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iLife A9 robot vacuum hands-on: Sleek and quiet with an ingenious cellular dustbin

Hands on with the Ilife A9 robot vacuum: sleek and quiet with an ingenious cellular dustbin zdnet
  • Editors' rating
    7.8 Very good


  • Efficient cellular dustbin minimises filter cleaning
  • Powerful suction
  • Quiet


  • App optimised for US customers only
  • Over sensitive sensors

I have reviewed a few iLife devices such as the A7, the V8S, and the superb Shinebot W400 for ZDNet and, in the main, I have been pleased with their functionality and build quality. The iLife A9 is the latest model from the Ilife stable.

Its silver-grey bumper ring makes the A9 look different from most of the other robot vacuum cleaners I have tried.  Instead of a raised dome containing the boundary sensor, the A9's sensor is on the top of the device looking upwards.

SEE: Robotics in the enterprise (ZDNet/TechRepublic special feature) | Download the free PDF version (TechRepublic)

Unlike the random wandering of the A7 and V8S, the A9 cleans the floor in a structured way, moving linearly to ensure that all of the floor areas are cleaned.

It is a similar size to other robot vacuums at 13 x 12.6 inches and it is 3-inches high. It weighs 5.58 pounds.

It has a large combined brush/silicone rubber roller to clean both carpeted and hard flooring areas. Some other robot vacuums provide two rollers that need to be changed depending on the floor type. I like the way that the A9 combines the two cleaning brushes in one.

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The A9 also has a feature I have not seen on other robot vacuums. iLife calls it the cellular dustbin. The cellular structure on the underside of the lid is used to extract dust out of the air and into the small cubes in the dustbin to avoid the dust blocking the filter.

Also: Best Robot Vacuum of 2020 CNET

It works too. Other robot vacuums I have reviewed need to have the filter brush cleaned every couple of days. This mechanism works very well; I did not need to brush the filter at all during the two weeks it was in use. The only issue is that this mechanism reduces the capacity of the space for the dustbin.

Like all other robot vacuums, the A9 has three different cleaning modes: Auto, edge, and spot mode. It also has a max suction mode, which I'm sure is used by everyone as the default setting.

The A9 comes with a barrier device -- the electrowall -- a line beyond which the robot will not go. This works well if you have cluttered areas, or trailing cables, which could jam the robot.

Like most devices, the A9 has an app. Unfortunately, I could not connect to the app, even though I used the mandated 2.4G Wi-Fi to try to connect. iLife told me this is because the app is optimized for US-based users.

Even configuring one of my phones to believe it was in the US and not disclose my UK location would not fool the app. Therefore, I could not test the scheduling and mapping function for this robot.

Fortunately, there is also a remote control for the A9, which enables you to set a schedule, configure modes, and set the vacuum to max power mode. If you do not like the hassle of connecting your robot to the app, then the remote control works really well.  

The A9 also has Alexa integration so you can control it by using your voice. Its onboard synthesized voice gives clear information when the A9 becomes trapped, or returns to its base for charging.

I found that the charging dock needed to be fixed to the wall/floor using carpet tape to prevent the A9 from punting the dock out of the way when it tried to return to base.

Other charging docks are heavier and do not seem to move so freely. However, this did not happen when I used the A9 on the carpet.

Another irritation is that the A9 seems to be a little more sensitive than some other robot vacuums I have tried. I would often hear it announce that it was trapped -- yet it did not seem to be stuck at all. I think the sensor could be a little more sensitive than some other devices I have tried.

However, these irritations aside, the iLife A9 is a nice robot vacuum, and for under $280, it will simplify your house cleaning routine and automate a tedious floor cleaning job.