Roomba 960 vs 980 – A Detailed & Clear Comparison

Roomba 900 series comparison

More people are turning to robot vacuums to eliminate the time they have to spend doing or thinking about cleaning. At the top end of functionality and performance in iRobots range, you have the Roomba 960 and 980. Second, only to the Roomba i7+ and S9+, these two robot vacuums are equipped with some of the finest navigation and cleaning technologies available on the market. This article will compare the Roomba 960 vs 980 cleaning performance and set of features. This includes cleaning technologies, cleaning motors, navigation technology and more.

Although there are countless features that are attributable to both models, the differences between the 960 and 980 are subtle. This article will take you through all the features you can expect to find with these two robot vacuums. Check out this article to see more about the best Roomba models available. We have also compared the Roomba 960 and Roomba 980 against the S9. We recommend the Roomba 960 as it is almost as good as the 980 but a fair bit cheaper.

Comparison Chart

Check PriceRoomba 980ROOMBA 980iADAPT 2.0
GEN 3YesNo
Check PriceRoomba 960ROOMBA 960iADAPT 2.0

This article will look deeper into comparing the Roomba 960 and 980 as we consider features such as motor power, navigation methods, and smart home technology. The truth is that the 960 and 980 are very similar machines with the principal difference being the 980 having higher motor power and price tag.

Also Read: Roomba 980 vs i7

Roomba 960 – The smarter option

Roomba 960

Overall, the Roomba 960 is a very solid robot vacuum which comes packed with all the best features and in practice will do as good of a job as the more expensive 980. Its more reasonable price and almost equal footing to the 980 means that we think it is the better choice for most purchasers. This is because it gets the depth of control and ease of use that comes with the iRobot Home app, as well as the best navigation system it shares with the 980. It does only have 75 minutes of battery life compared to the 120 minutes that the 980 has but the recharge and resume function renders this less important.

This is the choice for those with a smaller home, hard floors and relatively sensitive budget.

iRobot Roomba 960 Robot Vacuum- Wi-Fi Connected Mapping, Works with Alexa, Ideal for Pet Hair, Carpets, Hard Floors,Black
  • IT WON'T STOP TILL THE JOB IS DONE - Intelligently maps...
  • NAVIGATES IN NEAT ROWS - Purposefully & logically...
  • IDEAL FOR HOMES WITH PETS - Unique Dual Multi-Surface...

Roomba 980 – The better but more expensive option

Roomba 980

The Roomba 980 is a brilliantly performing robot vacuum cleaner that used to be the best, until the Roomba i7+ came along. It has everything that the 960 has with extra battery life and the more powerful Gen 3-Motor. The carpet boost mode is unique to the 980 and will do a better job than the 960 on carpets and rugs, especially those with thicker and denser piles. Beyond that, the navigation technology and connectivity that makes the 960 so great is found in the 980.

This is the choice for those with a larger home, many carpets, and rugs and a large budget.

1. Design

The design, weight, and size of the Roomba 960 and 980 are very similar, with the only real apparent difference being the color scheme. The 980 comes in a dark brown compared to the matte grey of the 960. The dimensions and weight of both the 960  and 980 are identical and are as follows:

  • Diameter: 13.8 inches
  • Height: 3.6 inches
  • Weight: 8.7 lbs

2. Connectivity

Newer models of Roombas, including both the 960 and 980, are WiFi enabled and have the ability to connect to your smartphone through the iRobot Home App, which is available on Android and IOS. This is not exclusive to the 900 series as the i7+ and e5 have this feature as well as the Roomba 890 and 690.

irobot home app

The integration of WiFi connectivity into the 960 and 980 is effectively the point where they became smart home devices, in addition to being a robot vacuum. The iRobot Home App acts as the user interface for the control and reporting of the 960 and the 980. From the app you can carry out the following functions:

  • Start & pause cleaning cycles
  • Set schedules
  • Configure your preferences
  • Monitor your robots live activity
  • View Clean Map reports
  • View Roomba statistics on cleaning metrics
  • Enable push notifications for your smart device
  • Stay on top of Roomba firmware update
  • Access customer support options

It is not essential to have the iRobot Home app to use your 960 or 980 as they both have buttons on their bodies. However, It is highly recommended as it gives access to a whole new range of features available on both models.

There is the option for voice control with Alexa as well as Google Home.

  • The Roomba 960 and 980 both connect to the app
  • The Roomba 960 and 980 are both controllable with Alexa

3. Navigation Technology


The navigation technology of the Roomba 960 and 980 is a fundamental difference that sets them out from the other models, apart from the i7+. All other Roombas use a relatively random form of sensor-driven navigation technology called iAdapt (1.0), whilst the 960 and 980 have Smart Mapping & VSLAM Navigation built-in.

This form of navigation uses a camera that the 960 and 980 have facing outwards of its top face diagonally to take images. This builds up a map of your home, so the robot vacuum knows the layout and the best routes to take. In practice, it is quite a bit more technical than this, but that is the general gist. The result of Smart Mapping & VSLAM is that the 960 and 980 clean your home in a calculated and efficient way that saves time and electricity.

Another cool application of this is when the Roomba 960 and 980 recharge and resume cleaning, they know exactly where they left off and where they should crack on from.

  • The Roomba 960 and 980 have Smart Mapping & VSLAM

Also Read: Roomba 960 vs i7

Clean Map Reports

iRobot Home Clean Map Reports

The Smart mapping & VSLAM technology of the Roomba 960 and 980 also produces cleaning reports both accessible from the iRobot Home App. Accessible and in-depth reports showcasing your home floorplan smart mapped, clean time, charging time, “dirt events”, as well as enabling voice commands and scheduled cleaning. You can view up to 30 cleans before the data is deleted.

