inch)Weight (lbs)NavigationSmart Home AppMotor Max Suction (Pa)MopBattery Type(s)Battery (mins)Self -RechargeSelf -ResumeFull Bin IndicatorPrice RangeWarranty
Roomba 3.613.7-13.9 7.9-8.7 "Smart Mapping & VSLAM
iAdapt "
Yes"3-Stage Cleaning System
Aeroforce 3-Stage Cleaning System
3rd Gen Motor "
1700No"Nickel metal hydride
Lithium ion
3,000 mAH lithium ion"
60 - 120 YesYesYes$270 - $9001 Year
iLife2.8-3.15 "11.8-13.4
4.5-6.5"PanoView Navigation
Modes: Edge, Spot, Manual, Scheduling"
Yes (but not functional)3-Stage Cleaning System1000Yes2,600 mAH lithium ion70 - 150 YesYesNo$160-$3501 Year

Rupert Pople

Rupert is the founder of this website and a smart home tech enthusiast fascinated by the power of connected devices. Within his Business Management (BSc) degree at the University of Nottingham, he studied the technological impact of the Internet of Things.

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