Below we take a good look at the iRobot Roomba i7 vs. 980 and what each robot vacuum has to offer. The models are similar in price, but are they similar in the features they can offer your home? The short answer is no. The Roomba i7 is a stronger vacuum that is generally “smarter” and more capable as a whole. With that said, the Roomba 980 is certainly no chump and is definitely a viable option for those looking for something different.
If you’d like a detailed breakdown of what each model has to offer, read our comprehensive comparison below. Feel free to skip to any sections of interest using our handy navigation bar!
You might be interested in our take on all-new iRobot Roomba s9 vs. i7.
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iRobot Roomba i7 vs. 980 — Differences
Difference #1: iAdapt Technology – The iAdapt Technology has been the main technology behind the Roomba’s navigation for quite some time, and it has seen two major upgrades since it was first released.
The iRobot Roomba i7 is one of a select few models to feature iAdapt 3.0 navigation. This system takes advantage of vSLAM technology to allow your smart vacuum to make a map of its surroundings in order to more efficiently clean your home. The 3.0 upgrade allows your robot to actually remember landmarks within a room in order to keep track of where it has been and where it still needs to visit over the course of a cleaning.
The iRobot Roomba 980 uses the 2.0 version of iAdapt, which is missing the landmark feature that makes 3.0 so great. However, it still retains the ability to create a map of your home to make for a more efficient cleaning experience.
Difference #2: Imprint™ Smart Mapping – Another significant advantage that is unique to the Roomba i7 is Imprint Smart Mapping.
The i7 is one of iRobot’s newest models, so it’s no surprise that it features some cutting edge tech that isn’t present on older devices. Imprint Smart Mapping is one such feature, and it actually allows you to prompt your vacuum to clean rooms by name. Since the iAdapt 3.0 navigation is so powerful, your device will remember the layout of each individual room and allow you to assign it a label.
From then on, getting a quick clean in a specific room is as simple as telling Alexa or Google Assistant to send your Roomba on its merry way. Alternatively, you can activate the feature through the smartphone app.
If you’d like to take advantage of this cool perk, make sure you enable Smart Maps within the iRobot HOME app.
Unfortunately, you won’t find any such feature on the 980. While the 980 can certainly learn the layout of your home, the technology just isn’t advanced enough for it to remember individual rooms rather than its coverage area as a whole.
Difference #3: Battery Life – While the Roomba i7 might have seem to have a significant edge so far, it definitely falls behind in battery life. This cleaner only works for up to 75 minutes on a single charge, while the Roomba 980 is capable of running for up to 120 minutes.
There’s no denying that the 980 is the superior choice for those concerned with battery life, but it’s important to remember that both of these vacuums support recharge and resume. Chances are that you’ll have your vacuum running while you’re away from home, so does it really matter if your Roomba takes a little bit of time off to head back to the charging station to top itself off?
Simply put, your best bet if the fastest clean is your main concern is the Roomba 980 hands down. For those who don’t mind waiting a little bit longer for clean floors, however, the battery life difference won’t really be much of an issue.
Difference #4: Virtual Wall Barrier – In most cases, it makes sense to set your Roomba on a schedule and forget about it. However, it might make sense during setup to use Virtual Wall Barriers in order to block off areas where you don’t want the vacuum to roam. Keeping your Roomba away from cords or areas with a lot of fragile items may lead to a less frustrating experience in the future, and it’s easy to to do just that using a virtual barrier.
These barriers can be set up in entryways and use infrared light to tell the Roomba to back off. When your vacuum reaches these areas, it will turn around and resume its cleaning away from the prohibited space.
The 980 actually comes out ahead in this category again, as it comes with 2 Virtual Wall Barriers rather than the single one included with the i7. With that said, you can always purchase the barriers separately. This is an added expense which can certainly be frustrating, but with a little extra investment you can have identical performance between the two vacuums — at least in terms of their barriers.
