Ain’t nobody got time to vacuum, am I right? Which is why there’s been an explosion in the popularity of robot vacuums. iRobot has been leading the charge with its robot vacuums and its latest Roomba s9+ is the ‘Rolls Royce’ of automatic vacuums for sucking up dirt in your home. We were sent a unit to test and review so here’s our review of how the Roomba s9+ fared in our household.
The Roomba s9+ is the successor to the i7+, which has a self-emptying dust bin when the robot vac returns to its charging base. This has stayed the same with the s9+ but the Roomba itself now has a new design and cleaning system which can handle corners better than before, with what iRobot calls its PerfectEdge Technology.
There’s also a larger cleaning motor, plus an equally larger battery as well, which allows the s9+ to run over 120 minutes on hard floors. The Roomba s9+ is smart enough to gauge how much energy is required to clean and when it is low on battery, will return to its base to charge just enough to resume the job (instead of a full charge).
The s9+ has a flat front edge as part of its new design, while suction power has increased 40x compared to previous generation Roombas. iRobot says the completely sealed Anti-Allergen System also will trap and lock allegros from leaving the robot and the base, which means your house doesn’t get dirty air while it is cleaning.
iRobot tells iPhone in Canada the square front design tackles corners better, thanks to new software and also wider brush rolls, made for stronger cleaning performance. There’s also a 3D sensor on the front of the vac to get extremely close to wall edges, while also scanning corners better. There are several cleaning modes, including a quiet mode which reduces the noise level of the vacuum.
What’s really cool about the s9+ is it can also have paired cleanings with the company’s latest Braava jet m6, which can handle both wet and dry cleans. So when the s9+ docks at its base, the m6 will automatically start its wet clean. It’s pretty much the ultimate dry and wet cleaning combo for your floors.
Unboxing the iRobot Roomba s9+
iRobot expertly packs the Roomba s9+ in the box. The box is tall because the base itself stands just about 1.5 feet. Inside the box, the Roomba and accessories surround the base tower.
Inside the box, you’ll see the s9+ itself, 2 dirt disposal bags, 1 extra high-efficiency filter and 1 extra corner brush.
Here’s what the inside of the Clean Base looks like with the Dirt Disposal Bag; iRobot says this system captures and traps 99% of pollen and mold allergens, while also can hold 30 bins of dirt, dust and hair:
The top of the Roomba s9+ has a brushed metal lid, making for easy access to the high-efficiency filter when you need to replace it. Here’s the view of the back of the s9+:
Here’s a picture of the filter bin, which has a handle for easy removal:
Here’s the front with the 3D sensor and new flat design. On top of the Roomba s9+ are buttons to send the robot vac home to its charging base, a large ‘Clean’ button and a spot clean button:
Below the Roomba s9+, you get to see the new wider brushes. The ‘Automatic Dirt Disposal’ hole is where the base sucks up the dirt, dust and hair from the s9+. iRobot’s design has evolved over the years to make it easier to clean these units. The brushes can be cleaned with ease and the large wheels don’t get hair stuck in them as easily as units from yesteryears:
A nice touch behind the Clean Base is built-in cord management, which allows you to have a nice clean setup:
Setting Up the Roomba s9+
The Roomba s9+ is very easy to setup using the company’s iRobot HOME iOS app. The app will require you to enable Location Services so the Roomba can connect to your Wi-Fi network. You then give your Roomba a name (it’s like a new pet), connect to your Wi-Fi, then activate the Roomba by pressing and holding the Spot and Home buttons at the same time for two seconds, then releasing. A tone will sound to let you know a connection has been successful.
Your Roomba s9+ and its LED light ring will glow blue during the setup (white means charging; red means low battery):
During the activation, your Roomba will automatically detect, download and ask you to install the latest software update, which can take around 10 minutes. We had no issues in setting everything up and it was very straightforward using the app.
iRobot suggests placing your charging base in an area with good Wi-Fi and a level hard surface against a wall, with a clear path for your robot vac. We placed ours in a corner nook of the office and the Roomba had no issues making its way back to charging base every time.
