Roomba 880 vs 980 – What’s the Big Deal?

Until recently the iRobot Roomba 880 was considered one of the most powerful robot vacuum cleaners on the market.

While the 880 still stands out for its exceptional performance and cleaning capabilities, the newly introduced iRobot Roomba 980 has a lot to offer.

Bottom Line up Front: Which Would I go with Today?

Continue reading for the full analysis….

At first glance both Roomba models appear similar in many ways, including their self-charging and multi-room navigation capabilities. You can automatically schedule both the 880 and 980 to clean the house even if you’re not home.

Both robot vacuums also have tangle-free debris extractors and a powerful AeroForce 3-stage cleaning system. The 880 and 980 are outfitted with a HEPA-style filter that captures even the smallest dust and dirt particles.

You can’t go wrong with either vacuum if you’re looking for a Roomba that caters to allergy sufferers, pet owners, or both.

The newest member of the Roomba family sets itself apart in some serious ways, including the fact that it efficiently maps out its cleaning route with assistance from an on-board camera and can be commanded with a smartphone thanks to WiFi connectivity.

Let’s take a closer look at what both models have to offer.

You can read my individual stand-alone reviews of the 880 here as well as the new 980 here.

Overview of the 880 and 980

Roomba 880

Auto-Recharge: The self-charging Roomba 880 automatically finds its way back to the charging base when its battery is running low.

Multi-Room Nav: Another feature is multi-room navigation, which enables the robot vacuum to zip from one room to the next on its own. Handy iAdapt Navigation utilizes an array of sensors to promote sensible navigation around the home and adapt to your changing rooms and home as necessary.

Filtering: Roomba 880 boasts tangle-free extractors to keep debris clogs at bay. This robot vacuum also comes with a HEPA-style filter to trap dust, dirt, and allergens as small as a single micron. The result is cleaner air and relief from allergy symptoms.

Virtual Walls: You can keep the Roomba in and out of specific rooms thanks to a convenient Virtual Wall mode.

Roomba 980

The newest member of the iRobot family, the iRobot Roomba 980, is undoubtedly the smartest robot vacuum currently available in the iRobot lineup.

Optimized Navigation: For starters, it’s equipped with iAdapt 2.0 navigation with visual localization.

As opposed to the original iAdapt navigation on previous iRobot models that relied on an array of sensors to help the vacuums make their way around the room, iAdapt 2.0 features a new camera sensor for more accurate navigation.

More Methodical Approach: Instead of weaving around the room in the same seemingly random style as previous iRobot vacuums, the 980 cleans rooms in a methodical and intelligent manner using straighter lines.

WiFi Control: One of the other most notable changes is the addition of WiFi connectivity that lets you control Roomba 980 through your WiFi network.

You can use this handy virtual platform to complete tasks such as schedule cleanings on certain days during the week, select specific details regarding the cleaning process, and access information regarding the status of the 980’s cleaning process if you’re not home.

Key Features to Consider

The iRobot Roomba family doesn’t disappoint when it comes to features. Understanding the various features each model contains can help you make a more informed buying decision.

Both the 880 and 980 share several features but they are also quite different in some respects. Here are some of the main features of each model.

Suction and cleaning power

Whether you’re considering a Roomba to help clean up after pets, minimize dust, dirt, and other allergens around the home, or simply tidy up your house when you’re not around, there’s no doubt that the 880 and 980 deliver exceptional results.

Both robot vacs feature a powerful three-stage cleaning system that includes using a combination of agitation, brushing, and suction to sweep up even the smallest particles and get the into the dust bin.

Both models have a HEPA-style filter that captures up to 99 percent of particles, some of which are as small as a single micron. The AeroForce three-stage cleaning system promises up to five times the cleaning power for the 880 and double that amount for the 980.

The 980 stands out as the better model overall for its exceptional cleaning capabilities. That’s because it’s equipped with a reworked AeroForce cleaning system that promises optimal agitation and brushing performance.

Another bonus is Carpet Boost, a handy cleaning feature with the latest generation motor. Carpet Boost ensures more power — and better cleaning — by enhancing the motor’s performance on carpet and rugs.

The result is a robot vacuum cleaner that does an exceptional job of sucking up dust and dirt in tough-to-reach places.


The Roomba lineup features a Dirt Detect Series, available on the 700 series and up, that relies on both optical and acoustic sensors to detect the places with the highest amounts of pet hair, dust, dirt, and other allergens. Then the Roomba gets to work, spending extra time on dirtier areas.

Roomba 980 comes with an iAdapt 2.0 Responsive Navigation system that also uses an array of sensors for precise navigation. The 980 also has a camera sensor on-board so that it can more accurately see the room during the cleaning process.