Difference #5: Automatic Dirt Disposal – This is perhaps the biggest difference when comparing the iRobot Roomba i7 vs. 980. One feature of the Roomba i7 that’s actually relatively unique is its support for Automatic Dirt Disposal. For the majority of smart vacuums, you’ll have to keep an eye on the dust bin and empty it from time to time to keep your robot cleaner running at maximum efficiency. Some Roombas have the ability to send you a notification when their bins are full, but that still requires you taking the time out of your day to empty the vacuum before it carries along with its business.
The i7 works hand in hand with a Clean Base in order to take the convenience of owning a smart vacuum to the next level. The combination of the i7 with this specialized base actually allows your Roomba to empty itself into an enclosed, disposable bag that can hold debris from up to 30 full bins! Imagine only having to deal with the dust and debris once a month, or even less frequently, rather than having to check on the bin every couple of days. It’s a huge advantage that truly makes the Roomba i7 one of the best smart vacuums on the market.
Unfortunately, the 980 includes no such feature. You’ll have to empty the dust bin relatively regularly, which really detracts from your ability to forget the various annoyances associated with vacuuming.
Difference #6: Size & Weight – Last but not least, there are some small but noticeable differences in the size and weight of each vacuum. The Roomba 980 has a 13.8 inch diameter, 3.6 inches of height, and weighs in at 8.7 pounds. The i7 is slightly smaller in both diameter and weight, coming in at 13.3 inches and 7.55 pounds respectively.
The i7 is technically a little bit more compact and weighs around a pound less, but for most people this isn’t going to make much of a difference at all. It’s technically an advantage that the model has over the 980, but it’s definitely not significant enough to really worry about.
iRobot Roomba i7 vs. 980 — Comparison Chart
|iRobot Roomba i7||iRobot Roomba 980|
|iAdapt||Yes, 3.0||Yes, 2.0|
|iRobot Home App||Yes||Yes|
|IR Remote Control||No||No|
|Recharge & Resume||Yes||Yes|
|Run Time||Up to 75 minutes||Up to 120 minutes|
|3-Stage Cleaning System||10x Suction||10x Suction|
|Carpet Boost Mode||Yes||Yes|
|Virtual Wall Barrier||Comes w/ 1||Comes w/ 2|
|Virtual Wall Lighthouses||No||No|
|Voice Control||Alexa, Google Assistant||Alexa, Google Assistant|
|Empties on its own with Automatic Dirt Disposal||Yes||No|
|Comes with Automatic Dirt Disposal||No||No|
|Clean or schedule by room||Yes||No|
|Imprint™ Smart Mapping||Yes||No|
|Diameter||13.3 inches||13.8 inches|
|Height||3.6 inches||3.6 inches|
|Weight||7.44 lbs.||8.7 lbs.|
iRobot Roomba i7 vs. 980 — Things in Common
iRobot Home App – When it comes to app control, there’s little to no difference between the iRobot Roomba 980 vs. i7. Both models are able to connect to WiFi, and the ability to get online opens up a host of useful features through iRobot Home app. This application is the primary way you’ll control your vacuum. Whether you’re setting a schedule, kicking off a manual cleaning session, or calling for a spot clean in a particularly dirty area, you’ll have access to all the controls in one convenient location.
Another perk of using the iRobot Home app is the ability to control your vacuum from wherever you can get online. While you might have your Roomba set on a regular schedule, plans frequently change. It’s always nice to be able to start your vacuum on a manual clean while you’re wrapping up work so you can come home to a freshly cleaned floor.
Recharge & Resume – These Roomba models actually have a decent battery life, but what happens if your robot runs out of juice in the middle of a cleaning session? You shouldn’t have to worry much at all about the i7 and 980, as they feature the ability to Recharge and Resume. When your Roomba senses that it’s running low on battery, it will automatically return to its station to charge. Once it’s back to full power, your vacuum will resume its normal cleaning schedule right where it left off — ensuring you’ll never have to worry about your robot cleaner dying while doing its job.
