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Philips Sonicare Essence Review

This toothbrush didn't impress, though it is the least expensive of the group
Philips Sonicare Essence
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Price:   $25 List | $25 at Amazon
Pros:  Inexpensive, good battery life
Cons:  Not comfortable, large, annoying brush head attachment
Manufacturer:   Philips
By David Wise and Austin Palmer  ⋅  Oct 10, 2018
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55
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#13 of 13
  • Comfort - 40% 4
  • Cleaning - 30% 6
  • Ease of Use - 20% 7
  • Battery Life - 10% 7

Our Verdict

Finishing close to the back of the group, the Sonicare Essence is far from our favorite toothbrush. This model isn't very comfortable and didn't deliver a distinguishing performance in our cleaning test, though it does have a solid battery life and is quite easy to use. It is the least expensive toothbrush of the group, but it isn't that much more expensive for a much better toothbrush. Additionally, the replacement brush heads for this tend to be a bit pricier than other models, so you may not even end up saving that much — or any — money in the long run.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award   
Price $25 List
$24.99 at Amazon
$68 List
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$120 List
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Pros Inexpensive, good battery lifeGreat battery life, waterproof, inexpensive replacement brush headsVery easy to use, solid battery life, great cleaning powerLow list price, lots of colors available, comfortableComfortable, exceptional cleaning power
Cons Not comfortable, large, annoying brush head attachmentLess customization availableOnly a single cleaning modeLimited brushing modes, shorter battery life than other Sonicare modelsLittle less convenient to use, lackluster battery life
Bottom Line This toothbrush didn’t impress, though it is the least expensive of the groupThe best brush for most people with a great battery life and all the features you need without any fluffThe 4100 is an excellent all-around toothbrush that cleans well and is particularly easy to useThis budget toothbrush is another great option for those that want a more comfortable brushing experience on a budgetThis brush is a good bet if you want maximum adjustability when it comes to brushing modes
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Rating Categories Philips Sonicare... Brio SmartClean... Sonicare... Philips Sonicare... Sonicare...
Comfort (40%)
10
0
4
10
0
7
10
0
6
10
0
6
10
0
6
Cleaning (30%)
10
0
6
10
0
6
10
0
7
10
0
6
10
0
8
Ease Of Use (20%)
10
0
7
10
0
6
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
5
Battery Life (10%)
10
0
7
10
0
10
10
0
7
10
0
6
10
0
5
Specs Philips Sonicare... Brio SmartClean... Sonicare... Philips Sonicare... Sonicare...
Charger Info 110 - 120V a.c.
50/60Hz
0.5 - 0.7W
100 - 240VAC
50/60Hz
0.8 - 1.2W
100 - 240V a.c.
50/60Hz
0.4 - 1.4W
100 - 240V a.c.
50/60Hz
0.4 - 1.4W
100 - 240V a.c.
50/60Hz
0.4 - 1.4W
Estimated annual brush head cost $60 $24 $50 $40 $40
Waterproof/ Resistant Can use in shower Yes, up to 1 meter up to 30 min Can use in shower Can use in shower Can use in shower
# of different brush heads 3 3 8 11 11
Replacement cost of brush heads (standard head) 2 for $30
3 for $37
2 for $12 4 for $50 3 for $30 3 for $30
Measured Battery Life 29 days 64 days 27 days 26 days 22 days
# of brushing modes 1 Clean 3 modes: Normal, Soft, Massage 1 Clean 1 Clean 2 modes: Clean and White
3 Intensities (6 combinations)
Pressure sensor No No Yes No No
30 second reminder No Yes Yes Yes Yes
2 minute alert Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Travel case included No No No No Yes
Weight 7.3 oz. 3.7 oz. 4.3 oz. 4.9 oz. 4.9 oz.
Color(s) White with Blue or Pink Grip White White
Black
Black
Ultra Coral
Sky Blue
White on Guacamole
White on Ultra Coral
White on Steel Blue
Frost White
App No No No No No

Our Analysis and Test Results

This toothbrush finished right behind the Colgate E1 and the Oral-B Pro 5000. This brush is less comfortable to use than both of these and cleaned worse than the Pro 5000 in our tests. However, it does have the best battery life of this group and costs quite a bit less than either of those other brushes.

The brush heads for the Essence are substantially larger than the competition.
The brush heads for the Essence are substantially larger than the competition.

