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iRobot Roomba s9+ vs. iRobot Roomba i7+: Which is best for pet hair?

iRobot Roomba s9+ vs. iRobot Roomba i7+: Which is best for pet hair?
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Pets enrich our lives with unconditional love, cuddly companionship, adorable antics—and hair everywhere. Cat owners get the added bonus of litter, too. We wouldn’t trade our best friends for anything, but a little help cleaning after them would be nice. That’s where robot vacuums come in. Two of the best robot vacuums, iRobot’s top-of-the-line Roomba i7+ and Roomba s9+ promise high-end performance and include an auto-emptying waste bin to keep dust and dander at bay. But, there’s a $300 price difference between them. 

Which Roomba is best for tidying up after the pets in your life? Find out as we pit two of the best robot vacuums, the iRobot Roomba i7+ and the iRobot Roomba s9+, against each other.

Roomba s9+ vs. Roomba i7+: Specs

Roomba i7+ Roomba s9+
Price with Clean Base$799$1,099
Size13.3 inches x 3.7 inches12.3 inches x 3.5 inches
Weight7.4 pounds8.2 pounds
MappingYes, up to 10 floorsYes, up to 10 floors
Smart HomeAlexa, Google AssistantAlexa, Google Assistant
Dog Hair Average Score90.598
Kitty Litter Average Score87.6100

Roomba s9+ vs. Roomba i7+: Price and release date

First things first. If you’re investing in a Roomba, be prepared to open both your wallet and your partner’s wallet. With its self-emptying Clean Base, the Roomba s9+ currently sells for $1,099. Without the auto-dustbin, the s9 will set you back $899. In our Roomba s9+ review, we praised it as an intelligent cleaner that’s powerful enough to replace a corded vacuum cleaner. We found there’s a lot of bang for your (many) bucks with the Roomba s9+. 

The slightly older Roomba i7+ with Clean Base is a more reasonable $799, or $599 without the auto-dustbin. Our Roomba i7+ review noted its solid performance and excellent mapping skills. Trust us, if you have pets, you’ll want the Clean Base. It automatically sucks debris out of the vacuum’s onboard dustbin into a disposable bag, trapping fur and dander inside. It’s a whole lot easier than shaking the dustbin out over the trash can and re-releasing the Roomba-captured dust into the wild.

Both the Roomba s9+ and the Roomba i7+ are solidly built and intended to last. Both vacuums receive automatic updates when connected to Wi-Fi, so your bot won’t be lagging behind in a few years. The Roomba s9+ was released in May 2019, making it the more recent model. However, the Roomba i7+ was released in September 2018, so it’s not too far behind.

Roomba s9+ vs. Roomba i7+: Design

Both the Roomba s9 and the Roomba i7 are good-looking devices with upscale details such as touch-sensitive buttons and bright green rubberized brush rolls.

iRobot Roomba s9+ vs. iRobot Roomba i7+: Which is best for pet hair?

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

While the Roomba i7 is a traditional round robot, the Roomba s9 is the company’s first D-shaped bot and uses iRobot’s “PerfectEdge Technology,” which it claims will allow the bot to get closer to corners and edges. A classy recessed bronze disc sits in the center of the matte black bot, concealing the removable onboard dustbin and filter. When the Roomba s9+ is cleaning, white light zooms around the edge of the disc. It looks like the future.

iRobot Roomba i7+ (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Roomba i7 is easy on the eyes, too. Clad in premium-looking shiny black plastic and charcoal grey, it’s dressed to impress. A carrying handle is cleverly concealed under the logo on top of the bot. At 3.7 inches, it’s a little taller than the 3.5-inch s9, but neither had a hard time reaching baseboards or under the living room chair.

iRobot Roomba i7+ (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Though the self-emptying Clean Base dock for the two vacuums look nearly identical, they are different. The Roomba i7+ Clean Base has a black accent line around its tower and has a slightly larger 12.2-inch footprint. On the Roomba s9+ Clean Base, the accent line is bronze with a 11.49-inch footprint. iRobot moved the evacuation port to the center of the base on the s Series, which gives the whole base a sleeker and less clunky look. Both are available separate from their respective bots for $249. 

iRobot Roomba s9+ (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Both Clean Base docks use the same cube-shaped old-school vacuum bags, which the company says will hold 30 bins of dirt. Essentially, it's a smaller version of the bag that’s attached to your mom's mid-1970s Hoover upright, but with a modern update: A plastic sheath slides over the bag hole when you remove it from the Clean Base, preventing dust from flying all over the place. A three-pack of replacement bags costs $14.99.

Roomba s9+ vs. Roomba i7+: Cleaning Performance

Features, high-end looks, and a fancy app are great, but cleaning performance is where the brushes meet the floor. According to iRobot, the S9+ has about 30 percent more suction power than the i7+, as well as an anti-allergen system.

iRobot Roomba i7+ (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Roomba i7+ and Roomba s9+ earned impressive marks in our lab tests, but on the tests most important to pet lovers—pet hair and kitty litter—the Roomba i7+ stumbled a bit. 

On hardwood and carpet, the Roomba i7 picked up an average of 90.5% of dog hair. The Roomba s9+ collected, on average, a far more impressive 98% of dog hair. However, not all of the fur went directly into the s9+’s bin. We noticed hair caught around the rubber rollers and on one of the wheels. The i7 had similar issues, as do most robot vacuums when tackling long dog hair.

iRobot Roomba s9+ (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

One thing to note: We weren’t able to test the S9+ and the i7+ in the same space, but we tried to replicate the conditions as closely as possible. The i7+ was tested in a 15 x 15-foot space, whereas the S9+ was tested in a 5 x 5-foot area. We used similar, but not identical, low-pile carpet. 

