Picture of a Sonicare toothbrush.

Sonicare Electric Brush

Which is the best Sonicare toothbrush? (Updated September 2017) -

a) Our take about which Sonicare brushes make the best choice (function and value).   b) Which options are the most important to have?   c) Model comparisons based on features.

This page takes you through a comparison of the current Sonicare rechargeable electric toothbrush line up, in an attempt to single out those select models that tend to make a better choice in terms of function and value (are a "best-buy").

(If you're interested, we offer this same type of comparison for Oral-B electric brushes.)

How we conducted our evaluation.

a) We started off by performing a features-based comparison.

Our original goal for this page was one where our analysis would simply be based on a comparison of models according to their features, as documented by information collected from Philips Sonicare websites, publications, user manuals and support representatives.

This page does accomplish that goal, using those sources. And while performing our comparison process the information we collected allowed us to form a distinct opinion about which features are important to have versus those that seem to offer just limited value.

Based on these conclusions, on this page we've identified which models have the important Sonicare core features that are a must, and at the same time as few unneeded extras as possible.

b) Second, we factored in reputation and perceived performance.

As it turns out, just comparing features really isn't all that's needed when trying to pick out the better Sonicare models.

As you'll see below there's a giant price difference between the top and bottom-end Sonicares. And based on this single factor alone, it's easy enough to anticipate that while some models may share similar features and specifications, they're probably not really equals. (It's been our experience that some Sonicare representatives are pretty quick to harp this point when you call with questions.)

Unfortunately, our website doesn't have the resources of a big organization (like Consumer Reports for example) who might run dozens of each model for weeks on end to evaluate reliability. Or scientifically measure how the brushing action of one compares to another. So, actually quantifying model differences isn't really something we can do.

But what we can share is this: 1) Our opinion/impression of each of the models (admittedly however unscientific that is), 2) What people have posted in our comments section below (thank you to those who do) and 3) What seems to be the collective opinion of consumers who have posted comments on retailer websites.

So besides just a strict comparison of features, we've also incorporated these more subjective types of information throughout this page where we think it holds merit and therefore is important to do so.

Who can benefit from reading our Best Sonicares walk through?

Despite the title of this page, we don't really believe in monikers like the "best Sonicare." After all, what's best for one person may not satisfy the requirements or expectations of another at all. For example:

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a) Are you just looking for the best Sonicare possible?

Some people may feel that they just want the absolute best Sonicare made, no matter what the cost.

To them we would simply say, why bother reading this page and just buy a DiamondClean Smart, DiamondClean or FlexCare Platinum Connected model?

While we certainly don't feel that any of these brushes even remotely makes a "best value" buy, as the most expensive Sonicares they do offer these advantages ...

  • They come with an abundance of features, although we believe most of them are unneeded and many unlikely to be used once the newness of the brush has worn off (we explain our position below).

    All of these models come with superfluous brushing modes. Some offer convenient but redundant charging options. If you want the option of using a brushing app, that's available with some of them. One model even comes with an (unneeded, see below) UV brush head sanitizer.

  • These brushes give the impression of having a superior design and build. However while we do believe this is point is accurate, actually quantifying this difference in comparison to other models is difficult. (That's why we've sought out sources involving user/owner input when formulating this page.)
  • And as far as cost goes, if you shop around a little bit you can probably find the least expensive of these brushes at a price only half again as much as the most expensive model we tend to consider a good value (the HealthyWhite+), thus making an almost reasonable buy.

So if money is not a major concern, just getting a DiamondClean Smart, DiamondClean or Flexcare Platinum can make some sense.

b) Which brush has the best overall qualities, at a reasonable price?

This is the main focus of this page. Trying to determine which model seems to make a best (most reasonable) choice in terms of effectiveness, functionality, reliability and so forth, while also keeping cost to a minimum.

Electric toothbrushes on the whole aren't exactly known for their ruggedness and longevity (at least not nowadays). So in an era of lowest-possible-cost manufacturing and planned-obsolescence product design, both initial and replacement costs should be factors that are considered.

For this best-value type of choice, we used to lean toward the Sonicare 3 Series. Now it seems (especially in light of some of the comments posted below and on retailer websites) that buying the HealthyWhite+ makes the better choice (both in performance and reliability).

c) What are the best bargain Sonicares?

Other people who can benefit from reading this page include: 1) Those who are ready to get on board with purchasing a Sonicare (as an improvement over their current brushing situation, manual or electric) but aren't so committed that they're ready to spend a lot of money.  2) Those for whom cost is a major consideration and must be kept to a bare minimum.

