Robotic Vacuums

Roomba 980 vs Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum: Which One Works Best?

(Last Updated On: November 18, 2017)

iRobot’s Roomba is a trusted brand when it comes to robot vacuums, with the Roomba 980 dominating the pack in terms of cleaning and navigation technology, as well as range of features.  But one thing that turns some people off about the Roomba 980 is its expensive price tag.

Now, the Roomba 980 has an unlikely challenger from Chinese brand Xiaomi.  Called the Xiaomi Mi robot vacuum cleaner, or Xiaomi MiJia, the Chinese challenger promises to deliver a more powerful suction, more battery juice, and a budget-friendly price tag.

Bottom Line Up Front: I still definitely prefer the more user-friendly and capable Roomba 980 here. It’s not that the Xiaomi Mi is a bad product, it’s just a bit rough around the edges still. The 980 is also on sale for the holidays (11% at last check here), so it’s even more of a favorite.

Continue reading for my full analysis…

Xiaomi Mi

The Xiaomi MiJia has a round form factor with a diameter of 13.6 inches and a height of 3.8 inches.  It weights 3.8 kilograms and is made of acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, which is a durable type of plastic that is resistant to heat.  It also has a polished look that makes it look expensive.

It makes use of a hover brush, which adjusts its height to ensure that it touches your floor, allowing the robot vacuum to clean more efficiently and brush more dirt even when it cleans on uneven surfaces.

Meanwhile, the  side  brushes  can  rotate  both  ways.  In  this  manner, the side  brushes  can  clean  more  thoroughly  depending  on  the  cleaning  mode  you  choose.

In this manner, the side brushes can clean more thoroughly depending on the cleaning mode you choose.

It uses a Nidec brushless DC motor that delivers a powerful suction of up to 1,800pa.  The brushless motor is also quiet and very efficient.

The Xiaomi MiJia has a 5200 mAh lithium ion battery that can deliver up to 2.5 hours of operation, or can clean an area of up to 250 sq. m. on a single charge.

 

Sensors and processors.  The Xiaomi MiJia has a laser distance sensor moving at a rate of 1800 times per second to help map out your room and scan everything around it.

It  can  measure  up  to  six  meters  and  can  map  out  which  of  your  furniture  pieces  have  enough  clearance  for  it  go  under, and  which  ones  should  be  avoided  altogether.

On top of that, it can get more accurate mapping data with the help of a dozen other sensors that allow it to know when it would collide with objects or walls or when it is in danger of falling down stairs.

The range of sensors used by the Xiaomi MiJia are:

  • Accelerometer
  • Cliff sensor
  • Collision sensor
  • Drop sensor
  • Dustbin sensor
  • Electronic compass
  • Fan speed sensor
  • Gyroscope
  • Laser distance sensor
  • Speedometer
  • Ultrasonic radar sensor
  • Wall sensor

The Xiaomi MiJia relies on three processors to help monitor its movement, allowing the robot vacuum to know where exactly it is in your room.

These processors — Allwinner ARM Cortex A7 Quad-Core Processor, TI Digital Signal Processor, and ST ARM Cortex M3 Microcontroller — track the robot vacuum’s movements and help it determine where it should go next using Simultaneous Localization and Mapping algorithms.

What do all these sensors and mapping technology mean?  The Xiaomi MiJia robot vacuum cleaner gives your rooms a more thorough clean.

It does not just bounce from one end to another using a random pattern, but it can actually map out your room, start cleaning, know where it is and then know where to go next.

It does not just bounce from one end to another using a random pattern, but it can actually map out your room, start cleaning, know where it is and then know where to go next.

Cleaning pattern.  The Xiaomi MiJia starts off by cleaning along the edges and then goes into a zigzag cleaning pattern using the map that it has created for your room.

The robot vacuum can clean within 10 millimeters or around 0.4 inches from the edge, which means there is very little space it does not get to clean, and even so, the side brushes can take care of the dirt and dust that the main hover brush does not pick up.

