iRobot‌ ‌Roomba‌ ‌960‌ ‌vs.‌ ‌985‌ Comparison‌

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In this edition of the battle of the Roombas, we compare two mid-tier robot vacuums from iRobot. Marketed as the ideal robot vacuum for pets, both the Roomba 960 and Roomba 985 are often compared to each other. With so many similarities between the two circular-shaped Roombas, what makes them different?

iRobot Roomba 960 vs. 985 comparison: The biggest difference between the iRobot Roomba 960 and 985 lies in their power. While both use the same dual-brush design, the Roomba 985 has a stronger motor than the 960. In fact, the Roomba 985 is 5x more powerful than the Roomba 960.

However, does a more powerful motor justify the Roomba 985’s more expensive price? After all, every homeowner has different and unique needs. In this Roomba 960 vs. 985 comparison, we will break down and compare every single detail of each robot vacuum to find out which one is perfect for you.

Why Robot Vacuum Going in Circles
Why Robot Vacuum Going in Circles

Roomba 960 vs. 985 Comparison:

Quick Overview

Roomba 960

A smart robot vacuum connected to your phone.

  • Power Boost: No
  • Battery Life: 75 Minutes
  • Navigation: Organized Rows
  • Wi-Fi Connected: Yes
Roomba 985

Excellent Roomba with amazing suction power.

  • Power Boost: Yes
  • Battery Life: 120 Minutes
  • Navigation: Organized Rows
  • Wi-Fi Connected: Yes

Both the Roomba 960 and Roomba 985 are physically identical to each other. They both have the same shape, weight, height, high-efficiency filters, and dustbin size. The dustbin size is 0.6 liters. Sadly, many customers complain that the dustbin size is too small, so you may need to empty it more often than you’d like.

While both the Roomba 960 and 985 are basically twins, the Roomba 985 is slightly more expensive than the Roomba 960. However, both come with a one-year limited warranty, so if you are considering either one, make sure to buy from an official vendor (all of our links connect to the official iRobot Amazon listings). 

To make it easier for you to choose one, we will judge each Roomba by using three different categories: cleaning performance, navigation system, and the different features. Those three categories should be more than enough to decide which Roomba is better than the other. With that said, here is the comparison:

1. Cleaning Performance

As mentioned before, both the Roomba 960 and 985 come with a relatively small dustbin size of only 0.6 liters. However, what they lack in dustbin size, they both more than make up for it by their cleaning performance and suction power. Both are advertised as the ideal robot vacuums for pets and can pick up dirt very well.

The difference between the Roomba 960 and 985, however, is their cleaning system. The Roomba 960 uses the AeroForce 3-Stage Cleaning System, while the Roomba 985 uses the AeroForce Cleaning System with Power Boost. Basically, the difference is power. The Roomba 985 is more powerful than the Roomba 960.

In fact, the Roomba 985 is almost 5x more powerful than the Roomba 960, which uses the same motor found in older Roomba 800 series robots vacuums. With a stronger motor, the Roomba 985 offers longer run time. It also offers stronger suction and a Power Boost mode to vacuum over carpeted floors.

We also went over many customer reviews on Amazon and found that people are generally positive about both the Roomba 960 and 985’s cleaning ability. This is a testament to the quality offered by iRobot. You can have peace of mind knowing that either one of these Roomba 900 series will clean your house effectively.

WINNER: When it comes to cleaning performance, the Roomba 985 is far more superior than the Roomba 960. With a more powerful motor, the Roomba 985 is 5x stronger than the 960. Because of this, the Roomba 985 can clean longer and pick up more dirt than the Roomba 960, especially on carpeted floors.  

2. Navigation

Thanks to the iAdapt 2.0 navigation system, both the Roomba 960 and 985 can move in organized rows.

Now both the Roomba 960 and the 985 use the brand new iAdapt 2.0 Navigation with visual localization. Put simply, they both use advanced cameras and sensors to navigate in neat, organized rows. This is different from the previous versions of Roombas where they move around in a random pattern.

Because both the Roomba 960 and 985 do not move randomly, they both automatically recharge and resume any unfinished tasks. Additionally, they both have a virtual wall feature that creates a barricade to prevent the Roombas from going into a certain room. They both come with cliff sensors so they don’t fall down stairs.

Personally, we like the new and improved navigation system. We are impressed with the new systematic mapping system as it moves in neat rows, as opposed to moving randomly. But don’t take our word for it -- many people who have bought either the Roomba 960 or 985 on Amazon praised the navigation as well.

Unfortunately, we did find that both the Roomba 960 and 985 had trouble navigating around black floors. The cliff sensors on both Roombas mistake dark colors for a cliff, so they do not move properly. So if you have black carpets or floors, you may want to invest in a robot vacuum that can navigate dark floors.

WINNER: As far as navigation goes, it is a tie between the Roomba 960 and 985. Both come with the same navigation technology and do a great job of cleaning your house in neat, organized rows. Moreover, both are equipped with top-of-the-line cliff sensors to prevent them from falling over cliffs and edges.

3. Other Notable Features

Both the Roomba 960 and 985 can be connected to the Wi-Fi and come with a smartphone app where you can schedule automated cleanings remotely. Moreover, both Roombas are compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, so you can easily control either robot vacuum with your voice.

As far as specification goes, both are virtually the same in many respects except for the battery life. The Roomba 960 has up to 75 minutes of battery life, while the Roomba 985 has up to 120 minutes of battery life. Those numbers can vary whether they are cleaning carpet or not, but they are based on our experience.  

WINNER: Thanks to more battery life, the Roomba 985 is better than the 960 in terms of specifications. With basically the same weight, same height, and same shape, the bigger battery life of the Roomba 985 is what sets it apart from the 960. If you need a durable Roomba to clean large areas, go for the 985.

Final Verdict

WINNER: iRobot Roomba 985

The Roomba 985 is definitely better than the Roomba 960. Overall, the higher price on the Roomba 985 is well-justified, because it has 5x more suction power and around 45 minutes more battery life than the Roomba 960. It’s simply a very cool-looking robot vacuum that will make your life easier.

Roomba 960

A smart robot vacuum connected to your phone.

  • Power Boost: No
  • Battery Life: 75 Minutes
  • Navigation: Organized Rows
  • Wi-Fi Connected: Yes
Roomba 985

Excellent Roomba with amazing suction power.

  • Power Boost: Yes
  • Battery Life: 120 Minutes
  • Navigation: Organized Rows
  • Wi-Fi Connected: Yes

And there you have it, the complete comparison of the iRobot Roomba 960 vs. 985. In all honesty, both robot vacuums are simply outstanding and well worth your consideration. However, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t buy the Roomba 985 over the 960. If you have to choose one, buy the Roomba 985.