The Roomba S9+ and Shark IQ Robot Self-Empty along with their auto-emptying bases.

Shark IQ Robot R101AE vs Roomba s9+: Which One is Better?

iRobot has set the bar high with the release of the Roomba s9+. With sheer power, impressive technologies, and features found nowhere else, it is easy to see why the Roomba s9+ was the robot to beat. Shark is giving it a go with the Shark IQ Auto-Empty.

Shark claims to have the same, better, or similar technology and features and puts the Shark IQ to the test against the might Roomba. Who wins? Which model is best for you? Let’s take a close look at both machines to find out.

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Differences between Shark IQ Robot Self-Empty and iRobot Roomba s9+

When you look at the two robots, it appears as if there will be a mountain of differences. Price and aesthetics alone don’t tell the whole story. Here is where the two robots differ.

  • The Shark IQ Auto-Empty (AE) is less than half the cost of the Roomba s9+.
  • Imprint Smart Link. Roomba has the Imprint Smart Link feature that allows it to communicate with the Braava M6 mopping robot, a feature the Shark IQ AE obviously doesn’t have.
  • The Shark IQ AE is the familiar round design, while the new-look Roomba s9+ has a squared-off front end.
  • Side Brushes. Roomba sticks with a single side brush with multiple bristle tufts. The Shark IQ has two side brushes, each with a single tuft of brushes.
  • Shark uses a combination roller with rubber paddles and bristles. The s9+ uses the patented dual brushless extractors.
  • The battery life of the Roomba is about two full hours, while the Shark robot will run for about an hour.
  • Physical Containment. Roomba s9+ is compatible with the virtual wall barriers; however, it doesn’t ship with any. The Shark IQ AE comes with Bot Boundary Tape as a physical barrier option.

Similarities between the Two

With both models being the best of their respective brands, they are bound to share some things in common. Let’s take a peek at what those similarities are.

  • Recharge and Resume. Both the IQ and the s9+ will return to the charging station and recharge their batteries when needed. After the batteries are full, they will resume cleaning from where they left off.
  • vSLAM navigation. Each of the robots us a camera-based visual mapping navigation system to maneuver through the home.
  • Mobile App and Voice Commands. The Roomba and Shark robots each have a mobile app and are compatible with Amazon Alexa, and Google Assistant enabled devices.
  • Room Selection. Using the apps or voice commands, you can control which room (or rooms) the robots will clean.
  • Automatic emptying dust bin. Both the Shark IQ AE and Roomba s9+ have their dust bins emptied automatically upon docking with the charging station.
  • HEPA quality filtration. You will use high-efficiency filters in both models.
  • Noise level. The Roomba and Shark both produce noise levels within the same range.

Specifications Chart

Let’s take a quick look at all of the features for both models in a side by side comparison chart.

  Roomba s9+ Shark IQ Auto-Empty
Size 12.25×12.25×3.5 inches 12.9×12.6×3.5 inches
Weight 8.15 pounds 5.87 pounds
Navigation iAdapt 3.0 vSLAM
Battery Lithium-Ion Lithium-Ion
Runtime Up to 120 minutes Up to 60 minutes
Charge Time 3 hours 3 hours
Automatic Recharge Yes Yes
Entire Level Clean Yes Yes
Filter High-efficiency High-efficiency
Carpet Boost Yes No
Drop Sensors Yes Yes
Bump Sensors Yes Yes
Dirt Detection Sensors Yes No
Camera Navigation Yes Yes
Wireless Communications Yes Yes
Mobile App Yes Yes
Voice Controls Yes Yes
Floor Types All All
Imprint Smart Mapping Yes No
Imprint Link Yes No
Room Select Cleaning Yes Yes
Keep Out Zones Yes No
Collection Bin Capacity 0.55L 0.6L
Washable Collection Bin Yes No
Automatic Collection Bin Emptying Yes Yes
Side Brushes 1 Side Brush 2 Side Brushes
Containment Separate Purchase Bot Boundary Tape
Warranty 1 Year 1 year
Price Check on Amazon Check on Amazon

Comparing the Roomba s9+ and the Shark IQ AE

Now we will dive into the comparison. We will put both robots to the test in terms of the options and advanced features they each have. By the end of this section you should have a better idea of which model is best for you.

The Nuts & Bolts

All robotic vacuums start out the same, with some computer boards, wires, moving parts, and basic operational features. It is on this most basic level that the differences begin to emerge.

The batteries that both robots use are a rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack. The Roomba s9+ battery will power the motor, extractors, computers, and sensors for about 120 minutes. The Shark IQ, though, will only run for about 60 minutes before needing to recharge.

