Dyson V12 Detect Slim review – impressive power at a reasonable price

The V12 Detect Slim is a more affordable offering from Dyson, carrying their unrivaled 'detect' technology in a slimmer and lighter design

(Image credit: Dyson)
Homes & Gardens Verdict

The V12 Detect Slim is Dyson's most affordable vacuum with 'Detect' tech. And while it is smaller and lighter, it still brings impressively powerful suction, and responsive (and genuinely helpful) particle detection. It's still more expensive than many vacuums out there, but this may be a chance to bring some of the world's best vacuum tech into your home at a more reasonable price.

Reasons to buy
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    Single power button

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    Powerful & responsive suction

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    Particle detection

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    Illuminates hidden dust

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    Dyson's 'detect' tech without the massive price tag

Reasons to avoid
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    Small dustbin

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    Short battery life

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    Still more expensive than most

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The V12 Detect Slim is the lightest, smallest and cheapest model in Dyson's range of 'Detect' vacuums. This means it has the same core features as the Dyson V15 Detect and the Dyson Gen5detect, which we've reviewed, but at a more affordable price point due to the sacrifice in size and battery life.

At Homes & Gardens, we're very familiar with Dyson's offerings. They're often topping our lists of the best cordless vacuums and the best vacuums for pet hair, owing to their unrivaled suction power and cleaning features.

But this comes at a price that's often out-of-reach, so the V12 Detect Slim is Dyson's alternative to their expensive best vacuums, offering similar features in a more affordable model.

As H&G's home tech editor, I'm all over exactly what makes a vacuum cleaner good, and understand what's important compared to many brands' bold marketing claims. I've tested The V12 Detect Slim over the course of a few weeks, both at home and in our test center, to find out exactly how well it performs.

Dyson V12 Detect Slim: Price & availability

The Dyson V12 Detect Slim retails for $649.99 at Dyson, and is often on offer at retailers like Amazon, QVC, Walmart, Target and Best Buy. It seems as if there have been a few different versions (like the Plus or the Absolute) with different sets of attachments, but it looks like Dyson has decided to now include all the attachments and sell the set as just the V12 Detect Slim.

In the UK, the V12 Detect Slim sells for £499.99 at Dyson, £539 at Amazon or for £549.99 at John Lewis.

Dyson V12 Detect Slim: Unboxing & setup

Dyson V12 Detect Slim Absolute original packaging/cardboard box

The Dyson V12 Detect Slim's original packaging.

(Image credit: Future / Dan Fauzi)

The V12 Detect Slim arrived in a long cardboard box, the outside of which features a classic Dyson illustration of the vacuum cleaner's engineered design.

All the parts were packaged into cardboard sections and there was a welcomed lack of any soft plastic packaging. As expected from Dyson, the parts are all easy to put together once unpacked. You can start vacuuming straight away, but it's recommended to charge the battery up to 100% first. Mine arrived with around 45% and it took a while, perhaps over an hour, to fully charge. The screen displays the battery level while charging in intervals of 5%.

The V12 Detect Slim comes with a wall-mounted docking station. I'm renting, so there's no chance of me being able to use it, but it seems simple enough to set up with only two parts to assemble to the wall. If using it, you're able to charge your vacuum cleaner while hanging the attachments in the same place.

Dyson V12 Detect Slim parts and attachments, arranged on wooden floor

Everything in the box.

(Image credit: Future / Dan Fauzi)

Dyson V12 Detect Slim: Design & features

Like the V15 Detect and the Gen5detect, the V12 Detect Slim illuminates hidden dust, counts the number of picked-up particles, and adapts suction power based on dust volume.

Hidden dust is illuminated with a precise green light on the 'Fluffy Optic' cleaner head. This is the head designed for hard floors (as the light wouldn't have much use on carpets or rugs), and it genuinely does reveal particles on the floor that you wouldn't normally see. It's almost alarming how much lives down there without us realizing it.

Dyson V12 Detect Slim with Fluffy Optic cleaner head, illuminating hidden dust

The light reveals hidden dust.

