Roomba 890 vs 960 – Which iRobot Vacuum the Best for You?


Roomba 890 vs 960

Roomba is a brand name that is synonymous with robotic and household automation. When the robot first started hitting homes in the early 2000’s, people went crazy for those nifty little automatic vacuums. That seemed to have a mind of their own as they wander up and down people’s floors unaided.

The brand has come along way since that first model in 2002 and the 400 series. Today, 17 years later is still going strong and leading what is now a much larger industry. It continues to make the journey from being entertaining to being as normal as vacuum cleaners.

In this article, we will dive deep into two of Roomba’s most popular models of robotic vacuum, namely the older 890 models from the 800 series versus 960 models from the most recent 900 series.

We will compare which is these great Roomba products are right for you.

The Differences and Similarities

Though the two Roomba’s may look the same, there are a surprising number of differences for us to look out for, before we jump into the similarities.

The differences between Roomba 890 and 960

  • The 890 is a version older, so it has fewer technological and software enhancements that then 960
  • The 960 had a top mounted camera to help with room mapping and navigation, which the 890 does not have
  • The 960 uses iAdapt 2.0 feature which is used to guide the Roomba around the house. The 890 uses iAdapt 1.0. Meaning you can expect the 890 to be less precise and to bump into more things, also to spend more time cleaning the same room
  • The 960 offers slightly better battery lasting 75 minutes, while the 890 lasts 60 minutes. Both times depend on the surface and the number of obstacles in the way
  • The 960 offers edge cleaning mode for those difficult hard to reach place while the 890 does not
  • The 960 can be told to pass twice over an area that is particularly dirty, while the 890 will only pass each spot once
  • The 890 will stop sweeping once the bin is full while the 960 can be programmed to continue and compact the dirt in the dust bin
  • The 960 is capable of entire level cleaning which means it will return to the last spot it was cleaning before it ran out of battery whereas the 890 will start from the beginning
  • The 960 will send a Clean Map Report which shows you a map of what areas were cleaned, how long it took to clean and also what problem areas had to be gone over more than once

Similarities between the Roomba 890 and 960

  • Both robot vacuum can be connected to Wi-Fi
  • Both offer spot cleaning mode, where you can ask the Roomba to concentrate on an area
  • Both use Virtual Walls to stop them venturing into areas that are out of bounds
  • They recharge automatically and will return to their docking station when their battery is low
  • The vacuum cleaner use lithium ion batteries which means they can run for longer and recharge in less time
  • Both the 890 or the 960 use Aero Force technology which enables better sweeping and picks up more dust
  • The 890 or 960 can be used in conjunction with a Smart Voice home set up like Alexa or Google
  • Both vacuum have easy carry handles for taking them up or down stairs and to another room
  • You can force both the 890 or the 960 to return to the dock manually using the mobile phone application

Side by Side Comparison Chart

Summarizes these points based on what you have read from the given references and you can always find more info from the internet.

 Roomba 890Roomba 960
Roomba 890Roomba 960
Size and Dimension14.95 lb, 21.5 x 18.5 x 9 in8.6 lb, 13.8 x 13.8 x 3.6in
Floor TypeAllAll
FeaturesPower Lifting Suction (5 x Air Power), 3 Stage Cleaning System, Dual Multi Surface Rubber Brushes and Wi-Fi ConnectedPower Lifting Suction (5 x Air Power), IAdapt 2.0 Navigation, 3 Stage Cleaning System, High efficiency filter, Multi surface rubber brushes and Wi-Fi Connected
Battery Life60 mins75 mins
Warranty1 year limited1 year limited


Roombas all share the same design and shape barring a few minor alterations like the colouration of the strip around the top of the robotic vacuum and the clean button itself. Looking like a little hockey puck there isn’t much to pick between the 890 and 960 in terms of the physical design of the vacuum.

The only noticeable difference between the two is the tiny camera which protrudes from the 960 which is used to provide extra help for navigation. We’ll talk more about the benefits of the camera in navigation and mapping.