In terms of price, Sonicare offers a significant range of options. But as mentioned above, some of the lower-end models don't seem as fully capable or quality-built as the higher-end ones.

That doesn't necessarily mean that all of the bargain models aren't good brushes or can't be effective when used. In fact, some of them represent the best Sonicares of yesteryear (the Essence and its updated version the Essence+ models).

Which models did we evaluate?

Here's the list of models we've included in our comparison:

  • DiamondClean Smart - Models: HX9957/51 ($330), HX9924/41 ($270), HX9903/41 ($230)
  • DiamondClean - Models: HX9393/90 ($250), HX9392/05 ($220)
  • FlexCare Platinum Connected - Models: HX9192/02 ($220), HX9192/01 ($200)
  • FlexCare+ (plus) - Models: HX6921/04 ($150)
  • HealthyWhite+ - Models: HX8918/10 ($130), HX8911/02 ($120)
  • Sonicare 3 series gum health - Model: HX6631/02 ($90)
  • Sonicare 2 series plaque control - Models: HX6218/10 ($80), HX6211/07 ($70)
  • Sonicare for Kids - Models: HX6321/02 ($50)
  • Essence+ - Models: HX3211/33 ($40), HX3211/17 ($40), HX3211/02 ($40)
  • Essence - Model: HX5611/01 ($25)
  • PowerUp - Models: HX3631/06 ($15), HX3631/10 ($15)
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How did we select these models?

At the time of this update (September 5, 2017), the above toothbrushes constituted all of the models that Sonicare (Koninklijke Philips N.V) displayed on the USA version of their website as their "current" products.

Changes since our last update.

Those who have used this page before may have noticed some changes in the models evaluated since our last update about a half year ago.

  • The DiamondClean Smart line has been introduced. These brushes can be considered to be Sonicare's top-of-the-line models, with a hefty price to match. As you'd expect, they can be used with a Sonicare brushing app on your smartphone.
  • Some of the product lines have been pared down slightly. Although most of this just seems related to fewer color options being available.

About the prices we show.

As you can see, our list contains brushes priced from around $330 all the way down to $15. This information comes directly from the Phillips/Sonicare website (September 5, 2017).

We have to assume that these numbers represent the manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP). But on more than one occasion we found online retailers displaying a higher "listed" price (which makes their "discounted" price look better).

Our only point here is that you should definitely compare prices a bit before making a purchase. And yes, our search of the web did find all of the models included in our comparison for sale.

Setting the criteria for our evaluation.

As the basis for our comparison process, we set the following criteria: The "best" Sonicare toothbrushes are those that ...

  • Feature Sonicare's hallmark 31,000-brush-strokes-per-minute brushing action (you'll learn why in our next section) ...
  • Have Sonicare's basic core functions but as few additional features as possible (as you read on below we explain why we feel many of Sonicare's most promoted features aren't necessities at all) ...
  • Cost as little as possible (we try to favor mid to low-end models if possible) ...
  • And seem to have a reputation for performance and reliability. (If you own a Sonicare and have an opinion about this, feel free to leave a comment below.)

We set our criteria up this way because we wanted our conclusions to be ...

  • A balance between features and price. After all, why buy more toothbrush than you really need?
  • A recommendation for brushes that should make a good choice, in the sense that people who own them seem to be satisfied enough that they're good products and do a good job.

Sonic brushes generate a cleaning effect beyond where their bristles actually touch.

Animation showing the fluid-dynamics cleaning action of a Sonicare toothbrush.

Brushing Action - The most important feature.

You may not be aware of this but the whole reason to buy a Sonicare is because of its full-power 31,000 brushstrokes-per-minute brushing action. (In some promotional materials this may be stated as the equivalent 62,000 brush movements/minute.)

Toothbrush bristles vibrating at this rate of speed are able to create a secondary cleansing action that extends beyond where the bristles actually touch. (Yes, beyond.)

This cleaning phenomenon is termed "fluid dynamics." If you'd like to read more about sonic toothbrushes and how they create it, use this link.

Which models offer this setting?

As the most important criteria of our comparison, we took a look at all of the models in our list to make sure that each one offered it.

Our evaluation determined:

  • Yes, has it. - The DiamondClean Smart, DiamondClean, FlexCare Platinum Connected, FlexCare+ (plus), HealthyWhite+ (plus), Sonicare 3 series gum health, Sonicare 2 series plaque control, Sonicare for Kids, Essence+ and Essence models all feature this mode.

