The Gizmodo Beard-Off: Philips SensoTouch 3D Vs Braun Series 7

I've never been a fan of electric razors. They tend to take longer than using a razor blade, they leave my skin all dried and irritated and they never do as good a job. But when, within the space of two weeks, I got sent the latest Braun Series 7 and a Philips SensoTouch 3D electric razors, I decided to beard up and test them out in the ultimate face-follicle shaving challenge: The Gizmodo Beard-Off.

Over the past few weeks, I'd been avoiding the whole concept of shaving in an effort to build up enough facial growth to really challenge these razors. The challenge was to shave one half of my face with each shaver and see which did a better job. The right side of my face would get a trim from the Philips, while the Braun would take down the face forest on the left.

There are a couple of things worth mentioning about the razors before we get into their performance. Firstly, both used a different method of shaving. The Philips uses the three circular shavers to cut hair and recommends shaving in small circles for the optimum shave. The Braun, on the other hand, requires a vertical shaving motion. Also worth noting is the recommended preparation: The Philips suggests a freshly washed face in warm water before shaving, while the Braun recommends shaving before washing. To get around this, I gently wiped the right side of my face with warm water while leaving the left half dry.

The Philips SensoTouch 3D I started with the Philips shaver. Despite my two-week growth, I didn't actually find the Philips ripped the hairs from my face uncomfortably, but at the same time it seemed to take quite a few passes to get down to what could be considered a close shave. The three circular shavers had a tendency to miss hairs, and even though it's suggested you shave in a circular motion, actually doing that is harder than it seems when the overall shaver takes up a large chunk of your face.

The Philips struggled with my upper lip - a few stray hairs right beneath my nose were missed completely, and it wasn't as close a shave up there overall. The shaver itself was relatively quiet... until you pushed out the trimmer at the back, which sounded like a distant chainsaw up against your ear.

The Philips did have the advantage of capturing most of the hair underneath the foils. While that meant manually opening up the foils to clean them out (and making it look like some evil torture device in the process), it did have the benefit of minimising mess as your cut facial hair drops to the sink.

The Braun Series 7 If the Philips sounded like a distant chainsaw, then the Braun sounds like one right up close. It's one noisy shaver. But it's also got some grunt - chopping through the bulk of my two-week growth was like cutting soft cheese, though not as tasty and, unfortunately, a lot messier. Where the Philips catches a large amount of the hair beneath its foils, the Braun lets them drop to the sink below, to be cleaned up at a later date.

The other problem with the Braun ripping through the bulk of the beard quicker is that it literally rips the hair from your face. The Braun does have a sensitive mode though, which did reduce the agonising facial hair rips significantly, although the intensive mode made it worse.

The Braun was much more adept at taking down the moustache, but really, really struggled with my jawline, leaving rough, half-cut hairs all over the place, even with the shaver head locked down. On the upside, the trimmer on the Braun, which pops out from the main body, is far superior to the Philips model, trimming sideburns quickly and effectively.

Overall: After shaving both sides of my face, I could still see stray hairs on both sides, despite repeatedly trying to shave them off. But missed follicles aside, the winner was definitely the Philips. Overall it provided a smoother shaving experience, from the act of shaving to the end result.

But for an asking price of $700 (there are cheaper versions, but I was testing the top of the line), I can't actually recommend it. After I finished with both shavers, I still needed to quickly run the razor over the missed patches to tidy up, and that's unforgivable for a product at that price. The Braun is cheaper at $549 (for the top-end model I used), but it's still impossible to recommend. Especially when you consider that both devices require regular cleaning solution purchases, take just as long to shave your face and cost infinitely more than a pack of razor blades.


Comments

    The much simpler solution is to just have a beard.

    once a month i give a #2 over my face and head, then it's all good from there.

    Thanks for the review. It may be too late (or you may not want to bother) but the most useful "real world" review (for those of us who shave daily) is actually the day after you have shaved, rather than on a few weeks growth (which gives more hair for the razor to cut).

    Any chance of a follow up review to see how each of them tackle a day's worth of growth? I am always tempted to give up the razor, but am equally sceptical about an electric razor's ability.

    What you need is a good straight razor shave. Just use a cheap Dovo to start off, the results (after you have learnt to shave properly) should give you an addiction that will make you never look back.

