In the world of electric shavers, there’s three big names:
Braun, Philips Norelco, and Panasonic.
And while I do respect Panasonic, to me the Big Battle is a fierce competition between Braun and Norelco. A rivalry that’s given the world quite a few outstanding products for us gentlemen’s grooming habits.
A common misconception I see is people thinking that Braun is better than Norelco, or vice versa. I propose an argument here: it’s not about a difference in quality.
It’s about the difference in technique.
Overview: Braun vs Philips Norelco Shavers
|Philips Norelco Electric Shaver 5100 ||Check Price on Amazon.com|
|Braun Electric Razor for Men ||Check Price on Amazon.com|
These are the two shavers I’ve been testing over the recent months for my Braun vs Philips Norelco shavers comparison. Mosf ot the basics apply for later models from both brands, though.
In other words, they will be applicable to popular shavers like the Braun Series 7 too. 🙂
Let’s peek underneath the hood…
Note: If the product above is not available, check out Philips Norelco Electric Shaver 5100 on Amazon.com here.
There goes your main difference in Braun vs Philips Norelco Shavers. Braun exclusively produces foil shavers, while Norelco takes care of your hair with its distinguished three-blade rotary heads.
Now, I’ve written an in-depth guide on foil vs rotary shavers…But you might want just the summary. And here it is:
With foils, you move back and forth, in straight lines. You don’t do any circular motions, as it’ll cause skin irritation.
With rotaries, you do the opposite: going in circles, following the spinning rounded blades as they graze through your hair.
Foils tend to shave closer, but my personal experience found that rotaries are gentler on the skin. At least for me – keep in mind that our skin is a fickle buddy. What works for one gentleman might not work that well for another one.
The thing is, both Braun and Norelco have extensive product lineups. Sometimes the difference between their own series (say, Braun Series 3 vs Braun Series 9 from Amazon.com) is more prominent than how they differ from their competitor.
Go figure, huh?!
Alright, the basics out, let’s dig deeper into some fundamental parts of what you’d like to see in an electric shaver.
The Braun vs Philips Norelco Cheatsheet
Generally, Braun shavers are more powerful. Even the supposedly ‘older’ Series 5 I have spins at 30 000 cutting actions per minute. With the newest Series 9, this gets bumped to 40 000.
That’s nothing new: foil shavers usually put out a better performance than rotaries like Norelco. Especially if you count Braun Series 9’s AutoSensing motor that’s the top performer in the industry.
This helps for extra thick hair or those of you with really curly facial hair. The downside in Braun vs Philips Norelco Shavers? Well, a more powerful shaver will also be way noisier.
This power is pretty important. It actually ends up easier on your skin as you don’t have to keep going over the same spot multiple times to get a closer shave. The fewer passes you end up doing, the less irritation your face will have to endure. And since there a lot of guys out there that still won’t go near an electric razor for fear of how harsh they are on the skin, the power then becomes essential.
Which is why, in general, Braun shavers are louder than your average Norelco one.
This is a very, very tough factor to cover. The reason is, even among their product line up, both brands change the blades quite a bit. I can’t put a SH90/62 newer blade technology on my Norelco Series 5000 with its SH50/52 blades.
So, what I propose we use as a benchmark here are the directions which the blades utilize when shaving.
Put simply, the more directions, the better shave. Having more directions means the blades can approach the hairs from different angles, providing more accuracy and reducing unfinished work that might lead to ingrown hairs, bumps and other unpleasantries.
This also leads to less irritation as I mentioned earlier that the less times you need to go over the same spot, the less likely you will end up with razor burn.
I’ll be honest with you about Braun vs Philips Norelco Shavers: anything above 5 directions is pretty good already.
But there’s something called ultra closeness, and some gentlemen do want their dose of luxury, flawless shaving.
Braun wins over Norelco with its Series 9 foil shaver here. The brand’s latest, it features a stunning feat of 10 directions which is a total record in the world of electric shavers. It’s simply unmatched.
With the movements of the blades, you can keep close contact with the skin at all times. Even when talking about all the contours of the face like over the chin and a hard jawline. These are the areas that most electric razors struggle against that the Series 9 takes in stride.
Series 7 and 5 are on par with Norelco’s 8900 from Amazon.com or 9700 Series – exactly 8 directions, which is a very smooth, high quality shave anyways.
The Norelco rotary I use, being a bit older, spins ‘only’ in 5 directions. Sure, I do get a bit of a better job with my Braun, but even 5 directions is plenty.
If you have thick hair, once again you’d want as many directions as possible. But if your facial hair is straight and thinner, even 5 directions will serve you well.
