Shark IQ vs. Roomba S9+: Clash of the Self-Emptying Robovacs
Shark recently debuted its first “smart” vacuum, the Shark IQ R101AE Robot™. The unit has a dustbin built into its base, which draws out debris from the robot after each run.
Because of its self-emptying mechanism, which is still a rare feature in robot vacuums, consumers are curious whether or not the Shark IQ will catch up or possibly overtake the high and mighty Roomba s9+.
One thing is for sure – you don’t need to shell out four figures for a robot vacuum with a self-emptying feature.
The Shark IQ is about half the price of iRobot’s flagship model! But does the price difference create significant drawbacks?
Find out in our Shark IQ vs. Roomba s9+ comparison below.
The base can hold up to a month’s worth of dirt and debris.
Since the bin is bagless, it is excellent for the environment and for those who wish to cut down on maintenance costs.
The Shark IQ promises better cleaning coverage than previous models. With its self-cleaning brush roll, no amount of human and pet hair can jam the robot.
Plus, both the robot’s filters and brush roll are cleaned with high-velocity air each time it returns to the base.
Although the Shark IQ has more suction power than the best-selling s9+, this model is not designed to compete against it. The Shark IQ is still a few steps behind in terms of functionality and navigation.
- relies on infrared and optical sensors for improved navigation
- 23 cfm of airflow
- cleans in a systematic pattern
- suitable for homes with pets (comes equipped with a self-cleaning brush roll and uses HEPA filtration)
- has two spinning brushes
- includes 8 ft. of BotBoundary™ strips
- 90 minutes of run-time
- can only save one floor plan
- takes several cleaning cycles before it finalizes your home’s layout
- you have to create boundaries for your robot manually
- having a bagless base may not be suitable for allergy sufferers
The Roomba s9+ boasts of intelligent navigation, smart mapping, powerful suction, and upgraded processing — all of which paved a way to an array of fancy features.
Pair it with the Braava M6 and you will feel as though you just hired a robot maid.
Many would love to have this sophisticated robot vacuum, but only the well-funded few can afford it.
- features iAdapt® 3.0 Navigation with vSLAM technology
- the dual brush roll is longer than most robovacs (provides a broader cleaning path)
- best for homes with pets (uses HEPA filtration and the brushes are tangle-free)
- the AllergenLock™ Dirt Disposal Bag traps minute irritants
- the Clean Base™ displays a sophisticated look and has improved connectivity between the robot
- 22 cfm airflow
- cleans up dried mud with Dirt Detect™ technology
- the robot can save up to 10 floor plans with Imprint™ Smart Map technology (suitable for multi-story homes)
- PerfectEdge® technology improves edge cleaning
- 120 minutes of run-time
- create Keep Out Zones via the app
- compatible with the Braava M6
- costs outside most homeowners’ budget
- the Clean Base™ needs 4” x 3” of foot clearance
- doesn’t vacuum a sizeable area around the base
Shark IQ vs. Roomba s9+: Face to Face Comparison
Design, Size, and Dimensions
iRobot took a direct deviation from their customary circular aesthetic and instead, uses a square front body style for the Roomba s9+. The new design helps the robovac hug walls and angle into edges for better dirt pick-up.
Likewise, the controls are different from what we have seen from the Roomba showroom. The middle part of the robovac features a large matte gold accent disk, while the controls “Clean,” “Home,” and “Spot” are found closer to the straight edge of the D-style body.
As always, we are impressed with the build quality of iRobot’s robot vacuums. The Roomba s9+ not only looks like a tank when the hood is up, but the parts also have a solid feel to them. Even the power cord of the Clean Base™ feels like it is built to last.
Furthermore, the black matte components, gold disk, and copper accents make for an elegant look. The top of the unit also has an LED ring indicator, which glows blue during Dirt Detect mode™, white when cleaning, and red while charging.
Navigation and Mapping
The Roomba s9+ boasts of having the patented iAdapt® 3.0 Navigation with vSLAM® technology (Visual Simultaneous Localization and Mapping). Equipped with the most advanced sensors, it gathers over 230, 400 data points per millisecond to understand its surroundings faster than most robot vacuums in the market.
Having enhanced sensors provide some incredible advantages because the robot can detect new obstacles in its cleaning path, as well as continually learns and adapts to the changes in its environment. In so doing, it optimizes the robot’s coverage and decreases time spent cleaning.
My favorite thing about the Roomba s9+ is the Imprint™ Smart Mapping technology. This feature allows the robot to create accurate digital maps of our home, which I can assign rename for specific room cleaning. What is more, the Roomba s9+ can save up to 10 floor plans, while the Shark IQ can only save one. This feature makes the s9+ suitable for multi-story homes.
If you own a Braava M6, which is iRobot’s robot mop, you can use it in tandem with your Roomba s9+. This model features what the manufacturer has dubbed as Imprint Link™ technology, where the s9+ sends commands the M6+ to start mopping after it has finished vacuuming. In my opinion, this communication feature is the frosting on the cake!
Comparing the Shark IQ R101AE vs. Roomba s9+ in this category gives the latter a vote from me.
While the Shark IQ has its exciting brush roll, the Roomba s9+ comes equipped with two brush rolls instead of one, including the carpet roller brush.
After all, the dual brush roll feature is something patented by iRobot. Because of its new design, the brush rolls are now at the front of the vacuum, instead of being sandwiched between the wheels.
The robovac provides a wider cleaning path now that its brush rolls are longer.
iRobot has also redesigned its corner brush, calling it PerfectEdge® technology. The corner brush has five arms that are set at a 27-degrees angle to snap up deep-seated dirt and debris from corners and along baseboards, directing it into the robot’s suction bay.
