It's only recently that the cleaning robot segment has really started getting attention in India, but brands such as ILife have been in the business of making vacuuming and mopping robots for a while now. The company, with its India headquarters in Bangalore, claims to have over 3.3 million customers across 35 countries, with its robots said to clean 610 square kilometres of area in customers' homes every day.
The company has a small range of cleaning robots priced from Rs. 14,900 onwards, going up to the flagship product in the range, the Rs. 34,900 ILife A10s Robot Vacuum Mop which I'm reviewing here. The successor to the ILife A9s, the A10s features laser navigation, which also enables it to save maps of your home and follow specific cleaning instructions based on its layout. Is this the best cleaning robot you can buy right now? Find out in this review.
Like its predecessor the A9s, the ILife A10s is a cleaning robot which can vacuum and mop. It has a typical disc-shaped body with wheels at the bottom to move around. There are two sweeping brushes at the front, the vacuum zone in the middle, and space for a removable module at the back. For vacuuming, you have to have the dust bin module fitted there, and for mopping, the water reservoir module snaps into place.
The water reservoir module has a cloth which attaches at the bottom. ILife states that the mop fitting has a ‘vibrating tank' function which moves in all directions to release water, which lets it mop gently and effectively when moving around.
Apart from the sweeping brushes at the front, the vacuum zone also has a roller brush to direct dirt and impurities into the dust bin, and a dust filter to filter out fine particles. In the retail package, you get a charging dock and plate, an adapter to power the charging dock, and a remote control to manually control the ILife A10s without the app.
The power adapter can be directly connected to the robot itself, to charge it without the dock. The robot has a physical power switch, and it is recommended that it be left on at all times, parked on the charging dock when not in use. The remote runs on two AAA batteries, and it can be used to start cleaning, send the robot back to the charging dock, or manually drive it around, all by pointing it at the robot and pressing the right buttons.
Spares for the ILife A10s, including extra sweeping brushes, a rubber roller brush, and an extra dust filter, are included in the box. The cleaning robot has a flexible front bumper to protect it from collisions, and a raised module at the top for the laser navigation equipment.
Unlike the A9s which relies on a camera to navigate, the ILife A10s is equipped with laser navigation, which is known to be more accurate and more sensitive to obstacles in the cleaning area. This also makes the robot capable of working in dark rooms. The A10s can store maps of your home, which can then be used to customise the cleaning routine by setting no-go and carpet zones, invisible walls, room divisions, and more.
Competing products in the cleaning robot segment such as the 360 S7 and Mi Robot Vacuum Mop-P use laser navigation to good effect, and the ILife A10s does indeed come close when it comes to navigational accuracy. In my experience, the device moved quickly and was generally able to avoid collisions with obstacles, including walls and the legs of tables and chairs.
However, I did find that the device needed specific guidance by way of setting up no-go zones and carpeted areas through the app. I needed to move objects such as loose rugs and wires out of the way. The ILife A10s did, on occasion, get stuck in sliding door tracks, and got the tassels at the edges of a rug stuck in its wheels. Navigation isn't as flawless on this device as I've seen on competing options.
When properly set up and with any potential obstacles out of the way, the ILife A10s moved quickly and in a predictable and sensible path to complete its cleaning task. It was able to fully clean my 900 square-foot home once in around 45 minutes when vacuuming, and took roughly the same amount of time to mop the same space.
The ILife A10s robot vacuum mop can be controlled using the ILife Home app, available for Android and iOS. Although I did sometimes find it quicker to use the remote or even just press the buttons on the device itself, the app allowed for much more specific control over the functions of the robot. These include controlling and monitoring it remotely even if you aren't at home, managing maps, setting an order or specific room list for cleaning, creating restricted zones and invisible walls, and more.
Setting up the robot for the first time took a while, but once complete, I didn't have any connectivity or usage issues with the app during my time with it. The default screen of the ILife A10s app is your home map, along with status indicators that tell you the cleaning area covered and time taken (when in use), plus the charging and battery status. You can also set the suction power, side brush speed, and water usage level, as well as update the firmware, set schedules, and see logs of past cleaning tasks.
