Deciding between the Roomba 890 vs 980

It’s a simple thing: you’re in the market for a new vacuum, and you heard terrific things about the Roomba robot vacuums. What isn’t simple is learning there are more models to choose from than you’ve had birthdays.

Don’t worry; this ultimate guide will compare two of the most advanced and popular models on the market.

The Roomba 890 is the top of the line for iRobot’s 800 series while the 980 is the 900 series top contender. In a lot of ways, these two machines are very similar. However, there are features which can make or break your decision.

If you want the details, keep reading for a full side by side comparison. If, however, you just want to know the nitty-gritty: get the Roomba 890 if budget is a concern, it will do just fine. Get the 980 if you have lots of carpet since it is the only model with carpet boost tech.

What are the Differences Between the 890 and the 980?

The main reason to select one model over the other comes in the differences. Deciding what you can live without to save money is important. The differences between the Roomba 890 and the 980 are slight but essential.

  • The 980 model uses iAdapt 2.0 navigation technology while the 890 still uses the original iAdapt software version.
  • Carpet boost technology is available on the 980 model. This will increase the power to clean the carpets better. The 890 model does not have this feature.
  • Edge cleaning is done by side brushes in every Roomba model. However, the 980 has Edge Clean Mode that will tackle the edges and obstacles first, making sure they are clean.
  • The 980 also has Full Bin Action Mode that will alert you when the bin is full and allow you to either empty the bin or continue the cleaning until it is complete. The 890 will alert you when the bin is full but does not have a continue option.
  • Built-in cameras are available with the 980 unit. This helps with mapping and navigation. The 890 relies on sensors only.
  • Cleaning passes can be set on the 980. The 890 will only do one pass for cleaning.
  • The battery life in the 980 is up to 120 minutes, while the 890 will run for about 60 minutes.
  • Also, while each machine will return to the dock to recharge itself, only the 980 will resume it’s cleaning from where it left off. You will have to tell the 890 to continue cleaning after it is recharged.

Other differences in the models are mainly aesthetic. The 980 is slightly heavier, and the 890 has a bigger diameter. However, these are so slight you probably won’t even notice.

Similarities between the Roomba 890 and 980

Seeing what both machines can do should help you make a better decision when trying to figure out which one you want more. Both devices will clean your home very well, and the deciding factor may come down to cost over features.

  • Both models make use of iRobot’s Aeroforce vacuum technology.
  • The 980 and the 890 both have wireless connectivity which will allow you to control the vacuum from your cell phone.
  • Voice control via Amazon’s Alexa is available in both models.
  • Both machines have the ability for you to create schedules for days and times of cleaning.
  • The 980 and 890 will both sense when their batteries are low and will return to the dock to recharge on their own.
  • You have the ability with both machines to enable spot cleaning for a quick pick up of messes or heavily soiled areas.
  • Each of the contenders in this guide come with rechargeable lithium-ion battery packs.
  • You have full control over the robots by using the app from your cell phone.

Comparison Table of Joy

Let’s have a quick run down of the features in an easy to understand table:

Roomba 890 Roomba 980
Battery Life Up to 60 minutes per charge Up to 120 minutes per charge
Remote Control Cell phone app Cell phone app
Carry Handle Yes Yes
Spot Cleaning Yes Yes
Built-in Camera No Yes
Scheduling Yes Yes
Edge Cleaning No Yes
Carpet Boost No Yes
Entire Level Cleaning No Yes
Virtual Wall Barriers 1 included 2 included
Edge Detection Yes Yes
Price See on Amazon See on Amazon

Battery Life

Obviously, the amount of time the Roomba can go on a single charge, the better it is for you. The listed run times are under optimal conditions. While the extra hour may seem like a lot, if you have carpet, the Roomba 980 may not last even an hour on a charge.

Using the Carpet Boost technology, the 980 will increase airflow up to 10 times, but at the cost of draining the battery. However, the ability for the 980 to charge and resume without being told makes this a nonissue.

Bottom Line: The Roomba 980 has the leg up in battery life and wins this round.

Remote Control

Using a remote control for a vacuum is not new for iRobot machines. However, there is no longer a physical remote. Instead, you will connect the vacuum to your home wireless network and use the free to download the app on your cell phone to take full control over the machine.

You must use the app for scheduling, resume cleaning, spot cleaning, and most other functions. However, each model still has the physical clean button on the top and can be told to get to work without the need for the app.

Bottom Line: This round is a tie, as each machine uses the same app for control.

