Narwal Freo X Ultra review: Powerful and reliable floor cleaning


A highly-capable floor cleaning solution, the Narwal Freo X Ultra lives up to its motto of “Exceptional Power. Minimal Maintenance.” With an emphasis on privacy, this bot effortlessly vacuums and mops your home for several weeks without your interaction. Our home has never been cleaner.

Do any of us find joy in sweeping, vacuuming, or mopping the floors in our homes? If you’re like me, you enjoy the end result, but the process is a hassle. Narwal not only helps ease that strain, but they make it fun as well, introducing the Narwal Freo X Ultra.

Not just a robot vacuum, the Freo X Ultra is also a capable self-cleaning mop.

See price at Narwal

Narwal Freo X Ultra

Self-cleaning • Accurate mapping and navigation • Efficient floor cleaning

Focusing on the user experience, the Freo X Ultra is one of the quietest robot vacuums around. The self-contained trash collector bags reduce dust over other hard case collectors, and the Self-Cleaning Base Station automatically swaps the mop water and cleans the brushes. Combined with new, far more capable DirtSense technology, this robot vacuum is destined to clean your home better than any bot before it.

Narwal Freo X Ultra on blue carpet

Jonathan Feist / Android Authority

Multiple sensors, including LiDAR, offer very accurate mapping and navigation of your space. We tested this across tile floors, wood floors, and carpet, forcing the bot to navigate around tables and chairs, a large drop-off, and shoes.

The Narwal Freo X Ultra utilizes a new debris compression system to maximize the amount of dust, dirt, and hair it can collect before you have to take action, but this bot does not empty it’s own vacuum bag. It takes just a moment to pop the top off of the robot and slide out the bag or canister for cleaning and replacement. For most users, the canister is large enough and clean enough to clear your home, the new bags offer dust reduction for sensitive users or particularly dusty messes. Expect to get 7 weeks or more per vacuum bag.

A lot of what we’ve described so far will be familiar for other robots on the market, there is, after all, limited ways to clean a floor, but don’t let that fool you, the Freo X Ultra is an award winning cleaning solution for a reason. Security and efficiency are the leading reasons you should consider a Narwal product. For example, the Freo X Ultra has no cameras, using LiDAR and lasers to ensure your privacy.

There are no cameras on the Freo X Ultra

We’re particularly impressed with the DirtSense cleaning system. The mop heads scour your floors with up to 12N of force, and the system intelligently identifies dirt and will go over a spot more than once, if required. Once the scrubbing is done, the Self-Cleaning Base Station is where the magic happens. The base station is responsible for cleaning the mop heads, running them through warm water and detergent until they are clean — which is determined by analyzing the draining water until it reaches a minimal particulate PPM threshold. Let us just say that these mop heads were white fleece when we started, and they remain white fleece after dozens of moppings of our floors.

Narwal vacuums at CES 2024 (12)

Jonathan Feist / Android Authority

The Narwal app is easy to use, once you’re all set up. Please note that you’ll need a 2.4GHz router to connect your Freo X Ultra. The app provides easy access to each of your Narwal cleaning devices, and within each you can control settings, schedules, and cleaning areas of your home.

Mapping your home is the first step in the process. Narwal’s use of LiDAR makes this process fast and easy. We mapped 419.2 SqFt of floor in our home, including our kitchen, entryway, hallway, and the small bedroom I use as an office. This entire process took just a few minutes. The only issue we faced was with our sunken living room. The Freo X Ultra was aware that there was a room there, but was upset we wouldn’t let it go explore.

Narwal Freo X Ultra Mapping

Jonathan Feist / Android Authority

In the case that you have off-limits areas of your home, you may simply apply those within the app. After the initial mapping of your space, the app will automatically apply room designations as best it can identify. Depending on your layout and passageways, expect some extra rooms to appear on the map. For us, the kitchen and a bit of the hallway turned into Room 1, half of the sunken living room turned into Room 2, the main entryway turned into Room 3, and the rest of the hallway, my office, and the other half of the living room were called Room 4.

The first operation you will run with your Narwal Freo X Ultra is to let it scan your space. It will identify your rooms and your different floor materials. Use the tools within the app to merge rooms, split rooms, designate floor materials, and designate off-limits locations.

Using the mapping tools, I convinced the app that my office should be one room, and that the kitchen, hallway, and front entry should be another room. I then also set the living room as being off limits! This was not necessary, I could have set the living room to be a standalone room, then lifted the bot up and down the step when it was time to clean that area. It is also possible to scan the living room as a totally unique map.

