Review Roborock S6 vacuum robot: The new top model for $549.99
Several million models of the first two generations of Xiaomi vacuum robots were sold in China alone. The Chinese tech giant has also long since arrived at the level of ECOVACS and ILIFE in the household robot sector – and is now continuing to press ahead. The predecessor model, the S50, has been the unyielding leader in our ranking since 2017. Is that over with the new Roborock S6? Who occupies the vacuum robot throne? We have tested the new flagship model extensively.
- Roborock S6 (T6)
What’s the difference between T6 and S6?
The new Roborock vacuum cleaner was presented as “T6” first, the reason is that the robot was primarily produced for the chinese market. So the Roborock T6 is conceived for China, the now released “S6” is produced for the international market. Both models are constructed in the same way, there are only differences in the use of the mainland servers. Expect firmware-updates to be published for the T6 first.
Technical data: Comparison to the predecessors
|Roborock S6||Roborock S50||Xiaomi Mi Robot|
|Suction power||2000 pa||2000 pa||1800 pa|
|Navigation||Laser Room Surveying||Laser Room Surveying||Laser Room Surveying|
|App||Xiaomi Home (Android, iOS)||Xiaomi Home (Android, iOS)||Xiaomi Home (Android, iOS)|
|Noise level||58 dB (at highest suction level)||65-67 dB||67 dB|
|Battery||5200 mAh||5200 mAh||5200 mAh|
|Dust chamber/water tank||0.48 l/ 0.16 l||0.48 l/ 0.16 l||0.42 l/no|
|Charging time||3 h||5 h||5 h|
|Working time||2.5 h||2.5 h||2.5 h|
|Weight||3.6 kg||3.5 kg||3.8 kg|
|Dimensions||35,3 x 35,0 x 9,65 cm||35,3 x 35,0 x 9,9 cm||34,5 x 34,5 x 9,6 cm|
|Inclinations||25°, over 2 cm with larger tyres||20°, over 2 cm||15°, up to 2 cm|
As can be seen from the technical data: The suction power of the new S6 does not exceed that of the previous model and remains at 2000 pa. This is different than expected, but still the current top value for a vacuum robot. Otherwise, the innovations and improvements are more likely to be found in the software. More about that now.
Packaging and scope of delivery
The packaging is nothing special, the usual cardboard box. But if you’re thinking of giving the vacuum robot away, you don’t have to worry about it. Come on, it’s a $550 vacuum robot from Xiaomi’s partner Roborock, THE current flagship model. Who cares about the packaging? But you do make a small discovery:
Apart from the vacuum robot as such, the scope of delivery includes a number of practical features that we already liked about the S50:
- non-slip plastic mat (so that the floor does not get wet before / under the charging station when wiping)
- Charging station with charging cable
- 0.16 l water tank with wipe (washable)
- additional water tank with 10 wipes (disposable)
- additional HEPA filter (washable)
- Operating instructions in different languages
Nothing unusual at first. Although, what about the mysterious throw-away towels? Isn’t that environmental damage (spoiler: Yes)? Let’s get to the bottom of this, but first of all, let’s look at the design and workmanship.
Design and workmanship
When it comes to design, not too much has changed to the second generation, the S50. The Roborock S6 is also white, round, with the dimensions 35.3 x 35.0 x 9.6 cm but flattened by 0.3 cm compared to its predecessor and now at the same height as the Mi Robot. Nevertheless, before buying, you have to check whether the vacuum robot gets under the desired pieces of furniture. The 3.6 kg weight has remained approximately the same.
The buttons in the front area of the upper side are in the usual position and remain functionally the same. Only the power button (On/Off/Start/Stop) was optically “lengthened” a bit. This is located in the middle, to the left of it the Mini Room Work mode can be activated by pressing a button, whereby the robot travels through the area in which it is currently located. That’s a few square meters. On the right there is a button with a charging cable symbol. This triggers the command to return to the charging station and charge the battery.
You notice: What changes in comparison to the S50, is above all on the software side. Xiaomi remains true to its design philosophy and the workmanship (no shaking, sometimes even metal) is again the measure of all things.
Interesting fact: The tires on the underside were developed by the Leverkusen-based materials manufacturer Covestro (formerly Bayer). Covestro was also responsible for the plastic used in the Xiaomi 90 Fun suitcase. This means that the Germans are involved, albeit at a minimal level.
The charging station
In terms of design, the charging station is somewhat wider, but otherwise identical to that of the predecessor robot. From here the Roborock starts its service and returns to the station when the battery level drops.
Firmware updates are also carried out at the charging station, since depending on the extent of the update, the battery may break down during the download. And the update policy of Xiaomi is exemplary, not for nothing many Mi-Robot owners enjoyed the Zoned Cleanup and owners of the S50 the additional Alexa control.
