Dyson V15 Detect review: okay THIS is the best Dyson cordless vac, and this time we really mean it

Dyson V15 Detect is even better at cleaning than the V11 and has some genuinely useful new features and attachments

T3 Platinum Award
Dyson V15 Detect
(Image credit: Dyson)
T3 Verdict

It's not a huge step up from the V11 but, okay, Dyson V15 Detect now officially supplants it as the world's best cordless vac. The previously invisible dirt revealed by its laser is truly grotesque, but there's no faulting its light weight, impressive cleaning power and advanced accessories

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Excellent cleaning power

  • +

    Advanced air filtration

  • +

    That laser REALLY shows up dirt

  • +

    Light weight

  • +

    Battery-preserving auto mode

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    'Dust detect' feature seems a little pointless

The Dyson V15 Detect review in a sentence: slightly better than the last Dyson flagship cordless vac – the V11 – and hence now THE cordless vac to beat.

Hands up who doesn't like lasers? Not many of you, I'll wager. Well, wait until you've tried the all-new Dyson V15 Detect, and then get back to me. There have been many cordless vacs with dust-revealing headlights on, to the point that a common criticism of Dyson's market-leading machines has been, "Why isn't there a headlight on this expensive vac you've just sold me?" Well, now there is and all I can say is, be careful what you wish for.

The laser is the V15 Detect's big selling point and it works, that's for sure. Unfortunately, its nightmarish green light reveals precisely how disgusting your floor looks. Sure, the good news is that it then sucks up that gross filth, but once you have seen the Grade A foulness lurking on your hard floors – not carpets, for reasons we'll come to – you can't un-see it. It's like lifting up a stone in a beautiful garden, to find bugs writhing in a grotesque dance macabre. The horror. The horror. 

But anyway. This is the best cordless vacuum cleaner you can buy, despite what our buying guide currently says, as I haven't updated it yet. For those who aren't hardcore Henry or Miele fiends, it's probably the best vacuum cleaner of any kind. It comes with some superb attachments and it has some very strong new features, as well as some that are slightly superfluous IMHO.

Let's now take a look at why you might very well consider paying £599 or $699 for it.

Dyson V15 Detect: price and availability

Dyson V15 Detect review

Sir James Dyson, using the V15 Detect head specifically for hard floors, on a carpet. Doh!

(Image credit: Dyson)

Dyson V15 Detect has been on sale in the USA for a while and is in the UK NOW. Pricing: £599 in the UK; $699 in the USA. In Australia it’s AU$1,399 and will go on sale on May 27.

If our pricing widgets are not yet 'finding' prices for Dyson's new vac, head straight to shop for the V15 at the Dyson UK store – or, come to that, at the Dyson USA store. I'm fully confident they'll have it.

Dyson V15 Detect: design and build

Dyson V15 Detect review

(Image credit: Dyson)

Dyson has barely changed the look of its cordless vacs since the V10 and it hasn't done so with the V15. The 0.75 litre (0.2 gallon) bin is still a lot of fun to empty, and the wall mount, handle, battery, extension tube and attachments all look pretty much the same, and sit in the same places.

At just over 3kg (7lbs), the V15 Detect is also about the same weight as the V11, although it feels a touch better balanced and hence even more manoeuvrable to me.

Dyson V15 Detect review

The Dyson V15 Detect also works superbly as a handheld for your car, yacht or shelves

(Image credit: Dyson)

However, surface appearance isn't everything. 

The V15 Detect offers improved suction, with a maximum of 240AW compared to the  V11's 180AW. It also has improved filtration, with Dyson claiming the removal and trapping of 99.9% of particles. 

Of course, the main addition here is the laser that gives the Detect its name. Because it 'detects' dirt that the human eye would tend to miss. Interestingly, this is only to be found in the 'fluffy' head for doing your hard floors. 

The head – the Laser Slim Fluffy™ cleaner head to give it its full title – lives up to each element of its name. Yes, it's fluffy – so as to get properly up close and personal with your hard floor – it's slim and it has a laser in it. Tick, tick, tick. 

You also get a general purpose, high torque cleaning head – with NO laser in it – plus the following smaller attachments: a combi tool for dusting and other surface cleaning tasks, a 'stubborn dirt brush' which is a similar thing but with stiffer bristles, a soft brush – that's a similar thing but with softer bristles, for your keyboards and mahogany – and a crevice tool. 

Oh and finally there is a 'hair screw tool' which is a sort of Mini Me to the full-size high torque cleaning head. This is designed for use on stairs, but comes into its own on upholstery, as that is where pet hairs – and human ones – tend to congregate.