Wet/Dry shaving performance
I’ll be honest on Braun vs Philips Norelco Shavers: the older Norelcos are pretty bad with wet shaving. But if you pick a newer model, they’re on par with Braun’s lineup.
Still, I think foil shavers fare a bit better if you’re using a thicker shaving gel/foam, especially if you use a lot of it. Keep this in mind depending on your shaving habits.
A nice in between is to use preshave oils and creams specifically for electric razor shaving. All you need is a very thin layer to smooth out the experience. If you don’t like doing dry shaves but at the same time are not keen to deal with globs of shaving cream or sticky gel, then you should think about using one.
Then again, I’m more of a dry shave person. Remember to always sprinkle a bit of witch hazel (better than aftershave) to reduce irritation or razor bumps.
Taking some time for your post shave will not only soothe your skin but it will give you a closer and smoother shave by tightening the skin with an astringent.
Obviously, both brands tout their proprietary technology in every aspect. V-Track Precision for Norelco’s blade system; Sonic Technology for Braun’s.
But I already talked about blades, so let’s take at two other deciding factors: battery and maintenance.
Times have advanced to the point where you can’t imagine using a corded electric shaver. Oh, the inconvenience!
To cater to demanding people like you and me, both brands’ newer lineup has migrated to being cordless. Lithium-Ion batteries and quick charges make sure we’re not left alone (and possibly naked) in our shaving routine.
In terms of battery life, the difference is negligible. A standard for both Norelco and Braun is a 50 minute battery life on 60 minutes of charging. Interestingly enough, some of the Series 5000 Norelco hold 60 minutes!
In other words, either one will give you more than enough battery time for at least three or four shaves before you need to recharge. If you are taking 50 minutes to do a shave and feel like the battery doesn’t last long enough, then you are definitely doing something wrong!
Perhaps it’s the less powerful motor in motion?
What I like about my Norelco is that it has a Quick Charge function. Basically, if you forgot to charge it, you can plug it in for some 5 minutes or so and it’ll come out ready for a quick shave. My Braun doesn’t have such an option.
By maintenance, I’m talking about the cleaning systems newer shavers come with. Generally, a cleaning system has three responsibilities: to clean, to charge, and to lubricate the blades.
That’s right, Braun and Norelco decided to go all techie and combine cleaning plus charging in one so it’s more compact and easier for you and me to shave properly.
The Braun Series 9 and Norelco 9700 from Amazon.com introduced another feature: their cleaning stations also dry the blades after they’ve finished with the other tasks.
Who knows, in the future they’ll also provide us with a hands-free grooming session, huh?!
Anyways, both brands have top quality cleaning system. They really do.
The only big difference is this:
Braun cleaning stations use an alcohol-based solution to kill the germs and refresh the blades.
Norelco’s cleaning agent is alcohol-free.
My skin has no problems with either of these, so I’m all set. However, I’ve heard of very sensitive skin that might be in a no-no situation with any alcohol-based liquid. Now, Braun have made their incredibly soft and diluted and it shouldn’t be an issue – I’m just informing you of the main difference.
If the blades are dry then it is almost a non existent problem that your skin will react the the alcohol from the blade disinfectant.
What Braun Does Well
I covered some of the basics that you want to look for in each of the razors, but here are some bonus features that may tip the scales on which one is going to be better for you.
The Braun models from 5 and later have what is called Autosense technology. This makes it something of a smart razor since it can detect how thick your hair is so it can give a power boost. This will prevent your razor from slowing down or the blades getting clogged when it encounters a rough piece of terrain.
Most guys have patches of their beard where the hair gets notably thicker. Usually around the mustache and chin. Usually the cheeks are thinner and then it gets thick again under the chin where the beard ends.
It’s nice to not have to kill your battery by keeping it at the max the whole time and only using the extra power when you need it. Like I mentioned about the cheeks being thinner. It saves it’s power since it doesn’t need as much there. Then boosts the juice when it encounters resistance to keep it flowing.
What Norelco Does Well
Not to be outdone, Norelco have an advantage in an area where the Braun razors fall a bit short.
Works great wet
Not only is there something to how the rotary heads work better when wet, but Norelco have a special system to give them the edge.
It features something called Aquaseal. This is a special coating so water doesn’t go too deep into the shaving head which would impact how the blades cut.
In fact, because of this, even shaving gel and foam doesn’t enter too deeply so it works great if you use it as a wet shaver when you aren’t in the shower.
Should You Use Shaving Cream?
The debate rages over whether you should shave wet or dry with an electric razor and whether or not to use shaving cream.