Performance Comparison


To test out these toothbrushes, we looked at dozens and dozens of different electric toothbrushes, then picked out the most promising to purchase and test head-to-head. We split our testing process into four weighted rating metrics, with the Essence's results described below.

Comfort


Our most important metric — Comfort — is responsible for 40% of the total score for each toothbrush. We based this score on how comfortable to use our panel of judges found the Essence to be, how loud it is, and if there is a sensor to alert you if you are brushing too hard. The Essence didn't do that well, meriting a 4 out of 10.

Most of our panel felt that this model had an acceptable level of comfort when it came to brushing, but the lack of a soft or gentle mode was a disappointment for those with sensitive gums.

This model was exceptionally noisy for a side-to-side style brush, both on the sound level meter and in the opinion of the testers. We recorded the Essence at 73 dBa, 2" away from the mouth when being used for brushing. This was substantially louder than the other side-to-side style brushes and on par with the rotation-oscillation style. Our panel also agreed that this brush seemed like one of the loudest, both for the person brushing and for other people in the same room.

This brush also lacks a built-in pressure sensor. Additionally, it is by far the largest toothbrush and the heaviest, making it quite a bit more cumbersome to hold compared to the other models.

Cleaning


Worth 30% of the total score for each electric toothbrush, our cleaning test came next in terms of significance. To compare cleaning performance, we had a panel of users refrain from brushing for about 16 hours, and then use a plaque disclosing tablet to reveal the accumulated plaque. Scores were determined by comparing the before and after brushing results and seeing where and how much plaque remained. The Essence did alright, earning a 6 out of 10 for its less than stellar showing.

Plenty of plaque built up to test out the Essence's abilities.
The Essence performed well  as you can see.

Most of our testers did a passable job at removing plaque from the easier to reach places, but most people definitely missed spots in the hard to reach areas.

This noticeably included teeth towards the back of the mouth, with most of our testers' molars still showing residual plaque after brushing with the Sonicare Essence.

Though being substantially larger and heavier  the Essence was surprisingly comfortable to hold.
Though being substantially larger and heavier, the Essence was surprisingly comfortable to hold.

Ease of Use


For our next metric, worth one-fifth of the total score, we graded and judged how convenient and easy to use each brush is. We focused on the user interface, ease of cleaning, and the presence of a timer, as well as additional brush head storage to determine scores. The Essence actually did very well, earning a 7 out of 10 for its great performance.

The Essence lacks cleaning modes, with only the single, standard clean available. While this model does have a two-minute timer, it forgoes the quadrant pacing function, leaving it up to the user to ensure evenness in brushing throughout the two minutes. The large size of this toothbrush does make it exceptionally stable off base, standing tall above its competitors even with an extreme shaking of the table.

The Essence is one of the most stable freestanding brushes that we reviewed.
The Essence is one of the most stable freestanding brushes that we reviewed.

The interface is limited to a simple on/off switch, as there are no other features to actually interface with. When attempting to clean this brush, we found there were a few places where toothpaste gunk would accumulate, including the seam where the 2 plastic body halves met, a small gap around the power button, and the threaded attachment point for the brush head.

Our evaluators felt that visually this brush was so-so, with no major, visually-glaring detractors. However, it is a little more effort to swap brush heads with their screw-on attachment system than the click-on system favored by most other models.


The Essence was the only brush with a screw-on brush attachment system.
The Essence was the only brush with a screw-on brush attachment system.

Battery Life


For our last test, we evaluated the battery life of each electric toothbrush. This constituted the residual 10% of the final score for each product, with the Essence again doing quite well, earning a 7 out of 10. We ran each brush for a full cleaning cycle each day to simulate normal use, awarding scores based on how many days each product lasted.


This toothbrush lasted for a whopping 29 days on a full charge, making it more than reasonable to travel with this brush and leave the charger behind for all but the longest trips.

Value


This product is one of the most bare-bones models and is priced accordingly with a low MSRP of $40. This would be an attractive option for those on the tightest of budgets and offers good value in that it will work acceptably well and you get exactly what you pay for: a low price for the lowest performing model that we tested.

Conclusion


While this is an acceptable toothbrush, we would recommend just spending a little more for some features that we deemed crucial throughout our testing process, such as a quadrant timer. Some much better brushes only cost a little bit more and might even save you some money in the long run with less expensive and more readily available replacement brush heads.


David Wise and Austin Palmer