In conjunction with downward-facing infrared sensors, the laser and LiDAR systems can identify cliffs such as stairs. While it is still possible to take a tumble, it is unlikely.

In our testing, the bot is able to identify our cliff edge, even when the hard floor material of both levels is identical. We have not tested on a carpeted edge where the sensors have to travel out further before they have a clear view of the drop.

During those inaugural runs, we kept the doors closed to three rooms. In subsequent cleanings the Freo X Ultra identified that there are rooms behind those doors. We tried to let it into the spare bathroom, but it got caught up on both our thick bath mat and the step plate between rooms, so we’ve since called that room off-limits. The map continues to display a question mark icon that asks us if we want to attempt to map and clean those other rooms. Not at this time, but thank you for asking, little buddy.

Narwal Freo X Ultra Map cleaning selection

Jonathan Feist / Android Authority

When it comes time to clean, you may manually select a room or an area to clean, then choose one of several cleaning modes:

  • Vacuum and Mop
  • Vacuum then Mop
  • Vacuum
  • Mop
  • Customization

The Customization mode allows you to specify what cleaning modes you would like to operate within each room, and set further settings. Available options include setting the vacuum suction power, how many times the cycle should run, moisture level of the mop heads, and how thoroughly the area should be covered. For example, we run the standard Vacuum cycle every day, run the Vacuum then Mop cycle a couple times per week, and use the Customization mode to run everything at full-blast for an extreme clean every once in a while.

We opt to use the built-in scheduling tools in the app to automate the process. With no effort on our behalf, the house gets vacuumed every day at 11am, and mopped on Thursday.

Set a schedule, run manually from the app, trigger from your favorite voice assistant, or use the controls on the base station

When you’re setting up, map your primary space first. You may store four maps within the Narwal app, but our testing limited us to only set automated schedules for Map 1. This makes sense, as operations are centered around the base station. Set the base station so that it has access to your primary space and you’ll be good to go.

Narwal Freo X Ultra and base station

Jonathan Feist / Android Authority

Obstacle avoidance is top-notch on the Freo X Ultra. The tri-laser and LiDAR object detection sensors are highly capable, and Narwal did a great job programing the bot to clean right up to the objects. Despite being one of the very best navigating bots on the market, there are still some things to be aware of.

First, the bot is ambitious, it will attempt to vacuum up anything that it can run over top of. That includes your toes. If the bot comes in from the side of my foot, it identifies my ankle and foot as being too large to tackle. When it comes in from straight in front, it still identifies the top of my foot as the obstacle, but runs over my toes in trying to clean all the way up to the rest of my foot. That’s an awkward feeling!

If it can’t be sucked up safely, keep it off the floor.

This goes for small objects that cannot fit into the vacuum tube as well. The Freo X Ultra helped us find a missing bobby pin that my wife lost in the kitchen one day. Just a standard little bobby pin. While the 8,200 Pa of suction power, and the anti-tangling brush had no problem picking up the bobby pin, it could not fit into the actual vacuum chamber and ended up rattling around the brush until we rescued it. No harm done, but the noise was unpleasant.

In our review video, you can see that we vacuumed up some Lego blocks. That was fun, but we regret doing it. The sharp corners of the blocks caused some scratches in the vacuum chamber. No real harm for a one-time thing, but they would cause appreciable damage if we made a habit of cleaning similar objects.

Narwal Freo X Ultra sensor

Jonathan Feist / Android Authority

The sensors also struggle a little with angled furniture legs. To be fair, I’m talking about my tripod and light stands for filming the vacuum in action. The bot recognizes the legs higher up, but runs into the lowest parts of the outreached legs. That’s when the front bumper saves the day. Able to detect a collision at a force of just 5N, the anti-scratch bumper halts the bot from running over anything more than the smallest of objects.

The second item to be aware of are strings. Make no mistake, the Certified Zero Hair Tangling brush is able to pick up and suck away a sizeable amount of string, but if that string is attached to a larger object, the Freo X Ultra does not have a function to spit the string back out, and will attempt to continue until it gets it all or gets tangled up. The bot initiates an emergency stop before any harm is done, and recovery is easy, but must be done by hand.

Narwal Freo X Ultra snag

Jonathan Feist / Android Authority

The other risk with string is from the two spinning brushes on the leading edge of the bot. These brushes can also wrap around a string. In our case, it caught a strap on our tripod and was beginning to lift off the ground, climbing up the strap when we caught it.