You will also find that both models have similar filtration systems. Each one uses a high-efficiency filter to capture particles known to cause allergies. Pet dander, mold, and mildew spores, dust, dust mites, and pollen are all captured, reducing your in-home allergens by up to 99 percent.

The Shark and Roomba also have similar dust bins. The capacities are 0.6 and 0.55L, respectively. It should be noted, though, that both the s9+ and IQ AE models have a variation model. The Roomba s9 and Shark IQ do not automatically empty their dust bins, like the Plus and AE models do.

Compared to the Shark IQ AE, the Shark IQ has a different airflow system, less power, and a different dust bin with a smaller capacity.

The s9 and s9+ robots are identical in every way, except for the self-emptying dust bin.

Bottom Line: The Roomba s9+ wins. With similar filters and dust bin capacities, the basic operational features of the Roomba, particularly the battery, are better than the Shark IQ AE.

The Brushes & Rollers

Next, the extraction methods vary slightly. iRobot has a patent on the dual, tangle-free brushless extractors. No other company can use them. The rubber paddled extractors work well on every surface type and don’t miss a lot of anything. They also have the ability to reduce the number of wrapped hairs and can free themselves from snags, such as power cords.

To combat this, Shark IQ uses a combination brush roller. It does have bristles, but it also uses rubber paddles around and in between the bristles. The result is a decent carpet agitator and a hard flooring sweeper. It doesn’t clean as deep into carpets as the Roomba s9+, though.

The side brushes are also different. Roomba uses a single side brush with five sets of bristles to sweep along edges and in corners. With the rectangle front end, the s9+ can get deep into corners, where the previous round shape couldn’t.

Shark IQ uses two side brushes. Each one only has a single set of bristles, though they do an excellent job of sweeping debris into the path of the robot for collection.

Both robots have also slowed down the rotation speed of the side brushes compared to their earlier versions. Roomba also diffuses the exhaust air. The effect is little to no scattering of debris fro the side brushes. Debris scattering used to be a big complaint from many robot vacuum owners.

Bottom Line: The brushes make a tie. Even though the Roomba cleans carpets better, the Shark IQ isn’t so far behind it is a loss.

Performance Expectations & Reality

Now that the basics are out of the way, how do these two robots perform in real life? It is easy to put them in a lab setting and see what they are capable of, but the true test comes on the real battlefield; your home. We will look at the four largest portions of your flooring and situations to find out how each model stacks up.

On Carpeting

Carpet may be the final frontier as far as robot vacuums are concerned. We generally split carpeting up into three categories; low, medium, and high pile. Since the Roomba 900 series, iRobot vacuums have been able to clean all three with precision. The Roomba s9+ is no different.

The motor in the s9+ is stronger than ever before, creating more suction power at the extractors, which are 30% wider and closer to the front of the robot than previous models. This improvement means that even on high pile carpeting, the s9+ will get deep into the fibers to lift out dirt and debris.

Shark IQ also cleans all three carpeting styles efficiently. It only has a single brush roller, so it doesn’t agitate carpet as well as the Roomba model. However, it does have more suction power. The combined effort means that the Shark IQ AE can clean deep into carpet fibers, just not as deep or as thorough as the Roomba s9+.

If carpet cleanliness is the only factor to base your purchase decision on, the Roomba s9+ will win, hands down.

On Hard Flooring

When it comes to sweeping up hard flooring, the results are closer than the carpet battle. Roomba s9 model will pick up smaller grained materials like playground sand or salt.

However, when it comes to larger debris like a spilled box of cereal, the Roomba has some difficulty. It will eventually pick up the entire box of cereal, but the noise and commotion it makes in doing so is a bit scary.

On the other hand, the Shark IQ will get all of the sand and salt, too, unless it is pushed up against the edges of the room. For large debris, though, you won’t even know it was there. The Shark IQ is quite adept at large debris collection.

The edges and corners of your hard floored rooms are a different story. Shark’s model will get to the edges fairly well but isn’t as effective at pulling smaller debris from the baseboards. In the corners, the Roomba s9+ is unmatched, getting virtually everything shoved in the corners. The Shark will miss a lot in the corners, much like every previous Roomba does.

For basing your purchase decision on hard flooring, you could truly go either way. Unless you spill a lot of salt in your corners, in which case, go with the Roomba.

Pet Hair Collection

We’ve all seen the videos, some long hair is placed on the floor like it has fallen from a short height, and the robot is viewed from underneath swiftly collecting every strand like it was no problem. Which, kind of, is the problem.