Of course, this all really boils down to personal preference but here are a few things to consider if you’re wondering which way to go.
First let’s dig a little deeper into what a shaving cream does and the different kinds you may want to use.
The most obvious thing the cream does is provide lubrication. The ingredients in the cream will help your razor glide across your skin and prevent any irritation. For this reason alone it is worth it for some to go with the cream as they find that either a foil or rotary razor gives them razor burn.
There is a bit more to it than just providing some glide.
If you use a canned aerosol shaving foam then yes, you’re really only getting that lubrication. If you want to really up your shave game then go with a cream or soap that can absorb into the follicles and soften them to make for a much cleaner cut. This gives you a much smoother shave. A cream like Cremo, for example is excellent for use with a cartridge razor, straight edge or even electric razor.
Using your hand and adding some water, the cream will activate and will get the skin hydrated and the shaft of the hair ready to be cut.
Now, doing a traditional shave and using a brush with a shaving soap, would put you on another level altogether.
This will add time to your shave, but it will be worth it since you are less likely to end up with razor burn and razor bumps can also be avoided.
One of the downsides about using an electric razor is that you are more likely to get razor bumps since the hairs get cut very unevenly. In fact they are sort of torn apart. If you could see under a microscope a hair that was cut by a razor and one cut by an electric shaver would be dramatic.
When the hair is soft from the cream and water combo, then the hair is cut far more evenly so it won’t grow back curled under the layer of skin.
Using a shaving brush and soap like back in the day may seem strange when using a modern electric razor, but some guys don’t want to use a cartridge and others don’t want to learn how to use a straight edge.
From here on:
As I mentioned, objectively there is not a winner, or a loser in this curious electric shaver case. It all boils down to your personal preferences and characteristics like skin sensitivity, thickness of your facial hair and similar factors.
What I especially want to say is that it’s not always that you need the most expensive model. A medium-budget pick can work well enough.
I hate to sound wishy washy about it, but it basically boils down whether you prefer a rotary or a foil shaver. Braun are the best for foils and Norelco makes the best rotary. Either brand does a great job and last a long time.
The reason I got both a Norelco and a Braun is because I’m interested in everything clippers, trimmers and shavers related. I use my Norelco for shaving my head, and my Braun for taking care of my neckline and sides when I’m in the mood for a clean shave.
But I could easily use any of them for both my scalp or facial hair. I’m just a little bit crazy re: grooming tools.
In other words, both brands’ lineups are something you wouldn’t regret as a purchase. Just think about your preferred technique and make the choice.
Hope my in-depth comparison helped, if a little bit!
I’m an outdoor enthusiast and have sported a full beard since I was in my early 20’s. Originally, growing a beard was a way to save time when getting ready each day, but I quickly realized that keeping a neatly trimmed beard takes work and some forethought. That’s where this site comes in.
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I can’t thank you enough for this spot on comparison for these styles and brands. I am in the market for a new shaver, and I really wanted to make an informed purchase. Based on your info and my facial hair, I think I am going to make the switch to a Braun and try the foil blade style. Here goes nothing!
We’re so pleased that we could help you out! Don’t forget to check back and let us know what you think of the Braun!
I found the philips does a much nicer shave than my Braun’s did. Love the three heads. When moving it circular I found it did a much cleaner shave of my face. May just have a fat face.
I made the switch from Philips Norelco to Braun and I think Braun does a closer shave however the battery lasts longer on the Norelco. Love them both but I must say the Braun get me a closer shave..
Wow! Spot on and exactly what i was looking for. Thanks for your thoughtful review!
I have bought the Braun Series 9 9390 and Philips S9 Prestige to compare. I have used them for a month. The winner is the Philips. More gentle and more smooth skin. The Philips needed 3-4 movements while the Braun needed 7-8 movements for same effect and Braun was more rude for skin.
I have a Norelco shaver but tried a Braun over Christmas because it’s what was available. The Braun was louder but shaved far more quickly and seemed to shave every bit as closely as the Norelco. Which made me think it’s time to go shopping for a Braun shaver. Re: Remington? I don’t have a clue. Never used one.
Hi. I have one question. Is this kind of shaver an option if what I want is not a very close, razor-like shave but more like a 2-day look?
No, you won’t be able to use a razor for that. What you can use is either a beard trimmer or a hybrid like the OneBlade Pro by Norelco.
Interesting comparison but I will stick to foil shavers. I recently purchased a Braun 7893s and have gotten a very close shave from the first one without any skin irritation. I shave dry before washing my face or showering and never use any preshave nor shaved wet.
