Just a year after launching the Roomba i7 and i7+, iRobot has launched their latest robotic vacuum cleaners, the S9 and s9+.
The S9+ is the most powerful robot vacuum you can buy right now. iRobot cranked up the suction power, improved brush design, and made several software and design upgrades to enhance cleaning performance.
The Roomba S9+ is also one of the most expensive robotic pool cleaners.
So is it worth shelling out the extra dollars for the S9+ or are you better off with a cheaper robot vacuum the 980?
That’s what we’ll find out in this 10-minute review.
If you’d rather just get a cheaper robot vacuum, read our reviews of other top-rated Roombas before this one.
Our Impression – Roomba S9+ Robot Vacuum Cleaner
The best and most advanced robot from IRobot so far and one of the most capable robot vacuum you can buy. Though expensive, the cleaning performance is well worth the money.
• All carpets
• Pet hair
• Multi-room cleaning
• Medium and Large homes
You’d prefer not to spend four figures on a robot vacuum cleaner. If you don’t mind fewer features and slightly reduced pet hair-picking ability, there are plenty of low and mid-budget alternatives from iRobot and other brands.
It was surprising when iRobot announced a new robot vacuum just a year after releasing the i7, especially considering we were still marveling at the i7+’s self-emptying bin technology.
Also, iRobot typically doesn’t do yearly refreshes.
An obvious difference between the i7+ and s9+ is the hardware design. Whereas the Roomba i7+ spots a rounded shape like all other previous Roombas, the new s9 and s9+ models borrow a leaf from Roomba’s main competition, the Neato Botvac.
They have a D-shape that greatly improves a corner and edge cleaning.
The brushes are also wider and lower to the ground. They are complemented by a more powerful suction that makes a big difference on carpets.
Another big upgrade is the ability of the Roomba to communicate with the also-new Braava m6 robot mop. When the S9+ finishes vacuuming, it notifies the Braava to start cleaning.
This upgrade has been applied retroactively. So if you have a Roomba i7 or i7+, it can also link to the Braava Jet m6.
All other features are virtually similar to those in the i7+, including smart navigation, interactive mapping, self-emptying bin, and 3-stage cleaning.
That said, not everything about the S9+ is perfect. From customer reviews, there seem to be quite a few software bugs that cause the S9+ to act up.
Luckily, this is something iRobot can fix with an over-the-air update.
Roombas are already known for their better than average cleaning performance. Since the early 600 series models, Roombas have been getting better and better at picking up pet hair and debris.
The Roomba s9+ is the result of all those cumulative upgrades and improvements. If you are looking for the best-cleaning robot vacuum, you won’t find any better than the S9+.
The S9+ applies the Roomba-famous 3-stage cleaning system where it systematically attacks dirt in three steps.
First, the brushes agitate dirt and debris to loosen it and make it easier to vacuum. On carpeting, the brushes improve the robot’s ability to pick up deep-down bits of food and dirt.
Like the i7+, the Roomba s9+ uses dual rubber brushes.
In the S9+, the brushes are lower for better contact with the floor. This greatly improves the robot’s cleaning ability on carpeting. It’s the first robot vacuum that deep cleans low and medium-pile carpets.
The brushes are also wider. This doesn’t necessarily increase cleaning performance; it just helps the robot clean faster.
After loosening dirt, the dual brushes work in tandem to lift pet hair and debris into the vacuum. Again, because the brushes are lower, they lift more debris and hair.
If you struggle with pet hair, the Roomba s9+ is currently the best robot vacuum you can buy.
The final stage is the suction.
According to iRobot, the Roomba s9+ has 40X the suction power of 600 series Roombas. In comparison, the Roomba i7+ boasts 10X the suction power of 600 series models.
That’s a huge power upgrade. And it makes a big difference, especially on carpets.
As I’ve mentioned, the S9+ is the first robot vacuum to deep clean carpets. If you have a low to medium pile carpet, we can confidently tell you to ditch your old vacuum.
For shaggy carpets, however, the s9+ still struggles to pick up fine debris. You’ll need to vacuum the carpet manually occasionally.
Sometimes, small changes make the biggest difference. That’s the case with Roomba s9+’s new D-shape design.
It allows the Roomba to get right up against the wall for better edge cleaning. It also greatly improves corner cleaning.
Combined with the specialized corner brush, the Roomba s9+ reaches dirt and pet hair that most robot vacuums would leave untouched.
Overall, the Roomba S9+’s cleaning ability is what we expected from a robot vacuum of its price and with its features.
But we are still impressed at how well it cleans, especially on carpets.
The s9+ has a runtime of around 120 minutes, which is plenty of time to vacuum an entire level. If you have a large carpeted area, you’ll get about an hour of cleaning time since the robot has to engage Power Boost for longer.
But with the robot’s automatic recharge and resume feature, battery life is no longer a big deal.