Usefully, you can have the app installed on multiple devices, so different members of your family can control it as necessary, unlike the 360 S7 which can only be used on one device at a time. The app is generally very easy to use, and shows a live view of the robot's location within your home while cleaning, as well as the areas covered and time taken. All of this does, of course, need your robot to have a stable link with your Wi-Fi connection to work properly.
Although not as intuitive with navigation as competing products, and with an app that feels a bit more simple than the companion apps from 360 and Xiaomi, the ILife A10s robot vacuum mop is among the more effective cleaning robots around. The company hasn't specified the suction power of the vacuum cleaner, but it's more than enough for everyday cleaning of hard floors.
Having two sweeping brushes makes the ILife A10s a lot more competent at sweeping dirt out from its path and into the vacuum zone to pick up, including along edges and in corners. While no cleaning robot is completely effective, the ILife A10s does a better job than most competing products which have just a single sweeping brush. Even with dry spills resulting in a bit more mess to pick up, the robot was able to clean the area effectively enough.
However, as with any cleaning robot, you will still have to manually sweep dirt out from edges, corners, and hard-to-reach places every few days, or use a handheld manual vacuum cleaner such as the Dyson Omni-glide. I found that the A10s was very effective at vacuuming with its suction power set to around the 80 percent mark, and this also kept it from making too much noise while cleaning.
For mopping, the ILife A10s uses a separate fitting that holds water and vibrates when working to sprinkle it. Although this fitting does have a small dustbin area to hold dirt captured by the vacuum cleaner, it's best to run the vacuum cleaner with its dedicated dustbin fitting, which is larger and more effective at holding all the dirt accumulated over a typical household run. The mop tank can hold more than enough water for a full home cleaning, and has a mop cloth attached at the bottom to wipe up the released water.
When using the mop fitting, the ILife A10s is very good at mopping, doing a better job than the 360 S7 and Mi Robot Vacuum Mop-P. It isn't recommended to add any cleaning agents or additives to the water tank, but I did sprinkle a few drops on the floor before any mopping tasks, to good effect.
As with all cleaning robots, regular maintenance is necessary with the ILife A10s in order to keep things running smoothly. This includes cleaning and untangling things from the sweeping brushes and main brush, keeping the water tank topped up, emptying the dustbin, and cleaning the mop cloth. Without regular maintenance, the ILife A10s can have considerably reduced cleaning efficiency. The app helps you keep track of the health of the consumable parts such as the brushes and filter, and these will also need periodic replacement.
The ILife A10s has a 2,900mAh battery, with a claimed runtime of 80-100 minutes per charge. This was enough to both vacuum and mop my 900 square-foot home. It took around 90 minutes to complete both tasks when run one after the other. Although the app does not show the specific battery level of the device, it reported that the battery was almost empty after around 90 minutes of running.
From this point, the ILife A10s took around four hours to recharge fully. Charging is slow, but assuming you only need to run the robot once a day for vacuuming and mopping, this shouldn't pose too much of a problem.
The docking station needs to be placed in an area that is easily accessible and visible to the ILife A10s. The device is able to drive itself back onto the dock, and is even able to use its generated map of your home to find the dock from a different room with no direct line of sight. Usefully, you can also plug the charger directly into the robot; this was necessary on a couple of occasions when the battery ran out completely and the robot was unable to start charging on the dock.
ILife is an established brand when it comes to cleaning robots in India and across Asia, and the A10s is a decent option to consider for under Rs. 40,000. Laser navigation is a big advantage on this model over its predecessor, and this enables mapping, room-wise cleaning, the ability to set invisible boundaries and no-go zones, and much more. Usefully, the cleaning remains competent, as long as you're willing to vacuum and mop in separate runs.
Although I did face some issues with navigation, my experience with the ILife A10s was pleasant on the whole, and I found that the effectiveness of its cleaning made up for these small shortcomings. That said, I found the overall user experience a lot better with options such as the 360 S7 and Mi Robot Vacuum Mop-P; the ILife A10s simply isn't as ‘smart' as the competition, even with the advantage of laser navigation.
Price: Rs. 34,900