Shark Ion Review

Shark Ion Robot R85 Review (RV850) – A Slightly Improved Vacuum

Shark is a well-established brand when it comes to home cleaning. Their vacuums have sold hundreds of thousands across the country each and every year. Their robotic vacuum line came into the game a little late, but with brand name recognition, they were able to make up lost ground. Now the Shark Ion R85 is the latest version to hit shelves vying for your attention.

Is the R85 a good fit for you? That’s what I aim to find out in this complete review. If you have concerns or questions about the Shark Ion R85, they will be answered right here. If you are just looking for my opinion about the R85: It is a decent machine with much-needed upgrades that should serve you well.

Who is the R85 For?

The Ion R85 is designed for most floor surfaces and home layouts. With enough features to please most, you may find that the robot is good for you if:

  • You need a robot vacuum that can be controlled by a mobile app or voice commands.
  • Want a vacuum that can navigate your entire home.
  • Have allergy concerns and need filtration to help control in-home allergens.
  • Need the ability to schedule cleaning cycles for specific times in the future.

Who is the R85 Not For?

Not everyone will be pleased with the performance of the Ion R85. This is normally based on your flooring conditions. You may not find the R85 your best option if:

  • You have medium or high pile carpeting throughout the home.
  • Need a robot that can map your home.
  • Want a robot that will resume cleaning until the entire job is complete.

Dimensions, Features and Options

Let’s dive in and take a look at the features and options for the Shark Ion R85 to find out how everything works and what is lacking.

Model Numbers Are Meaningless

When you are shopping for your R85, you may notice that there are a few different model numbers. If you are curious, like I am, you may find that you want to know what these model numbers mean.

Before we get into the specifics, we need to understand the numbering process from Shark. For this model, the full model number is RV850XXX. Now we can break it down:

RV: Stands for Robot Vacuum. This tells shark what type of product you have.

850: This is the model of robot vacuum that you have. The “0” on the end is reserved for updates that are made to the original model (851 is the same as the 850 with a new update, for example.).

XXX: These letters are where the confusion comes in, there are several you will find.

Currently, there are four sub-options that have a different model number. They are: RV850, RV850C, RV850WV and RV850BRN. What do these letters mean? The only thing they mean is where that specific model is being sold.

RV850: The model with no trailing letters is sold on Amazon.

RV850C: This model is sold in stores, specifically at Canadian Tire.

RV850WV and RV850BRN: These two are sold exclusively by Shark themselves, from their website. The difference is what region the robot is sold from.

There. Now you know.

The Battery is Smaller and Less Effective

When the R85 was released I was surprised to see a smaller battery that was was included in the R75 model. It isn’t much smaller, mind you, weighing in at 2550mAh versus the previous iteration of 2600mAh.

However, the reduction in milliamp hours seems to have a direct impact on the runtime and effectiveness of the machine. This isn’t to say the entire vacuum is worse than the previous version, because it is not. However, these are chances to improve issues from previous models, not downgrade them. In that respect, Shark has failed.

The runtime has suffered the most, allowing the robot to clean for up to a single hour on one charge. This is down from an hour an a half in the previous models. The only real noticeable factor will come in if you have a home with a larger floor plan.

The Ion R85 will still clean most of your home on a single charge, with a range of between 900 and 1100 square feet. This will, of course, depend on the cleaning mode and how much carpeting or hard flooring you have.

The Ion R85 Will Recharge Itself, Though

When the battery does start to die out (about 10 percent charge remaining), the robot will return to the charging dock and recharge the battery all on its own. The recharge will take about three hours before the battery is full and the robot is able to return to duty.

However, because there is no mapping feature, the robot will not be able to return to cleaning on its own. You will have to manually restart the robot or wait for the next scheduled cleaning for it to complete the cycle.

One thing to note here, though, is that once the robot has returned to the charging dock, there isn’t a cycle to complete any more. The robot holds no memory of where it has been or what hasn’t been cleaned.

Instead, what will happen is that every time the robot goes out to clean your floors, it will take a different path or direction. What this means to you is that if you have a set cleaning cycle scheduled for every day, the entire floor will get cleaned.

While the robot may miss half of the bedroom on Monday, it will get the other half on Tuesday and Wednesday. The basic rule is that the entire floor will be covered every three or four cleaning cycles. With that being the case, if you let the robot clean every day, every inch of your flooring will be cleaned every week.

Containment Options are the Same, Yet Smaller

The go-to containment option for the Shark Ion has been the magnetic strip tape. This is no different with the R85. When you purchase your robot, you will get a roll of containment tape to use across your doorways, entrances and areas of your floors you don’t want the robot to have access.

The magnetic tape lays where you place it (though you may have to use double sided tape to hold it secure)and the sensors on the robot will alert it that the tape is near, preventing the vacuum from crossing over the line.

