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iRobot i3+ EVO Review: Almost All the Best Features at an Affordable Price

The convenience and ease with which robot vacuums can keep your home tidy between deep cleanings can’t be understated, but even as new self-emptying robot vacuums keep entering the market, the truth is that this technology is just too expensive for a lot of us. However, that may change thanks to the Roomba i3+ EVO robot vacuum. This iRobot is packed with smart features and has a softer look. Plus with a slightly more budget-friendly $549 price tag, the Roomba i3+ EVO gives you some of the features of more pricey Roombas including intelligent navigation, and self-emptying using the Clean Base Automatic Dirt Disposal, plus it lets you control your clean using the iRobot app.

Let’s take a closer look at whether this bot is on the same level as pricier vacuums and how well it cleans in our iRobot i3+ EVO review.

  

What’s in the Box?

In the box, you’ll get the iRobot i3+ EVO featuring a softer woven panel on the top of the bot. While iRobot says it’s meant to be more durable, and that the woven texture will minimize fingerprints and collect less dust, it’s probably truer you just won’t be able to see the dust and prints on the textured surface.

Also in this kit is the iRobot Clean Base Automatic Dirt Disposal unit. This automatic empty container was launched a couple of years ago on pricier Roombas like the i7 and s9 (the + in the name indicates the disposal base is included). You do also have the option of just purchasing the vacuum bot for a lower price.

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A Word About Older Models of i3+

I’ll make a quick note here about anyone who bought the original i3+. If you purchased your vacuum a few years ago, it was simply known as the i3+, without the EVO designation. The new designation essentially denotes the evolution of newer versions of the same robot vacuum, but this time with smart mapping built-in (the original version of this vacuum didn’t have smart mapping).

The great news for anyone who owns one of the original machines is that a firmware update will give you the mapping smarts, without you needing to purchase a brand new bot. A big high five to iRobot for that, and for dropping the price on this model, while adding those features.

  

What’s the Advantage of iRobot Clean Base Automatic Dirt Disposal Unit?

This dustbin is a big upgrade for vacuum owners and it has a few features which make it worth the money. For starters, it means the Roomba can now empty itself. The dock contains a dustbin and sealed vacuum bag, so that any time the Roomba is full, it drives to its station and automatically evacuates. This dock doubles as a charging station too.

I will note the emptying process is rather loud and I’d say it sounds as loud as a regular corded upright vacuum, and it’s actually quite the contrast to the low noise level of the Roomba i3+ EVO itself.

The bags hold about 60 days’ worth of cleaning debris, depending on how often you run your bot. In my experience, sweeping every few days only, the bag lasted three months.

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The dustbin bag seals in dirt. Erin Lawrence | SPY
  

iRobot Roomba i3+ EVO: What You Get & What You Don’t Get

Let’s talk about what you can expect with the iRobot Roomba i3+ EVO. This bot is a vacuum-only bot, which a couple of years ago wouldn’t even be worth mentioning, but as new technology has evolved that puts vacuuming and floor mopping into most newer robots, it might be worth it to point out this is a single-purpose robot.

Despite it being a lower-cost robot vacuum, the i3+ EVO still offers the super-useful suction boost, which increases suction power when the i3+ EVO finds itself on carpets, and this feature pulls dirt more deeply from carpet fibers.

Creating a Map for Robot Vacuum Smarts

For this bot to work effectively, first you need it to map your space. From there it will draw a surprisingly accurate floorplan of the home. Creating the smart map may take a few passes. You can make this happen all in one day by repeatedly sending the bot out on suction-free mapping treks, or you can just instruct it to go out and vacuum over a few days. The app will show you when the map is ready, and mine took about two days to populate.

The next job is to label your rooms and make sure the spaces are divvied up correctly. iRobot’s app is easy to use and simple to figure out. I had my home organized and properly labeled in a few minutes.

Now, the fun part! With all the rooms labeled, you can create daily or weekly vacuum schedules, or ask your bot for room-specific cleanings at any time.

  

How Well Does Roomba i3+ Clean?

I’ve tested nearly all of iRobot’s Roomba robot vacuums — as well as most of the competitors released in the last five years — and overall I can attest Roombas clean very well, and this robot is no exception. In my home testing, Roomba i3+ EVO easily picked up a lot of different things, from pet hair to crumbs, plus finer dust, flour and even larger debris like cereal or crackers.

Something called Dirt Detect Technology is supposed to better remove dirt from high-traffic spots thanks to special sensors that recognize areas that need more attention, which in turn is supposed to get the robot to clean them more intensely. In my testing with this, it was kind of hard to see it working; I didn’t notice the i3+ EVO going over some areas more than others, so I’ll take iRobot’s word for this for now, since in general, I’m pretty happy with the clean.

