If you spend more time cleaning your pool than enjoying it, you might want to enlist a robot to do some work for you. As with most robotic pool cleaners, the $1,499 Maytronics Dolphin S300i is rather pricey, but when you consider the hours spent scrubbing and vacuuming your pool over the course of the season, it's money well spent. The S300i does a fantastic job of vacuuming pool sides and floors, and its dual filtration system will keep things spotless all summer. As with our top pick for pool cleaners, the Polaris 9650iQ Sport, the S300i can be controlled using a phone and a mobile app, but it's missing a few of the features we love about the Polaris model.
Designed for in-ground pools up to 50 feet, the S300i measures 12.0 by 15.7 by 18.0 inches (HWD) and weighs 16.5 pounds. It has a white, blue, and black finish, a built-in carry handle, two rubber scrubbing brushes (front and back), and two rubber tractor-like treads that propel the cleaner through the water and allow it to climb the sides of the pool. The front edge has a sensor that, combined with the Dolphin's CleverClean scanning technology, scans the pool to ensure total coverage.Our Experts Have Tested 125 Products in the Smart Home Category in the Past YearSince 1982, PCMag has tested and rated thousands of products to help you make better buying decisions. (See how we test.)
The top of the S300i pops open to reveal the filter basket, which has two filters on each side. One filter catches and holds coarse debris like leaves and acorns, and the other catches fine particles like sand and dirt. As with the Polaris 9650iQ Sport, cleaning the filter basket is easy: simply lift the basket straight out and spray it clean with a hose. In comparison, the Aquabot Turbo T4RC filter requires removing a cloth filter bag and cleaning it with a hose, inside and out. It's a messy procedure that takes more time than it should.
The S300i's head unit, which contains a 7-by-2-inch control panel with blue backlit controls, is the robot's control center. On the left is a big power button, and to the right are Weekly Timer, Fast Mode, and Delayed Operation buttons. On the top are Bluetooth and Smartphone control indicators. The head unit is equipped with a Bluetooth radio that allows you to connect to your phone and control the S300i using the MyDolphin mobile app for Android and iOS devices. The robot is tethered to the head unit by a 60-foot rubber data cable that uses a swivel mechanism to prevent tangles.
Programming the S300i is easy using the head unit: Click the Weekly timer button once to have the robot work daily, twice to have it work every other day (four times a week), and three times to have it work every three days (three times a week). A fourth click will cancel the schedule. Once you select one of these options, the cleaner will begin its cycle. The Fast Mode button lets you choose a fast cycle that only cleans the pool floor rather than a full cycle that cleans the floor, walls, and waterline, and the Delayed Operation button lets you delay the next cleaning cycle to allow dirt to settle at the bottom of the pool. Missing is the Lift system that you get with the Polaris 9650iQ sport, which tells the robot to climb the nearest wall and expel excess water, making it easy to remove it from the pool.
The MyDolphin mobile app offers more detailed scheduling options, including the ability to set start and stop times, schedule specific cleaning days, set cycle times (1.5, 2, and 2.5 hours), and set cleaning modes (Regular, Fast, Waterline, and Ultra Clean). The app opens to a Dashboard screen that displays the cleaner's current cleaning mode and cycle time, and below that are buttons for Cleaning Mode, Cycle Time, Weekly Timer, Delay Mode, and Links & Info, which offers a user guide, troubleshooting tips, and links to the company website. There's also a Manual Drive button that opens a screen with a four-way toggle that you can use to steer the robot around the pool. Or you can use Tilt Mode to steer the robot by tilting your phone in the direction you want it to go.
The S300i comes with a two-wheeled caddy that holds the robot and the head unit and has a place to hang the data cable. It also comes with a quick start guide and a basic operation guide that explains the programming options.
The S300i is pretty much ready to go out of the box. It took me a few minutes to assemble the caddy and attach the head unit before I was ready to go.
I used the mobile app to create a schedule, set the cleaning mode to Ultra Clean, and let the robot do its thing. My pool is surrounded by trees, including a few berry and oak trees, so there is no shortage of coarse and fine debris at the bottom at any given time. As with the Polaris 9650iQ Sport, the S300i did an excellent job of cleaning the floor and sides, and did a great work of scrubbing the waterline. It had no trouble picking up large objects like acorns and leaves, and never once flipped over and had to be rescued like the Hayward AquaVac 500. Moreover, the anti-tangle mechanism did a fine job of preventing cable knots.
Steering the cleaner using the mobile app was a bit of a challenge. Whenever I attempted to turn it to the left or right the robot would stop, back up, and perform a handstand of sorts where the back end would lift while the front treads would turn to position the robot in the right direction. This made it very difficult to find the correct turning radius, and as a result I was rarely able to get the robot to go exactly where I wanted it. The Polaris 9650iQ Sport is much easier to steer using the iAquaLink app's steering option.
If you're ready to take the plunge and invest in a robotic pool cleaner, put the Maytronics Dolphin S300i on your short list. It did a superb job of scrubbing and cleaning in our tests, and offers some nice features including flexible scheduling options, multiple cleaning modes, a Bluetooth radio, and a mobile app. The app makes it easy to adjust cleaning cycles and modes, but its remote control feature can be frustrating. If you're looking for a robotic pool cleaner with Wi-Fi capabilities and a Lift system that makes it easy to extract the cleaner from the pool, the Polaris 9650iQ Sport is still your best bet, and our Editors' Choice.
The Maytronics Dolphin S300i is an effective robotic pool cleaner that you can control with your phone.
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