Taking home the top score of the entire group and unseating a previous award winner, the Shark IONFlex is by far the best stick vacuum that we have tested so far. This cordless vacuum has swappable batteries — a fantastic feature that allows you to customize your battery life to match your cleaning needs. This product folds for convenient storage, includes the usual myriad of different vacuum attachments, and has a strong cleaning performance across the board, particularly excelling at cleaning hard floors.
Shark IONFlex Review
Pros: Great battery life, fantastic at cleaning hard floors, very easy to use
Cons: A little pricey
Compare to Similar Products
Our Analysis and Test Results
Taking home the top score, the IONFlex bested the Shark Rocket DuoClean, our previous top scorer, by a few points. The IONFlex and the Rocket were on par in terms of cleaning performance and ease of use, but the IONFlex had a definite edge when it came to convenience. The IONFlex stores much easier than the Rocket and is cordless with a great runtime, edging out the corded Rocket.
To see which stick vacuum reigned supreme, we bought the top products on the market and tested them head-to-head to find the winners. We ranked and scored the performance of each vacuum in four metrics: Convenience, Ease of Use, Hard Surface Cleaning, and Carpet Cleaning.
The most important of our rating metrics, the Convenience metric accounts for 35% of the total score for each stick vacuum. We evaluated how easy it is to store each vacuum, its weight, whether or not it is corded or cordless, and its maximum reach, as well as how easy it is to use it to clean non-floor areas of your home. The Shark IONFlex did very well, meriting a 7 out of 10 for its efforts, with the following chart showing how this compares to the rest of the products in the pack.
It is very easy to store IONFlex, with it quickly and easily folding in half to store free standing.
However, the IONFlex is a little on the heavy side, weighing in at 8.9 lbs — slightly more than the average product.
Even though this product is a little on the hefty side, it is still very easy to use this product to clean other areas of your home beside the floor. You can simply press a button to detach the floor head and swap in a different attachment.
This cordless vacuum also has an excellent battery life, lasting for 11:44 at max power.
While this wasn't the longest, you can simply swap the batteries when it dies, effectively doubling your runtime. It also charged relatively quickly, taking about 3.5 hours to completely charge.
Hard Surface Cleaning
Our next metric, responsible for 30% of the total score, judged how well each product did at cleaning up messes on floors like hardwood, tile, or laminate. We used rice, flour, pet hair, cereal, and oatmeal as our sample types of messes, conducting each test on a section of hardwood laminate floor. The Shark delivered a phenomenal performance, tying for the top score with a 9 out of 10.
The Shark did an exceptional job at collecting flour, doing one of the best jobs of the entire group.
It essentially got all of the flour on the surface, only leaving a tiny amount in the cracks between boards.
It continued its stellar performance in our rice test, collecting all of the Cheerios without any issue, just like the Shark Rocket. It also impressed us with its prowess at picking up rice, only taking a single pass to collect all of the mess.
This vacuum didn't do an amazing job at collecting pet hair, but none of these products did. It still tied for the top performance overall and you should really consider a full-size vacuum is you have extensive pet hair collection that needs to be done. Finally, the Shark finished out this metric with another awesome performance, collecting the entirety of the oats in a single pass.
Ease of Use
Comprising 20% of the total score, our Ease of Use metric evaluated how well each product cleaned in close to edges and under furniture, as well as if it had swivel steering, its noise level, and the different power options available. The Shark IONFlex earned an 8 out of 10 for its showing, being extremely easy to use. This is at the top of the pack.
The Shark IONFlex has both a high and low power mode, for when you need maximum cleaning power or maximum battery life. It also has the option to slow the rotating brush down, for when you are cleaning hard floors.
This vacuum cleans in quite close to the edges of a room, only leaving trace amounts of debris behind.
This model also has a swivel head for easy maneuvering.
The Shark did earn points for being one of the quietest vacuums of the bunch, measuring in at 74 dBa in our test.
This model is also very adept at cleaning under furniture, flexing in the middle to allow you to reach quite far under furniture.
The Shark reached the entire distance under our simulated sofa test without flexing, but it required you to crouch down. It reached 34" with the flex, allowing you to remain standing.
This model doesn't really have any storage for accessories, requiring you to keep them elsewhere — most likely with the second battery and charger.
Taking responsibility for the remaining 15% of the score, we judged how well each product did at cleaning carpets. We used the same testing process as our Hard Surface metric, though we conducted each test twice, on both flat and fluffy carpet. The Shark IONFlex finished out our tests with a strong showing, earning a 7 out of 10.
This vacuum started off with an excellent showing at picking up rice, collecting essentially all of the debris on both low and medium-pile carpet with only two passes.
The IONFlex also did quite well at collecting flour, matching the performance of the Shark Rocket. It also picked up the vast majority of the pet hair, though there were a handful of some rogue hairs that evaded the vacuum.
The Shark did leave a few residual oats behind, matching the performance of the Dyson V8 on the low-pile carpet. It did a little worse on the fluffier carpet, leaving quite a bit more oat fragments behind, putting the Shark IONFlex on par with the Hoover Linx and the Shark Navigator Freestyle. The Shark finished out this test with a solid performance at collecting Cheerios, doing a great job on both low-pile carpet and medium-pile carpet.
The Shark IONFlex is a bit on the pricey side, but it is the best. However, there are definitely better options out there if you are looking to maximize the best bang for the buck.
The Shark IONFlex is a fantastic, all-around stick vacuum that excelled in a majority of our tests. This product does a good job at cleaning both hard and soft floors and is extremely convenient and easy to use. However, it is a bit expensive, so this product might be a better option if you don't have a messy enough home to warrant a full-size vacuum and only want a stick vacuum, compared to having both.
— David Wise and Austin Palmer