Dirt Detection and Virtual Boundaries
The Roomba s9+ uses optical and acoustic sensors to detect areas with excessive dirt and debris. From then on, the robovac will automatically perform thorough cleaning until the sensors detect lesser particles in that specific spot.
This proprietary feature of iRobot is called Dirt Detect™ technology.
If you don’t feel like constantly moving delicate furniture or making sure your dog’s stuff isn’t in the way, you can set virtual barriers through the iRobot Home app.
iRobot calls them Keep Out Zones. The best thing about it is that you can create a couple of these barriers anytime, anywhere.
Filter System, Dust Capacity, and Cleaning Base
The Clean Base™ of the Roomba s9+ looks almost similar to its predecessor, the i7+, except that it has a beautiful copper band around its waist.
The device also works similarly, but iRobot announced that they had enhanced the connection between the robot and the Clean Base™ to ensure a better seal during dirt collection.
The s9+ also comes equipped with a high-efficiency filter. But unlike the Shark IQ, the Clean Base™ uses AllergenLock™ dust bags to ensure it traps pollen, mold, and other minute particles.
Each bag can contain up to a month’s worth of debris, according to Shark. But in a multi-pet home, that means you have to replace the bag bi-weekly. Nevertheless, the unit has full bin sensors.
My only gripe is that each bag costs around $5 each. But if you are allergic, you can bet on it to help keep your allergies at bay.
You can control the Roomba s9+ directly from your smartphone when you paired it with a Wi-Fi network.
Through the app, you can:
- select among three cleaning preferences: “Detailed Clean,” “Quiet Clean,” and “Custom”
- create virtual dividers in an open floor layout and set Keep Out zones to prevent the robot from entering possible death traps.
- locate your Roomba s9+
- choose how many passes you want the robot to cover a specific space
- check the status of the robot, bin, and main brush
The user-friendly iRobot Home app gives you a gazillion of options to control your robot.
But you can also enjoy a hands-free operation using a voice-activation device, such as Google Assistant and Alexa.
The s9+ is iRobot’s most powerful robot vacuum yet, as it delivers 40x the suction power compared to previous Roombas. However, it is 1 cfm lower compared to the Shark IQ. Nevertheless, that isn’t a big jump, and the cleaning efficiency of a robot vacuum depends on many factors other than the airflow or suction power.
The Roomba s9+ is the clear winner with 120 minutes of run-time per charge. However, battery life is not a critical factor to consider in smart navigation robovacs as they have a “Recharge and Resume” feature.
The expected charging time for the Roomba s9+ is four hours max.
The robot makes 65 – 68 decibels of noise during its operation.
While I don’t consider this loud enough with music in the background, the base creates a sound that captures everyone’s attention.
When you open the box, you will find the s9+ robot itself along with the Clean Base™. The package also includes:
- two disposable AllergenLock™ bags
- an extra HEPA filter
- an extra corner brush
- a charging cord
- a user manual
The s9+ comes pre-assembled. Both the corner brush and main brush are already pre-installed.
At 23 cfm, the Shark IQ R101 boasts of the highest suction power among all robot vacuums in the market.
The Roomba’s suction power is off-the-charts as well, with 22 cfm.
So, how do these two robovacs differ in performance? Let me give you an overview of our tests.
We used 3 ounces (85 grams) of fine-grind coffee beans and eight plywood planks with 1/8” gaps for this test.
We scattered the coffee between the crevices to see how much debris each unit could pick up.
Both the Shark IQ and Roomba s9+ were able to gather 100% of the particles at identical times.
Debris Pick-up Test
For this test, we scattered the following items inside a portable 8 ft. x 13 ft. playpen:
- 3 ounces of sand
- 3 ounces of M&M’s
- 3 ounces of paper shavings
- 3 ounces of corn flakes
- 3 ounces of cornstarch
Roombas have a bad rap for scattering debris further away from the robot. At first, I was skeptical and assumed that the s9+ would kick some of the paper out of the pen. However, this model proved to be different.
The Roomba s9+ produced satisfactory results in the “Auto” mode.
But because the main brush is too close to the ground, I noticed that the Roomba s9+ was grumbling.
Overall, both the Shark IQ and s9+ proved they have the best cleaning mechanics on bare floors.
To test their ability in cleaning carpets, we embedded three ounces of sand into a medium-pile rug and ran each robot vacuum for five minutes inside the playpen.
The Shark IQ picked up 83% of the sand, while the Roomba s9+ picked up 96% of the sand.
Roomba s9+ proved to be the clear winner in this test, which I assumed is due to its massive power combined with its dual multi-surface brush roll, which is much closer to the ground than most robots I see.
Hair Wrap Test
Likewise, the Roomba s9+ impressed us with the hair pick-up test, and there were no tangles in the brush roll. There were some in the axles, but not as much to be considered as a dealbreaker.
The Shark IQ and s9+ use top-mounted cameras to map out your home and clean in straight, efficient lines.
Both units are good around tables and chair legs, as well as climbing area rugs and transition strips.
As a homeowner with pets, I appreciate how these robovacs pick up heaps of hair without having to pull out tangles from the brushes.
Although the Shark IQ is inarguably a powerful robot vacuum, it requires more attention than you would expect. I doubt everyone has the time to check under the sofa for random objects, move something out of the way, or place down unsightly boundary strips.
However, I do hear rumors that Shark is working on implementing virtual no-go zones.
The mapping capabilities of this model are also bonkers slow. You have to wait a couple of days for your robot to master a single floor plan completely. Simply put, the smart tech behind this unit isn’t quite there yet.
If you want to feel like you have a futuristic robot maid at your disposal, then there is no better way than the Roomba s9+.
The robovac’s navigation and mapping capabilities are the most advanced yet. That is why you can’t blame this model for being the most expensive robot vacuum there is in the market.