(Image credit: Future / Dan Fauzi)

The V12 Detect Slim also detects exactly how many particles are picked up, narrowed down to four different particle sizes. Again, it's almost unsettling how many millions (and millions) of particles live in spaces on the floor that are seemingly empty of any dust. It's an intense reminder of all the microscopic things, like dust mites, that we're unable to see but are very much present.

Dyson V12 Detect Slim vacuuming a mattress, displaying how many particles have been collected

It's a good idea to vacuum your mattress regularly (evident from the millions of particles it's picked up).

(Image credit: Future / Dan Fauzi)

You can switch between eco, auto, and boost modes. Eco stays on a consistent low power to preserve battery life, while boost uses the most powerful suction possible for the deepest clean. Auto will detect what suction power is necessary based on the dust volume on the floor: it will boost suction when tackling a dust-heavy area, and will reduce it when the floor isn't that dirty.

A small (but helpful) touch that separates the V12 from the V15 is the single power button. You don't have to hold a trigger down to use it, lessening the strain on your hands while cleaning. It's also designed so that you can use the control button (to switch between eco/auto/boost mode) with the same hand that's vacuuming.

There's also a wand clip that can hold the crevice and combination tool to free up your hands or pockets while you're going around the house. This is handy, sure, but it doesn't allow you to clip on the brush heads for hard and soft floors, so you'll still need to have them on you if switching between floor types.

What is the Dyson V12 Detect Slim like to use?

The Dyson V12 Detect Slim has exceptional cleaning power. Considering it's the lightest and weakest in Dyson's detect range, the affordable vacuum still holds up well.

I've been testing the V12 Detect Slim at the same time as testing four other vacuums from brands like Shark, Tineco, Proscenic, and Henry (available at Amazon). Without a doubt, the V12 surpassed them all in terms of suction power and usability, and was often the vacuum I'd rely on when the others couldn't clean everything up. This is what we've come to expect from Dyson's top-of-the-line vacuums like the V15 and the Gen5detect, so it's nice to see that the most affordable Detect option is still so powerful.

It's incredibly lightweight. It doesn't take much effort to aim it above your head, even with the heavier attachments on. The detection is impressively quick, adjusting power in what seems like less than a second to make sure the floor's getting the appropriate clean.

Closeup of the Dyson V12 Detect Slim's Fluffy Optic cleaner head on dirty floor

The Fluffy Optic cleaner head reveals dirt and dust that the naked eye wouldn't normally see.

(Image credit: Future / Dan Fauzi)

It's great to have a wide array of attachments but, in all honesty, I rarely need to use the crevice or combination tools. The main brush heads do a good job of going to the floor edges, right up to the walls, and I've even used the 'Motorbar' cleaner head for my mattress.

The main downside I've noticed is the battery life. Dyson promises a runtime of up to 60 minutes, but this is when staying in eco mode and using the non-motorized attachments. I'm sure, if using the V12 regularly, the battery life might be sufficient. But I used it for a deep clean (getting into every crevice possible), and it barely made it around half the house before it needed charging. On auto mode it'll get around 30-45 mins depending on your home's cleanliness, so the V12 Detect Slim may be better suited to people who clean regularly or have another vacuum.

Dyson V12 Detect Slim screen

The remaining battery life adjusts based on power mode.

(Image credit: Future / Dan Fauzi)

It's relatively common in cordless vacuum cleaners these days, but the Dyson V12 Detect Slim's manoeuvrability is something I noticed early on. You can get it pretty much flat to easily reach under furniture, and it's super flexible when turning for whenever you've missed a spot.

Dyson V12 Detect Slim: Flour & sugar test

Flour and sugar are good proxies for dust and dead skin while being common messes we'd find on our floors. Flour is also an excellent visual test, as we can spot when it's left on the floor or stuck in any of the vacuum's parts.

Dyson V12 Detect Slim on wooden floor, vacuuming flour and sugar

Flour & sugar on wooden floor.

(Image credit: Future / Dan Fauzi)

Hard floors (wood & linoleum)
I used the Fluffy Optic cleaner head for hard floors. Impressively, on auto mode the Dyson V12 Detect Slim picked up pretty much everything in one run. I didn't even need to pull the vacuum back towards me, but almost every bit of flour and sugar had been sucked off the floor, even in the cracks between the wood panels. On eco mode, most of it was picked up in one run, but tiny amounts were left in between the cracks.