How Does Roomba I3+ EVO Handle Different Floor Types?

The Roomba i3+ EVO can tackle pretty much all flooring types; at my house, it went from tile to hardwood to carpet and rugs and cleaned each floor well. I’ve heard from viewers on my YouTube channel that it doesn’t manage taller transitions between floors so well, but in my home, it hasn’t been an issue because I have almost zero transitions or barriers.

The i3+ EVO even navigates around and underneath furniture where the pet hair tends to form tumbleweeds, like underneath chairs, dressers, the bed and narrower areas in the hall. The i3+ EVO also handles corners reasonably well due to its spinning corner rush near the front of the bot. Even so, the bot’s round shape means it can’t reach them precisely.

During my review period, the i3+ EVO would do two to three rooms of my 1,000 sq ft main floor on a single charge. The robot would go from room to room and find its way in through doorways and around beds or furniture easily.

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Does Roomba i3+ EVO Get Stuck?

I will say I have come home a couple of times to find my Roombas hovering at the edge of the steps, or stuck on a rug or a stray pair of underwear, but it’s not too frequent. That’s because if the i3+ EVO gets in a spot it can’t get out of, it’ll just shut down and wait for you to rescue it.

While the i3+ model doesn’t have some of the high-tech object recognition and avoidance of, say, the j7+, I still find Roombas are the least likely of all the robot vacuums I’ve reviewed to ever get stuck, and that goes for the i3+.

Is iRobot Roomba i3+ EVO Noisy?

One of the questions many folks ask me about my vacuum reviews is if these devices are noisy. I can say with confidence that all robot vacuums are noisy; where we can disagree is the degree of noise. Most owners would certainly not be able to sleep through a robot vacuum cleaning, and you probably wouldn’t want to take a video call in the room when it’s running. That’s where the scheduling comes in: have it do your vacuuming while you’re outside, running errands, or otherwise not home.

Will My Roomba i3+ EVO Work with Google or Alexa?

One of the great things about the Roomba i3+ is that it works with both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. That means you can just ask your preferred assistant to send it out; no need to grab your phone. I found the digital assistant features work very well and they’re very convenient. Getting them set up involves simply linking your digital assistant app to the iRobot app, and from there you can say, ‘Google, tell Roomba to sweep the house’.

  

The Verdict

In a nutshell, this robot vacuum does a lot. It cleans very well, and I love the automatic dirt disposal since it’s cleaner and means I don’t need to empty my bot daily.

Should You Buy It?

I think this Roomba is a great blend of useful features, solid cleaning performance and an affordable price point.

Pros:

  • Affordable price
  • Cleans well
  • Mapping & smarts included
  • Automatic Dirt Disposal is convenient, clean
  • Older i3 models can get smarts via firmware update

Cons:

  • New textured surface may trap/hide dust

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How Long Will It Last?

I’ve been a Roomba owner for about seven years, and have never had any major problems with any of my robot vacuums or mops. When these devices are maintained and firmware upgrades are made, they last a long time. Plus I feel the build quality of these robots means they will definitely last for years, as mine have.

  

What Are Some of the Alternatives?

If you’re on the fence about the i3+ EVO, don’t worry, there are plenty of other great options at varying price points available right now.

iRobot Roomba j7+

If you’re looking for more technology and more powerful floor cleaning from your robot, you can upgrade to iRobot’s new top-of-the-line model, the j7+. With advanced mapping, spot-on hazard recognition, plus more powerful cleaning, cleaning time estimates and geofencing so it can clean when you step out, the j7+ costs more but is more of a floor cleaning dynamo than the i3+.

iRobot Roomba j7+ (7550) Self-Emptying Robot Vacuum – Identifies and avoids obstacles like pet waste & cords, Empties itself for 60 days, Smart Mapping, Works with Alexa, Ideal for Pet Hair, Graphite

  

Ecovacs DEEBOT X1 OMNI

If you want to take more advantage of technology to clean your floors more thoroughly, it’s worth it to consider a dual vacuum and mop model. This one from Ecovacs is not only beautiful, it will mop and vacuum simultaneously, then return to base to refill the mopping tank and evacuate the vacuum dust bin. It’s pretty much as hands off as floor cleaning gets!

  

Shark AI 250

With powerful cleaning, auto emptying and advanced hazard recognition, this bot packs a lot into a small package. Plus it has a bagless disposal base that will be popular with those who don’t want to worry about buying bags constantly.

Shark AV2501S AI Robot Vacuum with HEPA Self-Empty Base

  

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