The Independent's journalism is supported by our readers. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commission. Why trust us?

iRobot roomba i7 review: Here’s what happened when we let the robot vacuum cleaner loose in our home

Love a clean house but hate hoovering? It might be time to let this device roll into your life

Zoe Phillimore
Tuesday 21 December 2021 11:34 GMT
<p>We used it for a month in a very busy household on rugs, hard floors and carpets </p>

We used it for a month in a very busy household on rugs, hard floors and carpets

Keeping your house clean and hoovered can feel like painting the Forth Bridge. As soon as you finish in one area, another needs doing. Throw in kids or a pet? It’s an endless job. But robot vacuums are here to lighten the load.

For some these cleaners will be familiar – they’ve been around in some guise since the mid Nineties. And for others they will sound like something akin to Back to the Future’s hover boards, flying cars and self-tying laces (we’d be up for any of these please, inventors!).

iRobot’s roomba range is now a market leaders, and the i7 is one of the brand’s mid-range options. This smart vacuum cleaner can be controlled manually, via an app on your smartphone or through Alexa or Google Assistant. It can also do simple ITTT (if this then that) commands. For example, if it notices you left the home, it can set about doing a clean while you’re out.

The i7 comes with a charge base, which it returns and docks in after a clean. This means it’s nearly always ready to go and full of beans when you need it. There is also a decent-sized bin inside the roomba, which means you only need to empty it after every few cleans. Wonderfully, this means you don’t really have to think about cleaning your floors for a good few weeks at a time (depending on how often you run the robot).

As for the level of cleaning, the i7 claims to be pretty darn thorough. It has dual brushes, which mean it keeps in contact with the floor at all times – even when negotiating bumps. And it can adapt easily between hard floors, rugs and carpets, and there’s an edge-sweeping brush too, to get into any hard-to-reach spots. The i7’s three-stage cleaning system with power suction claims to clean all dirt and pet hair, as well as 99 per cent of pet allergens.

Read more:

If you want to go the whole hog, you can also get the i7+ (£599, The plus denotes that it comes with a clean base. This base is larger than the charge base, and it automatically sucks the dirt out of your i7 after every clean. Then you just need to change the bag inside the base very infrequently.

How we tested

We wanted to really put the i7 through its paces, so we used it for a month in a very busy household. We tried it on rugs, hard flooring and carpets. And we made life hard for it – we (not always on purpose) left obstacles in its way, moved furniture and left considerable mess for it to get to work on. We wanted to see if it got into all the nooks and crannies of our house and whether it just did a skim job or if our floors felt genuinely cleaner. Basically, did it create more headaches in our life admin, or did it really make things easier?

iRobot roomba i7

Buy now £469,

Rating: 9/10

Set up

Unpacking the i7 was really easy, although the robot unit is quite heavy. You then plug in the charge base and pop the robot on it. The charge base needs to be placed with space all around it. If you have objects too close to the base the robot will have trouble setting off and returning home – this is an issue we had with ours, but it proved easy to rectify.

While the robot is charging, the main light on it will illuminate so you can see what it’s up to. You then need to download the app onto a smart device and pair it with the robot. This is incredibly simple to do and took a matter of minutes. During this process you get to give your roomba a name – we implore you to get creative.

Read more: Is the Roborock S5 max review the dual mop and vacuum device of our dreams?

The first time the i7 runs, it’ll take a while to get to grips with your floorplan. But after the first few cleans it will show you a map of your home. You can then name each room and create borders and limits.

You can also use a small device included to mark out invisible borders. For example, you could put it next to your dog’s bowls, so it avoids bumping into them and slopping water everywhere.


We were super impressed with the i7. We have tried other automated vacuums and this was definitely the best. The i7 is adventurous – ours went under our sofas and all the other neglected areas of our house. It’s extremely thorough.

The suction power is decent – it performed really well on all surfaces, and our house was noticeably cleaner after it had run. Thanks to the edge-sweeping brush, it even got under radiators and that awkward bit under kitchen counters.

We would say because of it’s impressive ambition, sometimes our i7 had to be rescued from getting trapped in places, or from trying to suck up items too large – a post-it note proved too big a challenge. But if it does get into trouble while running, it alerts you on the app and tells you what’s wrong so you can fix it quickly and easily. Even when large items got stuck in the bin, it was easy to release them manually. And this was a surprisingly rare occurrence.

Read more: 10 best handheld vacuum cleaners for hard-to-reach spots

One of the stand-out features of the i7 is that you can choose which areas you want it to clean. We absolutely loved this feature, as our kitchen needs much more regular vacuuming than our dining room. And if we’d made a mess in the living room it was just a case of doing a quick clean of that room rather than letting the robot run through the whole house.

The i7 can negotiate small thresholds – a lip in a doorframe, say. However, it cannot do flights of stairs, or even one actual step. This was fine in our house, but might be annoying if your main living floor isn’t all on one level. If you want to run the i7 on an entirely different floor, you can manually take it upstairs, say, and let it run as normal.

We liked that if the i7 detects a build up of dirt in one area, it activates a dirt detect mode. This sees the vacuum cleaner work more thoroughly on a particular area, moving backwards and forwards over it. This was useful under our kitchen table and by the front door – the i7 managed to get virtually everything sucked up.

Once a clean is over, you get a map sent to your phone of where the i7 has been, and where was particularly dirty. We found this feature grimly fascinating – and accurate. There’s something satisfying in seeing all this without having to lift a finger.

Smart home

You can also choose to have your i7 run when it detects you have left the house. This IFTTT feature uses location services on your phone to see when you’re out. It can also loop into other connected devices, such as an August door look, or an ecobee thermostat, which use similar IFTTT technology. Creepy or ingenious? You decide. This function could be wildly helpful if you went out to work most days. But it’s less useful if you’re just popping to put the bins out, or grab something from the car.

Read more: We put the iRobot roomba i3+ to the test – but does it clean up?

You can also use virtual assistants with the i7. We set up the skill on Alexa, which we found simple to do, and very convenient if we didn’t have our phone nearby, or if someone without the app wanted to control the i7. We could say, “Alexa, ask roomba to vacuum under the kitchen table,” and it would do the rest.

It’s also possible to set a schedule for your roomba so it regularly cleans for you. We set our i7 to run every evening (again, we are a messy household) when we were upstairs putting our kids to bed. This was a brilliant function – it meant we returned downstairs to a clean living room.

Noise levels

The i7 is noisy. You couldn’t watch the TV with it working in the same room. Indeed, you can clearly hear it running downstairs when you’re upstairs. This is great if you like the smug satisfaction of hearing the cleaning going when you’re relaxing., but it’s less good if you have a baby sleeping upstairs, or you want it to run overnight.

Battery levels

From our testing, the i7 uses more power vacuuming carpet than it does hard floors. However, it managed to do a sizeable floorplan without ever running out of batteries.

If it does run out of juice part way through a clean, the i7 returns itself to the charge base and waits until it has enough power to finish the job. Then it goes back out and starts from where it left off.

The verdict: iRobot roomba i7 review

We give the iRobot roomba i7 a solid 9/10. It’s thorough, smart and it really did lighten our load when it came to house work. Yes, it’s expensive, but we think it’s worth the investment for never having to hoover again.

Continue reading...


Voucher codes

For the latest discounts on vacuum cleaners and other household appliances, try the links below:

Not sure if the iRobot roomba i7 is for you? Check out our guide to the best robot vacuum cleaners to help you decide

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in