That’s it, we’ve not identified any other obstacles of concern. We imagine there are child’s toys, pet toys, pet food, and similar that you might want to avoid running over. In particular, we do not recommend attempting to vacuum up anything wet, nor trying to clean larger liquid spills. Wet debris in the vacuum chamber and collection canister will require manual cleaning and may cause blockages. Likewise, the mop heads are superb at scrubbing the floors, but are not high-volume mop heads for clearing larger puddles.

Where does the debris go?

Narwal Freo X Ultra roller end

Jonathan Feist / Android Authority

The Narwal Freo X Ultra offers two storage options for dry debris. The newest, cleanest, and most convenient is the dust-free bag system. Equipped with a HEPA filter, the self-contained unit can store several week’s worth of debris. Admitting that my wife and I are fairly clean people, and we take our shoes off in the house, we are on track for about 12 weeks of vacuuming before we fill the bag. Though, the HEPA filter is recommended to replace every 7 weeks, so we’ll either swap to another bag, or try the re-usable canister before we actually fill our first bag.

The re-usable hard canister is a see-through plastic box with about 1L of capacity. It is equipped with a replaceable HEPA filter. While this setup is perfectly capable of collecting and storing debris, it is not as dust-free as the bag system, and does require you to manually clear when full.

With either solution, debris is managed with one of Narwal’s fantastic maintenance-free innovations. As part of the self-cleaning measures, air is forced through the debris canisters to compress it. This is particularly effective for hair, which tends to take lots of space when allowed to collect in dust-ball form, but compresses easily. The process clears debris from the base station, from the rollers, through the vacuum channel and into the canister, where it is compressed and filtered through the HEPA filter to vastly reduce maintenance requirements. We’re big fans of this.

Narwal Freo X Ultra canisters

Jonathan Feist / Android Authority

Speaking of self-cleaning, you might be wondering what happens when you mop up a nasty mess, like maybe some hot sauce, honey, or ketchup.

Despite the common expectation from older units, the Freo X Ultra does not have any water canisters itself. The base station contains a fresh water reservoir, dirty water canister, and a detergent bottle. In standard operation, the base station simply cleans the mop heads. This process sprays water and detergent onto the heads and continues to scrub until they are clean. They are determined to be clean when the waste water is run through the DirtSense sensors with no particulate.

Once the sensors determine the waste water to be clean, the mop heads are wet and filled with detergent, ready to scour your floors.

Though on-board sensors help identify where to clean your floors, the system uses an area measure to decide when to return to the station to clean the mop heads. By default, the Freo X Ultra will mop 108 SqFt before returning for a clean. You may adjust that to 68 SqFt, 129 SqFt, or select a By Room option.

Narwal Freo X Ultra Scheduled Tasks

Jonathan Feist / Android Authority

In the end, all of the wet waste is collected into the dirty water canister inside the base station. We’ve yet to see any amount of gunk that isn’t easily diluted by the water, but we do feel the need to give the canister a quick clean when we dump it out.

Is this still too much hassle? No worries, Narwal offers an Automatic Water Exchange System that pipes directly into the wall. Tap into your main water supply for the home, and push that waste water directly down the drain for a truly automated experience.

Narwal promotes the Freo X Ultra as being hassle-free and maintenance-free, we’re hoping that remains true long-term, as the first couple months running it have been very simple, reliable, and our floors have never looked better.

Narwal Freo X Ultra specs and performance

Narwal Freo X Ultra exiting base station

Jonathan Feist / Android Authority

Plainly put, the Narwal Freo X Ultra is one of the most capable robot cleaning solutions on the market today. With 8,200Pa of suction power, up to 12N of mopping pressure, and a 5,200 mAh battery, the Freo X Ultra is able to vacuum and mop most floor surfaces in your home for more than 2 hours at a time. 1L of capacity in the vacuum bag equates to months worth of general hair and dust in the average home, and 4.5L of water is enough to mop about 1500 sq ft of moderately dirty floors.

When only vacuuming, and set to Edge Mode for a more comprehensive clean, the Freo X Ultra cleans our 419.2 sq ft of space in about 49 minutes. On Thursday, it vacuums then mops, for a combined 778.7 sq ft of coverage (it doesn’t mop the carpets.) This process takes about 1 hour and 48 minutes.

Routing is planned on a room-to-room basis. Cleaning one room at a time before moving to the next. You will see repetition in the cleaning patterns, but the Freo X Ultra attempts to cross the floor in multiple directions, ensuring the best possible coverage and cleanliness of your space.