Charging and battery life
After a relatively short loading time of 3 hours, the robot is ready for operation for a working time of 2.5 hours. Thus the vacuum robot is not only suitable for smaller apartments, but also for apartments above 200 m². This is also due to the fact that it continues its cleaning after a “battery charging pause” when the cleaning of all rooms has not yet been completed.
The cable can also be rewound on the back, reducing the likelihood of the robot getting tangled up or its owner stumbling over it. A transparent protective mat is included as an accessory for the charging station, which catches any leaking water (when using the wiping function) and further stabilises the stand.
Innovations to the predecessor model S50
As usual, the laser distance sensor (LDS), which is also familiar from the first two models, can be found on the upper side. Thus the laser room measurement including mapping and room division via Mi Home App is again part of the game. The innovations at a glance:
- Targeted single and multi-room cleaning through revised map storage
- also: card storage of several floors
- lower operating volume by changing the fan (air flow)
- Optimisation of wheel drives (tyres)
- thus: better overcoming of obstacles (higher obstacles, steeper gradients)
- Disposable wipes for dust and wet wiping
We will take a closer look at these innovations in the following. First, the offline performance.
Performance without App
One of the innovations is very quickly noticeable when you let the S6 do its first test laps: The operating volume has become much lower. At the highest suction level, the noise level measurement shows a value of 58 dB, which is not too high even for vacuum robots with less power. In “Silent Mode” (adjustable via app), the value is only 47 dB. So really “Silent”.
For comparison: We humans talk at a volume of 60 dB, so you can not only use the robot but also make phone calls or watch TV without getting a tantrum because of the noise.
The new Roborock moves very purposefully through the rooms, the laser room measurement via LDS (laser distance sensor) is absolutely noticeable here. Like its predecessor, the robot proceeds as follows after the start of automatic cleaning:
- 360° rotation for orientation with the LDS, during which the suction power is increased.
- Move the outer walls/obstacles with the wall function.
- Fill the measured areas with the Z-Shaped mode (in straight paths).
Obstacle detection almost optimal
The only obstacles that the S6 does not recognize are very small obstacles like socks or cables. An example where this was particularly noticeable was a sports bag lying around, from which a carrying strap hung down. The robot got stuck here and was briefly irritated, but quickly freed itself and continued its planned cleaning. So far, no model has been able to detect such small obstacles. Ecovacs is currently working most meticulously on this with KI AIVI technology.
A total of twenty different sensors operate in the S6, six of which are case sensors. These sensors protect the robot from falling down stairs and similar depths.
I would like to write it in all clarity, because again and again horror pictures go through the social media: If the sensors of a high-quality vacuum robot are not completely dirty or covered, it won’t crash! That might happen to one of 1000 models.
Connecting the Robot to the Xiaomi Home App
Since many of you will surely own a smart Xiaomi gadget, you will have noticed that Xiaomi now runs the “Mi Home App” under the name “Xiaomi Home App“. Of course they are still available for Android and iOS. After downloading the app and successfully registering via a disposable email address and selecting Mainland China (to be changed later), you switch on Bluetooth and WLAN on your smartphone.
Of course you also have to enter the correct WLAN password and the robot is in the same network as the smartphone. Via “Add device” the app automatically finds the Roborock S6 within milliseconds (see screenshots below).
If the connection doesn’t work automatically, although you’ve done the steps above:
- Open top flap, check WLAN light.
- Keep the two outer buttons on the top pressed.
- WLAN is reset.
- Try connecting again.
The connection still doesn’t work? Tell us your difficulties in the comments, we will help you as soon as possible!
If the connection is established, the mainland can also be switched to your country. Selecting your home country directly as your mainland did not work in our test phase yet, but Roborock will improve it in the near future. Also very pleasing is the multiple language within the app, even if of course not everything was always translated 100% correctly.
Of course you have to consider that you don’t have any other Xiaomi devices (Yeelight lamps, plant sensors etc.) on another server. Otherwise the connection to the app will be lost.
Functions and settings in the Xiaomi Home App
Apart from that, there is a multitude of functions within the app again, the strong features of the predecessors including new functions.
The most important functions and settings within the app are listed:
- Mapping: Map of the premises is displayed.
- Map storage: Can be switched on and off.
- Carpet mode: Detects carpets and increases the suction power.
- Language within the app and the suction robot as well as voice change (English, German, etc.).
- Change the volume of the robot’s voice (10-100 %).
- Determine the suction level: Quiet, Balance, Turbo, Max.
- DND Mode (Do Not Disturb Mode): Set the time during which the robot is not allowed to move.
- Trace the condition of the individual parts of the robot: Filters, brush heads, main brush, water tank, sensors.
- Remote control as buttons or joystick.
- Locate the robot: Reports its location with its voice.
- Draw no-go zones and virtual walls on a map.
- Call up and perform firmware updates.
Mapping of the Roborock S6
The mapping once again looks different from the S50, but looks just as good and is even more precise. It’s really impressive to see how exactly the Roborock S6 recognizes the dimensions of the rooms within a few minutes.
