Shark ION WV203 – vacuuming up close and personal

Shark ION WV203
100% human

The Shark ION WV203 is a handheld, 115W suction, vacuum cleaner in a slim, lightweight 650g, wand-shaped device.

The Shark ION WV203 is a ‘dustbuster’ style of handheld vacuum cleaner. And that is with sincere apologies to B&D ‘Dustbuster’ that helped create this market. We use the term generically to describe the handheld format.

Is the Shark ION WV203 sufficiently different to the typical $29 B&D to justify the $249.99 price? Let’s find out.

Note that we use the terms Fail, Pass or Exceed against important judging paradigms.

Shark ION WV203

Website here

Price: $249.99 – shop around, and you may shave 20% off that.

First, to acknowledge B&D. I have owned many of its acclaimed Dustbusters from day one – January 1979. A Dustbuster is perfect for little crumbs on the floor or bench. The current $35 model has 8 Air Watts and a runtime of about 10 minutes from a 5.4Wh battery that then requires a 10-hour charge. Of course, you can spend more and get more powerful models, but these get bigger and bulkier.

The Shark ION WV203 has a 115-watt motor, 10-minute runtime and a 2.5-hour charge. It is up to you what you buy but I know where my money is going.

In the box

  • Shark ION WV203 ANZ
  • Charge dock and dual brush caddy
  • Multi-surface ‘Velcro’ brush (called a pet multi-tool)
  • Duster/crevice tool (called a moustache brush crevice tool)

Note this is not the WV250 (twin battery) series. If you read a review, make sure its WV20X single battery series. It is may also be W1 in some markets.

Shark ION WV203

First impression – this ain’t no dustbuster – EXCEED

Compared to a typical dustbuster shape, this is a sleek, attractive cylinder weighing in a 650g (plus tools). It looks precision made in grey and black with a streamlined feel. The caddy is similarly well made.

It is light and well balanced. It is for spot cleans, upholstery, in cracks and crevices and places like the car or windowsills.

If you have arthritis, etc., the lightweight and larger circumference handle may be perfect for you.

Suction/clean – EXCEED

I don’t want to speculate that a dustbuster’s 8-10 air watt is inferior – it does the job it promises. But Shark’s 115 watts seems quite a lot for a handheld. It turns out that it is a 115W motor is equivalent to about 33 Air Watts – that makes more sense. Shark suggests it has about twice the suction power of its nearest competitors.

Still, it picked up considerably more and did not object to heavier detritus like another unnamed handheld. Be aware that the maximum sized object is about 10mm diameter and no more than a few grams.

It works equally well on upholstery, carpet, tile or hardwood.

The pet tool is excellent for removing pet hair and fine spider webs.

But I need to bring this back to perspective – it is not a full-blown stick handheld like the Dyson V11 or LG A9 with 1500W motors, motorised heads and 60-minute battery life. It is a rapid response, convenience device.

Noise – PASS

It is either on or off – there are no speed settings. Volume is about 75dB – typical of most handhelds. Acceptable as you don’t use them for extended periods.

Dust capacity – PASSable

It is a small device, and the flip open dust bin is accordingly tiny – in our estimate about 250ml. Make sure that you empty the bin over the dust bin – it can fling open. It is removable and washable as well.

Shark ION WV203 dustbin

When the canister is full, it will keep sucking detritus into the ‘spout’ but when you turn it off anything still in there will fall out.

Air/detritus is sucked directly into the dustbin and then dual-stage filtered by a stainless mesh and a washable fabric filter (we doubt it is a HEPA filter). Again it’s a small device, and it pays to keep the filter clean. In our tests, it was dry in about 24 hours. It would be nice for Shark to throw in an extra so you can keep using it between clean/dry cycles.

Battery – EXCEED

Very few small handhelds last more than 5-10 minutes, and this is no exception. But the best part is the fast charge time of 2.5 hours compared to 10 hours on competitors. The charger supplies 13.3V/800mAh.

The docking station is desk mount – not wall mount.

Shark ION WV203 desk caddy

The manual infers that you can replace the battery – there is nothing on the website. It would be nice to know the charge/recharge cycle rating, but I suspect it will well outlast the 2-year warranty.

GadgetGuy’s take – the Shark ION WV203 is the Mini Cooper of the small handhelds

Look I get it – it is expensive especially when you go to Godfreys and see Hoover, Vax and B&D from $29 to $149. But these have that spaceship-like shape and a rear handle that may be hard to use if your hand movement is impaired.

The Shark ION WV203 is different – more tech, suction power, shorter recharge time and the cylindrical shape may be easier to use.

Our advice. Don’t expect any handheld to do more than the category is designed for. If you need longer battery life, motorised heads, more accessories, then the Dyson V11 (GadgetGuy review here) and LG A9 Master (review here) are true cordless canister and stick replacements – albeit at a much higher price.  

Note the additional brushes mentioned in the video below are not sold here but can be found online.

Value for money
Ease of Use
Reader Rating0 Votes
Up to 10 minutes run-time and fast 2.5-hour charge
It’s a rapid response cleaner – not for the whole of home
Easy to clean and maintain
Easier to use for arthritis sufferers
Desk mount – not a wall mount