Narwal Freo X Ultra angle on blue carpet

Jonathan Feist / Android Authority

Cleaning time and patterns vary based on the cleanliness of your space. For example, the very first time the Freo X Ultra mopped our floors, it took over 2 hours, and used 75% of the water in the reservoir. The very next mopping the next day only took about an hour and used less than 20% of the water. DirtSense was able to identify the extra dirty spots and spend the time on them. When no scrubbing is required, mopping goes fast as it mostly just gives the floor a quick buffing.

Noise is a factor. Some vacuums almost require earplugs to operate, not the Freo X Ultra. Tested in a space with 30dB of background noise, this bot measured just 50dB of navigation noise, 54dB of mopping noise, and 58dB of vacuuming noise. There is a higher-power vacuum mode that jumps up to over 60dB, which is a far cry from the 80-90dB from our old stick vacuum.

In the end, you get a robot cleaning solution that can manage most homes on a single charge, cleans quickly and quietly, and safely navigates your space and various flooring materials for a consistent clean.

Specifications

Freo X Ultra

35cm x 35cm x 10.7cm (13.8″ x 13.8″ x 4.1″)
4,250g (9.37lbs)
Metal frame, plastic casing

5,200 mAh Li-ion battery
2.5 hours vacuum and mop
3 hours vacuuming
3.5 hours mopping

1L vacuum container

Navigation noise: <50dB
Vacuuming noise: <58dB
Mopping noise: <54dB

Cleaning time
Edge Mode: 1hour per 500 sq ft
Normal mode: 1 hour per 750 sq ft

Self-cleaning Base Station

41.5cm x 37cm x 43.4cm (16.3″ x 14.5″ x 17.1″)
8,500g (18.37lbs)
Metal frame, plastic casing

4.5L clean water
4.05L dirty water
930ml detergent

Accessory average life

Mop pads – 150 hours
Roller brush – 300 hours
Side brushes – 150 hours
Filter – 150 hours (1 month wash, 3 month change)
Battery – 500 cycles

Narwal Freo X Ultra review: A welcome addition to a cleanly home

Narwal Freo X Ultra top on blue carpet

Jonathan Feist / Android Authority

If you are new to robot vacuums, the first thing you will find is that you are the most important factor to the success of your little robotic friend. We were so pleased with the capabilities of the Freo X Ultra that we rearranged our home for it. We now keep our shoes in the garage, we spaced out furniture, and relocated a couple rugs. Bottom line, if the Freo X Ultra can’t access the floor, it can’t clean the floor.

Similar to having a child or a pet, the life of your Freo X Ultra depends on your ability to keep it from eating things it shouldn’t and from going places that can cause it harm. The Freo X Ultra isn’t just a master at cleaning floors, owning it is a lifestyle choice. If you can commit to maintaining a home that is free of problematic obstacles for your bot, the Freo X Ultra is the very best that we’ve ever used. Of course, the Narwal app also has pet and child settings that turn on safety features on the bot, so you’re good to go no matter who lives in your home.

Exceptional Power. Minimal Maintenance.

Compared to previous units we’ve run, the Freo X Ultra picks up far more dirt and debris, and, in particular, the mopping feature is far more reliable. We have to admit that we were concerned about the lack of on-board water supply in this cleaning machine, but now that we understand how the system works with the base station, we know that the Freo X Ultra can reliably clean our entire space multiple times without us having to be involved.

Truth told, we stopped using the mop feature in every previous robot we’ve used in our home. They were not very good to begin with, and the hassle of water management and keeping the bot itself clean was not worth it. That, right there, is the very reason that we love the Freo X Ultra. It’s a great vacuum, sure, but I literally have not hand-mopped my floors in two months, nor have I had to scrub or clean the bot itself. I couldn’t be more pleased with this cleaning solution.

Narwal Freo X Ultra top and base station

Jonathan Feist / Android Authority

The Narwal Freo X Ultra is available for sale now. It was announced in January 2024, and the first units will ship to customers in March. If you are reading this at launch, there’s a great Early-Bird deal to save three hundred dollars. The launch price of the Freo X Ultra is $1,399.99.

The cost of ownership goes beyond the initial sale. There are consumables involved here, including the mopping pads, detergent, dust-free vacuum bag, HEPA filters, brushes, and more. Your usage will determine how frequently these items need to be replaced. In our simple home, with two relatively-clean people, a daily vacuum and only one or two mopping sessions per week, we expect to replace the detergent every few months, the vacuum bag every 7-10 weeks, the roller brush once per year, and both the side brushes and mop pads twice per year. We will list out links to these exact accessories upon launch in March, but, based on the prices of these accessories for the original Freo vacuum, our bill should be about $150/year.

