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Roborock S6 Pure robot vacuum review
Top-tier performance at a great price.
The Xiaomi-affiliated Roborock S6 Pure is a mid-range robot vacuum cleaner with the work ethic of something twice its price. There are a few luxuries you miss out on (like a dirt/dust detection sensor and a full bin indicator) and the mopping feature is only nice to have, not essential. Still, these are just small blemishes compared to the fact that the Robotrock Pure S6 is more discrete, more powerful (and thorough) and longer-lasting than lots of alternatives around the same price.
Mid-range price from $639
One of the freshest features of the Roborock S6 Pure is easily its price. It retails at $799 RRP, which might seem expensive but it’s below the average cost for a robot vacuum. You can spend as much as $1,499 on a Roomba i7 with all the bells and whistles, or as low as $299 on the budget Eufy Robovac 11S. So the Roborock S6 Pure sits comfortably in the mid-tier range for robot vacuums.
You can also find it as low as $639 from online retailers like Catch.
What does spending more get you?
Let’s be clear, the Roborock S6 Pure is great for its price— I’ll explain why in a moment— but there are a few luxuries that spending more will get you. One sought-after feature in robot vacuums is automatic emptying. More expensive models, such as the Roomba i7, are compatible with automatic emptying add-ons. These towers typically replace your robot vacuum’s included dock, housing a larger dustbin that takes the dust and debris off your robot vac’s hands. It simply means you don’t have to empty your robot vacuum’s dust tank as often.
The premium Roborock S7 is compatible with the brand's upcoming Auto-Empty dock which is set to release in 2021.
Other premium robot vacuums might feature advanced mopping features, like Narwhal’s self-cleaning system, or a vibrating mop pad for extra elbow grease. However, the most common upgrades you’ll find are simply better vacuum brushes, more dust/water capacity, longer battery life and more suction power. Upgrading from the S6 Pure to the S7, for example, will get you 2,500pa suction (compared to the S6 Pure’s 2,000pa), a vibrating mopping pad, and automatic mop lifting (more on that further down).
Navigation and docking
No dramas docking
Almost every robot vacuum I’ve ever used has had trouble finding its way home. Some venture too far and find themselves tangled in a bramble of charging cables and headphone cords, where others make it home but can’t quite figure out how to dock, like a drunk scrambling for their keys after a night out. So my admiration for the Roborock S6 Pure first began when it effortlessly returned home and put itself on charge. In the weeks I’ve spent reviewing the Roborock S6 Pure, I’ve only found it lost and confused on two separate occasions: one where it had choked on a headphone cable under the bed, and another where it was thrown by its reflection. Other than that, this little trooper has been one of the most discrete and loyal pets gadgets I’ve ever reviewed.
Accurate mapping and thorough routines
After its first day on the job, the Roborock S6 Pure had already gotten a lay of the land. Each room and living space was represented in the Roborock app with incredible accuracy (though there was some confusion around areas with a ledge too high, like the bathroom).
Honestly, my house is a bit of a maze and there’s no shortage of obstacles, baby toys, cables and curious cats. My first instinct was to cut the Roborock some slack; it felt like the least I could do was lift the dining room chairs off the floor, but I thought I’d throw the S6 Pure in the deep end. For a few minutes, I observed its behaviour as it timidly sussed out its surroundings. For those few minutes, it spent a lot of time in the kitchen and when I left it to its own devices, I didn’t have a lot of faith in the little scrubber’s skills. My house is filled with nooks and crannies where dust and debris gather, small gaps between poorly installed floating floorboards and other home DIY nightmares, it’s incredibly tough to clean thoroughly.
An hour or two passes while I’m click-clacking away in the office downstairs before I decide to take a short break and grab some water. When I return to the kitchen, the linoleum kitchen floor is more or less spotless, the crumbs and junk under the fridge, gone (thanks to the S6 Pure’s extended spinning arm).
