The Xiaomi Mi robot (also called MIJIA) is the new autonomous vacuum cleaner from China that claims to offer bigger suction power and longer battery life for a fraction of the price of its competitors. It was created by Rockrobo (a code name for the Xiaomi startup), and developed under Xiaomi’s Mi Ecosystem programme, which searches third-party consumer electronics companies to partner with Xiaomi in order to create premium home and lifestyle products outside of company’s main product lines: smartphones, smart TVs and routers. I’ve been reviewing robot vacuum cleaners for a while now, and when I heard that GearBest.com will be sending me a brand new Xiaomi Mi bot for testing purposes, my expectations were very high. So, if you’ll stick around for just a couple of minutes, you’re going to find out:
- if this product managed to please me
- what are it’s full specs
- whether it’s good for your home
- how it compares with other premium or low budget robots
- from where you can get it fast and cheap
Design & Looks
Here’s a gallery with some pictures of Xiaomi Mi’s robot:
and here’s my video review:
Specs & features
Suction & cleaning power
Xiaomi Mi claim they are producing a robot vacuum which can suck with an air pressure of 1,800 Pa. This is an impressive value, but as you probably saw in my video, in the paper and cornflour trials, the suction is not everything. Agitation also plays an important role. For example, in my SeeBest C561 review I showed you how efficient is a large suction inlet can be. In Xiaomi’s defense, all my video tests were carried out with the motor set on the Standard suction mode. If I’d have used the Power mode, things would have been a bit different. By the way, you can see the 3 power modes in the left pic. These can be switched in the Mi Home app, but I will discuss this in a few paragraphs. For now, suffice to say that I find the Standard mode the most convenient. When running on this mode, the bot produces around 64db and stills cleans like a champ. The suction power comes from a $10 ultra-quiet and yet powerful Nidec brushless motor. Nidec is also producing other essential parts of this robot vacuum, such as controllers, fans and so on. If I were to make a comparison, I’d say this unit has a cleaning power which is similar to the one delivered by iLife A4, iRobot Roomba 980 or even the SeeBest I was talking about.
The MIJIA Robot comes with a 5200mAh (14.4V / 74.88Wh) lithium ion battery that is good for up to two and half hours of continuous cleaning, after which it will automatically return to its base for recharging. This is impressive, compared to almost any other robotic vacuum cleaner out there. 150 minute of autonomy can only be seen in some iLife products (such as the V5 PRO or the V7S). Of course, this is probably measured with the robot working in the Standard mode. This equates to around 2700 sq ft (250 sq m) of floor space covered on a single battery charge, covering the needs of almost all small and medium sized homes. Bigger homes can also use this gizmo, because after it recharges, it will remember its last location and return to that exact point to continue its cleaning cycle, rather than start again and potentially neglect certain areas.
It can store a volume of dirt of 14 oz (0.42 liters), which is actually slightly smaller than the Roomba’s or Neato’s bigger bins. The bin however is easily accessible, and the process of empty it doesn’t imply a complete change of clothes. A nice touch is the bin sensor, which lets you know when the robot needs emptying.
The airflow is completely sealed, so the smaller dust particles end up in the large HEPA filter, which is also located on the dirt recipient. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come with extra filters, and these parts are not usually washable. The good news is that you should be able to get replacements relatively cheap (I recommend you to purchase them together with the unit).
The Xiaomi MIJIA Robot offers more sensors and computation power than most robot vacuums out there. It uses no less than 12 different sensors to navigate your home, including an ultrasonic radar sensor, a cliff sensor, a gyroscope and an accelerometer, as well as three dedicated processors for the Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM) movement algorithm. There’s also a speedometer and an electronic compass. But perhaps the most impressive is the laser distance sensor, which is the small disc you can see spinning on top of the device, which is similar to the ones used by Neato. This little helper is capable of scanning horizontally its surroundings in full 360 degrees up to 1,800 times a second. There are even 4 cliff sensors that prevent the vacuum from falling down the stairs.
