Shark IQ Robot Vacuum R101AE review

A self-emptying base, smart app and boundary marking make this a wonder

Shark IQ Robot Vacuum
(Image: © Shark)

Top Ten Reviews Verdict

This robot vacuum brings top-end features like self-emptying to the more affordable end of the market. This also gets you smart mapping, powerful suction, a self cleaning roller, edge cleaning and more. That said this is still a loud vacuum and that smart learning does take a while to get up to speed. But, for the price, this is a stunner.


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    Smart mapping

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    Relatively affordable price

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    Great for pets


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    Loud and slow to learn

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Shark IQ Robot Vacuum R101AE: What you need to know

The Shark IQ Robot Vacuum in this test is the R101AE model, meaning it comes with the self-emptying base as well as the usual WiFi and home mapping of the IQ line. It is an affordable option for top-end specs and cutting-edge smarts.

Performance with autonomy is such that this is a true replacement for your usual vacuum. The price point beats the equivalent specced model by iRobot yet offers most of the same features.

Shark IQ Robot Vacuum R101AE: Features

  • Self-emptying feature
  • Can control it with Alexa And Google Assistant
Shark IQ Robot Vacuum: Key figures

Battery life: 90 minutes

App: iOS and Android

Multi-surface: Yes

Pet capable: Yes

The big feature that makes this stand out from most robot vacuums is the self-emptying which gets you a month of cleaning without you needing to empty anything. The self-cleaning brushroll also plays a part here.

The battery life is decent and the scheduling app is good enough to allow smart mapping controls for room specific cleaning. This mapping also means more efficient smart routing for a better clean with less time wasted.

You can also control this robot vacuum using your voice with Alexa And Google Assistant. This will also talk back, letting you know if it runs into any problems and needs help.

Shark IQ Robot Vacuum

(Image credit: Shark)

Shark IQ Robot Vacuum R101AE: Design and build

  • 90 minute battery life
  • Self-cleaning

Self-cleaning is the big sell here and not just in terms of emptying. Although, that is a massively appealing feature. The dock features a bin that sucks the IQ clean so it can carry on cleaning for up to a month. While the direct competition, the iRobot i7+, also does this, it requires you to pay for bags. The Shark IQ dock doesn't use bags so not only do you not have to worry about replacement costs and faff but also you can rest easy knowing you're being more environmentally friendly too.

The robot vacuum itself is also self-cleaning thanks to a clever brushroll. This is able to avoid hair tangle by effectively cleaning itself. That means any long hair or pet hair is cleared away so you don't have to worry about maintenance of the bot either. The reality isn't quite as magical as the claim but it's better than most, meaning far less maintenance at least.

The robot not only features a brush roll but also dual corner brushes to make sure everything is sucked into its path and up into the dustbin. That 90-minute battery life keeps the bot going for plenty of time to cover most spaces and it'll recharge when needed anyway.

Shark IQ Robot Vacuum

(Image credit: Shark)

Shark IQ Robot Vacuum R101AE: Cleaning performance

  • Powerful suction
  • Great for pets

The suction on the Shark IQ Robot Vacuum is strong, and that's a good thing for clean floors but you certainly do hear it as this is loud too. Even the suction from the vacuum to the dock is noisy. But when it comes to debris of varying sizes, this captures it all. Those spinning brushes pull everything in while the roller grabs it up out of carpet, rug or off hard floors.

The combination of tools also helps to make sure edges and even corners get a good cleaning. This unit isn't shy of getting right up to skirting boards and flicking its brushes into corners so everything is cleared away - ideal for grabbing those stray pet hairs that try to hide in edges.

There is a high-efficiency filter which means not only visible waste is collected but also dust, dander and allergens are all sucked up.

Shark IQ Robot Vacuum R101AE: Smart skills

  • Smart mapping for room cleans
  • Efficient pathing

Unlike some other robot vacuum models, the IQ range is able to learn rooms, creating smart maps. This then means the bot can move more efficiently, 50 percent more according to Shark, as it runs up and down the room in lines never going over the same place. That also means fewer bumps and knocks. You can use the maps, in the app, to mark out rooms and set the bot to clean certain areas as needed - like the dining room after dinner. Also, use the border strips to mark out areas for it not to go, like the dog bed or somewhere with lots of cables.

While the app is useful for scheduling cleaning timings and zones you can also use your Amazon Alexa device or Google Assistant hardware to voice control cleans. This also works with specifics allowing you to say things like "Alexa, clean my dining room", when you finish dinner.

The only downside here is that initially the IQ takes a while to map a place. This can mean a week's worth of cleaning before you have rooms marked out by the bot. It works fine once mapped but just takes a while initially.

Shark IQ Robot Vacuum R101AE: Verdict

The Shark IQ is a robot vacuum that not only offers smart mapping for voice controlled room specific cleaning, but it's also more autonomous than most. The self-emptying combined with self-cleaning make for a true robot vacuum that you can leave on a schedule for a month before you need to lift a finger. 

The app is clever and supports smart assistant voice controls while the unit itself is autonomous enough to carry out efficient cleaning without wasting battery of missing any spots, even corners. One of the best feature filled robot vacuums out there today and at a price that undercuts the competition. 

Luke Edwards

Luke is a veteran tech journalist with decades of experience covering everything from TVs, power tools, science and health tech to VPNs, space, gaming and cars. You may recognize him from appearances on plenty of news channels or have read his words which have been published in most tech titles over the years. In his spare time (of which he has little as a father of two) Luke likes yoga, surfing, meditation, DIY and consuming all the books, comics and movies he can find.