In summer 2020 we saw the release of the Roomba s9+. With a self-emptying dirt bin as its crowning feature, the s9+ rocked the robotic vacuum industry and simplified the lives of users through enhanced automation. Now that we’ve entered fall, there’s a new contender in town – the Shark IQ Robot.
Like the iRobot Roomba s9+, the Shark IQ offers automatic bin emptying, but the Shark IQ doesn’t need a bag like the s9+. Both create and display an interactive map on their respective apps, and they are virtual-assistant compatible. However, their runtimes and brushrolls, among other features, differ.
Which robot vacuum is the champion? To find out, we pitted the Shark IQ against the Roomba s9+, taking them through the rounds in five categories.
Round One: Dirt Collection
For the IQ, Shark used a traditional slide-out dirt bin. The product specs claim it can only hold 5.44 ounces, but it appears to be a little larger. The box-style bin prevents dirt from escaping, and it houses a high-efficiency filter cartridge. When the bin is full, the Shark IQ travels to the base to unload the debris.
The Shark IQ’s charging base is equipped with a fill window and a canister, which is large enough to hold about 30 bins’ worth of debris. An integrated handle on the bagless base lets you lift the canister and open it via the bottom door. To keep allergens at bay, Shark added a rinsable pre-motor and post-motor filter.
Shark took a different approach with the s9+’s dirt bin. Instead of pulling the bin from the side of the robot, you simply lift up the robot’s top. The bin is located underneath. This top-loading bin boasts a maximum capacity of 13 ounces, and it opens from the bottom. The bin is rinsable, and it contains a high-efficiency filter.
When the bin reaches its maximum capacity, the Roomba s9+ travels to the dock. A suction mechanism inside the dock pulls the debris into the dock’s bagged canister. It’ll take about a month for the canister to fill when used in the average home. The top of the canister opens, allowing you to easily grab and replace the bag.
Winner: Roomba s9+
Its comparatively larger capacity and top-opening bin and canister put the Roomba s9+ a notch ahead. Although you’ll have to buy disposable bags, you won’t spend time cleaning the canister or any of the canister’s filters. However, the Shark IQ base’s viewing window and cost-saving bagless design make this robot a worthy contender.
Round Two: Brushes and Suction
If you have long hair or pets, you know the struggle of keeping your home hair-free, and you know how quickly hair can tangle a brushroll. Put the scissors away – Shark added a self-cleaning brushroll to the IQ robot vac. With every rotation, the brushroll loosens and pulls hair from its bristles and blades.
On the circle-shaped Shark IQ, there are also two side brushes. Each one is affixed with multiple high-tensile bristles, and they’re angled to enhance their edge-cleaning prowess. When an area of the floor is too dirty for the robot’s standard suction mode to pick up, you can triple the suction power by engaging Max mode.
As opposed to a single brushroll, the Roomba s9+ has two, which rotate toward one another, grabbing debris. Both brushrolls are made of rubber, giving them enough flexibility to conform to all kinds of flooring. Plus, the floor plate on the bottom of the robot rises when cleaning medium-pile carpet and lowers when tackling bare floors and Berber.
Related post: iRobot Roomba s9+ (9550) Robot Vacuum Review
For the s9+, iRobot only added one side sweeper. This five-bladed brush is attached to the s9+’s straight edge. Together, the brush and the edge do an excellent job of retrieving dirt that accumulates in corners. Similar to the Shark IQ, the Roomba s9+ has a suction-increase mode; however, this mode is automatic and manual.
Winner: Roomba s9+
The s9+ wins yet another round thanks to its flooring-type adaptability and its D-shape design. Plus, its suction-increase mode has a convenient automatic option. This doesn’t mean you should discount the Shark IQ. It has a self-cleaning brushroll, two side brushes and impressively powerful suction on Max mode.
Round Three: Battery Life
No skimping on the battery quality here. Shark uses a lithium-ion battery to power its IQ robotic vacuum. When fully charged, this battery will run the Shark IQ for an entire hour before it needs to recharge on the dock.
Once the Shark IQ receives the low-battery signal, it scoots on over to the canister-equipped charging base. At most, it takes 6 hours for the battery to recharge, but it usually recharges in just 4 hours. After it’s finished charging, the Shark IQ will continue its cleaning cycle (unless you turn off that feature).
iRobot sticks with the rechargeable battery gold-standard – a lithium-ion battery. This battery has a high capacity; therefore, it can offer 2 hours of runtime per charge cycle. When it’s recharging, it will tap in the Braava Jet to clean your hard-surface floors if you own this nifty robotic mop.
