In many ways, this is the ultimate cordless vacuum. It’s massively powerful, well designed, has every feature you could want and good battery life as well. But all this tech means that it’s Dyson’s heaviest cordless to date.
The Gen5detect is Dyson’s latest flagship cordless cleaner. It’s more powerful than the previous flagship model, the V15 Detect, and it has all the V15’s cool tech, including its green laser – plus some new tricks of its own. We put it to the test.
There comes a point with iterative vacuum cleaner improvements where you wonder: how much better can this new model be?
As I unpacked the Gen5detect, that was the question I was asking myself. And I expected the answer to be: Eh, a little bit. That was until I started testing it.
Design and build
Two editions with only a colourway difference
Comprehensive cleaning accessories
Additional batteries cost $129/ £129
Dyson has simplified the way you can buy some of its older models (the V8, the V11 and the Omni-glide) ditching the Animal or Absolute editions – which come with differing numbers of attachments – in favour of a simplified kit that only contains the main vacuum wand and cleaning head, plus two essential accessories: the crevice and combination tools.
But that doesn’t apply to the Gen5detect, which comes in two editions. Both cost the same and come with the same armful of cleaning accessories but have different colour schemes.
We’re testing the Complete model (called the Absolute in the US), which comes in a more sophisticated colourway than other recent models. Its copper and Prussian blue design has more in common with Dyson’s recent editions of its hair care tools than its earlier vacuums. It can only be bought from Dyson.
Emma Rowley / Foundry
The other edition is just called the Gen5detect in the US and the Gen5detect Absolute in the UK. It comes in an iron and purple colourway and can be bought from Dyson and from other retailers.
So, what do you get if you buy?
First off, just to note that the Gen5detect is carefully boxed in 100% recyclable cardboard packaging. Even the ties and inserts that hold everything in place are plain cardboard. It’s always good to see a big brand minimising packaging waste.
In the box, you’ll get the main vacuum cleaner body, which comes with a removable battery pack housing the 10 cell lithium-ion battery. If you want to be able to swap out the batteries, you’ll need to shell out for a second one, which costs a whopping $129/ £129.
You’ll also get the fluffy optic cleaning head (with green laser), the main digital motorbar cleaning head, the hair screw tool (for upholstery), the nozzle and brush combination tool and a jointed low reach adapter.
The adapter makes it possible to get the vacuum completely flat to go under sofas and other low pieces of furniture. If you use this feature often, you can just attach the adapter between the vacuum body and wand and leave it there.
Emma Rowley / Foundry
Plus, you’ll get a wall dock with two additional spots to store tools, and a charger, which can be used with or without the wall dock.
If you’re wondering where the crevice tool is – it’s inside the wand. The wand has been cleverly redesigned to house an inline crevice cleaning tool and brush. Just pop off the wand and you can use it right away without having to attach another accessory.
Emma Rowley / Foundry
It makes it much more likely that you’ll bother to clean the difficult spots between pieces of furniture when you’re vacuuming. All I’d say is that to avoid any clogs or jams, you’ll want to make sure that no fluff or pet fur is still attached when you put it back into the wand.
Trust me when I say that this is the ultimate cleaning kit. There’s everything you need to reach any spot in your home and it’s all so well designed that it couldn’t be easier to use.
The Gen5detect’s controls are simple. There are two buttons on the end of the vacuum body, above the grip. One is an On/Off switch, the other switches between the three cleaning modes: Eco, Medium/ Auto and Boost. The hated trigger of some earlier models has not made a return.
Switch it on and the colour LCD screen comes to life. It displays the mode you’re in, the number of minutes of battery life left in that mode and, when you start vacuuming, it displays the number of particles of each size that you’re vacuuming up.
Emma Rowley / Foundry
Why do you need to know that? Essentially, it feels like a bit of an engineering flex, showing you exactly what the vacuum can do. But if you’re in Auto mode, with the digital motor bar cleaning head attached, there’s another function: the vacuum will react to the number of dust particles it detects and raise and lower the suction as needed.
The Gen5detect’s dustbin is ever so slightly larger than the V15 Detect’s at 0.77 litres/ 0.2 gallons versus 0.76 litres. It has an easy empty slide but I still found that I had to remove by hand some hair that inevitably gets trapped. For my purposes, the bin is large enough but if you have a larger home, you might find that you’re having to empty it more often than you’d like.
If you’re in the US, you could opt for the Outsize model to obviate this issue ($1,049.99 from Dyson) but UK buyers don’t yet have this option.
