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REVIEW: Does the Xiaomi Robot Vacuum S5 “Suck”?

 

Xiaomi Robot Vacuum Review

I just finished a massive “fall clean” of the entire apartment, which got me thinking that it was time to do a review of our robot vacuum! I picked up the second generation Xiaomi smart vacuum earlier this spring (as we were just wrapping our first ‘big clean’) so we’ve been using it for about 4 months now.

Robot vacuums are perfect for lazy people who want to keep the house clean on a consistent basis, with minimal effort.

Essentially… me in a nutshell.

I was tired of running a vacuum throughout the apartment (even though our place is small) so I did a ton of research about all the different robot vacuum brands to find the best smart vacuum.

Eventually, I purchased the Xiaomi Roborock S5 vacuum because it had by far the best reviews on the market and outperformed the popular and more expensive Rooma 980 and Neato D7 robot vacuums in every test imaginable.

It seems like I’m not the only one who loves the idea of a self-cleaning home, because when I unboxed this guy on my Instagram stories, I got so many questions and messages from you guys! I wanted to give it some time and really test it out before writing a review.

Today I’m sharing the good, the bad and everything you should know about the Xiaomi robot vacuum.

 

Or, jump straight to a section:

 



 

Xiaomi vs Roborock

What’s In a Name

First, let me say the brand and product names are really confusing. It’s probably because these products are made for the Chinese market so English information is limited and likely mistranslated.

From what I can find, Xiaomi is a Chinese consumer electronics behemoth. They produce everything from cell phones (which are apparently very good) to mobile apps and laptops. Xiaomi partnered and invested in Roborock, a Chinese smart appliance manufacturer, to create a line of smart vacuums. Roborock is in charge of R&D, design and manufacturing for all the robot vacuum products.

 

September 2016: The first robot vacuum from this partnership was released. It was sold under the Xiaomi umbrella and quickly became the best selling robot vacuum in China. Common names for it are the “Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum”, the “Xiaomi Robot Vacuum 1st Generation” or the “Original Xiaomi robot vacuum”.

September 2017: A year later, the companies upgraded the product and released a 2nd generation version, which they called the Roborock S50 at release date. Online, people alternatively called it the Roborock, the Xiaomi 2nd Generation or the Roborock S50. I bought it when it was called the S50

Roborock S5 vs S50: Weirdly enough, at some point the product was renamed to S5, dropping the zero. It also came out in additional colors like Rose Gold and Black a couple months later, so I think they use the second digit to differentiate colors of the same model?

Xiaomi Mi Robot vs. Roborock: You can tell the difference between the 1st and 2nd generation robot vacuums by the placement of the sensor (the raised circle on the device with the contrasting trim). On the original, the sensor was placed close to the edge of the vacuum. On the upgrade, the S50/S5 has the sensor placed closer to the middle, which seems to enable it to track and map more efficiently. 

October 2018: Roborock released 2 value robot vacuums, under the Xiaowa series which is a budget line. These more affordable robot vacuums can sweep and mop, but have less suction power and less battery life than the more heavy duty Roborock S5 model. 

I know – that was a lot of information and a lot of vacuum models. So, here’s a table to compare all the different Xiaomi robot vacuums and their main specs:

 

Xiaomi Robot Vacuum Comparison

ModelAir PressureBattery Mop?Set Zones?Price
Roborock S52000 Pa150 minYesYes$$$ – white, black, rose gold
Xiaomi Original1800 Pa150 minNoNo$$ – white
Roborock Xiaowa E21800 Pa120 minYesYes$$ – black & white
Roborock Xiaowa Lite C101600 Pa60 minNoNo$ – white

I purchased the 2nd generation Roborock S5, (first row in table above) which can both mop and clean. Keep reading below for my in depth review!

 



Roborock S5 Review

 

For those wanting the short answer, yes I think it’s a great buy.

The Roborock S5 robot vacuum has the most intelligent route planning of any smart vacuum on the market. It uses a laser to scan its surroundings in 360 degrees, while simultaneously mapping the room’s perimeter, so that it cleans efficiently in a “Z” pattern.

Think of it like drawing a rectangle and then coloring from top to bottom – the Xiaomi mi robot zooms up and down to clean every inch of your space. In contrast, the roomba does not map a space and cleans in a random pattern, so it’s not uncommon for the iRobot vacuums to miss patches of a room.

Xiaomi’s robot vacuums have strong suction power to work on both hardwood floors and short carpets. The 2nd generation S50 model even has a mopping function! With the free mobile app, you can set up remote cleans or track it around as it works.

