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Xiaomi Mi Robot vacuum review: Your weekends just got lazier

Xiaomi isn't just a phone manufacturer. The Chinese brand has ventured into the home appliances category with its Mi Ecosystem products, launching utilities like light bulbs, air purifiers, rice cookers, fitness bands, and even a smart screwdriver. Xiaomi doesn't make the products in the lifestyle category itself. Instead, it invests in or partners with startups in this segment, and then makes its vast supply chain available to these companies.

It's a win-win for both parties as startups get valuable funds and access to Xiaomi's supply chain. Xiaomi, meanwhile, gets to market the hardware under its own label, like it does with the Mi Band, which is designed and manufactured by Huami. The Mi Robot also follows the same path. The device itself is made by one of Xiaomi's ecosystem partners Rockrobo, and is now selling in China for the equivalent of $250.

Why is AC reviewing this? Xiaomi's ecosystem model is all about providing smart home solutions that are affordable. While it isn't an Android device, the Mi robot is a neat bit of kit, and the ability to control your vacuum with your phone is just cool.

Xiaomi Mi Robot review

With its white color scheme and minimalist styling, the vacuum is very Apple-esque when it comes to the design. The Mi Robot features a total of 12 sensors that allow it to effectively navigate around your house, including an ultrasonic radar sensor, a cliff sensor, a gyroscope and an accelerometer. The data from these sensors is transmitted to three on-board co-processors, which use a Simultaneous Localization and Mapping algorithm to determine the most efficient cleaning route.

The vacuum has a suction rating of 1800Pa, more than that of the $900 Roomba 980 (opens in new tab). The brushless DC motor, controllers, and fans come from Nidec. The suction inlet is located at the bottom, and there's a side brush to the right of the vacuum that directs dust towards the inlet as it navigates around a room. The vacuum has two wheels, and can adjust its height automatically to create more suction with the surface.

Here's how it works: the vacuum creates a virtual map of the room by going around all four corners. Once it figures out the layout, it starts cleaning the room in a grid, going back and forth to ensure that all areas are covered. It is a very efficient system, and one that differentiates the Mi Robot from others in this category.

Xiaomi sells an optional virtual wall accessory that lets you create a restricted area for the device. The virtual wall is a magnetic stripe that can be placed on the floor, effectively creating a barrier for the vacuum.

Xiaomi Mi Robot review

The Mi Robot comes with a 5200mAh battery, which delivers a cleaning time of around two hours, after which the unit will automatically return to its charging dock to recharge. The vacuum remembers its last location, so even if the battery runs out in the middle of a cycle, the unit will recharge itself and come back to the same spot to re-commence cleaning.

Xiaomi Mi Home

There are two buttons on the vacuum: power and home. You can start the cleaning process with a short press of the power button, while the home button initiates a return to the charging dock. You can also control the vacuum through the Mi Home app (opens in new tab), which lets you view the virtual map created by the vacuum and its current status. You can also schedule a cleaning session from the app.

Through the Mi Home app, you can set different modes for the vacuum: Quiet, Standard, and Strong. The standard mode is enabled by default, and it gets the job done for everyday cleaning. In standard mode, the vacuum produces around 64dB of sound. The dust picked up by the robot is collected in a tiny cleaning bin, which has a sensor that notifies you when it's full. I thought I was fairly efficient at cleaning the house with a regular vacuum, but I scheduled the Mi Robot to run after vacuuming one day and it managed to pick up a significant amount of dust.

The biggest drawback with the vacuum is that the app and manual are in Mandarin, making it harder to set it up. While the Mi Home app itself is available in other countries, the Mi Robot is listed only when you select Mainland China as the region. You can navigate the settings by using Google Translate, but it is cumbersome to get started with the vacuum at first.

Overall, the Mi Robot is well worth its $250 asking price. The vacuum did a fantastic job of cleaning the house, and it tackled carpeted areas as well as tiled surfaces with ease.

Given that the product is limited to China, the best way to get your hands on the Mi Robot outside of China is through third-party resellers like GearBest, where it's available for $259 (opens in new tab). That's just $20 more than what the vacuum retails for within China.

See at GearBest (opens in new tab)

Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.

18 Comments
  • That's pretty cool. So, you only to have worry about emptying it out. I still use a regular vacuum but if this comes to the states, I may just get it, since it's a lot more affordable than a Roomba. Little by little I will make my home a smart home. Just got a hue light this weekend. Will get the Google home next month. Pretty soon I'll give the govt access to all of my "exciting" life.
  • Since I dont have home internet (have mobile hotspot) i can only use Hue Light.
  • It would be worth to mention something about the security of this device. After all, my assumption is that the servers it talks to are based in China. Presumably, it sends the map of your home there? Also, how secure are its own communications? How likely is it to become a Mirai node?
  • It will know when you're not home and call thieves to come rob your house.
  • Change all of the default credentials and no Mirai node to worry about. You should do this with all tech devices you setup/activate.
  • yup the price point is the best Roomba is crazy expe
  • I thought it read Mr Robot!
  • How exactly does one make a screwdriver "smart"?
  • Neato makes a much better vacuum than Roomba. https://www.neatorobotics.com
  • Those are double the price of the Xiaomi
  • Buy them on sale at Bed Bath & Beyond. You can even use the 20% off coupon you always get in the mail. I bought my Neato BotVacs that way last year and it's been great. The device reviewed in this article follows the same pattern of plotting and vacuuming in straight lines as the Neato. Remembering its location to return and finish cleaning after a charge and using a magnetic strip to limit access is what the Neato does, too. It even has an almost identical looking base.
  • Hi Harish,When do u think it'll be released in India? Will it be released at all?
  • No official word, but if not by the end of this year, then in early 2017.
  • Why is this on Android Central?
  • "Why is AC reviewing this? Xiaomi's ecosystem model is all about providing smart home solutions that are affordable. While it isn't an Android device, the Mi robot is a neat bit of kit, and the ability to control your vacuum with your phone is just cool."
  • Because it was a slow day and writer had quota to meet.
  • No quotas to deal with here (thankfully). Xiaomi's ecosystem model is very interesting, and a lot of folks want to know about its products. And they all tie in with its Android phones.
  • Man quit asking the same questions over and over. "Why is this on AC?" "Hey why is this on AC?"
    It's always because they think a good portion of their reader base will be interested. And I'm interested in this. And if I wasn't, I wouldn't read it. Its existence should not and does not affect your life in any way.