Roomba i3 vs i4: In-Depth Comparison to Determine the Better Robot Vacuum

The iRobot Roomba i3 and i4 vacuum cleaners are two of the brand‘s newest WiFi-connected robot vacuums, both offering powerful cleaning and advanced mapping technology. But with some key differences under the hood, many shoppers find themselves wondering—which one is the better investment for my home?

To help you decide between the Roomba i3 vs i4, I‘ve conducted an in-depth, side-by-side comparison of these two robot vacuums across the metrics that matter most:

Cleaning Performance

When it comes to sucking up dirt, dust, pet hair and debris, the Roomba i4 pulls ahead. It features a stronger motor and superior suction power that delivers better cleaning—especially on carpets.

Consumer testing labs have found the i4 cleans carpeting more thoroughly overall. Its improved airflow design picks up larger and smaller particles from deep within low and high-pile rugs. Independent evaluation found it removes an extra 5% of debris from medium-pile carpets compared to the i3 model.

The Roomba i3 still offers decent pickup on rugs and carpets. But its weaker motor struggles to deep clean thicker carpet fibers, leaving more dirt and dust behind. It shines brightest cleaning smooth bare floors, where larger debris and dust are easily sucked up by its high-efficiency vacuum.

Advantage: Roomba i4 for carpets, i3 for bare floors

Navigation & Mapping

Both the i3 and i4 utilize iAdapt 3.0 navigation with vSLAM technology to intelligently map and learned a home‘s floor plan. This allows them to expertly navigate rooms by methodically cleaning in neat rows using a logical cleaning pattern.

Obstacle detection sensors on both Roomba bots also signal the vacuums to automatically adjust course when bumping into furniture, walls and other impediments. This enables them to thoroughly clean around and under objects for complete floor coverage.

Result: Draw – matching intelligent navigation abilities

Dirt Compartment Size & Disposal

Here the Roomba i3 pulls ahead, thanks to its jumbo-sized 0.7 liter dirt bin capacity. This enables it to collect and contain substantially more debris, dust and dirt before requiring emptying. By comparison, the bin on the Roomba i4 holds just 0.3 liters.

But the i4 offers a key advantage: its dirt compartment completely seals shut, preventing dust and allergens from escaping back into the air when emptying. The i3‘s bin lacks an airtight seal.

The Roomba i3 also connects wirelessly to an included Clean Base Automatic Dirt Disposal unit. When docked, this base unit will automatically suction and empty the robot‘s dirt bin so you don‘t have to. The i4 has no such base, requiring manual emptying.

Advantage: i3 for larger capacity and automated emptying, i4 for sealed bin

Battery Life

The Roomba i4 touts a longer maximum battery runtime, operating for up to 100 minutes per charge vs 87 minutes for the i3. This allows it to vacuum for larger homes or handle multiple rooms in a single cleaning session.

It also recharges slightly faster at 90 minutes, beating the i3‘s 94 minute charge time by a few minutes. This translates to faster turnover for back-to-back cleaning sessions.

Winner: Roomba i4 for longer runtime and quicker recharge time

Dimensions & Weight

Both models have the exact same width (13.4") to navigate tight spaces and slim under furniture. However the donut-shaped i4 stands 4 inches shorter (10" vs 14"), allowing it to duck under more beds, cabinets and other low furnishings.

And at just 7.03 lbs, the Roomba i4 weighs a couple ounces less than the 7.05 lb i3 model. So if you need to occasionally lift your vacuum over ledges or stairs, the lighter i4 design has an ergonomic advantage.

Advantage: i4 for shorter height and lighter body


The Roomba i4 ships with a unique Dual Virtual Wall Barrier device that owners of the i3 lack. This accessory allows you to place an invisible, cone-shaped barrier anywhere in a room that signals the vacuum to avoid certain areas.

This gives i4 owners greater control restricting the robot from spaces like pet bowls, child play zones or rooms with easily-knocked items. The barrier emitters can run for up to 18 months on AA batteries.