 Check price  and read more reviews here.

 

Summary


Pros

  • Smart Mapping function mean it cleans an entire room efficiently
  • Strong suction to clean up dirt, hair, dust and debris on hardwood floors
  • Excellent navigation around furniture, door stoppers or obstacles (no scuff marks!)
  • Slim profile – can clean under furniture like my bed frame and sofa
  • Long battery life – 2.5 hours on 1 charge
  • Remote control via mobile app
  • It can mop!

Cons

  • Not a “sealed” system – you need to manually empty the dust container
  • If you shed long hair, it can get caught in the wheels
  • Not meant for high-pile carpet


 

Who Should Get the Roborock S50

 

If You’re Short on Time or Hate Vacuuming

Honestly, who isn’t and who doesn’t?

The 2nd generation Xiaomi Roborock Robot can be programmed remotely via the Xiaomi App, which is available for both Android and iPhone. When I first unboxed the vacuum, I spent a couple of minutes syncing the device up to my phone and wifi network and then everything was good to go.

The app is available in English – so no worries that you need to translate Mandarin. I’ve also noticed that the manufacturers update the app regularly so they keep it up to date.

 

Pet Owners

The robot vacuum can be programmed to clean every day and pick up stray hair, debris or litter. Long hair can clump up the wheels, so if you do have pets, you should run it more often.

 

If Your Home Is Mostly Hardwood

Robot vacuums work best on hardwood floors but the Roborock S5 performs equally well on my low pile carpets. I have area rugs in every section of the house and it leaves them shining and clean every time.

 



 

The Xiaomi Robot Vacuum Design

The Roborock robot vacuum is made in China and is incredibly popular in the East. In performance reviews against the Roomba, Neato and iLife, it attracted lots of attention for its more advanced navigational abilities and cleaning power at a fraction of the price.

Here’s a short clip as I unbox the package!

 

 

My audio is a little quiet (sorry!) but essentially, I was pretty happy with how well packaged the smart vacuum arrived. It came right out of the box with an English instruction manual and English packaging – which I wasn’t expecting, since previous reviews said everything was in Chinese.

I find that Xiaomi constantly updates the mobile app. Now you can even draw zones with you finger, to tell the robot that you only want it to clean a small section within a larger space. If you have an open floor plan, I find this feature really handy!

 

 

 



 

 

Build

The Xiaomi S5 robot vacuum has a large circular shape.

On the outside is a bumper ring that allows it to gently bounce into walls or furniture legs without taking on any damage – and most importantly, not scuffing your things! I have enough marks and nicks on my walls so I’ve been very happy with how gentle the Xiaomi vacuum is.

When it nears a wall, its sensor “feels” the object and the robot slows down to gently “bump” the obstruction. It also cleans entirely around furniture legs.

The vacuum profile is flat and low enough to the ground that it can clean under your furniture – I love that it picks up all the dust under my bed.

On the bottom, the Roborock S5 vacuum has 2 large wheels that enable it to transition between hardwood floors and carpet. I’d say it can tackle about the thickness of a shag rug – it won’t work well for plush carpet.

 

Accessories & Parts

The Xiaomi S5 is shipped with an extra filter and a mopping insert as well as a charging base, cord and cleaning tool. When not in use, I keep the Xiaomi robot vacuum on its docking station against a wall. You can also buy replacement parts if you need them.

 



 

Laser

The Xiaomi smart vacuum works by using a laser to scan its surroundings. It maps out a perimeter of the room and then zooms back and forth in a methodical pattern to clean every inch inside that perimeter.

This is the main reason why the Xiaomi is better than the iRobot Rooma 980, which begins cleaning where it’s placed, and can often miss a spot or two – especially around furniture legs or objects on the floor.

For the 2nd generation robot vacuum, Xiaomi updated the placement of the navigational dome right to the center of the vacuum. This helps navigate better and faster without getting stuck.

The laser can also auto detect carpet, which lets the smart vacuum know to increase suction when cleaning carpeted areas.

 

Language

I think Xiaomi knows that lots of international customers are buying its vacuums, because I read and watched lots of reviews before buying and those mentioned that a drawback to the machine was that it’s programmed in Chinese.

When I opened up my Roborock robot vacuum in May 2018, I was able to set it up in English right out of the box. The instruction manual is also in English and the charging dock is made for a US electrical outlet.

It took me a couple tries to connect the vacuum to my wifi (you need to toggle it off 5G) and the app was entirely in English as well. Since then, the app has had a couple of updates so the manufacturer keeps it running in good condition. 

