iLife vs Roomba

ilife and roomba design comparison

Despite all looking almost identical, robot vacuums come in all kinds of budget ranges. If your starting out and comes across endless brands such as Roomba, Neato or Shark Ion, it can be confusing to understand what the differences are between them. This article features and compares iLife vs Roomba, two well-known names with competing devices.

iRobot, the company behind Roomba, has solidly cemented itself as the best-known robot vacuum brand, with a reputation for quality. If you are interested in finding out more about Roombas check out our article on their Models.

iLife and Roomba are major competitors, although the former is more geared towards lower prices and budgets. This article will explain how and why these robot vacuums differ in price and feature so much considering how similar they look. This includes looking at the cleaning systems, navigation technology, and many other factors.

Related: Shark ION head to head with Roomba


Roomba vs iLife Comparison Table


History of iRobot & iLife

irobot logo

iRobot has been around for many decades, being founded in 1990 by three coworkers from MIT’s Artificial Intelligence Lab. As you can see, the history and prestige of the company are pretty impressive. The motivations and technologies used have been boundary-pushing and it is not a surprise that iRobot has been so successful.

Although the concept of the robot vacuum was not completely founded and developed by iRobot, they were pioneers of the market who brought the technology into the mainstream. It was 2002 when the first Roomba was released and the company took off and two years later a million units had been sold. Ten years later in 2012, this was 8 million and 16 years later in 2018 this was an astounding 20 million units. Today, iRobot is a huge business as it generates over $1 billion in revenue annually end employees over 900 people.

There have been many discontinued robots and many in the pipeline. Although Roomba is and has been the flagship product, iRobot also produces:

  • Braava Floor Mopping Robot
  • Create Hobby Robot
  • Mirra Swimming Pool Cleaning Robot

ilife logo

iLife can be found across the Pacific in Shenzhen China with a very similar name to iRobot. Founded in 2007, iLife has been a very powerful market force, selling over 3 million robots worldwide in 2018. With a huge team of employees that total similar numbers to iRobot, iLife is focused on global domination of the robot vacuum market.

In 2010, iLife founded its fist R&D center for its robot vacuum. It stands out by being the first companies to achieve a number of goals including lithium-ion batteries as an accessory, BLOC fan motor technology and integrating mopping and vacuuming technologies into one robot.

As we go on to compare each of these brands of robot vacuum, it is important to remember that the models offered from each brand are highly variable in the quality of their features and constantly changing.


1. Design & Dimensions

The design of most iLife vs Roomba models is fairly similar and any subtle differences aren’t particularly notable. As you can see from the measurements above, iLifes robot vacuums are marginally smaller and quite a bit lighter, but when it comes down to performance these won’t make any impact. Their models vary between 2.8-3.15 inches in height whilst all Roombas are 3.6 inches. Here are a couple of examples of new models from each brand, the iRobot i7, and iLife A:

i7 roomba

ilife a9s

The recent Roomba S9 has offered a new design which is contrary to the tradition Roomba circular look. Instead, iRobot has taken a note from Neato’s book and gone for a D shaped vacuum. This has some really useful benefits which include getting the main brush closes to the corners of the wall, as well allow the brush to be wider. Although not typical of most of Roombas design, this new D shape certainly has benefits to cleaning performance and it is likely that iRobot will deliver more in thist style.

Whilst the design is a noticeable feature, I would argue that both brands have their styling on point. This consideration should also be secondary to the cleaning abilities of each robot vacuum as ultimately they are there to clean and not be seen.


2.Navigation Technology

These brands either use a more simplistic navigation technology found in older or more basic models or a more advanced camera mapping technology in their newest and most advanced models. There are multiple versions so things can get a little complex, but in general, both have the same technologies available in their different models.

 

Top Tier Navigation – Smart Mapping

Camera Mapping technology is used by the most premium Roombas and iLife robots. This technology is the same, it builds up a map of your home that the robot vacuum uses to choose the most efficient navigation routes. A more expensive feature found in the more expensive robot vacuums, such mapping technology speeds up the cleaning of the home significantly. Below is an example of how the Roomba 980 uses the technology to most effectively navigate around furniture.

roomba 980 iadapt 2.0 navigation

Roombas navigation technology is labeled as iAdapt with various versions existing. It is iAdapt 2.0 and 3.0 that have this camera navigation technology labeled as Smart Mapping & VSLAM. The Roomba 960 and 980 have iAdapt 2.0, whilst the Roomba i7 and S9 have iAdapt 3.0 & IMPRINT Mapping.  The difference between iAdapt 2.0 and iAdapt 3.0 is that the more recent version can distinguish different rooms and clean them in isolation.

The most recent iLife robot vacuums, the iLife A8 and A9s have their mirroring version labeled as Panoview Navigation. There is not much need to go any deeper than this as the technology, ability, and outcome is the same with one exception, which is the superiority of iAdapt 3.0 IMPRINT mapping of individual rooms.

Second Tier Navigation – Sensor Driven

All other iLife and Roombas use a relatively random sensor-driven navigation, which is a little blunter when navigating. In Roombas, this is called iAdapt 1.0, which simply uses infrared to identify objects and move around them accordingly. Cliff Detect is another sensor-driven technology that identifies drop-offs and accordingly prevents the robot vacuum from falling downstairs.

iLifes more basic models have four Standard Navigation Cleaning Modes that navigate slightly differently. These are activated by pressing their button on the body of the iLife model. Auto mode is the default cleaning mode that is equitable to iAdapt 1.0 in Roombas. Additionally, there is an  Edge mode for corners, Spot mode for focus on a small area and finally Manual mode, where you can take the wheel.


