Roborock has never released a new model without some sort of name confusion. This continues with the recent release of the Roborock S4. The newer model, with the smaller number, has a few features missing from the older, more established Roborock S5.
In this article, I will attempt to get to the bottom of why Roborock removed the features they did and see how the two robots compare to each other. Will the budget-friendly S4 hold it’s own against the more popular Roborock S5? Let’s get started and find out.
- 1 Differences between Roborock S4 and Roborock S5
- 2 Similarities between the S4 and S5
- 3 Specifications Chart
- 4 Comparing the Roborock S4 and Roborock S5
- 5 Frequently Asked Questions
- 6 What I Like About the Roborock S5
- 7 What I Like About the Roborock S4
- 8 Conclusion
Differences between Roborock S4 and Roborock S5
There are some obvious differences between the two models and some not-so-obvious ones. Let’s find out what they are.
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- Drive Train. The biggest difference is that the Roborock S4 has a dual-direction drive train. The robot can now drive forward and backward. The S5 can only go forward and turn left or right.
- Mopping ability. Roborock S5 is a 3-in-1 robot that sweeps, vacuums, and mops. The Roborock S4 doesn’t have the mopping feature; it was taken away to focus on a more economical model.
- Suction Power. The Robot Rock S5 is one of the most powerful vacuums in the Roborock line up. The 2,000pa suction power of the S5 dwarfs the 1,800pa suction power of the S4.
- Color Options. The S5 comes in three different color options, white, white with rose gold trim, and black. The S4 model only comes in gloss black.
- Side brush upgrade. The S4 model uses a 5-arm rubber side brush. Compare this to the S5 that uses a 3-arm bristle-brush style side brush.
- Combination brush roller motor. One small upgrade is the ability for the S4 combination brush roller to change speeds. The S5 model has the same combination brush roller, but it only rotates at one speed.
Similarities between the S4 and S5
Aside from the list above, the two Roborock models are pretty much the same in every other aspect. Let’s take a minute to cover the more prominent features they share.
- Large battery. One thing Roborock has never been short on is battery size. The huge 5200mAh lithium-ion batteries are almost twice the size of most other robot vacuums.
- The larger battery allows for a longer runtime. You can expect the S4 and S5 to last about 150 minutes before needing a battery charge.
- LIDAR vSLAM technology. Both models use laser-guided navigation and map creation algorithms to create maps of your floor plan and clean in better, more human-like patterns.
- Recharge and Resume. Unlike many other budget models, the S4 and S5 can resume cleaning from where they left off after a battery charge.
- Mobile app. Both Roborock vacuums use the new Roborock mobile app for controls and syncing.
- Zone Cleaning. You can use the mobile app to set up specific zones of your floor plan to have cleaned (or ignored).
Let’s take a look at both robots side-by-side to show you what they do and do not offer.
|Roborock S5||Roborock S4|
|Dimensions||13.7×13.8×3.8 inches||13.8×13.8×3.5 inches|
|Weight||7.7 pounds||8.0 pounds|
|Battery||5200mAh lithium-ion||5200mAh lithium-ion|
|Runtime||Up to 150 minutes||Up to 150 minutes|
|Charge Time||5 hours||5 hours|
|Filter||E-11 HEPA, washable||E-11 HEPA, washable|
|Motor Suction||Up to 2000pa||Up to 1800pa|
|Real Time Location and Programming||Yes||Yes|
|Navigation||Multi-Sensor Multi-Room||Multi-Sensor Multi-Room|
|Collection Bin Capacity||0.5L||0.5L|
|Water Reservoir Capacity||0.15L||N/A|
|Adjustable Water Level||No||N/A|
|Select Room Navigation||No||No|
|Select Room Scheduling||No||No|
|Multiple Maps Stored||No||No|
|Containment||Yes (app only)||Yes (app only)|
|Warranty||1 year||2 years|
|Price||Check on Amazon||Check on Amazon|
Comparing the Roborock S4 and Roborock S5
Now it is time to get rolling. I will examine each of the robots based on their claims, merits, and real-world performance. No lab tests here, I will give you the information you need to know; how each robot will actually perform when it is in your home.
