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Roomba 985 vs e5 (2021): Do You Need An Advanced Robot Vacuum?

Comparing higher-end robot vacuums with entry-level models hardly seems fair, but it’s essential to know exactly what you’re getting. To help you decide whether the Roomba 985 or the Roomba e5 is better for your home, read through our detailed comparison below before checking out our recommendations.

Roomba 985 vs e5 Comparison Chart

ModelRoomba 985Roomba e5
iRobot Roomba 985 Wi-Fi Connected Robot Vacuum, Black  
PriceCheck Price  

Dimensions13.8″ x 13.8″ x 3.6″13.45″ x 13.39″ x 3.65″
Weight8.7 lbs7.23 lbs
NavigationiAdapt 2.0 with vSLAMiAdapt 1.0
Clean Map ReportsYesYes
Dirt DetectAdvancedYes
High Efficiency FilterYesYes
Suction Power10x Suction5x Suction
Power BoostYesNo
Recharge & ResumeYesNo
Runtime120 minutes90 minutes
Bin Capacity600 ml500 ml
Full Bin IndicatorYesNo
Voice ControlYesYes


The Roomba 985 has a sharper design than the Roomba e5.

Roomba 985 vs e5 Design
It’s easy to tell the Roomba 985 (left) from other models like the Roomba e5 (right) because of it’s halo finish.

First off, you’ll notice that the Roomba 985 has a halo-like finish to its top cover, quite unlike the monochromes of earlier Roombas like the e5. Next, where the big Clean button usually sits in the middle of most Roombas, the 985 has its set moved closer to the front. Now on its center is an onboard camera protected by a glass window. Finally, the Roomba 985 sports sharper edges all throughout its chassis compared to the rounded curves of the Roomba e5.

A peek under both robot vacuums doesn’t show any big differences though. However, there are plenty of new features and capabilities packed inside the Roomba 985 that will be discussed below.

Mapping and Navigation

The Roomba 985 has a more advanced navigation technology than the Roomba e5.

Roomba 985 vs e5 Mapping and Navigation
Once the Roomba 985 maps out your home, it can plot out an optimal cleaning path.

One of the biggest differences between these two robot vacuums is the improved navigation capabilities of the Roomba 985. It features a newer iAdapt 2.0 software which uses Visual Localization through its topside camera. This allows it to more ably maneuver around obstacles and rely less on its soft-touch front bumpers.

Moreover, the 985 has vSLAM technology, which stands for visual simultaneous location and mapping, enabling it to map out your home and track which areas it has cleaned. Over time, the Roomba 985 will have your entire floor plan mapped out, allowing it to plot efficient cleaning paths and ensure that each area receives attention.

In contrast, the Roomba e5 still uses the previous iAdapt 1.0 navigation technology. You’ll notice that it moves in random directions until it starts adapting to the floor layout. Without mapping features, the e5 can go over areas it’s already been on multiple times and sometimes skip certain spots too. Still, it does a sufficiently able job of cleaning open areas especially in smaller to mid-sized homes.

Cleaning Power

The Roomba 985 uses a more powerful motor than the Roomba e5.

Roomba 985 vs e5 Cleaning Power
With Power Boost, the Roomba 985 automatically increases air power when it’s on carpets.

On hard surfaces, both the Roomba 985 and e5 is capable of 5X the air power of the Roomba 600 series, which is more than enough to suck any dirt and debris. However, the 985 kicks it up a notch when it moves on to carpets, generating up to 10X air power. This allows it to sift through high pile carpets more thoroughly.

However, actual testing reveals that the Roomba e5 is just as capable of cleaning up low and high pile carpets as the Roomba 985. Fine particles like sugar tend to ball up in the suction hole of the Roomba 985, which interferes with its pickup.

Aside from this, the Roomba 985 features the newer Dirt Detect Series II technology which allows it to recognize dirtier areas better. It uses more sensitive optical and acoustic sensors located in its suction path to determine whether it’s picking up more particles than usual. If so, it will focus on that area until it’s satisfied before moving on.

Smart Features

The Roomba 985 has a Recharge & Resume feature and Clean Map Reports.

Roomba 985 vs e5 Smart Features
If needed, the Roomba 985 will automatically resume cleaning after recharging.

New to the more advanced Roomba models, the Recharge & Resume feature lets the Roomba 985 continue cleaning after filling up its battery level. It’s quite convenient and handy if you have large areas that can’t be covered by a single cleaning cycle. Considering that the Roomba 985 already has a longer runtime of up to 120 minutes, this simply makes it better for larger homes.

In addition, the new Smart Mapping feature means you can actually check out which areas of your house was cleaned through the Clean Map Report in the iRobot HOME app. While both robot vacuums can connect via Wi-Fi and be controlled with mobile and voice control devices, only the Roomba 985 has this progress report feature. It’s nice to see how hard the Roomba has been cleaning up, plus you can check for any problem areas that make it difficult for the robot to do its job.

Pets and Maintenance

The Roomba e5 is a bit easier to maintain than the Roomba 895.

Roomba 985 vs e5 Maintenance
You can simply place the washable bin of the Roomba e5 under the tap.

With fewer more advanced features and corresponding parts, the Roomba e5 is easier and less costly to maintain than the Roomba 985. Moreover, it has a washable bin that can be pulled out and emptied easily. You can even clean it out with water easily, so you can improve the robot vacuum’s efficiency and overall allergen-proofing.

In contrast, the Roomba 985‘s bin is a bit more challenging to pop out, and its opening is a bit smaller. It’s more of a chore to empty it out, especially when it’s packed with dirt. It does have a Full Bin indicator so you can immediately clear it out and prevent overloading its sizable capacity.

Both Roomba models have High-Efficiency Filters that allow them to capture microscopic particles such as pet allergens, pollen and dust mite. Finally, the Multi Surface Rubber Brushes are designed to get tangled less on pet hair, making them ideal if you have several pets in the house.


The Roomba 985 is recommended if you can maximize its features. Otherwise, the Roomba e5 offers better value.

There’s no doubt that the Roomba 985 is packed with so many more new features than the Roomba e5. It has visual navigation, smart mapping, cleaning reports and auto recharge and resume, making it an eye-popper for those who love getting the latest innovations. Still, they’re only great if you can fully utilize them, such as if you have a large home with a complex floor plan and multiple levels. The Roomba 985 is quite the investment, but it’s well worth it if it fits your needs.

Those with smaller to mid-sized homes might prefer simply getting a capable cleaning assistant that gets the job done. If you don’t need all the bells and whistles of the more advanced model, the Roomba e5 is an amazing value robot that delivers similar cleaning performance. It costs roughly half the price of the 985, so the savings are definitely a big consideration in your decision.

Last update on 2021-07-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Derick Bondoc

Managing Editor at Compare Before Buying. Writer and researcher passionate about gadgets, gaming and snacks.