Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum-Mop P review: A pandemic buddy whose time has come

We’re seven months into this pandemic and the initial enthusiasm of getting our household chores done all by ourselves has given way to the grueling reality of balancing work and home, all the while as the numbers climb around us and reducing unnecessary exposure is the need of the hour. One category that’s seen strong consumer interest has been robotic vacuum cleaners, and rightly so – these automatons busy themselves cleaning the nooks and crannies of your home, with little to no intervention required. One such product that’s at the center of the discussion is the Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum-Mop P, for one big reason – it promises to deliver a robotic vacuuming and mopping solution at a price that’s the typical ‘bang for your buck’ that one has come to associate with anything from Xiaomi. The company is taking pre-orders (Rs. 21,999) for a December delivery, but can this robot do justice in homes used to our time-worn manual sweeping and swabbing? I lived with this for over a month to find out.

Opening the rather large box of the Mi Robot Vacuum-Mop P reveals a familiar round design one associates with robotic vacuum cleaners, and while it retains a low-profile design which allows it to travel under low set furniture and side tables, the large radius means it does face the odd challenge getting into tight gaps. Flip open its plastic lid and you’ll find the cavity which houses either a dirt-only compartment for vacuuming or a dual-function dirt + water storage tank for vacuuming and mopping. Aside from the sweeping brush and the pre-attached roller brush, you get an extra sweeping brush and two mop pads (plus some cleaning accessories) in the box and of course, the charging station where the Mop P will automatically return and park itself when low on charge.

Now, for those who haven’t had one of these scurrying around your homes earlier, here's how it works. You set it up via the Mi Home app, which should be a straightforward exercise once the product ships to buying consumers in India in December, and the app lets you map out your home and start a cleaning cycle for the entire home or room by room. This bit takes a few cycles to get right, particularly the bit around getting the robot to clean a specific room. You can also adjust the cleaning and mopping modes, define restricted zones and cleaning schedules.

Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum-Mop P review: A pandemic buddy whose time has come

Once the cleaning cycle is started, the sweeping brush rotates at the front of the device and pushes dirt and small particles into the path of the roller brush, which then sucks it into the vacuum compartment. If you have the mopping fitting and pads attached, two water outlets drop water onto the floor and the pads mop as the robot moves forward…sweeping and mopping happens all in one pass! It starts off along the outer edges of your home, forming a map and room boundaries as it goes along. If you’re vacuuming alone, the robot takes a straight-line back-and-forth path, whereas if you’re mopping, it follows Y-shaped patterns on the floor to cover the area more efficiently. There’s a laser detection module to detect obstacles and drops, so you don’t have to worry about it bumping into stuff or falling down the top of the stairs – well, it does occasionally bump into the odd chair leg or two but it’s adequately cushioned by shock-absorbing bumpers. In my tests, I tried on a variety of hard flooring – wooden, marble and vitrified tiles – and the Mop P had no issues, but loose wires or lightweight door mats trip the Mop P up, so you’d best advised to keep these off the floor when it’s doing its thing.

How effective is this, though? Let me answer it this way – it’ll do a good enough job of cleaning your home that you can go through the week without feeling like a human sweep-and-swab is needed, but the edge cases (quite literally, like sweeping around the edges of some objects or under small tables, for instance!) will necessitate a weekly intervention. You’ll have to watch out for the dust compartment filling up or the water compartment drying up or cleaning out long strands of hair from the roller, but other than that, it’ll largely be a case of “fill it, shut it, forget it”. Smaller homes with lots of stuff on the floor may benefit less than homes with relatively uncluttered floors. Of course, this is only a floor cleaning robot, so you’ll still need a proper vacuum cleaner to attack the drapes, the cupboards and the cobwebs on the ceiling.

Depending on your usage (cleaning mode, size of your home), the 3200mAh battery in the robot will last you an entire cleaning cycle, and then some. Once it’s done, the Mop P returns to the charging station to top up, and if you run out of battery mid cycle, it will find its way home again and resume the task once it’s fully charged, which is a little under two hours.

Is it worth the price? The price point is compelling – you’re getting a reasonably autonomous cleaning solution at a price far below some of the other big brands, and the addition of mopping capabilities is the cherry on the icing. One can’t help but wonder how much more of a roaring business Xiaomi could have done by launching it far earlier in the pandemic, but if you haven’t picked up one of the competition just yet, it’s worth waiting a month-ish more and pick up the Xiaomi.

Highlights: Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum-Mop PPros: Intelligent navigation system, good battery life, capable app, reasonably independent operation once you understand how it worksCons: Misses edges and narrow gaps due to its shape/size, initial learning curve on the appRating: 9/10Price: Rs. 21,999, ships in December