The Gen5detect has whole machine HEPA filtration which Dyson says can even trap viruses. It would seem, then, to be a good choice for people with allergies or hay fever. But bear in mind that no matter how good the filter is, when you pop open the dustbin and empty it, you’re going to return a certain amount of dust and pollen to the air in your home.
For people with a sensitivity to dust, we’d either recommend getting a bagged cordless cleaner (if you’re in the UK, the Halo Capsule is a good option) or a bagless vacuum that empties into a bag in the dock, which will limit your exposure to dust. We’ve tested and can recommend the Ultenic FS1 or the Samsung Bespoke Jet.
Over 70 minutes battery life in Eco mode
262AW of suction
Heavy at 3.5kg/ 7.7lbs
Before I tested it, I wondered whether a Dyson really needed more suction. But when I started using it, I realised what a difference it makes.
Dyson says that the Gen5detect has 262AW (airwatts) of suction, versus the V15 Detect’s 230AW. But it is hugely, noticeably more powerful than earlier models. It makes vacuuming incredibly easy – and much faster as you don’t have to saw back and forth to get up stray bits.
The vacuum is strong enough to draw dust and dirt towards it. Larger pieces of debris doesn’t even have time to scatter before they’re sucked up into the inexorable vortex of this vacuum. Hair, dust, fluff – it’s all just gone instantly when you point the Gen5detect at it.
For hard flooring, attach the fluffy optic cleaning head and if possible, turn out the lights. Headlights on vacuums are always a good idea, even relatively weak ones. You’ll spot so much more that way. But the redesigned laser on this vacuum makes dust and hair unmissable: it glows like radioactive matter in a cartoon.
Emma Rowley / Foundry
One of the problems I see with a lot of mid-range vacuum cleaners is that they lack a really good tool for cleaning soft furnishings. The included hair screw tool is hugely effective at giving upholstery a lift.
It’s also brilliant for removing pet hair – as the (reluctant) owner of a very fluffy cat, I found that it not only saves time, but makes it possible to sit on the sofa afterwards in your nice clothes. As the name suggests, the tool is shaped to spin hair away and into the bin and it really works.
After using the Gen5detect for longer cleaning sessions, a couple of issues did emerge. The first was that it the main cleaning head is not as manoeuvrable as it should be. But this is likely linked to the second – and more important – issue. Its weight.
The Gen5detect weighs 3.5kg/ 7.7lbs, whereas the V15 Detect weighed just a little over 3kg/ 6.8lbs – probably a trade-off for the new battery.
It’s a significant step up and I really did notice the difference, especially when using it in handheld mode. It won’t be a problem for everyone – but if you prefer a lighter vacuum, this isn’t it.
At a full charge, my test model was displaying a battery life of 76 minutes in Eco mode, 39 in Medium/ Auto and 7 minutes in Boost mode (which you’ll only ever need for quick blasts of a few seconds). It charges in 4.5 hours, but if you set up the dock and charge it that way, you’re unlikely to run out of battery life.
Price and availability
This is the part of the review where I should say whether or not the Gen5detect is worth the money. But when we’re talking about a vacuum cleaner at this price point, that becomes a bit of a nonsense question.
Put it like this. If you can afford it and are just mulling over whether to get this top of the range vacuum or another one, I can comfortably say: get this one.
In the US, the Gen5detect has an MSRP of $949.99. You can buy it direct from Dyson at this price – and if you want the copper and blue edition, you’ll need to. You can also buy it from Target, Best Buy and Walmart, which has a slightly better price of $927.
In the UK, you can buy either colour option from Dyson for £849.99. The purple model is also available from Argos, John Lewis, Currys and AO.com. There’s no price advantage at any retailer at the moment.
I don’t want to be recommending a vacuum cleaner that costs $950/ £850. You don’t need to be buying one. And yet, here we are.
Testing the Gen5detect was eye-opening. Its suction is strong enough to make all the other cordless vacuums I’ve tested recently look feebly underpowered. It just makes vacuuming easier and faster. It will also make a big difference to soft furnishings, especially if you have a pet.
It is also brilliantly designed and has every feature that I’ve rated in other vacuum cleaners (except for an auto-empty stand). But its weight will be a big issue for some.
For more vacuum cleaner options and to see our recommendations, have a look at our round-up of the best vacuum cleaners we’ve tested. And if you’re set on a Dyson, check out our Dyson-specific round-up.