Vacuuming sucks. It’s a household chore few people enjoy, but it’s a necessary evil. When you have kids or pets, vacuuming becomes even more essential as your house can quickly become overrun by pet hair and crumbs. Robot vacuums are not a magic solution. A robot vac won’t completely replace your upright vac. But, a good robot vacuum will do the daily sweeping and spot cleaning for you, making it so you can just do a big vacuum occasionally, instead of vacuuming with an upright machine every single day.
With so many options available, at prices ranging from under $100 to upwards of $1,000, it can be difficult to choose a good robot vacuum. The Roomba 980 is a solid vacuum, but you may not want to shell out that much cash.
iLife recently released the A7 robot vacuum. At $250, it’s about as affordable as a decent upright vacuum. The A7 has a variety of cool features you’d want to see in a robot vac like multiple cleaning modes, different brushes to up its cleaning game, plus it connects to WiFi. We decided to test out the iLife A7 robot vacuum. Here’s what we thought.
Bringing sexy vac
When you open the A7’s box, you’ll see the vacuum’s main body, the charging base and power adapter, a remote control, a dust bin that contains a filter, a rubber brush, a bristle brush and brush cleaning tool, slide brushes, extra slide brushes, user manuals, and a high-performance filter.
The vacuum is very easy to assemble. It took us about 90 seconds to put together. The circular vacuum is about a foot in diameter, and it has a stylish and sleek appearance. The vacuum is also small enough (76 mm) to clean under furniture.
The A7 looks a lot like its predecessor, the iLife A6. However, the A7 has control buttons right on the vacuum, so you have the option to control it with or without a remote control. You can also control the machine via the iLIfe app.
Battery life is a make or break factor for many consumers, who don’t want to have to recharge their robot vacuum in the middle of cleaning. Other robot vacuums run for less than an hour before they need a charge.
The battery easily lasts for long enough to vacuum an entire 5-bedroom house.
The iLife A7 has a Lithium ion 2600 mAh battery, and its battery life is impressive. The battery easily lasts for long enough to vacuum an entire 5-bedroom house. The middle buttons on the vacuum flash yellow when the battery needs to charge.
While changing modes several times and pausing and resuming multiple times, the vacuum ran for 2 hours and 21 minutes on a single charge during our tests. When we ran the vacuum on a single mode without pausing its operation, the battery ran for almost 2.5 hours (exactly 144 minutes on auto mode).
When the battery was low, it took between 220 and 280 minutes to reach a full charge again. This varied depending on factors like the battery level when we charged the device.
Picking up almost everything
The A7 does an impressive job of picking up dust, pet hair, crumbs, and small debris. When we let the machine go free on auto mode, it picked up a few larger items like a pen, a small toy, and an earring. The A7 has impressive suction, especially when you turn the fan onto max mode.
We placed the A7 on max mode in a room where a Yellow Labrador Retriever spends its days lounging around. After 15 minutes on max mode, the robot vacuum was completely full of pet hair. It was so full of pet hair, we had to empty the vacuum’s 600mL capacity dust bin.
After 15 minutes on max mode, the robot vacuum was completely full of pet hair.
While the A7 does an exceptional job of picking up pet hair and dust, it does tend to leave some debris behind. If you have flour, sugar, sand, or very fine particles on your floor, it may not pick up every granule. Also, while the A7 comically picks up large items like pens, it tends to leave behind heavy or food items or sticky foods (think chunks of pizza crust). But hey, how often do you have chunks of pizza lying around on your floor anyway?
Cleaning modes and features
You can control the A7 with the buttons on the machine, with its remote control, or with the iLife app. The iLife A7 robot vacuum has several cleaning modes, and some of them work better than others.
Point mode allows you to spot clean, while path mode has the robot take more of an S-shaped cleaning path. You can also choose auto mode, which is good for carpet cleaning because the vacuum goes along the walls and then cleans the middle areas.
Max mode increases the suction power and deep cleaning. If you have areas with a lot of dust, dirt, or pet hair, max mode will help pick it up more effectively. Of all the cleaning modes, max mode did the best job of picking up debris during our tests.
Sometimes it takes the machine a few minutes to locate its home base.
Border mode is for cleaning around the edges, as dust tends to accumulate in corners and along the wall edges. The only problem with border mode is that the vacuum goes along the edges of chairs and other objects in your home, instead of just going around the main borders. This makes border mode a bit more inefficient.
The vacuum also has a home function, which allows you to dock the vacuum remotely. It will go home when you press the home button, or it automatically docks when the battery runs low. The vacuum does find its way home eventually, but sometimes it takes the machine a few minutes to locate its home base.
Preparation and obstacles
The user manual recommends that you push in chairs before you begin vacuuming. You should also pick up items like toys and remove any obstacles. During our tests, we cleared the room of any obstacles, pushed in chairs, and prepared the house per the user manual.