That's because the hair screw head features the V15's other big upgrade, which is the ability to process long hairs without tangling. This video shows you how it works, and also how well it works. If only I had any hair to suck up with it. Sob. 

The high torque also features an anti-tangle feature, which works well enough, but it's the hair screw attachment where the real magic happens.

In short, everything here is well put together. Do you or I need all those attachments? Probably not, but you can't complain about a lack of attachments for your money, that's for sure.

The only thing that I miss is Dyson's, for want of a better phrase, 'bendy tube' attachment. This lets you more easily vacuum under beds, sofas and other furniture on legs, and is actually pretty useful. You can buy it in an add-on pack from Dyson, though. 

The bin is big enough that you can vacuum a 3-bedroom apartment 4-5 times before filling it up. Well, I can. The emptying mechanism is a thing of joy, and feels a bit like cocking a pump action shotgun. The vacuum itself, once you remove the extension tube, rather resembles a large ray gun, and I see this as another big plus point. Will this, and the presence of a laser, encourage more men to do the vacuuming? Very probably.

Dyson V15 Detect: battery life

Dyson V15 Detect review

(Image credit: Dyson)

Another thing that doesn't seem to change from one Dyson vac model to the next is battery life. As with the last few iterations of Dyson's flagship vac, you are promised 'up to 1 hour'. 

As usual, that actually means, 'up to 1 hour with the suction set to its lowest setting and with the tools that aren't motorised.' As usual, this is quite annoying, but also as usual I have yet to run out of juice while actually cleaning, so who cares?

You do have to be quite diligent about plugging it in between uses, so it's topped up and ready to go each time, but that isn't too much of an imposition. The battery is removable so you could, in theory, buy a spare – for about £85/$100 – if you are paranoid about battery life, or live in a home with 15 rooms, and carpet up to your knees.

One new-ish innovation is an 'auto' power setting. This speeds the suction up on the high torque head when it detects more difficult cleaning ahead – ie: carpets, or massive piles of crud – and slows it down when more gentle cleaning is required. This helps eke out some additional life, although it does leave you wanting to activate the 'Boost' mode to just really crack on with things. 

Dyson V15 Detect: performance

On hard floors, nothing can beat this. The combination of the laser, the low-to-the-ground, 'fluffy' head and – apparently – 'anti-static carbon fibre filaments' mean it can really go to town on your wooden and tiled floors. 

The standout feature here is the laser. The amount of dust this reveals borders on the sickening, but I can't fault its effectiveness. There is something about the green glow of the laser that makes the dirt revealed seem even worse than under a headlight. So I guess that's progress.

Although the high torque cleaning head does not feature a laser – perhaps a blessing in disguise since it means at least your carpets will not fill you with disgust – it is the other star of the show. The multi-purpose high torque head allows the V15 Detect to adjust its suction to suit the state of the carpet or other flooring beneath it, and it does an excellent job. 

The hair screw is also fantastic. Its motorised brush works wonders if you have pets or humans in your home who regularly shed long hairs. It also means, as I discovered to my chagrin, that the V15 with this head on will now gobble up stray USB cables, rather than becoming tangled in them – so watch where you use it, or don't leave your USB cables on the couch in the first place.

The other attachments all do a good job on their allotted tasks. Some of those tasks are a bit niche perhaps, but there's no doubting the versatility on offer here.

Dyson V15 Detect

(Image credit: Dyson)

A less useful function is the all-new 'particle detection' system. This is extremely clever (see the video below) in that it not only sucks up dust, but also detects what type and size of particle it's picking up. 

As to what purpose this serves, however, I am not so sure. It seems to be mainly a bit of built-in PR for the V15 Detect, constantly telling you, 'Look how much stuff I sucked up! Aren't you grateful? Would you like to see a grpah of what I sucked up?!'

Personally, if the floor looks clean and the dust bin is filling up with dust, I am happy to take it on trust that my vacuum cleaner is vacuum cleaning, but if you need more detailed reassurance, the V15 Detect now provides it. 

Overall, my use of the V15 suggests it has slightly better real-world cleaning power than the V11, and its air purifying qualities also appear improved. I've not used anything better.

Dyson V15 Detect: verdict

So, okay, some of the new features on the Dyson Detect V15 seem a bit unnecessary. However the bottom line is that it serves up even greater ease of use and cleaning power than the V11, without costing any more money. 

There are also that genuinely useful, if slightly horrifying, laser headlight and the hair-taming, anti-tangle hair screw heads as a clear improvement over the last Dyson flagship. Oh, and a few additional attachments.