Roborock S5 vs Roomba 980 - Which One is the Better Deal?

Roborock S5 vs Roomba 980 – Which One is the Better Deal?

Roborock broke away from the conglomerate that built the first few models. Now mostly on their own, they have set out to challenge the industry and make Roborock a household name.

The Roborock S5 was their first real foray into the market with a robot that could perform. Let’s compare it to the Roomba 980, a classic champion of durability and features.

Differences between Roborock S5 and Roomba 980

There are some slight differences in the two robot models. It is how these devices utilize those differences that matter, though. Let’s take a look.

Roborock S5

Roomba 980

  • Battery capacity. The Roomba 980 has a smaller-sized battery pack than the Roborock S5.
  • Because of the larger battery, the S5 can run for a longer time than the 980.
  • Suction power. Based on the pascals rating, the motor of the Roborock produces more suction power than the Roomba does.
  • Extraction method. Roomba uses dual-brushless rollers while the Roborock uses a single brush roller.
  • Navigation and Mapping. The S5 uses laser-guided navigation methods to move around and map your home. The 980 uses camera-based navigation and mapping methods.
  • Noise level. The Roborock S5 is quieter in operation than the Roomba 980.
  • Roomba does not have the ability to mop. Roborock can mop hard flooring.
  • Roomba uses physical containment options where the Roborock uses digital containment.

Similarities between Roborock S5 and Roomba 980

When comparing specifications on paper, the features and options not listed above will be nearly the same. Here are the more prominent similarities the two models share.

  • Recharge and Resume. Both robots will charge their batteries when they get low and resume cleaning when the charge is complete.
  • HEPA filtration. The Roborock S5 and Roomba 980 both use HEPA quality filtration.
  • Wireless Communications. Both robots allow you to take control with local buttons, mobile apps and voice commands.
  • The overall sizes of the two robots are very close.
  • You can schedule the two robots to clean at any time on any day.
  • Each machine comes with a manufacturer’s 1-year warranty.

Specifications Chart

The following chart will show you the features and options that both robots have to offer you. Let’s see if the model you are most interested in has what you need.

  Roborock S5 Roomba 980
Dimensions 13.7×13.8×3.8 inches 13.8×13.8×3.6 inches
Weight 7.7 pounds 8.7 pounds
Battery 5200mAh lithium-ion 3600mAh lithium-ion
Runtime Up to 150 minutes Up to 120 minutes
Charge Time 5 hours 3 hours
Automatic Recharge Yes Yes
Automatic Resume Yes Yes
 Filter E-11 HEPA, washable High-Efficiency
Motor Suction Up to 2000pa 1900pa
Scheduling Yes Yes
Spot Cleaning Yes Yes
Real Time Location and Programming Yes Yes
Wireless Communications Yes Yes
Local Controls Yes Yes
Mobile App Yes Yes
Voice Commands Yes Yes
Navigation Multi-Sensor Multi-Room Camera-Based Navigation
Mapping LDS iAdapt 2.0
Collection Bin Capacity 0.5L 0.5L
Water Reservoir Capacity 0.15L N/A
Noise Level 62dB 67dB
Containment Yes (app only) Yes (physical only)
Side Brush 1 1
Floor Types All All
Damp Mop Yes N/A
Wet Mop Yes N/A
Warranty 1 year 1 year
Price Check on Amazon Check on Amazon

Comparing the Roborock S5 to Roomba 980

Both robots show a lot of promise and on paper, at least, appear to be quite evenly matched. Let’s dive into the inner workings of the robots and find out how they compare to each other.

Roborock Mops, Roomba Does Not

The primary difference between the two robots is the mopping ability of the Roborock S5. If you have followed any of my Roborock review  or comparison articles  already, you know how I feel about the mopping capabilities of the S5.

To put it in perspective, if I could give Roomba the win in the mopping category, I would. Roborock’s attempt at mopping is tedious, cumbersome and basically worthless.

To properly mop your floors with the S5, you will need to run the robot in vacuum mode over the floor you wish to mop. You must do this three times. After the 3 vacuum runs, you can put the mopping pad on and fill the water tank. The mopping run is a bit slower than a vacuum run, so this entire process will take you about two hours.

The result is a floor that is primarily clean, with streaks, wheel marks and sometimes puddles. For the time and effort it takes, you can manually mop the floor with a much better result and it won’t take you two hours to complete.