The result is a straighter and more accurate line than previous Roombas with their zig-zag and seemingly sporadic patterns. The iAdapt camera enables the Roomba 980 to continuously construct and update maps of rooms within your house as necessary.

Battery Life

The 980 also gets the upper edge in terms of battery life. But that doesn’t mean the 880’s battery life is poor or lacking by any means. You can count on the 980 to run continuously for up to two hours on a single charge.

The Roomba then automatically recharges and heads back to finish the job if the battery power gets too low during a cleaning. Many consumers report getting between 1 and 1.5 hours of run time when using the 880.

Pros and Cons

Roomba 880

  • PRO – AeroForce Technology: One feature that continues to earn praise for the iRobot Roomba 880 (and other models) is the innovative AeroForce cleaning system. This successful system relies on a handy brushless technology that enables it to remove an exceptional amount of debris while minimizing the need for maintenance along the way.
  • PRO – Virtual Lighthouse: The 880 continues to earn praise for other features such as Virtual Lighthouse and Wall sensors that keep it in (or out) of certain rooms while ensuring that it completely cleans one room before heading off to the next.
  • PRO – HEPA Filters: The 880 comes with a HEPA filter to trap even the smallest particles and lets you automatically schedule cleanings as needed.
  • PRO – Price: The Roomba 880 is still an investment, but it’s significantly less expensive than the 980. You can check the latest pricing here, usually around $200 cheaper.
  • CON – Dust Bin Size: A common complaint among consumers is the relatively small dust bin. The 880 quickly sucks up copious amounts of dirt and debris. While this is ideal for homes with allergy sufferers and pet owners (or both) it can cause the bin to fill up quite rapidly. When the bin is full you’ll need to empty it before the Roomba can continue with its cleaning mission.
  • CON – Cleaning Pattern: Consumers also gripe about the 880’s seemingly random cleaning pattern. The 880 covers rooms in a zig-zag formation, which can lead to confusion over whether it’s actually cleaned the entire room before moving on to the next one.

Roomba 980

The Roomba has all the same “pros” as the 880, but these are new areas where it stands out:

  • PRO – WiFi App: By far the most notable feature of the 980 is its smartphone connectivity. Now owners of the 980 can watch the vacuum’s progress and even control the unit from afar. The iRobot Home App lets you begin a cleaning job and schedule cleanings as necessary. When using the app you can even get live progress updates as the Roomba makes its way around your house. You’ll know just how long it’s been cleaning as well as when it gets stuck or is charging.
  • PRO – Battery: Another notable improvement is the new lithium ion battery. This latest battery is designed to offer a longer battery life than any previous Roomba. The 980 also boasts superior suction power on carpeting and rugs where dust, dirt, and smaller debris often collect. An innovative iAdapt 2.0 navigation system keeps the latest Roomba in a straighter and more methodical pattern as it cleans each room.
  • CON – Price: With a price tag bordering $900 (see here for latest), it’s no surprise that price is a big concern for many consumers. With so many other capable Roomba models on the market, it can be hard to justify spending that much for the latest Roomba model.

Comparison: Roomba 880 vs Roomba 980

Roomba 880 vs 980 – What’s the Big Deal?

A side-by-side comparison of both Roomba models can help you determine which one is the best fit for your budget and lifestyle.

Roomba 880 Roomba 980
Price Around $700 (see here for latest) Around $900 (see here for latest)
Cleaning and suction AeroForce 3-stage cleaning system; HEPA-style filter AeroForce 3-stage cleaning system; HEPA-style filter; Carpet Boost
Battery and battery life Nickel metal hydride; typically lasts 1 to 1.5 hours on a single charge Lithium ion; can last up to 2 hours on a single charge
Navigation iAdapt with optical and acoustic sensors iAdapt 2.0 with Visual Localization and iAdapt camera
Features Self-charging; can clean up to three rooms at once; automatic scheduling; tangle-free debris extractors Self-charging; cleans an entire house level at once; automatic scheduling; tangle-free debris extractors; recharge and resume; can be operated with a smartphone with the iRobot HOME app

Should I Buy Now or Wait?

Both the 880 and 980 are safe bets if you’re serious about getting a higher-level robot vacuum  to take care of some serious cleaning demands around the house.

The main question for many consumers will be whether to spring for the newly introduced 980 or save $200 with the trusty 880. If you can’t decide between the two, start by considering the features and performance for the price.

The 980 offers exceptional performance on carpets and rugs – areas where dust and dirt can quickly build up and linger. You can also monitor the 980 with the iRobot HOME app – a feature that no previous Roomba model has.

In Short: If budget is a concern, go with the Roomba 880. If you want to have the best robot vacuum on the market, the 980 is certainly worth it.