Both robot vacuum models respond to voice controls from Amazon Alexa or Google Voice and can be controlled using the Central home app on your phone. Where you can create schedules of when you want your vacuum robot to clean, request specialist cleaning like spot (both) and edge cleaning (960 only – see technology features).

You are also able to check up on the amount of battery left, and how long the Roomba needs to charge.

Cleaning Performance between the two models

In terms of the technology being used the 890 and 960 are the same. Using its patented Aero force feature, the vacuum uses brushless extractors which pick up dust, dirt and pet hair to great effect.

Both Roombas also comes equipped with a filter that is guaranteed to catch 99% of pollen and particles up to 10 microns small, which is great news for those who have allergies or children who are particularly sensitive to dust.

The Aero force promises suction which is five times as powerful as the earlier pre-800 models of Roombas and is extremely effective in picking up dust and dirt and may only struggle on gaps in between tiles where dust is stuck in the grout.

Though the 890 or 960 both use the same cleaning system, it is in the features that the 960 differentiates itself. In tests, both the 890 or 960 were able to pick 85-90% of the dirt.

Both the vacuum models use the same motor and brush system. Also, both use the Dirt Detect Series 2 version of dirt detecting system, which means it has the most up to date software for finding and breaking down dirt.

Battery Lifetime

The 960 robot vacuum is lighter by a few pounds and using newer technology can offer slightly longer battery time, lasting for 75 minutes as compared to the 890s 60 minutes. However, where it comes into its own is the Entire Level Cleaning function.

It is worth noting that the longer the battery lasts depends on the functions and demands that you are placing on the Roomba. For example, are they mainly cleaning hardwood floors which have few obstacles, or sweeping carpeted floors which is dense with furniture?

The difference surfaces and obstacles will affect battery life. Particularly in terms of how many times the Roomba vacuum cleaner needs to stop, turn and move in a new direction or go up and down different surface types. The battery will inevitably last a shorter time on the carpet due to the increase in friction compared to linoleum or tile for example.

Type of Recharging

Both Roombas will return to their docking station when their power is low, or they can be forced to return using IHome application on your phone. But a massive difference is the Entire Level Cleaning System. Previously when your Roomba ran out of battery, it would return to recharge itself and then start cleaning itself from its original starting point.

Using the improved navigation and memory in the iAdapt 2.0 software, the Roomba 960 can return to the place it stopped cleaning when it recharged. This is a bit of a game changer, as it means you can leave the Roomba cleaning a large space on a single floor of your house, knowing that it will continue to clean the entire square footage.

Recharging itself when its battery is low and then returning to the original place it started cleaning.

The 890 can’t do this. This kind of feature is a massive time saver for those with bigger homes. In terms of charging time, the 890 takes 3 hours to recharge fully, while the 960 can be recharged in 2 to 3 hours.

Navigation & Mapping

The 960 comes from the most recent 900 series, therefore, have a series of feature updates compared to the 890. The 890 features iAdapt 1.0 whose breakthrough was the fact that it stops the wired cleaning brushes from getting tangled in the carpet or stray wires or fibers lying around the home.

Firstly, this vacuum features iAdapt 2.0 Technology, building on the 1.0 Technology used by the 800 series. The system allows the Roomba to map out your room and find the most effective and efficient path to clean the room. The vacuum sensors can also detect if the Roomba gets stuck on the carpet, or bumps into a piece of furniture using the sensors on the bumpers which surround the vacuum.

Roomba Navigation
The Roomba iAdapt Technology can find the most effective and efficient path to clean the room

The Roomba 960 goes a step further and with the help of a built-in camera can also use visual sensors for the first time in a Roomba to visually map the room as it cleans. The camera is of a low-grade quality, so can’t be used to spy on you, but it does make the Roomba much more effective in terms of navigation and object detection.

