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Dyson Gen5detect review: Dyson’s latest is better than ever – but at what cost?

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £850
inc VAT

Undoubtedly the best performing cordless stick vacuum cleaner ever, but not enough over the V15 Detect to justify the extra cost


  • Strong suction
  • Near-perfect cleaning
  • Thoughtful accessories


  • Extremely expensive
  • Heavy
  • Minor improvements over V15 Detect

Just when you think Dyson has nowhere left to go in the cordless vacuuming world, it pulls out the Dyson Gen5detect. At first glance, this successor to the V15 Detect has the same overall design – it’s a cordless stick that uses an extension wand to connect a handheld unit to one of two floor heads, depending on whether you’re vacuuming carpet or hard floor.

However, while all the best things (and a few of the minor foibles) of the V15 remain, there’s a raft of incremental improvements that take things a step or two beyond the V15’s capabilities.

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Dyson Gen5detect review: What do you get for the money?

Unfortunately, the launch of the Dyson Gen5detect hasn’t done the usual trick of shifting the price of previous Dyson models down a few pounds, leaving room at the top for this model to slot in. Instead Dyson has opted to increase its top-end price to a shocking £850, making this the most expensive Dyson vacuum we’ve reviewed to date.

I was sent the Gen5detect Absolute for review, which was the only version available at the time of writing. I received it clad in the blue and copper colourway (just like the Dyson Zone Absolute+), which is exclusive to the Dyson website but, if you buy it from elsewhere it will arrive in grey and purple.

The other benefit of Dyson’s exclusive version is that it comes with an additional low-reach adapter, which lets you add a flexible 90-degree bend at the top of the extension wand to help clean under low furniture. Other than that, both versions are identical and come with the same attachments.

The main attachments are the motorised carpet and hard flooring (Fluffy Optic) heads. The former looks identical to the one that comes with the V15 Detect and there’s nothing wrong with that – it’s an absolute belter. It has a brushbar that’s brimming with two types of bristles, which spiral around it. This arrangement coordinates with built-in combs to keep long hair from getting wrapped around the bar.

The Fluffy Optic hard floor head looks like the one from the V15 but it’s seen an improvement in the strength of its green laser. This fires out in front of the floor head, picking out dust and other particles so you can see them better. It helps reassure you that your floor is clean when you can see the path the floor head makes through otherwise invisible dust.

The extension wand has also changed and now comes with a built-in combination dusting and crevice tool. It’s a similar design to combi tools I’ve seen from Dyson before, except it’s stored neatly inside the wand itself.

This has a regular junction button to detach the whole thing from the motor unit, or you can use a second button to remove the wand only, leaving the attachment behind. A retractable dusting brush is positioned over the end of the crevice tool for general dusting duties, or pulled right back to expose the crevice tool for reaching into corners. Having this always on hand is genuinely useful.

The final two attachments are Dyson favourites. The classic combination tool is a nozzle and dusting brush in one, while the hair screw tool is a mini-motorised head designed for handheld use that’s as good at staying free of hair tangles as the main carpet head. There’s nothing missing here: it has everything you need to get the most from the cleaner in every corner of your home.

In terms of size, the Gen5detect is slightly larger than the V15 (250 x 276 x 1,276mm), although the handheld motor unit is significantly bulkier – around the filter end, in particular. And it’s around 500g heavier, too, weighing 3.5kg for the motor unit with the wand and carpet head attached. The battery is still easily removable but it’s now longer, thinner and a little heavier than before.

The handheld unit including the battery is 2.3kg, which is heavier than the V15 by around 220g. The relatively svelte built-in tool only adds an extra 100g but, since it’s built into the extension wand, the extra weight is barely noticeable when you’re pushing it around the floor. You’ll feel it in handheld mode, though.

And, like the Dyson V12 Detect Slim, there’s no trigger. Instead, the Gen5Detect has a simple on/off button meaning you don’t have to hold it down while you’re cleaning. There’s also a second button to cycle through options on the bright, colourful screen. The collection bin is the same size, at 0.77l.

The final upgrade is to suction power, which Dyson quotes at 262AW (Air Watts), compared to 240AW on the V15. That’s an improvement of 9%, although it’s important to note that increased suction doesn’t always result in better real-world cleaning. I certainly didn’t see a huge improvement on how well it picks up dirt over the V15.

Unfortunately, I can’t corroborate Dyson’s suction figures with our own tests, because all Dyson vacuums cut out when the pressure in their pipes reaches a certain point. However, we measured the suction at the point at which this Dyson’s power cut out, as we’ve done with Dyson vacuums in the past, and it still surpasses the suction of its rivals, as you can see in the chart below.

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Dyson Gen5detect review: What’s it like to use?

Generally, the Dyson Gen5detect is a joy to use although, generally speaking, it isn’t a great deal different to the V15 Detect. Still, that’s hardly a bad thing. Seeing dust disappear into the fluffy roller is among vacuuming’s most satisfying sights and this model improves on the capability with a brighter laser that makes it easier to see dust in daylight. It still isn’t bright enough to pick out dust in direct sunlight, however.

The carpet cleaning head isn’t quite as visually satisfying but still has plenty going for it. Its best feature is its highly effective anti-tangle design. My carpet is prone to picking up long lengths of human hair, and the Gen5detect didn’t allow a single strand to catch around the roller during testing.

This approach is undoubtedly effective, but having to manually switch heads can be frustrating. You can, of course, use the standard floor head on hard floor as well as carpet and, I suspect, many people will do exactly that just to avoid having to swap heads. But it’s also worth noting that some of the Dyson Gen5detect’s rivals – the Shark ICZ300UKT, for instance – have dual-roller heads that mean you don’t have to swap.

