- Cleans hard floors and thin carpets fairly well.
- Extremely quiet compared to other vacuums.
- Easily goes under furniture.
- HEPA filtration.
- Cannot be scheduled to run in max or mini-room mode.
- Does not clean in a 2 feet radius around its home base.
- May have difficulty moving from a hard floor to a thick rug
The ILIFE A4s has a typical design for robotic vacuums. It is round, made of dark grey plastic with a soft bumper on the front edge, which is also a touch sensor, and two side brushes stick out from underneath. The robot’s diameter is 12.2 inches and height 3 inches, which allows it to go under most furniture. It is lightweight at only 4.9 pounds. On the shiny top of the vacuum is only one button “AUTO”, which lights up in different colors displaying the robot’s current status.
On the edge is an on/off switch and charger socket.
On the bottom of the vacuum are two motorized wheels and one un-motorized nose wheel that turns freely in whatever direction the vacuum is driven. The bottom also includes the two side-brushes, a roller brush, charger pins, cliff sensors, the dust bin, and the battery compartment.
The ILIFE A4s cleans short carpets and hard floors easily. It picks up most stuff that can be seen with the naked eye; one will find a lot of junk in the dustbin even after it cleans a relatively clean room. It works well with pet hair and hair in general as well as, for example, cat litter on concrete. It doesn’t clean everything in one pass, but keeps going over an area, getting it increasingly clean until it returns to dock.
It will not replace a traditional vacuum. However, you will use your traditional vacuum a lot less by running the robot vacuum regularly.
3-step cleaning system
The robot features a common 3-step cleaning system to thoroughly clean carpets and floors. The side brushes sweep dirt into the path, the main brush rolls dirt up, and the fan sucks the dirt into the dustbin. This robotic vacuum uses an advanced brushless motor which is more durable and energy-efficient than a traditional brushed motor. It provides enough suction to move the dirt agitated by the roller brush into the dustbin.
To increase suction and maximize dirt pickup, “max” mode can be activated via remote controller. It provides better cleaning and will come in handy with pet hair, but battery life will decrease. Unfortunately, max mode cannot be scheduled and must be activated manually after cleaning begins. However, if the robot is used daily, it cleans well even in “normal” mode.
The A4s features a double V-shaped bristle brush, which enhances cleaning and reduces tangles compared to a common brush. It easily picks up stuff hidden in the carpet like dirt, cereal, dust mites, and crumbs.
However, it cannot be called tangle-free like manufacturer claims. Hair still tangles around the brush bar, which needs to be removed and cleaned approximately twice a week, or more often if anyone in your household has long hair.
The A4s has a cleaning path 5.5 inches wide around the center of the robot, which is typical for round robotic vacuums, so to clean edges, it must sweep dirt into the cleaning path with the side brushes. They work well, picking up hair and dust on the edge of your wall and pushing it into the vacuum’s suction. The only edges it doesn’t do well are inner corners.
Side brushes will eventually wear down under continuous usage and need to be replaced. The robot comes with one extra pair.
This vacuum is extremely quiet compared to other robotic models. In “max” mode it is a little louder, but on normal this robot is almost silent. You can hear it running, but it’s quiet enough for you to watch TV while it vacuums. It tends to be a bit louder on hard floors and quieter on carpets.
Although its navigation pattern is not very intelligent, the robot eventually covers all of an area if it runs daily.
This robot does not vacuum in long straight lines; it uses the random “bump-and-redirect” navigation “pattern.” This means that it moves somewhat randomly: it might clean one corner of a room for a few seconds then move all the way to another corner of the room before going back to clean another part of the first corner. If you leave it alone to run for two hours, it does generally clean most of the floor in a 1000 square foot apartment.
The robot avoids cleaning in a two foot radius around its home base.
Cleaning under furniture
Thanks to its low-profile design, the robot can clean under furniture such as beds, wardrobes, and sofas where dirt hides. When you vacuum manually, you may skip such places, but A4s won’t. However, it can get stuck if a section of the furniture bottom is exactly the same height as the robot. It will get part-way under it, then get stuck, and turn itself off. It is recommended to block the vacuum’s way under such furniture, such as with a box.
The robot navigates well around obstacles. All the sensors on this vacuum work great and keep it from hitting furniture and walls. Although it does seem to find darker furniture more difficult to see. And sometimes the robot bumps lightly into narrow objects such as furniture legs, but never hard enough to damage anything.
The robot’s cliff sensors do their job and prevent the robot from driving off stairs and other ledges. Unfortunately, the optical cliff sensor treats dark surfaces as drops and therefore the robot won’t go over black rugs and can get stuck on black flooring.
The cliff sensors should be cleaned from time to time.
Transitioning from hard floor to carpets
The robot easily goes from hardwood floors to thin rugs and carpets. Low thresholds are never an obstacle for this little robot. If you have high rugs, the robot will avoid them. However, it may happen that the robot doesn’t detect a rug as too high to climb on and gets hung-up on one.