Most of these work together to allow the robot to map the floor plan of your house and decide on the most efficient path. Sensor fusion has always been a hard thing to accomplish in any type of robotic device, so witnessing this process on the Xiaomi robot left me speechless. According to Xiaomi’s co-founder and vice president, Mr. Liu De, the robot plans the optimal cleaning route minutes ahead. Rather than bouncing randomly around the floor space using sensors to avoid obstacles, this robovac has a well defined strategy, just like we see in the premium models from all the other competitors.
Dimensions and Design
At the moment, the Xiaomi MIJIA Robot only comes in white, but the overall design is modern, stylish, futuristic and very pleasing to the eye. I could say it has the “Apple appeal”, but maybe I’m just a bit subjective. The vacuum has a circular shape, with a diameter of just 13.5 inches (34.29 cm), and a height of 3.8 inches (9.65 cm). In a few words, it’s small enough to be effective without getting in the way. It weights around 8.4 lbs (3.8 kg).
As this unit is available from wholesalers based in China, you will have specific warranty terms, depending from where you get it. GearBest i.e. offers 1 year of warranty, 45 days of money back guarantee, 3 days on a dead on arrival notification and lifetime technical support. This is in line with almost any other warranty offer by other wholesalers for a gadget such as this.
At this chapter, the units doesn’t score much. There’s nothing in the package besides the manual, the charging dock with an adapter and a plastic brush good for untangling hair.
It has 1 side brush that directs dirt and dust to the suction inlet, which then hoovers it up into the cleaner. The robot maintains a 1 cm distance from walls and furniture to allow the side brush to clean right into the corners of the room. Another standout feature of Xiaomi’s robot is the adjustable height. It can raise or lower its brushroll height mechanically, depending on the surface it is cleaning, optimizing its efficiency on both smooth and carpeted surfaces.
Because it has no remote control (just like Neato’s Botvac), I found it difficult to interact with it. You can only command it using the 2 buttons on the case, or by installing the Mi Home app, available on both Android and IOS. The process of installing the app and linking to the robot through it is so complex, I’ve made a special section below, just to talk about it in detail. There are no virtual walls available, and the sound produced is relatively high, reaching 68-70 db in Power mode, 64 db in Standard mode and 61 db in Quiet mode. On the other hand, thanks to the bristle/rubber mix we have in the brushroll, the robot works very well on all kinds of surfaces, from low pile and medium pile carpets to hard floors. The wheels have independent suspensions, and the robot can climb slopes up to 15 degrees.
The recharging process is dependable, because the unit actually knows where to return to juice up. The slowly back-gliding movement to the charging pins is adorable. Emptying the bin is also easy, especially with the full-bin sensor in place.
Mi Home App
The cleaner can be operated through Xiaomi’s Mi Home app, with which you can command it remotely. You can toggle it on and off, set the cleaning schedules, monitor progress, and switch between the three cleaning modes; all you need is an internet connection. The Mi Home app controls a wide range of wireless devices from Xiaomi, including their purifiers light fittings and others. It should however be noted that the MiHome app is very new and the user reviews on the app so far are very mixed, many reporting problems with several features, updates creating problems with connected devices and so on.
Above all, the app is in Chinese and from my understanding, the producer won’t release an English version any time soon. That being said, I’m here to help you out with a translation from Chinese to English, for the robot vacuum software module, and with the whole connection process.
- Step 1. The first thing you have to do is to download the Mi Home App, to install it on your smartphone and to make an account with Xiaomi.
- Step 2. After the app is installed, turn on the robot vacuum, open the wireless settings on your phone and search for the Wifi spot produced by the robot. It should be something with the word “robot” inside. Connect to this network.
- Step 3. Open the app and search among the Xiaomi product for the robot vacuum. Tap it and wait for the software to connect.
- Step 4. Insert the WIFI settings from your own home router which is connected to the internet.
- Step 5. Disconnect from the robot WIFI and connect instead to you home WIFI, which has internet. Your device should appear online.
