Picture of a Sonicare toothbrush.

Sonicare Electric Brush

Which is the best Sonicare toothbrush? (Updated May 2018) -

a) Our take about which Sonicare models make the best choice in terms of value (features & function vs. price).   b) Which options are the most important ones to have?   c) Comparisons between models based on value.

This page walks you through the process we've used to compare the current Sonicare electric toothbrush line, so to drill down and single out those select models that we feel tend to make a best-buy choice in terms of value (features and function vs. price).

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

How we conducted our evaluation.

a) We started off by making a features-based comparison of all of the models.

Our first step was to evaluate and make comparisons of all of Sonicare's current models strictly based on their capabilities and features, as documented by information collected from Philips Sonicare websites, publications, user manuals and support representatives (chat & telephone).

While performing this comparison process, the information we collected and sorted through allowed us to form a distinct opinion about which features are important to have versus those that seem to offer just limited value.

Then, based on these conclusions, we picked out which models come with the important Sonicare core features that we feel are a must, and at the same time as few unneeded extras as possible. To us, this is a fundamental aspect of picking out a "good value."

b) As a second step, 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 best Sonicares.

As you'll see below, there's an amazingly large price difference between the top and bottom Sonicare models (over 20 fold). And based on this factor alone, it's easy enough to anticipate that while some brushes may share similar features and specifications, they're probably not really equals in terms of quality and build.

(It's been our experience that some Sonicare support representatives are pretty quick to harp this you-get-what-you-pay-for attitude when you call with questions.)

Our proxy for judging quality and reliability.

As you might guess, 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 toothbrush compares to another. So, actually quantifying model quality and reliability differences isn't really something we can do.

But a basis of comparison that 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 about owning specific toothbrushes (thank you to those who do) and 3) What seems to be the collective opinion of consumers who have posted comments on retailer websites about their experiences.

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. Not so much to steer you toward certain models but instead away from some clunkers.

Who will benefit from reading our Best Sonicares walk through?

Despite the title of this page, we don't really believe in labels like the "best Sonicare." After all, what's best for one person may not satisfy the requirements or expectations of another in the least. As possible differences in what people are looking for:

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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.

For them we would suggest, why bother reading this page at all 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 Sonicare lines they do offer these advantages ...

  • They come with all of the features you need. - Although unfortunately, they also come with a whole lot more.

    On this page we explain our reasoning about which core Sonicare features are the important ones to have. And while these brushes do have them, you're also paying for a lot of fluff options too, most of which are likely to never be used again once the newness of your brush has worn off.

  • These brushes give the impression of having a superior design and build. - We clearly do consider this point an advantage of the higher-end Sonicares. But we also feel that a reasonable build quality can be found in slightly lesser models too.
  • If you can get a good deal on one of these brushes ... - With just a little comparison shopping you may be able to find special deals on these higher-end models. And if so, that changes our opinion about them entirely. After all, it's only their price (lack of value) that we have an issue with.

So if cost is not a major concern for you, just getting a DiamondClean Smart, DiamondClean or Flexcare Platinum (just pick out the model that has the combination of special options you think you want) can make a reasonable choice.

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

Answering this specific question is the primary focus of this page. The goal of our comparison process is to identify which models seem to make a best (most reasonable) choice in terms of effectiveness, functionality, reliability and so forth ... while also keeping cost to a minimum.

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

For this type of best-value pick, we generally lean toward the purchase of a HealthyWhite+ model. We think it makes a better, more predictable choice (both in terms of performance and reliability) than any less expensive Sonicare.

Having said that, the ProtectiveClean line of brushes has recently been introduced. And while they have no historic product track record to consider, we anticipate that the 6100, and possibly the 5100, also make reasonable value choices too. We explain in our model drill down below.

c) What are the best bargain Sonicares?

Some people reading this page might either: 1) Be 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) Or feel that cost is a major consideration for them and it must be kept to a bare minimum.

We've already mentioned that Sonicares come in a wide range of prices, and you tend to get what you pay for. But that doesn't necessarily mean that reasonable bargain models don't exist.

