Yesterday’s battery technology, but good physical design and excellent cleaning save the day
- Excellent cleaning
- Comfortable and easy-to-use
- Better than expected battery life
- Slow charging
- No pressure sensor
While manufacturers continue to battle over who can develop the smartest and most feature-packed premium electric toothbrushes, the truth is that most of us don’t spend upwards of £150 on an electric toothbrush, and that many of us have a budget of under £50. This is exactly where the Sonicare DailyClean 3100 and its close cousin, the DailyClean 3500, fit in.
Philips Sonicare DailyClean review: What you need to know
The two brushes are entry-level products in Philips’ Sonicare toothbrush range and improve on the older budget Sonicare CleanCare+. In many respects, they’re the equivalents of Oral-B’s excellent Oral-B Pro 2 2500, offering similar cleaning performance to more expensive models, but without all the bells and whistles.
Having said that, the DailyClean 3100 and 3500 both use a slightly earlier version of the Sonicare technology, with the brush operating at 31,000 brush head movements per minute rather than the 40,000 of Philips’ more expensive mid-range brushes. As for the missing bells and whistles, there’s no pressure sensor to check that you’re not brushing too hard, and the battery is an old-school Nickel metal hydride (NiMH) battery rather than the more efficient Lithium-Ion.
We tested the more expensive 3500, but the only difference between the two is that the 3500 comes with a travel case and a different brush head (I’ll come onto this in more detail below). We’ll leave it up to you whether this is worth the extra £10.
Philips Sonicare DailyClean review: Price and competition
The Sonicare CleanCare+ (£32) is still available, but we’d recommend avoiding it; battery life is poor and it’s not a great brush. Moving up the line, the Sonicare Easyclean comes with a Lithium Ion battery, but it often costs upwards of £50.
The reigning champ in this price range is the Oral-B Pro 2 2500 (£33), which improves on the old Pro 2500 with a Lithium Ion battery and a pressure sensor. It’s a fantastic toothbrush for the money, but the choice isn’t cut and dried. Some users get better results from sonic brushes, especially if they have a history of poor gum health, while others hate the way the Philips brush vibrates and prefer the feel of the rotating Oral-B designs.
The best alternatives and where to buy them:
Philips Sonicare DailyClean review: Design and Features
One advantage of a limited set of features is that you can keep things really simple. The DailyClean has just the one button to turn it on and off along with a battery indicator, and that’s it. Put some toothpaste on the head, turn it on, brush your teeth and then switch it off. Job done.
The handle looks bulky, but I found it was actually more comfortable to hold than some slimline toothbrushes I’ve tested recently, and the chunky profile might even be a plus with some people who struggle fine motor skills. On the 3100, you get a ProResults head while the 3500 comes with an OptimalWhite brush head, which has more densely-packed bristles to remove staining. Having some existing ProResults brush heads, I was able to test the 3500 with both.
Either way, the clean from the DailyClean is impressive. I’ve been using the Easyclean for months as my regular toothbrush, and the DailyClean doesn’t really feel any different. Gums are massaged nicely, with good cleaning between the teeth, and your gnashers are left feeling smooth and really clean, thanks to the high-speed vibrations of the head.
To help you track your cleaning, the head pulses every thirty seconds to remind you to move around from one quarter of your mouth to another – though if you actually clean that way you’ve got more discipline than me. When the two minutes ends, there’s a pulse and slight pause to let you know that you’ve done enough.
The DailyClean also has one excellent feature for those trying out Sonicare: an EasyStart feature that starts the brush up at a lower power then increases the power gradually over 14 days. While I like the Sonicare feel, others in my household have never been able to get on with it – ‘it makes my whole skull vibrate’ is the usual grumpy refrain. EasyStart takes away some of that initial shock, and gives new users a bit of time to acclimatize.
Philips Sonicare DailyClean review: Battery life
To be honest, I had the DailyClean’s use of a NiMH battery down as a potential dealbreaker, particularly remembering the old CleanCare+ with its battery that couldn’t hold up for two weeks. Yet the DailyClean Plus went through its stated three weeks worth of brushing, then went on, and on, and on a little more. In fact, it went on for a rather tedious 147 minutes, which should keep you brushing for well over a month.
The big drawback turns out to be charging time; you really need to run it down completely then charge it for a full 24 hours if you want to charge it all the way up. This would mean missing out on two brushes if you didn’t want to take it off the charger and risk the dreaded ‘memory effect’ which can affect the life of NiMH batteries long-term. This is a slight risk, but not a massive worry. NiMH batteries are now a lot more resistant to the memory effect than they used to be and you won’t need to keep charging it up that often.
Philips Sonicare DailyClean review: Verdict
As I’ve pointed out, the DailyClean brushes do come with compromises. You’re not getting the most powerful brush or any extras, and there’s a chance that the choice of battery will hit you a year or two down the line.
If you can live with those compromises, however, this is a fine electric toothbrush at a price that shouldn’t horrify anyone. It feels good, works well and – with EasyStart – is a great way to try Sonicare out for size.
If you’d prefer a Lithium Ion-powered brush, it’s worth considering spending the extra ten or fifteen pounds for the EasyClean HX6511.