Carry Handle

No Roomba machine can traverse stairs. If you need a different level of your home cleaned, you will have to carry the robot up or down the stairs before it cleans that level.

iRobot has included a carry handle for these models to help in transportation of the 8-pound machines.

Bottom Line: The carry handles work well and haven’t been reported as faulty in any way. Another tie for these two machines.

Spot Cleaning

One of the better additions to the Roomba family is the spot cleaning ability. When you activate spot cleaning through the iHome App, the machine will spin around an approximate three-foot area and then spin back to where it started to continue its cleaning mission.

This is ideal for heavy traffic or highly soiled areas. If you drop your bowl of rice on the carpet, you can have the little machine circle around until every grain is picked up. It is a great feature that both models in comparison today offer.

Bottom Line: Neither machine has a leg up on this one. They both do an amazing job with spot cleaning.

Built-in Camera

The Roomba 980 has an onboard camera installed that acts as a visual sensor when it is mapping your floors. This camera will sense objects to avoid and expertly map your entire floor.

One slight drawback is that the camera will need a little light to function correctly. If you schedule cleaning for a time you are not home, it may be too dark in the house to effectively utilize the camera. However, the other sensors will still function properly, and your floor will still be mapped and cleaned.

Bottom Line: The 980 gets the nod for just having the camera. However, it may not be worth it to you for the added bump in price.

Edge Cleaning

All Roomba machines are capable of cleaning edges and corners using their side brushes. The 980, however, will attack your edges and corners first when the Edge Cleaning option is enabled.

Using this function, the machine will run along the baseboards and edges of the boundary using the side brushes to clean out the mess to the middle of the floor. Once these slow passes are done, it will resume its mapped course to finish vacuuming the area.

Bottom Line: This might be a good addition to the Roomba’s bag of tricks. However, the process is slow and will drain the battery a lot faster. There isn’t a reported instance of the 890 failing to clean the edges good enough.

Carpet Boost

While both the 890 and the 980 clean well on all floor types, the 980 model has a leg up on the carpet. iRobot gave Carpet Boost to the Roomba 980.

This means that when the little machine runs over the carpet, it will increase the motor speed up to 10 times to create better suction and a more profound clean in the carpet pile. This option can be disabled through the app on your phone, and you may wish to do so to conserve the battery life.

Bottom Line: The 980 wins this round because it even has the carpet boosting technology. It is a great feature and may be worth the extra cost for this alone.

Entire Level Cleaning

The Roomba 980 will clean the entire level it is assigned. Even if it has to take a break to recharge its battery, it will then resume right where it left off and finish the job.

This doesn’t mean the 890 won’t finish the job, but if the battery dies and needs to be recharged, the 890 will not automatically resume cleaning until you manually tell it to use the Clean button on the machine or through the app.

Bottom Line: Hands down the automatic resume feature of the 980 wins this round. You never have to worry if the floors in the entire area are clean.

Virtual Wall Barriers

It should not be left unmentioned about the virtual wall barriers. These little devices can be placed around your home to prevent the robot vacuums from entering specific areas. You can also set up a radius to prevent the machine from hitting a certain spot on the floor.

This comes in handy when you don’t want the vacuum to go into the laundry room this time, or to protect your pet’s food and water dishes from being ran into.

Personally, we think the wall barriers are a downgrade from the previous lighthouses used by other Roomba models. They will not deactivate to allow the unit to pass as the lighthouses will.

The 980 comes with two wall barriers while the 890 only comes with one.

Bottom Line: The 980 only wins because it comes with two in the box. You can purchase these separately, which makes the advantage only slight.

iAdapt and iAdapt 2.0

iAdapt technology is the ability for the Roomba to navigate and map your floor. The technology uses sensors that allow it to make its way around obstacles and keep it from falling off ledges or down stairs.

The Roomba 980 introduces iAdapt 2.0 which includes the ability to map and navigate with visual sensors utilizing the 980’s top mounted camera.

Bottom Line: The Roomba 980 has better mapping and navigation with the iAdapt 2.0 and wins because of that alone.

Frequently Asked Questions (And Answers)

If we haven’t helped make your decision by now, perhaps the FAQs will answer any remaining doubts you may have.

Q. How much area will the different models cover on a single charge?

A. The general rule of thumb is that they will cover as much as possible. There are too many variables such as carpet vs. tile or how heavily soiled a particular area is. Reports have stated that the 890 will easily cover 1000 square feet under optimal conditions while the 980 will cover at least 1500 square feet.

