Roomba 960 vs 980 – Final Comparisons

Roomba is one of the most popular self-cleaning vacuums in many households. With many versions out in the market, the manufacturers, iRobot, seem to have wowed the world with their high-quality products. In a recent launch, they released two brand new Roombas, the 960 and the 980. Packed with various features, they seem to outdo their previous versions.

What’s the proof you ask? Well, the 960 has over a thousand reviews and garners a solid 4 stars, while the 980 certainly makes a mark with over 2200 reviews and 4.5 stars on the official iRobot website. The 980 comes with a lot of innovative features, however, most customers found it a tad out of their range. The 960, however, has lesser features and could be described as a budget version of the 980.

So, which one do you buy? Well, check out a full side-by-side comparison of both the Roombas ahead:

Roomba 960 vs 980

Roomba 960 vs 980: Comparison And Review

Which Roomba is better for you? The all-star 980 or the downgraded yet cheaper version, 960? Well, these two robotic cleaners are bound to keep your house clean. Both of them outperform all others in the series. But, the real question, which one outperforms the other?

To help you decide, we have set up certain criteria which can provide a better comparison.

The Design:

Both the Roombas come in a simple and compact design. They both have the iconic round shape synonymous to the Roombas. The only difference is perhaps the color. The Roomba 960 is a light or matte gray in color while the 980 is more of a dark grey or brown. Included is a central camera that scans the rooms for any obstacles while cleaning. Both of them have a bumper ring to avoid damaging the furniture.

The Portability:

When it comes to portability, there is not much difference between the Roombas. The 980 is perhaps slightly larger in diameter. However, their heights are essentially the same at 3.6 inches. Both the Roombas are taller than the previous versions. What this means for you is that they will not be stuck under furniture.

Both of them are lightweight and weigh about 8.7 pounds. However, what’s unique to the Roomba 980 is the handle at the side which makes it easier for you to carry it to a charging station. You can even carry it upstairs if you need to clean another room.

The Cleaning Performance:

Of course, the design and the portability are important factors when it comes to these vacuums. However, they are not as important as cleaning capabilities. Even an ugly Roomba would do if it were great at cleaning. So, how exactly do they perform?

The Features

  1. AeroForce 3-Stage Cleaning System:
    Both the Roomba 960 and the 980 come with this effective cleaning system pulls in the dirt, debris and all other kinds of trash from your floors. While both the Roombas are equipped with this system, the Roomba 980 has 10 times the suction power while the 960 has 5 times. This means that the 980 is much more powerful in cleaning up floors than the 960.
  2. Compatible with all kinds of Floors:
    Both the Roombas can cater to all kinds of hardwood, tile, linoleum, low pile and high pile carpets. Included is an Auto Adjusting Cleaning Head which efficiently adapts its heights to ensure a better contact with the cleaning floor. This is perfect for floors with rugs on them.
    However, the 980 has an extra feature called the Carpet Mode which means that the unit increases the power when it is on carpets for better cleaning.
  3. iAdapt Navigation System:
    Another common feature is the iAdapt system which allows the sensors on the Roombas to scan your house and map out any obstacles in front of them. This ensures that your furniture does not get damaged and your Roomba hits every dirty spot in your home.
  4. HEPA Filtration System:
    The Filtration system is perfect for capturing all kinds of dust and dirt up to 10 microns. In fact, it captures 99% of all dust!
  5. Autonomous functions:
    Both the robot cleaners work autonomously. They can return back to the base station when they are running low on battery. They can clean everywhere. The Cliff Detect system ensures your Roomba does not end up falling down. The Dirt detects technology maps out where the concentrated areas of dirt are and then clean them with more power. In fact, they can even clean when you’re not at home.

The Differences

  1. Clean Time:
    One of the first differences we noticed between the two models is the cleaning time. The Roomba 960 with the 2130 mAh Li-ion battery can work and clean for a total of 75 minutes. On the other hand, the 980 ups the game with the 3000mAH battery, ensuring it cleans up to 120 minutes. With more power, the 980 is perfect for bigger houses.
  2. Motor:
    The Roomba 960 has an old motor that the older Roomba models used to use. However, the 980 comes with an advanced Gen 3 motor which is why it has 10 times the cleaning power.
  3. Virtual Walls:
    The 980 comes with 2 barriers while the 960 version comes with only one. SO, the 980 is much better at staying within boundaries. It is perfect for rooms with more than one entrances such as a living room.
iRobot Roomba 960
iRobot Roomba 980

iRobot Roomba 960 vs iRobot Roomba 980 comparison table

iRobotRoomba 960Roomba 980
iRobot model image
Dimensions13.8 inches in diameter x 3.6 inches tall13.8 inches in diameter x 3.6 inches tall
Weight8.5 lbs8.7 lbs
BatteryLithium IonLithium Ion
Battery life75 minutes120 minutes
NavigationiAdapt 2iAdapt 2
SensorsOptical + AcousticOptical + Acoustic
Cliff DetectionYes Yes
Carpet Boost TechnologyNo Yes
Sweeps Wall Edges & Corners Yes Yes
Accessories1 Virtual Wall Barrier2 Virtual Wall Barriers
Filters1 Extra Replacement Filter1 Extra Replacement Filter
Recharge and Resume Yes Yes
Self-Charging Yes Yes
AeroForce 3-Stage Cleaning System5X10X
Custom Cleaning Preferences Yes Yes
3-Stage Cleaning System Yes Yes
Dirt Detect Concentrated Cleaning Yes Yes
Multi-room Navigation Yes Yes
Tangle-free Debris Extractors Yes Yes
Soft Touch Yes Yes
Bin Full Indicator Yes Yes
iRobot HOME App Yes Yes
Scheduling Yes Yes

The Cost:

Well, both the Roombas are equipped with various features that make them very modern. Most of the features are autonomous and you can even present a cleaning schedule regardless of whether you’re home or not.

So, you cannot expect all this to come cheap. However, the price is not too high. It can be easily afforded by middle to high-class families. The 960 is about $200 cheaper than the 980. Of course, the 980 comes with 10 times the air power meaning it will be much more efficient. However, we would recommend you check out your needs. On hardwood floors, both of the robots work similarly. It’s the carpets that make the real difference. So, if you have carpets, especially high pile carpets, we would recommend breaking out your piggy bank and investing in the 980.

The Feedback

The 960 has about 765 5-star reviews with most customers loving the simple yet elegant design. Most loved how it cleaned on all kinds of floors. Pet owners seemed to love the fact that it could effectively pick up cat or dog hair. They loved how it didn’t tangle with tassels or longer fibers in the rugs. However, some users thought that the capacity was small and it didn’t suit bigger houses.

The 980, on the other hand, has a total of 1,263 5-star reviews. Users seem to love the extra capacity and the oomph factor that comes with the 980. They praised the navigation system as well as the longer cleaning time. However, they did note that the Roomba did not work on darker floors or carpets as it could not sense it. Not a major deal-breaker, but something the company should definitely look into.

The Conclusion

It goes to say that both the Roomba 960 and the 980 are outstanding units in the line. They are the top two Roombas and their features are bound to impress users. However, the 980 is a more upgraded version of the 960 with 10 times more cleaning power. It doesn’t mean the 960 is any less though! A cheaper price and mostly the same features as the 980, it’s hard to make a case against it.

So, which will it be? Roomba 960 or 980. I would be more than happy to hear about your decision in the comments section below!

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