With expectations kept in mind that they aren't high-end brushes, the Sonicare for Kids (yes, even an adult/parent might use this brush) and the Essence+ (slightly updated Sonicare technology from yesteryear) can make reasonable budget choices.

Which models does our evaluation include?

Here's the list of models we've included in our comparison process aimed at picking out the best Sonicares in terms of value:

  • DiamondClean Smart -

    9700 models: HX9957/51 ($330)

    9500 models: HX9924/41 ($270), HX9924/21 ($270), HX9924/11 ($270), HX9924/01 ($270)

    9300 models: HX9903/41 ($230), HX9903/21 ($230), HX9903/11 ($230), HX9903/01 ($230)

    Models: HX9985/41 (est. $270), HX9985/21 (est. $270), HX9985/11 (est. $270), HX9985/01 (est. $270), HX9924/36 (est. $270)

  • DiamondClean - Models: HX9393/90 ($250), HX9392/05 ($220), HX9372/10 ($220), HX9362/10 ($220), HX9352/10 ($220), HX9332/10 ($220), HX9391/90 ($200), HX9371/71 ($200), HX9361/69 ($200), HX9351/57 ($200)
  • FlexCare Platinum Connected - Models: HX9192/02 ($220), HX9193/04 (est. $220), HX9192/01 ($200)
  • FlexCare+ (plus) - Models: HX6921/04 ($150)
  • HealthyWhite+ - Models: HX8911/02 ($120)
  • ProtectiveClean -

    6100 models: HX6877 ($130), HX6876/21 ($130), HX6871/49 ($130), HX6871/41 ($130)

    5100 models: HX6857/11 ($90), HX6850/60 ($90)

    4100 models: HX6817/01 ($70), HX6810/50 ($70)

  • Sonicare 2 series plaque control - Models: HX6211/04 ($70), HX6211/07 ($70), HX6211/28 ($70), HX6211/46 ($70), HX6211/47 ($70), HX6211/48 ($70)
  • Sonicare for Kids - Models: HX6321/02 ($50), HX6382/07(est. $40)
  • Essence+ - Models: HX3211/02 ($40), HX3211/17 ($40), HX3211/33 ($40), HX3211/45 ($40), HX3211/57 ($40), HX3211/62 ($40)
  • Essence - Models: 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 (May 1, 2018), 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, with the exception of combination offerings such as toothbrush/razor or "multiple toothbrush handle" offerings.

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 also comes directly from the Philips/Sonicare (USA) website (May 1, 2018).

We have to assume that these numbers represent the manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) and with just a little comparison shopping you can find them at a better price.

The Sonicare website did not state a MSRP for some models. In these cases, we've estimated one and identified it as such.

Our comparison process for picking out the best Sonicares.

Setting the criteria

As the basis for our evaluation, 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 tend to favor lower upper-end models but there are reasonable budget options too) ...
  • And seem to have a reputation for performance and reliability. (We're always interested in comments posted by Sonicare owners, especially those who have owned more than one model. So if you have something to say, please do.)

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 that they're good products and do a good job.

Sonicare's hallmark brushing Action - The most important feature.

You may not be aware of this fact 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.)

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

Animation showing the fluid-dynamics cleaning action of a Sonicare toothbrush.
Why is this brushing action important?
  • As a primary cleaning action, toothbrush bristles vibrating at this rate of speed constitute a very effective brushing motion.
  • Brush vibrations at this (sonic) frequency are also able to create a secondary cleansing action that extends beyond where the brush's bristles actually touch. (Yes, beyond.)

    This secondary cleaning action is termed "fluid dynamics" and it's something that sets a sonic brush apart from other electrics. (If you'd like to read more about sonic toothbrushes and how they work, use this link.)

Which models offer Sonicare's hallmark setting?

As the most important criteria of our comparison, of course we took a look at all of the models in our list to make sure that each one offered it. Here's what we found:

  • Yes, has it. - The DiamondClean Smart, DiamondClean, FlexCare Platinum Connected, FlexCare+ (plus), HealthyWhite+ (plus), ProtectiveClean, 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 out of our running for a Best Sonicare.