Q. Can I use the iHome app to tell the Roomba where to go?

A. No. It wouldn’t listen to you anyway. Roomba vacuums are like cats: They are there and pretend not to hear you. Once they map your area, that is where they will clean. You can use the Virtual Wall Barriers to help control where they can and can’t go, however.

Q. I don’t have WiFi, can I still program these machines?

A. Absolutely. Manual programming is still available in both the 890 and 980 models.

Q. How big can the debris be and still be picked up?

A. I wouldn’t test it on the rocks in your garden, but it will handle anything a standard upright vacuum will handle. Those Fruit Loops your kids toss on the floor will be no problem for either the 890 or the 980.

Q. Will these units work well on shag carpeting?

A. While the 1970’s have come and gone, remnants of their existence remain to this day. As such, iRobot has ensured that shag carpeting is efficiently cleaned with the 890 and 980 models. Your ABBA eight tracks on the other hand, not so much.

Q. How high does my furniture need to be off the ground for the Roomba to clean under it?

A. Seven feet will be plenty, so will five inches. The height of the 890 and 980 models is 3.6 inches. As long as it has about an inch of clearance, it will clean under your furniture.

Q. I’ve heard the 980 has problems finding the charging dock, is this true?

A. There have been reports of the 980 not being able to find the charging dock. It is rare. However, you can press the clean button for 10 seconds. This will do a master reset of the system, and the machine will come off the dock, spin around a few times and re-dock itself. If that doesn’t work, try to stop moving the charging dock and leave it one place.

Q. What are the exact dimensions of the dustbin?

A. The semi-circle dustbin is the entire rear of the unit. It is exactly 2.4 inches high, 9 inches by 5 inches at it’s widest. It will hold a capacity of about two dry measured cups but hopes to correct its size with enough exercise.

Q. I have a dog that sheds, will the two models pick it up?

A. Maybe if the dog is tiny and the two Roombas work in tandem, they could pick the dog up. It is unlikely though. The shed hair, on the other hand, will be no problem for either model on its own.

Q. Will this work in Europe?

A. The Roomba’s aren’t picky about their owners, and with the carrying handle, they can’t do much about where you take them. However, for the voltage differences, you need to make sure the one you purchase is 220 volts compatible. USA only versions will not have a 220 plug or switch.

For whatever reason, this ad from iRobot in Japanese just looks cooler than its American counterpart.

A List of What We like About the Roomba 890

  • We love the iHome app capability with this 800 series model.
  • Voice activation through Alexa.
  • Brush-less beater bars help prevent tangles and trapped debris.
  • The ability to schedule cleanings.
  • Spot cleaning is a must for all Roombas, and the 890 does a fantastic job.
  • Lithium-Ion battery packs are far superior to the NiMH batteries of the past models.

What We Love About the Roomba 980

  • The camera for exceptional mapping is amazing.
  • Alexa control, as well as iHome app support, work well with the 980.
  • Anti-Tangle beater bars ensure your cords and fringe don’t get destroyed.
  • The ability to auto resume after recharging to finish the job is a huge plus.
  • Carpet Boost technology ensures your carpets are deep cleaned.

The Wrap Up

The spotlight might seem to fall on the Roomba 980 for all of the additional features and abilities it has over the 890. Don’t be so quick to count out the Roomba 890 though; this little beast packs a punch.

Each model has pros and cons, and you need to decide if there are features you can live without. If your budget is limited, the amount you can save by purchasing the 890 over the 980 makes it the clear winner.

However, if you have a large floor plan and need the job done in less time, you may want to think about the 980. It will be able to cover the square footage on a single charge than the 890 can. Unless, of course, you have a lot of carpets.

You can disable the carpet boost through the app to save the battery, and if you schedule a daily cleaning, you may want to. If, however, you only use your Roomba once or twice a week, then you might prefer to leave it enabled to do a better job cleaning.

In the end, it is up to you which version you go with. There is no wrong choice; they are both great robotic vacuums.

2 thoughts on “Deciding between the Roomba 890 vs 980”

  1. How well do these work under a dining room table with lots of chair legs to navagate? It could easily spend an hour just cleaning under my table!

    1. Hi Tami,

      The 980 is more efficient than the 890 at navigating under a dining table with a bunch of chair legs, but it’ll still take a while to clean the floor space under the table.

      If you look carefully at the available space and the size of the Roomba, there just isn’t much room to navigate.

      What I usually do is move the chairs out of the way every once in a while, or at least leave them in different positions so that most of the floor gets covered. Hope that helps!

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