The Roborock S7 is the best hybrid model on the market and we refuse to argue the toss. Seriously, straight out of the box the S7 did everything in an intuitive and logical manner, from its clever room mapping and informative voice notifications to the sterling way it vacuumed and mopped the entire abode whilst ingeniously avoiding soaking any rugs.
So what is it that makes this autonomous mobbing bot so much better than most of the competition? It's one of the best robot mops you can buy and one of the best robot vacuum cleaners, which is an impressive two-for-one. Let’s find out what makes it tick…
Where can I buy the Roborock S7?
Looking in the USA? Try Walmart (opens in new tab) where it’s retailing at a shade under $650 or Roborock US (opens in new tab) which is selling it for the same price. If you’re after the full bells & whistles option with the auto bin-emptying system, go direct to Roborock US (opens in new tab) and snap up the complete S7+ package for $949.98.
Roborock S7 review: what is a hybrid robovac?
Until the S7 arrived, this writer was very sceptical about robotic vacuum cleaners that also mop the floor. After all, mopping isn’t something that’s required on a regular basis and it can be easily done with a standard mop and bucket of water. But hear me out.
Some robotic mopping machines like the iRobot Braava Jet M6 are just that – an autonomous robot that just mobs the floor with water and a mild cleaning solution. However, the S7, like quite a few robovacs knocking about on the market, is a hybrid machine that mops as it vacuums. In essence, the front section uses a powerful vacuum and a single rubber roller to suck up and generally beat the living daylights out of dusty carpets, rugs and hard floors while the rear section drags a wet wooly cloth across the floor, leaving a thin film of water in its wake which soon dries up using nature’s our evaporative technology.
Roborock S7 review: vacuum features
The Roborock S7 is available in white or black and, like most robot vacs, it’s circular in design. Unlike most robot vacs, this one is fitted with a really clever mopping system which we’ll look into in more detail a little further down.
At 35cm in diameter, the S7 is 4cm wider than iRobot’s flagship Roomba S9 and 2cm wider than the budget-priced iRobot i3. However, its single ribbed rubber roller is just 16cm in width – about the same as the i3 but a lot shorter than the S9’s substantial 23cm. This means that it will miss about 9cm of dirt on either side and only vacuum a smaller area of floor at any given time. The long, single side-mounted spinning nylon brush certainly helps direct wayward pieces of fluff towards the roller but, as is the norm with most robot vacs, it will not effectively vacuum the edges of a room or indeed any corners and crevices that are too big for its body.
Having a short roller bar isn’t of too much consequence with a robot vac since it will just take a bit longer to complete the task, but it would be good to see more robot vacuum cleaners fitted with much wide rollers and suction tubes like, say, the Dyson Heurist 360 and the aforementioned iRobot S9. While I’m at it, let’s have spinning bristles on both sides, too, because I can see no reason to have just one. Incidentally, the S7’s roller housing allows for multiple planes of movement to ensure the roller tracks the contours of the floor no matter how uneven it is, and that’s a very fine thing indeed.
The Roborock S7 is just 8cm in height so it will easily reach under furnishings and most sofas and beds, but only those without a valance – more on that below.
Roborock S7 review: mopping features
Like the T3 Award-winning Roborock S6 MaxV which we naturally rate very highly in our guide to the best Robot Vacs, this model has a rear-mounted mop – and it’s the very best mopping system I’ve ever come across.
Firstly, it uses sonic vibration technology that ‘scrubs hard floors up to 3,000 times per minute’. This is an excellent idea because it genuinely loosens floor stains that need a bit of elbow grease to remove. By contrast, the majority of other robot moppers simply drag a wet, static mop behind them. The 300 ml water tank, meanwhile, keeps the mob saturated with water – Roborock advises against using any floor detergents. According to the blurb, ‘a full tank can deep clean up to 200 square metres (2,150 sq ft) in one session'.
Now I have a lot of hard floors in my home, but I also have a lot of rugs. And rugs are the nemeses of most robomops. Indeed, I’ve waited ages for a mop-specific robot or hybrid robovac to come along that can safely avoid soaking my rugs and, lo and behold, the S7 is that machine. Using ultrasonic sound, the S7 recognises when it’s on a rug or a carpet and lifts the whole mop assembly by 5mm the moment it realises it’s on carpet. So far it’s worked on even the thinnest and flimsiest of rugs – and without ruffling them up too much in the process.
In short, this is the first robot mop I’ve tested that I can completely leave alone safe in the knowledge it’ll vacuum all the floors – hard and carpet – and mop just the hard floors and not the rugs. That’s a major plus in my book.
Roborock S7 review: navigation and app features
The S7 maps rooms in a methodical and logical manner that makes a lot more sense than the way some of its competitors do it. To date, my test model hasn’t performed any bizarre manoeuvres that have had me scratching my head in bemusement.