    (The 31,0000 strokes-per-minute setting is most commonly referred to as "Clean" mode in Sonicare manuals and literature.)

  • No, doesn't have it. - The PowerUp model doesn't have this capability, so it's off our list.

    (The top speed on a PowerUp brush is only 15,000 strokes-per-minute. And unless you have a specific reason why you would want a brush that can only operate at half speed, that's a big deficiency.)

Additional Sonicare features.

Our pages have always expressed a fairly strong opinion about which Sonicare features we feel have value and which ones not so much.

In many ways we're probably too critical. But we have a high regard for sonic toothbrushes in general, and Sonicare in particular, and just feel that the features they offer should be more about substance than hype.

[If you want additional information about a particular feature (both pros and cons), use the buttons to the right.]

Features we don't think hold a lot of importance.

a) The UV brush-head sanitizer - Hype not science.

A few years ago this was one of Sonicare's newest options. At this point in time it only comes on one of the FlexCare Platinum Connected models (HX9192/02). And while this is one of Sonicare's higher-end toothbrushes, this feature hasn't been carried over into the newer DiamondClean and DiamondClean Smart product lines.

We'd take that as evidence that consumers generally didn't find it to be an especially important feature or good value. We had always stated on our pages that we saw no purpose for it. We based our opinion on that of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) whose website states that toothbrush sterilization holds little benefit.

One more model falls off our list.

Since one of our core comparison criteria is not to include brushes that featured unneeded options, we'll go ahead and scratch the FlexCare Platinum Connected model that has the UV Sanitizer off our list. But that still leaves us with 17 other Sonicares to choose from.

b) The Sonicare smartphone app - We get it, but just don't need it.

We'll go ahead and mark the other FlexCare Platinum Connected model off our list as well, and the DiamondClean Smart brushes too. That's because they're teched-up to interact with Sonicare's smartphone brushing app.

We really think that Sonicare did a reasonable job with their app. But from the standpoint of the average person who just needs a good, effective electric toothbrush, it contributes too little at too much cost.

Its primary benefit seems to be one of user motivation. From just a technical standpoint, without question anyone could be just as effective in their brushing routine whether using the app or not.

c) Additional brushing modes - What's the purpose?

You couldn't have found a website that has less faith in the importance of the various (and ever changing on each new model) Sonicare brushing modes.

Just one mode is all most people need.

We do think Sonicare toothbrushes are great and important products but just for one main reason, their full-power 31,0000 brush-strokes-per-minute brushing action. (This is labeled as "Clean" mode on almost all models.)

Yes, we'll concede that a few people may have special circumstances (like the need for a "sensitive" mode). But for the vast majority users, the best, most effective, most efficient brushing mode they can use is the full-power one.

  • This is the mode that was used to establish the benefits of using sonic toothbrushes in scientific research.
  • This is the mode that Sonicare invented and has built its reputation on.

(We spend a lot of words documenting the basis of this position here.)

Human nature.

We'd also suggest that 6 months out or so, even those people who originally enjoyed the novelty (yes, just novelty) of having more than one brushing mode to choose from have long since forgotten that these options exist, and likely even how to activate them.

In light of this opinion, it's pretty easy for us to dismiss the importance of buying a Sonicare model that features a lot of brushing modes.

What you need to know about the models in our Best-Sonicare list.

Model similarities.

The toothbrushes remaining in our comparison have some features in common. For example, per the Phillips website each of them have:

  • Charging units that can run on 110 - 220 volt electrical systems.

    This capability can be an important one for world travelers. However, you will need plug adapters for the various types of outlets you encounter.

  • Brushing timers - Smartimer / KidTimer - All Sonicare models come with some type of brushing timer, which usually runs on the order of two minutes or longer. Some people like having a timer because it helps them achieve a higher level of brushing discipline. Others find them annoying. (This feature typically cannot be deactivated.)
  • Many Sonicare brushes feature Quadpacer or BrushPacer. These functions signal when you should advance to cleaning the next portion of your mouth. Not everyone values this type of indicator. We state below which models allow you to deactivate it.
  • Except PowerUp, all Sonicare models have the availability of standard or compact brush heads. Depending on your needs, this can be a very important option.
  • Excessive pressure indicator - All Sonicare models will tend to stall out or stutter when the user applies too much force. Beyond that, some models offer more sophisticated pressure and even scrubbing indicators.
  • Easy-start - The Easy-Start feature helps you get used to the vigorous nature of a Sonicare by gradually ramping up its power over a period of several brushing sessions.
Pictures of Sonicare brush heads.