The menu will be in Chinese, but I’ve already translated the Chinese options:
Although many tech blogs advertise this unit at $250, if you live outside China, the price is in fact a bit higher. One of the places which offers this product even as a giveaway from time to time is GearBest.com, so make sure you check them out and use the discount code XIAOMIVAC to get a nice bonus.
Xiaomi Mi vs iLife A4 vs iRobot Roomba 980 vs Neato Botvac Connected vs Dyson 360 Eye
The main selling point of the Xiaomi MIJIA Robot is the affordable price, as compared to similar models. It also has an appealing design, a relatively better battery, a good suction motor and HEPA filtration. Most users will fall in love with the intelligent home mapping and planning system.
Unfortunately, there are no virtual walls available. The main drawbacks of the device are the questionable app performance, the limited global availability and lack of long term user feedback to judge reliability and performance. Accessories are non-existent, and the sound levels are a bit high.
Conclusion and VGMrv
This cleaner is now available worldwide thanks to online shopping malls such as GearBest. Western markets will have to wait a while for full language support, but if you’re willing to take the chance and get one, you now have that option. The Xiaomi Mi vacuum cleaner seems to be yet another example of the Chinese approach to provide a better value for the money than their rivals, by offering premium-level features at an affordable price.
Here’s my VGMrv:
VGMrv table for Xiaomi Mi robot
|Weight and Dimensions||9|
(VacuumsGuide.com Mark for robo-vacs)
So, what do you think about this new piece? Would you get a Xiaomi Mi robot to help you out with your cleaning chores? Please comment.
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Thanks! Interesting review and comparison …
Gearbest offers now a magnetic virtual wall stripe
Please how can I get English translated APP (ios)??
I do not find the vacuum cleaner in my iOS Xiaomi Home App 🙁
Jason Roberts says
Are you sure you’ve followed the steps?
Chris C says
Richard, i had the same problem and there is a trick.
1. Uninstall the MiHome App.
2. Set your phone location / region to China (or Mainland China / Taiwan).
3. Go back to Play / search for MiHome. Install it again.
4. Launch the app and you must select “Mainland China” as the region setting for the MiHome app.
5. Launch the MiHome app.
6. Press the power & home button concurrently to reset the WIFI in Mi Vacuum cleaner.
7. Go to your phone WIFI setting. Detect the vacuum cleaner (*robot).
8. Return to the MiHome and “add device” accordingly.
Good luck. I spent few hours to figure it out (although i can read the Chinese words but it is not available in the manual).
Use add manually, search for robot. A picture will then appear with some Chinese text, select the picture. Might need to reset wifi on vacuum cleaner, I could not get a connection until after doing this, love this thing real value for money
A Polish device tester has found a good solution for app in Cbinese. Just another app that translates it live called App Translator (unfortunately none for iOS) https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.pjf.apptranslator
Just bought one and after the first cleanings I couldn’t be happier. What a machine!
Did all the house and all the carpets without any problem.
Would like to show you the final result of the mapping but cannot post pictures here.
Jason Roberts says
Nice to hear that! You can send me the pictures, I can post them if you like.
Haunan Afif says
Could you tell me what should i do when the Robot finished cleaning job and going to charging dock?
How to turn the Robot off?
I try to long press power button but didn’t work..
Jason Roberts says
Don’t turn it off, just leave it be. The product is meant to remain on.
I ordered one from mainland china and it arrived today, installed step by step following your guide its an amazing machine.. I also own a roomba 650. Mi robot is way cheaper and does way better job.
I just can’t wait for the english version app.. it would be a 10/10
The app is already in English. Also you can change the vacuum’s voice in English. Set of parts (2 filters, 2 side brushes, 1 roll brush and one cleaning tool) is about 20$ on AliExpress. Cheers.
jason andrade says
After reading this review (and a few others) we’ve purchased this robot vaccum cleaner. Observations so far:
– It comes packed really well
– There isn’t much with it. The unit, power charger, original US cable, an Australian power cable, a cleaning brush and some instructions in chinese.
We put it onto charge and after a while, let it run:
– It’s quite noisy, unfortunately
– It talks to us in Mandarin (I assume) but we’d really prefer English..
