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Roborock S4 Max review: Multi-floor, room-by-room cleaning

A Roborock S4 Max with a charger sitting the right.
Roborock S4 Max
MSRP $430.00
“The Roborock S4 Max is a budget-priced robot vacuum that delivers tremendous cleaning power, even versus higher-priced options.”
Pros
  • Handles flooring transitions well
  • Cleans all surfaces well
  • Easy-to-use app
  • Bot will map your home quickly
  • Room by room cleaning
Cons
  • No full dustbin notifications
  • Dustbin could be bigger

Everyone loves a clean house, but it seems no one can ever find time to do it. A robot vacuum can save time through scheduling and automation. I recently had the chance to try the Roborock S4 Max in my home for about four weeks, testing its various features and functions compared to other devices on the market.

What is Roborock S4 Max?

The underside of the Roborock S4 Max.

The Roborock S4 Max is a single-purpose robot vacuum, controlled by a smartphone app. At a list price of $430, it fits in the middle of the range for Roborock vacs, but it can regularly be found at a variety of retailers for as low as $310. While some Roborock models such as the S7 have mopping functionality built in, this is not one of them. Similar to other models like the S6 MavV, the S4 Max has laser-guided navigation and smart mapping. There’s a rubber-bristled corner brush on the underside as well as a small double roller brush.

The S4 Max has multi-level mapping that lets you use it on up to four floors. It also has Automatic Carpet Boost, a higher suction option to pull dirt out of carpet fibers, and a slightly longer cleaning time/battery life so it can clean larger spaces on a single charge.

The S4 Max has multi-level mapping that lets you use it on up to four different floors.

Brains and tech: Laser lidar navigation

The Roborock S4 Max has the ability to “see” around obstacles in your home thanks to its lidar navigation technology. The bot bounces lasers off the walls and furniture to determine the layout of your home and where it can and can’t go. This data is then used to draw a detailed map of your home. With the map drawn, you can designate specific rooms for room-by-room cleaning. That laser mapping also means the vacuum doesn’t accelerate blindly into table legs or walls.

After just one outing, my vacuum had created a usable (and accurate!) map, and that’s significantly faster than some other pricier bots I’ve reviewed. Also, unlike a lot of other bots, the Roborock S4 Max is ready for you to label and customize your home map right from the get-go compared to other bots that might need multiple passes to create the map.

Using the Roborock app

Home map shown in the Roborock S4 Max app.

You can start, stop, and direct your robot home using the buttons on the top of the vacuum, but the real power comes in the Roborock app. You can start and stop cleanups, set multiple schedules, create virtual barriers or no-go areas, choose your cleaning power, and adjust your home maps or re-label rooms.

The app lets you create dividers between rooms, merge spaces, and label them for more specific cleaning. The app is easy to understand and to find the controls and settings for things, so I was able to get my home labeled quickly. The next time I wanted to do a targeted clean of my hallway, I was able to choose that area on my map, and send out the S4 Max. I was also able to schedule vacuuming of different rooms on different days.

Roborock S4 Max performance

Roborock’s marketing for this bot makes a point of saying the S4 is “hard to trap” and it’s “engineered to escape the areas where others would get stuck.” I found this to be true during my review period; I never saw it get stuck once. Regarding its climbing abilities, the S4 Max never got hung on flooring transitions, edges, or rugs. I can confidently say that of all the robot vacuums I’ve ever tested, this one got stuck the least.

If you are having problems with a bot like this getting stuck, you can create virtual barriers or no-go zones. You can bar your robot from entering specific rooms or certain problematic corners. Creating these zones is done through the Roborock app. I can confirm it’s quick and easy and very user-friendly to do.

Increased suction power on carpet

I was quite impressed with how well the Roborock S4 was able to clean my carpets and rugs. When I tipped out the dustbin I noticed it had picked up everything from very fine dust to bigger debris, pet hair, and even pieces of plastic.

Multi-floor cleaning

One of the major features of the S4 Max is that it can store up to four different floors in memory, along with every room on those floors. This might not seem like a big deal — after all, it can’t climb stairs on its own — but it’s actually one of the main selling points for this device. Unless you want to invest in a separate robot vacuum for each floor, the multi-level cleaning means all you have to do is let it explore the area once.

After it has vacuumed that level and made a map, all you have to do is place the vacuum on the floor you want to clean. The S4 Max will remember each room and automatically recognize where it is. It will deliver the same cleaning performance no matter which floor of your home it’s on, which makes it great for whole-house cleaning with little intervention from you; all it needs is a little assistance up and down stairs.

For most people, only two floors (and possibly a basement) are needed. If you live in a four-floor home, consider us jealous.

Different floor surfaces: How well does Roborock S4 Max clean?

The Roborock S4 Max on tan carpet.

The Roborock S4 was easily able to handle the different types of flooring too: I have carpet, rugs, tile, and hardwood and it cleaned each one well, and it even vacuumed dirt out of holes in my floor’s grout. I test out robot vacuums by spilling things like flour or sugar, rice, and cracker crumbs or cereal on both carpet and hard floors. I can confirm the bot picked up everything easily, and what it didn’t get on its first pass it got in subsequent passes. The Roborock S4 Max cleans in a very linear fashion too; it’s possible to see the nice lines it leaves in the carpet after it’s been through a room.

Bin emptying

The onboard dustbin on this vacuum really needs to be emptied after every use. I didn’t get any kind of notifications from the app if this bin was full; neither push notifications nor passive alerts. I think it would be nice if it could send me emptying reminders, but I don’t know if it’s just not designed to do that, or if my iPhone isn’t playing nicely with the Roborock app.

Battery life and cleaning time

The vacuum defaults to being parked on its charging base, meaning it’s always ready to go. With a full battery, Roborock says the S4 will non-stop for up to 180 minutes, equivalent to almost 300 square meters (3,200 square feet), and I can confirm the S4 Max cleaned my entire main floor (about 1,500 square feet) without needing to recharge.

Our Take

The Roborock S4 Max combines premium features, a long cleaning period, and multiple power levels into a single, functional robot vacuum. Combine that with the easy-to-use app and you have a robot vacuum capable of handling any mess on any floor.

Is there a better alternative?

There are dozens of robot vacuums on the market at this price range. While the Roborock S4 Max is listed for an MSRP of about $430, it can readily be found for the far more budget-friendly price of $310. At this price, the iRobot Roomba e5 ($345) is a close competitor but tends to be a bit more expensive. The Dreame D9 is also in this category at $320, but I found it had major trouble with any tall flooring transitions and it got stuck a lot. The Roborock S4 Max is a great, hardworking robot vacuum at a low price point, which makes it one of the best options for someone on a budget.

How long will it last?

In my experience, the average lifespan of a robot vacuum can be five to 10 years depending on your usage and which manufacturer. I’ve reviewed a few Roborock vacuums in the last couple of years and each one was well made and durable. For the most part, manufacturers continuously update their software and add smarts remotely over the air, meaning you can keep getting new features without the constant need for upgrading the hardware. Roborock offers a standard, if somewhat disappointing, one-year limited warranty.

Should you buy it?

Yes. The Roborock S4 Max delivers tremendous cleaning performance at a low price point and does so without sacrificing quality.

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