Sonicare DiamondClean and original ProResults brush heads.

Model differences.

Brush heads.

Different Sonicare models come packaged with different styles of brush heads. We list the specific head(s) provided (type and quantity) with each brush's listing below.

Important! - Most Sonicare models use click-on (snap-on) brush heads. And they are universally interchangeable among most toothbrush models.

That gives you a lot of options to choose from when buying replacement heads (that alone is an important feature). And for this reason, we don't place great emphasis on which type comes with which model.

The exception to the above are the Essence and PowerUp lines, which each use their own specific type of head. (We make note of all of this below. We explain Sonicare brush head options in general, on this page.)

Battery type.

The models in our list have one of two types of rechargeable batteries, either NiMH or lithium ion. We make note of this with each brush's listing below.

  • Lithium ion batteries offer some advantages. Due to their smaller size, the bodies of models that have them tend to be lighter and sleeker. Additionally, the nature of these batteries offers recharging and performance advantages.
  • Philips Sonicare seems to suggest that their models that have lithium ion batteries can go longer between charges (3 weeks vs. just 2).

To us, battery isn't an insignificant consideration. But if a particular model met our needs in all other ways, we'd let this one slip by. This page discusses the subject of battery options in greater detail.

Our Best-Sonicare list.

Here's where we finally cut to the chase. Based on what's been stated above, the brushes below are those Sonicare models we consider to be good-value picks, arranged from least to most expensive.

Consider the cheapest and then work your way up.

As you'll see, we've listed each brush's general features. And provided a link to our model reviews page where you can learn more details about it.

Then, and just as important, we've also stated reasons why you might not like the brush. And if those reasons hold true for you, then just skip past it and on to the next "best" model in our list.

Have questions?

If you have a question about something you see on our page, or Sonicare models in particular, leave a comment at the bottom of this page and we'll see if we can get an answer for you.

Double check brush features before you buy.

We've gone to a lot of effort in compiling this information, trying to make sure we got everything right. But beyond our control, features and options can change.

Before you buy, do us a favor and just double check what we say against the packaging or description of the actual product you plan to purchase. We don't want you to be disappointed.

You may have an out if you've made a poor choice.

Philips Sonicare has traditionally offered a 90-day money-back guarantee with their toothbrushes, allowing you to return yours if you're unsatisfied with it.

On the Philips website we see this guarantee worded as: "If within 90 days of your original retail purchase you are not satisfied with your product, we will refund your money."

Obviously, we don't speak for Philips. So if having this option is important to you, you should contact them or read the packaging of the product you're considering before making your purchase, just to make sure you have all of the details straight.

The best Sonicare toothbrushes - From cheapest to more expensive.

As explained above, the prices we show are based on Sonicare/Phillips MSRP information. We can't imagine that you won't be able to find these models for about the amount we show, or less.

Note: When it comes to the EasyStart and QuadPacer functions, the information found on Sonicare's website doesn't always agree with what is found in the user manuals of individual models. On this page we've tended to side with what's shown on the website, assuming that it is the most up-to-date information.

If these are important features for you, you will simply need to examine the packaging of the specific product you are considering.

Picture of a Sonicare Essence sonic toothbrush.

Sonicare Essence HX5611/01

#1 - The Sonicare Essence: HX5611/01 ($25).

( Compare Essence prices and deals at Walmart.com and Amazon.com. )

This is a bare-bones Sonicare that doesn't really have any unique options or features. It's basically just an old design that happens to still be sold.

Things to know about the Essence:
  • Its body is big to hold (probably in part due to the fact that it has the NiMH style of battery) and it's a little bit noisier than other models. As compared to the sleeker, more-modern Sonicare designs, this unit does seem a bit old fashioned.
  • Replacement brush heads: e-Series, which do come in Standard and Compact sizes. However, those are the only options you have.

    These heads screw-on rather than snap in place (the only model in our Best list to use this type). This design tends to accumulate gunk and makes the brush slightly less convenient to use if it's shared. [More details.]

    Possibly e-Series heads are less efficient brushers.

  • Operating time after charging: - "Up to" 2 weeks (NiMH battery).
  • EasyStart and Smartimer: Yes.
  • More specifications about the Essence.

