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Roomba i3+ vs 980 (2020): Choosing Your Next Robot Vacuum

iRobot has expanded its line of self-emptying robot vacuums with the release of the Roomba i3+ in the fall of 2020. It sports a new look and a slightly different navigation system from the Roomba i Series, s Series, and 900 series. We compare the Roomba i3+ with the Roomba 980, an older robot vacuum that boasts similar suction power and smart navigation, to guide you in choosing the better robot vacuum for your home.

Roomba i3+ vs 980 Comparison Chart

ModelRoomba i3+Roomba 980
 iRobot Roomba i3+ (3550) Robot Vacuum with Automatic Dirt Disposal Disposal - Empties Itself, Wi-Fi...iRobot Roomba 980 Wi-Fi Connected Vacuuming Robot (Renewed)
PriceCheck PriceCheck Price
Suction Power10x suction power compared to Roomba 600 series5x the suction power of the Roomba 600 series, 10x on carpet boost
Smart MappingYesYes, camera-based
NavigationiRobot Geniusโ„ขiAdapt 2.0 with vSLAM
Cleaning SystemPremium 3-stage cleaning systemPremium 3-stage cleaning system
Dual Mode Virtual Wall BarrierNo2
Clean Base Automatic Dirt DisposalYesNo
Extra Filter and Side Brush1 extra filter1 of each
Runtimeup to 75 minutesup to 120 minutes
High Efficiency FiltersYesYes
Imprint LinkYes, with Braava jet m6 robot mopYes
Voice Assistant Alexa and Google AssistantAlexa and Google Assistant
Height3.6″3.6″
Weight7.44 lbs8.7 lbs.

Design

The Roomba i3+ has a fabric-type surface and is missing the cameras found in the Roomba 980

The Roomba i3+’s (left) fabric surface is smudge-resistant

While they both sport a round profile typical of most robot vacuums, you can easily tell the Roomba i3+ and the Roomba 980 apart by their color and material construction. The Roomba i3+ has a more modern look to it and its cloth-type surface is smudge and fingerprint-resistant. Its “Clean” button also blends almost invisibly with the rest of the gray inner ring. Meanwhile, the Roomba 980 still sports the traditional “Clean” button found in most Roombas, and it has a camera that helps it map and navigate homes (more on this later).

The Roomba i3+ and the 980 are also slightly different under the hood. While both still have their Dual Multi-Surface Rubber Brushes at the center, the i3+ is equipped with the more updated green brush rolls found in its pricier siblings such as the Roomba i7. Compared to the gray brush rolls, the green ones make it easier to spot if hair is tangled around the brush or if it needs some cleaning.

Cleaning Performance

Their cleaning power is comparable, but the Roomba i3+ comes with a Clean Base.

The Roomba i3+’s Clean Base (left) and the 980’s carpet boost technology (right)

To cut to the chase, what makes the Roomba i3+ worth its price is its accompanying Clean Base for its automatic dirt disposal feature. The Roomba i3+ will automatically empty its dustbin into the Clean Base whenever it docks. This means you can forget about emptying the dust bin for a month or two, something that the Roomba 980 doesn’t afford you. On the Roomba 980, you’ll have to check if the bin is full every cycle, and if you have a large home or a large pet that sheds a lot of hair, expect to have to empty the dustbin more often than usual.

With the Clean Base aside, both robot vacuums are powerful machines that work great on both hardwood and carpet floors. iRobot Roombas have always been known as among the best out there when it comes to deep cleaning carpeted floors, and the Roomba i3+ and 980 won’t disappoint in this regard. Respectively, the Roomba i3+ and 980 boast 10x and 5x more the suction power of the entry-level 600 series. While the Roomba 980 may not sound as impressive, it does feature iRobot’s carpet boost technology that allows it to double its suction power when it detects carpets.

Their Dual Multi-Surface Rubber Brushes don’t have bristles, which means you can forget about hair getting tangled around the brushes of the Roomba i3+ and 980. They also come with a side angle brush to make sure that even the corners of your house are spick-and-span. Their High-Efficiency Filters can capture pet allergens, and the i3+ kicks it up a notch by suggesting an extra cleaning time when necessary, such as during pet shedding season or allergy season.

Mapping & Navigation

Both the Roomba i3+ and 980 clean efficiently in straight lines

The Roomba i3+ (left) uses a floor tracking system while the Roomba 980 features the iAdapt 2.0 with vSLAM

Unlike the budget 600 series that cleans in random directions, the Roomba i3+ and 980 vacuum in straight lines. However, they use different systems to do so. The Roomba i3+ uses a floor tracking system while the Roomba 980 is equipped with a camera that allows it to map your floor plan through vSLAM (Visual Simultaneous Localization and Mapping). The difference in their navigation isn’t that different, though. They both resume cleaning where they left off, clean efficiently, and can get around your furniture or any other obstacles.

Speaking of obstacles, both are not equipped with iRobot’s Keep Out Zone technology that’s available in their pricier counterparts. This technology allows you to map out certain zones that you want your Roomba to avoid, such as delicate furniture or pet-feeding areas. However, the Roomba 980 does come with two dual-mode virtual wall barriers that let you achieve a similar effect. As for the Roomba i3+, it doesn’t come with one out of the box, but you can easily buy compatible virtual wall barriers if you need to keep your Roomba out of certain zones in your house.

Battery and Additional Features

The Roomba 980 offers a longer runtime than the i3+

Both robot vacuums are compatible with smart voice assistants

The Roomba 980 boasts up to 120 minutes of runtime on a single charge, slightly more than the 75-minute runtime that the Roomba i3+ offers. With that said, it won’t matter as much as both can trek back to their charging base automatically when running low on juice and continue cleaning where they left off. They are also compatible with the iRobot HOME app that lets you schedule cleaning even when you’re not at home. The Roomba i3+ even learns your cleaning schedule and suggests personalized cleaning as it learns more about your habits.

Both the Roomba i3+ and 980 work with smart voice assistants such as Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. With this, you can ask your Roomba to start or stop cleaning completely hands-free. In addition, the Roomba i3+’s Automatic Dirt Disposal technology will allow you to simply set and forget about your robot vacuum for a month or two until it’s time to empty the Clean Base.

Verdict

The Roomba i3+’s features make it a worthwhile purchase

With the Roomba i3+’s lower price, more households can afford the convenience that iRobot’s Clean Base and Automatic Dirt Disposal technology offer. For its price and cleaning power, the Roomba i3+ offers great value for your money. Those who find the price of the i3+ still out of their budget can simply opt for the Roomba i3 that doesn’t come with a Clean Base.

As the Roomba 980 is an older model that has been discontinued, it’s hard to come across a brand new Roomba 980. The renewed versions that are available are around the same price as the Roomba i3, so we recommend going for the i3 instead of the 980 if you’re looking to save. With the i3, you have the option to upgrade to a Clean Base once your budget allows.

FAQs

๐Ÿ“Œ Has the Roomba 980 been discontinued?

Yes, this model has been discontinued since September of 2018.

๐Ÿ“Œ What ‘s the difference between the Roomba i3+ and 980?

The Roomba i3+ is a newer model that comes with a Clean Base and Automatic Dirt Disposal, a feature missing in the Roomba 980.

๐Ÿ“Œ When was the Roomba i3+ released?

It was released in September 2020.

๐Ÿ“Œ Which is better, the Roomba i3+ or the 980?

The Roomba i3+ is overall better than the 980 in terms of power, additional cleaning features, and value for money.

Last update on 2020-10-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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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.