iRobot Roomba i3+ review: a self-emptying robot vac for modest budgets

iRobot’s Roomba i7+ and Roomba s9+ were game changers with their self-emptying dustbins. They removed the last manual task—dumping all that collected dirt and debris—from robot vacuuming, making it a truly automated experience. Unfortunately, these model’s $800-plus price tags put this luxury out of reach of many budgets.

The i3+ would seem to be iRobot’s corrective. It includes iRobot’s self-emptying dock—called the Clean Base—smart navigation, iRobot Genius Home Intelligence, Alexa and Google Assistant support, and other premium features for just $599. (The vacuum is also being sold as the i3 without the cleaning dock for $399.)

This review is part of TechHive’s coverage of the best robot vacuum cleaners, where you’ll find reviews of competing products, plus a buyer’s guide to the features you should consider when shopping for this type of product.


While the i3+ builds on both the aforementioned models advances, its design hews closer the to the i7+. The vacuum is round, rather than D-shaped as with the s9+, and features a partially textured top to give it some eye appeal, as the vacuum and its portly Clean Base aren’t easily concealed. Clean, Home, and Spot buttons are on top in a pattern familiar for Roomba users, and a VSLAM-enabled camera sits on the forward rim to aid in navigation.

i3 bookcase iRobot

The i3+ can be sent on short cleaning jobs of specific areas using on-demand targeted cleaning.

Underneath, the i3+ is equipped with a pair of multi-surface rubber brushes and a specially designed edge-sweeping brush, and its suction power is 10 times that of the Roomba 600 series. A high-efficiency filter captures 99 percent of pollen, mold, dust mites, and cat and dog allergens, according to iRobot.

The Clean Base, which is essentially a trash bin fused with a conventional charging dock, measures 12.2 x 15.1 x 19 inches (WxDxH) and houses a single disposable bag that holds 60 days’ worth of dirt. When the vacuum docks to recharge, a vent on the Clean Base sucks the dustbin’s contents from a port on the bottom of the vacuum. You can also trigger this process on command from the iRobot Home app.

Included with the i3+ are two bags and one extra filter. You can purchase three-pack replacements for each of the last two for $20 and $35 respectively.

Setup and performance

As with its predecessors, the i3+ is easy to set up but requires some forethought. The Clean Base requires four feet of clearance in front of it and 1.5 feet on either side. It also needs 1 foot of clearance on top to accommodate its open lid, and it must be at least four feet from any stairs. This is all in addition to the usual requirements of proximity to an electrical outlet and a wall to set the Clean Base against.

i3 cleaning path iRobot

The vacuum cleans in a methodical up and down pattern.

When all that’s sorted, you set the vacuum on the dock’s charging pins and follow the iRobot Home app’s prompts to connect to your Wi-Fi network. This took just a couple of minutes for me.

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