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Roomba i3 vs 980 (2021): Which Robot Vacuum Offers Better Value?

The Roomba i3, the latest addition to iRobot’s i Series, offers an affordable, yet powerful robot vacuum option to shoppers. A brand new Roomba i3 costs almost the same as a renewed version of the Roomba 980, an older model that remains a popular option for its strong suction power and free virtual wall barriers. If you’re torn between the Roomba i3 and the 980, our comparison below will help you decide which robot vacuum better fits your cleaning needs.

Roomba i3 vs 980 Comparison Chart

ModelRoomba i3Roomba 980
 iRobot Roomba i3 (3150) Wi-Fi Connected Robot Vacuum Vacuum - Wi-Fi Connected Mapping, Works with...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 DisposalCompatibleNo
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
Weight7.44 lbs8.7 lbs.

Cleaning Performance

The Roomba i3 and 980 have comparable suction power

Both robot vacuums do an excellent job of pulling in dirt from hardwood and carpet floors

The Roomba i3 and Roomba 980 have powerful suction power that makes them excellent robot vacuums for homes with carpet or hardwood floors. The Roomba i3’s suction power is 10x more powerful than the budget Roomba 600 series. Meanwhile, the Roomba 980 has 5x more power than the Roomba 600 series, but it’s equipped with carpet boost technology that increases its power to up to 10x more compared to iRobot’s entry-level robot vacuums.

Where the Roomba i3 trumps the 980 is in its compatibility with a Clean Base that can be purchased separately. With a Clean Base, the Roomba i3 can automatically empty its dust bin into the base that can hold up to a month’s worth of dust and debris. Another upgrade found in the Roomba i3 is it recommends extra cleaning when appropriate, such as during pet shedding or allergy season.

Both the Roomba i3 and the 980 are equipped with high-efficiency filters and Dual Multi-Surface Rubber Brushes that are great for homes with pets. Hair doesn’t get tangled as easily around these brushes compared to regular brushes with bristles. To ensure the edges and corners are also clean, both Roombas come with an edge-sweeping brush.

Mapping & Navigation

The Roomba i3 and 980 clean in neat, straight lines

Both robot vacuums clean efficiently and can resume cleaning where they left off

The Roomba i3 and 980 may not have the most advanced navigation system such as the Roomba s9’s and i7’s, but they clean efficiently nonetheless. They clean in neat, straight patterns, unlike other budget Roombas that clean randomly. The Roomba 980 uses a camera (vSLAM or Visual Simultaneous Localization and Mapping) to map your floor plan and navigate your home while the Roomba i3 is equipped with a floor tracking system located at the edge of the machine. They can further remember where they stopped cleaning and resume where they left off.

Where the Roomba 980 has a slight edge over the Roomba i3 is with the two dual-mode virtual barriers that come with your purchase. Using these virtual wall barriers, you can set zones in your home where you don’t want your Roomba to clean, such as cluttered areas with wires, pet-feeding area, or delicate furniture. The Roomba i3 doesn’t come with these, but it’s still compatible with iRobot’s virtual wall barriers.


You can easily tell the Roomba i3 and 980 apart

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

Like most robot vacuums, the Roomba i3 and 980 sport a round profile and are both 3.6″ tall. They can easily go underneath most furniture to make sure hard-to-reach areas are spick-and-span. You can tell the two apart easily by their color and material construction. The Roomba i3 has a gray, fabric-type surface that’s smudge and fingerprint-resistant, unlike the Roomba 980’s plastic surface.

Their “Clean” buttons also look different, too. The Roomba i3’s is a departure from iRobot’s “Clean” button that’s found in the Roomba 980 and most of the other Roomba models. You’ll also find a camera mounted at the top of the Roomba 980, something missing in the i3.

Looking under the hood, the Roomba i3+ and the 980 have different-colored Dual Multi-Surface Rubber Brushes. The Roomba i3 has the updated green brush rolls that you’ll find in newer, higher-end models like the Roomba i7 and s9.

Battery and Additional Features

The Roomba i3 has a runtime of up to 75 minutes while the Roomba 980 can last up to 120 minutes

They work with Alexa and Google Assistant seamlessly

Despite being an older model, the Roomba 980 has a longer runtime than the Roomba i3. It can run for up to 120 minutes on a single charge, while the Roomba i3’s runtime is only around 75 minutes. Since they automatically dock and resume cleaning where they left off, the runtime of these Roomba models won’t matter as much. In addition, both robot vacuums connect seamlessly with the iRobot HOME app so you can schedule cleaning, view cleaning history, and connect them easily to your smart home hub. The Roomba i3 kicks it up a notch by offering customized cleaning recommendations based on your cleaning habits.

Those with smart voice assistants can connect the Roomba i3 and 980 seamlessly to Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. With this, you can tell your smart voice assistant to ask your Roomba to start cleaning or find your Roomba in case they get stuck.


The Roomba i3 offers overall better value for money

While both the Roomba i3 and Roomba 980 are both powerful robot vacuums that clean efficiently, we’ll have to go with the newer Roomba i3. The fact that it’s compatible with iRobot’s Clean Base makes it a great option should you want to upgrade in the future. Sure, it doesn’t have the camera and dual-mode virtual wall barriers that the Roomba 980 is equipped with, but it cleans just as efficiently and can detect obstacles just as well. You can also just purchase virtual wall barriers if you need to secure certain areas of your house.


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

The Roomba i3 is overall better than the Roomba 980 as it’s compatible with iRobot’s Clean Base.

๐Ÿ“Œ How long is the battery life of the Roomba i3?

The Roomba i3 can last up to 75 minutes on a single charge.

๐Ÿ“Œ How long is the battery life of the Roomba 980?

The Roomba 980 has a runtime of up to 120 minutes on a single charge.

๐Ÿ“Œ Is the Roomba 980 worth it?

Between the Roomba i3 and 980, the i3 is the more worthwhile purchase as it’s around the same price point as a renewed version of the Roomba 980.

Last update on 2020-12-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Rhodaline Escala-Phelps

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