If you have a rug with a long fringe, the robot can get tangled in it. It’s recommended to move such rugs away or to tuck the fringe under the rug.
Returning to dock
The A4s automatically returns to its docking station to recharge. When it runs low on power, it will look for the charging dock and meander its way back.
The robot is designed to run in a single room. It does not track its position in the apartment and if you have multiple rooms, place a dock station, run the robot in one room, and leave the door open, it can escape from the room and never find its way back to the charging dock before dying.
To help the robot be able to find the dock without difficulty, the dock should be placed against the wall with free space of at least 3.3 feet on the both sides and 6.6 feet in front of it. Otherwise the robot can fail to return to dock.
The charging base can be placed, preferably, on a hard floor, but also on a thin carpet, where it can still dock without issues.
To clean only along the edges of the apartment, where dirt tends to collect, you can activate “edge mode” from the remote when the vacuum is near the wall. ILIFE A4s also does a great job whisking the edges of a room for hair and dust even when it’s not on the edge setting.
In “auto mode” the robot will clean the apartment until the battery is depleted and return to the dock for recharging. It will also get edges in this mode.
To clean some particularly dirty area, you can activate “spot mode” from the remote while the robot is running over the spot. The robot will clean the spot by spiraling around it and then return to the mode it was in before.
If you have a small room to clean, running the robot for the standard two hours might seem excessive. In such a case, “mini-room mode” will come in handy. Press the “Auto” button twice to activate it and the A4s will run for approximately 30 minutes before returning to the charging dock.
The ILIFE A4s comes equipped with a Li-ion battery, 14.8V * 2.6Ah = 38.5Wh. It gives 120 minutes of run time in normal mode or 90 minutes in max mode. The robot has fade-free technology, so cleaning performance does not decrease when the battery is running low.
Knowing the battery energy and runtime, we can calculate the power: 38.5Wh / 2h = 19.25 Watt in normal mode (this includes the vacuum motor, driving motor, brushes motor and all electronics).
Full charge time is five hours. When the battery is fully charged, the light will turn off. The robot can and should be kept docked after fully charged, ready to start cleaning whenever you need it.
The charging pins on the robot and the dock should be cleaned periodically to provide a good electrical connection.
The controls on the robot are simple. A switch on the edge turns it on or off, and the “Auto” button on top runs it in auto mode or pauses it if it’s already running. Double click on the “Auto” button to activate mini-room mode.
All other controls are on the remote.
The remote is powered with two AAA batteries and can be used to run the robot in any available mode, pause or stop it, send it to the dock, set the clock, schedule cleaning, and control the robot’s movements while cleaning with arrow buttons.
The remote uses an infrared port and must be aimed towards the robot to send commands.
Programmable scheduling allows the A4s to clean while you sleep or go out. Scheduled times are stored in the robot’s memory. After scheduling is set, the robot will run every day at the specified time. Scheduled cleaning will always use auto mode. To change mode, for example, to enable max mode, you have to press a button on the remote after cleaning begins, which is impossible if you aren’t at home. But everyday cleaning, even on standard suction, will keep floors clean.
Like any robotic vacuum cleaner, an ILIFE A4s will try to eat socks, wires, tissues, belts, fabrics, etc. left on the floor, and any stringy rug-fringes. It will get stuck, do some beeping, and then turn off. To avoid this, it’s recommended to pick up all such items from the floor before cleaning.
To make navigating and cleaning more effective, it’s also recommended to take any small items that it may run into, such as toys, off the floor. It can also be helpful to move large items that might obstruct access to tight spaces you want cleaned and to restrict access to areas you don’t want cleaned or where the robot could get stuck.
All three wheels of the robot will eventually tangle with hair and should be cleaned periodically.
The robot has a fairly large dustbin of 0.45L. It should be emptied after each use. The dustbin is easily detached with one click. It’s better to turn the robot upside down before detaching the dustbin to avoid dust falling off of it onto the floor.
The ILIFE A4s employs a 3-stage filtration system. It has a fabric screen that keeps out most large debris. It then has a foam filter and finally a pleated paper HEPA filter. The filtration works very well and really reduces allergies.
You’ll need to clean all the filters at least twice a month. But these tasks are simple and relatively quick.
The HEPA filter should be replaced every 6 months. Good news is that the robot comes with one spare HEPA filter.
What’s in the box
- Main body
- Charging home base
- Remote control
- Two AAA batteries
- Cleaning tool
- User manual
- Two extra side brushes
- Extra HEPA filter
ILIFE A4s specifications
|Return to dock||Yes|
|Battery energy||38.5 Wh|
|Input power||19 watts|
|Dustbin capacity||0.45 liters|
|Warranty period||1 years|
|Cleaning path||12.2 inches|