Roomba i3 vs 960 | Two Top Robot Vacuums Compared

There are a few affordable yet usable robot vacuums in the market and iRobot Roomba offers some of them. However, it can be difficult to pick the best robot vacuum for your money, especially if you aren’t familiar with the robotic vacuum space. Fortunately, I am here to help you with the challenging task of finding the best one for your home.

In this guide, we will look at the Roomba i3 vs. Roomba 960 to see which of them best fits your needs. By the end of this review and comparison, you should have a clear idea of which robot to get on your next purchase.

*The product links in this post are affiliate links, which means that if you purchase after following one, I make a small commission from the sale at no additional cost to yourself. Please see our disclosure page for more information.

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At a glance

iRobot Roomba 960
iRobot Roomba i3+
iRobot Roomba 960 Robot Vacuum- Wi-Fi Connected Mapping, Works with Alexa, Ideal for Pet Hair,...
iRobot Roomba i3+ (3550) Robot Vacuum with Automatic Dirt Disposal Disposal - Empties Itself, Wi-Fi...
Brand
iRobot
iRobot
Color
Black
Woven Neutral
Suction power
5x*
10x*
Cleaning pattern
Neat rows
Neat rows
Navigation
vSLAM
Smart navigation
Surface
Dual Action, Hard Floor, Carpet
Dual Action, Hard Floor, Carpet
Controller
Vera, Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa
Vera, Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa
Battery
Lithium Ion
Lithium Ion
Weight
8.6 pounds
24.2 pounds
Works with Alexa
Mapping
Rubber brushes
Smart home connection
Self emptying
-
iRobot Roomba 960
iRobot Roomba 960 Robot Vacuum- Wi-Fi Connected Mapping, Works with Alexa, Ideal for Pet Hair,...
Brand
iRobot
Color
Black
Suction power
5x*
Cleaning pattern
Neat rows
Navigation
vSLAM
Surface
Dual Action, Hard Floor, Carpet
Controller
Vera, Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa
Battery
Lithium Ion
Weight
8.6 pounds
Works with Alexa
Mapping
Rubber brushes
Smart home connection
Self emptying
-
iRobot Roomba i3+
iRobot Roomba i3+ (3550) Robot Vacuum with Automatic Dirt Disposal Disposal - Empties Itself, Wi-Fi...
Brand
iRobot
Color
Woven Neutral
Suction power
10x*
Cleaning pattern
Neat rows
Navigation
Smart navigation
Surface
Dual Action, Hard Floor, Carpet
Controller
Vera, Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa
Battery
Lithium Ion
Weight
24.2 pounds
Works with Alexa
Mapping
Rubber brushes
Smart home connection
Self emptying

Last update on 2021-01-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The quick answer

The Roomba i3 has everything that the Roomba 960 does and more, and the price difference is very small. Thus, there is no good reason to choose the 960 over the i3 since the added features of the i3 are too good to lose. 

Both robots have premium 3-stage cleaning systems, Neat Rows movement, Recharge and Resume capabilities, as well as mapping potential. They can also be connected to smart home devices such as Alexa and Google Assistant and are equipped with rubber brushes.

However, it should be noted that the iRobot i3 is far more superior in terms of suction power and overall cleanliness. One thing that the 960 excels at is the large bin that it has and physical boundary markers for No Go Zones. 

Since the i3 share most of the far more advanced i9 features, I consider it a better choice between the two.

Product Overviews

Roomba i3

iRobot Roomba i3+ (3550) Robot Vacuum with Automatic Dirt Disposal Disposal - Empties Itself, Wi-Fi...

The Roomba i3 can be considered the younger sibling of the i6 and i9, but a newer Roomba 960. Ever since iRobot stopped manufacturing the 960, the Roomba i3 replaced it in the market as both have a similar price point.

In addition, it has a circular vacuum design that is far from the modern D-shaped ones in more expensive vacuums. Furthermore, it is a Wi-Fi-operated robot that can relate to smart home devices. 

The i3 has powerful pick-up and 10X suction compared to your regular vacuum cleaner. The smart navigation powered by LiDAR is also very handy in mapping the entirety of a given region. It even has Reactive Sensors and Dirt Detect features to focus on problem areas that need to be addressed.

Overall, it is a great robot vacuum that is beneficial for new and experienced users.

  • Automatic Dirt Disposal Potential
  • Alexa-enabled
  • Scheduling Options
  • Dirt Detect
  • Noisy Operation
  • Not a great battery life
  • Small Dust Bin
Sale
iRobot Roomba i3+ (3550) Robot Vacuum
iRobot Roomba i3+ (3550) Robot Vacuum with Automatic Dirt Disposal Disposal - Empties Itself for up to 60 days, Wi-Fi Connected Mapping, Works with Alexa, Ideal for Pet Hair, Carpets.

Last update on 2021-02-12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Roomba 960

iRobot Roomba 960 Robot Vacuum- Wi-Fi Connected Mapping, Works with Alexa, Ideal for Pet Hair,...

The Roomba 960 is the older counterpart of the iRobot i3. It is equipped with great features that any homeowner will love, such as Wi-Fi-connected mapping, Pet Hair Removal, and Alexa and Google Assistant Integration. Among the iRobot models, it has one of the largest capacity volumes of 0.82 liters, making it amazing for heavy cleaning.