Dyson V12 Detect Slim vacuuming flour and sugar on hard floor

The V12 Detect Slim can clear flour from hard floor edges without the crevice tool.

(Image credit: Future / Dan Fauzi)

When tackling the edges, most of the flour was picked up, but some remained right at the edge. Everything was able to be cleared away eventually without the need of a crevice tool. A little bit of remaining dust is to be expected when tackling the part of the floor that touches the wall, so it's impressive that the V12 was able to clean up everything after a few runs and no special attachments.

Dyson V12 Detect Slim vacuuming flour and sugar on carpet

Flour & sugar on carpet.

(Image credit: Future / Dan Fauzi)

I used the Motorbar cleaner head for carpets. As shown in the image, the V12 had no problem at all picking up every bit of flour and sugar from the carpet in one run. Even on eco mode, it was able to clean almost everything, except for the smallest bits left deep in the carpet fibers.

It took a while to get the last of the flour from right at the edges. After switching to boost mode and going back and forth a few times, the flour and sugar was brushed loose and eventually sucked up.

Dyson V12 Detect Slim vacuuming carpet edges

It took a while to clear the flour away from carpet edges.

(Image credit: Future / Dan Fauzi)

Dyson V12 Detect Slim: Pantry test

Cereal and red lentils are strong examples of the type of debris we'll find on our floors. Cereal (we use off-brand Cheerio's) emulates many types of large debris, while lentils are smaller and have a texture that makes them stick to hard floors more easily.

Dyson V12 Detect Slim vacuuming cereal and lentils on linoleum floor

Cereal & red lentils on linoleum floor.

(Image credit: Future / Dan Fauzi)

Hard floors (wood & linoleum)
As expected, the V12 easily sucked up everything from the hard floors, with no trace left behind. Some cereal was crushed by the brushroll and some was sucked up whole, but it was cleaned from the floor either way.

At the edges, it didn't collect everything on the first go as it started condensing the Cheerio's and slowly crushing them up. It only took a couple more runs to clear the cereal away, but some lentils remained right in the cracks against the wall. Boost mode then sucked the remaining lentils away without the need of a crevice tool.

Back on the Motorbar cleaner head, the V12 sucked up all lentils easily. Cereal was pushed forwards if I moved the vacuum slowly, but it easily sucked it up when moving quickly (potentially because they were easier to crush down). It took a few runs to clear all the debris from the carpet edges, but it got there easily in the end without the crevice tool.

Dyson V12 Detect Slim vacuuming cereal & lentils from carpet edges

Cereal & red lentils at carpet edges.

(Image credit: Future / Dan Fauzi)

Dyson V12 Detect Slim: Hair test

To simulate pet hair, we chop up hair extensions and spread them across wood, linoleum and carpet floors. With carpet, we try to push them as deeply into the fibers as possible, to recreate the conditions of homes with pets.

Dyson V12 Detect Slim vacuuming hair on wooden floor

Hair on wooden floor.

(Image credit: Future / Dan Fauzi)

Hard floors (wood & linoleum)
Using the Fluffy Optic cleaner head (the brushroll that's more dedicated for hard floors) the V12 struggled to pick up any of the hair. It sucked it in then threw it back, and after pulling the vacuum away (and turning it off), a load of hair fell out.

But after switching to the Motorbar cleaner head (the brushroll for carpets), it sucked the hair away as easily as I'd expected based off its previous performance. This brushroll has an anti-hair tangle design, so it's no surprise that this is the attachment that worked, but it is a little inconvenient that it isn't the attachment you're likely to be using on hard floors.

Dyson V12 Detect Slim vacuuming hair on carpet

(Image credit: Future / Dan Fauzi)

On carpets, the V12 picked up all the hair on the first run. This is a huge factor when considering the best vacuums for pet hair, as a hassle-free vacuum that can easily pick up hair makes all the difference. The fact that the V12 is so light and flexible helps, too, as it can easily be brought out whenever hair needs to be picked up from the floor or from pet beds.