    I forked out for a braun a couple of years ago, after doing a test inside the shaver shop, I parted ways with the $500. Money not well spent, waste of time really I was forever having to clean up with a standard razor. If you've got a solid growth on your face forget it about it, teenage boys need only purchase.

    Not defending either brand but having used only an electric razor for the last few years I would say they work best if used more regulary then once every few weeks. I shave once a week and find my Philips to be fine anymore than that and it has to be a wet shave.

    My understanding was that your face needs to get used to electric shavers. If you are a razor person and switch to an electric then it will be a week or so before you start getting a smooth shave. Correct me if I'm wrong.

    In saying that, I'm an electric man and I still find it hard to get all the hairs. :D

      Both companies did say that, and I've stuck with using the Philips in the short term to check that out (I don't want to be shaving half my face each time). I'll update if anything changes over time...

        Lifehacker got sent the Philips at the same time as Giz, and I gave it a try for a couple of days on my regular facial hair (I'm a strict no-beard-no-mo guy), and found it utterly abysmal. Wasn't even remotely close to what I could have achieved with a cheap disposable razor. And if I was paying $700 for shaving equipment, I wouldn't expect to have to use it for a week or more before it works! So I'd heartily endorse Nick's conclusions here.

      I bought the philips arcitec a couple of years ago (basically the same as the one you have here) and yup they are an absolute joke!!! It literally takes half an hour to shave (no exaggeration!) as it just does not get all the hairs no matter how many times you run over them. The only reason I persist with it is because it doesnt cause a bad reaction on my skin.

      Does anyone know of an electric shaver that actually works? If a $700 shaver doesn't, then which one does?

    Testing an elctric shaver on 2 weeks growth isn't what they're designed to do. You should first use the trimmer to get the whiskers down to a short length and then switch to the shaviver mode.

    You will also find that it does take more than 1 week (more like 2-3) to adapt to using an electric shaver. This is why some of them give you a 30 day money back guarantee.

    Some electric shavers (including many of the Philips models) can actually be used not just after washing your face, but actually on a wet face or even in the shower. This can help reduce shaving rash for some people.

    Also, be aware you do need to replace the blades on electric shavers as well. Probably one every year or two depending on you facial hair.

    As a person who has a long history of shaving problems (rashes etc), I lashed out last week and purchased the Philip razor above.

    Impressions so far are good. It doesn't shave as close or well as a manual razor but there is less irritation. It does take a fraction longer going over the areas that the razor misses. It does a great job on the cheeks, and struggles a little in the neck area.

    Overall pretty happy so far.

    Yeah, you really haven't tested these things out properly...
    For 2-3+ days growth (for me anyway and I'd consider my growth to be average to above average), you really need to use the beard trimmer first, then go back over the shortened hair (stubble) with the shaver.

    I use a Braun Series 6 (second to top of the line 5 years ago, didn't want to pay an extra $100 just for an LCD display of the battery capacity).

    I shower, quickly dry my face apply a small amount of shaving oil (OSCAR brand I think it is), then shave... I have curly hair and my beard grows at all angles so it takes me at least 2 passes (with a blade or electric).
    Shaving time is no quicker than a blade, but it's a lot gentler than a blade and afterwards, I'm as smooth as a baby's bottom!

    I've been using the Philips senso 3D for a bout two weeks now, and I must say, it works better than any other shavers i've owned so far, not to mention how good it looks.

    However, I also have the Braun shaver shown above and i found it takes longer than the Philips model when shaving. One good thing about the Braun model is that it shaves better on the neck without giving me rashes. It may sound ridiculous but now use both of them when shaving..I figured, why go crazy trying to decide which one is better when i can use both on different parts of my face?

    Bottom line; no matter which one i use or how much money i have wasted, it's still better than that of using razor blades that give me nightmares..

      Not so ridiculous Andrew. I've been using a Philips and a Braun for about 20 years. And I use Aramis Lab Series Electric Pre-Shave Lotion to set up my facial hairs and avoid rashes. I use the Philips for the first quick shave to remove most of the growth, and then the Braun for the final close shave. I don't use the Braun first as I've found it pulls the hairs, as someone else mentioned.

    Well, it would have been nice if you could follow instructions:
    1. You are NOT supposed to wash your face when using the Braun. So, why didn't you just shave with the Braun BEFORE washing for the Philips?

    2. You are supposed to let your face adapt to the shaver. You should have shaved with each (separately) for a couple weeks.

