TL;DR: On Sept. 11, iRobot announced the second half of its 2023 lineup, totaling five new Roombas ranging in price from $349.99 to $1,399.99. Highlights include a new flagship Combo Roomba with iRobot’s most advanced suction, scrubbing, and automatic dock to date. All are available to buy now.
The recognizability of “Roomba” is palpable every time someone refers to a robot vacuum from any brand as a Roomba. But iRobot’s 2023 product drop seems to take aim at those whose experience with Roomba ends at name recognition, particularly stretching mopping capabilities — a feature previously reserved for its most expensive vacuum — to a surprisingly varietal price range of $349.99 to $1,399.99.
The release of the fleet of five new Roombas was actually broken up into two parts. The end of August saw a somewhat quiet release of the upgraded versions of the existing i5 series, while Sept. 11 marked the launch of two new series: the j5 and the new flagship j9. Here’s the full lineup:
New Roombas that mop
New Roomba that doesn’t mop
(To tell Roomba titles apart at a glance, remember that the plus sign signifies automatic emptying, and the word “combo” signifies the retractable mopping pad.)
While the 2023 line does seem to focus on better balancing advanced cleaning features with lower costs, the j9 series is a treat for seasoned iRobot converts who will pay for the most souped-up cleaning experience.
Before breaking down the details differentiating the 2023 Roombas from each other and their predecessors, let’s elaborate on iRobot’s focus on mopping that we mentioned earlier. After a year of the $1,099.99 Roomba Combo j7+ being the only true 2-in-1 Roomba, iRobot now has several options with a water tank and mopping pad.
There are two types of hybrid Roombas now
The Roomba Combo tank holds enough water for a month’s worth of on-demand mopping.
Roomba Swap and Mop vacs will return to clean rugs once the water tank is removed.
It’s where the tank and pad reside when not in use that sets the new vacs apart. The Combo’s claim to fame is a retractable mopping pad that fully lifts above the body of the vacuum when it’s not mopping rather than letting a soggy pad riskily hover over carpet and rugs. The Roomba Combo j9+ and older Combo j7+ use the Combo mechanism.
The new Swap and Mop is a less-advanced but less-expensive design in which you’ll physically swap a full-sized dust bin for a water tank depending on the type of floor being tackled. The two new i5 models and j5 models feature the Swap and Mop design.
To keep costs low, the Swap and Mop system omits the retractable mopping pad for a more basic two-tank system. Switching to mopping mode does require you to be home, but it’s easy: Just click the full-sized dust bin or the water tank into place depending on the cleaning session being run. Though Swap and Mop Roombas do perform some dry vacuuming while mopping, you can designate carpeted areas to avoid in the app, then swap the bins to have the Roomba take a legit carpet lap.
The Combo j9+ has iRobot’s most advanced everything
A mere year after launching its very first true 2-in-1 robot vacuum and mop (the Roomba Combo j7+), iRobot is already building significantly on nearly every aspect of that design with the new Roomba Combo j9+.
Before the Combo j9+, your high-end Roomba options were the Combo j7+ and the s9+. The Combo j7+ was the only choice for mopping and detection of small obstacles like cords and pet waste, while the s9+ was the choice for deep carpet cleaning, deploying 40 times the suction of the older 600 Series Roombas (the j7 only offered 10 times better suction). Each excelled on one floor type or the other, but not both.
The mastery of both floor types isn’t mutually exclusive with the Combo j9+. On soft floors, iRobot’s strongest suction power yet works with dual rubber brushes and an automatic suction boost to dig into thick carpet fibers and grab hair, fur, or crumbs. On hard floors, iRobot’s new SmartScrub approach sends the mopping pad back and forth (complete with some actual elbow grease) over sticky spills and stubborn footprints for scrubbing two times deeper than the Combo j7+. The Combo j9+ tank is also compatible with a long list of cleaning solutions rather than just water.
Updated technology inside the new Roombas also helps them apply these more powerful cleaning techniques to the rooms that need it most. With iRobot’s new Dirt Detective technology, your Combo j9+ cleans the dirtiest rooms first on any general cleaning run.
The other standout tech feature carried over from the j7+ is the team of a front-facing camera and front-facing LED light that form iRobot’s PrecisionVision tech. This illuminates and detects small obstacles that trip other robot vacuums up, like cords, socks, and pet waste.
The Combo j9+ has gold-tinted metallic accents and a flat top with a modern wood finish.
The new self-emptying dock itself deserves equal hype. Its newfound ability to refill the vac’s water tank for 30 days relieves the one major recurring downfall seen when comparing the Combo j7+ to other 2-in-1 robot vacuums. The dock is significantly bigger than iRobot’s previous docks, but is also significantly more chic and doubles as a full-time side table.
Note: The original mopping Roomba, the trusty, beloved Combo j7+, has received a permanent price drop to $999.99.
Finally, mopping Roombas that aren’t $1,000
Up until now, anyone who was set on owning a Roomba — not just any robot vacuum — basically had to choose between spending a lot and securing advanced features like deep carpet cleaning, small obstacle avoidance, or even mopping, or spending way less but settling for just decent cleaning and decent navigation. iRobot made sure to address this gap with the 2023 expansion.
The two new mid-range Roomba models, the j5 series and upgraded i5 series, actually launched first, quietly going live on iRobot’s website at the end of August 2023. Here’s what they offer:
The j5 is the new j7 in terms of looks and price point, with one trick up its sleeve that Roombas at this price haven’t seen before. There are two iterations here: the $799.99 Combo j5+, a robot vacuum and mop with an automatic dirt disposal dock, and the $599.99 Combo j5, the same exact thing minus the automatic emptying. These price tags are $50 cheaper than the debut prices of the j7+ and the j7 when they came out in fall 2021.
But the gag is that, despite being more expensive, the original j7 models didn’t mop. The first Roomba to offer mopping ever was the Roomba Combo j7+, released in Sept. 2022 at $1,099.99. With the Combo s9+ now wearing the crown for most expensive Roomba, iRobot shifted to create two mid-range mopping Roombas that use the Swap and Mop mechanism, both of which are available with a self-emptying dock or as standalone vacs.
Choosing between the j series and i series comes down to whether or not you feel like cleaning up the floor before sending your Roomba out. The j series uses iRobot’s most advanced camera system to avoid small objects like pet waste, cords, and socks (and from our experience, is actually quite good at it). The j5+ is now the cheapest Roomba with small obstacle avoidance tech.
The i5 series fills out the low end of the price spectrum for the mopping Roombas. At $549.99 for the self-emptying version or $349.99 for the standalone vac, the cheapest Roomba mops more than halves the $1,399.99 price tag of the Combo j9+.
Of course, the price cut comes with feature cuts. The i5 series are another Swap and Mop model that won’t pick up on those pesky small obstacles mentioned earlier. It does, however, recognize walls and furniture well enough to remember the layout of your home and clean specific rooms on demand. (A 2022 firmware update unlocked Imprint smart mapping capabilities for all Roomba i series vacuums, aside from the i1 and i2).
If you’re upgrading to any of the 2023 Roombas from another Roomba that already created a map of your house, you can skip the cleaning run and transfer the old Roomba’s map to the new vac in the iRobot app.