If everything we ever dropped on the floor, including hair, just stayed right on the surface undisturbed, we wouldn’t need vacuums. A broom and dustpan from your local dollar store can handle that. Instead, our debris is driven into the carpets, flown into corners, and built up along the baseboards.

Out pets shed and then walk and bury the hairs deeper and deeper into the carpet fibers. The Roomba s9+ doesn’t care. It will get virtually every strand without complaint, no matter if it is surface hair, ground in, or snuggled into the corners.

Shark IQ is adept at getting the hair out of the carpet as well, but not quite as well. The hair in the corners will be moved, and most of it collected, but in real-world testing, you will find some is left behind.

For pet hair collection, the easy choice is the Roomba s9+.

Toys, Cords, & Where Did That Sock Come From?

Long before we have the robot technology we do today, we would have to run around the home, moving all the chew toys, teddy bears, clothing, and other items off the floor before we could vacuum. Heaven forbid you forget the baby.

With the ability to schedule robots to clean when you aren’t home, this pre-cleaning pick up becomes more and more difficult. With the Roomba s9+, you have little to worry about. Larger items like toys and pillows won’t be bothered. Lighter items will be pushed out of the way.

It will, however, run over things like socks, power cords, and Lego bricks. The difference is that now the Roomba robots have a sensor that can detect when a charger cable or throw rug fringe has become lodged in the extractors.

If this happens, the robot stops and reverses the rollers in an attempt to free itself from the tangle. In most cases, it is successful and doesn’t even pull the USB cable from the wall. In the rare instance the tangle is too bad, the s9 will shut down to prevent further damage and await your return to manually free it.

The Shark IQ will do much of the same. It will avoid larger items left on the floor, push lighter ones out of the way and notice when it gets tangled. However, it won’t attempt to free itself. Instead, it will pull and try to get around the obstacle it is tangled on while getting more and more wrapped. Eventually, though, it will shut down. We just can’t promise it will be before your new iPhone hits the floor.

When it comes to non-garbage items left on the floor, the Roomba s9+ is the better option.

Bottom Line: For a real-world situation, the Shark IQ AE is quite able to handle almost every task. However, in a head-to-head situation, the Roomba s9+ comes out on top. You just may hear a noisy crunch when it rolls over your Fruit Loops.

Best Features and Options

Now we get to the fun part. While both robots will have some features and options in common, they each have some stand-out (and stand-alone) technologies. We will cover the biggest ones here so you can decide if there is one robot that has a feature you can’t live without.

Collection Bin Auto-Empty

Shark IQ EA
Roomba S9+

The automatic emptying of the collection bin started with the Roomba i7+. It was carried over to the Roomba s9+, where it was improved. When you order the “plus” model, you will get a special collection bin that has a rubber-sealed trap door. You also get the Clean Base charging station. Together, these two items will automatically empty the collection bin when the robot docks.

The debris is deposited into a vacuum bag housed inside the Clean Base. After about a month’s worth or cleanings, you will need to remove the bag (it self-seals) and toss it out, replacing it with a new one.

Shark IQ Auto-Empty has this technology, too. In case you couldn’t tell by the name, the Shark model will also deposit a month’s worth of debris into the charging station tank. The difference here is that the Shark model doesn’t use a bag. Instead, you lift the top of the charging base off and press a button on the handle to release the bottom. The debris will come out into the trash can (or the floor if you aren’t careful).

It should be noted that iRobot feels that the Shark IQ has infringed on the patent for this (and several other technologies) and is currently seeking legal action. If things go as iRobot wishes (which has happened already), the Shark IQ may no longer be available as it is today.

3D Navigation & Mapping

Both robots also use vSLAM technology. This is a visual-based sensor algorithm to locate itself, your furniture, and the charging stations to be able to maneuver through your home, cleaning in human-like patterns.

The Roomba model has introduced an advancement on the vSLAM technology allowing the camera to take pictures and build a 3D model of your home. The end result is the same, though. Both Shark and Roomba create a map of your floor plan that they then follow to clean as well as find their way back to the charging dock.

In the event a cleaning session isn’t complete, the robots will return to where they left off and finish the job after their batteries are full.

The maps have other uses as well, such as pinpointing rooms to clean or avoid and using virtual containment. We will look closer at these features next.

Containment & Keep Out Zones

Shark and Roomba both use the map that is visible to you through the mobile app, to maneuver through your home. With the Shark robot, you can select areas to clean on a by-the-room basis.