Using the Roomba s9+ for the First Time: Creating a Smart Map
One of the benefits of the s9+ is its ability to create Smart Maps of your home. These smart maps basically map out a floorplan of your home so you can pick and choose which rooms for cleans. Usually, it will take 2-5 passes to train your Roomba and create a Smart Map of your house. Once complete, you can then divide and label your Smart Map, having full control over your cleans.
Scheduled cleans allow for lots of flexibility as you get to pick the time, dates of the week, frequency and also which rooms you want to clean. We opted to run the Roomba s9+ twice per week, splitting up the rooms in the house.
But using a Roomba doesn’t let you off the hook that easily as you still have to ‘prep’ your rooms to get the most out of the vacuum. If you have kids, that means picking up toys as any LEGO pieces will disappear. You may also want to pick up your dining room chairs, bar stools and any side tables off the ground to let the robot vac clean.
In bedrooms, you’ll want to make sure any long USB charging cables are off the ground and any cables in general, as we did run into issues where the Roomba would pause after eating up a Lightning cable. There’s nothing like getting notified when you’re out of the house that Roomba is in trouble, then heading home to see where the robot got trapped.
After every clean, in your history, you’ll see your Smart Map and where Roomba cleaned in total square meters, along with ‘Dirt Events’ and total time spent on the job (cleaning time + charging time).
With the new s9+, we were impressed at how well it handled corners. The Roomba would turn the corner, back up to completely cover the corner again to ensure a complete clean. Due to the new flat-front design and improved software, the s9+ is able to do a better job unlike other Roombas, says iRobot.
The Roomba s9+ is also compatible with Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant. Once you link your robot to a voice assistant, you can tell it to clean a room or start a clean with your voice.
We did spend some time with the previous generation Roomba i7+ before so we were able to compare how it cleaned versus the latest s9+. The new Roomba seemed to leave our floors cleaner with fewer crumbs left behind, and improved battery life was noticeable.
As for testing the spot clean, we didn’t give it a try because it’s faster to clean up quick spills with our Dyson.
For one of the initial cleans of about 1,500 square feet, the s9+ took 3 hours and 32 minutes. The cleaning time was at 2 hours and 13 minutes, while the charging time was at 1 hour and 19 minutes. It’s usually best to schedule Roomba cleans when you’re not home and out of the way. There’s no better feeling coming home to clean floors knowing your robot vac has done the dirty work of vacuuming under your couch, beds and more. Over time, this cleaning time has been reduced to 1 hour and 35 minutes. It really depends on how many obstacles you have in the path of the Roomba and how well you prep the home.
If you have a Braava m6, this robot vac can start to immediately wet mop your floors automatically, once the Roomba s9+ finishes its vacuuming. This 1-2 punch can handle your floor cleaning together and automate laborious cleaning, freeing up your time to watch more insane Tiger King episodes.
Conclusion: Should You Buy the Roomba s9+?
The iRobot Roomba s9+ is a very feature-rich robot vacuum with lots of smarts. The Smart Map feature to let you create custom scheduled cleans is really what dreams are made out of, and the vacuum emptying itself into the Clean Base (which can be quite loud by the way), is really the cherry on top. iRobot tells us more software updates are coming in 2020 to improve the Roomba s9+ with new features.
With its simple setup, powerful app controls and excellent cleaning, for the most part, the s9+ looks very appealing for those entering the world of robot vacuums. The one obvious downside is the unit’s astronomical price tag of the s9+ and Clean Base for $1,649.99 CAD ($150 cheaper versus buying separately).
This is not exactly cheap and is on the high end of the robot vac spectrum, meant for those who want automated cleaning in their life with all the bells and whistles. If you throw in the new Braava jet m6 for paired cleans ($699.99 CAD), it’s an expensive combination. But for those with deep pockets, this is the ultimate cleaning setup that lets you control it from anywhere in the world (it’s time to let the cabin clean itself, right?).
Right now, the Roomba s9+ is on sale for 12% off on Amazon.ca at $1,399.99, saving you $250 off the MSRP.