How ‘intelligent’ is the Dyson V11 Absolute stick vacuum?

We put the new Dyson V11 to the test.

Dyson V11 Absolute stick vacuum.

Dyson claims its newest vacuum can deep clean anywhere, so we put it to the test.

The V11 can “sense” the type of flooring it’s vacuuming and automatically adjusts suction accordingly. It also has an eye-catching colour LCD that counts down how long you have until the battery is out of juice.

It has three modes: eco, which has the lowest suction and gives you the longest runtime; med/auto, which is the autosensing mode; and boost for high power. Dyson claims the V11 has 20% more suction than its predecessor, the V10. However, in our lab test it only surpassed the V10 on carpet, while both models performed similarly on hard floors.

Its intelligent autosensing mode uses resistance in the head to sense the type of flooring. It lowers the suction on hard floors and ramps it back up when you move to carpet (with a few seconds delay). This means you should get the same level of clean no matter the surface. So we compared the automatic mode on hard floor and carpet and found it cleaned them equally well.

Dyson V11
The Dyson V11 has an eye-catching colour LCD that counts down how long you have left in the battery.

A neat aspect to its “intelligent” mode is that the countdown automatically adjusts based on the type of flooring. I’ll admit I found myself moving the V11 between the lino and carpet for a solid two minutes, watching the battery countdown change. But beware that it’s an approximation. I found when it gets down to about 20 seconds, the vacuum could stop at any time.

You can see and select the modes on the simple and easy to use LCD, but the countdown only appears when the vacuum trigger is pressed. It also alerts you when the filter needs cleaning, or if there’s a blockage and shows how to clear it.

Our verdict

The V11’s colour display is a great addition – now you won’t be surprised by the vacuum running out of battery. And I can see the advantage in a vacuum that senses the flooring and adjusts suction. However, I was disappointed this didn’t mean a leap in performance. While the V11 is the top stick vacuum in our test, it only just took first place. Dyson’s V8 and V10 models clean almost as well and are much better value for money.

See our stick vacuums test to find out how it performed against other models.

First Looks are trials of new and interesting products from the perspective of our product experts. Our lab-based tests offer truly objective product comparisons.

This V11 was loaned to the writer by Dyson.

V11 Absolute

Price: $1299
Claimed charge time: four-and-a-half hours
Claimed runtime: Up to 60 minutes on eco mode with non-motorised tool.
Measured runtime (boost mode with motorised brush): 13 minutes
Weight: 3.05kg
Bin capacity: 760ml bin
High torque cleaner head (soft and hard floors)
Soft roller cleaner head
Mini motorised head
Combination tool
Mini soft dusting brush
Stubborn dirt brush
Crevice tool

Other versions

V11 Absolute Pro

Price: $1349
Attachments: Also includes flexi crevice tool, extension hose and mattress tool.

V11 Torque Drive

Price: $1199
Attachments: Same as Absolute but without soft roller cleaner.

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John R.
07 Sep 2020
Think very carefully and if possible try one before you spend this much money

We've had a Dyson V11 absolute for almost a year now and we have been really disappointed. It is basically badly asthmatic and has very little actual sucking power. I suspect this is the reason Dyson does not offer the old fashioned, non-powered “standard” head. It just wouldn’t work. It may clean fine material out of carpets but it is fairly useless at picking up things like sawdust, small leaves and the debris you get from bringing in a load of firewood. The odd small stone that came in on the tread of your running shoes simply rattles around in the power head. It is incapable of doing anything with the last couple of cm of junk in corners so the edges around the fireplace, or anywhere else for that matter. If the edges actually need cleaning, they have to be done with something else.
It generally fails when trying to clean the carpets in the car, again all the little bits and pieces just stay embedded in the pile, even when using the little crevice tool type of head. None of the various attachments are really effective, nothing beats a decent suck.
We have a canary in the kitchen who loves to fling his seed all over the polished wood floor. The whizzy vacuum head hits the seed and spreads about 50% of it back and around the floor. It is impossible to pick it all up even after a few passes. The soft roller option is an improvement but not 100% effective and changing large vacuum heads is a pain and shouldn’t be necessary.
The unit weighs over 3 kg. Well balanced enough but think about waiving a 3 L bottle of milk around for half an hour, it’s not easy on the wrist and the trigger cannot be locked on so your finger is stuck in the same position constantly tugging on the switch.
The impression given is that all the gunk is captured by the cyclones. What they don’t tell you is there is also a small fibre filter unit under the colourful little display that captures the finer material that the cyclones don’t get. This fairly quickly becomes blocked. The cleaner will tell you when this gets really bad. It is easy to remove and brush clean but this creates a nice little cloud of fine gunk in the air. Presumably while the filter is blocking up the air flow in the machine is getting less and less.
The upsides are reasonable battery life, not having to deal with plugging and unplugging cords and it is, undeniably convenient to just grab and go.
So, if you live in a house that only gets light dust and dirt it would probably be fine but, in our house, we now only use it for a quick flossy around. A proper clean needs the 20 year old Miele plug in.
I couldn’t possibly comment on the price.

Steve B.
14 Oct 2019
It doesnt have to be a dyson

We bought a Vax V82, blade2 stick vacuum in Ozzy. $399 lest the Ozzy GST of $40 bucks back.
Very happy with it as it does everything we need of a stick vacuum. I see no reason to contribute to Dysons $68 million dollar mansion in Malaysia.

Mark B.
19 Oct 2019
What does that really have to do with it.

As opposed to Horst Julius Pudwill ,who owns VAX. He's worth $3.2 billion U.S

Christine&Mike J.
12 Oct 2019
First Dyson

We just replaced our 30 year old vacuum cleaner with the Dyson V11 and I am immensely pleased! So much easier to use - handling and emptying, and much faster to get out to do a quick once-over. I haven't figured out how best to use all the attachments, but am keeping a weather eye on the battery. It probably helps that we have only a very small area of carpet.

Joanne C.
12 Oct 2019
Watch the battery life

I’ve got a v10, only a little over two years old and lightly used. Already the battery life is considerably compromised and they are over $100 to replace. Very poor outcome from such a pricey product. They also spin some interesting story about how using an extension cord or fourway will reduce the battery life, although my resident engineer tells be this is rubbish. Make sure you register your warranty and get confirmation that it was successfully registered plus make any battery related claims well within the warranty period.

12 Oct 2019
Use the CGA

Don't let them fob you off with Warranty myth, if the battery is not performing after a year, get it fixed under the CGA, a Li battery should have thousands of cycles in it.

16 Oct 2019

Hi - just to let you know, I had the same with battery (or so I thought) with the vacuum stopping but battery light was still lit, and then it would go again after a few minutes, and repeatedly. When I googled the problem, coz I didn't want to fork out for a new battery, there were suggestions to try turning around the filter which can sometimes interfere with the battery contact. I did this and voila! Problem solved for quite a while. Eventually battery was stuffed tho. Good luck!