Roomba takes it a step further and allows you to name the rooms, selecting only the ones you want to be cleaned. In a recent app update, iRobot also unveiled a new technology called “Keep Out Zones.” Now, using the map, you can create squares anywhere you wish, including portions of rooms or entire rooms, and the robot will avoid these areas altogether.

Shark has reported they will be releasing a similar technology, but for now, their containment still rests almost entirely on the bot boundary tape. This is an archaic form of containment, but it still works. Of course, so do the Roman Aqueducts.

The bot boundary tape is a magnetic tape you manually place on your floor to block off entrances or exits. The robot will sense the tape and turn to avoid the area it is guarding.

Imprint Technology

Imprint technology is a sole exclusive to the Roomba i7 and s9 series robots. With Imprint Link, the vacuum robots will be able to sync and communicate with the Braava M6 mopping robot. Together, the Roomba and Braava will time their schedules to clean your floors. As the Roomba finishes a room, it alerts the Braava, which then goes behind and mops the floor.

The second portion of this is called Imprint Smart Mapping and was touched on earlier. This is the ability to name your rooms on the map, create virtual containment zones (now with the Keep Out Zone ability included) and make the robot clean the entire floor space or a single room at a time.

Shark IQ doesn’t have this technology, as there isn’t a mopping robot made by Shark to link to. The mapping features are similar, but Shark hasn’t released a full working set of its virtual containment (at least not as of this writing). You will still be able to interact with the map and have specific areas cleaned, but the entire process is still being tested and is cumbersome, to say the least.

Mobile App & Voice Commands

Finally, we have mobile apps and voice commands. Both the Shark IQ AE and Roomba s9+ make use of a mobile app. The iRobot Home app is much more refined and intuitive, though the Shark app isn’t horrible.

Both will give you a visual map, show status reports and error codes, and allow you to create and edit schedules or cleaning sessions.

Each vacuum is also compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant devices. You can use your voice to start a cleaning session, make or edit a schedule, as well as send the robots back to the charging stations.

In the case of the Roomba s9+, with the Imprint Smart Mapping, you can have the robot clean a specific room as well.

Bottom Line: This is a toss-up. You either like a feature and decide you want to make use of it, or you don’t. The Roomba s9+ does offer a little bit more in these categories, so it gets the nod. However, if you don’t feel the need for some of the features, then for you, Shark would win.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Now we will cover some of the more frequently asked questions about the Roomba s9+ and the Shark IQ AE.

What type of warranty do these robots have?

A. The Shark IQ has a 1-year limited warranty. It covers the entire robot for a full year. If you need to make a claim, Shark will repair or replace the robot at no charge to you. They will even cover shipping both ways. Roomba s9+ also has a 1-year limited warranty, as long as you use iRobot approved parts. You also get a 60-day return policy to test the robot and decide you like it. If you do not, you have 60 days to return it for a full refund.

How do I contact iRobot customer service?

A. You can contact iRobot for presales questions, or technical support by calling 1-800-727-9077. You can also get email addresses for various departments or initiate a live chat by going to the customer support page.

How do I contact Shark customer service?

You can contact Shark by calling 1-800-365-0135.

Do I have to get a self-emptying robot model?

No! Shark offers you two options, the Shark IQ AE (Auto-Empty) that will clean its own collection bin when docking on the charger. You can get a less expensive model, the Shark IQ, that doesn’t have the auto-clean ability. It also has a different collection bin, less power, and a few small feature differences. For the Roomba s9+, you can opt for the less expensive Roomba s9, with the only difference being the collection bin and charging station. The s9 and s9+ themselves are otherwise identical.

What I Like About the Roomba s9+

  • Long, 2-hour battery life per charge.
  • Self-emptying collection bin allows you to go a month without cleaning the dust bin.
  • D-Shape body gets deep into corners so you don’t have to.

What I Like About the Shark IQ Auto-Empty

  • Bagless collection bin emptying means you don’t have to purchase extra bags.
  • HEPA quality filtration for in-home allergen reduction.
  • Over half the price of the competition.

Conclusion

Now the choice is yours. It is a difficult one for sure. The Roomba s9+ is still the better option. It gives you a better clean on the carpet, is more adept at picking up pet hair and avoiding damage or tangles. However, it costs significantly more than the Shark IQ.

If you want to save money and get a decent clean, the Shark IQ AE offers you everything you could want and more. If you have wall to wall carpeting, you may want the deeper clean of the Roomba s9+. However, if your budget doesn’t allow for it, the Shark IQ is the second-best robot on the market right now.

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