Note: in the summer of 2018, Roborock released 2 new budget smart vacuums, the Xiaowa E2 and Xiaowa E3.

 



 

Aesthetics

Not super important, but I think everyone appreciates when boring home appliances are beautiful enough to be displayed.

Dyson’s sleek look is half the reason why people love them so much. In the smart vacuum category, I think Xiaomi’s robot vacuums look the best. They’re minimalist and modern looking, almost Apple-esque!

I picked up the all white version since that was all that was available at the time. But, Roborock has since released 2 additional colors: all black and white with rose gold trim.

 

How the Xiaomi Vacuum Cleans

As I mentioned, the Xiaomi has an excellent navigational system thanks to its lasers. I thought the best way would be to show you so here’s a short video:

 

 

Left: Normal speed, to give you a sense of the noise | Right: Sped up, to show you its efficient z-pattern

 



 

 

Brushes and Suction

On the bottom of the Xiaomi Mi robot vacuum is the spinning brush and rolling brush. The former sweeps dirt and debris into the path of the vacuum so that the latter can suck it right up.

 

Cleaning Power

The first time I ran Xiaomi Mi robot vacuum, I was horrified by how much dust was in the container – it was overflowing! I also have long hair that sheds easily and that was entirely wrapped around the bottom brushes.

I find that if I haven’t cleaned in a while, it’s best to run the Roborock in sections and to be sure to empty the vacuum more frequently. The vacuum picks up dirt, dust and debris incredibly well, but can get trapped with long hair.

I usually run the vacuum twice in each room, especially if I haven’t cleaned recently. I find that on the second run it can still pick up some dust but if I run it a 3rd time, there’s usually nothing in the filter.

 



 

 

 
xiaomi 2nd generation robot vacuum review
xiaomi robot vacuum cleaning power

The main downside is if you shed lots of hair, or have long hair. Lots of long hair can get tangled up in the wheels and brushes, which you’ll need to manually clean / cut off.

 

Cleaning Modes

The default cleaning mode is set to Standard, but you can toggle it in the Mi Home app to Quiet, Turbo or Max. There’s also a spot cleaning mode which I find particularly handy for our kitchen (since C frequently makes a mess while cooking, ha).

To toggle that hit the button on the unit or from within the app and it will clean a roughly 5 x 5 virtual square.

 

Battery Life

The Roborock S5 robot vacuum specs state that it has enough battery for 2.5 hours of cleaning on one charge. I don’t quite know how accurate that is, but I will say 1 full charge is enough to clean my entire apartment once.

When it feels the battery is low, the smart vacuum automatically returns to dock at its home state and recharge. If you have a bigger home, or multiple floors, no worries. After the Xiaomi recharges, it remembers its last location and returns to continue the cleaning cycle instead of starting over from scratch.

 



 

 

 

Maintenance

While the Xiaomi robot vacuum is a “smart robot”, I usually take about 10 minutes to adjust the house to make its job easier. I have floor length curtains, so I tuck those up on a sill; I move laundry baskets and random charging cords off the floor.

The robot vacuum goes around furniture legs quite well but if I have the time, I try to put my dining chairs upside down on the dining table so it has free range to maneuver. The rest of my furniture I leave as is.

 

HEPA Filters

The robot vacuum uses HEPA filters which do need to be replaced eventually.

The nice thing is when you purchase the vacuum, Xiaomi includes an extra filter. I saw in reviews from late 2017 and early 2018 that people didn’t have the extra filter, so I think this is a new thing that the company started including.

 

They’re Washable!

What I really like is that you can clean the HEPA filters so you don’t have to replace them anytime soon.

Xiaomi’s directions state to run water through the filter to clean it – no soap – and the dust container completely opens up so that you can just clean the filter by itself. I did this after running the machine the first time as my house was verryyy dusty and the filter was filthy.

The one important thing is that you let the HEPA filter completely dry. I left it for a day, but the machine kept running an error as it wasn’t entirely dry.

Now I leave the HEPA filter on a windowsill in direct sunlight to air out completely before inserting it back into the robot vacuum.

 



 

Price

I bought the 2nd generation Xiaomi robot vacuum for around $550. The product is imported from China but sold direct by Roborock, so you still get the 12 month warranty as well as free returns within 30 days.

I ordered it on Amazon, which arrived in 2 days with Amazon Prime free shipping!

The price in China is less (I believe for ~$350 for the 2nd generation Xiaomi vacuum and ~$450 for the rose gold version) but unfortunately you do have to pay more if you want it in the US, as it needs to be imported. If you’re buying it and located in the US, no issues with the electrical plug – I received the vacuum with a US charging cord. 

