Philips Sonicare Essence Review Summary
The Philips Sonicare Essence is a cheap and cheerful toothbrush that is a good introduction into electric toothbrushes. It has most of the necessary features however is lacking the finesse of more modern, expensive electric toothbrushes. The screw on brush head and nickel metal hydride battery is a little bit dated but the Philips Sonicare Essence still provides great value for money. Remember to watch out for the price of the replacement brush heads!
The Philips Sonicare Essence is only sold in the United States and Canada. If you are from the United Kingdom, I would recommend checking out the Philips Sonicare Easyclean.
Why is the Philips Sonicare Essence Electric toothbrush so popular?
At the time of writing this article, the Philips Sonicare Essence electric toothbrush ranks as the best selling oral care product on Amazon.com (United States). It has a 4.5 star rating out of 5 and costs $19.95. It is one of the cheapest electric toothbrushes on the market and has been on the market since 2014, which makes it one of the older electric toothbrushes. What is the secret to the Philips Sonicare Essence long lasting success? How does it compare against it’s nearest competitor the Oral-B Pro 1000? Find out more in my detailed review below.
1) Features – Philips Sonicare Essence Electric Toothbrush Review
Versions of the Philips Sonicare Essence Electric Toothbrush
The Philips Sonicare Essence Electric toothbrush only comes in two versions:
- Philips Sonicare Essence 5600 HX5610/30 – this is the old version of the electric toothbrush and would not recommend purchasing as the technology has now been superseded. It is also more expensive and comes with a soft cloth travel case.
- Philips Sonicare Essence 5600 HX5611/01 – this is the newer version, it is the cheaper version and does not come with a travel case. This is the electric toothbrush I will be reviewing today and simply refer to it as the Philips Sonicare Essence.
The Philips Sonicare Essence comes in two different colour, white with blue highlights and white with pink highlights.
What is in the box?
The Philips Sonicare Essence electric toothbrush comes in a simple, attractively packaged box. Within the box there is:
- A Philips Sonicare Essence Electric Toothbrush Handle
- Charging Station
- 1 x E-Series standard Brush Head
- Philips Sonicare Essence User Manual
Philips Sonicare Essence Handle
The Philips Sonicare Essence handle is simple in design and very functional. The immediate thing that jumps out at me is the chunky size of the handle. It is much larger than the slimline electric toothbrushes that I am used to. It also feels heavier which affects the handles maneuverability.
The Philips Sonicare Essence Handle is sealed and waterproof. This is great as it means that you will be able to use the electric toothbrush in the shower if you so wish. The handle is also dish washer safe, which means you can put it in a dishwasher to be cleaned instead of having to manually clean it.
On the front of the handle there is a large green button which is located just below the silver philips sonicare logo. This is the electric toothbrushes power button and it switches the handle on and off. There is also a green LED built into the centre of it which flashes if the battery is low or when the handle is on charge. The power button is ergonomic and easy to press and gives good positive feedback when pressed.
There are two blue stripes that run down the sides of the toothbrush handle. These are textured to give extra grip. This is particularly useful when the Philips Sonicare Essence Handle is wet and slippery.
Top part of the handle
A unique part of the Philips Sonicare Essence is that the top part of the handle is recessed inwards. At the top of the recess there is a thread which allows the E-series Brush head to screw on to the handle. The reason why the Philips Sonicare Essence needs this recess is because the E-series brush head has a magnet at the base of it which powers the sonic vibrations.
The downside to the recess, is that water tends to stagnate here and it quickly becomes mouldy. I would recommend cleaning it out at least once every 3 months when you replace the brush head.
2 minute timer – the smartimer
The Philips Sonicare Essence features a 2 minute timer on it.I think this is one of the essential features of any electric toothbrush. Without a 2 minute timer people on average brush for 45 seconds. This is far below the dentist recommended 2 minutes and means that plaque remains on the teeth after brushing. The Philips Sonicare Essence has a simple to use 2 minute timer. As soon as you switch on the brush, the 2 minute timer starts. After 2 minutes of brushing, the brush will automatically turn off.
Unfortunately, this brush does not feature the more sophisticated quadpacer 2 minute timer. This is an interval timer that indicates when you have been brushing for 30 seconds, 60 seconds, 90 seconds and finally 2 minutes. After each 30 second interval, you change quadrant of your mouth (see the picture below for an explanation of quadrant) meaning you spend an even amount of time on each quadrant.
If you want a quadpacer timer in a similar price bracket, check out the Oral-B Pro 1000. The cheapest Philips Sonicare to feature a quadpacer timer is the more expensive Philips Sonicare 3 series.
Easy Start Feature
The easy start mode featured on the Philips Sonicare Essence electric toothbrush is great for new electric toothbrush users. The easy start feature let’s you get used to the Sonicare brushing experience by gradually increasing the brushing power over the first week of use. This is providing you brush twice a day as recommended.
