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Oral-B Genius X review: The future of toothbrushing

Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
340

The Genius X offers the latest in toothbrush technology, but there’s a hefty premium to pay to be an early adopter

Pros 
Good brushing insights
Great battery life
Handy travel case
Cons 
Very expensive
Needs to be paired with phone to offer analysis
AI is only new feature
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Oral-B’s Genius X might look like any other premium electric toothbrush. However, inside its casing, there is a range of sensors that you’d more likely find in a smartwatch than a toothbrush – sensors that enable it to analyse your brushing patterns and tell you how to do a better job.

Oral-B claims the Genius X uses AI (artificial intelligence) to deliver “an optimal oral care experience”. Having spent several weeks using the device, it’s clear that it offers impressive insights into your brushing technique, but I’m still not entirely convinced it’s worth paying extra for.

Oral-B Genius X review: What you need to know

Electric toothbrushes that give you feedback via Bluetooth are nothing new. The Genius X’s predecessor, the Genius 9000, can tell you how long you have spent brushing and for how many seconds you applied too much pressure, for instance. It can also identify which areas of your mouth you’ve brushed using your smartphone’s selfie camera.

But the Genius X goes one step further, using built-in sensors to give detailed feedback on which areas of your mouth you’ve neglected. Calling it AI is a bit of a stretch – the toothbrush doesn't learn more the more you use it – but it does use data about thousands of different users’ brushing styles to analyse and score your own technique.

Aside from this headline feature, the Genius X isn’t drastically different from Oral-B’s previous flagship toothbrushes. That is to say, it still has multiple brushing modes, gum pressure detection and comes with a travel charging case just like its predecessor. It’s also powered by a lithium battery, delivering up to two weeks of use between charges.

Oral-B Genius X review: Price and competition

At the time of writing this review, the Midnight Black Genius X has already been slashed by a whopping 50% to just £170 on Amazon. For comparison, Oral-B’s next-best toothbrush, the Genius 9000 is £110 and has been available for as little as £90 in recent months.

As for rival brands, Philips’ flagship model, the DiamondClean Smart, has a suggested retail price of £360 but can be bought for closer to £230. Like the Genius X, it uses built-in sensors to offer real-time feedback on which areas you’ve brushed and comes with a luxury travel case.

Oral-B Genius X review: Design and features

Put them next to one another and it’s impossible to distinguish the Genius X from the older Genius 9000. In Midnight Black, they’re essentially the same glossy black toothbrush handle from the outside with identical LEDs to indicate the brushing mode and battery status.

Both have two physical buttons: one for powering the handle on and one for switching modes and pairing the toothbrush with your smartphone. Last but not least, they share the same 360-degree smart ring that illuminates when the toothbrush is powered on and glows red when you apply too much pressure.

As for the accessories, these are more or less the same, too. In addition to the standard charger, you get a luxury travel case that carries the handle with up to two heads and that also doubles up as a charger. Though there’s a USB slot on the case, don’t be fooled into thinking you can use it to charge the toothbrush, as I was. The clue is that it’s a USB-A connection, which means you can use it to top up the battery in your phone or another device as your brush charges.

Where the Oral-B Genius 9000 comes with four brush heads, it’s also worth pointing out that the Genius X comes with just one and there’s no phone holder or brush head holder. Otherwise, the main differences between the two models are purely internal. To be more specific, the newer model has gyroscopes and accelerometers to detect which areas of your mouth you’re brushing rather than relying on the video analysis of the Genius 9000.

I’ll come on to how that affects the user experience in more detail below, but aside from this, there is really no discernible difference between the design and features of the two toothbrushes. They both have six brushing modes – Daily Clean, Pro-Clean, Sensitive, Massage, Whitening and Tongue Cleaner – and they both alert you when you apply too much pressure, simultaneously reducing the brushing speed.

Oral-B Genius X review: Oral-B app and performance

So how much better is the Genius X at analysing your technique than the Genius 9000? In short, quite a bit. For a start, the process is more seamless as you don’t have to mess around with mounting your phone in a dedicated holder so it can use its front camera to assess your brushing style.

Instead, you simply open the Oral-B app, press the bottom button on your toothbrush handle and a banner appears to let you know when it’s connected and you can start brushing. Like the older model, the Genius X then gives live feedback on your brushing, showing which areas you’re targeting. It splits the mouth broadly into six areas and each section turns from blue to white when you’ve spent long enough brushing it.

Crucially, I found the on-screen visualisation much more likely to correspond with my actions when using the Genius X compared to the Genius 9000. This meant I could more or less guarantee a high brushing score providing I simply waited for each section to turn white.

Indeed, it’s only after you’ve finished brushing that the app gives both coverage and overall brushing scores along with a summary of how long you spent applying too much pressure.
As with the Genius 9000, it then takes you through a daily care routine, letting you log whether your gums are bleeding and whether you have brushed your tongue.

Though you don’t have to keep your head still as you do with the video analysis on the old model, I still found it was a good idea to keep my head in as upright a position as possible in order for Genius X to know which areas I was brushing. With that in mind, it helps to have the phone near eye level, or you’ll soon find yourself tilting forward to watch the on-screen feedback.

But even when doing this, the Genius X’s analysis isn't perfect. Though the app identifies which area of your mouth you’re brushing, the sensors only enable it to know this in broad terms. As such, I was able to trick the app into giving me an almost-perfect score by simply brushing each section for long enough, even if I’d neglected to brush particular areas from every angle.

The other main problem is that despite having sensors on-board, the Genius X’s brains are still in your smartphone. That is to say, the toothbrush still needs to be paired with your phone each time you want to assess your brushing style.

If you just store sessions on the brush, as it lets you do, they’re only ever logged in the app in terms of duration (without a brushing score) when you next sync it to your phone. Should you find yourself in a rush and neglect to pair the brush with your phone on a regular basis, then, the Genius X quickly becomes no smarter than many of Oral-B’s cheaper toothbrushes.

And as with all the technology that’s exciting at first, one of my main worries with the Genius X is how quickly the novelty wears off. Even in the few weeks when I was testing it, I found myself only using the brushing assessment occasionally rather than each time I brushed my teeth. Fast forward several months and I imagine the regularity of those sessions would only diminish further in proportion with my interest.

The good news is that even if you don’t use the AI technology, the Genius X is a superb toothbrush. The six different modes deliver all the tools you need to make your teeth look their very best and, as with practically all Oral-B toothbrushes, the brush vibrates every 30 seconds and after two minutes to help guide you through your daily brushing routine.

Though the mobile app lets you set up “Dental Care Journeys” that promote different brushing modes by disabling others, I think it’d be useful if it also offered more simplistic advice about the benefits of using different modes. On the whole, I found myself using Daily Clean or Pro Clean, but it wouldn’t have gone amiss to have some guidance on how long to brush your tongue for or when to use the Massage function.

Oral-B Genius X review: Verdict

To sum up, then, although The Genius X is undoubtedly an improvement on its predecessor, it’s actually an iterative update. Aside from the more refined, reliable brushing analysis, it’s exactly the same product.

If you’re happy to fork out £60 extra for the latest tech and know you’ll make use of it day after day, then, by all means, buy it, and you won’t be disappointed. However, if you’re keen to get the most bang for your buck, the Genius 9000 remains the better option. Take care not to miss any areas of your mouth when brushing and it’ll do every bit as good as job as the newer model.

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