In the previous models, you received a roll of magnetic tape that was nine feet long when unraveled. With the release of the R85, the roll has shrunk by a foot. You may not notice the difference in an eight-foot roll against a nine-foot roll, but it is there.

When you search for replacement rolls, you will notice that both the 8-foot and the 9-foot rolls are for sale. The 9-foot roll will not be compatible with the R85. When you need to purchase more BotBoundary magnetic tape, make sure you purchase the 8-foot roll.

The Floor Types Cleaned by the Ion Series Remains Unchanged

The Ion series has been great at cleaning floors for a while now and they have a nearly spotless record of the types of flooring they can clean.

The R85 doesn’t add or subtract from this list and it remains able to clean the same flooring as the previous models can.

When it comes to hard flooring, as with most every robot vacuum, there isn’t a floor type that it cannot clean. All of the normal hard flooring options are there; tile, laminate, vinyl, stone, hardwood, softwood, marble, concrete and glass.

If you have hard flooring that has soft grout or a clear sealant (deep tile or natural stone, for example.), you will need to keep an eye on the robot for the first few runs. I suggest allowing the robot to run in a small corner area first before just letting it loose on the floor.

The bristles on the brush roll are stiff to help the vacuum agitate carpet. However, on softer solid floor surfaces, they can cause marring or scratches. Checking prior to letting the vacuum run wild is a good idea to save you some costly floor repairs.

For carpeting, nothing has changed on that front, either. Low pile carpet is still no match for the suction power and the brush roll. However, when you add in medium and high pile carpeting, the vacuum has a bit of an issue.

The longer fibers don’t work so well in the brush roll and will snag, causing the robot to get choked up and shut down. When this happens, you will have to rescue the vacuum by manually clearing the snag, untangling the carpet fibers and returning the robot to service.

If you have throw rugs with longer fibers or tassels, you will need to pick them up as well. The R85 will get caught on the edges and eat up tassels and fringe. For homes with all hard flooring or low pile carpet, you won’t have many issues. Just keep in mind to keep your cords, charging cables and loose items picked up before the scheduled clean starts.

The Control Options Have a Slight Change You May Notice

When it comes to controlling your robot you have three primary options. First is the local controls, or buttons located on the robot itself. Next you can download the mobile app to your smartphone or tablet, and finally, the option of syncing your robot to a voice controlled device like Amazon Alexa.

The local controls have a tiny change that makes it a little easier to use. You still have the main cleaning button, larger than the other two and located centrally on the faceplate. Pressing this button will send the robot off to clean your home using the default mode and settings.

You can now select the higher powered maximum mode through the local controls, though. The spot clean button has been removed from the local controls and replaced with the max mode button. Pressing this will activate the maximum mode (which you will want to use most of the time) which increases suction power from 1200pa to about 1400pa.

The third button remains the home button that will cancel the cleaning cycle and send the robot back to the charging dock.

The Mobile App Will be the Most Used Control Option

Without a doubt, the mobile app is the most convenient form of control for the R85. With the app, which is a free download from your phone’s particular store, you can take full control over the robot.

You will be able to start and stop cleaning cycles as well as pause, resume and cancel them. You will have the option to return the robot to the charging dock at any time and you can create schedules.

When you create a schedule, you can set the date, time and mode of cleaning. You will also have the option to see the created schedules, edit or delete them.

Finally, the mobile app will allow you to monitor the robot’s status as well as the battery charge. You will be able to look at the app and tell if your robot is cleaning, charging or has completed a cycle.

Voice Controls Remain Unchanged

While the R72 model didn’t have compatibility with Amazon Alexa enabled devices, the R75 did. This capability was also carried over to the R85 where you can still use it without any change.

If you are unfamiliar, you can use your voice with either Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant devices to do the same basic controls you can achieve with the mobile app.

You will be able to start, start, pause or resume a cleaning cycle. You can also ask Alexa (of Google) to send the robot to the charging dock if you need the cycle to stop.

Specifications Chart

Let me detail all of the options and features for you in this chart for easy reference.

Shark Ion RV850
Dimensions 12.5×12.8×3.4 inches
Weight 5.51 pounds
Scheduling Yes
Battery Type 2550mAH Lithium-Ion
Battery Runtime Up to 60 minutes
Recharge Time 3 hours
Wireless Communications Yes
Mobile App Yes
Remote Control No
Cleaning Routines Yes
Local Control Yes
Automatic Recharge Yes
Automatic Resume No
Cleaning Pattern Random/Sporadic
Hard Floors Yes
Carpet Low-Pile only
Side Brushes 2
Containment Magnetic Strips (“BotBoundary Marker”)
Navigation Smart Sensor 2.0 Technology
Drop Sensors Yes
Bump Sensors Yes
Dirt Detection Yes
Filtration Type HEPA
Spot Cleaning Yes
Voice Control Yes
Extraction Method 3-Stage with Brush Bars
Price Check on Amazon

Alternative Options

For comparison, in case you want to look at the other Shark Ion models, I offer you a preview of how they stack up to the R85.