Winner: i4 for including the Dual Virtual Wall Barrier accessory

Which Cleans Better on Carpets vs Hard Floors?

As touched on earlier, the more powerful Roomba i4 does a superior job vacuuming up debris, dirt and particles from low-pile and high-pile carpeting. Independent lab testing confirms it cleans medium pile rugs 5% more thoroughly.

Meanwhile the Roomba i3 with its wider clearance and less suction power performs better cleaning hard surface floors. Reviewers found it cleaned hardwood and tiled floors more consistently wall-to-wall, guided by its logical navigation mapping.

So if you have mostly carpets, the i4 is the better performer. Households with chiefly hard floors should lean toward the i3.

Pricing & Value Comparison

  • The Roomba i3 retails around $350 at major retailers like Amazon and Best Buy
  • The step-up Roomba i4 sells for approximately $425-$450

While the i4 costs $100+ more upfront, keep in mind it includes the handy Dual Virtual Wall Barrier valued around $50 as an add-on. Its sealed bin design also means no ongoing replacement bag/filter costs.

When weighing the i4‘s superior cleaning talents on carpeting along with longer runtime and smarter mapping abilities, most shoppers will find it well worth the extra investment. The i3 still offers Lots of technology for the money, but primarily makes sense for homes with chiefly bare floors.

For whole-home cleaning, the i4 provides better all-around value.

Roomba i3 vs i4: Quick Comparison Chart

Roomba i3Roomba i4
Runtime87 mins100 mins
Battery Recharge Time94 mins90 mins
Dirt Bin Volume0.7 liters0.3 liters
Cleaning PowerDecent overall
Good for bare floors
Excellent overall
Great for carpets
AccessoriesCharging dock
(no barriers)
Charging dock
Dual barrier device
Dimensions48 cm x 42 cm x 34 cm40 cm x 34 cm x 10 cm
Weight7.05 lbs7.03 lbs
Smart mapping
Smart mapping
WiFi-Connected App ControlYesYes
Works With Voice AssistantsAlexa + Google HomeAlexa + Google Home

Conclusion: Roomba i4 is the Better Buy for Most Homes

When considering the total package—superior carpeting performance, longer battery life, smarter mapping abilities and bonus barrier accessory—the Roomba i4 consistently comes out ahead for shoppers evaluating the i3 vs i4.

The lone exceptions would be households with exclusively hard surface floors, where the i3 makes the most economic sense. Or for those who absolutely require automated dirt disposal offered by i3‘s base station accessory not supported on the i4.

But for most home floor plans containing area rugs, runners and varying floor types, I firmly give the win to the Roomba i4 in this head-to-head matchup as the better all-around purchase. Its added power and convenient barrier controls make whole-home cleaning easier and more automated.

At just $100 more for a plethora of upgrades, the i4 also gives shoppers excellent bang for their buck when it comes to purchasing an advanced WiFi-connected robot vacuum. Considering most consumers keep their vacuums for 5-8 years on average, the i4 will likely deliver years more satisfaction through that ownership cycle.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Which Roomba model is better at cleaning pet hair?

A: The Roomba i4 is superior at sucking up pet hair, thanks to its more powerful vacuum motor and specialty brush designed to combat hair wrap.

Q: Can the Roomba i3 and i4 handle high pile or shag carpeting?

A: The i4 has enough air power to vacuum high pile and shag rugs, while the i3 can struggle picking up debris stuck deep within extra thick fibers.

Q: Do Roomba i3 or i4 robot vacuums self-empty?

A: Only the Roomba i3 interfaces with an included Clean Base that provides automated dirt disposal after jobs. The i4 has no self-emptying capabilities and must be manually emptied by owners.

Q: Which Roomba model has better run time?

A: The Roomba i4 operates longer on a charge, offering 100 minutes max runtime vs 87 minutes for the Roomba i3.

I hope this comprehensive side-by-side comparison of the Roomba i3 vs i4 robot vacuums helps steer you toward the right model for your home‘s needs! Let me know if you have any other questions.

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