We can’t tell you that you need to buy this device, but I can confidently say that it is the best piece of tech I’ve put in my home this year. I hope you’ll find the same.

Narwal Freo X UltraNarwal Freo X Ultra
AA Editors Choice

Narwal Freo X Ultra

Self-cleaning • Accurate mapping and navigation • Efficient floor cleaning

Our floors have never looked cleaner

Powerful suction, anti-clog dirt channels and brushes, LiDAR and laser sensors, and a convenient self-cleaning base station make the Narwal Freo X Ultra one of the best robot vacuums we’ve seen for home users. Safe and efficient operation for wood, tile, carpet, and nearly every floor surface in between.

Narwal Freo X Ultra review: FAQ

At launch, the Freo X Ultra is $1,399.99, but early bird and other deals often bring it down to $999.

Yes, the Freo X Ultra is designed to handle nearly any floor surface, and most transitions in between. The bot is able to identify hard surfaces from carpeted surfaces, which you can further tune within the app. It knows to add extra suction and avoid mopping carpets, and you can control the moisture levels of the mop heads for different hard floor locations, such as very-wet on tile, but only just moist on wood. Take full control of that in the Narwal app.

In these measures, Pa stands for Pascal Pressure Unit. While aerodynamics and object size play a large part, you could say that the Freo X Ultra is able to pickup a 1-inch square object that weighs as much as 1.2lbs. While that means nothing in most cases, let’s just say that this bot does not struggle to pick up metal marbles, Lego, bobby pins, batteries, dog food, microSD cards, Christmas light bulbs, and similar.

In these measures, N stands for Newtons. If our math is correct, that is just under 3 PSI of pressure. Combined with approximately 180 RPM spinning speed, the mop heads reliably scrub and polish your hard floors. Though, this is not enough to scrub away the toughest of ‘stuck’ items, such as paint, marker, or hardened melted sugar.

Mostly, yes. Please keep in mind that the Freo X Ultra is designed for smooth hard floors, low-pile carpets, and short floor transitions. Small area rugs may get pushed around and may need to be taped down.

Most common residential floor materials are no problem for the Freo X Ultra, including wood, tile, carpet, and more. However, it struggles with our fluffy IKEA bath mat and the anti-fatigue mat in front of our kitchen sink. If you have stairs, you will need to run separate mappings for each floor of your home.

The Narwal app can store up to four floors, and your Main Map (Floor 1) needs to be where your base station is located. The Freo X Ultra obviously does not clean stairs, but can identify when it’s at the top of them so it doesn’t tumble down.

The Freo X Ultra constantly analyzes the flooring that it is cleaning to run the best settings at any time. Not only does it avoid mopping carpets, it knows to turn up the suction on the vacuum to get the dirt out of threads.

For best results, set your rugs and carpets in place before running your home mapping. Consider re-running the mapping if you place new rugs or carpets.

Yes, and several times during the process. This is one of the cornerstones of the Freo X Ultra, combined with their DirtSense technology, the base station will clean the mop heads frequently, and continue to clean until it no longer identifies debris in the waste water.

When that’s done, the base station also offers a heated air dryer cycle to help avoid any bacterial growth.

The Self-Cleaning Base Station contains not only a reservoir of clean water, but also a bottle of detergent. No need to worry about getting your measures accurate, the Freo X Ultra will do it for you.

While the Freo X Ultra remains a circular bot that is unable to get into tight squared corners, it does run an Edge Mode that reaches in as far as possible for the shape. The small sweeping brushes protrude from the bot a short ways, further increasing its reach.

Yes, the Freo X Ultra can connect to Alexa, Google Assistant and more.

Absolutely. Not only can you choose between several cleaning modes in various combinations of vacuuming and mopping, you can also customize how well each operation is conducted and specifically choose rooms or smaller areas of your space to clean.

Sometimes, yes. The Freo X Ultra will attempt to clean up any object that sits below the line-of-sight of the tri-laser sensors. If those objects can be wrapped around the brushes, or do not fit down the vacuum chamber, they may cause a jam. In our testing, the bot managed to self-correct for most obstacles. as they eventually triggered the front bumper, causing the bot to back up and dislodge the object. If an object does get wrapped up or stuck in the chamber, you will need to rescue the bot.

It is possible for the Freo X Ultra to fail to exit a space that it got itself into. We specifically stress-tested this with our kitchen table, leaving chairs in various positions to see how the bot responds. From our tests, the bot only failed to navigate out from under the table once from a situation that it had a straight line out. That is, mathematically speaking, a 1% stuck rate.

We confidently allow the Freo X Ultra to run without supervision.



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