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Dyson V12 Detect Slim Absolute review: The latest iteration of a Dyson classic

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £529
inc VAT

A new vacuum cleaner that harks back to Dyson’s lighter cordless models, but comes with the latest tools and attachments


  • Light
  • The same accessories as the V15
  • Excellent cleaning


  • Expensive
  • Smaller capacity and suction than the V15
  • Floor heads must be swapped to clean different surfaces

I was somewhat surprised to see the Dyson V12 Detect Slim Absolute appear among Dyson’s current roster of vacuum cleaners. Dyson had skipped from the V11 straight to the to the V15 Detect, leaving us assuming that the V12, V13 and V14 might never see the light of day. However, that clearly isn’t the case, with the new V12 being the latest Dyson to hit the shelves.

In terms of features, the Dyson V12 Detect Slim Absolute is similar to the Dyson V15 Detect Absolute (£600). The Detect in its name refers to a handful of new technologies introduced with the V15: a soft roller floor head with a green laser that picks out dust on hard floor; a particle detection system; and the colourful screen on the end of the device that shows you exactly how many particles of various sizes are being sucked out of your carpet. However, as you might gather from the Slim in the name, it’s a smaller, lighter and slightly more affordable device.

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Dyson V12 Detect Slim Absolute review: What do you get for the money?

The Dyson V12 Detect Slim is 20% lighter than the V15 Detect at 2.4kg, largely thanks to a smaller vacuum engine and a smaller collection bin (0.35l vs 0.7l). However, the overall size differs less than you might assume.

The handle is the same size and, although the official specification states the height has been reduced by 30mm, it’s only smaller when the vacuum is being hung on its charger, with the floor head dangling. If you stand the two devices side by side, with the floor head flat on the floor, the V12 and the V15 are identical in height.

A more significant difference is that, as well as being smaller and lighter overall, the Dyson V12 Detect Slim is less powerful. Dyson has only built it around 11 of its “root cyclones”, compared with 14 in the Dyson V15. This gives it a quoted maximum suction power of 150AW (Air Watts), where Dyson quotes the V15 at 240AW.

Dyson vacuums are tricky to measure the suction on, because their motors cut out when their airways are blocked. However, we can record a reading before the motor cuts out and, sure enough, these readings showed the V12 as being less powerful than the V15. I measured it peaking at 24kPa, well below the V15’s 31kPa. It’s a step up from the smaller Dyson Micro 1.5kg’s 18kPa, though.Notably, the Dyson V12 Detect Slim Absolute comes with two floor heads: a soft roller for hard floor and a brush roller for carpet. Unlike Shark’s vacuums, this means you have to switch floor heads when you change surfaces, but at least that’s straightforward to do.

There’s also a hair screw tool in the box, designed for handheld use on upholstery, stairs, mattresses and in other smaller spaces. The screw shape of the roller brush does a decent job of picking up hairs and releasing them into the collection bin, just like the comb on the main floor head.

There are plenty more bits and bobs in the box, including a crevice tool, a multipurpose dusting brush and wider nozzle, and a low-reach adapter. The latter puts an elbow in the extension wand so you can vacuum under low furniture without having to get down on your hands and knees.

Finally, Dyson also includes a docking station, which when screwed into a wall near a plug socket, lets you hang the V12 Detect Slim on the wall and charge it at the same time. You don’t have to go down this route, though; because the battery is removable, you can charge it almost anywhere.

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Dyson V12 Detect Slim Absolute review: What’s it like to use?

In use, the Dyson V12 Detect Slim Absolute is similar to other Dyson V-series vacuums, except for one very significant detail: Dyson has ditched the trigger. You used to have to hold this down in order to keep the vacuum running, but Dyson has replaced it with a big red button on the top of the device. This is a simple on/off switch: you press it once to turn the machine on and again to switch it off.

This changes the way the vacuum is used so it’s no longer a one-handed operation. For some, this might be an inconvenience, but if you’ve found maintaining a grip on your cordless tricky in the past it will be a big improvement.

The other thing Dyson regulars will notice is that the V12 feels light. The smaller motor unit makes all the difference, with its slighter body feeling lighter to carry around, particularly when used in handheld mode without the extension wand attached. The reduced suction also helps it move across thicker carpet without getting bogged down, and the freedom of not having to hold a trigger makes the unit feel easier to hold onto without needing to worry about maintaining a particular grip on it.

