— Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission.
There are brands that are known for luxury and design. Then there are brands that are known as workhorses. The Shark IQ R101AE (available at Amazon for $549.99) fits into the latter category. We found that its loud and apes other brands, but it works. Our testing sets the bar pretty high for cleaning and navigation, and the Shark IQ delighted, picking up as much dirt as the iRobot Roomba i7+ (the best robot vacuum we’ve ever tested). However, the cleaning process took 22% longer to clean the same testing area.
You’ve probably seen the commercials for this robot vacuum claiming a self-emptying unit with powerful suction, and a brush that rarely requires cleaning. That’s all true. And overall, the Shark IQ R101AE is about $300 cheaper than many of its top-tier competitors. However, our testing shows that it is a little rough around the edges. While it offers smart features and advanced navigation, we found them a little frustrating to use at times.
About the Shark IQ
• Smart capabilities: Compatible with Amazon Alexa
• Weight: 6.92 pounds
• Functionality: Self-emptying
• Brushes: Self-cleaning brush roll and two corner brushes
What we like
Superior dirt pick-up
The only way a robot vacuum can maintain your floors is by running every day. The Shark IQ excelled here, showcasing a keen attention to edges and corners, and spending a lot of time nudging up against walls. On average, the IQ picked up around 10.6 grams of dirt per run, or 74 grams over the course of a week, which is better than the 70-gram average that we look for in full-size vacuums. We found that the Shark IQ cleans hardwood floors well, but struggles with thick carpet.
That means your floors may be spotless, but unfortunately, it does greatly increase cycle times. It takes the Shark IQ 28 minutes to achieve what a Roomba i7+ can do in 10.
It’s fully hands-off with a self-emptying bin and self-cleaning brush
Shark claims that with the IQ, you’ll forget about vacuuming for a month. While your couch cushions will languish if you do that, since the IQ can’t get up there, you can get away with not emptying your robot vacuum for up to 30 cycles. After every run, a motor inside the dock suctions out all the dirt and stores it in an easy-to-empty bin. When it is time to take out that trash, a simple push of a button will open the dirt receptable, just like on your bagless Shark full-sized vacuum—you’ll never have to touch anything unpleasant.
The IQ also has a self-cleaning brush that scraps off excess hair as it spins. If you’ve ever had to cut tangled hair from the underside of a vacuum, this is a game-changer.
What we don’t like
It’s really loud
The first thing we noticed when we started up the Shark IQ R101AE was just loud it was. It’s loud enough that it’ll disturb you if it’s in the same room. We suggest that you run the IQ while you’re away at work.
The smart features don’t always work
The Shark IQ has the ability to map your home so you can later direct it to clean certain rooms. For example, with the help of an Alexa-enabled device, you can tell this robot vacuum to clean only the kitchen or living room. When we tested this feature out, it took over 10 cleaning cycles for the robot to create an accurate map. That was all well and good, but we still couldn’t consistently get the IQ to clean certain areas. We’d send it to go clean the foyer, but sometimes the robot got lost along the way.
If you’re counting on the IQ to give the floor a once over before guests arrive, you’re better off sending it on a complete clean.
What users are saying
The Shark IQ R101AE scores a 4.1 out of 5 on Amazon and a 3.9 out of 5 at Bed Bath & Beyond. Users like the cleaning performance and good price compared to the competition. However, many users complained about the noise and poor smart feature implementation.
Should you buy the Shark IQ R101AE?
The IQ is the cheapest self-emptying robot vacuum on the market. Its cleaning prowess is on par with top-tier competition like iRobot Roomba i7+. Those facts alone make it worth considering. However, many of the advertised claims like the smart map come across as half-baked and not ready for primetime. We’d suggest waiting for the IQ to go on sale to snag it; paying full-sticker price seems a little risky.