Comments: The Essence isn't as glamorous a brush as the more modern Sonicares but it creates the same 31,000 brush-strokes-per-minute brushing action they do. However, as compared to higher-end models, this one's mechanism seems to be less powerful. And from what we've read in terms of user comments, people who have owned other models may not be satisfied with the brushing experience this one delivers.

Having said that, while never a "top" model itself the Essence represents the yesteryear Sonicare technology that this line built its reputation on (both in the marketplace and dental research). That means you can be effective with this brush. And for people stepping up from a manual one, the difference should be noticeable.

The biggest problem with the Essence is that you're severely limited on the style of replacement brush heads. And for that reason the Essence+, while newer and less tested but seemingly the same mechanism, to us seems to make the better choice.

Take note!

From this point on:

  • All of the models below use Sonicare's interchangeable, click-on style brush heads.

This range of brush heads includes: DiamondClean (standard & compact sizes), Adaptive Clean (standard & compact sizes), Intercare (standard), ProResults (standard & compact sizes), ProResults Plaque Control (standard), ProResults Gum Health (standard), Sensitive (standard), Simply Clean (standard & compact sizes) and For Kids (standard & compact sizes), C3 Premium Plaque Control (standard), G3 Premium Gum Care (standard), W3 Premium White (standard).

!! This is an important point because despite what type your brush came with originally, you can switch to any other (style or size) head. That makes for a lot of options. (More information about brush heads.)

#2 - The Sonicare Essence+: HX3211/33, HX3211/17, HX3211/02 ($40).

( Compare Essence+ prices and deals at Walmart.com and Amazon.com. )

This model appears to be the older Essence brush (see above) but redesigned so it can accept click-on style brush heads.

Things to know about the Essence+:
  • Generally speaking, this brush has the same body design as its predecessor, meaning it's comparatively large and it vibrates and is noisier than the sleeker, more-modern Sonicares.
  • Replacement brush heads: This model can be used with the full line of Sonicare snap-on heads.

    That's a big deal. It gives you a much wider range of styles to choose from. And these heads are more convenient to change (a nice feature if you share a brush), and make it easier to keep things clean.

  • Operating time after charging: - "Up to" 10 days (NiMH battery). Curiously, the older Essence model provides more brushings between charges.
  • EasyStart and Smartimer: Yes.
  • QuadPacer: Sonicare's website states that HX3211/33 alone has this feature.
  • More specifications about the Essence+.

Comments: For Sonicares at this end of the price range, the fact that the Essence+ can use the full line of Sonicare's click-on brush heads makes this brush a pretty attractive choice.

We'd also suggest (although it's just conjecture on our part) that Sonicare technology of yesteryear carried forward (which is what this brush represents) may offer design and build-quality advantages over newer "economy" models (2 Series, 3 Series) that seem to have only been designed as cheaper Sonicare alternatives.

#3 - The Sonicare For Kids: HX6321/02 ($50).

( Compare Sonicare for Kids prices and deals at Walmart.com and Amazon.com. )

This is a "kids" toothbrush. But for people who can overlook that fact, this is a way of getting a modern, full-fledged (31,000 brush-strokes-per-minute) Sonicare at a low price. It also makes a reasonable option for parents that might want to share a brush with their children. Or test out the use of an electric before moving on to getting their own.

Picture of a Sonicare For Kids sonic toothbrush.

Sonicare For Kids HX6321/02

Things to know about the Sonicare For Kids:
  • Everything about this brush is geared toward children, which tends to limit its appeal to most adults.

    That includes the way it looks (although you can just leave the decorative stickers off), and the way its brushing timer (which you can't turn off) functions and sounds. If you're an adult and considering this brush, you really must use the link below to learn more about it so to make sure you want to put up with these features.

  • It has KidTimer (a brushing timer) and features a QuadPacer-type function (KidPacer).
  • The Sonicare website says this model does not have the EasyStart function (but it does have a low-intensity setting).
  • Syncs via Bluetooth to a brushing app on your smartphone.
  • Replacement brush heads: The full range of universally interchangeable snap-on heads listed above. (Confirmed by a phone call to Sonicare on 8/1/2016.)

    If an adult chooses to use this brush with either of its stock brush heads, they will find the For Kids Standard brush to be "smallish" (about the same size of the DiamondClean, which is one of the smaller adult brush heads). The For Kids Compact sized head in comparison would be significantly smaller. Both heads have softer bristles than their adult-sized counterparts.

  • More specifications about the Sonicare For Kids.

#4 - The Sonicare 2 Series Plaque Control: HX6218/10 ($80) | HX6211/07 ($70).