I investigate a little further and find that the S6 Pure has diligently vacuumed every room upstairs (except the bathroom), only to be tripped up on the last leg by a rogue pair of wired iPhone earbuds under the bed. This small betrayal on my behalf is a good reminder to pick up after myself.
It doesn't catch everything every time and the results are occasionally inconsistent but even if when the S6 Pure doesn't score top marks for cleaning, it still makes the daunting task of vacuuming a much easier (and shorter) chore.
Spot clean, invisible walls and remote control
One thing Roborock has dropped from its range is the dedicated spot clean button. There are only two buttons on top now, Home and Power, but honestly, you won’t miss it if you familiarise yourself with the Roborock companion app (iOS and Android). The amount of control and data the app offers is honestly outstanding. It offers all the essential information at a glance: battery level, cleaning area and cleaning time as well as a full view of the Roborock S6 Pure’s map. From the home screen, you can initiate a full clean, a single room clean or outline a specific zone for cleaning. You can also change the vacuum power between the default Balanced setting, Turbo, Max and Quiet for nighttime cleaning. Dig a little deeper and you can edit maps, setting no-go zones, adjusting boundaries and room/area sequence, check the cleaning history, find robot (it will call out to you), pin precise locations for cleaning, take complete control with an on-screen joystick and manage maps.
That last feature is particularly handy if you live in a multi-level house. It allows the Roborock S6 Pure to distinguish between upstairs and downstairs areas.
The one thing it’s missing is any kind of full bin indicator, though that feature is only available with select brands and isn’t even available in the premium Roborock S7.
Cleaning and performance
The Roborock S6 Pure features 2,000pa suction and covers 250 square metres. The S6 Pure’s closest competitor (in price) is the $799 Deebot OZMO 950. The OZMO 950 covers slightly more space, but the S6 Pure offers better suction than the OZMO 950 (1500pa). There are other benefits to the OZMO 950, like a bigger water tank and Electric Water Flow control for mopping, but the S6 Pure’s stronger suction makes a world of difference.
Those raw numbers are meaningless without some real-world context but thankfully, the proof is in the (dropped) pudding. I ran the Roborock S6 Pure through the gauntlet with an obstacle course of fine powders and larger objects to test its mettle and it passed the bar with flying colours.
It was most efficient at cleaning up small debris. For this test, I used red lentils, which the S6 Pure devoured in a single run, leaving the carpet below spotless. Its spinning brush whipped a few lentils across the room when it first approached the pile but it managed to collect these later in its trip leaving nary a stray lentil in its wake.
Flour was a slightly different story. I dropped a pile of flour on a hard wooden surface and a carpeted surface to observe the difference and while it collected the majority of flour spilled, it had to do another three runs over on the wooden surface and another four on the carpet to suck up the last remaining particles. That’s fine if the S6 Pure decides to retread the same ground. Unlike other brands, the S6 Pure doesn’t have a dirt sensor, only navigation sensors, so it’s not to know whether the floor before it is dirty or not. Thankfully, it’s a thorough little scamp, often taking the initiative to hit certain areas two or three times anyway.
Last on the menu was pasta shells (fusilli if you’re wondering). To be honest, if you’re spilling anything larger than a pasta shell and walking away, something is missing from your life that a robot vacuum won’t fix. Still, I wanted to push the S6 Pure, so I dished up a good serve of pasta and let it a feast. Again, the S6 Pure managed to catch every pasta shell on the floor. The sheer size of the pasta shells posed a bit of an obstacle and the S6 Pure was spinning its wheels at one point, struggling to make it over. But just before I stepped in, it gave it a little more oomph and overcame the obstacle. It was a proud moment.
It handled every kind of mess with ease. The only test I couldn’t run in a controlled environment without a pair of clippers and a very angry cat was how the S6 Pure handled pet hair. Just believe me when I say that the contents of the dustbin were proof enough that it had no trouble collecting all the fur I couldn’t see.
