For context, I don't get paid for reviews and only post reviews when I am very impressed with a product, I have also owned a Neato Botvac, Deebot N79S and Deebot 901. I would say the Deebot N79S is good for an entry level robot vac. The Neato Botvac is on the middle of the road with laser navigation and scheduling but no wifi or app integration. The Deebot 901 is probably the cheapest bot with high end features but fails to be reliable with it's mapping capabilities and the battery life is not as good as other high end bots. The Xiamo Roborock S5 has everything you would desire on a robot vacuum while staying on the low side in pricing compared to the rest of the high end bots from Roomba, Neato and others.
If you are shopping for your first robot vacuum have in mind that most robot vacuums will: Vacuum your house entirely and return to their base for recharging one way or another. Vacuum on hard floor or short carpets/rugs Are very easy to use with one button auto clean Have some type of spot cleaning option for small messes Have sensors to avoid drop offs like stairs Have 1 or 2 spinning brushes to pull dirt from edges and corners into their suction Have some type of bumpers and/or sensors to avoid obstacles Can clean around obstacles like table legs and chairs Have filters to keep the air clean which need to cleaned regularly Can be blocked from going to certain spots on your floor with magnetic strips or other devices (Roomba) Will get tangled with small cables, clothes, etc that it finds on it's path
So when shopping for bots you want to focus on additional features based on your needs: Battery life depending on the size of your house Level of suction depending on how much carpet cleaning you need or if you own pets that shed hair Ability to clean on taller carpets/rugs Height - Based on your furniture height to allow to clean below furniture, beds, etc. Wifi connectivity for features like remote control, mapping, section cleaning, virtual barriers, scheduling, remote tracking of cleaning, finding your bot, etc. Mopping capabilities (No robot can do as good as a job of mopping as human being with a mop. What they do is drag a damp cloth through the floor. Mostly for dust or lite stains)
Xiami's Roborock S5 checks all the boxes. With Exceptional battery life, great suction, reliable mapping (More on this later), strong mobile device app support, virtual barriers, multiple cleaning modes for max power or more battery life, manual remote control, Google assistant or Alexa integration, useful mopping capabilities, cleaning history with maps, tracking of usage of replaceable parts to know when to replace, voice response, etc, etc.
Battery life The Roborock S5 can clean my entire house of over 3000 sq feet without having to recharge. This is due to it's great mapping and navigating capabilities which makes it very efficient and it's huge 5,200 mAh battery. This one by far can clean for the longest time of any other bot I have owned. The Deebot 901's battery could not last long enough to map my entire house or clean the entire house on one pass. Neither did the Neato Botvac.
Cleaning Quality With it's 2000 Pa strong suction this thing sucks! (In a good way). The side brush also has variable speeds. Slower speed on hard floors for avoiding the dirt to fly away and faster on carpets which give more resistance. It will pickup small particles as well as larger items like cheerios. I really love how it cleans my rugs and leaves visible straight lines that complements it's cleaning. The Deebot N79S's weak suction did not do great on my rugs and it's random cleaning patterns did not leave aesthetically pleasing lines on them. The Neato Botvac did as well as the Roborock S5 on the rugs.
Mopping Again, if your expectation is that this will mop your kitchen floor for you 100% of the time you will be disappointed with this or any “mopping” robot. No tiny robot can apply the level of force human being can apply on a mop nor will it wipe dozens of times on the same spot to clean a hard stain. The way it works is by dragging a microfiber cloth on it's patch while slowly and constantly feeding the cloth more water to keep it damp. First day I was a bit disappointed because while “mopping” it left a 1" line right down the middle of it's path that you could visibly see it was not cleaning. What was happening is that the small wheel on the bottom of the water tank was not allowing the cloth to make contact with the floor. I installed 2 layers of masking tape along the middle of the water tank and that did the trick. Now it “mops” evenly along the length of the cloth. I will include a picture of my modification.
Mapping & Navigation The Roborock S5 mapped my entire house in one pass and in the 3 weeks I have had it, it has never deleted the map like I have read other bots do. It is so cool to track the route of the bot on the app as it cleaned and mapped the house. The reason I was so impressed by this is because the Deebot 901 had problems mapping my house. Mostly because it could not complete the task in one battery cycle so after going back and charging it has to start again. I am abIe to draw rectangles in the map to have bot clean only in a specific area and automatically go back to it's charging dock afterwards. You can add barriers and no go zones to manipulate where the bot cleans or where not to clean. This is awesome because I like to clean my rugs every day and my hard floors every other day. I discovered that if you did not want to wait for the Roborock S5 to clean the entire house in order to map it you could drive it around the house with the manual controls and it would map the house too. I wish I knew this earlier. Also, the manual controls can help you fix the map if you had issues. For example, one day my son closed the doors of the laundry and the bathroom after I had left the house. The bot went to clean as scheduled but because the doors where closed it adjusted the map as if there were walls there. On the next scheduled clean it would not go in the bathroom or laundry although the doors were open because it had mapped walls instead of doors there. I thought I had to reset the map and re-map the entire house. What I did was manually drive the Roborock S5 into the bathroom and laundry and then back to its base and Walla! The map was fixed without having to remap the entire house. I think this is an unintended feature but it works. One thing very important you need to know is that if you plan to pick the bot up from the floor to untangle or for cleaning the brush or any other reason, you need to make sure the bot is paused and not running. If you pick it up while its actually cleaning without pausing the bot it will delete it's map. You will have to let it remap the house again. In the cleanup menu on the app, if you select “Mop” it will adjust it's cleaning pattern to mop over the same spot twice for better results. In this case, you better vacuum first then mop because it turns the suction to it's minimum. Also, you don't want it to mop on your rugs or carpets so make sure you block them with virtual barriers or no go zones in the app.
Issues One of my rugs has patterns with dark black lines. Initially the robot just turned around when it got to the lines. What was happening was that the drop off sensors where interpreting the lines as a drop off and was turning around. Since my house is one story and I don't have any drop offs, I covered the sensors at the bottom of the robot with masking tape and that did the trick. The Roborock S5 now climbs on top of the rug and does a great job of cleaning. I would not recommend covering the sensors if you use the bot where there are stairs or any other drop offs because your bot will fall and may break.
Missing Features The only features that I have seen on other much more expensive bots that the Roborock S5 does not have are: Ability to save multiple maps for house with multiple stories I am expecting that Xiaomi will add this feature via software update in 2019. Auto emptying of the dust bin The most expensive Roomba does this but you have to pay over $900 for it. As I read the reviews a lot of people are saying that half the time it doesn't even work. I think this is a an unnecessary feature since emptying the bin is extremely easy to do and takes very little time.
Conclusion The Xiaomi Roborock S5 is rock of a robot vacuum (Pun intended). It simply works as intended which is something I would not say about many other bots with Wifi connectivity and navigation. The cleaning power is off the charts! The control of when and where to clean or not to clean is amazing and works flawlessly. If you do not want to use the app it will also work in auto clean with just a press of a button. The mopping is a nice extra that keeps my hardwood floors dust free and helps maintain my ceramic floors clean. It keeps getting better with Software updates. Overall this bot has a complete set of features and is very reliable at a very attractive price range. I would highly recommend this product for any surface type, larger houses and every day cleaning.