The price is high, but the Dyson V11 reigns supreme as the best cordless vacuum around
- High Torque head delivers superb performance
- Better battery life in Boost mode than the V10
- LCD display
- Very expensive
- Heavier than the V10
- Takes longer to charge
Last year, the Dyson V10 took the nation’s favourite vacuum cleaner company up a level; it was the best cordless vacuum cleaner we’d ever used and the first we’d come across that could truly replace a traditional corded upright. It’s a tough act for the Dyson V11 to follow but it doubles down on the V10’s achievements, as it integrates smart functionalities to improve usability and ups the ante in the performance stakes.
Dyson V11 Absolute review: What you need to know
One of Dyson’s main design aims with the V11 was to reduce the amount of time you need to connect it to the mains, while at the same time improving suction power. It has a more powerful motor than the V10 and a bigger battery, while integrated sensors lying within the machine’s new motorised head allow it to adapt to its surroundings and save energy.
Strictly speaking, though, this is more of an evolution than an outright overhaul. The overall appearance is similar to the V10 and it has a familiar selection of features. Like the V10, the Dyson V11 is a cordless stick vacuum cleaner with an integrated, rechargeable battery that lasts for around an hour of continuous use; and it’s powerful enough to be the only vacuum cleaner you own.
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Dyson V11 Absolute review: Price and competition
The new features do drive up the cost, unfortunately, and that means both models of the new Dyson are more expensive than the V10. The Dyson V11 Animal is £500 and the new Absolute costs a hefty £600. Positioned in between them is the V11 Torque Drive, which costs £550. By comparison, the Dyson V10 Animal is £400 while the V10 Absolute will set you back £465.
Further down the range, you’ll find the less powerful Dyson V8 Animal for £250, the Dyson V7 Animal for £250 and the Dyson V7 Total Clean for £320. There are other brands to consider, too: Bosch’s Unlimited BCS122GB goes for £400, Shark’s DuoClean Cordless IF250UK is £499, and the Vax Blade2 can be yours for a mere £305.
Dyson V11 review: New features and design
There are several reasons Dyson gives to justify the added premium for the V11, but the main one is the V11’s new motorised High Torque cleaner head.
In the UK, the tool is a new addition to Dyson’s range and it improves on the V10’s Direct Drive cleaner head by increasing the surface area and adding an adjustable slider, which is used to increase or decrease suction.
Push the slider towards “+” and a pair of apertures at the front of the head are blocked, thus ramping up suction power. Push it the other way, towards the “-” setting, and those air inlets are opened up, releasing the suction and making it easier to manoeuvre and lift the vacuum from the floor.
It’s a tool US customers will be familiar with because the V10 in the States comes with one as standard. However, the V11’s torque head is a new design and incorporates pressure sensors alongside its other features.
That’s not all, though. The Dyson V11’s vacuum motor is also more powerful, delivering 185 Air Watts of suction power in Boost mode, up from the V10’s 151 Air Watts of power in Max mode.
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With more power at the vacuum’s head and in the motor, you might think battery life would take a serious hit. Thankfully, that’s not the case, as the Dyson V11 has bigger lithium-ion cells and cleverer battery-saving tech. With the High Torque head, the new Dyson still lasts 60 minutes in Eco mode but goes for up to 12 minutes in Boost mode, an improvement of five minutes on the V10.
As you may have noticed, I’ve not quoted the figure for the Medium setting. That’s because, unlike the V10, the Dyson V11 doesn’t have one. Instead, the V11 has an Automatic mode, which changes power levels depending on floor type.
This “Dynamic Load Sensor” (DLS) system uses pressure sensors built into the motorised High Torque head, detecting the type of flooring you’re trying to clean and automatically adjusting the level of suction power needed for optimal performance.
And to give you a better indication of how much cleaning time you have left, Dyson has included a small LCD on the back of the V11’s handle. This shows the exact number of minutes and seconds remaining, provides tips on how to resolve blockages when they occur, and indicates the mode you’re using. It’s a much more advanced system than the V10’s simple battery-capacity LEDs.
The only drawback with the V11’s new design is that the unit is considerably heavier than its predecessor. Due to the inclusion of larger (still non-removable) batteries, the new Dyson weighs 3.05kg (up from 2.68kg) and takes an extra hour to charge from empty (it now takes 4hrs 30mins instead of 3hrs 30mins).
Dyson V11 Animal vs V11 Torque Drive vs V11 Absolute: What’s the difference?
Dyson’s vacuum cleaner range isn’t always the easiest to get to grips with, and, as has been the case with the past few V series, there are three main variants to choose from: the Dyson V11 Animal, the Dyson V11 Torque Drive and the Dyson V11 Absolute. As with other Dyson cordless vacuums, it’s best to view these as separate packages based on the same motor unit. The only difference between them lies in the accessories they’re supplied with.
