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Philips Sonicare ProtectiveClean 4100 Review

The 4100 is an excellent all-around toothbrush that cleans well and is particularly easy to use
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:   $70 List | $40 at Amazon
Pros:  Very easy to use, solid battery life, great cleaning power
Cons:  Only a single cleaning mode
Manufacturer:   Philips
By David Wise and Austin Palmer  ⋅  Feb 11, 2019
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68
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 14
  • Comfort - 40% 6
  • Cleaning - 30% 7
  • Ease of Use - 20% 8
  • Battery Life - 10% 7

Our Verdict

The Sonicare ProtectiveClean 4100 by Philips is one of our favorite electric toothbrushes that we have tested so far. It matches the overall performance of the best toothbrushes we have seen, doing very well in our cleaning tests and being exceptionally easy to use. It's quite comfortable to brush with — even for those with more sensitive teeth and gums — and has a solid battery life that should get you through most short trips without needing the charger. On top of all that, it is very reasonably priced, making it a fantastic option for almost anyone and earning it an Editors' Choice award.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Editors' Choice Award  Editors' Choice Award   
Price $70 List
$39.95 at Amazon
$270 List
$239.95 at Amazon
$68 List
$68 at Amazon
$70 List
$43.00 at Amazon
$120 List
$79.96 at Amazon
Star Rating
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Pros Very easy to use, solid battery life, great cleaning powerGreat cleaning power, stylish, solidly comfortableExceptional battery life, comfortableLow list price, lots of colors available, comfortableComfortable, exceptional cleaning power
Cons Only a single cleaning modeExorbitantly expensiveNot the best at cleaningLimited brushing modes, shorter battery life than other Sonicare modelsLittle less convenient to use, lackluster battery life
Bottom Line The 4100 is an excellent all-around toothbrush that cleans well and is particularly easy to useThis top-notch toothbrush is packed with smart features but comes at a hefty priceIf you want a solid, all-around toothbrush with an outstanding battery life, then the Brio is the brush for youThis 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
100
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68
100
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66
100
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65
100
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64
100
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63
Rating Categories Sonicare... Sonicare... Brio SmartClean... Philips Sonicare... Sonicare...
Comfort (40%)
10
0
6
10
0
6
10
0
6
10
0
6
10
0
6
Cleaning (30%)
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
6
10
0
8
Ease Of Use (20%)
10
0
8
10
0
6
10
0
5
10
0
8
10
0
5
Battery Life (10%)
10
0
7
10
0
6
10
0
10
10
0
6
10
0
5
Specs Sonicare... Sonicare... Brio SmartClean... Philips Sonicare... Sonicare...
Charger Info 100 - 240V a.c.
50/60Hz
0.4 - 1.4W
100 - 240V
50/60Hz
0.5 - 1.3W
100 - 240VA
50-60Hz
0.9 - 1.3W
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 $50 $50 $24 $40 $40
Waterproof/ Resistant Can use in shower Can use in shower Yes, up to 1 meter up to 30 min Can use in shower Can use in shower
# of different brush heads 8 11 + tongue brush 3 11 11
Replacement cost of brush heads (standard head) 4 for $50 2 for $30
4 for $49
2 for $12 3 for $30 3 for $30
Measured Battery Life 28 days 24 days 70 Days 26 days 22 days
# of brushing modes 1 Clean 9500 & 9700 Series - 3 intensities and 5 Modes: Clean, White+, Gum Health, Deep Clean+, and tongue care
9300 - does not have tongue clean
5 modes: Clean, White, Polish, Massage, Sensitive 1 Clean 2 modes: Clean and White
3 Intensities (6 combinations)
Pressure sensor Yes Yes No No No
30 second reminder Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
2 minute alert Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Travel case included No Yes, Charging Case No No Yes
Weight 4.3 oz. 5 oz. 4.0 oz. 4.9 oz. 4.9 oz.
Color(s) White
Black
9300 & 9500 seriew: White, Black, Pink, Silver
9700: Lunar Blue
White Black
Ultra Coral
Sky Blue
White on Guacamole
White on Ultra Coral
White on Steel Blue
Frost White
App No Yes No No No

Our Analysis and Test Results

This toothbrush tied with the Brio SmartClean for the top score that we have seen when it comes to these products. These products are also both comparably priced. We found that the Brio is a bit more comfortable to brush with and has a far superior battery life, but the ProtectiveClean cleaned more of our testers' teeth better and is a bit easier to use than the Brio. Additionally, the 4100 also is compatible with Sonicare's wide range of different brush heads, allowing you to try out a few and pick which one matches your needs best, compared the relatively sparse selection offered by Brio.

The Editor's Choice award winner  Philips Sonicare ProtectiveClean 4100 .
The Editor's Choice award winner, Philips Sonicare ProtectiveClean 4100 .

Performance Comparison


To pick out which toothbrushes are good enough to win an award, we researched dozens of different brushes, then bought the best ones to test out in a series of side-by-side assessments. We had a diverse panel of judges rate how comfortable each brush is to brush with and compare their cleaning performances, as well as comparing the convenience of using each brush on a daily basis and the battery life of each one. We grouped all of these evaluations into four weighted testing metrics, with the results of the ProtectiveClean 4100 outlined below.

