After months of testing, I determined ILIFE A4s is the best robot vacuum because of its superior suction, battery life, and price. Roomba 690 has a great app and smart home integration, and the Roomba brand is top-notch, but this model fails in all performance categories.
I’ll compare and contrast two robot vacuums (ILIFE A4s vs. Roomba 690) while evaluating five categories: navigation, suction, software, design, and company reputation.
- Navigation: It takes questionable routes but runs for an hour longer than Roomba.
- Suction: It picks up 20% more debris than Roomba on carpets and hard floors.
- Design: It’s quieter than Roomba, and the bin and filters are easy to clean.
- Software: There’s no app or smart home integration.
- Company: It’s a Chinese company with longevity concerns.
Best for you if...
You want more suction and a longer runtime than Roomba 690 for half the price. While Deebot N79S and Eufy 11S are better options (read more), the price of ILIFE A4s is hard to beat as long as you can deal with funky scheduling, no app, and no voice assistant support.
- Navigation: It’s a tad smarter than ILIFE but only has an hour of runtime.
- Suction: Of the six robot vacuums I’ve tested, this is the weakest.
- Design: It’s loud, bulky, tall, and the filters and dustbin are hard to clean.
- Software: You get great app scheduling, cleaning logs and Alexa/Google compatibility.
- Company: It’s a recognized brand with a gold-star reputation.
Best for you if...
You want a trusted brand name and great software. Its performance is lacking though you’ll get better longevity, a well-designed app, and slightly better navigation. iRobot makes fantastic vacuums at the higher tiers, but their budget models are double the price of ILIFE A4s with worst performance.
- In my house, it takes two hours and 10 minutes to complete the cleaning cycle and return to the charging base. That’s twice as long as Roomba.
- It returns to the base most of the time.
- There are four cleaning modes:
- Auto: It does its own thing and returns to the charging base when it’s down.
- Spot: It moves around in a circle to clean up a spill.
- Edge: It goes around the edges of a room.
- Room: It’ll clean a single room.
- None of the robot vacuums are intelligent. They guess navigation via bump-and-run algorithms. But ILIFE takes stupidity to the next level, taking terrible routes. I’ve seen it avoid certain rooms consistently, then go over the same area 10 times for 30 minutes. This wasn’t the case with other robot vacuums I’ve tested.
- More on inconsistency: it usually avoids the edges of the room, but sometimes it bumps into the baseboard hard.
- Because it’s so small, sometimes it gets too ambitious and tries to fit under things it shouldn’t. It repeatedly got stuck under my desk.
- It sits lower to the ground, so it’s not great when it has to transition from a wood floor to a carpet.
- My whole house is bamboo wood floors and the suction doesn’t work as well as Deebot or Eufy on hardwood or thin carpets, but it’s still enough to crush Roomba 690.
- In my tests with rice and other materials spread in a fixed area, ILIFE picked up around 20% more debris than Roomba in a five-minute span on both carpets and hard floors.
- The max suction mode doesn’t add enough power to warrant use because it decreases the runtime.
- It’s quieter than Roomba, but not as quiet as Eufy 11S or Deebot N79S (read more).
- It has two side brushes compared to Roomba’s one.
- It only weighs five pounds and is a half inch shorter than Roomba, allowing it to fit into snug spaces.
- The dust tray is much easier to empty and clean out. It has a 450 ml capacity, compared to Roomba’s 300 ml.
- You get two extra brushes and a filter.
- The remote is awful in multiple ways but it’s the only way to make a schedule because there’s no app.
- Scheduling features 24-hour military clock with weird menus.
- You have to point the remote at the robot to save the settings but even then, it doesn’t always work.
- The precise directional controls are unusable.
- The buttons don’t always work.
- There are no WiFi controls, you have to set the schedule with the remote, and it has to be the same daily schedule.
- It’s not compatible with any smart home platforms.
- ILIFE is a Chinese company with questionable customer service. Some customers have complained about being harassed after leaving a negative review.
- The parts are similar to Deebot N79S and Eufy 11S (read more), but everything feels cheaply made, including the remote and charging dock.
- While I haven’t experienced this first hand, according to other customers, ILIFE robots tend to have a shorter lifespan than other budget robot vacuums.
- Roomba 690 only delivers an hour of battery life. That would be acceptable if it returned to the base and continued its cycle or if the suction power was amazing, but neither of these are true.
- Roomba claims to have a smarter algorithm than the rest. I didn’t see much evidence of that in my tests because the lower-end Roomba vacuums don’t have room mapping. It guesses where to go, just like the others. The only time you can see the algorithm at work is when it spots big clumps of dirt and the green light goes off and tries to go over the area again.
- You can spot clean.
- One significant selling point of Roomba, that not many other robot vacuums offer, is the virtual wall. It’s basically an IR blaster that you can set up to keep the robot away from particular areas.
- Of all of the robot vacuums I’ve tested, Roomba 690 bumps into things the hardest.
- After two years of testing different Roomba 600 models, I can confidently say Roomba 690 performs the worst of all models under $300. It could be poor suction power, the lack of a second side brush, or the algorithm, but the small amount of measured material that it picks up in a fixed space is concerning.
- ILIFE isn’t the best budget robot vacuum, but even ILIFE outperforms Roomba overall.
- There are great Roomba vacuums on the market, but you won’t see them until you get into the $500 range.
- It’s the loudest of the six budget robot vacuums I’ve tested. The decibel readings weren’t substantially different, it’s just how my ears perceived the sound.
- Ideally, you’ll run this when you’re at work because it’s not something you want running while trying to watch TV or relax.
- Roomba is noticeably thicker (more than a half inch taller than ILIFE) and three pounds heavier. This means it’s not as agile and is more likely to get stuck.
- The dustbin is frustratingly small at 300 ml and hard to access and clean.
- The filters are also hard to clean.
- Roomba doesn’t have a remote. It isn’t mandatory but would be nice.
- Roomba 690 works with Alexa and Google Home. You can say things like: “Alexa, ask Roomba to go home.”
- Roomba 690 has WiFi capabilities (Roomba 650 did not). This means you can create and edit schedules, look at the battery life, and see run logs from within the brilliant Roomba app. I love the notifications when the clean cycle is done.
- It can potentially get smarter (improved algorithm or new capabilities) with time because there are regular firmware updates.
The biggest advantage of Roomba is the stellar brand reputation. iRobot has been making robot vacuums for 17 years. They know what they’re doing. Roomba’s are probably going to outlast anything ILIFE has to offer. You’re also getting great customer support and easy access to replacement parts.