Shark Ion Robot R72

Also known as the Ion RV720, the R72 was the first to use the Smart Sensor technology from Shark. This allows the robot to navigate your home by slowly and slightly bumping into your walls and furniture to know where its boundaries are. It uses the older, larger 2600mAh battery and will have a standard runtime of up to 70 minutes.

You do not get wireless connections with this robot, so there is no use of the mobile app or voice controls through Amazon Alexa. You will get a remote control as an alternative control option, though the local controls work just fine. Since there aren’t different cleaning modes, your local controls will be the cleaning and home buttons like the R85 but also the spot cleaning option as well.

Click here to read our review of the Shark Ion Robot R72

Shark Ion Robot R75

The R75, or for the model specific among you, the RV750, is the model that was released just prior to the R85. It offers much of the same technology as the R85 with a few exceptions. First, the R75 uses the original Smart Sensors technology that the R72 uses, instead of the Smart Sensor 2.0 like the R85.

It also has the larger 2600mAh battery and the longer runtime that comes with it. One thing you will notice, though is that the R75 (and the R72 for that matter) have a smaller collection bin. This means you will have to empty the bin and clean off the filter more often than you will with the R85.

Click here to read our review of the Shark Ion Robot R75


If you want to look at how the R72 and the R75 compare to each other, we also compare the Shark Ion Robot 720 to the 750 here as well.

Frequently Asked Questions

I will answer some of the more common questions about the R85 that I haven’t already answered int eh article above. If you still have any questions, feel free to use the comment section below.

Q. Is the navigation technology new?

A. The sensors have been updated and the new system is named Smart Sensors 2.0. The sensors are the same ones: collision sensors to tell the robot it is near or in contact with an immovable object; drop sensors to keep it from falling off a ledge, and dirt detection to alert the robot of areas needing a deeper clean.

What is different is that the sensors are more sensitive. The collision sensors won’t allow the R85 to crash into furniture and walls like the older models had a tendency to do. This is great news for those that purchased the older models. While there wasn’t a lot of reported damage, the potential was there. With the R85 it no longer is.

Q. What kind of filtration does the Ion R85 use?

A. It still uses the same HEPA certified filter that the previous models use. The HEPA filter collects and captures particles down to three microns in size. This effectively reduces in-home allergens by up to 99 percent.

If you have pets or suffer allergies, a HEPA filter will help reduce your attacks. HEPA filters will capture pet dander, mold, mildew, spores, dust mites and pollen. The filter is small, though, and it is recommended that you replace it every two months. The filters are not washable, so you will need to purchase extras to have on hand for when replacement time comes.

Q. What are the cleaning modes of the R85?

A. The cleaning modes have been updated. The normal mode or automatic mode is the default cleaning mode. It produces about 1200ps of suction power, runs around the home at about 65db and has a moderate drain on the battery.

There is also quiet mode, which if I am honest, is quite useless. While the decibel rating does drop to about 55db, the motor power also drops to about 700pa. Unless you are just trying to pick up loose debris from a hardwood floor, quiet mode is pointless.

Maximum mode is the new mode for the R85. It is the mode you will most likely use all the time. It has the most suction power and increases the speed of the brushroll to agitate carpet further and lift debris. You will get about 1400pa of power and a much louder 72db.

In Conclusion

Shark is still relatively new to the robotic vacuum game, but they have made huge strides in a short amount of time. Their Ion series line isn’t ready to take on the Roomba or Neato BotVac line just yet, but in the entry-level and budget-friendly realm, the R85 does hold it’s own.

With the new, more sensitive sensors and navigation technology, the complaints from the previous models being too rough on the home are diminishing. This tells me two things: First, Shark is listening to their customers, and second, they care about what they are hearing.

The Ion R85 isn’t for everyone. If you have high pile carpeting, a large floor plan or need mapping and expert navigation, the R85 isn’t going to be a good fit. However, if you want a robot that is easy to maintain, does exactly what it is expected to and gets more and more intelligent with every update, the R85 is a safe bet.

You will save a lot of money over the mid-tier robots and get the same level of clean. If this is your first robot, you may find yourself wanting a little more, but the Shark Ion R85 is a perfect robot vacuum to learn from.

In a Nutshell

The Shark Ion R85 is a simple machine that does just what it is expected to do. There isn’t anything flashy about it, but there isn’t anything to frustrate you either. For an entry-level bot it is a good find.

What I Like:

  • The larger dustbin means less maintenance days.
  • New Smart Sensor 2.0 technology cuts down on the hard collisions.
  • The Shark mobile app is intuitive and easy to use.

What I Don’t Like:

  • The smaller battery means more time charging and less time cleaning.
  • Having a max cleaning mode helps, except when the robot must use it all the time.
  • Containment options could be better.

See Shark Ion R85 on Amazon

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