Automatic Dirt Disposal
The Roomba i7+ solved one of the pesky limitations of robot vacuums – emptying the bin.
Instead of getting your hands dirty, iRobot created Clean Base, a unit attached to the charging dock that sucks up debris from the bin when the robot docks.
The Roomba s9+ automatic dirt disposal system works the same way as that of the i7+. It is a bit loud, but most users agree it’s worth the convenience.
Clean Base holds 30 binfuls of dirt in a disposable bag. You can go several weeks before you need to empty it, which involves just taking out the bag and disposing of the dirt along with it.
The main downside of the self-emptying system is that you have to keep buying replacement bags.
If your budget can’t accommodate such luxuries, iRobot sells a base model – the s9 – without Clean Base.
From the robot’s control panel, you can select spot mode. The robot will clean in a spiral pattern. Use this mode when you need to clean up a mess quickly.
From the iRobot Home app, you can select regular or quiet mode.
Regular mode engages Power Boost Technology for improved debris picks up. But the battery drains faster, and the noise level is fairly intrusive.
Quiet mode reduces suction power, and thus the amount of noise from the robot. Use this when the baby is asleep, or you are watching TV.
For normal use, leave the robot in auto mode. It will stay in quiet mode and automatically switch to the noisy mode when it detects it’s on a carpet.
The i and s series Roombas come with huge improvements in navigation compared to the Roomba 980 and earlier models.
The Roomba s9+ uses vSLAM technology to scan and map your home. Then using Imprint Smart Mapping, the robot continually adapts to your home’s layout.
Over time, it cleans faster and more efficiently without compromising thoroughness.
You can see the maps the robot has created on the iRobot Home app. But you can do more than just see them; you can also interact with them.
This lets you label different rooms and select which rooms you want the robot to clean and when.
If you use voice commands, you can ask Roomba to clean the kitchen or living room.
The Roomba s9+ is great for multi-level homes. It can create multiple floor plans. So when you take it upstairs, it doesn’t get all confusing. It simply references that level’s map and gets to work.
The only thing you’ll need is a second base.
The Roomba s9+ also has the usual array of obstacle and cliff sensors to avoid furniture and prevent a tumble down the steps.
One of the features we expected iRobot to incorporate into the s9+ is a virtual no-go zone. As it is, you still have to rely on the included dual-mode virtual wall barrier to keep the robot away from certain areas.
Considering other robot vacuums like the Neato Botvac already has virtual no-go lines, it’s a surprise the Roomba s9+ still relies on old tech.
Automation and Scheduling
As expected, the Roomba s9+ is WiFi-connected. The only buttons on the robot are the START button and the spot mode button.
All other functions are accessible only from the iRobot Home app.
The app is easy to use with lots of functions and controls. You can select cleaning mode, monitor the robot vacuum, send it to a specific room using the map, and send it back to the dock.
You can also set an auto-cleaning schedule and select which rooms you want the Roomba to clean on specific days.
If the battery dies while the Roomba is cleaning, it will automatically go back to dock to recharge and then resume cleaning where it had left off.
If you don’t want to fire up the app every time you want the Roomba to clean, you can use voice commands.
The Roomba s9+ is compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant. You can send voice commands via a smart speaker or your smartphone.
What it Misses
We hope iRobot sorts out the software bugs customers have been reporting. Sometimes it keeps cleaning the same spot or room.
The brushes also seem to be more fragile than in previous models. You may have to get replacements more frequently, especially if you vacuum daily.
Another common complaint is that the s9+ easily gets stuck on thick rugs and carpets. This seems to be because it’s lower profile and the fact that the brushes are also lower.
This one is not a big deal, but it would be nice if iRobot added virtual no-go zones in the app. This is probably something they can do with an update, so fingers crossed.
Maintenance for the robot is similar to other Roombas. After every session, inspect the vacuum for any obstructions. Remove the brushes and check whether there’s hair on them or the axels.
Also, check the wheels and brushes and wipe the sensors every two weeks to make sure there’s no dust obstructing them.
Replace the filter, brushes, and other components when they begin to wear out.
As for the Clean Base, you’ll get an alert when it’s time to empty it. Clean the charging contacts on both the charging dock and robot to make sure the robot docks and charges properly.
- Excellent cleaning performance – best in class.
- Great for pet owners.
- Improved mapping technology.
- Automatic dirt disposal.
- High-efficiency filter keeps pollen, mold, and allergens from blowing back into the air.
- Improved corner and edge cleaning.
- A few software bugs.
- No virtual no-go zones.
Dimensions: 12.25” diameter x 3.5 inches height
Running time: 120 minutes
Recharge time: 4 hours
Remote control: No
App control: yes
Multi-room navigation: yes
Entire level cleaning: yes
Smart home integration: yes
Interactive floor map: yes