Check back on Amazon frequently as I’ve noticed the price fluctuates and occasionally the seller even offers coupons. As of this writing, the Xiaomi Roborock vacuum is being sold for ~$550. If you compare it to the iRobot roomba 980, which retails for $899, it wins on price alone.

 

Minimal Lifetime Costs

New filters can be purchased separately for ~$7-10 each on Amazon. I think if you take good care of the machine and thoroughly clean it out after each use that you could use the filters for quite a long time.

If for some reason you needed to replace the two brushes, you can also buy them online in a set here, which comes with the replacement filters and extra cleaning tools.

 



 

What Could Be Improved

My biggest pet peeve with the Xiaomi robot vacuum is that hair gets stuck in its brushes. The main reason I wanted the vacuum was to do weekly ‘maintenance’ cleans where it could sweep up hair and dust on auto pilot.

Unfortunately, I naturally shed tons of hair – so much that if you saw it, you might think I was going bald. Long hair can get wound up so I find that I have to take out each brush and gently untangle all the hair that’s gotten tangled in its brushes.

To make the job a little easier, I just run the Xiaomi robot vacuum often – I aim for once a week so that hair doesn’t pile up around the house.

I don’t have any pets, but I would assume that pet hair might have a similar clogging issue with the robot vacuum. I’ve heard Miele container vacuums use vacuum bags, so all the dirt, dust, etc is sucked up into a sealed container bag which you then dispose of – you never have to come into contact with the dust.

Update April 2019: I bought a Miele! I LOVE how it has a completely sealed system with vacuum bags and would love to see this in a future model of a smart vacuum. I now use the Miele for once a month “deep” cleans and vacuuming furniture, and I use the Xiaomi for weekly maintenance cleans.

 

Conclusion

Overall, the Xiaomi robot vacuum is an unbeatable value for the price. It’s an upfront investment, but I’m always amazed at how much this small robot can pull out of my carpet and corners and it’s invaluable for cleaning under furniture.

The driving and maneuvering mechanics are really impressive. It knows to decelerate when it’s about to encounter a wall and completely cleans around furniture legs. I’ve heard of other high-end robot vacuums slamming into walls, chipping paint or damaging baseboards – I have enough nicks on my walls, I don’t need any more! The Roborock S5 is super careful.

I also appreciate the washable filter design so that the lifetime maintenance cost of the product is minimal.

The Xiaomi is currently the only vacuum I use – I ditched my old dirt devil! I am thinking of getting another vacuum eventually, like one with a hand attachment to do curtains and wall moldings, but for now the Xiaomi is perfect.

 



 

Have you ever used a robot vacuum?

DanJanuary 28, 2019 - 3:30 am

Hi. Thank you for the review. How about the mopping function, did you test this? :)

Dmitry KravchenkoJanuary 31, 2019 - 11:37 am

I did mopping test. It’s enough for every day wet cleaning, but you need to mop the floor youself sometimes. In general, it’s a really good cleanig robot.

MacApril 10, 2019 - 7:26 am

You refer to the Mi Robot and the S50 as though they are one product, but I’ve found two different models.

Can you confirm please?

Mi Robot – dry vacuum only.
S50 – vacuum and mop capable model.

SherApril 10, 2019 - 10:12 am

Hi Mac,

I get why you’re confused. Since it’s technically a product for China, information can be scarce. Making it more confusing is that the vacuums are sold under the Xiaomi brand (a giant consumer electronics company) but Xiaomi invests in Roborock (a smart appliance company) to actually design + produce the vacuums. Also, weirdly enough, it looks like the companies changed the names of all their products sometime in summer 2018 after I bought mine.

I have the second generation vacuum which can mop in addition to vacuum.

When I bought mine, the original Xiaomi robot (version 1) was just called xiaomi, then the upgraded version a year later was called the Roborock S50. Now they have renamed the 2nd generation to just S5.

The way you can tell the difference visually, is on the circle placement on the vacuum. The 2nd generation (which can mop) has the sensor closer to the middle of the vacuum. The 1st generation (dry vacuum only) has the sensor closer to the edge. And of course, the added function is reflected in the price.

You can check out all the product specs here:

Xiaomi Original: https://amzn.to/2WZ2CQD
2nd generation Roborock S5: https://amzn.to/2Gdjo9h

PierreMay 6, 2019 - 3:38 pm

Thanks for the detailed review!
Does it avoid carpets while mopping?

SherMay 7, 2019 - 9:34 am

Hi Pierre – You can use the app to set the area you want it to clean :)

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