iRobot Roomba 980 robot vacuum cleaner review

Let the iRobot Roomba 980 clean the floors while you get on with something better

iRobot Roomba 980 review
(Image credit: iRobot)
Real Homes Verdict

A great mover and an efficient cleaner – with a top-end cost for the privilege.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Rids you of a time-consuming chore

  • +

    Works well on hard floors and carpet

  • +

    You can voice control it

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Won’t do every vacuuming job

  • -

    Struggles over cables

Why you can trust Real Homes Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

Love the idea of the iRobot Roomba 980 doing the vacuuming instead of you, but wondering if it lives up to expectations? Our review will help you decide whether it’s the best robot vacuum cleaner you want in your home.

I tested a wide selection of vacuum cleaners on carpet, parquet, tiles, stairs and upholstery, and challenged them with mud, fluff, light debris and pet hair to give you the lowdown on how efficiently they’ll do the job, how easy they are to use, and how much space they’ll take up in your cupboard. 

Can’t wait to buy? Browse the iRobot Roomba 980 at the best price currently available. Otherwise, keep scrolling to read our review. 

If you have an eye for a bargain, you'll love our pick of the best vacuum cleaner deals, which includes everything robot vacuums to cordless models.

iRobot Roomba 980 at a glance

Why you can trust Real Homes Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

  • Type: robot
  • Bag or bagless: bagless
  • Suction: great
  • Noise: OK – and you might be out in any case
  • Easy storage: yes, it won’t take up much space

iRobot Roomba 980 specifications

  • Power: [NOT AVAILABLE]
  • Dimensions: Diameter 35.05cm x H9.14cm
  • Weight: 3.9 kg
  • Noise: [NOT AVAILABLE]
  • Energy rating: [NOT AVAILABLE]
  • Container capacity: 0.6 litres

irobot roomba 980 review

(Image credit: iRobot)

Who will the iRobot Roomba 980 suit?

If you’ve got a houseful of kids and a couple of pets, you’ll be delighted to hand over vacuuming the floors to this machine.

What is the iRobot Roomba 980 like to use?

Getting started for the first time takes minutes. Plug in the docking station, remove the battery pull tab and yellow bin insert from the machine, press the ‘Clean’ button, and it’ll begin.

Tackling hard flooring, carpet and stairs

The iRobot Roomba 980 wasn’t troubled by hard flooring or carpet. Like other robots, it’s not able to do the stairs for you and this is where ownership of another vacuum will be necessary.

It’s low to the ground, which allowed it to fit under furniture where another robot model wouldn’t, and it could take itself under the beds. However, this does depend on the beds’ designs and wouldn’t necessarily be the case in all homes.

irobot roomba 980 vacuum cleaner

(Image credit: iRobot)

iRobot Roomba 980 attachments

Attaching a crevice tool to a conventional vacuum cleaner isn’t a challenge for most, but this robot lacks the arms necessary to do likewise when it needs to clean into tight spots.

It does, however, have a spinning brush head with long bristles to help clean corners and other places that its circular shape makes hard to reach. It cleaned the corners of rooms as well as a normal vacuum floorhead would, but you might find dirt that’s escaped it in these areas.

iRobot Roomba 980 power and debris removal

The iRobot Roomba 980 had no trouble in removing all the dirt and debris it was challenged with on both tiles and wooden flooring. It’s also a dab (no) hand at carpet. It’s able to sense when it has rolled on to this type of surface, and boosts the cleaning power.

This does mean it needs recharging sooner when it’s cleaning carpet; on hard floors there are up to two hours of cleaning time before it needs to take itself back to the dock (see below). Pet owners, it didn’t have any problems with picking up hair.

irobot roomba 980 review

(Image credit: iRobot)

iRobot Roomba 980 container emptying

Yes, you’re up because, sadly, the robot vac isn’t doing it for you. It will let you know, though, by illuminating the red bin light, sending a notification via the app if you’re using it (see below), and returning to its dock. Detaching the dust capsule is easy, and it slides out ready to open over the bin. Roomba advises cleaning the filter once a week, or twice a week if you have pets.

iRobot Roomba 980 handy features

You can leave the iRobot Roomba 980 to get on with the cleaning when you’re out because it returns to the docking station to recharge when it needs to. The tech allows it to map your home as it cleans to make the process more efficient. If you want to get more sophisticated than the push-button start, you can control the robot with an iOS or Android app.

This way, you can start it from your phone, schedule cleaning sessions and adjust its cleaning – for example choosing two passes, or edge cleaning. You can also team it with Alexa or Google Assistant and speak your mind.

Storing the iRobot Roomba 980

Used to a conventional cylinder or upright? This robot vac is diminutive in comparison and only demands a small amount of house room.

Manoeuvrability of the iRobot Roomba 980

This robot doesn’t mind small steps, but cables weren’t its favourite obstacle, causing it to struggle a bit. It didn’t suck them up, however. It also made contact with walls and furniture, but we’re not talking crashes. In fact, it moved itself alongside obstacles to its progress to clean as much as it could. 

On the other side of the coin, if there’s a room you don’t want this vac to go into, you can use the battery-operated virtual wall gadget. Set it on the floor to prevent the robot crossing the invisible line. There’s a halo effect possible with this gizmo as well, so you can place it near pet bowls to keep the robot away from them.

irobot roomba 980 review

(Image credit: iRobot)

How does the iRobot Roomba 980 rate online?

Reviewers on the iRobot site give a 4.5 out of five star average for the cleaner. Delighted users applaud its performance and suction power on both hard floors and carpet, like its competence in removing pet hair, and think it has a long running time. The niggles are about missed spots, the size of the dust container, and that it’s not small enough to get under all furniture.

Those who have bought on Amazon give it an overall 4.4 out of five stars with 80 per cent of reviewers awarding the top score. Its fans report spotless floors after the robot vac’s attentions, and are happy with the way the app works and scheduling of cleans. Turning to the snags, shoppers note its inclination to get stuck on some things, and difficulty with deep pile carpet.

How does it rate against similar vacuum cleaners?

We’re talking the priciest part of the robot vacuum market – which isn’t very big as a whole yet – so the iRobot Roomba 980 doesn’t have many competitors. However, against that select few, it holds its own well, and if you’re ready for a robot, it’s one for your shortlist.

About our review – and our reviewer

Sarah Warwick has specialised in homes and interiors for over 20 years. She was Executive Editor of Ideal Home magazine, and has written for nationals, magazines and websites including Real Homes, Homebuilding & Renovating, Grand Designs, Homes & Gardens, Houzz, The Guardian, House Beautiful and Country Homes & Interiors. She put the vacuums through their paces all round the house, on all sorts of dirt and debris, and a variety of flooring and surfaces. 


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Sarah Warwick
Freelance Editor

Sarah is a freelance journalist and editor writing for websites, national newspapers, and magazines. She’s spent most of her journalistic career specialising in homes – long enough to see fridges become smart, decorating fashions embrace both minimalism and maximalism, and interiors that blur the indoor/outdoor link become a must-have. She loves testing the latest home appliances, revealing the trends in furnishings and fittings for every room, and investigating the benefits, costs and practicalities of home improvement. It's no big surprise that she likes to put what she writes about into practice, and is a serial house revamper. For, Sarah reviews coffee machines and vacuum cleaners, taking them through their paces at home to give us an honest, real life review and comparison of every model.