Dyson cordless vacuum cleaners have previously fallen into two camps: relatively large ones that are intended as your main or only vac, and more compact ones designed as secondary vacuums for doing small spills, surfaces, your car interior and a quick spin around your floors. The Dyson V12 Detect Slim Absolute, to give it its full title, is the brand's latest offering, and it straddles both camps. It has plenty of suction power and a full range of cleaning heads for doing just about everything you can think of. However it is also very petite.
Having used it for a week, I am beginning to think it could be the best Dyson cordless vacuum to date, or at least the best for me, as I tend to clean 'little but often' and while I like to keep my Dyson in the kitchen, space is increasingly lacking there due to the never ending stream of air fryers, ice cream makers, knife blocks and stand mixers I get sent to test.
If you don't like Dysons, we have whole guides devoted to the best cordless vacuum cleaners and also the best vacuum cleaners overall, and there are plenty of other brands in there. But I do like Dysons, so if I think this is their best one yet, that is a big deal, at least in my mind.
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Just to clear up one thing for any confused readers in Australia: the Dyson V12 has only just come out over here in the UK, and in the States. Lucky Aussies were able to get their hands on it last year; in fact my colleagues down under wrote this full Dyson V12 Detect Slim review.
In that review, Sharmishta Sarkar called it a scaled down Dyson V15 Detect Absolute, and that is absolutely correct. It has the same choice of intelligent motorised head for all surfaces, and a fluffy roller head with built-in laser, which is specifically for hard floors. It also has a bendy head for getting under and over obstacles, a crevice tool and a duster brush. Last but not least is the 'Hair Screw Tool'. This is mainly for vacuuming upholstery and features an extremely cunning anti-hair wrap design that is so good that it can even gobble up USB cables without jamming – so beware!
When I unboxed the V12 it was immediately apparent that it was significantly smaller than the V15, and I was quite sceptical that it could clean as well as that machine. The V15, for context has been #1 in our cordless vac buying guide for over a year and recently scooped a 2022 T3 Award as officially the Best Vacuum Cleaner in the known universe.
These fears were soon allayed, as not only is the V12 extremely manoeuvrable and lightweight, but it is also able to suck like a champ. My flat is mainly hard floors and is not all that mucky – it's hard for it to be when I get sent new robot and cordless vacuum cleaners on a weekly basis – and in that kind of environment, the Dyson absolutely thrives.
Looked at in terms of raw numbers, the V12 has 150AW of suction power. That's a lot less than the V15's 240AW, but only slightly less than its excellent predecessor the V11, which had 180AW. As a result, the V12 Detect Slim is less good at doing vacuum review testing type things such as gobbling up a pile of cheerios, or sucking flour out of a carpet. However, in terms of day-to-day cleaning power I found it indistinguishable from the V11 – which, before the V15, was the best cordless vac you could buy, and still an excellent cleaner.
Perhaps more importantly, it's way better than Dyson's two other compact vacs, the Micro and Omni-glide, both of which are rated at just 50AW. This really is a true hybrid of a handheld vac and full-size machine, with very few compromises made.
The V12 Detect Slim also has this essential and incredible innovation.
Dyson spent many years spurning using a button to power its machines on and off. Okay there is a button on the Micro, but like everything else about that vac, it's small and tentative. This is a Big Red Button, like a Bond villain might have in his high-tech lair to fire his space laser at unwitting civilians. It's extremely satisfying to use, and I soon came to wish all Dysons had one, instead of the trigger they usually employ.
Although losing the trigger may theoretically impinge on battery life, Dyson still claims a full 60 minutes of run time in its lowest power setting. Of course, nobody ever uses the lowest power setting. I found I could get 10-15 minutes by moving between the auto and boost settings – which for my purposes is more than enough.
I also love the laser on the hard floor head, but I do find it a little scary. Lots of vacs nowadays have headlights that illuminate previously unseen dust, but the Dyson head reveals it in a more effective and horrifying way, using the unearthly green-ish glow of a laser. The distressing thing about this is that it will make all too plain that even though you vacuumed yesterday, today there is a quite unbelievable amount of new dust.
Dyson loves to add in extraneous features that nobody has ever asked for, and the V12 delivers on that front with a fancy piezo sensor that breaks down what's being sucked into it, so you can see what size particles make up the dust in the bin. Dyson calls this 'scientific proof of cleaning', but I call it a line of incomprehensible stats that does admittedly look nice on the V12's LED display.
Speaking of bins, the one significant drawback of Dyson's downscaling is that the bin is only 0.35 litres in size – that is small. The saving grace is that the emptying mechanism is highly effective and a lot of fun to use. I'm surprised Dyson hasn't tried to market it as a plus point on that basis.
That aside, I am a massive fan of this tiny vac. It will always have a small place in my heart, and it pushes all my (big, red) buttons.
Dyson V12 Detect Slim Absolute: price and availability
Dyson V12 Detect Slim Absolute costs £529.99 in the UK and $649 in the USA. Australians for some reason get two versions, Dyson V12 Detect Slim Total Clean is AU$1,199 and the Dyson V12 Detect Slim Absolute Extra is AU$1,249.
That pricing is very similar to what you'll pay for the V15, but if your space is limited, chances are you'll be glad you downsized.
To find the latest offers, take a look at our Dyson discount codes page.