Like any vacuum, robot or otherwise, you’ll have to occasionally free the S6 Pure’s brush from tightly bound hair strands and string but, thankfully, it comes with a brush and cutting attachment for easily removing such things.
The emergence of Auto-Empty docks with larger dustbins is indicative of a common robot vacuum pain point: the small size of the dust bins. It’s an unfortunate side-effect of the slim, low profile design of most robot vacuum cleaners. The S6 Pure’s 460ml capacity is quite decent for the price. The OZMO 950 only holds 430ml, and the Roborock S7 is only slightly larger at 470ml but spending big on something like the Roomba i7 will net you up to 500ml, which is a more significant difference than you might think.
Comparatively, the S6 Pure’s dustbin is par for the course but it’s still a chore to empty so regularly (especially if you’ve got animals inside).
As I mentioned, Roborock is releasing an Auto-Empty accessory but so far it’s only confirmed to be compatible with the premium S7.
Mopping with the Roborock S6 Pure
The fact that the S6 Pure includes a mopping function is a tick in the pros column but it’s still one of its weakest features. It’s better than nothing but other products offer slightly more advanced mopping technology. In the box, you’ll find the 180ml water tank with the mopping pad attached. It doesn’t hold a lot (the S7 can store 300ml and the OZMO 950 holds 240ml) and it doesn’t feature electric water flow control like the OZMO 950. Instead, water flows from the tank naturally, slowly soaking the pad. Very slowly.
On its first attempt at mopping, the S6 Pure wasn’t delivering much water on its own volition; a thin wet streak followed in its wake so I gave the pad a quick rinse to speed the process up.
I tested the mop on spilled coffee and then tomato sauce. It had no troubles whatsoever cleaning up the wet coffee but it struggled with the tomato sauce. It absorbed a good amount but at the end of its attempt, the floor was still a little tacky (and still smelled like Heinz). In short, I wouldn’t trust it to handle more viscous liquids.
Besides that, there are other inconveniences to using the mop. Roborock suggests you only let the S6 Pure mop for around 60 minutes before washing the pad and there isn’t an auto lift for the mop, a feature in other models that detects carpet and lifts the mop off the ground. With the S6 Pure, you will need to manually set boundaries around the carpet if you want to mop. This is more or less the same mopping performance you get with the Ecovacs Deebot U2 robot vacuum, but that model is also a lot cheaper at $399.
Noise levels: Comparatively quiet
With robot vacuums, the general philosophy is that they are better not seen, nor heard. Thankfully, the S6 Pure is one of the quietest of its ilk, marketed at 60db (decibels) of maximum sound, compared to the Roborock S7’s 67db and the Roomba i7’s 68db.
In our tests, the S6 Pure put out between 60.5db 61.5db on average, which is roughly as loud as the fan on my oven rangehood set to low.
The only thing louder than the hum of the vacuum itself is the S6 Pure's voice, which plays to let you know when it's docking, charging, lost and more. Out of the box, the loudspeaker is turned up to the max. For everyday use, it kind of needs to be loud so it can be heard over the vacuum itself but if you do want to dial it down a notch, you can do so in the app. You can also change the voice and language of the robot. Unfortunately, none of the fun options (like Robot and Baby) are available in English.
Is it worth the asking price?
The Roborock S6 Pure works incredibly hard for its $799 price tag. It might not be the first brand that comes to mind when you think robot vacuums, but after stacking up the mid-range S6 Pure against its closest Roomba and Ecovacs competitors, I'm certain Roborock is on the track to become a household name. It's sensibly priced, has loads of advanced features (and a robust companion app) and has almost no problem navigating my labyrinthine house. It's also quieter, longer-lasting and more powerful than most of the alternatives around the same price. Sure, its mopping function is maybe more trouble than its worth but, realistically, no robot vacuum can truly best a bit of elbow grease. The dust and water tanks are also a little on the small side but this is all perfectly appropriate for a robot vacuum at this price.