When it comes to suction power, it only has 5X compared to the regular vacuum cleaner. In addition, the iAdapt 2.0 and vSLAM navigation, which uses visual imagery, helps navigate and move across a room without hitting objects.

A 3-stage cleaning is also installed to aid in removing any type of gunk and corrosion.

  • Home App
  • Large Dust Bin
  • Scheduling Capabilities
  • Good Battery Life
  • Navigation Issues
  • Carpet Boost Not Functioning Reports
Sale
iRobot Roomba 960 Robot Vacuum
iRobot Roomba 960 Robot Vacuum- Wi-Fi Connected Mapping, Works with Alexa, Ideal for Pet Hair, Carpets, Hard Floors, Black.

Last update on 2021-01-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Side by side comparison

Here are some features between the Roomba i3 vs 960 that are similar to each other:

Sensors

The Roomba i3 and Roomba 960 come from the same company. Thus, it is not a surprise that they both are equipped with dirt and drop sensors for better protection and improved cleanliness. Dirt sensors activate the dirt detection protocol, which means that the robot vacuums are more prone to focus on dirtier spots than other zones.

Additionally, the drop sensors create safe spaces if the robot operates on higher floors with stairs or cliff-like areas.

Roomba i3 and 960 have smart sensors for detect dirt

Recharge and Resume Cleaning

When a robot vacuum’s battery runs low, it should detect its dock and begin self-charging. Fortunately, both i3 and 960 robot vacuums are capable of this feature, as they have a self-docking protocol installed in them. Once the charging is complete, the robots go back to where they stopped cleaning to continue the unfinished business.

This is a very efficient feature since it makes sure that the robot vacuums do not need to repeat areas that have already been taken care of. 

Roomba i3 and 960 has smart technology of automatic recharge

Vacuum Cleaner Modes 

Cleaning modes for better control are available on both robots. They have Normal clean, Manual clean, and Spot clean features installed. Normal clean can be considered the regular operation of the robot vacuums, wherein they move around the area with no special purpose. On the other hand, manual clean is a more specified cleaning ability that utilizes user preferences to perform better.

Lastly, spot cleaning refers to how a robot focuses on a certain spot and moves in a circular motion.

Key differences

Suction Power

There is a great disparity between the iRobot i3 and 960 in terms of suction power. The iRobot i3 has 10x better suction than previous brand models, while the iRobot 960 only has half of this power at 5x. However, this does not mean that the 960 is an incompetent robot. Rather, it only shows that the iRobot i3 is a far more superior cleaner than it. A greater suction power helps ensure that hair, dust, gunk, and other contaminants are taken care of.

Roomba i3 and 960 can suction get to pull in dirt, debris, & pet hair from wherever it hides

Navigation

Navigation is another feature that both robots differ from. The older iRobot 960 only uses vSLAM and iAdapt to move around, which means that it is more reliant on visual mapping using imagery and does not have smart mapping embedded. On the other hand, the Roomba has smart features, making it superior in movement and navigation. 

Roomba i3 and 960 navigation technology allows the robot to map

Self-emptying Dock Capability

The Plus version of the i3 or the i3+ has an added self-emptying module for automatic dirt disposal. This reduces the time needed for regular maintenance and is very beneficial for people who do not have ample time to take care of their homes. Unfortunately, this feature is not present on the 960.

Roomba i3 has automatic self-emptying functionality

Dust Bin Size

The iRobot 960 has a large dust bin size of 20.3 oz. On the other hand, the Roomba i3 only has 13.5 oz, making large cleaning spaces a problem. This should be considered circularly, especially if you have large homes that require bigger bins.

A couple of alternatives to consider

Some alternatives that you could consider when buying a robot vacuum other than the two stated in this guide are the Roomba i9 and Neato D8.

The Roomba i9 can be seen as the improved and stacked version of the i3 and 960, and it has everything that a good robot vacuum needs and more. However, it is priced high, making it not suitable for new robot vacuum owners.

On the other hand, the Neato D8 is a robot vacuum that has all the necessities for a good start-up robot vacuum as it has great navigation and suction power.

Take note of these two robots the next time you visit a store. If you want more alternatives then check 16 of the Best Roomba Alternatives for all Budgets

FAQs

Does Roomba work with Google Assistant?

Yes, every Roomba is compatible with Google Assistant and even Amazon Alexa.

Can you use a Roomba without a smartphone?

Yes, Roomba can work without a smartphone. However, your features will be very limited to it is always recommended to install the application for maximum benefits.

Can Roomba 960 work in the dark?

Yes, the Roomba 960 can work in the dark as it utilizes vSLAM navigation that does not need lighting to function. The i3 works in a similar fashion, so the robot can be used 24/7.

Does the Roomba i3 deal with long hair?

Yes! It deals with long hair. It can take care of any type of hair, be it pet hair, fur, or human hair.

Can it do maps?

Yes, the robots keep a digital map of areas that it has already cleaned. This makes the operation very efficient since it does not need to go back to places it has already gone to.

Final thoughts

In terms of functionality, overall cleaning, and suction power, the Roomba i3 wins compared to the Roomba 960. However, even if the 960 has a clear edge in dust bin size and potential area coverage, the iRobot i3’s 10x suction power is too good to neglect.

The robots are not too far from each other in terms of price, so it is hard to choose the 960 over the i3. Although, I prefer the i3 since it has more features and is more advanced.

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