The Basics of Operation
There are several features that every robot vacuum needs to function – namely, things like batteries, filters, extractor bars, etc.
For the Roborock vacuums, the batteries are quite large. The industry standard for lithium-ion batteries is between 2600 and 3600mAh. Roborock, though, puts in a mammoth 5200mAh battery pack. This pack powers everything on the robot stores the memory, and syncs the maps to the mobile app.
With a large battery, you can expect a long runtime, which you get. The S5 and S4 will both run for up to 150 minutes before needing a battery recharge. When the battery does get low, both models will return to the charging station to recharge on their own.
You also get the resume cleaning feature with both models. If the cleaning cycle wasn’t completed, the S4 and S5 will both resume cleaning right where they left off until the job is complete.
Filters Collect Allergens
The Roborock filters are also high-quality. Each one is an E11-HEPA filter. It is capable of capturing particles down to 3 microns in size. This is efficient enough to remove in-home allergens from your floors, such as pet dander, pollen, dust mites, etc.
The filters are also washable. While you can’t throw them in with the laundry, you can rinse them out under a running tap. This saves you some money in replacement costs as each filter will last several months before needing to be replaced. The Roborock S4 comes with two filters, one installed and one as an extra.
Because it is important to make sure the filters are completely dry before reusing, having a spare means you don’t have to wait for the filter before you can put the robot back in service. The S5 has mopping accessories included with the purchase, so you will only receive one filter in the box.
Brush Rolls and Side Brushes
The brush roll extractors themselves are the same in both the S4 and S5. However, the difference here is that the S4 has a variable speed motor for the combination brush roller. Now, when the robot is in open space, it will slow the roller down to prevent debris slinging as the robot moves around the room.
When the robot is along the edges of a room or getting into corners, the brush roller will speed up to collect the dirt and keep it from piling up along your baseboards. The S5 model only has a single-speed roller (high speed), which is not as effective as the S4 model.
The side brush also saw an upgrade with the Roborock S4. Every model up until now has a side brush using three sprigs of bristles that rotate to collect dirt and debris outside the reach of the robot.
The S4 model now uses a 5-arm side brush. Instead of bristles, the arms are pieces of soft rubber. The rubber is supposed to get into corners better and be able to better direct debris into the path of the robot.
Bottom Line: When it comes to basics of operation, the S4 has enough upgrades to make it stand out as the clear winner.
Let’s Dismiss the Mopping Feature
The one thing that is a clear winner for the Roborock S5 is that it has the mopping option while the S4 does not. Let’s talk about this now so we can discard it and get back to the comparison portion.
First, I should note that if you are basing your purchase decision on having a robot that vacuums and mops, you have better options than the Roborock S5. The mopping feature is fairly lackluster. It is equivalent to soaking a cloth in water and wiping it over your floors.
If you are familiar with the Swiffer mopping sticks, then you get an idea of what the S5 offers you. However, with the stick mops, you can actually scrub a little and get dried stains and other debris off. The S5 doesn’t provide this.
For a mopping robot option, I invite you to check out the Braava M6. Or, if you are looking for a budget mopping robot, the Braava 380t is a viable option. The Roborock did well to remove this feature from the S4 model, as it is basically useless in every respect.
Bottom Line: If you are looking for a mopping robot, there are much better options. The only reason the S5 wins this round is that the S4 doesn’t mop (which may be enough to win as it is).
The New Drive Train is a Great Addition to the S4
One thing that makes owners mad is when the robot gets stuck and needs assistance. Roborock robots were prone to this. As they ran around the home, they would get stuck in seemingly innocuous situations. This happened because they couldn’t back up.