The robot vacuum can clean within 10 millimeters or around 0.4 inches from the edge, which means there is very little space it does not get to clean, and even so, the side brushes can take care of the dirt and dust that the main hover brush does not pick up.

Auto recharge. While the lithium ion battery is rated to work for 2.5 hours, the robot vacuum will continue working until the battery drains to 20%.  It will then find the charging dock and then recharge itself.  Once the battery is 80% recharged, it will resume vacuuming until the rest of the room is clean.

Easy maintenance.  To clean your Xiaomi MiJia robot vacuum cleaner, you only need to open the lid and take out the dust bin, the filter, and the main brush.  You can use the special comb that is provided in the box to clean everything.

Safe to use.  Afraid of batteries exploding in China-made products?  Xiaomi guarantees that the battery included in the robot vacuum will not overcharge, over discharge, or overheat, and that it will not suffer from problems with short circuits, current, and voltage problems.

Mobile app.  Using the Mi Home app, you can connect your Xiaomi MiJia robot vacuum to your smartphone.  You can operate your robot vacuum even when you are not home, as well as see its progress and set cleaning modes.  You can also use the mobile app to create schedules.

Roomba 980

The Roomba 980 is iRobot’s flagship robot vacuum cleaner and it comes with all the bells and whistles as far as features go.  It was the first Roomba to have a mobile app companion, allowing you to remotely operate your Roomba 980, to create cleaning schedules, and to see cleaning statistics.

It was the first Roomba to have a mobile app companion, allowing you to remotely operate your Roomba 980, to create cleaning schedules, and to see cleaning statistics.

The Roomba 980 has a camera on top to help it map your floors and to know exactly where it is.  Unlike the Xiaomi MiJia, which relies on laser and SLAM algorithms along with its sensors, the Roomba 980 can actually see your floor and any obstacle.

Plus, these are helped by acoustic and optical sensors, which keep it from falling off stairs or bumping into walls.  These sensors also help the Roomba 980 detect dirtier spots on your floor so that it could focus on cleaning that area.

Plus, these are helped by acoustic and optical sensors, which keep it from falling off stairs or bumping into walls.  These sensors also help the Roomba 980 detect dirtier spots on your floor so that it could focus on cleaning that area.

The Roomba 980 delivers ten times more power compared to iRobot’s 800 series, enabling it to clean carpets more thoroughly.  It also makes extra passes along the edges of your walls after its regular clean to ensure that these areas are thoroughly cleaned.

This cleaning pattern is totally the opposite of what Xiaomi MiJia does, which first cleans the edges of your walls before going into

This cleaning pattern is totally the opposite of what Xiaomi MiJia does, which first cleans the edges of your walls before going into zigzag mode.

Another difference?  The Roomba 980 does not have a main brush but instead relies on debris extractors to do the job.  This  means  that  the  Roomba  980  is  less  prone  to  suffer  from  hair  tangles  and  jams  and  dirt  accumulating  on  its  brushes.

The Roomba 980 is the first Roomba model to feature true entire-level cleaning in that it will clean until the battery is close to being depleted, then charge itself and resume cleaning once the battery is fully charged.

For spot cleaning, the Roomba 980 goes on a circular cleaning pattern when you turn the spot cleaning mode.  It covers a small area of 3 feet in circumference.  The Roomba 980 has a lithium ion battery that gives it enough power to run for 120 minutes

Side-by-side comparison: Roomba 980 vs. Xiaomi MiJia

To make it easier for you to compare the Roomba 980 and the Xiaomi MiJia, check out this table:

 

  Roomba 980 Xiaomi MiJia
Manufacturer’s price $899.99 (For the latest prices and discounts, check here) $294.00 (For the latest prices and discounts, check here)
Companion mobile app?
Navigation technologies vSLAM technology SLAM algorithms
Navigation sensors Optical and acoustic sensors 12 different sensors
Cleaning modes Edge cleaning, spot cleaning, carpet boost Edge cleaning, zigzag mode, spot cleaning
Powerful suction
Main brush Debris Extractor Main hover brush
Side brushes
Entire level cleaning
Auto recharge
Auto resume
Wi-Fi connectivity
HEPA filter
Onboard camera X
Edge cleaning
Spot cleaning
Lithium ion battery
Running times (minutes) 120 150
Scheduling
Auto recharge
Auto resume
Form factor Round Round
Dimensions (dxh, inches) 13.8 x 3.6 13.6 x 3.8
Weight (lbs.) 8.7 8.4

Which one should you buy?