More of a cat person? The Roomba s9+ pounced on kitty litter in our lab test, picking up 100% of the granules on hardwood and carpet. Cat litter proved to be the Roomba i7’s weak point as it cleaned up 87.9% on hardwood and 87.3% on carpet. Presumably you’re not cleaning up after the king of the jungle, but if the king of your couch tracks litter all over the house, the Roomba s9+ will pick it right up. 

Roomba s9+ vs. Roomba i7+: Next Level Features and App

How’s this for a cool trick? When either the Roomba s9+ or the Roomba i7+ is done vacuuming, the iRobot Braava jet m6 mopping robot will start mopping your floors. iRobot calls it “Imprint Link Technology,” but we think it's a handy way to clean up dog hair and paw prints at the same time. 

iRobot Roomba s9+ (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Speaking of dog hair, the D-shape of the Roomba s9+ means it reaches corners where dust bunnies hang out more easily. Plus, it detects spots on the floor that are dirtier and focuses cleaning on that area with extra suction and gusto. The long arms of the spoked-brush on the Roomba i7+ help guide debris into the vacuum, but the bot doesn’t offer dirt detection.

If that’s not enough to terrorize the cat, both Roombas map each of your floors with impressive accuracy. From there, set up schemes to clean rooms in a specific order or to clean just one or two rooms at a time.

iRobot Roomba i7+ (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

iRobot recently overhauled its iRobot Home app (Android and iOS) with a sleek new interface. You can create custom cleaning programs to vacuum specific areas at the touch of a button or whenever you schedule it. In addition to the already present “Keep Out Zones,” the new app adds “Clean Zones” for tidying up areas that get the most traffic. So, for example, you can program them to clean under the dining room table after each meal.

Even better, you can trigger vacuuming to start when you leave home based on integration from other automated smart home devices, such as the August smart lock, the Ecobee smart thermostat, the MyQ smart garage door opener, or via IFTTT.

Roomba s9+ vs. Roomba i7+: Maintenance

If the Roomba is cleaning up after the dog, who’s cleaning up after the robot? That would be you, dear reader. The rubberized roller brushes on the Roomba i7+ and the Roomba s9+ work similarly, but the s9+ rollers are a bit longer. On both vacuums, long pet hair easily gets wound around the brushes and their spokes. 

iRobot Roomba i7+ (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Thankfully, the brush rolls are easy to remove for cleaning. Flip the bot over, pop the brush release, and start pulling. The rubber brush rolls release hair pretty easily, but you may want a pair of scissors for stubborn fur. We noticed that a lot of hair tends to get wrapped around the partially hollow end of the rolls, but it was easy enough to remove with our finger. 

The long three-spoke brush on the Roomba i7+ ended up with a fair amount of hair wrapped around it, too. The Roomba s9+ has an almost comically small five-spoke brush near its rollers that caught some dog hair, but much less than the spoke brush on the i7+.

iRobot Roomba s9+ (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Even with the Clean Base, it doesn’t hurt to clean out the onboard dustbin on your Roomba. The dustbin on the Roomba i7+ sits at the rear of the bot. Release the bin by pressing a button, then pop open the door on the bin to clear any residual debris. The dustbin onboard the Roomba s9+ is easier to reach and less messy to clean out. It’s located in the center of the vacuum and easily lifts out with a handle. Press the button hidden under the handle to release the door and the bottom of the bin pops open. It's a little more elegant and we found that we got fewer dust particles on our hands. Both bins are washable in water after the filter’s removed.

Though designed slightly differently, each Roomba’s Clean Base will stop the fur from flying. Both bases sound like they’re readying for takeoff when they suck the debris out of the vacuum, but it’s thorough and keeps dust and dander contained. Both bases use cube-shaped disposable vacuum bags that trap debris inside like an old-school vacuum bag.l. iRobot says the bags are good for approximately 30 bins of dirt or roughly a month of cleanings. Replacement bags are available in packs of three for $14.99.

Roomba s9+ vs. Roomba i7+: Which is best for you?

For pet lovers, the battle of the Roombas comes down to one important question: Will your cat look better riding the Roomba i7+ or the Roomba s9+? 

Ok, so maybe that’s not your most important question. 

Both Roombas have the excellent Clean Base, offer many of the same features, and have the same app capabilities. But when it comes to performance, the Roomba s9+ picked up more dog hair, more kitty litter, and more debris overall. Plus, it’s dirt detection technology worked well. Should Whiskers accidentally knock over a bag of Meow Mix, the s9+ will be able to thoroughly clean up the mess. 

The Roomba i7+ is still a solid choice and a better cleaner than many other robot vacuums on the market, but we think it’s worth splurging on the Roomba s9+, especially if you have more than one pet. Whiskers might look more regal riding it, too.

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Meghan McDonough is a journalist who currently tests and writes about robot vacuums. Since 2008, she’s written about laptops, mobile phones, headphones, speakers, and other consumer tech. When she sees an unfamiliar device, Meghan has a habit of asking complete strangers, “What is that? Does it work well for you?”

In her spare time, Meghan enjoys seeing live music, tending to her garden, and playing endless games of fetch with her Goldendoodle, Duke of Squirrel.