The new drive train in the S4 allows the robot to drive backward. Now, when the robot heads into a tight corner or awkward position, it will reverse to that it can continue to maneuver and clean your home.
Bottom Line: The two-direction drive train should be a standard feature, but at least Roborock finally added it to their arsenal. The S4 has it; the S5 doesn’t. The S4 is the clear winner here.
Control Options are Almost Identical
When it comes to controlling your Roborock robot, you have a few options. The local controls are quite limited but fully capable. While you won’t be able to create schedules and perform some of the more advanced functions, you can start a cleaning cycle.
You will also be able to have the robot perform a spot clean, return to the charging dock and turn the robot on or off.
The main control options will come from the mobile app. However, before we get into the details of that, let’s talk about voice controls. Both the S5 and S4 models have voice controls through Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant devices. While t took over two years to get the functionality to Google Assistant, it is here now.
You have two options. Start a cleaning cycle or stop a cleaning cycle. While you really don’t need more, you don’t have that option. The Google Assistant version has three commands, one to start, one to stop, and the third to return the robot to the charging dock.
On to the Mobile App
Once again, the Roborock confusion will sneak in. As you may know, Roborock used to partner with Xiaomi to produce the Mi. They worked through a partnership with a few other smaller vendors, each specializing in specific functions of the robot that was then produced as a single unit.
The first version was called the Xiaomi Mi because Xiaomi was the primary funder and production team. With the release of the second generation Mi, Roborock found their name on the nameplate and from there, began to produce their own robots, which leads us to our comparison today.
The whole time, though, the robots were controlled with the Xiaomi mobile app. It was quite cumbersome, as there were plenty of other smart home products also controlled by the app.
With the release of the Roborock S4 (and a couple of the E-models), Roborock produced its own mobile app.
This is where the fun comes in. The Xioami app will still control the Roborock S5 and the S4. However, the standalone app made by Roborock will also control both robots.
In essence, you have your choice. However, I suggest you get the Roborock app. The only reason to get the Xiaomi app is if you have other Xiaomi products that require their app.
History Lesson Over. What Does the App do?
Now that you are caught up and possibly even more confused, the apps actually accomplish the same things; in fact, the interfaces (once you get into the robot vacuum section of the Xiaomi app) are virtually identical.
You will see the map created by the robot, and you can interact with it. There is a feature called No-Go lines that work like virtual containment. You draw a straight line across a doorway or portion of a room, and the robot will not cross over while cleaning.
You can create a cleaning schedule, as well. At any point in the future, you can make your Roborock S4 or S5 clean your home. If you want, you can even add square zones that tell the robot where to focus the cleaning.
Acting as another form of virtual containment, the zone cleaning will allow the robots to only clean within the shaded areas.
The app is elementary for what it is, even with the map and interactions. Roborock pushes out a lot of updates, so we know they are working on improvements. However, as of this writing, the app is still a bit touchy and doesn’t offer as many options as that of the Neato or Roomba robots.
Bottom Line: This is a tie. Once you figure out which app you want to use, you will have less-limited controls than you get with voice or local controls on either robot.
Let’s face it; unless your home is already spotless, you aren’t going to pick a section of your floor and sprinkle bits of sand, rice, and cereal around to see how well the robot cleans. Instead, you rely on reviews like this one to tell you how it will function once you get it home.
The problem is that almost everyone will show you a performance based on numbers, settings, and cleaning spaces that aren’t realistic. For example, you aren’t going to hook the robot up to a voltmeter to find out how much power draw the robot has in various cleaning modes. Why would you? It doesn’t matter in the end.
What matters is if your carpets are cleaned and your hard flooring is swept up to a reasonable expectation. That’s why I am here. Let’s talk about real-world situations here.
The Roborock Vacuums on Carpeting
When it comes to carpeting, the Roborock S5 does a decent job. In lab tests, it scores pretty high, of course. However, in real-world applications, you will find that you may be more disappointed than you want to be.