    (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 half speed, that's a big deficiency.)

Sonicare features we usually feel aren't needed, or don't offer much value.

Our pages have always expressed a fairly strong opinion about which of the 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 with that opinion we feel that the features they offer should be more about substance than hype. Based on science more so than marketing ploys.

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

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

Just several years ago this was one of Sonicare's newest, most-promoted options. At this point in time:

  • Rather than growing in prominence, it just comes on two of the FlexCare Platinum Connected models.
  • It's not featured by the newer, higher-end DiamondClean or 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.

So, two more models fall off our list.

Since one of our core comparison criteria is not to include brushes that feature unneeded options, we'll go ahead and scratch the two FlexCare Platinum Connected models that have the UV sanitizer off our list.

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

We'll go ahead and mark the other FlexCare Platinum Connected model off our list, as well as the DiamondClean Smart brushes too. That's because they're teched-up to interact with Sonicare's smartphone brushing app, and we don't feel that that's a vital feature to have.

We really do think that Sonicare did a good job with the app, but ...

  • We primarily see it as a tool for discipline or motivation. And definitely think that anyone who just pays a little attention to what they are doing when they clean their teeth will be just as effective in their routine whether they have it or not.
  • It does provide some notifications to the user as they brush. But some of this is redundant with what the toothbrush's handle does on its own anyway.

From the standpoint of the average person who just needs a good, effective electric toothbrush, we feel the app contributes too little at too much added cost in getting a model that features it.

Having said that, if having an app to use is important to you then the DiamondClean Smart, FlexCare Platinum Connected and the For Kids (one of our budget picks) are the options you have.

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 (Clean) is all most people need.

We do think that 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 of users, the best, most effective, most efficient brushing mode they can use is the constant 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 our opinion on this issue here.)

You're not going to use all of those modes, that's just human nature.

Beyond feeling that Clean mode makes the most beneficial brushing selection for most people, we find it hard to believe that over the long-term the other ones will even be used.

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

It's not so much we think a brush shouldn't have multiple modes, we just wouldn't buy one just because it does.

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 different brushing modes. But having said that, we're not going to nix any models specifically because they do.

As explained below, we find that there are some advantages to purchasing a mid-range Sonicare as opposed to the lowest-end ones. And the ones we like the best do happen to feature more than one brushing option.

Basic features common to most Sonicares.

The toothbrushes remaining as potential candidates in our Best Sonicares comparison tend to have some features in common. Per the Philips (USA) website each of them have:

  • Charging units that can run on both 110 and 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 to achieve a higher level of brushing discipline. Others (like us) find them annoying because they may turn the brush off before they feel they have completed their duties. (This feature typically cannot be deactivated.)

  • Many Sonicare brushes feature Quadpacer or BrushPacer. These functions signal when you should move on 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 the PowerUps, all Sonicare models have the availability of standard or compact brush heads. Depending on your needs, this can be a very important consideration.
  • 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 (we've made note of them below).
  • 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.

Some 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.

This is important to know -

Most Sonicare models have a design that uses click-on (snap-on) brush heads, and therefore can be used with any of the brush heads that are part of Sonicare's click-on line. That's a really big deal because it means that you'll have a wide range of options to choose from when you buy replacements.

For this reason, we don't place great emphasis on which type(s) of head(s) comes with which model. You can just switch it out with whichever one you prefer.

The exceptions to the above rule are the Essence and PowerUp models. These lines 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.

Sonicare rechargeable models come with either a NiMH or lithium ion battery. We make note of which in 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.

To us, the battery type 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 listed below are those Sonicare models that we consider to be the best ones in terms of a good-value pick, arranged from least to most expensive.

For each brush, we've listed its general features. And also provide a link to it on our Sonicare models reviews page where you can learn even more details about it.

Have questions?

If you have a question about something you see on this page, or Sonicare models in general, leave a comment below 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 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've seen 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.

Picture of a Sonicare Essence sonic toothbrush.

Sonicare Essence HX5611/01

#1 - The Sonicare Essence: HX5611/01 (MSRP $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 is 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.
  • QuadPacer: No.
  • 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 some of the original 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 in the available styles 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!