A docking ramp prevents the robot from getting stuck. You’ll only have to wait 2 hours for the battery to recharge, and you don’t need to hang around to restart the cleaning cycle. This robot vacuum has a resume function that prompts the s9+ to go back to the last area cleaned and start working from there.
Winner: Roomba s9+
Although both robotic vacuums contain a lithium-ion battery and automatically resume cleaning after a recharge, the deciding factor was the runtime. The Roomba s9+’s working time is twice as long, and it recharges in half the time. What’s more, it can pair with iRobot’s Braava Jet Mop.
Round Four: Control Options
Install the SharkClean app to your smartphone, and you’ll have a smorgasbord of commands at your fingertips. You can schedule cleaning sessions by day and time and make adjustments to the interactive map. The map also lets you select specific rooms for the IQ to vacuum and keeps it out of the rooms you don’t want to be touched.
The Shark IQ even works with a plethora of Alexa and Assistant devices. Through your virtual assistant, you can command the IQ to do the usual robo vac tasks like stop, pause and dock. However, its skillset is more advanced and includes locate and clean-by-room.
Wi-Fi connectivity is also available on the Roomba s9+. The iRobot Home app works with iPhones and Androids. When you install the app, you can adjust the suction, program a customized cleaning schedule and view performance logs. To block access or vacuum a specific room, all you have to do is tap the app’s map.
If you have an Amazon or a Google smart speaker, you can set up the s9+ to accept voice commands through the device. You can tell the Roomba to start cleaning, stop cleaning or pause an in-progress session. Should you want the s9+ to vacuum one room, you can guide it there by name.
Read our Shark Robot Vacuum Comparison: Shark IQ R101 vs. ION R87 vs. ION R76
When it comes to the controls, it’s a draw. Both Shark and iRobot equipped their respective robotic vacuums with Wi-Fi. Each robot’s app offers the same array of functions. You also get full voice command through Alexa or Assistant.
Round Five: Navigation
Although it has two cliff-detection sensors, the Shark IQ does not solely rely on infrared technology. It also has an optical IQ Nav sensor, which allows the robot to create and memorize one map at a time. In addition to mapping, the optical sensors keep the robot vacuum on a methodical course while preventing time-wasting repetitive vacuuming.
The IQ measures 12.6 inches by 3.5 inches. While the width is average for a robotic vac, the height is somewhat on the tall side. To protect it from pings and dings, Shark put on a front bumper. The manufacturer even included BotBoundary magnetic strips should you need to block off certain areas.
On the Roomba s9+, there are four sensors that are designed to detect stairs and prevent falls as it travels back and forth across the room. The vSLAM optical sensors search for landmarks that will help the s9+ draw a map of your house. Thanks to Imprint Smart Mapping, this Roomba is able to recall and display multiple maps.
From the wheels to the optical sensor, the Roomba s9+ stands 3.5 inches tall. It’s a little slimmer than most, measuring 12.2 inches. iRobot makes a dual-mode virtual wall that emits an invisible line or halo (depending on which you choose) in lieu of a magnetic tape. While the s9+ works with the virtual wall, this device must be bought separately.
Winner: Roomba s9+
This was close, but the s9+ wins by a hair. Each robot moves in an S-shaped pattern. They both measure 3.5 inches tall, and the robots use an optical sensor to navigate. However, the Roomba s9+ has twice the number of cliff sensors, and it can memorize more maps, which is important for owners of two and three-story homes.
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The Champion: Roomba s9+
Feature to feature, the Roomba s9+ offers more. It has a bigger bin, a docking ramp, a longer runtime and a more expansive map memory. A flexible pair of rubber brushrolls and a self-adjusting floor plate ensure a close clean. The suction increase is automatic, and the D-shaped housing gives the s9+ an edge-cleaning advantage.
If you’re a smaller budget, you won’t feel let down by the Shark IQ. It offers bagless convenience and a bottom-opening canister with a fill window. The brushroll self-cleans, and the robot is equipped with two side brushes. You can turn off auto-resume, increase the suction threefold and lay down magnetic strips. The IQ also has a shock-absorbing bumper.
Some of their best features are shared. Both robot vacuum cleaners contain a lithium-ion battery and use a superior optical sensor. Each one auto-docks and resumes, and you may pair it with a virtual assistant or link it to a smartphone app. With the virtual assistant or app, you can clean by room, and the app even provides an interactive map.
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