The screen on the top is handy for showing you how much battery power is left and which mode you’re using (Eco, Med or Boost). You can switch between them using the button just below the screen. Normally, however, it shows a bar chart of how many particles of different sizes the V12 has collected. This is an impressive gimmick, but apart from the fact that you can see the rate of collection slow down as your carpet gets cleaner, I can’t really imagine anyone finding it as useful as its prominent positioning might imply.

There are some niggles, however, and one of those is having to switch the floor heads for different surfaces. However, the soft roller head does work very well on hard floors and, better yet, it comes with the innovative laser “Detect” feature that Dyson first introduced with the V15. This shows you where the dirt is by lighting it up with a green laser, the idea being you don’t miss anything. It works well but is at its best in dim conditions. Bright sunlight can make the laser hard to see.

READ NEXT: The best cordless vacuum cleaners you can buy

The other thing to note is that the collection bin is relatively small and fills up rapidly. I found I had to empty it at least once when thoroughly cleaning a five-bedroom house, with the bin quickly filling up with dust and debris, and emptying isn’t the most straightforward of processes.

To do this, you have to remove the extension wand, hold the main motor unit over a bin and push down a handle to release the dirt. I’ve rarely found this to be a single open and drop situation with Dyson’s vacuums. Instead you seem to need to open and close it several times in order to release all the dirt. It doesn’t feel like the sturdiest of contraptions, either, but I’ve yet to break one.

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Dyson V12 Detect Slim Absolute review: How well does it clean?

Dyson vacuums have performed exceptionally in our tests in the past, and the Dyson V12 Detect Slim Absolute is no exception. I ran it through our usual barrage of cleaning tests and it performed superbly.

I tested it by performing four cleanup jobs, using both Cheerios and flour on both hard floor and short-pile carpet. For each test a specific amount of the substance is measured and spilled on the surface and the vacuum gets a single pass to collect as much as possible. By weighing the collection bin before and after the clean, we can see how much of the measured spillage was collected.

The V12 Detect Slim proved superb at collecting Cheerios, picking up 26g of a 26g spill. On both hard floor (using the soft roller floor head) and carpet (using the brush roller) there were a few Cheerios that escaped and flew off in random directions, but this amounted to less than 1g of the original spill and it was no bother to track them down afterwards and gather them up.

Flour is a tough ask, but the V12 Detect Slim did a cracking job here, too. On hard floor it collected 49g of a 50g spill, although I could see nothing left behind. It’s likely that most of the missing 1g of flour was collected in the attachment joints, as I did find some flour collected here when dismantling the device.

On carpet, it had to work harder and collected 47g, which remains a commendable effort. Again, there was very little left in the carpet after a single pass, although I could make out a very light dusting. This was easily captured in subsequent passes.

It means that, overall, the V12 proved capable of picking up 98% of the mess we dropped before it on a single pass, which is a stellar performance that’s right up there with the best vacuums around.Finally, as you can see from the chart below, the battery life of the V12 holds its own against the V15, with the ability to run for 46mins 6secs in its Eco setting. On the Med setting, it ran for 29mins 8secs, which is only marginally short of the 30 minutes or so I’d consider ideal. However, it only managed 6mins 47secs in Boost mode, which is a bit short. I’d prefer to see that closer to 10 minutes, but it’s only really designed for emergency use.

Dyson V12 Detect Slim Absolute review: Should I buy it?

The Dyson V12 Detect Slim Absolute is a brilliant cleaner, with a few small caveats. It comes with all the same tools you’d get with the V15 Detect Absolute but it’s £100 cheaper, which makes it a better-value machine. It’s smaller and less powerful but, in use, performs just as well as the V15.

The dust bin is small and that means it isn’t ideal for larger houses, but the flipside is the lighter weight means it’s easier to move around. The removal of the trigger also means that, while it can’t be operated one-handed, it doesn’t rely on a constant grip being maintained. For older users, this combination may be ideal.

It doesn’t knock the Dyson V15 Detect off its top slot. With twice the bin capacity, the V15 is a vacuum that can clean a reasonably-sized house in one go. And, if you have a really large place to clean, the Dyson V11 Outsize (£549) takes this a step further.

Meanwhile, for those unwilling to pay Dyson prices, or who don’t want to swap floor heads when transferring surfaces, the Shark IZ300UKT (£429) is a great alternative. It’s cheaper and you don’t have to switch floor heads when changing surfaces but it’s a little more unwieldy than Dyson’s svelte V12 Detect Slim.

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