The item we didn’t consider, though, were the dog’s food and water bowls. During cleaning, the vacuum ran right into the bowls as if they weren’t there. After several trials, the vacuum continued to ram into the food and water bowls. Therefore, if you are a pet owner and you buy this vacuum, you may have to pick up your pet’s food bowl before you run the A7 to avoid potential spills. Fortunately, the mechanical control panel is waterproof.
The A7 also has a bit of trouble navigating over light area rugs. It will loop its way around until it finds its way over the rug eventually, but it doesn’t make a seamless transition like the more expensive models. The A7 doesn’t seem to have problems with heavier rugs. Its 70 mm shock detecting wheels allow the vacuum to maneuver over rugs as thick as 1.5 cm.
Patience is a virtue
The A7 user manual says as you use the robot more often and remove obstacles, it will help the machine become more familiar with its surroundings. It has an OBS all terrain detection system, with three cliff sensors to prevent it from falling down stairs and two sets of edge sensors to help the machine detect edges. Each time you run the A7, it does a better job of navigating your home.
The first time you run the machine, it appears to randomly move around the floor with no real direction. But, after you run the machine five or six times, it hits each area on the floor much more efficiently, and it navigates from room to room without getting lost. The A7 travels around your home more effectively as you use it more often.
Love the vacuum, but not the app
With its Gen 3 CyclonePower cleaning system and floating roller brush, the A7 is a solid robot vacuum. It really does clean your floors and pick up dust and hair. If you haven’t vacuumed in a day or two, you can see a visible difference in your home after you run the A7. Some vacuums work well on hardwood floors, and don’t work as well on carpets. The A7 lets you switch between a rubber roller and a brush roller, so it works well on hardwood floors and carpets.
While we were impressed with the A7 as a vacuum, we were not impressed with it as a smart home product. It doesn’t connect to Alexa, nor does it have voice control capabilities. The app experience is a bit frustrating, too. To connect the vacuum to WiFi, you enter your WiFi network name and password into the app, and you hold the spot button on the A7 so it can connect to your network. The A7 will connect to WiFi. However, after the vacuum docks on the base and goes into sleep mode, it reads as “offline.” So, if you’re away from the house, you may have a tough time connecting to your A7 via the app.
While we were impressed with the A7 as a vacuum, we were not impressed with it as a smart home product.
On top of the connectivity issues, the app is slow to respond. We found the app took an average of 2 seconds longer than the A7’s remote control to start and pause the vacuum.
The A7’s app also has a scheduling feature, but it is very limited. You can set a time, and you have the option to repeat that time on specific days. For instance, you can say you want to vacuum at 4:30, and you want to repeat that time every Friday. But, that’s about all you can do.
The scheduling feature is very difficult to use, and you seem to have little control over your scheduled vacuum routines. The scheduling feature is very basic, and it lacks the ability to set an end time via the app or indicate how long you want to vacuum.
The iLife A7 robot vacuum comes with a one-year limited warranty.Our Take
The iLife A7 is a solid robot vacuum. We were particularly impressed with how well it picks up pet hair. It’s battery life is also a huge plus. The A7’s app and WiFi features are lacking, though. When you have a robot vacuum with a $250 price tag, something’s going to have to give, and in the A7’s case, it’s smarts.
Is there a better alternative?
If you’re looking for a robot vacuum that has powerful suction, and one that does a good job of picking up pet hair and dust, but you don’t want to spend a small fortune, the A7 is a wise choice. It gives you the cleaning features you need, plus a few extras.
If you are someone who values smart home connectivity, there are better options out there in this price range. If you want a vacuum that’ll connect to Alexa, and one that’ll thrive in terms of its smart home capabilities, you may like the Shark Ion 750 or the Roomba 690.
How long will it last?
The A7 is sturdy, well made, and it comes with accessories and replacement parts like a high-performance filter, extra brushes, and a brush cleaning tool. This makes it so you have everything you need to operate the A7 for quite a while without spending extra cash.
Although the A7 has only been out for a brief period, the predecessor to the A7 (the iLife A6) received pretty good reviews from users overall. This is a good sign for the A7 as iLIfe has a reputation for making decent robot vacuums.
A small handful of A6 owners said their machine broke after only a few months of use. But, this appears to be a fluke rather than a malfunction with the product. The A7 appears to be a quality machine, and it should last a few years, provided you care for it properly.
In terms of the app, iLife may improve the A7 app experience, as the company receives feedback from users. The app has a feedback form where users can share issues with the company.
Should you buy it?
You won’t be disappointed with the A7’s cleaning performance, features, or durability. So, if you’re looking for a robot vacuum to help lighten your vacuuming load, then yes, you should buy the A7. But, if you’re looking for a cool tech gadget to add to your smart home collection, then you may be happier with a smarter robot vacuum.