The ProtectiveClean 4100 is comfortable to brush with even for some with sensitive gums.
The ProtectiveClean 4100 is comfortable to brush with even for some with sensitive gums.

Comfort


Comfort is the most significant metric of our testing process, accounting for 40% of the final score for each electric toothbrush that we tested. We had our panel of judges — including some with sensitive gums — rate how it felt to brush with each toothbrush, as well as comparing the tone and volume of each brush while in use and if there is an overpressure sensor to determine scores. The ProtectiveClean 4100 did fairly well, receiving a 6 out of 10 overall.


Our testers had a bit of a mixed reaction. Half of them — including those with gums that are a bit more sensitive — really liked this toothbrush, finding it much more comfortable to brush with than some of more aggressive rotation-oscillation brushes. However, the remaining half of our judges rated it slightly below average, finding the frequency of the vibration to be quite vexing. It wasn't that the toothbrush was too aggressive for them, more that it was too "buzzy".

Sonicare has a bunch of brush heads you can choose from to suit your needs.
Sonicare has a bunch of brush heads you can choose from to suit your needs.

Our testers did agree across the board that this electric toothbrush is quieter than most and lacks the high-pitched rattling whine that many of the other products have. This toothbrush also has a pressure sensor that will slow the brush down if you are pressing too hard.

The ProtectiveClean 4100 scored above average for cleaning.
The ProtectiveClean 4100 scored above average for cleaning.

Cleaning


Our cleaning assessment accounts for 30% of the score for each toothbrush. For this test, we had each judge refrain from brushing their teeth for around 18 hours, then use a tablet that stains the accumulated plaque a rather furious shade of fuschia. Each judge then brushed with the ProtectiveClean 4100 — using different brush heads, of course — and we compared the before and after photos to award points. This electric toothbrush did quite well, earning a 7 out of 10 for its performance.

The 4100 did average or above at removing plaque for every single one of our judges and removed almost all of the plaque for most of them.

We think the ProtectiveClean 4100 did well at removing plaque.
We think the ProtectiveClean 4100 did well at removing plaque.

Even for the judges where the 4100 didn't remove all the plaque, it only left some small spots in the harder to reach areas of their mouths.

The ProtectiveClean 4100 is very easy to use  there is only one button to press.
The ProtectiveClean 4100 is very easy to use, there is only one button to press.

Ease of Use


Following our plaque removal cleaning test, our set of ease of use and convenience tests came next in terms of importance, accounting for 20% of the final score for each toothbrush. In this metric, we compared and ranked the ease of swapping between and the different cleaning modes available on each toothbrush, as well as how much effort it takes to clean toothpaste grime off the brush, if it had a timer with quadrant intervals, and if it offers a convenient way to store additional brush heads on the charging base. The Sonicare ProtectiveClean 4100 did exceptionally well, earning an 8 out of 10.


The ProtectiveClean 4100 only has a single cleaning mode, giving it an extremely simple and easy to use interface

The ProtectiveClean 4100 has rubber around the power button making it easier to clean around.
The ProtectiveClean 4100 has rubber around the power button making it easier to clean around.

We also like that the single button appears to be well sealed and isn't prone to accumulating any toothpaste residue. We tested this by slathering each brush in a mixture of watered down toothpaste, then timing how long it took to clean. This brush is water resistant enough to use in the shower, making it very easy to clean.

Unfortunately, there isn't a place to store an additional brush on the charger, making it a little more difficult to keep track of extra brush heads than some of the other models.

We liked that this model has a 2-minute timer and a quad timer.
We liked that this model has a 2-minute timer and a quad timer.

This electric toothbrush does have an integrated 2-minute timer and will notify you every 30 seconds that it is time to move to another quadrant of your mouth when brushing. It will also stop automatically when the two minutes has elapsed.

The ProtectiveClean 4100 will indicate when you should change your brush head.
The ProtectiveClean 4100 will indicate when you should change your brush head.

Battery Life


Our last metric — battery life — accounts for the remaining 10% of the score of each electric toothbrush. As some of the newer toothbrushes have a standby or phantom power draw even when they aren't in use, we ran each toothbrush every day for a full cleaning cycle in the morning and in the evening until they died. The Sonicare ProtectiveClean 4100 has a battery life that is quite impressive, earning it a 7 out of 10.


The 4100 lasted for close to a month — 28 days! — on a single charge, comparing very favorably to the rest of the group.


This brush also has a low battery indicator that alerted us on the 23rd day of our test, letting you know that you only have 10 brushes or so remaining before you need to charge it.

Value


The Sonicare ProtectiveClean 4100 is an excellent value, coupling top-of-the-line performance with an exceptionally reasonable price. It isn't the cheapest option out there if you are shopping on a bare-bones budget, but only costs a little bit more than the most economical options while offering a big boost in performance.

Conclusion


The ProtectiveClean 4100 by Philips is one of the best electric toothbrushes that we have tested to date. It is super simple and easy to use, all while offering impressive cleaning performance for a side-to-side toothbrush that isn't too aggressive for those with sensitive gums. The 4100 has an impressive battery life, though a few of our judges wished it was a tiny bit more comfortable to use. All in all, it's a fantastic toothbrush that we would highly recommend. Even better, it is very reasonably priced for a top-notch toothbrush.


David Wise and Austin Palmer