ILife A4s Pro robot vacuum hands-on: App-free, powerful suction with a remote control

Hands on with the ILife A4s Pro robot vacuum App-free powerful suction with remote controller zdnet
  • Editors' rating
    8.6 Outstanding

Pros

  • ElectroWall boundary marker included
  • Does not need an app for scheduling
  • Simple to install and configure

Cons

  • Occasionally cannot climb rugs on low power

I have reviewed several ILife robot vacuums over the last two years since I first tried the ILife V8s multi-purpose mopping and cleaning vacuum.

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Some of the ILife vacuums -- like the A7  or the ILife A9 -- require an app for functionality. Others, like the superb single-function Shinebot W400 floor washing robot, work perfectly well without an app.

If you find an app too fiddly to configure, or you want a simple set of control functions for your robot vacuum, then the ILife A4s Pro robot vacuum could be ideal for you.

The A4s Pro has been updated from the A4s ILife. The suction power has been increased from 1000Pa to 1500Pa when cleaning using Max mode and 2000Pa when operating in spot mode.

When the robot crosses from hard flooring to carpet the suction power automatically increases to cope with the carpet pile.

The A4s Pro also has a battery-powered ElectroWall unit that provides a 3m wide boundary area where the vacuum will not cross. This ensures that the robot will not get trapped during cleaning.

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ILife says that the robot is not good for black-colored floors. However, I have been testing all devices at home during lockdown -- and one of my rooms at home has a black tiled floor. The A4s Pro had no issues cleaning this room and finding its way back to its home charging point.

Some robot vacuums, such as the Roborock range and Roomba models, only have one rotating brush. The A4s Pro, like the Ecovacs Deebot range, has two brushes, which I think guide dust into the dustbin more effectively.

The A4s comes with a remote control and AAA batteries, the ElectroWall unit and AA batteries, power adapter, and docking unit (the transformer is at the plug in this model -- not in the main charging dock body). There is a cleaning tool, a spare set of side brushes, and a filter in the box, too.

The dustbin is at the rear of the robot unit and not hidden under a cover in the main body. The dustbin seems larger than on models where the dustbin is hidden under the cover, meaning the bin needs to be emptied less often.

Programming the robot is simple using the remote control. Once the correct time has been set using the clock button on the remote, the daily cleaning schedule can be set using the bell button on the remote control unit.

You can also use the directional buttons to drive the robot to wherever you need it to be. I find that picking the unit up and carrying it to where you want it is far easier than using the directional controls.

Then you can use the appropriate buttons to perform an edge clean, a spot clean, changed the suction power, or return the unit to its charging dock.

This robot has no human-sounding voice alerts. If there is an issue, the robot will beep up to four times depending on the error. You need to refer to the user guide to find out what the problem is -- whether dirty brushes, sensors, or bumper issues. If the robot is stuck, it will signal its location by beeping three times.

I only had one issue with the robot. I found that, in use, the robot sometimes became stuck on its way back to the dock when it tried to climb onto the rug while not running at maximum power.

However, this only happened a few times during its trial. Apart from this, the A4s Pro performed flawlessly across a range of surfaces.

As the robot has no mapping program -- stored in the app on other models -- it does not immediately know where to return directly to the dock.

Once it has finished cleaning the area, or its battery is getting low and the unit needs to recharge, the A4s will wander around the rooms, seemingly at random, until it detects the Wi-Fi signal from its charging dock and can return to base.

The battery will last for about one and a half hours while cleaning before it needs to return to base. It will then need around three hours to return to full charge.

I like the ILife A4s pro robot vacuum. It is simple to set up and configure. Once configured, it is reliable in use and does not need an app to clean a variety of surfaces. If you like simplicity in your cleaning gadgets, for under $190 the A4s Pro is the robot vacuum cleaner for you.

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