Dyson V12 Detect Slim: Cleaning & maintenance

Dyson V12 Detect Slim dustbin

The dustbin fills up quickly.

(Image credit: Future / Dan Fauzi)

One of the only downsides to the V12 is its small dustbin. This is the sacrifice made by choosing this smaller model, as the decrease in size and weight is noticeable on the dustbin.

It doesn't take long for it to fill up. But, when it's time to empty it, it's designed to be as quick and easy as you'd hope. There's a sliding latch that opens the end and pretty much all dust and debris falls out in the first drop.

For anything that's stuck in, you can slide the dustbin back and forth to dislodge anything, and to loosen any hair that has wrapped around the cyclone motor. I've done this many times now, and have never had a problem with completely emptying it.

After vacuuming a lot of hair, I noticed how clumps of it had started to seep out the back of the dustbin, but it was easy to pull it out to remove it all.

Dyson V12 Detect Slim, hair coming out of the back of the dustbin

Hair can sometimes come out of the back of the dustbin.

(Image credit: Future / Dan Fauzi)

How does the Dyson V12 Detect Slim compare?

As I've mentioned, the Dyson V12 Detect is the bottom-of-the-line model in Dyson's 'Detect' range that includes the V15 Detect and the Gen5detect. In the reviews of both of these, we found that they're the two best vacuum cleaners we've ever tested, but this comes with a high price point. The V15 Detect retails for $750 (but is often discounted) at Dyson, Amazon and QVC. The Gen5detect retails for $949.99 at Dyson – but it's the best vacuum cleaner our testers have ever used.

In comparison, The V12 Detect Slim carries a lot of the same detection features and cleaning capabilities but is smaller and lighter. This means it comes with a smaller dustbin (which is certainly noticeable) and a shorter battery life, but it still does an excellent job at cleaning for its lower price.

Detection is a feature that other brands have attempted to recreate, but have failed to achieve the same level as even Dyson's entry-level model into their detect tech. I tested the V12 Detect Slim alongside the Shark Detect Pro Cordless, the Henry Quick (Amazon), and the Tineco Pure One Station PET – and The V12 Detect Slim surpassed all of them in terms of how well it cleaned and how accurately the dust detection worked.

Should you buy the Dyson V12 Detect Slim?

It's still a bit pricier than other vacuums on the market, but Dyson's slimmer and more affordable version of the V15 Detect and Gen5detect is a strong contender for one of the best cordless vacuums.

Although it's considered the entry-level of this Dyson range, it cleans exceptionally better than other brands' vacuums that have similar features, and I found virtually no problems with it other than a small dustbin and short battery life. It can handle powder, small debris, large debris and hair with impressive ease. It just might not be the best for large households.

How we test vacuums

At Homes & Gardens, we have a dedicated and thorough procedure of how we test vacuums. At our test center, we test various substances on three floor types (carpet, wood, linoleum) to recreate real-life circumstances.

Outside of this rigorous testing, I've been using the V12 Detect Slim in my home as the primary vacuum for a few weeks.

Thanks to how well it picked up hair, the V12 Detect Slim will certainly be making into our guide of the best vacuums for pet hair, as well as the best cordless vacuums and best vacuum cleaners.

Or, if after reading this the Dyson price tag (options listed below) is still too much, feel free to consider any of the best Dyson alternatives, for similar cleaning power at a fraction of the price.

Dan Fauzi
Home Tech Editor

Dan is the Home Tech Editor for Homes & Gardens, covering all things cleaning, smart home, sound and automation across the Solved section. Having worked for Future PLC since July 2023, Dan was previously the Features Editor for Top Ten Reviews and looked after the wide variety of home and outdoor content across the site, but their writing about homes, gardens, tech and products started back in 2021 on brands like BBC Science Focus, YourHomeStyle, Homes & Antiques and Gardens Illustrated.

Dan is based in Bristol, UK with a BA in Philosophy and an MA in Magazine Journalism. Outside of work, you'll find them at gigs and art galleries, cycling somewhere scenic, or cooking up something good in the kitchen.