So, you can expect Roomba 960 to be much more efficient and bump free when navigating through your house. The camera coupled with the updated iAdapt 2.0 feature means the Roomba 960 is much more efficient at cleaning and spends less time bumping into objects and readjusting itself.

Technology Features that Make Roomba 960 Outstanding than Roomba 890

The 960 does have quite a few excellent technology features which build upon the success of the 890.

Clean Map Reporting

This is an additional function provided within the IHome Care application. A report is sent to you once the Roomba finishes cleaning. Which shows you:

  • A map of the area it has cleaned
  • The time it spent cleaning
  • Any problem areas which it cleaned multiple times

Though the map itself may not make for exciting viewing, this is useful information if you see areas which need attention by hand later and any areas of the floor that the Roomba wasn’t able to get. Also, by providing a map, the Roomba gives physical confirmation of the areas which it did and did not clean, which means you don’t have to guess if the Roomba has missed part of the floor space out for whatever reason.

Both Roombas can be controlled using an iHome application, and a useful feature for both is the location beacon, in case your Roomba gets stuck somewhere before it was able to get to the charging pad.

Edge Cleaning

Both Roombas still have spot cleaning mode which allows you to concentrate on a dedicated area which has a major area which needs to be deep cleaned.

But only the Roomba 960 can be placed into edge cleaning mode, which tells the vacuum to proceed around edges only and try to reach all those harder to reach places that perhaps the 890 would leave out. This new mode coupled with the camera and updated software means that arguably the 960 provides an even higher and more thorough level of cleaning than the 890.

Multiple Pass Control

The 890 will only make a single pass when cleaning a floor in its inimitable up and down style across the floor. However, with Roomba 960 you can adjust the settings to ask the Roomba to clean each area twice. Making doubly sure that each area is thoroughly hoovered particularly if the floor is quite dirty.

Full Bin Indicator

irobot Roomba Full Bin Indicator
irobot Roomba Full Bin Indicator

One pet peeve of the 890 from some customers was the fact that it will just stop dead without any warning when the bin says that it is full. Particularly if the carpets and floor are not dirty, you know the dirt could be compressed further like a regular vacuum cleaner.

However cleverly the 960 will continue to clean and compress the dirt within the dustbin before stopping for as long as it can.

Virtual Wall Barrier

Both the 890 and 960 use Virtual Wall Barriers, which can either be set by putting the two black square sensors on a wall where you do not want the Roomba to pass. Or on radius mode, which keeps the Roomba within a set circular diameter of its starting position.

This is quite useful when you have a room or an area that you want to keep the Roomba out of, or you have a lot of items on the floor like bottles or bowls of water and pet food.

The Verdicts

Purchasing a Roomba is a costly but worthwhile choice for those who dread hoovering. Though the 890 is perfectly functional and is an excellent piece of technology which in conjunction with the iHome application can be used to schedule the cleaning of your house as often as you want, we feel this is a great entry-level model.

Particularly for those who are not bothered about having all the bells and whistles of the 900 series. However, for us, the 960 wins hands down. The improvements in technology and software give a quantifiable increase in the quality of cleaning as well as ease of usage.

The Charge and Return system alone is worth the upgrade. Especially if you have a busy life and don’t want to keep coming home to find your Roomba has only cleaned half the house. Now with Charge and Return, you can leave the Roomba to clean away a while floor merrily.

Improvements using an inbuilt camera and iAdapt 2.0 technology means the Roomba 960 is also much more efficient in terms of how it will navigate your home, the memory of previous cleans and navigating obstacles. This coupled with the longer battery time means we estimate you could get as much as 50% more cleaning done with the 960 compared to the 890.

For the extra money, the Roomba 960 is the ultimate in comfort and convenience when it comes to home cleaning and the vacuum robotics. author Anastasia Russell
Anastasia is a 26-year-old blogger who always motivated to observe the ways humans interact with technology. She is currently undertaking a master degree program at the Uppsala University specializing in Human-Computer Interaction & Design Program.
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