All of the models below use Sonicare's interchangeable, click-on style brush heads. This is an important point because despite whatever type your brush came with originally, you can switch to any other.

The range of available 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).

That's an incredible number of options. (More information about brush heads.)

#2 - The Sonicare Essence+: HX3211/02, HX3211/17, HX3211/33, HX3211/45, HX3211/57, HX3211/62 (MSRP $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+:
  • This brush has the same thick/large body design as its predecessor (the regular Essence). And we're assuming the same internal mechanism, in the sense that it vibrates more and is noisier and less powerful than more modern, higher-end 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: Yes.
  • 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 seems to represent) may offer design and build-quality advantages over newer "economy" models (2 Series, 3 Series [now evidently discontinued]) that seem to have only been designed as less expensive Sonicares.

#3 - The Sonicare For Kids: HX6321/02 (MSRP $50), HX6382/07 (est. MSRP $40).

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

Picture of a Sonicare For Kids sonic toothbrush.

Sonicare For Kids HX6321/02

This is Sonicare's toothbrush for children but in theory it could make an acceptable budget choice for an adult.

Things to know about the Sonicare For Kids:
  • There is no question that everything about this brush is geared toward children. 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.

    So if as an adult you're 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 these models do not have the EasyStart function (but they do have a low-intensity setting that could help to serve as a substitute).
  • It has two brushing settings, High and Low. The Low setting is intended for use by smaller children.
  • The HX6321/02 (only)syncs via Bluetooth to a brushing app on your smartphone. (This is the only brush in our Best Sonicares list that features the phone app.)
  • 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.

  • These brushes feature a lithium-ion battery, one of the few budget models that do.
  • More specifications about the Sonicare For Kids.

Comments: Clearly these models have been designed as kids toothbrushes. But for people who can overlook that fact, this is a way of getting a relatively modern, full-fledged (31,000 brush-strokes-per-minute) Sonicare at a low price.

The fact that it can be used with Sonicare's click-on brush head lineup, makes it 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.

#4 - The Sonicare 2 Series Plaque Control: HX6211/04, HX6211/07, HX6211/28, HX6211/46, HX6211/47, HX6211/48 (MSRP $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+ brushes. The individual 2 Series models only differ by way of their color.

We allow the 2 Series to be on this Best Sonicares list because notably it is a line that only comes with those very few features we think are necessary. But as we discuss below, these models aren't ones we would choose for our own use.

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 the regular Essence alone, you get the advantage of using the more convenient, wider selection and easier to clean around click-on brush heads.

2 Series disadvantages.

This brush seems to have been introduced into Sonicare's lineup simply to fill a price point. And as such, some owners we've heard from 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 owned before (they don't get the same "clean" as with more expensive Sonicares).

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.

#5 - The ProtectiveClean:
Model 6100: HX6877, HX6876/21, HX6871/49, HX6871/41 (MSRP $130)
Model 5100: HX6857/11, HX6850/60 (MSRP $90)
Model 4100: HX6817/01, HX6810/50 (MSRP $70)

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

The ProtectiveClean is Sonicare's newest toothbrush line. And as a group, the unique characteristics that thread through these models are that they all have an excessive brushing pressure indicator, and some limited BrushSync capabilities (see below for an explanation).

That's all fine, although of limited interest to us. Instead, what we find so unique about these brushes is the giant difference in the set of features each of them comes with (see below). So if you're considering one, pay attention.

With those feature comparisons in mind we'll say, we consider the 6100 to be the lowest end of the comparatively higher-end Sonicare's (that's a good place to be). We think the 4100 is more akin to the economy models already discussed. And not surprisingly, feel that the 5100 lies somewhere in between.

Things to know about the ProtectiveClean line:
  • All models feature an excessive brushing pressure sensor. (The brush handle vibrates differently and makes a pulsing sound when your use of excessive brushing pressure is detected.)
  • The different models feature a wide range of different combinations of brushing modes:

    The 6100 features 3 brushing modes (Clean, White, Gum Care), and 3 intensity settings (High, Medium, 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 model gives the user additional options.

