Roomba 985 vs 960 (2020): Which Robot Vacuum Is Better?

The Roomba 985 and the Roomba 960 from iRobot’s 900 series boast stronger suction power and more advanced mapping technologies than its entry-level siblings. If you’re debating which of the two you should get, our in-depth review below hones in on their similarities and differences to help you weigh which robot vacuum best suits your home.

Roomba 985 vs 960 Comparison Chart

ModelRoomba 985Roomba 960
iRobot Roomba 985 Wi-Fi Connected Robot Vacuum iRobot Roomba 960 Robot Vacuum- Wi-Fi Connected Mapping, Works with Alexa, Ideal for Pet Hair,... 
PriceCheck Price on Amazon Check Price on Amazon 
Rating
21 Reviews 

4,166 Reviews 
Height3.6″3.6″
Weight8.7 lbs8.5 lbs
NavigationiAdapt 2.0 with vSLAMiAdapt 2.0 with vSLAM
Suction Power5x the suction power of the Roomba 600 Series
Up to 10x more on carpets
5x the suction power of the Roomba 600 Series
BrushesDual Multi-Surface Rubber Brushes, Edge-Sweeping BrushDual Multi-Surface Rubber Brushes, Edge-Sweeping Brush
Power BoostYesNo
Extra Side BrushNoYes
HEPA FilterYesYes
Extra FilterYesYes
Clean Map ReportsYesYes
Imprint LinkNoYes
Virtual Wall Barrier11
RuntimeUp to 120 minutesUp to 75 minutes
Charging Time180 minutes180 minutes
SchedulingYesYes
Recharge and ResumeYesYes
Bin Capacity600 mL600 mL

Major Differences

The Roomba 985 and the 960 have different colors, cleaning technologies and connectivity, battery life, and included accessories

roomba 985 vs 960 design
Apart from the different faceplate colors, they have the same design

Their similarities and differences will be discussed in more detail throughout the article, but in a nutshell, here are their major differences:

  • The Roomba 985 has a darker faceplate with a halo finish while the Roomba 960 comes in space gray.
  • Both the Roomba 985 and the 960 boast 5x the suction power of the Roomba 600 series, but only the 985 has carpet boost capabilities.
  • The Roomba 986 has a slightly longer battery life than the Roomba 960.
  • The Roomba 960 is equipped with iRobot’s Imprint Link Technology so you can connect your robot vacuum to the Braava jet.
  • Both have a side-sweeping brush, but only the Roomba 960 comes with an extra one with your purchase.
  • iRobot has discontinued the Roomba 985 while the 960 is still available from their website and more sellers.
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Design

Both the Roomba 985 and the 960 have dual rubber brush rolls and a side-sweeping brush, but only the 960 comes with an extra side brush

These Roombas can fit under most furniture (left) and their dual rubber brush rolls (right) can handle hair well

As iRobot has the patent for dual brush rolls, only Roomba robot vacuums have this brush roll design. Both the Roomba 985 and the 960 have rubber brush rolls that help avoid hair from getting tangled or stuck around the brush rolls. They further make cleaning significantly easier compared to the conventional bristle brushes. On the side of each Roomba is a side-sweeping brush to make sure the edges of your home are spotless. If you get the Roomba 960, you’ll get an extra side brush with your purchase.

Both the Roomba 985 and the 960 sport one of the largest dustbins in the iRobot robot vacuums. Their 600mL capacity lets you cover more rooms on one go without having to empty the dustbin. In addition, they are equipped with high-efficiency filters that can effectively block off allergy-causing particles such as pet dander, dust mites, pollen, and the like. Both Roombas come with an extra filter with your purchase.

Cleaning Performance

Only the Roomba 985 offers power boost

When the Roomba 985 (left) detects it’s on a carpet, it will activate its Power Boost

Both the Roomba 985 and the 960 boast five times the suction power of the Roomba 600 series. This means they can pull hair, dirt, and smaller particles better than the entry-level Roombas. Both Roombas can further clean carpets, hardwood floors, and most surfaces with ease.

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Where the Roomba 985 trumps the 960 is in its Gen 3 motor. This advanced motor allows the 985 to boost its suction power to up to 10 times (compared to the 600 series) whenever it detects carpets. With such suction power, the Roomba 985 can suck in more dirt and works better for deep cleaning carpets. However, the downside to this is this Roomba can get loud when on power boost.

Apart from the above-mentioned difference, both the Roomba 985 and the Roomba 960 are equipped with iRobot’s advanced cleaning technologies, including the following:

  • 3-Stage Cleaning System: Their dual rubber brush rolls work together to agitate, lift, and pull in dirt effectively.
  • Dirt Detect: The Roomba 985 and the 960 have sensors that can detect dirtier areas and clean these surfaces first before moving forward.
  • Cliff Detect: Both Roombas have cliff detect sensors that can tell if they are at risk of falling off an elevated area. A caveat to this though is most robot vacuums with this feature tend to struggle with black carpets as they assume this dark surface is a “cliff.” There might be instances where they will avoid cleaning the black carpet or surface altogether.

Mapping and Navigation

Both Roombas can methodically clean your home and they come with one virtual wall barrier

These Roombas can clean your home efficiently (left) and their virtual wall barrier (right) lets you protect specific areas

Unlike their entry-level siblings that randomly clean your home, the Roomba 985 and the Roomba 960 can map their paths for a more methodical cleaning. They boast iRobot’s patented  iAdapt® 2.0 technology with vSLAM, which stands for visual Simultaneous Localization and Mapping. Both Roombas are equipped with a camera at the center of their faceplate to map their surroundings and learn how to clean your home more efficiently. In addition, they will note the areas they have cleaned so they know where to resume after they recharge.

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Both the Roomba 985 and the 960 come with one dual-mode virtual wall barrier. You can set boundaries in either halo mode or linear mode to contain areas you don’t want your Roomba to cover. For instance, if you don’t want your Roomba to enter the kitchen, you can place the virtual mode barrier by the kitchen entryway.

Additional Features

Both Roombas can automatically dock, recharge, and resume

The Roomba 985 (left) boasts a longer runtime than the 960 (right)

Another difference between the two is their runtime. The Roomba 985 can run for up to 120 minutes before it needs to dock and recharge, making it a great robot vacuum for larger homes. On the other hand, the Roomba 960 only has a runtime of up to 75 minutes. With that said, the battery life won’t matter as much because of their recharge and resume capability. Since they have advanced mapping capabilities, they can continue where they left off after they recharge, a feature not available in the entry-level Roombas.

When it comes to connectivity, both the Roomba 985 and the 960 can be connected to the iRobot HOME app and smart home assistants such as Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. You can schedule cleaning and view reports even when you’re not home using the app. For hands-free cleaning, you can ask your voice-controlled assistant to tell either Roombas to start or stop cleaning.

Where they differ when it comes to connectivity is the Imprint Link Technology found in the Roomba 960. With this, you can connect your 960 with the Braava jet so the Braava will automatically mop your floors once your Roomba is done.

Verdict

If your house has more carpeted floors, the Roomba 985 suits your home. Otherwise, we recommend the Roomba 960.

Perhaps the major deciding factor between these Roombas is whether you need the Power Boost for carpeted floors. Both are powerful robot vacuums packed with advanced features so you can’t go wrong either way.

However, if you don’t need the Power Boost technology in the discontinued Roomba 985, we recommend getting the Roomba 960 instead, as it will have better support and its Imprint Link Technology gives you the option to connect the vacuum with the iRobot mop. At the time writing, the Roomba 960 is on sale so it costs less than the 985, tipping our favor further for the 960.

Last update on 2020-05-26 / 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.