Picture of a Sonicare 2 Series sonic toothbrush.

Sonicare 2 Series HX6211/04

( Compare 2 Series prices and deals at Walmart.com and Amazon.com. )

This is a "sleeker," more refined alternative to the heftier Essence and Essence+ models.

The 2 Series models only differ by way of their color, except that the HX6218/10 is packaged as one of Sonicare's gimmicky tongue-cleaner brushes. (See specifications link below for more details.)

Things to know about the Sonicare 2 Series:
  • Replacement brush heads: The full range of universally interchangeable snap-on heads listed above.
  • Operating time after charging: - "Up to" 2 weeks. (NiMH battery.)
  • EasyStart, Smartimer and QuadPacer: Yes. (According to Sonicare website.)
  • More specifications about the Sonicare 2 Series.

Comments: When compared to the Essence and Essence+ models above, you're basically buying a smaller, easier to hold brush, which is nice.

As compared to just the regular Essence, you get the advantage of using the more convenient, wider selection and easier to clean around click-on brush heads. Each of these factors might be an advantage for a family trying to share the same brush.

2 Series disadvantages.

This brush seems to have been introduced into Sonicare's line up simply to fill a price point. And as such, some users seem to feel that its design, performance and durability tend to reflect that.

As compared to higher-end Sonicare's, this brush's mechanism seems noisy and less refined. Some commenters on this page have complained that they consider this brush under powered as compared to models they have used before. (We have more to say about these issues below.)

Overall (primarily based on what we've read in the comments found on large retailer websites) it's our impression that first-time Sonicare owners are generally satisfied with this brush (as an improvement over their manual one) but previous owners tend not to be.


If you're willing to consider a non-Sonicare model, click to open these drop-down boxes.

Picture of a Sonicare 3 Series sonic toothbrush.

Sonicare 3 Series HX6631/02

#5 - The Sonicare 3 Series Gum Health: HX6631/02 ($90).

( Compare 3 Series prices and deals at Walmart.com and Amazon.com. )

Things to know about the 3 Series:
  • Replacement brush heads: The full range of universally interchangeable snap-on.
  • Operating time after charging: - "Up to" 3 weeks. (Lithium-ion battery.)
  • It has Sonicare's QuadPacer and Smartimer features.
  • The Sonicare website says this model does not have the EasyStart function (but it does have a low-intensity setting).
  • More specifications about the Series 3.


As compared to the 2 Series:

  • This one has a lithium-ion battery, which is generally a plus for us. (Note the more brushings per charge vs. the 2 Series.)
  • It offers the same single brushing mode as the 2 Series (Clean). But this brush also has 3 intensity settings (high, medium and low).

    We absolutely feel that almost all users should just use Clean mode (at the highest intensity setting). But for people who can't tolerate that much brushing activity (like elderly or debilitated person's), this brush gives the user additional options that the 2 Series doesn't.

  • This model comes with a travel case, which for some might be a plus.
3 Series disadvantages.

Like with the 2 Series above, this model seems to have been introduced solely to fill a price point in Sonicare's line up. And as such its design, performance and durability seem to reflect that.

As examples, people seem to complain that this brush's mechanism is noisy and less refined than the higher-end models. And some commenters on this page have complain that they consider this brush under powered (they don't get the same "clean" as with more expensive Sonicares).

However, and once again like with the 2 Series, comments we've read on large retailer websites seem to suggest that first-time buyers tend to be relatively satisfied with this brush (as compared to using their manual one).

What you don't get with cheaper Sonicare models.

With the Sonicare line, buying a higher priced toothbrush doesn't equate with getting a different brushing action. But there are some design and performance differences that may make a noticeable difference in your overall brushing experience.

Evidently this is by design. The Sonicare representatives we've talked to readily state that there are differences between models (batteries, motors). Considering the price range involved with their product line ($25 to $330), one would have to be relatively naive to expect differently.

Probably the best way to explain things is to say that with the lower-end models you're not buying a Cadillac.

Differences in design and engineering.

To follow through with our car analogy, if you buy an economy car you can expect that it will get you to your destination. But your experiences during your trip (acceleration up hills, smoothness of ride) aren't going to be the same as if you had bought a Cadillac.

That's pretty much what you'll notice with the cheaper Sonicares. They will deliver the promised 31,000 brush-strokes-per-minute. But the power of the brush won't be the same as the higher-end models, nor will the smoothness of their brushing action.