The first time the Philips Sonicare Essence electric toothbrush is being used, it will be working in reduced power mode so that you do not damage your teeth or gums in the process. On the fourteenth brushing session, it will have reached it’s optimum brushing power.
If you have used a Philips Sonicare electric toothbrush before, the easy start feature can be turned off. To do this what you will need to do is, attach a E-series brush head to the electric toothbrush handle. Then place the electric toothbrush handle in the plugged in charging station. Finally press and hold the power button for 5 seconds and you will hear 1 beep indicating the easy start feature has been deactivated. If you want to reactivate it, repeat the above process and you should hear 2 beeps confirming easy start has been reactivated.
Philips Sonicare Essence Missing Features
The Philips Sonicare Essence does come with a surprising amount of features given it’s low price tag. As a budget range electric toothbrush, it is missing the high end features such as Bluetooth connectivity to a smartphone, position detection and multiple cleaning modes.
The one stand out feature that is missing on this electric toothbrush is a visible pressure sensor. A visible pressure sensor is a light that activates when you press too firmly on the brush head. The correct amount of pressure to apply with an electric toothbrush is 150 grams which is the weight of an orange. Most people press more firmly than this which leads to toothbrush abrasion and gum recession. One of the cheapest electric toothbrushes that has a visible pressure sensor is the Oral-B Pro 1500.
2) Mechanism Of Action – Philips Sonicare Essence Electric Toothbrush Review
Sonic movement is where the bristles of the brush head sweep backwards and forwards rapidly breaking up plaque and food debris. The Philips Sonicare Essence brushes at 31,000 brush strokes a minute, imagine trying to replicate that with a manual brush! The sonic movement has been proven to be 21% better than manual brushing in several randomised controlled trials. However when compared with oscillating rotating electric toothbrushes (like Oral-B), the sonic motion actually performed worse. I covered this in detail in my article Oral-B vs Sonicare.
The Philips Sonicare Essence is quite loud especially compared with other sonic electric toothbrushes like the Philips Sonicare Diamondclean. I think this is due to the design of the E-series brush head and how it sits into the electric toothbrush handle. The magnet that moves backwards and forwards to power the sonic vibrations sits in a recess. This recess instead of dampening the noise actually amplifies it, making the brushing experience noisy.
Personal Clean Test
After using the Philips Sonicare Essence for 2 minutes my teeth felt clean and not “furry”. I was impressed by the Philips Sonicare Essence cleaning power especially for a budget range electric toothbrush. The standard E-Series brush head is a little clunky to use especially around the upper and lower molars. I would recommend going for the compact. The compact E-series brush head would be more maneuverable and easier to use.
The Philips Sonicare Essence comes with only one cleaning mode known as “clean”. The more expensive Philips Sonicare electric toothbrushes comes with multiple cleaning modes however I always find “clean” to be the most useful one. It brushes your teeth at 31,000 brush strokes per minute and automatically switches off after the dentist recommended 2 minutes of brushing. It keep things simple and easy.
Philips Sonicare E-Series Brush Head
As standard the Philips Sonicare Essence comes with 1 x standard E-series brush head. The brush head is well made and of good build quality. The bristles are contoured to fit more accurately around a tooth. It also has blue indicator bristles that gradually fade over a 3 month period, indicating when you need to replace the brush head. Using the brush head past 3 months will decrease the effectiveness of the electric toothbrush.
The neck of the E-series brush head is slim and angled making it easier to reach the back molars. The only real downside is the size of the brush head, it is too big which makes it a little clunky especially on wisdom teeth. I would personally opt for the Compact E-series brush head. This is because the smaller brush head size makes the brush more maneuverable. Also when Philips compared the cleaning power of compact brush heads to standard brush heads, they found that compact brushes cleaned better.
Philips Sonicare Essence Compatible Brush Heads
One of the downsides to this electric toothbrush is that out of the large range of Philips brush heads only 3 are compatible. This is because Philips are gradually fazing out the screw on brush heads in favor of the click on ones. The 3 compatible brush heads are:
- Standard E-Series Brush Head
- Compact E-Series Brush Head
- Sensitive E-Series Brush Head
As mentioned above my preferred brush head is the compact E-series brush head unless my teeth were particularly sensitive. In that case, I would opt for the sensitive E-Series Brush head. The difference between the E- series sensitive brush head vs E-series standard brush head is that it has ultra soft bristles. I would also recommend the sensitive brush head for people who tend to press too firmly when brushing. If you would like to find out how to brush properly with an electric toothbrush click here.
3) Battery life – Philips Sonicare Essence Electric Toothbrush Review
Philips Sonicare Essence Battery Life
The battery life is good for the Philips Sonicare Essence, if you brush twice a day for two minutes the battery will last for 2 weeks. This works out to be 56 minutes of continuous brushing. This is impressive for a budget range electric toothbrush and means that you may not need to charge it whilst on holiday.