– We haven’t gotten the app to work yet but are still trying
– The manual says it does have support for virtual walls – which turns out to be a strip of magnetic tape you can purchase to put on top of stairs.
– The manual also says you have to block off stairs so I’m not sure what’s correct from the original review above that implies it won’t fall down stairs and has cliff sensors.. that’s not what we have been led to understand..
Still giving it a go but so far my wife is not that impressed, sadly..
Jason Roberts says
I had the same feelings in the beginning. Use the app and you’ll definitely change your mind. I’m using this product at least 2 times per week and I absolutely love it.
Regarding price i think it’s a bit unfair to have
xiaomi at $$ when
Rhoomba980 gets $$$
I can buy allmost three xiaomi including filter+brush kit on ali express
for the price of 1 rhoomba 980 here in Sweden =) Botvac slightly cheaper than Rhoomba but not much.
Anyway, what I found interesting in your review was the max tilt angle of 15° reason being I have high thresholds between my rooms (25-55mm high) and the xiaomi can’t climb any of them. It doesn’t get stuck but it tries over and over and it sounds horrible.
Anyway I built wedges in wood being 170mm long and 45mm tall as max (beam size). While it can climb the wedges that are around 11° inclination it can not climb the ones that are at 15°….or it can climb them if I drive the robot manually with a slight angled path (not going straight at the ramp) but only when approaching in a right turned path. In a left turned path it stops half way and reverse slightly from gravity then try again..infinite number of times so there is something about the angle sensor/software that is built in that prevents left approach.
When going straight it can go over the ramp if I put it on its own in the middle of three room, but as soon as I put it close to the threshold the robot gets stuck halfway up or refuses to climb. If it would have gone full speed at it it would have made it, but as soon as I try a cleaning program it is really clumsy when trying to go up on the wedge and barely never makes it (only the few occasions that it goes up in a right turn which is uncommon since the robot follows the room in a anti clockwise direction due to the wall brush).
Anyway except from that issue the robot is perfect for my hardwood floors.
The app is now in English and also English voice pack is available.
Robot ALWAYS finds the dock and I even put the base in a very tight spot where there is only 5cm on each side of the robot when its docked. No problem.
I even lifted the robot from one room to another and still it magically seemed to find its way to the base station in a straight line avoiding obstacles. This only seen to work on full cleaning mode though. If I run robot manually and move it it has to find the IR beam of the dock to find it and as my base(charger with ir) ia tucked away in a 60cm deep “hole” by the kitchen it can not be seen unless I put the robot in front of the hole, but then I just press dock and it nicely travels back and docks =)
The scheduling is PERFECT.
I do custom schedules (clean mo fri when I’m at work…sound level does not matter then) that I can turn on and off remotely depending on if I for example is away for a while it does not need to clean mo, fri. When I’m about to leave and going home from a trip I just start the cleaning from the airport and the apartment is dust free when I get home.
Make sure to switch to mainland China, reset and THEN update the robot if you want the latest firmware (they seem to release first here before they fire them out to the rest of the world). You can then reset and switch back to your part of the world.
I also made a small life hack and attached self adhesive velcro behind the wheels and attached a microfiber mop from a different robot that had the exact measurements, so now it sucks up the dust and imediatelly dry mops in one sweep =) I tried wetting the mop, but it only stays wet for about 20sqm then it starts getting to dry, but that worked nice to even though not as effective as the mopping robots if course since it does not “scrub” or spray new fluid. Im thinking of how to fit a small water chamber that is pressurized from the vacuum exhaust, that could make fluid start dripping onto the mop but there is not much space to work with.
Anyway, love this little machine as much as I hate to vacuum =D
Jason Roberts says
Thanks for the review, Boogie Man! I haven’t got the chance to test it on max tilt, your info is a great addition to my article.
I travel a lot and am intrigued by the idea that I can actually activate the cleaning process after I have landed at the airport and as I make my way back home. Does the robot clean in the dark (night vision)? I draw my curtains when I am away and wonder if this will in any way hinder the robot’s work.
