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(Pocket-lint) - We've been fans of Roborock's robot vacuum range for some time; with each new release seemingly improving upon the last. Does the Roborock S5 Max follow this trend? We've been living with it for a few weeks to find out. 

Robot vacuum design and features

  • 5200 mAh battery capable of 150 mins cleaning time
  • Electronic water tank for water volume adjustment
  • 13 sensors and four cliff sensors

Like the other robot vacuum cleaners in the Roborock line-up, the S5 Max is as simple as it is brilliant. It's packed with all sorts of technology to help it navigate its way around your home, but it's also designed to be hassle-free and incredibly user-friendly too.

The result of that design logic is immediately obvious, thanks to basic controls on the bot itself: one button to send it out for a clean (or pause cleaning in progress), another to send it back to its dock for a charge. 

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The initial setup process is also incredibly simple. Dock the bot, plug it in, boot up the Roborock app (for both iOS and Android devices) and it's instantly recognised, paired and ready for action. Then you get access to all the settings that include suction power, cleaning timers, history and more. 

The design and features of the S5 Max have been enhanced to perform even more intelligently during its cleaning cycles. This includes simple things like a re-thought mopping reservoir system, which is automatically recognised when it's docked; a slightly tweaked main brush design that's less likely to get clogged; and some intelligent in-app enhancements to keep track of the robot and its cleaning progress.  

Setup and cleaning cycles

  • Automatic carpet pressurisation system
  • Dynamic brush speeds with floating main brush 

Once in the app, you have access to the settings to get the Roborock S5 Max working the way you want it. Here you can turn on carpet mode, which allows the bot to automatically adjust suction depending on whether it's on carpet or hard flooring.

The settings also allow you to set a timer to tell the bot when to come out for a clean, including how much suction and mopping power to use as it goes around. 

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There's also a map saving mode, which, when enabled, allows you to edit the map to specify rooms or set no-go zones to tell the bot where to avoid. 

This intelligent mapping system gives you the ability to edit the map, right down to small actions like sending the bot to cleaning a specific spot in a certain area of the house, avoid certain rooms, or just give the entire floor a decent clean. 

Intelligent mapping with no-go zones

  • Real-time mapping with zone/room identification
  • Virtual no-go lines

The intelligent mapping system on the Roborock S5 Max is one of the best we've seen.

As the bot cleans it not only shows you where it's going and where it's been, but it also allows you to do clever things like customising the map to adjust power, or mopping on a room-by-room basis. If a room is all carpet you can instruct the S5 Max not to mop in there, while sucking at its full potential; whereas on hard floors you might choose to both clean and mop. 

The mapping system also means that you can set virtual no-go zones for certain areas of the home. Whether that's to avoid kids' toys, places regularly strewn with piles of clothes, or other areas.

We have a problem in the home with a small step with a ridge that seems to cause some bots to topple. This no-go zone control means we could stop the S5 Max even getting near this area and avoid issues.

Obstacle detection and room cleaning

  • 460ml dust bin capacity and 290ml water reservoir capacity 
  • Laser distancing navigation system with multiple sensors
  • Clog detection system
  • 2000pa max suction

Like the other Roborock robot vacuum cleaners we've tested in the past, the S5 Max has very few problems getting around the home. For the most part, apart from having to be regularly emptied and occasionally cleaned, the S5 Max is essentially self-sufficient.

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With a timer set up, you'll find the bot comes out for a clean and easily finds its way around the home to go about its business, then happily returns to its charging dock when it's finished. As long as the floor is clear, you won't have any issues. 

We're also happy to report that the S5 Max is a capable little cleaner too. We've been running it about regularly in the depths of winter, with muddy paws and messy kids dirtying up the place. It handled fallen pine needles from a Christmas tree, dried mud fallen from welly boots, and general mess and dirt that made its way into the home.

We remain impressed with the pick-up capabilities of this cleaning bot. It's a testament to how well it cleans that we regularly found ourselves emptying it. It's also a testament to its suction abilities that it often got clogged with toys, bits of paper and small objects that the kids had left strewn about the place. 

The Roborock S5 Max comes with some nice design features to help keep it running in tip-top shape. There's a small cutting tool for removing hair and fibres that get wrapped around the main brush, tiny brushes on the inside of the bot that help keep that main brush clean, and even a washable filter to keep maintenance costs down. Sadly, Roborock has chosen not to include spare filters with this bot as they have with previous cleaners, but it's not the end of the world as you can easily clean them. 

If the main brush or side brushes get tangled or clogged, the bot lets you know via the accompanying app and with an audible cue too. If it gets stuck, blocked up, or is unable to perform its duty then it will let you know one way or another. 

Mopping and drying

The Roborock S5 Max is not just a great robot vacuum, it's also a multi-functioning cleaning machine with mopping capabilities. There's a new water reservoir system with an accompanying microfibre cloth that lets you give your floors an automated wiping.

Of course, this mopping system cannot beat a good old-fashioned scrubbing or a proper floor washing, but it does work surprisingly well. We found the S5 Max managed to rid our floors of our pooch's mucky paw prints anyway.

We're happy the S5 Max doesn't leave the floors soaking as it goes around, but equally, it's not going to blow your mind with its mopping abilities. Then again, we've never seen a multi-functional bot that does.

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There's a lot to like about the Roborock S5 Max. Like the previous Roborock vacuums we've tested, it's intelligent enough to get on with its business of cleaning without a terrible amount of fuss. 

It needs regular emptying - which is a sure-fire sign of its cleaning abilities - and we've been impressed by just how much dirt it picks up. From dry mud to pine needles, pet hair and everything in between, the S5 Max conquered it all. 

This is a great cleaning bot and another cracking addition to the Roborock range. We love having it in the home and we're sure you will too. 

Alternatives to consider

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Roborock S4 robot vacuum


If you like the sound of the S5 Max but worry it might be a bit too much money, then we can also recommend the S4. This bot doesn't have any mopping abilities, but it's still a nifty cleaner that will be a welcome addition to your abode. It has similar useful cleaning capabilities and brilliant design features at a much more palatable price. 

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iRobot Roomba i7+ 


If you're thinking about a robot vacuum cleaner because you're super chilled out and even the idea of emptying one every couple of days is a bit much then this Roomba might be for you. If money is no object, then the Roomba i7+ is a serious bit of kit - a robot vacuum cleaner that not only efficiently cleans your home for you but also empties itself. What's not to like? Well, the price.

Writing by Adrian Willings. Originally published on 17 December 2019.