There’s also the question of weight. At just over 2kg the motor unit for the V15 was arguably pushing at the limits of what’s acceptable in terms of handheld vacuuming, and the Gen5detect is another 220g heavier. That may not sound like much, but adding anything to the bulk and weight of a vacuum that’s intended for handheld use isn’t ideal. That means the Gen5detect is fine for handheld use in short bursts but a bit of a strain to use for longer periods.

The built-in combination dusting brush and crevice tool are genuinely handy, though. Previously Dyson supplied an attachment holder that clipped onto the wand so you could carry some attachments around as you go, but it wasn’t ideal. Here, you’ve got the bulk of tools you’re going to need without having to go and find them.

I’m not a huge fan of the button used to start and stop the vacuum. It’s more sensibly positioned on the rear of the motor unit than it was on the Dyson V12, but it’s quite small and using a button instead of a trigger means starting and stopping it is a two-handed operation.

Below the button is a small colour display, which is where you can see which power mode you’re in – Eco, Med or Boost – and keep an eye on how much battery power is left. It also shows you how many microscopic particles of various sizes the vacuum has collected, but I’m less convinced of how useful that is.

Even on a short vacuuming session, this will end up in the hundreds of millions, and displaying them to the end user seems a bit pointless. Perhaps there are people out there who care exactly how much cleaner their houses have become down to the pollen particle, but I am not one of them.

Emptying also remains a bit of a faff, if only because you have to remove anything that’s attached to the device before you can empty it. The collection bin has a door on the base that’s opened with a handle that pushes the outer casing down and away from the filtration area. This makes emptying relatively straightforward but it requires vigorous movement that creates a dust cloud when it comes tumbling out.

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Dyson Gen5detect review: How well does it clean?

Make no bones about it, the Dyson Gen5detect is a superb cleaning machine. In fact, it’s even better than the V15 Detect, which itself put in a near perfect performance in our tests.

We test all cordless stick vacuums in the same way. We spill measured quantities of Cheerios and flour onto both short pile carpet and hard floor. By weighing the collection bin before and after the vacuum has performed a single pass, we can compare the performance of a new vacuum against everything we’ve tested previously.

It’s here that we see the Gen5detect really shine and the increased suction pay off. On hard floor the fluffy roller does its stuff and collected 96% of the Cheerios I dropped on the first pass. What remained was chewed up by the enthusiastic roller and escaped out to the side as I pushed the vacuum forwards, but it was nothing that wasn’t simple to gather up on a second pass.

The roller did an even better job with the flour spillage on hard floor, gathering everything I dropped. I did see a tiny amount fall into the tiny cracks between the plastic tiles on my floor, but it wasn’t enough to register on my scales and was easily dealt with using the concentrated suction of the built-in crevice tool.

That’s similar to the performance of the Dyson V15 Detect, but the Gen5detect jumped ahead in our carpet tests, where its increased suction power really made a difference.

On short-pile carpet, the Dyson easily collected every single Cheerio on the first pass. There was a crumb or two that hit the brush bar at the wrong angle and got spat out to one side, but, as ever, it was simple to chase the leftovers down afterwards.

The flour on carpet test is more of a challenge but the Gen5detect excelled here, collecting 98% of our spill on a first pass. The remainder was visible as a light discolouration rather than visible flour, but another pass or two was enough to restore the carpet back to its pre-spillage state.I also found the battery lasted well. Dyson quotes a maximum battery life of 77 minutes on its Eco setting without a motorised attachment, although our tests use the motorised carpet floor head, which reduced the battery life to 56mins 12secs. In the standard “Med” mode it lasted 24mins 30secs and in Boost mode it lasted 12mins 42secs. That’s decent enough, and better than the V15 Detect, but we’ve seen other vacuums last more than an hour, albeit not models with the cleaning power of this Dyson.

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Dyson Gen5detect review: Should you buy it?

There’s no point denying that the Dyson Gen5detect is an exceptional vacuum cleaner. With cleaning power that surpasses the previous benchmark – the V15 Detect – it’s a truly phenomenal piece of household engineering. So why doesn’t it get five stars in this review?

The main reason is the price. At £850 it’s £200 more expensive than a V15 Detect with a similar selection of attachments. By Dyson’s reckoning the power increase is only 10%, and as you’ll see from our tests, the actual percentage improvement in cleaning ability over the already excellent V15 Detect is minor. By my calculations, that leaves you paying a lot of money for a few incremental improvements, which really isn’t justified.

If you want the cream of the crop of vacuums and don’t care how much you pay for it, the Gen5Detect is unlikely to disappoint. However, if you’re just looking for Dyson-level cleaning in a more affordable package, you won’t miss out on much by purchasing a better-value model from lower down the range. The V15 Detect still hits the sweet spot for me, with many of the enhancements that flowed through to the Gen5detect but at a better price.

Those who don’t want to switch floor heads to cover different surfaces should consider Shark’s vacuums, which put both soft and brush rollers in a single floor head. Our favourite is the Shark ICZ300UKT, a cordless upright that’s barely any bulkier than the Gen5Detect but is configured with the vacuuming motor and collection in the base instead of up by the handle.

For a more affordable cordless stick with decent cleaning ability, the Hoover HF9 is a good alternative for a fraction of the price. This has a few tricks that Dyson is ignoring at the moment, including the ability to be emptied without removing the extension wand and to stand upright unsupported. However, it doesn’t have a soft roller for hard floor cleaning.

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