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Roomba 891 vs 980 (2020): Comparing Budget and Top-End iRobot Roombas

Despite the surge of robot vacuum brands that are slowly saturating the market, the iRobot Roomba still remains among the most trusted names today in part due to its patented innovative technologies. Among the most popular Roombas from different price points are the Roomba 891 and the Roomba 980. The 891 strikes the balance between power and affordability, while the more advanced 980 is at the pricier end of the spectrum. Find out below which robot vacuum can better address your cleaning needs. 

Roomba 891 v 980 Robot Vacuum Comparison Chart

ModelRoomba 891Roomba 980
 iRobot Roomba 891 Robot Vacuum- Wi-Fi Connected, Works with Alexa, Ideal for Pet Hair, Carpets, Hard... iRobot Roomba 980 Wi-Fi Connected Vacuuming Robot 
PriceCheck Price on Amazon Check Price on Amazon 
Height3.6″3.6″
Weight8.4 lbs8.7 lbs.
NavigationiAdaptiAdapt 2.0 with vSLAM
Clean Map ReportsYesYes
Suction Power5x the suction power of the Roomba 600 series10x the suction power of the Roomba 600 series
Dual Multi-Surface BrushRubberRubber 
HEPA FilterYesYes
Extra Filter and Side BrushNo1 of each
Dual Mode Virtual Wall BarrierCompatible2
Runtimeup to 60 minutesup to 120 minutes
Automatic Docking and ChargingYesYes
Recharge and ResumeNoYes
SchedulingYesYes
Bin Capacity300 mL600mL
Washable DustbinNoNo

Design

You can tell the Roomba 891 and 980 apart by their different faceplate colors and design

design roomba 891 vs 980 (1)
The Roomba 891 (left) is available in champagne while the 980 (right) has a darker faceplate with a camera at the center

Both the Roomba 891 and 980 are circular in shape and stand 3.6″ inches tall. This height allows both Roombas to effortlessly go under most furniture to make sure every inch of your home is spick and span. They both have that familiar iRobot Roomba aesthetics, but the Roomba 980 looks slightly modern than the 891. Another noticeable difference between the two is the camera sensor housed at the center of the 980’s faceplate and its more discreet handle located at the top.

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If you look beyond the faceplate, you’ll be greeted with a significantly larger dustbin on the Roomba 980. Its dust collector can hold up to 600mL of dust and debris, double the capacity of the Roomba 891’s 300mL dustbin. Homes with pets or allergic members of the family will benefit from these Roombas high-efficiency filters. These filters are designed to capture up to 99.9 percent of dust mites, pet dander, pollen, and similar irritants. The Roomba 980 comes with an additional high-efficiency filter on top of the pre-installed one. 

Mapping and Navigation

The Roomba 891 cleans in random directions while the 980 vacuums in mostly straight paths and comes with two virtual wall barriers

mapping and navigation
Watch your Roomba 980 clean more methodically (left) or avoid areas protected by its virtual wall barrier (right)

Most entry-level and mid-tier Roomba models are only equipped with iRobot’s first-generation iAdapt technology, and the Roomba 891 is the same. Unlike the Roomba 980 that cleans in straight paths, the 891’s cleaning path is random. The Roomba 891 may seem confused and nonsystematic at first, but it still gets the cleaning done.

On the other hand, the Roomba 980 feature iRobot’s iAdapt 2.0 with vSLAM, which stands for Visual Simultaneous Localization and Mapping. Its camera allows the 980 to map your floor plan and design the most efficient path for a more thorough clean. It also generates cleaning map reports to identify the areas it has covered. The disadvantage with camera sensors, however, is they can’t map as effectively when it’s dark. 

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The Roomba 980 further includes two dual-mode virtual wall barriers, accessories you won’t get with the Roomba 891. These virtual wall barriers can be set on either linear or halo mode to protect rooms or areas you don’t want your Roomba to vacuum. The mid-tier Roomba 891 can be set-up with virtual wall barriers as well, but they don’t come packaged with your purchase. 

Cleaning Performance

The Roomba 980 boasts stronger suction power than the 890

roomba 891 vs 980 (3)
While both feature iRobot Roomba’s dirt detect technology, the 891 (left) and 980 (right) deal with heavy traffic areas differently

As the more advanced and more expensive Roomba, the 980’s outperforms the 891 as far as cleaning performance is concerned. The Roomba 980 claims to have a suction power that’s 10 times more powerful than the base 600 models. This is evident by how well the 980 can pull in ultra-fine dirt on both hardwood floors and carpets. Meanwhile, the Roomba 891 is no slouch either. Its suction is five times more powerful than the entry-level Roomba 600 series can also suck dust and dirt effectively. 

Equipped with iRobot’s signature cleaning systems, the Roomba 891 and 980 feature a three-stage cleaning system and dirt-detect technology. However, the 980 is equipped with advanced dirt-detect technology so it can clean dirtier surfaces faster than the 891.

Both Roombas can detect “cliffs” such as edges on stairs and keep away from that area. An issue some robot vacuum users have encountered is the machine avoids cleaning black carpets. This is because the robot vacuum assumes these black surfaces are “cliffs” where they might fall so they steer clear of these dark areas. This problem is common to most robot vacuums, but keep this in mind when deciding on your purchase. 

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Battery Life and Additional Features

The Roomba 980’s 2-hour battery life is double the 891’s 60-minute runtime. 

roomba 891 vs 980 (4)
Both can be used with the iRobot HOME app (left), but only the Roomba 980 has the ability to resume cleaning where it left off (right)

The 60-minute battery life of the Roomba 891 can’t compete against the 120-minute runtime of the Roomba 980. Their runtime may vary depending on your floor type, but the larger battery capacity of the 980 makes the better Roomba for mid-sized to larger homes. Both models can automatically trek back to their charging base when they’re running low on juice, but the 980 kicks it up a notch by resuming cleaning where it left off once it’s fully-charged. The 891, on the other hand, will randomly navigate your home again. 

With the iRobot HOME app that you can connect to either model, you can schedule cleaning while you’re away or ask Roomba remotely to start cleaning. With the Roomba 980, you can view clean map reports to determine the areas that your robot vacuum has covered in one cycle. Homes with smart voice assistants can set up both the Roomba 891 and 980 with either Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant to enjoy a completely hands-free vacuuming experience. 

Verdict

The Roomba 980 is the more powerful and efficient robot vacuum, but the Roomba 891 offers an overall better bang for your buck

With its smarter navigation, stronger suction power, longer battery life, and larger dustbin, you’ll surely be getting your money’s worth with the Roomba 980. Its features and the convenience it offers make its hefty price tag justifiable, especially if you have a larger home and have pets. On the other hand, the Roomba 891 may not have all the bells and whistles the Roomba 980 has to offer, but it’s still a reliable option that’s better than most robot vacuums in its class. For a fraction of the cost of the 980, you’ll get access to iRobot’s top-notch cleaning features with the 891.

Last update on 2020-07-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Rhodaline Escala-Phelps
Rhodaline Escala-Phelps

Managing Editor and Team Leader at Compare Before Buying. Writer and researcher passionate about people, product comparisons, culture, and current events.