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Narwal Freo X Ultra review: shaking up the robot vacuum formula

Narwal Freo X Ultra with dock in home
Narwal Freo X Ultra
MSRP $1,400.00
“The Narwal Freo X Ultra cleans up the competition by daring to be different.”
Pros
  • Sleek, modern aesthetics
  • 8,200Pa of suction
  • Inventive dustbin design
  • Straightforward mobile app
Cons
  • Minor navigation issues
  • Not ideal for thick carpet

When it comes to premium robot vacuums, there’s no shortage of options available to shoppers. Ecovacs, iRobot, and Roborock are churning out new products at a breakneck pace, and it’s difficult for anything to stand out in a market so saturated with well-reviewed devices. That doesn’t seem to have phased Narwal, however, as the Narwal Freo X Ultra makes some bold design choices compared to the competition — and in doing so, it manages to forge a spot for itself as one of the best robot vacuums.

The Narwal Freo X Ultra isn’t perfect, but with a lower price tag than much of the competition, many of the same features, and a few innovative design choices, it’s certainly a worthy alternative to today’s heavy hitters.

Off to a strong start

The Narwal Freo X Ultra working in a living room.
Narwal

Like nearly all robot vacuums, getting the Narwal Freo X Ultra up and running is simple. After plugging in the device, downloading a mobile app, and syncing the two, it’ll zip around your home to create an initial map. It took only a few minutes to map out the first floor of my home, and while the unit almost got stuck on the foot of my desk, it managed to roll itself back to safety (thanks to surprisingly powerful motors).

One cool feature of the robot vacuum is that it’ll ask you questions before the mapping process. This helps determine the type of home it’ll be navigating. For example, it asked me whether there were stairs in the home or if children or pets were likely to be roaming around. Answering “no” to the first question allows the robot to use better obstacle climbing abilities, as it won’t worry about falling down steps. Answering “yes” to the second question activated a child lock feature, ensuring curious hands (or paws) don’t accidentally activate the robot.

Cleans like a pro

The bottom of the Narwal Freo X Ultra.
Jon Bitner / Digital Trends

Once the mapping process is complete, you can optimize your cleaning process. Before that, however, you’ll want to customize your map and verify that each portion of your home was properly evaluated. From naming rooms and setting restricted zones to setting the flooring type, the Narwal app gives you plenty of ways to modify your map.

After tinkering with the map, you can quickly launch a cleaning task from three buttons on the main screen — Vacuum and Mop, Vacuum then Mop, or Vacuum. Within each of these cleaning modes, you’ll find a variety of secondary options, including suction power, the number of vacuuming cycles you’d like performed, mopping humidity, and deluxe features like Edge Mode to better clean crevices.

The best option is Freo Mode. When enabled, all your other options disappear, as the robot will automatically determine the best cleaning settings for your home based on what it’s recording from its onboard sensors. If your home is extra dirty, it’ll ramp up suction and give areas more attention as needed. In other words, it takes the guesswork out of manually adjusting your settings. Instead, you can simply turn on Freo Mode to ensure your home gets the best possible clean.

Freo Mode worked well throughout testing, properly activating different suction levels (up to a staggering 8,200 Pa) as needed and deploying saturated mops when traveling across dirty tile floors. It uses two spinning mopheads for mopping while applying up to 12N of downward pressure. It even comes with a floor cleaning solution for a superior clean (though it can also work with just water).

The robot managed to clean even across all types of hard floors in the home, though some areas were noticeably damp long after the cleaning cycle was complete, as it doesn’t have a way to properly dry the floors after mopping is complete. But that’s a small price to pay for sparkling clean floors.

Not your average robot vacuum

The Narwal Freo X Ultra dustbin.
Jon Bitner / Digital Trends

The Narwal Freo X Ultra mimics many features found on other popular robot vacuums, such as the Roborock S8 Pro Ultra and Ecovacs X2 Omni. This includes a base station capable of washing and drying its mops after each cleaning cycle to prevent the buildup of mildew and mold. However, there are a few cool design tweaks to the Freo X Ultra that separate it from other robot vacuums. For one, there’s no dustbin found in the dock, with a single disposal dustbin found within the robot itself. This can hold up to seven weeks of dust (thanks to a unique compression system), and since it includes a built-in filter, you don’t have to worry about maintenance. Instead, you can throw the entire dustbin away and replace it with a new one.

A standard, reusable dustbin is also included with your Narwal, so you have a good alternative if you don’t like the idea of constantly buying replacements. Note that this dustbin will likely fill up faster than the disposable ones, and it’s a good idea to check it frequently, as there’s no larger dustbin available within the Narwal’s dock.

Another bold design choice is the dock itself, which looks shockingly different than most other vacuum docks due to its soft edges and rounded design. You’ll also find a large button on the top of the unit that helps you control the gadget without a mobile app. It’s a good-looking gadget by all accounts and stands out in a market flooded with uninspired, box-like docks.

Verdict

There’s much to love about the Narwal Freo X Ultra, but it’s still not a perfect robot vacuum. For one, it ran into a few navigation issues, getting itself stuck under a rug in the bathroom and getting confused upon encountering my dog (stopping multiple times and trying to reorientate itself). It also isn’t an ideal companion for plush carpets, with mopheads that can only retract 12mm.

Of course, these are common complaints across most robot vacuums. And while the Freo X Ultra made several innovative design choices to improve the robot vacuum experience, it couldn’t solve every problem. Quibbles aside, the Freo X Ultra is a stellar product. With a bold look, heaps of functionality, and a price in line with the competition, the Narwal Freo X Ultra is a robot vacuum that deserves a closer look.

Editors' Recommendations

Jon Bitner
Jon Bitner is a writer covering consumer electronics, technology, and gaming. His work has been published on various websites…
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