On-board Camera – While some older Roomba models navigate around using only physical and acoustic sensors, the i7 and 980 are a little bit more high-tech. With an On-board camera, the iAdapt system is able to map out your home to make sure your Roomba covers each and every inch. Worry not, however, as the lens does not record video or images, nor can any images be shared with iRobot or third parties. Basically, the On-board camera is just intelligent enough to get a sense of the shape of your home, so there’s no need to worry about spying!
Brushless Mechanism – Traditional vacuums usually use brushes in order to pick up dirt and debris. These mechanisms are effective, but they are also prone to clogging when exposed to huge clumps of pet hair — a major problem for those of us with furry friends that tend to shed.
Rather than use a brush like a regular vacuum, the i7 and 980 make use of a 3-stage cleaning system. Edge-sweeping brushes will knock the dust into the line of the suction which is powerful enough to suck up dirt without getting clogged. Attack everything from small specks of dust to large debris on both carpets and hard floors using an easy-to-maintain mechanism that will get the job done with little need for maintenance. You may still need to pluck out the stray clump of hair from time to time, but this should happen far less frequently and will be far easier to deal with when it does.
3-Stage Cleaning System – Let’s expand a little bit more on the 3-stage cleaning system. Both the Roomba i7 and 980 take advantage of several different mechanisms to keep your floors clean without causing any additional hassle or damage to your equipment. We talked about the brushless suction system, but the Roombas do actually take advantage of some brushes in order to knock dust into the path of the suction.
Dual Multi-Surface brushes will take care of the brunt of the work, while edge-sweeping brushes will pick up any errant debris hiding along the baseboards or the corners of furniture. The last part of the cleaning system is the suction, which is incredibly powerful and capable of sucking up pretty much any debris — big or small.
Voice Control – Voice controllers like the Amazon Echo and Google Home have become all the rage over the past several years, and more and more smart products are starting to integrate the ability to control settings and features through these smart assistants. Both the i7 and 980 can take voice commands, allowing you to do everything from starting a manual clean to adjusting schedules all without lifting a finger.
iRobot Roomba i7 vs. 980 — Accessories
Your iRobot Roomba box will feature all the pieces of equipment you need to get your vacuum up and running. However, like any piece of technology with a bunch of moving parts, your i7 or 980 will need maintenance from time to time in order to keep it running efficiently. Additionally, there are some useful add-ons that can significantly enhance the convenience that these little robots have to offer.
Let’s start with the Roomba i7. The main accessories you’ll want to keep in mind are the iRobot Clean Base Automatic Dirt Disposal system that allows your smart vacuum to empty its own dustbin when it starts to get full. To go along with that base, you may want to purchase a Clean Base Dirt Disposal Bags 3-Pack to ensure you’re set for the coming months.
The 980 also has an Integrated Home Base you can purchase that will give your Roomba another place to dock. It doesn’t have the extra features that the i7 offers, but it’s an excellent way to minimize the time that your vacuum spends traveling to and from its hub.
As far as maintenance goes, you can be prepared for all manner of problems simply by purchasing the Replenishment Kit. This all-in-one package includes three filters, two side brushes, and a set of replacement extractors. If you’re unsure of the specific parts you’ll need to repair your 980 when it needs some extra attention, this is the package to buy.
Alternatively, you can purchase a 3-pack of the Replacement AeroForce High-Efficiency Filters For Roomba 800 and 900 Series that will give you an easy way to swap out filtration. Filters are the part that requires the most frequent changes, so having extras on hand certainly won’t hurt!
iRobot Roomba i7 vs. 980 — Our Thoughts
At the end of the day, comparing the iRobot Roomba i7 vs. 980 is relatively simple. The iRobot Roomba i7 has the edge when it come to technology it uses and support for a Clean Base that will take the hassle out of dirt disposal.
The iRobot Roomba 980, on the other hand, tops it with longer run time (120 minutes vs. 75 min.) and slightly lower price. Plus, the 980 model comes with two virtual wall barriers instead of one like the i7 model. So, unless you’re planning on using the Clean Base, the Roomba 980 is totally a better pick.
Even though the Roomba i7 has better iAdapt technology, when it comes to technical specs, the 980 model comes on top.
Last update on 2020-01-27 at 18:29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API