3.Smart Home Enabled & App Features

irobot home app

An essential figure of a modern robot vacuum is Wifi connectivity along with an accompanying app. Such technology has revolutionized the capability and control of such devices as a new layer of data and features have been added. Both iRobot and iLife have an accompanying app for their connected devices. The following robot vacuums from each brand are connectable to Wifi and controllable via the accompanying app:

  • Roomba 690
  • Roomba 890
  • Roomba 960
  • Roomba 980
  • Roomba i7
  • Roomba S9
  • iLife A7
  • iLife A8
  • iLife A9s
  • iLife V3s Pro
  • iLife V5s Pro
  • iLife V7s Plus
  • iLife V80
  • iLife V8s

iRobots Home app is more complete and reliable compared to the equivalent iLife app.  This makes operating Roombas that bit easier whilst getting some cool features that work with all connectable Roombas:

  • Control the Roomba (play, pause)
  • Scheduling plans
  • Real-time cleaning notifications
  • Contact support
  • Customize & set preferences
  • Smart Home integration
  • Alexa & IFTTT compatibility

If you go with a Roomba 900 series, i7 or S9, you can get your hands on iAdapt 2.0 or iAdapt 3.0 mapping technology that gives you detailed Map Reports and various statistics about the cleaning are available.

The iLIFE Robot App is a poor piece of software with many users having issues and bad review with connecting their robot. In many instances, customers state that barely works and they can’t even connect their robot vacuum. The overwhelming majority of reviews of 1 star, and although it may work in some instances, iRobots equivalent app is without a doubt better.


4.Cleaning Performance

Roomba 3 stage cleaning system

The cleaning ability of your robot vacuum is mostly dictated by the power of your vacuum as well as the configuration of brushes. Roombas have more powerful motors and suction Pa compared to iLifes robot vacuums which lead to better cleaning performances. Roombas have one of these four motors.:

  • Superior 3-Stage Cleaning System (40x original)
  • Gen 3 Motor (10x original)
  • Aerofroce 3-Stage Cleaning System (5x original)
  • 3-Stage Cleaning System

iRobot has dished out more and more powerful motors with their newer models. Most typically, the suction power of a robot vacuum is measured using Pa. Whilst some brands of robot vacuum freely give out their figures, iRobot is quite secretive. Whilst we don’t know the exact figures, there are some estimations and we can be very sure these exceed iLifes.

The Roomba S9 uses the Superior motor which is estimated to have 2000-2500 Pa. To contrast, the best iLife models have a maximum suction of 1000 Pa. This includes the V8s and A9s. Even the Gen 3 Motor, found in the Roomba i7+ and 980 has a maximum 1700 Pa,  far more powerful than the top iLife models.

The weakest iRobot motor, the 3-Stage Cleaning system which models like the Roomba 690 have, has a suction of 800 Pa. Although iRobot is secretive about their Pa levels, we can be sure that models such as the Roomba 960 and 890 have more suction power than any iLife model too.

The significance of this is that Roombas are better choices for carpets and will have an all-round better performance. iLifes models may be able to match the performance of Roomba models on hard floors in many situations.


5.Mopping

Some of iLifes models have wet mopping modes built into their systems, such as the V5 Pro or X5. iRobot, on the other hand, has divided its product range into separate robot vacuums and robot floor moppers. The Roombas are the robot vacuums and the moppers are called Braavas.

  • iLifes has some models with mops

6.Battery type & life

roomba 980 lithoum ion battery

Roombas range in battery life between 60 to 120 minutes, with the more advanced and newer models being capable of the longer duration.  On average, iLife ranges from 70 to 150 minutes, with the iLife A4s achieving this upper figure on a good day. Charge time of both iLife and Roombas tend to be around two to three hours although this can vary due.

  • iLife has long battery life

7.Self-recharge & self-resume

Most robot vacuums have the ability to return to their charging station when a low battery level is detected, but only a few can start cleaning again without being turned on manually.  Roombas 960, 980 and i7+ and the iLife A8 will continue cleaning until the job is fully done. This feature makes the battery life of these robot vacuums less important as they can keep on cleaning indefinitely.

  • Roomba and iLife both have models with self-recharge & self resume
  • Most of their models don’t

8.Full bin indicator

All new Roombas come with a full bin indicator that lights up red when the bin full and needs emptying. iLifes vacuums do not have this display and instead, they recommend emptying the bin after every clean.

  • Some Roombas have a full bin indicator

9.Price

iRobot Roomba 960

Roombas are a premium robot vacuum with high price tags in exchange for the most modern and effective features, . Although older models are cheaper, the most recent wave of Roombas bundles cost typically upwards of $400 with some being more towards $1,000. iLife are budget robot vacuums, priced far below this range, typically around $200 to $300, making them a brand that supports a lower budget.

  • Roombas are a more expensive premium brand
  • iLife is a budget brand

Final Word on Roomba vs ilife

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 robot vacuums 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 which is in reach of far more customers. Thanks for reading this iLife vs Roomba comparison and check out our other articles:


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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