Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum-Mop 2 Ultra review
Xiaomi is probably better known for its range of smartphones (it’s the second largest manufacturer of smartphones in the world). But it also turns its hand to a wide range of consumer electronics – from TV projectors and smart lighting, to electric scooters and robot vacs.
We trialled Xiaomi’s Mi Robot Vacuum-Mop 2 Ultra ($1099.40) at home. Would Xiaomi prove to be a jack of all trades?
- Understated design
- Mops as well as vacuums
- Good value for money, with auto-empty dock
- Has quick-map option
- Can add rooms to existing map
- Font is a little small and not easy to read in app.
Features: mops, vacs and docks
Here we have an all-singing-and-dancing robot that combines mopping and vacuuming capabilities into a single unit. Great if you have both hard and carpeted floors!
Our model also came with the auto-empty dock. But you can buy the vac on its own and purchase the dock separately if you later decide you need it. (The vacuum on its own is $788.99, and the auto-empty dock is sold separately for $368.99: you save $58.58 if you buy the bundle.)
The Mi vac uses LDS laser navigation (a system that uses a laser beam and sensors to detect reflections on surfaces in the environment) to map the layout of your home. You can then access this map in the Xiaomi Home smartphone app and use it to control the cleaning. The app can also connect to Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa for voice control.
In the Mi vac’s box, we found a small set-up guide. It’s not as nice as some other manufacturers’ larger, clearer guides, but it’s good enough to get you started.
There’s little to set up really, other than taking the standard dustbin out of the robot and swapping it for the auto-empty one that comes in the dock’s box.
You also need to install a dust bag in the dock. Then you’re ready to connect to Wi-Fi and add the robot to the Xiaomi Home app.
If you plan to do any mopping then you also need to install the mopping unit, which slides into the back of the bot. It’s quite a thin unit, with a removeable mopping pad that you can wash after each use, if required. Once it’s slotted on, the bot will tell you, “My water compartment has been installed”.
I quite liked the design of the Mi vac. It’s reasonably lightweight, but feels robust enough, and has an understated black exterior, along with a bright orange periscope and a meshed front bumper. The top of the bot is shiny though, so will show up dust and fingerprints easily.
The dock is a simple slim tall unit. It has a single button on the lid that you can use to activate a full clean following your household’s whole map. Or, if you hold it for a few seconds, it will empty the robot’s bin.
After setting up and connecting our test bot to the app, I decided to name it: Mi Mi Mi Botila (sung Tom Jones style).
Mapping: slightly wonky but accurate
Initial map creation was done using the quick-map option, which just sent Botila out without doing any cleaning. It wandered around our home and created a rough map. This took less than 10 minutes for a lounge, kitchen, bathroom, hallway and bedroom.
Our initial map looked a little wonky but was otherwise accurate enough. The map improves once you send the bot out for a full clean, but ours was still at a strange angle afterwards – it may have been related to the position of the dock at the start of mapping.
We had no issues on our mapping run or first clean with the bot getting stuck under any furniture. It’s always worth checking a robot’s height before purchasing though, if you want it to clean under beds or sofas. Some bots are taller than others, so measure the space under your furnishings, then check our test results or the manufacturer’s website for dimensions.
Once your initial map is complete you can edit the rooms – you can merge or divide areas, name rooms, and create no-go zones where the bot won’t trespass.
Adding rooms to an existing map
If, on the initial mapping run, a room or area gets missed, do not fear! On subsequent cleans these areas will get added to the map and you can then edit them as required.
Not all manufacturers allow you to do this, so top marks to Xiaomi.
App: refined but hard to read
The Xiaomi Home app is a refined affair that can control many different smart devices.
On the home screen, you choose your Mi vac robot and that takes you directly to the current map. From here, you can click the ‘Start’ button to do a full clean, or preselect a room from the map and the bot will just clean that room.
A neat feature on this screen is that if you swipe up from the bottom it brings up options for vacuuming power and mopping water level, all of which can be changed on the fly. Click on the ‘Custom mode’ button and you can change these levels for each room individually.
‘Custom mode’ is where you’ll also find the option to clean a room twice. We’d prefer to have this option on the main screen really – cleaning rooms multiple times is a useful feature that is used regularly in our house.
Editing maps, cleaning schedules and all other settings are accessed via the menu in the top right corner. In this settings menu, Xiaomi has used a quite small, narrow typeface, which might be tricky for some people to read. I couldn’t find a way to change it.
Within settings, there’s a ‘Consumables management’ section, which estimates how long before you should replace filters and brushes. There’s also a volume slider for the voice alert (hidden away in the ‘More functions’ menu) – a very useful feature if you don’t want a screechy robot voice disturbing your afternoon nap.
Vacuuming and mopping
The robot vacuum market is expanding rapidly, meaning we can’t test all the available models due to lab capacity and budgets. So, we don’t currently have proper test results for the Mi vac.
Having said that, most robot vacuums that we have tested do an excellent job of cleaning hard floors, but are generally just ok at cleaning carpets.
Currently, robot vacs probably aren’t quite good enough to fully replace standard or stick vacuums. But to keep your house clean during the week, when you might not normally do housework, they’re indispensable. Cleaning performance is increasing with newer models, so it might not be long before we find the ultimate robotic replacement for your corded unit.
For our in-home trial, the Mi Robot Vacuum-Mop 2 Ultra performed as well as any other unit.
One thing I particularly liked was that, if you set the bot to clean a room twice, on the second pass it will clean at right angles to the first pass. I’m not sure if this necessarily leads to a cleaner floor, but it does leave a nice pattern on thicker pile carpet (like a professionally mown football field), which gives the impression of a more thorough clean.
Due to the brush-style roller underneath the bot, you’ll find that long hair easily gets caught up. So, you’ll need to regularly cut and pull the hairs out – Xiaomi supplies a tool for this very issue, so it must know it’s a problem!
A nice feature of the Mi vac bot is that its front is sufficiently raised that it can climb steps of up to 20mm. That doesn’t sound much, but Botila made it over the raised step into our downstairs bathroom, which none of the other robots we trialled could do.
If you have a mix of carpet and hard flooring in your home, you should probably do the vacuuming and mopping separately, so your carpets don’t get wet from the mop head. However, I found the amount of water the mop head emits to be low, so if your bot only needs to cross a small area of carpet during its clean, I wouldn’t be concerned.
Alternatively, you can create no-go zones on the map for your carpeted areas. If this is a deal-breaker for you, then there are other robot vacs out there that will automatically lift the mop unit up off the carpet when required (iRobot, Ecovacs and Roborock currently have models with this feature).
Most mapping robot vacs, including the Mi vac, allow you to store more than one map. If you have a multi-storey home, this means you can use a single bot to clean the whole house. You will, however, have to ‘escort’ the unit to the other level, as it doesn’t currently have a levitation function.
Creating the extra map is easy – just carry the robot to the other level and create a new map using the quick-map option. Then you can edit the rooms, as for any other level.
When you decide to clean the second level, the Mi vac will firstly have a spin to locate itself, then start cleaning as normal. Once cleaning is finished, the bot will return to its starting position and ask you to, “Please move me to the charging dock”.
Should you buy a Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum-Mop 2 Ultra?
For the price, the Mi Robot Vacuum-Mop 2 Ultra is hard to beat. It includes features that bots twice its price have, has excellent mapping and a good app. It does like to get hair tangled in its rollers though, so if you are hairy, be wary.