Roborock S5 Max review: it sucks, mops, and can be a pain in the ass

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Roborock S5 Max design

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Quite chic and good looking. The vacuum cleaner looks good on the carpet too. / © AndroidPIT

The Roborock S5 Max looks like a Roomba as such. Particularly in the English-speaking world, the robot vacuum cleaner pioneer is often referred to as a synonym for the entire range of round, hand-width-high vacuum cleaners.

The S5 Max is available in either black or white plastic, whereby our white model looked about as aged after a few weeks of testing as a Berlin S-Bahn car since reunification. Granted, it is probably a test sample that has been around the block a few times since its arrival in Berlin.

Roborock S5 Max hardware

On the top of the S5 Max, Roborock accommodates a hectically rotating laser navigation system that continuously measures the room. Together with the shock sensor on the front side and the underground sensor on the – surprise – the underside, the robot cleaner simultaneously maps the dwelling for optimal vacuuming without prematurely crashing or falling down stairs.

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It looks a bit futuristic with the laser navigation system on top. / © AndroidPIT

If you’re into doing squats or just can’t find your smartphone, you can press two buttons on the top of the robot to operate it. The first one is for switching it on and off, the second one sends the S5 Max back to the dock. The dock is about the size of a one-liter Tetra Pak and is used for charging. To prevent the potentially wet wiping cloth on the underside of the dock from messing up your old parquet floor, the cleaning aid comes with a plastic underlay with adhesive strips, which unfortunately look very cheap.

How does the Roborock S5 Max work as a vacuum clear?

When vacuuming I can only give this a grade of “inconspicuous”. After the S5 Max is clocked in such a way that it is only in an empty flat, it shines by cleaning up without you even noticing. What was noticeable in my testing period, however, was the absence of dust and cat hair, and not just on the floor! Due to the regular vacuuming, there are generally much fewer small particles in the apartment, and so both the furniture in the living room and my children off from school at the moment) sitting on the couch have much less dust to shuffle around the house.

Roborock S5 Max technical specifications:

   
Dimensions 35.3 x 9.65 x 35.0 cm
Colour White, Black
Navigation Laser (LDS)
Maximum suction power 2,000 Pa
Performance 58 watts
Dust container volume 460 milliliters
Water tank volume 290 milliliters
Weight 3.5 kilograms
Vacuuming + mopping Yes
Battery capacity 5,200 mAh
Area output 250 square meters
Battery charging time about six hours
Maximum obstruction height up to two centimeters

Parquet flooring, standard carpets and door thresholds up to one centimeter high do not pose any problems for the cleaning robot. However, higher obstacles do. Here the vacuum cleaner does not get far and gives up. According to the manufacturer, the maximum height is specified as two centimeters. But I could not reproduce this result.

Another point of criticism is in combination with my high-pile carpet. This makes the S5 Max as hot as tax returns to the incumbent US president. First comes maximum speed, then complete disorientation followed by a refusal of any cooperation. Obviously the sensors of the S5 Max get mixed up and the robot drives criss-cross. I tried the whole thing again with a short pile carpet. Here, however, the S5 Max works perfectly and performs well.

How well does the Roborock S5 Max mop?

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Right: The wiper and proof that the floor is often dirty. Middle: The brush reliably picks up hair, dust, and crumbs. Left: A candle that is not reliably detected by the vacuum cleaner. / © AndroidPIT

Granted, the S5 Max does not have much to do with proper mopping up, like a shine cleaner or similar. The manufacturer prohibits the addition of any kind of cleaning agent to avoid clogging the nozzles. Instead, the cleaner pulls a cloth moistened from the internal 460 ml tank behind it, which at best picks up light dirt. While the battery easily vacuums your feudalistic 150-square-meter loft, the mini-tank runs dry after only a fifth, depending on the settings.

By the way, the S5 Max does not unintentionally turn your carpet into a wetland. The sensor technology on the underside can distinguish carpet from laminate & co. and reduces the water supply accordingly. On carpeted floors, on the other hand, the vacuum cleaner is in direct competition with the pubescent car gangs from the nearest village-McDonalds and eagerly plays with the speed.

Mapping

The setup is very simple. Set up the station, insert the robot, pair the apps, and off you go! The first departure of your premises takes a bit longer due to the mapping. Afterwards, the Roborock S5 Max scrubs in a Z-pattern, only occasionally interrupted by the aforementioned high-pile carpet, my cat, and wild decorative Shishi on the living room floor. Especially with the shiny silver candlesticks, the S5 Max is fundamentally different from my wife in terms of the arrangement.

And then there is the specialty of us Berliners: the zones. In the app, you can set up restricted areas for the cleaning robot. Let’s put it this way: before reunification the S5 Max would probably not have been very happy. Because the robot drove into the once defined zones from time to time and did not care that I had declared some areas as no-go-areas for it. Something like that can be a nuisance in some cities. But we are well-behaved here.

Apps

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The vacuum cleaner creates a map of the apartment – and then starts to work. / © AndroidPIT

However, it must be said that the app and its zone management are not necessarily self-explanatory. And so it could be that I simply used the app incorrectly and the S5 Max does not avoid some defined zones.

In fact, the app is the real Achilles heel of the Roborock S5 Max. The Xiaomi Smart Home app is recommended in the user manual. This was, to say the least, not very clearly designed. Thank God there is also a Roborock-own app, which I searched for – and found – in the App Store. This did not solve the zone problem described above. But it’s nicer and also easier to use.

There are also a few nice features. Besides cleaning processes, which you can also look at afterwards, there is a timer and the Pin-and-Go function, which I find both worth mentioning.

With the timer, you can program fixed times when the S5 Max should start its cleaning routines. With Pin-and-Go you can tell the vacuum cleaner where the robot should go and start vacuuming without having to clean the entire apartment.

Conclusion

No, I don’t want to give him away anymore. In the past year, there have been critical voices from our community again and again concerning these suction robots. The Roborock S5 Max was my first – and I won’t let it go. The work that the device does for you is noticeable. The floors of the apartment radiate after an S5 vacuum unit as if you had just swept through the room yourself with a mop and vacuum cleaner.

I even catch my children repeatedly blowing crumbs on the table after breakfast on the floor and excuse is always, “we’ll turn on the robot anyway”. In fact, there are no leftovers after that and everything shines like new.

On the other hand, my new robot regularly drives me to despair when he completely uncoordinatedly ignores all decorative items (candles) on the floor and drives into them. Or one or the other carpet is not recognized as such and the vacuum cleaner moves criss-cross through the room without logic. Oh, and the app… phew! This one really needs more love and attention. After all, you control and adjust a lot of things.

Admittedly, there is one thing we have (fortunately) not tried. What happens if the S5 Max drives over a “pet accident” with the mopping function activated? I’m afraid that due to the liquefaction effect the result will be more disastrous than with a standard suction-brush model.

But what else have the Romans, uh, Roborock done for us? I like to repeat my judgment: a lot! I don’t want to give up the S5 Max anymore, and that’s a start!

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Read more here: AndroidPIT

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