For its price, the Xiaomi MiJia Robot Vacuum has the features that you would love in the Roomba 980.  This is not surprising as the Chinese brand is known to take inspiration from top products and brands when making its own products.  The Roomba 980 is a clear inspiration used for the Xiaomi MiJia.

That should put the Xiaomi MiJia way ahead of the Roomba 980.  Imagine being able to buy three MiJia robot vacuum cleaners for the price of one Roomba 980.

However, the Chinese robot vacuum does suffer from being lost in translation.

For instance, it was only recently that the robot vacuum cleaner released an update for its mobile app.  Even so, some of the menus and screens are only in Chinese.  Also, support and refunds might be a little more difficult.

Moreover, the Roomba 980 is slightly lower in profile than the MiJia, which means that it can get under more furniture.  Speaking of getting stuck, the MiJia also has a protruding hump on top that it uses for its laser navigation.

That hump means that it gets caught under furniture that it should have otherwise cleared.  Moreover, the Roomba 980 does a better job at cleaning the edges, because it hugs the walls.  The Xiaomi MiJia, on the other hand, keeps a little distance from the wall.

The Roomba 980’s brushless debris extractor also means that you need to maintain it less.  And  because  iRobot  designed  the  980  to  have  two  rollers, it  means  that  it  can  pick  up  more  dust  and  dirt  than  Xiaomi  MiJia’s  single  hover  brush.

Nevertheless, the Xiaomi MiJia does perform better than the Roomba 980 in some aspects.  For instance, if you have bigger houses or more rooms, the Xiaomi MiJia with its 150-minute run time might be a better choice.

It can run longer and charge less frequently.  But since both robot vacuums have auto recharge and auto resume features, this might not be too much of an advantage because you can just leave both robot vacuums to run on their own and be done with the cleaning when you come back hours later.

Also even when the Roomba 980 has a camera to help it “see” where it currently is and where it should go next, Xiaomi MiJia has a better navigation pattern.  Xiaomi MiJia uses lasers to map out your room and then divides your room into smaller sections.

The MiJia will then start working on one section, first going for the edge and then working its way inward.

It follows a zigzag pattern and each pass does not overlap the area it previously covered.  After cleaning the first section, it will proceed to clean the next section.

The Roomba 980 looks more like a bump-and-go toy where it goes off into a straight line until it meets a wall or other obstacle and then moves away, also in a straight line.

Both the MiJia and the Roomba 980 have HEPA filters, but the placements are different.  With MiJia, you only need to open the top lid and take the dust bin out in order to empty it or clean the filter.

In contrast, the dust bin in the Roomba 980 is placed at the back and is covered by a tray that you can slide out by pressing a button.  This can be more difficult to take out and might require a little bit of force.

At the end of the day, however, what matters is that both the Xiaomi MiJia and the Roomba 980 deliver clean floors.

If you are looking to save money and do not mind using Google Translate to make sense of the Xiaomi Home app, or waiting for the manufacturer to come up with a full English language app, then  you  could  do  no  wrong  with  Xiaomi  MiJia.

Xiaomi has certainly put in a lot of effort into the MiJia and it shows.

For less than $300, you can own a robot vacuum that offers a range of features you would find in more expensive models.

However, if you have no patience and would want to go with a trusted and proven brand, then you would not mind paying more for the Roomba 980.

About the author

Patrick Sinclair

Patrick Sinclair is a geek; make no mistake about that. He runs All Home Robotics in his spare time so he doesn’t have to think about his depressing cubicle and it gives him an excuse to buy expensive gadgets to review!

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