The Roborock S7 uses LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) to navigate its way around a home. LiDAR is essentially a pulsating laser that maps the entire home while it cleans – rather like a Terminator cyborg. It takes the S7 two or three cleaning sessions to fully map a home, but thereafter you can see the results of its mapping – including where you have carpet or rugs – on the intuitive Roborock app. It even automatically divides the rooms into different zones and if you have two adjoined rooms that are open planned, you can add a dividing line so the room is divided in two. Since you can name each room in the app, it’s very easy to command the S7 to just clean the living room or kitchen. iRobot’s S9 is very similar in this respect.
Another cool feature is the ‘keep out’ zone function. I have a couple of typical Coir doormats – you know, that scratchy coconut fibre stuff – and no vacuum cleaner wants to go there unless it wants its bin filled in three seconds and its wheels to jam. So I created two keep-out zones using the app’s intuitive graphic and I now no longer have to rescue it from certain doom.
The S7 is also equipped with four cliff sensors so when it approaches a flight of stairs it will literally avoid tumbling down them. Cliff sensors are fitted to practically every robovac on the market – even the cheapest – so this technology isn’t especially groundbreaking.
One thing the Roborock S7 cannot do is venture under beds and sofas that have a valance or bedspread that reaches the floor. This is because the S7’s LiDAR navigation system treats anything solid in appearance as a barrier. The bot may nudge into the soft material but it will invariably not venture any further. The only way around this is to tuck in any valances or bed spreads before the S7 heads out on it sweepy-moppy excursion.
Roborock S7 review: vacuuming performance
The S7 uses Roborock’s HyperForce suction system to create a substantial 2500 Pa2 of suction, which is more than enough power for my abode. I had no major issues with this vac’s performance – it collected everything in its path and trundled over most rugs without ruffling them up.
However, since the S7 doesn’t have a front-facing camera like its S6 MaxV stablemate – or the forthcoming iRobot J7 – it will not avoid most small obstacles, including dog poop. In fact, in much the same way my iRobot i3 collided with my pup’s messy deposit, the S7 also had an altercation of an unfortunate kind – namely a dead baby mouse one of the cats had brought in. I learned of this rather gruesome incident when the S7’s clever AI lady voice told me that ‘the roller is jammed’, or words to that effect. Believe me, a cute little mouse wrapped around the roller was the last thing I expected to find. But hats off to the onboard roller sensor for spotting the ‘obstruction’ in the first place.
Roborock S7 review: dustbin
While we’re discussing the S7’s generally excellent vacuuming ability, let’s take a closer look at the bin. At 470ml, it’s pretty small and unfortunately not terribly well designed. There are two access doors to the bin – the one you use for emptying it and the one that provides access to the filter. The main door simply pulls outwards but it’s a right mess to empty, especially if you have pets and it’s full of clumpy hair.
Speaking of which, I have two dogs and three cats and the S7’s small bin filled up with shedded hair extremely quickly. This meant I had to frequently empty the bin while it was cleaning which kind of defeats the object of having a robot vacuum cleaner in the first place. Mind, this is the case with any robot vac that doesn't come with an auto bin emptying system.
If you live in America or Europe, you’re super lucky because this model is also available with an Auto-Empty 'RockDock' charging dock. Please, Roborock, get this bin emptying system into the UK market as pronto as possible. As it stands it's a five star product but add the RockDock and I'd give it six.
Roborock S7 review: mopping performance
Mopping doesn’t have to be done as frequently as vacuuming so I would turn off the mopping action from time to time, especially if you have certain types of wooden flooring. I would also advise giving the house a once over deep clean with a standard mop and bucket first and from thereon in the Roborock S7 will keep it in tip top cleanliness on a regular basis.
In the realm of hybrid vac-and-mop robots, this one is the bee’s knees. The way the mop lifts up when on carpet or rugs is a massive plus and an innovation that other manufacturers will surely adopt in the near future. It’s just so reassuring to know that your prized Persian rug isn’t going to be ruined because you let a robot mop run slipshod all over the house. The other great thing about this model is the way the mop subtly vibrates as it moves along, releasing even the most stubborn stains.
Roborock S7 review: battery
Battery consumption isn’t really an issue with robovacs because they will always head back to their charging station for a top up whenever the juice runs low. This model comes with a large 5200mAh Li-ion battery that keeps the motor runnin’ for up to three hours at a time. And that’s a superb stat in its favour.
Roborock S7 review: verdict
If you have several pets in the home, I would perhaps hold off buying the S7 until Roborock releases the auto bin emptying system in the UK. But if you don’t have pets and don’t mind having to empty the mini bin yourself, I can’t think of a better hybrid system on the market right now. It’s just such a pleasure to use as well as being super efficient, intuitive and more than up to the task of keeping both hard floors and carpets spick and spotlessly span.
Fancy a cheap and pretty cheerful semi-autonomous robot mop that uses a spinning roller and vacuum system? Read our full review of the iLife Shinebot W400