    The 5100 has the same 3 brushing modes, but the intensity of the brushing action cannot be changed.

    The 4100 only has one brushing mode (Clean) and no options for changing the brushing intensity.

    All models feature Sonicare's hallmark 31,000 brush-strokes-per-minute brushing action.

  • The 6100 features BrushSync brushing-mode switching capabilities. (When a BrushSync brush head is placed, the handle switches its mode to match.)
  • All models feature a brush replacement reminder (if a BrushSyn brush head is used).
  • Replacement brush heads: The full range of universally interchangeable snap-on heads.
  • Operating time after charging: - "Up to" 3 weeks.

    These brushes feature a lithium-ion battery, which has advantages.

  • This line has Sonicare's EasyStart, QuadPacer and Smartimer features.
  • The 6100 and 5100 come with a travel case.
  • More specifications about the ProtectiveClean.

    As we mentioned above, there's a lot of differences among the individual ProtectiveClean models. So if you're considering any of them, you really need to use the link above to learn about their comparative features.


We generally like the 6100. To us it seems a reasonable brush and on par with the HealthyWhite+ (the next brush mentioned below). With both occupying a position at the lower end of the higher-end Sonicare models. (That's the location where we think the best value Sonicares lie.)

What we don't like most about the 6100 (and this line overall) is simply that it doesn't yet have a long product track record to take into consideration (like the HealthyWhite+, Essence and For Kids lines do).

We think the 6100 has more features than you really need, many of which we assign no real value in having. But as we discuss next, when it comes to brush power, build quality and mechanism refinement, we're a little leery of sub $100 models (especially with newly-introduced Sonicare lines). And that means to insure that you get these things, we favor buying a little more toothbrush (in terms of features) than you really wanted to.

So, having just said that, and just like with the 2 Series above, you won't be surprised in our saying that we're hesitant to suggest the 4100 model. In comparison, the 5100 seems like it makes a reasonable budget selection. But its lack of a long track record puts us off. (We expound on all of these issues here.)

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 rechargeables 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 lineup. - The 2 Series, the ProtectiveClean 4100 and possibly the 5100 too.

Probably the biggest quandary in the Sonicare lineup is those models initially introduced just as "cheaper Sonicares."

The current brushes in the top half of the Sonicare lineup either started off as top-of-the-line models, or at least a vehicle that introduced some new brushing feature. Then from that point, a natural migration seems to occur where each respective model moves on down one notch as each newer brush is introduced.

The Sonicare 2, the now evidently discontinued 3 Series, and the ProtectiveCleans don't fit that same mold. These models were introduced as cheaper alternatives, evidently just to cover specific price points in the lineup.

  • In the case of the 2 Series (and the same with the now defunct 3 Series), it seems that its design (per the discussion above) tends to reflect that.
  • In comparison, with the ProtectiveClean 4100, 5100 and we're anticipating not so much with the 6100 (based on our impressions, its features and price), because of their newness the jury is still out.

The obvious way to sidestep this issue entirely is simply to look at the next brush on up the Sonicare line, which is 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. (We assign no special value to that.)

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 (evidently now discontinued) and 2 Series brushes in terms of power and refinement, and therefore occupies a transition point in the Sonicare lineup (possibly along with the ProtectiveClean 6100 too).

This may be evidence of this line's original purpose, the introduction of new features as opposed to just a cheaper model.

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.
  • The HealthyWhite+ comes with a travel case.
  • 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.


Purchasing the HealthyWhite+ clearly crosses the line 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.

We think that's important both in terms of value, and simply ending up with a brush you'll be happy with.

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 they justify their 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, the failure of their non-replaceable battery equates with toothbrush death), we've decided that for us the line delineating what makes a reasonable purchase decision or not, lies below these models.

What to read next?

If you have any questions about the features of any of the models mentioned on this page (which you should), our Models Reviews page will likely answer them.

[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 -
    • Sonicare models reviewed. - A comprehensive review of the features/prices of all of the current models of the Sonicare lineup. Differences and comparisons between each of the individual product lines are pointed out.
    • 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.

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