Jason Roberts says
It uses laser, not video sensors, so it can very well clean in the night.
Hi, does this clean as good as a Roomba 630. I don’t know whether to purchase this one, or buy a high quality Roomba. Look forward to your reply.
Jason Roberts says
David, this vacuum works way better than an old 630 Roomba.
Hi, so I took your advice and bought one, I found your review very accurate and informing, thanks for helping me make an educated decision.
(BTW, you can get virtual walls for this on eBay, they are magnetic strips, which don’t require batteries like the ones for Roombas do).
I could go on and on how great it is, I thought these things were just a gimmick, but that couldn’t be further than the truth. This cleans my polished timber floors better than what I can. Normally I vacuum every 2nd day, then mop once a week. (the mop water is always filthy when I’m done). It’s been a week since I’ve had this robovac in action, and just finished the first mop, and the water is crystal clear, it was totally unnecessary.
You don’t get that chalky dusty grit under your feet telling you it’s time to do the floors again.
So the investment of $400 means I won’t have to mop the floor at all. (nor vacuum). A good cleaning company charges $45+ per hour to clean a domestic residence, so you do the math. It’s a no brainer.
Obviously it doesn’t get into corners, but I’ve found, if you get this to clean the floors everyday, there’s not a great deal of dust left on the floor to make its way into the corners to begin with.
I’ve watched it in operation, and it doesn’t miss a spot. It seems to map out a 10 cubic metre square, doing the outer edges first, then it comes back again doing a zigzag pattern until it covers every centimetre, then off it goes again, mapping out another similar sized area, and so on, until every room is done, then goes back to dock with 100% accuracy.
You will have to make some alterations to house to accommodate it. I’ve had to put non slip mesh under the floor runners so it doesn’t bunch up and hook up on it. Also, distance between objects have to be greater than its width so it can navigate freely. Dining chairs need to be put upside down on the table, otherwise it gets under the table, and can’t find its way out, bumping, banging and reversing between the chair and table legs.
For the serious buyer, here are the negatives I’ve found with it. (Don’t get me wrong, I love it, and won’t be sending it back).
1. No matter what people tell you, it will not vacuum Black mats made from “outdoor carpet “. I usually have two in the kitchen in front of the sink, and two at the back entrance to help catch dirt from people’s feet. If I don’t remove them before it cleans the house, it will skirt around them thinking it’s a cliff it will fall from.
To me, it’s no longer an issue, because I don’t have clean the floor, it does, so I’ve removed them altogether. The weird thing is, that it will happily vacuum my 3 black Cotton runners. It just doesn’t like the glossy polyester mats. And they are not totally black, either, they are more black with grey.
2. The first time it did the house, the battery percentage was 67% when it finished, and went back to the dock. The 2nd time it cleaned the house, it was 66%, the third time 65%, the time after that 64% and so on. This indicates to me that the manufacturer was on a budget and didn’t put lithium batteries in it, I guess they were trying to keep costs down so they could have an aggressive retail price. I’m not overly worried, because I estimate it will last 8 months before The batteries cave in, and I will pay to have it repacked with lithium batteries by a local electronic repairer, which brings me to my last point.
3. There isn’t a national supplier here in Australia, so if something goes tragically wrong, you’re screwed. So far, so good, but it’s worth keeping in mind. I guess when you consider its price range, you’re not paying $1400 that you would expect to pay for the top end Roomba, (which isn’t half as good), so if I get 18 months out of it, I’ll put it in the dumpster, remove the lithium batteries I’ve had installed, buy another, and I’m still in front.
My conclusion, they are amazing, they aren’t a gimmick, and worth their weight in gold.
After I have spent two hours on trying to set it up, finally it worked. The catch is the name of the device from the drop down list to choose in MiHome app. From my iPhone WiFi showing “Robo….”had mislead me to choose “Robo..vacuum Cleaner” from the MiHome app, instead we should choose “MiRobot Vacuum Cleaner”.