The Dyson V11 Absolute comes with nine tools and accessories. These comprise:
- High Torque motorised head
- Soft roller motorised head
- Mini-motorised tool
- Combination tool
- Soft dusting brush
- Crevice tool
- On-wand storage clip
- Docking station
My favourite accessory – one that Dyson seems to have forgotten about in its marketing documents – is the new on-wand storage clip. This transparent plastic organiser sits on the V11’s wand and allows for two tools, such as the crevice and combination tools, to travel with you anywhere you clean.
The V11 Animal comes with most of these accessories, but replaces the High Torque head with the direct drive head and completely drops the soft roller head (useful for hard floor cleaning). It doesn’t come with the soft dusting brush, either, instead shipping with a “stubborn dirt brush”, which seems like a bit of a random substitution.
The V11 Torque Drive doesn’t differ dramatically from the V11 Absolute either, coming with the High Torque head but omitting the soft roller motorised head.
With that in mind, if you’re going to buy a Dyson V11, you might as well go the whole hog and get the Absolute. Otherwise, you’re missing out on one of its key new features – the pressure-sensing automatic suction mode enabled by the High Torque head.
Dyson V11 Absolute review: Design and features
Aside from the changes I’ve already pointed out, Dyson hasn’t deviated too much from the V10 with the design of the Dyson V11. Thanks to the new LCD, the removable, washable filter is different – it’s now a touch wider and isn’t, therefore, interchangeable with the V10’s filter – but otherwise it’s pretty much identical to its predecessor.
The dust container is still at the front and is emptied in the same way: push down on a plastic lever on the underside, the lid pops open and a rubber squeegee scrapes out all the fluff and hair, ejecting it at the end. The handle assembly still sits behind this, with a sprung trigger mounted within it (you still can’t run the unit without holding your finger on the trigger). The DC charging connector is in the same place at the base of the handle and the whole unit is reminiscent of a gun from Men In Black.
It’s not until you pick up the Dyson that you notice the biggest physical change: its extra weight. The V11 is 0.37kg heavier than its predecessor, which makes it a little harder to push around. This wasn’t a problem for me but it could be an issue for the elderly or frail, so I’d recommend trying one before you buy if you’re worried about the extra weight.
Dyson V11 Absolute review: Performance
In my view, though, it’s worth putting up with that extra weight for the extra power and convenience that the Dyson V11 Absolute delivers. It’s a simply brilliant vacuum cleaner.
Most of the time, I was able to leave it to do its thing in automatic mode, saving the trouble of having to fiddle with power settings. Depending on your setup and the tool you’re using, Auto mode lasts anything between 25 and 45 minutes, which should be enough for most cleaning jobs; the sprung trigger means you never run it continuously for very long.
If you prefer to take things into your own hands you can eke out the battery life even more. In Eco – the weakest suction mode – the V11 will last 60 minutes on a full charge, the longest of the three modes, while in Boost mode it lasts between five and 12 minutes, depending on the tool you have attached. Surprisingly, with the High Torque head attached, you get the longest battery life in Boost mode thanks to those clever pressure-sensitive sensors.
Cleaning in the Dyson V11’s Boost mode is seriously impressive and improves considerably on the V10’s Max mode. Testing with the High Torque head mounted on the V10 and V11, I found the V11 was more effective, sucking up noticeably more spilled flour on short-pile carpet than the V10.
And the High Torque head is excellent on hard floors, too. Thanks to its adjustable slider, it’ll pick up large debris on hard floors when it’s set to the minus (“-”) setting and, yet, is also able to deep-clean thick carpet with the slider pushed over to the plus (“+”) setting.
Even with a handful of sticky Cheerios scattered on a hard floor, the V11’s High Torque head is able to roll over and clean up the mess. With the V10, you’d have to switch to the soft roller head before tackling the job because the direct drive head simply pushes larger particles like this out of the way.
The High Torque head has another significant benefit, too. On either edge of the cleaner’s head, there are grooves that allow for dust to filter in from the sides, giving the head a wider cleaning path than its direct drive counterpart.
On the negative side, both cleaners ended up with a few Cheerios jammed in the central tube of the dust container; the blockages were to clear but you do have to slide open the bin to get in there and sort it out.
As for noise, the V11 is a tad louder than its predecessor, the V10. Using the same High Torque on both machines on the highest suction mode, the V11 reached 47dB on hard flooring and 48dB on short-pile carpet. The V10 measures 44dB and 41dB, respectively.
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Dyson V11 Absolute review: Verdict
With the new High Torque head and the improved motor, the Dyson V11 produces the best performance we’ve ever seen from a cordless vacuum cleaner, impressively improving on the Dyson V10 in every way. It’s more powerful, lasts longer per charge and is more versatile and convenient, making the Dyson V11 Absolute the ultimate cordless vacuum.
The one hurdle it faces is price. If you want to take full advantage of all the V11’s new features and technology you need to spend the full £600 on the V11 Absolute, which is an awful lot of money for a vacuum cleaner of any description – almost £150 more than the Dyson V10 Absolute, which is still an incredible machine. That’s why we’re still recommending the V10 as our favourite cordless vacuum; if you want the best of the best, though, the Dyson V11 is the vacuum cleaner to buy.