The Philips Sonicare Essence comes with a Nickel metal hydride battery. These have both pros and cons. The advantages of this type of battery is that:
- They are cheaper to manufacture hence why the price of the electric toothbrush is quite cheap.
- Nickel metal hydride batteries are safer, lithium ion batteries actually can blow up if they are overcharged or short circuit.
The disadvantages of Nickel Metal hydride batteries are:
- They are slow to charge. The Philips Sonicare Essence takes 24 hours to charge, that is a long charge time.
- These type of batteries have high self discharge rates. They tend to lose a percentage of discharge each month. This means that the longevity of the battery is suspect.
- Nickel Metal Hydride batteries are heavier than lithium ion batteries, which can be felt in the weight of the Philips Sonicare Essence handle
Philips Sonicare Essence Charging Station
The charging stand is simple and functional. It is white in colour and holds the Philips Sonicare Essence handle vertical whilst charging. It plugs in to mains socket and works on 110-120v. The charging station charges the electric toothbrush handle wirelessly, which means there is no cable to plug in. The stand is splash resistant however I would avoid putting the charging station any where near water for safety purposes.
4) Portability – Philips Sonicare Essence Electric Toothbrush Review
Dimensions and weight with Brush Head
- Weight – 204g
- Height -24.5cm
- Width -3.4cm
- Thickness – 3.3cm
Dimensions and weight without Brush Head
- Weight – 181g
- Height – 14.5cm
- Width – 3.4cm
- Thickness – 3.3cm
No Travel case
The Philips Sonicare Essence does not come with a travel case, it used to on a previous model but it no longer does. It is also quite weighty and big f so if you travel a lot, this is definitely not the best electric toothbrush for you. If you travel a lot, I would recommend looking at the Philips Sonicare 3 series as it has a travel case and is lighter.
5) Value for Money – Philips Sonicare Essence Electric Toothbrush Review
Philips Sonicare Essence Price
The Philips Sonicare Essence currently costs $19.95. This represents great value for money and is one of the cheapest electric toothbrushes on the market. The price makes some of the shortcomings (lack of visible pressure sensor, screw on brush head and nickel metal hydride battery) forgivable.
Philips Sonicare Essence Warranty
The Philips Sonicare essence comes with a manufacturers 2 year limited warranty. This can be extended by 6 months by registering the product online via the Philips website. A two and a half year warranty for a cheap electric toothbrush is fantastic.
Philips Sonicare Essence running costs
The running costs are high for the Philips Sonicare Essence mainly because of the cost of the E-Series Brush heads. The current cost for the E-Series brush head is around $20 for two, which works out at a whopping $10 per brush head. Since each brush head needs replacing 3 months, this will cost around $3 a month in brush heads alone. Some people try lengthening out the use of the brush heads however I would not recommend this. Make sure to factor in the price of the replacement brush heads prior to purchasing the Philips Sonicare Essence.
Philips Sonicare Essence Reviews from other Websites
The Philips Sonicare Essence has received positive reviews from all over the web. On Amazon the star rating is currently sat at 4.5 stars out of 5. Most people have been blown away by the great value of the package and reliability. The negative comments have been related to the sometimes poor build quality and the mould that forms inside the recess (mentioned by me previously)
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)
What are the Philips Sonicare Essence main competitor’s?
The Oral-B Pro 1000, Oral-B Pro 1500 and Philips Sonicare 2 series are its main competitors. All have there own pros and cons, I would recommend checking them all out before purchasing any of them.
Can I leave the Philips Sonicare Essence on the charger between brushing?
Yes you can, it says so on the Philips website.
Would you recommend this electric toothbrush for children?
This electric toothbrush has not been produced specifically for children. If you are looking for a child electric toothbrush, I would recommend you checking out my article on best children’s electric toothbrushes.
Is the Philips Sonicare Essence waterproof?
Yes it is so you can use it in the shower if you so wish.
Does this electric toothbrush come with a travel case?
No it does not come with a travel case.
What are the power requirements for the Philips Sonicare Essence?
It is 110-120 V, 50-60 Hz 0.9 watts 120 V.
Does the Philips Sonicare Essence come with a two minute quadpacer timer?
It comes with a 2 minute timer but it is not a quadpacer. It will not indicate the 30 second intervals. If you want that then Oral-B Pro 1000 would be your best bet.
What is better Sonic motion or oscillating-rotating?
Philips Sonicare Essence Electric Toothbrush Review
The Philips Sonicare Essence is great entry level electric toothbrush for people who are moving from a manual toothbrush. It is amazing value for money however it does lack some features and some of the technology is now dated (the screw on brush head and nickel metal hydride battery). All things considered this is a solid performance from one of the cheapest electric toothbrushes on the market.