    3. The motion of the shaver on your face is very important. While "small circles" may work with the Philips all over your face, "vertical" (whatever that means) cannot possibly work on all areas when using the Braun.

    4. You already admitted a bias against ALL electric shavers. So, your review is akin to a Pepsi truck driver telling us why there are no decent wines.

    AU prices are a ripoff especially the shaver shops prices on their website unless these haven't been updated ever.

    example $400 panasonic shaver the same model # or roughly the same in the same series can be found on amazon.com for less

    shaver shop: ESLA63 $399.95

    amazon: ES-LA63-S $129.99 + shipping
    these things are usually universal voltage so would just need a $2 travel adapter

    might as well order the mid - high end shavers overseas + grab a few replacement parts no store here can match the prices.

    I purchased a Philips Sensotouch 3d 2 weeks ago. For me, it's awesome. With a blade I need to shave every second day, and with the Philips it's the same. Feels clean, the time is reasonable and lasts about as long as a blade shave. Bought this to replace a Braun I got a few years ago. The Braun was ok but a bit rough, not as precise and I needed to shave every day with it. I also find your skin does need to get used to it, takes me about a week of use then it's smoooooth sailing.

    Thanks for this review.. I was about to ask for one of these for Fathers Day.. well, the cheaper version.. but hearing that I will probably still need to run a razor over my face, think it is quite pointless. I guess the best solution is a cheaper level with less maintenance for a quick tidy up, but for a best results, blade it.. cheers..

    This is one of the most worthless reviews I have ever read. Not only did you not give your face time to adjust, but by shaving a two week growth you used them in a way they are not designed for.

    This is not helpful at all. The bottom line really should be that everybody's face is different, so the only way to know which is best for your face is to take advantage of their money-back trial periods. Brauns shave my face very well but are terrible on my neck. Norelcos aren't quite as good on my face but are better on my neck and faster so I find them better overall. Again, for me.

    I find a good electric is just more convenient than a blade. It's about the same amount of time but so much easier on my face, not all that more expensive (a lesser Norelco 3d compared to Gillette Proglide Fusion blades and cream) and doesn't clog up my sink with shaving gunk. When you get into the auto-clean systems the value just isn't there, and in my opinion they aren't needed.

      ouch Phil. you mean sob

    I've heard your face does need to get use to electric also, my father electric shaves every morning and doesn't have an issue, where as me I hate them because they have never given me a good shave, although my father never seems to have long hairs out of place etc so I'm guessing you do need to get used to it.

    I use a Braun older model just for the trimmer, use it about once a week on my whole face and that is good enough for me, over shaving, plus a lot of girls dig the day stubble look ;p

    Hi
    Recently I purchased the Braun series 3, 370. It retails for approx 240 but u could get a huge discount. For any one considering this I can say it is hopeless. It's not worth the money and time. Takes too much time trying to shave. The friction is too much and can be too sensitive to skin. I returned mine after two weeks and got a store credit. Short story don't buy

    I'm coming to this discussion a bit late in the game but hopefully meaningful for any considering an electric shaver. As many have said already, the review is nigh to worthless. It's obvious that the reviewer not only had a bias BUT he knew next to nothing about shaving with an electric shaver. To repeat:
    1) shaving electrically needs to be done either on a daily basis OR at the very most, every 2nd to 3rd day. They are not designed to cut down a week's growth let alone two weeks. That was utterly ridiculous and rendered the review meaningless.
    2) you MUST (not an option) get your face and beard used to the shaver. And that takes a MINIMUM of three weeks.
    3) recognize that while the initial outlay is a bit steep, it draws even in the long run "if" you clean your shaver regularly and oil it from time to time.

    I have had my Braun Series 7 shaver for nearly four years now with only one shaver head change and it runs just as smoothly today as it did four years ago. I recently purchased a Sensotouch 3D knowing that the Braun was aging and in addition that the Sensotouch cleans up so nicely under the tap. There is no need to employ the JetClean system for the Norelco.

    Reviewer: if you are going to be fair to a product, READ the directions BEFORE making use of it.

    Well, electric shaver are not designed for a 2w beard, they are supposed to be used daily or every second day tops.

    Regular cleaning solution is just denatured alcohol which is methylated spirits, so just top up the solution.
    I got the braun series seven and I would recommend it you can get it as low a 200-300 aud

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