Bottom Line: Roborock gets the win because the Roomba doesn’t mop. However, the mopping feature leaves a lot to be desired.

Recharge and Resume Features

One of the best features of any robot is the ability for it to recharge the battery when it gets low. Automatic recharge is not a new feature by any means. However, it works better with proper navigation methods. Both Roborock and Roomba use proper navigation methods.

With the ability to map your home, the two models know where the charging station is and will easily return to it when the battery charge level drops to around 10%. The better feature is the automatic resume option.

Once the robots have a full charge, they will return to the last spot they cleaned and continue working until the job is complete. You don’t need to do anything, the recharge and resume features are automatic.

The primary difference here is that the Roborock S5 doesn’t wait until the battery is charged to 100% like the Roomba 980 does. Instead, once the charge level reaches about 80%, the robot will undock and resume cleaning.

At first glance, this sounds like a great one-up over the Roomba model. However, keep in mind that the Roborock battery is almost twice the size of the Roomba battery. It will take the Roomba less time to get to 100% and resume cleaning that it takes the Roborock S5 to get to 80%.

So, while it is a great feature for the Roborock to have because of its battery size, for this comparison, it is meaningless.

Bottom Line: Both robots have automatic recharge and resume capabilities. This round is a tie.

Wireless Controls Work Better with Roomba

It is true that both robots make use of wireless communications. With this ability you can use mobile apps for control. You also have the option to use Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa devices for voice command controls.

Roborock is still a little confusing in the mobile app area, so allow me to attempt to clear it up. In the beginning they were part of the Xiaomi group, an array of companies that worked on different parts of the robots. The Xiaomi app is the one that is used to control the early robots, up to and including the S5. However, as of the S5 release, Roborock made their own app. You will want to use the Roborock app. It is robust, and it doesn’t have multiple smart home devices to scroll through.

The app gives you access to the digital containment methods as well. The S5 uses a feature called No-Go lines. Much like the Neato version, you can interact with the map to draw lines that tell the robot where you want it to avoid.

Roomba uses its own app without confusion. The 980 has a lot of app features, but there aren’t any digital containment options. Instead, you can use the dual-mode virtual wall barriers to control where the robot goes.

The app is one of the best on the market and doesn’t have many glitches. You can get a full view of the map where the robot is and the current cleaning and battery status. Like Roborock’s app, you can create and edit schedules, too.

The Voice Commands Are Lacking for Roborock

The Roomba 980 has quite a few voice commands through the Google and Alexa skills. You can start and stop a cleaning cycle, of course. You can also create, edit and delete scheduled cleanings, get location and status updates of your robot, too.

Roborock gives you two options. You can start or stop a cleaning cycle. That’s it. Nothing fancy, and you probably won’t ever need to use it. The option is there, if you want it, though.

Bottom Line: The digital containment options help Roborock’s cause, but the app is still clunky. Roomba gets the win with a superior mobile app and better voice commands.

How the Robots Clean

Roborock makes use of a combination brush roller to sweep floors and agitate carpet. The bristles are a little on the stiff side, so those of you with softer flooring may want to check for scratches before you let it loose.

On carpet the suction power is strong enough to get pretty deep into the fibers. The agitation of the carpet (the process that loosens dirt and debris) isn’t as pronounced as it should be. Because of this, low pile carpet is about all that gets cleaned thoroughly.

When you attach the water reservoir and the mopping pad, you can mop your floors. Unlike the Roborock S6 or S5 Max, you can’t control the water flow. It drips out onto the pad and the damp pad wipes up your hardwood floors. It isn’t the best clean, but if you have a lot of patience, it will do an okay job.

The Roomba doesn’t mop, as we have established. However, it is rated to clean all floor types. With the brushless rollers, the Roomba doesn’t get caught on carpet fibers and will clean low, medium and high pile carpet with ease. The agitation from the rubber paddles is effective, allowing the robot to clean deep in any carpet type.

If the robot gets caught (cords, wires, carpet fringe, etc.), it will stop moving, and rotate the rollers backward, attempting to free itself. If successful, it will then move around the obstacle to continue cleaning. If it fails, it will shut down and beep at you to free it manually.

Bottom Line: The Roborock can mop, but the Roomba cleans better on all floors, so the 980 gets the win here.

Real World Applications

As you do your online research for these two models, you will find a lot of reviews, articles and videos. Almost without fail, you will see the robots running around in a controlled environment. We don’t live in testing labs. So, let’s find out how these robots perform in real-world conditions.