This may be especially apparent to those who have had a higher-end model before and have replaced it with an economy model.

Do these differences matter in cleaning your teeth?

We'd suggest that they do and don't.

a) Brushing experience.

It's easy enough to say that using a brush that has a more refined design (less noise, less handle vibration) makes for a more pleasant brushing experience. But how important those characteristics are for you to accomplish the act of brushing your teeth would simply be up to you.

b) Brush power.

It's probably also easy enough to state that having a more powerful brush is generally a plus. But related to this issue, we think that many people don't understand how a Sonicare is meant to be used.

How to use a Sonicare.

The unique characteristic of a sonic toothbrush is the way it creates a secondary cleaning action (one that helps to clean beyond where the brush's bristles actually touch) due to the manner in which it agitates the fluids that surround your teeth. (Here's how this works.)

That action is created by the frequency (rate of vibration) of the brush. And the way that's best generated is by using a light touch of the brush against your teeth.

Here's a link to a video on Sonicare's website that explains how to use their brushes. (Look for the link titled "Philips Sonicare -- Top tips for getting the best clean.")

The two phrases in the video that standout to us are: "gently and lightly hold (the brush) for a few seconds on each tooth" and "the movement (of the brush) needs to be light".


To this point, we'll mention a research study (Lea 2007) published during the heyday of the Essence brush mentioned above. [Page references.]

The purpose of this study was to determine to what degree the vibratory action of powered toothbrushes was dampened when applying brushing force. The specific Sonicare tested was the Elite (a model similar in design to the Essence).

  • The study concluded that a load of 1 Newton didn't significantly effect the brushing amplitude of this model (the back and forth swing of its brush head), whereas a load of 2 Newtons did.
  • 1 Newton is roughly the amount of force that a object weighing 1/5 lbs. places on the surface it is resting on, such as the palm of your hand. (A smallish apple is often given as an example of something that weighs about one-fifth of a pound.)
What might you conclude from all of this?

A person could conclude that the best brush to buy is simply the one that can best overcome any damping effect. And due to the constant improvement of products, that's most likely to be the newest, latest model available.

It seems to us that you could make that case. But we'd also suggest that setting that requirement might indicate that the way the brush is being used isn't the manner for which it was designed. We'll also state that the purpose of our review is one of making reasonable choices, balancing cost and capabilities.

An example of what we mean.

As an example of what we consider to be a reasonable choice, take the Essence+ model mentioned above.

Is the Essence+ old and dated Sonicare technology? - Yes. In its era, wasn't this the technology that Sonicare continued to build its reputation on? - Yes. Considering that this brush only costs $40, plus the fact that it can use a wide array of current Sonicare brush heads, does this brush make a reasonable choice, especially as compared to brushing manually? - We think it does. Is this the absolute best Sonicare brush and a best choice for everyone? - No.

The grey area in the Sonicare line up. - The 2 and 3 Series.

Probably the biggest quandary in the Sonicare line is those models specifically introduced as "cheaper Sonicare alternatives."

Most of the current higher-end Sonicares either are or were top-of-the-line models, or at least introduced some new brushing feature. There seemed to be a natural migration of models on down the Sonicare line up as each successive newer one was introduced.

The Sonicare 2 and 3 Series toothbrushes don't fit that mold. These models were introduced as "cheaper alternatives," evidently to cover specific price points in the line up. And it seems that their design, as mentioned above, tends to reflect that.

We still think these brushes can make a reasonable choice, but the obvious way to sidestep this issue is simply to look a the next brush up the Sonicare line. That means the HealthyWhite+.

Picture of a Sonicare HealthyWhite+ sonic toothbrush.

Sonicare Healthy White+ HX8911/02

#6 - The Sonicare HealthyWhite+ (plus): HX8911/02 ($120).

( Compare HealthyWhite+ prices and deals at Walmart.com and Amazon.com. )

While we don't ever remember the HealthyWhite line as being Sonicare's top one, we do remember a big push about the original version of this brush being their "whitening" model.

Based on comments we've seen posted on our and retailer websites, it seems that there's a general consensus that this brush is a step above the Sonicare 3 in terms of power and refinement, and therefore currently occupies a transition point in the Sonicare line up.

Possibly this reflects this line's initial purpose, introducing newer features as opposed to cheaper ones.