  • The Roomba 960 and 980 produce Clean Map Reports

Dirt Detect

Dirt Detect is an older technology used in Roombas which identifies areas which have high concentrations of dirt and require more attention. The 960 and 980 both have this to work when extra dirt is found to ensure the cleaning job is fully handled.

  • The Roomba 960 and 980 have Dirt Detect

Cliff Detect

irobot roomba 980 cliff detect

Cliff Detect is also an older bit of sensor-driven technology used in the Roomba 960 and 980. It pretty much does what it says on the tin and identifies any drop-offs so your robotdoes not fall and break.

The most common cliff point will be the top of stairs, so any cleaning of multiple floors will require you manually carrying the 960 or 980 to different floors.  iRobot recommends regularly wiping your Cliff detect sensors with a dry cloth as any fall down the steps could be very damaging to the robot vacuum and you. Do not cover them either!

  • The Roomba 960 and 980 have Cliff Detect

Sweep corners and along walls

A staple of every Roomba, including the 960 and 980 is the side brushes angled at 27 degrees to sweep debris found in corners into its path.

  • The Roomba 960 and 980 have side brushes

Home Base

Roomba home base station

The Roomba 960 and 980 come with a Home Base which is their charging point and home when they are not in use. When these models run out of charge they automatically return to the Home Base rather than randomly switching off and being lost.

A particularly useful feature introduced to the  Roomba 960 and 980 is the ability to resume cleaning once recharged, making life even easier. Once scheduling is set up then, in theory, there should be a minimal amount of maintenance of your Roombas. This feature reduces the importance of battery life too.

  • The Roomba 960 and 980 can self-recharge and resume cleaning

4. Cleaning Motor

3 stage cleaning system

The varying motor power of the Roombas 960 and 980 is the principal difference between the two models. The 960 uses the Aeroforce 3-Stage Cleaning System, which is approximately 5 times stronger than the motor used in most of the older Roombas, such as the 650.

The Roomba 980 uses iRobots Gen 3 motor which is twice as strong as the 960 when used on carpets. The main significance of this is that the 980 will do a much better job on dense and deeper carpets. Given that robot vacuums are mostly not as effective as traditional vacuums, this may or may not be worth the extra $200.

If your home is a hard floor it is certainly recommended to go for the Roomba 960 over the 980. Homes with thicker and higher carpet pile may require the extra oomph that the980 has. So given your individual circumstance, you may think the motor power of the Roomba 960 and 980 is sufficient if you have hard floors.

  • The Roomba 980 has a more powerful cleaning motor – 10 times the strength of the original iRobot Aerovac motor
  • The Roomba 960 has a less powerful cleaning motor – 5 times the strength of the original iRobot Aerovac motor

iRobot Roomba 980 Wi-Fi Connected Vacuuming Robot
  • Power Lifting Suction delivers 10X the air power for...
  • Patented iAdapt 2.0 Navigation with VSlam technology...
  • Ideal for homes with pets; Premium 3 stage Cleaning...


Roomba 980 carpet boost mode

The Roomba 980 has a special carpet cleaning mode where it harnesses the full power of the Gen 3 Motor. The 980 will reduce its vacuum power on hard services to compensate for the extra energy used in carpet cleaning mode. This means that it will outperform the Roomba 960 on some carpet jobs, especially for those who have thicker and denser carpet pile. The 960 lacks this feature, so without a doubt, there will be some circumstances where the 980 will pick up some mess that the 960 failed to properly extract. 

  • The Roomba 980 has a carpet cleaning mode

Hard Floors

All Roombas can do a solid job on hard floors, even the likes of the 614 is a solid bet for pet hair on a solid surface. Both the 960 and 980 will not have any problems here.

  • The Roomba 960 and 980 will both do a good job on hard floors

5. Batteries

roomba 980 lithoum ion battery

The Roomba 960 uses a 2130 mAh Li-Ion battery which iRobot states typically lasts through 75 minutes of continuous cleaning. The Roomba 980 uses a 3000 mAh Li-Ion battery which can do 120 minutes of cleaning. As you can see, The battery life of the Roomba 960 and 980 is a fair bit less, although in practice this 45 minutes is not game-changing important.

Although this may seem like a significant difference, it actually isn’t that important given that both can self autonomously go back to the charging station and resume cleaning. The only circumstance where this could be worth having is if your home takes more than 75 minutes to clean but less than 120 minutes.

The problem is that you will not know this until you purchase a Roomba. The battery life of the Roomba 960 and 980 are estimations and results will vary, although you can use measures to increase battery life.

  • The Roomba 980 has 120 minutes battery life
  • The Roomba 960 has 75 minutes battery life

6. Price of 960 vs 980

The price of the Roomba 960 vs 980 may be the deciding factor for many purchasers. The 960 is typically around $200 less than the 980, which is quite a substantial proportion. The 980 is one of the best robot vacuum you can buy at the moment, and those without budget restrictions may feel happy going with that choice. We feel that most, not all, will be swayed towards the 960 because of this price difference.

Final Word

The Roomba 960 and 980 are clearly the two of the best models due to superior control via the iRobot Home app and from having more powerful motors than their counterparts. Between these two models, the only difference which has which adds proper value is the motor power of the 980 being twice that of the 960. Due to this we prefer 960 and think it the best option for most people, especially if you have hard flooring. 

Photo of Rupert Pople

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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