The Robots on Carpeting

When you put the robots on your carpet, they will move back and forth, agitating the carpet, lifting dirt, dust and debris leaving behind a cleaner floor. The Roborock will effectively clean low pile carpet and some throw rugs as long as they aren’t too plush.

Medium pile carpet owners will find that the S5 doesn’t clean very well and if you have high-pile or shag carpeting, the Roborock won’t move very much at all.

The Roomba 980, on the other hand, has slightly less suction power when cleaning. However, the 980 comes with the 3rd generation motor, which detects carpeting and boosts performance. Along with the tangle-free extractors, you have a machine that will take on any carpet and win, every time.

With the 980, you won’t need to pull your upright vacuum out for a month or more. When you use the Roborock on carpeting, you will want to follow up with your upright almost immediately.

The Robots on Hard Flooring

Hard flooring is more of an even battle. The S5 will get along edges and in corners with the side brush, but you will notice that some debris remains in both areas. In the middle of the floor, not much stands in its way. Larger debris (cereal pieces, for example) are cleaned, though it gets really noisy.

The Roomba 980 is about the same here. The noise with larger debris is noticeable. However, unlike the Roborock, the only place it leaves any dust or debris behind is in tighter corners. When it runs long the edges, it cleans thoroughly.

The Robots Fighting Pet Hair

When it comes to pet hair, both robots will collect as much as they can handle. The Roomba 980 can handle a lot more. Because the extractors don’t have bristles, there isn’t much for the hair to get stuck on.

The Roomba will also efficiently keep the rollers clean and free from wrapping, tangles and clogs. Of course, there will be some hairs and strings that tangle around the rollers. However, it takes about 45 seconds to remove the rollers, wipe them off with your fingers, and return them to service.

The Roborock S5 gets clogged on pet hair often. During a normal cleaning session with a lot of shed pet hair, you can expect to have to rescue and clean it at least once. When you do need to clean the roller, it takes a lot longer. You may end up having to use tweezers and scissors to get all the hair out.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is the Roborock S5 warranty? How do I make a claim?

A. The Roborock S5 comes with a 1-year warranty. To make a claim (as of this writing), you need to register the product through Amazon. Because the only place to buy a Roborock S5 is through Amazon, everything will go through them. Roborock is slowly working on their website, though, and registration as well as purchase might soon be possible through there.

Q. How do I contact Roborock customer service?

A. The only way to contact Roborock right now is through email. You can reach them at support@roborock.com. Expect 24 to 48 hours (business days) for a reply.

Q. How do I make a warranty claim for the Roomba 980?

A. With Roomba, you can also start the claim process through Amazon. If you want to go through iRobot, you can do that as well. Contacting the claim center and starting the warranty claim is a simple process. Just make sure you have your serial and model number handy as well as proof of purchase with date.

Q. What is the best way to contact Roomba customer service?

A. There are several methods of contacting iRobot customer service. You can call 1-800-727-9077. You also have the option for sending an email to specific departments or initiating a live chat. The various email addresses and chat links are found on the iRobot contact page.

Q. What type of containment does the Roborock S5 and Roomba 980 use?

A. Roborock S5 uses digital containment options. You can use the map on the mobile app to draw lines and squares that you want the robot to avoid. The Roomba 980 uses physical containment. The dual-mode virtual walls use infrared lights to prevent the robot from crossing. They are small towers and are highly effective.

Q. How often do I need to change the Roborock S5 or Roomba 980 filter?

A. The Roomba filter is disposable and should be replaced every 4 to 6 months. Roborock’s filter, though, is an E-11 washable filter. You can rinse and reuse the filter for about 9 to 12 months (depending on frequency of use).

What I Like About the Roborock S5

  • Large battery for long runtimes.
  • HEPA filtration.
  • Digital No-Go lines for containment.

What I Like About the Roomba 980

  • Efficient use of the battery.
  • Cleans any floor type.
  • Mobile app is the best in the business.

Conclusion

On paper, the two robots are quite equal. The Roborock S5 stands out because it can mop your hard flooring and has an incredible 150 of runtime. The mobile app is decent and with a few more updates will be great. This isn’t enough to overtake Roomba, though.

The Roomba 980 cleans all floor types and does so better than Roborock. The motor power when on carpeting is unbeatable in this comparison. You will also have cleaner hard flooring. A more efficient robot and cleaner floors, what else is there to say? Go get the Roomba 980.

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