Things to know about the HealthyWhite+:
  • Replacement brush heads: The full range of universally interchangeable snap-on.
  • Operating time after charging: - "Up to" 3 weeks. (Lithium-ion battery.)
  • It has Sonicare's EasyStart, QuadPacer and Smartimer features.
  • This brush has two brushing modes (Clean, White) and 3 brushing intensity settings (high, medium, low). (Clean mode at High intensity = 31,000 brush strokes/minute.)
  • More specifications about the HealthyWhite+ models.


There are actually two HealthyWhite+ models, the other one is the HX8918/10 ($130). It comes with a tongue cleaner brush head. We don't consider that an important feature. Both models come with a travel case.

Purchasing the HealthyWhite+ clearly crosses the border into purchasing more toothbrush features than you really need. But in doing so you get a brush design, function, and refinement that seems more akin to Sonicare's higher-end models than the Sonicare 3 Series does.

What about the other Sonicare models?

The remaining brushes in our list were the FlexCare+ (plus), FlexCare Platinum Connected and the DiamondClean and DiamondClean Smart models.

We don't feel that you can go wrong with purchasing any of these brushes. But at the same time we don't think that we would go to the expense.

As discussed above, it's only realistic to assume that with increased cost comes a higher build quality. But considering the planned-obsolescence, disposable nature of this type of product (for example, battery failure generally equates with toothbrush death), we've decided that to us the line delineating what makes a reasonable purchase or not, lies below these models.

Also, if you're an adult and using a brush with a smartphone app is important to you, you'll need to choose either a DiamondClean Smart or FlexCare Platinum Connected model.

[Philips and Sonicare are registered trademarks of Koninklijke Philips Electronics N.V. Easy-start and QuadPacer are registered trademarks of Philips Oral HealthCare, Inc.]



Topic Menu ▶  Powered Toothbrushes

  • Sonicare Toothbrushes Pages -
    • All Sonicare models - A comprehensive review of the features/prices of all of the current models of the Sonicare lineup. Some comparisons between each of the individual product lines are made.
    • The best Sonicare models - A narrative that outlines how to determine which Sonicare model makes the best choice for you. It discusses Sonicare features, which of these features we think are important to have, and which models seem to offer a reasonable manifestation of them.
    • How sonic toothbrushes work. / Effectiveness. - If you're wondering how sonic toothbrushes work and what's special about the brushing action they create, this page explains.
  • Sonicare Features Pages -
    • Brush Heads - Information about Sonicare brush heads, including: What styles of heads are available, in which sizes? Which heads can be used with which models? Comparative cleaning efficiency. How long does a brush head last? Screw-on vs. Click-on design. Standard vs. Compact sizes.
    • Sonicare brushing features - An outline of the various brushing modes different Sonicare models have, and what we think of each of them. It explains the importance of having the 31,000 strokes-per-minute brushing action.
      We also explain details about the Easy-start, Smartimer, KidTimer, QuadPacer, BrushPacer and Smartphone App functions (how they work, what we think of them).
    • Additional Sonicare features - We discuss Sonicare's UV brush head sanitizer in this section. We also explain features and issues associated with Sonicare battery types, charging units, working voltages, battery replacement and travel features.
  • Oral-b Toothbrushes Pages -
    • All Oral-B rechargeable models - A comprehensive review of the features/prices of all of the current Oral-b rechargeable models. Some comparisons between each of the individual toothbrush lines are made.
    • The best Oral-B models - Our narrative outlining how to figure out which model makes the best choice for you. It covers Oral-b features, which of them we think are important to have, and which models seem to offer a reasonable manifestation of them.
  • Oral-b Features Pages -
    • Brush heads - Details about Oral-B replacement brush heads: styles, options, differences. Which are the best ones?
    • Brushing modes - An explanation of the different Oral-B brushing modes found on various models. The importance of 3D vs. 2D brushing action.
    • Additional Oral-b features - Information about the Oral-b Bluetooth/Smartphone app and the wireless Smartguide, as well as what we think of them. Also details about Oral-b brushing timers, quadrant timers and brushing pressure indicators, as well as charging units, operating voltages and battery types.
  • More about electric toothbrushes Pages -
    • Powered vs. Manual toothbrushes - Do you really need an electric toothbrush? This page can help you to decide. Advantages and potential benefits of electrics. What does research say?
    • Rotary electric toothbrushes - Types and brands of rotary-brush head powered toothbrushes (Rota-dent, Interplak, Braun Oral B). Pros and cons of their design differences.
    • The best electric toothbrushes for Senior Citizens. - Elder persons in different age groups, with differing situations, need different features. This page discusses the pros and cons of various models in meeting those needs.
  • Page reference sources.

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