At this point I can only advise you to start the S6 from the charging station, otherwise it’s surprisingly difficult to find it again. Sounds unbelievable, as its predecessor manages to do it within seconds (almost no matter where).
But if you let the robot start from the station, finding the station is no problem at all. As you can see from the screenshots, the S6 doesn’t just drive a gigantic way around all the walls, but divides itself up into small parts.
At the bottom of the interface there are control elements that start and stop the cleaning process and send the robot back to the charging station. If you want a complete card, don’t interrupt the S6 on its maiden voyage, just let it do the job. Also practical: The card is updated by the robot when the environment changes (chair is changed, etc.) and is not completely re-recorded.
No-Go zones and virtual walls
Surely everyone can think of a reason for not letting his vacuum robot vacuum in a certain area: The power supply unit in the way, or the roommate in the shared flat who always leaves his door open, should not be annoyed. Perhaps also the entrance area with the shoes that often lie scattered wildly on the floor. There are five different ways (according to the value of these methods) for vacuum robots to avoid these areas:
- Put pieces of furniture and other obstacles in the way: Extremely cumbersome for any cleaning.
- Virtual walls on thresholds etc.: They don’t always work, but they do stand in the way.
- Lay magnetic tape in the home: Works well, but is cumbersome.
- Draw virtual walls on a created map in an app: Works very well, especially practical for doors.
- Draw no-go zones on a created map in an app: The best method to prohibit entire areas, such as the carpet that is too high.
Card storage of several rooms
The mapping has been improved so that the Roborock can now recognize different rooms and schedule different working times for them. For example, you can specify that the kitchen is to be cleaned at 9 o’clock in the morning and the living room at 13 o’clock. The S6 can store one virtual card manually and up to two cards automatically.
The manually saved map is updated every time you edit it (e.g. by drawing no-go zones). To reuse a previously created map, go to “Restore map” and select one of the saved maps. To delete a card, press “Reset Card”.
These created maps can be provided with virtual walls and restricted zones as desired. In the screenshot below we took the liberty of making a joke of encircling the robot with virtual walls. And in fact: It does not cross a line during the entire test phase. Practically speaking, you even have a meter next to the virtual walls when you draw them in.
The card is not created each time a new card is selected, but is saved. Accordingly, old cards must be deleted independently.
In addition, the Roborock S6 can be commanded via voice control, but currently only the control with the Xiaomi Mi AI Speaker is known. The control via Alexa and Google Home will follow, but will be added at this point.
The wiping function: A full-fledged wiping mop replacement?
No. But: The wipe function has improved even further compared to its predecessor. Carpets and other surfaces that should not get wet should, however, be cleared away before use. The carpet detection of the S6 is only there to increase the suction power on carpets, but not to detect the carpets in advance.
First of all, the application of the wipe function in a picture gallery:
Of course, the mop only has to be attached to the teat if you really want to wipe it, otherwise not. As with the predecessor, the water is distributed very evenly on the mop, and accordingly also on the floor. Smooth flooring actually becomes much cleaner, the S6 manages to exert even more pressure on the substrate than its predecessor.
For a vacuum robot with wiping function, this feature is very convincing, but the robot cannot replace manual wiping 100%. Owners of the S6 do not have to wipe as often when they have the vacuum cleaner sweeping, but they do not get around it completely during the month. Every now and then you have to swing the biceps, with which you can simply bring more pressure and power to the floor.
The microfibre cloths can easily be thrown into the washing machine after use. The ten enclosed disposable cloths should really only be used if you want to clean in a particularly dirty place – to avoid the robot pulling a dirty mop behind it.
I truly don’t like the idea behind it, because these cloths are not only pointless, but also harmful to the environment. Now they are already included, so you can use them sometimes, but please don’t order new ones (expensive?).
Conclusion on the Roborock S6 vacuum robot: Buy the new top model?
Like its predecessor, the Roborock S6 will also be available in black and rose gold. It is already known that the S6 will also be controllable via Alexa and Google Home in the future. In fact, the differences are not interesting for everyone. Compared to the predecessor Roborock S50, which is now stuck at ~$400, the price difference is almost $150, but functionally there is no $150 difference between the two.
Thus a constant progress from model to model is to be recognized. But: As also with the appearance of the Roborock S50 after the big success of the Mi Robot the question arises: Do you really need the newer generation or is it enough to reach for the previous one? An entry-level price of $550 is not an easy price to pay, even if it is cheaper than the top models from Vorwerk, Dyson or iRobot.
In fact, however, I can give a purchase recommendation here without any problems. If you want to have a real universal talent in your four walls, the Roborock S6 will do everything right. But that’s also what you do with the predecessor, it’s a question of cost. The robot costs (still) a hefty $550, but if you invest it, you get the best vacuum robot for your home.To the gadget