I tried a lower end Phillips shaver that I bought for my son when he started shaving a few years ago and couldn’t get as close a shave as I got with my Panasonic ES8103. The slower speed of the Phillips took longer to shave than with any previous foil shaver. I’m sure the newer and higher priced rotary models shave closer and faster than the one I used.
I have no use for cleaning stations. They take up counter space, use energy and are just a source of revenue for the shaver manufacturers. I used to rinse the Panasonic weekly under running water with a little liquid hand soap. But just brushing out the cuttings with the enclosed brush worked equally as well. With the Braun I just remove the cutter and screen cassette and tap it on the sink counter to remove the very fine cuttings onto a price of tissue and brush out the top of the shaver. It only takes a few seconds.
I’m surprised you didn’t mention noise level. I just tested the Braun 9200 series, and it sounds like a bloody child’s toy. Its so loud I would eventually throw it out the window. The Philips, by comparison, has a nice, almost pleasant whiz-sound to it, like something from the future. I certainly like the look of the Braun, they have a real manly feel to it also.. but how can you discount 3 blades working in your favor? Hence the constant praise of a “quick shave, use Philips”. I think Braun is good for straight hairs, while Philips is good for a variety of styles.
Very informative and useful. I had the best experience with the Braun foil shavers forever. I always use them for dry and quick shaves. They’ve been great for travel too. Cleaning and maintaining them is also easy and practical. I’ve also found them to be very practical for a bearded man who shaves some parts of his face.
What I most like about series 3 is great in shaving the short hair while leaving the long-bearded part untouched. I have been wondering if I should venture into series 5 or higher because of this need.
Do you have any advice for someone like me with half beard half-shaven?
there’s just one point where the Braun foil shavers win against the Philips rotary shavers and it’s that you can actually shave your armpits with the Braun foil shaver and get not cuts or irritation at all, try to do the same with the Philips rotary shavers and you’ll end up with sore and bleeding armpits.
The Braun shavers are very smoothed for this type of job, I mean you can use them for your armpit hair or even your balls and still get them clean of hair without castrating yourself.
I am in the market for a razor that can do both head and face. It sounds like you think the nerelco is the better of the two for the head? Just want to clarify before I take the plunge. They are both a bit of an investment but using my disposable razor heads is getting to be way too expensive and I figure I’ll make my money back in just a few short months of using electric over the disposable though.
I have been using razors, Norelco and Remington for over 40 years.. My wife just got me a Braun series 7.
What a fool I’ve been for so long. Braun blows norelco and Remington out of the water .. Such a smooth shave and no skin irritation.. it is outstanding!
Yes,others are a bit quieter,but so more inferior..jeez..I can’t believe the difference..it’s definitely worth the extra $$$.
Is there a dry electric razor? My husband has dementia and is 94 years old. It is too hard for him to shave with regular razor as he has to sit down and the sink and it is hard to reach. Takes him forever. Looking for a good electric razor does not need to be wet/dry however need to not be too heavy. Don’t want to spend a fortune at his age. I bought him and inexpensive Norelco last year and threw away after 6 month. Any suggestions would be great. Thanks
I have both. Rotary for more than a day’s growth, foil for neck, jaw, and upper lip. Fassst shave whenever I want. The rotary is way faster than the foil, but finishing with the foil is the magic secret.
I was using Philips Beard series 12 (top model of that time) and was at the end of lifecycle. I have two sons. One decided to buy Philips top series 9 and the other Braun top series 9. I tried them both an decided to buy Braun as my new shaver.
I don’t shave my beard. I shave my head to bold. I have all my hair allthough, so the shaver has quite some work to do.
This is my experience:
BRAUN: Shaving quality is definetely higher … but I guess that is the only plus for it. It is expensiver. Shaving heads last shorter time. After half of year head is worn out and needs to be replaced (cost 40-50 EUR). It shakes more while operating – hammerhead feeling. It is made for cutting beard, when you cut head you have to turn it arround and haircuts fall out. In one and a half year it was 4 times in service (I used sons in the midtime). They returned me the money. Allthoug I am not completely disappointed upon it.
PHILIPS: It cuts that 0,1-0,2 milimeter less than Braun. Haircuts stay inside. Lasts longer. Smaller vibrations. Costs less.
NowI bought REMINGTON RX5 head shaver with 5 rotating heads. Used it only a couple of times. Shaving is quicker because of 5 heads. Haircuts stay inside. Cutting quality poorer than the obove two, but the difference would 0,1 mm. Cheapest price.
If you appreciate end effect go for Braun. If you appreciate speed, go for Remington. If you would like to cath the middle of all, go for Philips.