The S5 uses a learning algorithm that learns your home’s layout, and over multiple cleaning sessions, it begins to navigate a path that is more efficient and misses fewer and fewer spots. However, it will always miss spots as it zigs and zags back and forth. In the beginning, you may grow frustrated with the areas it doesn’t cover. This is normal, and it will get better.
The S4 has an upgraded algorithm, though, and does a better job out of the gate. It still takes several runs to learn your floors, and it will still miss spots. However, by watching the mobile app mapping reports, you will be able to see these get smaller and smaller. You can also use the Square Zone cleaning to have the robot go back over frequently missed areas.
Both robots are rated for all carpet types through high-pile carpeting still proves difficult for the combination brush roller. All in all, the Roborock vacuums will clean your carpets to a majority satisfaction level. Just don’t be surprised if you are left wanting more.
Roborock Vacuums on Hard Flooring
When it comes to sweeping your hard flooring, both robots are quite equal. The one sticking spot is in the corner and along the edges of rooms. When the robots are finished cleaning, you can inspect these areas and find that there is debris remaining.
Of course, the S5 has the mopping feature. As we discussed earlier, though, this is pretty much useless. When it comes to sweeping, though, the combination brush roll will get everything it comes into contact with.
One point of warning, though. The bristles on the combination roller are a bit stiff. In most cases, this isn’t a worry. However, if you have softer hard floors, or floors that need to have a sealant applied, the bristles can mar or scratch these surface types. If you own softwood flooring, you will want to test the robot in a small area first.
Roborock Vacuums on Pet Hair
Okay, what about pet hair, long human hair and strings, I hear you ask. Well, you will be left wanting for sure.
Both the S4 and S5 models will collect hairs and fibers as needed. The problem is the combination brush roller. It will keep all the strands wrapped around it, requiring frequent cleanings, and once the brushes are full of hair, they won’t be as effective.
I hate to talk so poorly about the performance, but you do need to know. If you have a smaller home with primarily hard flooring and don’t have shedding pets running around, the Roborock robots are an inexpensive alternative to the costly robots like the Roomba i7 or Neato D7.
Otherwise, spending an extra hundred bucks on getting a slightly better model may be something to consider.
Frequently Asked Questions
I will now field some of the most common questions about the Roborock S4 and S5 models. If you have further questions, comments or concerns feel free to use the comment section below.
Q. How do I contact Roborock customer support?
A. If you are based in the US, you can email Roborock support at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q. Will the Roborock S4 be able to use the mopping attachment?
A. No. The S4 model is a compromise between the cheaper E-series robots and the more expensive, mopping versions of the S5 and S6. One of the compromises is that you don’t get the mopping feature with the S4.
Q. Where is the best place to purchase a Roborock vacuum and mopping robot?
A. The only place to purchase a Roborock vacuum is through Amazon. Roborock’s links on their website lead you to Amazon. All warranties, returns, and accessories are purchased, maintained, and kept by Amazon.
What I Like About the Roborock S5
- Long battery life, lasting up to 150 minutes.
- Intelligent cleaning learns your floors as it cleans.
- Mopping option that the S4 model doesn’t have.
What I Like About the Roborock S4
- Improved drive train to allow the robot to back up when needed.
- Less expensive option that removes the near-pointless mopping feature.
- The mobile app is now stand alone from other Xiaomi products.
Roborock is making progress on being a stand-alone robot vacuum company. Amid all of the confusion from the early models, the Roborock S5 and S4 models stand out. The S5 is older, adding to the name confusion, but offers you the ability to damp mop your hard flooring.
The S4 is updated and upgraded, losing the mopping feature in order to offer you a lower price. While I feel that Roborock has a ways to go before it can compete with the better-known names, there is a place for the S4 and S5 in some homes.
If you are on a tighter budget and want to get into the robot vacuum world, either model will do well for you. However, for better performance and less frustration, the Roborock S4 is the model you will want to go with.