We looked at 7 factors that will likely influence which robot vacuum you decide to invest in. These areas were Cleaning Ability, Objective Avoidance, Features, Charging/Battery Life, Aesthetics and Price. Each category is scored individually, with the final score reflecting the average of each of the 7 categories.
The ILIFE Beetle A4 brings in an impressive amount of cleaning power for a device that undercuts the market leaders in price. For all intents and purposes, there is nothing remarkable about this robot vacuum. It has all of the standard pieces of cleaning equipment we’ve come to expect out of a robot vacuum. Yet somehow, Chuwi, the Chinese company behind this robot vacuum, seems to get everything just right.
There are some notable differences about the ILIFE A4 that make its cleaning ability better than your average low-end robot cleaner. The side whiskers are longer than normal. This helps the device get right up to walls and baseboards. The actual design of the side whiskers is not new. Indeed, the only thing that distinguishes them is the length. But that length is what allows them to do a better job of cleaning hard-to-reach areas.
The device is also designed with spring-loaded wheels. This allows it to have better clearance over obstacles, including getting over ridges and onto carpets. And since we’re on carpets: It can clean these well, to a point. The device is fairly quiet, which in the vacuum cleaner world typically means “underpowered”. However, this cleaner is not entirely underpowered and does perform acceptably on low-pile carpets. It will struggle on carpets and rugs that are thick, so don’t expect it to clean everything well.
The included dry mop will help get some of the excess dirt particles. It’s also reusable, giving it added value. This robot vacuum includes two HEPA filters on the inside to help capture smaller dust particles. These are not replaceable and do tend to get dirty themselves. They’ll need to be replaced every 6 months or so, but you’re going to want to get in there and pick off clumps of debris far more often than that, especially if you have pets.
The fact that it only uses a traditional agitator brush means it does particularly poorly with hair. It will suck hair up, but hair will get stuck on the side whiskers and especially the central agitator brush. You’ll need to give the agitator brush its own cleaning every now and then.
Overall, this device has an impressive level of suction power for the price, cleans well, and typically does not miss too many spots. It includes a particulate sensor for spot cleaning and has several cleaning modes. However, it does not map the room and ultimately uses a random cleaning pattern. There are several cleaning modes, however, that will compensate for this particular weakness in the design.
Avoiding objects should not be as easy as it is for this robot vacuum. However, the ILIFE A4 is extremely well designed when it comes to object avoidance. The device has a front bumper for when it runs into objects, but also possesses forward-facing sensors that help keep it from having to use them at all. It will occasionally run into chair legs that are too thin for the sensors to pick up. However, the objects have to be abnormally thin for this to be a problem. The requisite cliff sensors are also included, as is questionably effective optical dust sensor. You will need to be careful of loose wires and rug tassels. This is not uncommon but something that is worth noting nonetheless.
Despite its price, the ILIFE A4 is a very feature-rich robot vacuum. It includes several cleaning modes, including a spot cleaning mode utilizing an optical dust sensor. It features a remote control with a small digital display for scheduling. All of these features combine to create a fairly functional robot. There is little to complain about regarding its features, although the lack of control over suction strength is disappointing. However, the vacuum suction strength, which is neither too weak nor overly powerful, is just right for getting the job done on most surfaces.
The battery life on the ILIFE A4 is wholly impressive. The device is capable of achieving 120 minutes of cleaning power, sometimes as a minimum. Often, it can get up to 180 when it has lighter cleaning duties. This places it at the high end of the market for robot vacuums. Comparatively, most robot vacuum cleaners can only get around 60 minutes at best. The 2600 mAh lithium battery is to thank for this. Unfortunately, recharging can be a pain. It takes around 5-6 hours to fully recharge the robot, so you will likely only get 1 or 2 cleaning cycles out of it per day (unless you’re ok having it clean in the middle of the night).
As with all robot vacuums, this device is able to find its base and take itself on home. Many lower-end robot vacuums struggle to find the base. The ILIFE Beetle A4 is surprisingly adept at finding its base from far away. It rarely struggles to get back, and indeed will only fail if it is for some reason stuck while attempting to make the return. It will begin that return when the battery is close to low, but with enough battery power left to make the trip. As it recharges on the front end, you won’t have to worry about it messing up while backing into the spot. On occasion, it does get misaligned. This can occur if the base is not properly level.
The ILIFE A4, while standard in form and function, is also wholly unremarkable. The device excels in having a thing, sleek frame. However, it’s overall design is mostly unimpressive. Although this is not a shot across the bow as far as functionality goes, it makes the device less desirable to purchase. However, for those who care less about form and more about function, this is an area that will hold little weight. The ILIFE A4 looks ok. Not great, unique or stunning, but acceptable. Its shape is a clear mimic on the standard robot vacuum design so common in today’s market, but it also does little to push that design beyond any known boundaries. For those who want a little more spice out of their robot vacuum’s design, the lack of attention to any interesting physical features may be a significant point against this bot.
The ILIFE A4 comes with a good set of accessories in the box. As a positive, spare filters, side whiskers, primary agitator brushes, batteries, remotes and charging bases are easy to find and cheap to obtain. This may seem like a smell gesture, but there are many robot vacuum companies for which even this is difficult to find. Beyond providing full replacement parts, the company has one of the most extensive accessories departments on the market for robot vacuum cleaners. However, ILIFE does cover the bare minimum to allow you to keep the robot running without having to purchase a whole new unit.
This robot vacuum is extremely well priced for what you’re getting. It runs well, cleans well, and requires very little maintenance. Despite the overall cheap construction, it has stronger suction power than the sound and the price would suggest and stands up well to a little bit of punishment. The main drawback of this device is the overall inefficiency of its cleaning method, something that is compensated by having a much longer battery life. In all, that makes the ILIFE A4 an extremely good bargain, especially for those looking for something cheap, easy to use and effective.
Robot vacuums continue to get cheaper and better. The ILIFE A4 is a surprising entry in a very crowded, but overly unimpressive market. In most cases, robot vacuums are either expensive and functional, or cheap and ineffective. The ILIFE A4 is one of the few that manages to be both effective and inexpensive. The highlight of this device is the price, but it combines a fairly powerful motor, an extremely long battery life and impressive cleaning to its list. This makes it one of the best entries on the market for those who are looking for value, or for newcomers looking for something cheap, effective and not too complicated. The ILIFE A4 could certainly improve on the physical design, making a bot that is a bit more attractive or interesting to own. However, for pragmatists, this is going to be the go-to robot vacuum.