With the rise in cartridge shaving over the last few decades, electric razors and indeed all other shave styles have taken a backseat. That’s a shame because electric razors are fast, easy, and far less messy, and as such worth taking a second look at.
There are two kinds of electric razors on the market, and in the past, we have reviewed rotating head electric shavers, which are a great tool for men who prefer a quick shave. Today we turn our attention to the flat head foil shaver for comparison, in particular, the Braun Series 5 (5090cc).
Previously, we compared the Philips Senseo Touch to a Double Edge Razor, and while the safety DE razor won in terms of smoothness, it also took considerably longer to use. Lately, I have been extremely busy working long days, and so I have welcomed a 3-minute, I-can-still-wear-my-shirt electric shave. A few months ago, I was contacted by Braun and asked to review their new series 5 electric razor, and since our other review has been popular with our readers, we agreed to test it thoroughly for comparison.
The Braun Series 5 5090CC is the latest addition to the electric razor family of this German company. In fact, it is not even available in the US at this point, but it should be available in the US shortly.
Just like the Philips, it came with a cleaning station and the promise of a range of new features, including a more powerful engine, patented blades that lift the chin hair, etc. Compared to the DE Razor it also lost in terms of quality of the shave, but again, it is much faster (3 minutes from start to finish ) to use and so I will point out the key Braun vs. Philips differences.
Unlike the Philips model, which was made in Holland, this Made-in-Germany electric shaver does not have rotating blades, but rather vibrating blades that move from the left to the right. Basically, it offers the same features as its competitor, such as a built-in trimmer, power lock for travel purposes, a pouch, a LCD display, a cleaning station, and finally, it is fully washable. Unlike the Philips, it has the ability to lock the position of the brush head in place, which may come in handy for certain people.
Overall, it feels very solid and the rubber coating ensures a firm grip in your hands. The engine is louder and supposedly very powerful, but it also causes the entire razor to vibrate considerably during the shave.
Obviously, the design of the two razors is different, but based on looks I would not give an edge to either of them.
Due to the different cutting mechanisms, the Braun Series 5 is best operated in strokes, while the Philips works best when circling across your face. In terms of time, it takes about the same time as the Philips: 3 minutes from start to finish.
On the upper lip area, the performance of the Braun was inferior because the bulky razor head was simply unable to shave off all the hair, leaving a few long hairs right underneath the nostrils. While the Philips had the same issue, I could remove these hairs with the attached side burn trimmer. The Braun trimmer is positioned so there is no way you can actually reach these hairs.
On the chin area, the Braun is better because it produces smoother results, while both perform about the same on the cheek.
The neck area feels smoother with the Philips razor, so overall one could argue that we have a draw. However, the fact that the Braun Series 5 does not allow to fully remove hair underneath the nose is absolutely unacceptable. As you might agree, visible hairs in this area looks careless and so I would always
need to have another razor – either a Gillette, Double Edge or electric razor – in order to achieve a satisfactory result. So, when traveling, the Braun is basically useless because I would need to pack yet another item. All other facial areas look the same , they just feel different.
Just like with the Philips, the overall results were considerably better when wet shaving. I made sure my facial hair had had enough time to soften by either taking a shower beforehand or by washing my face with water. Afterwards, I used either shaving cream lather or conditioner to ensure the shaver head could glide on my skin.
When comparing the results of the Philips to the Braun, they were too similar to closely distinguish. Maybe the Philips was slightly better around the neck and the Braun better in the chin area, but I don’t think it made a practical difference. The only problem that persisted with the Braun was the hair underneath my nostrils.
Also, when shaving with the Braun, it would leave an unfortunate dark paste of small hair bits and conditioner / shaving cream on my face and so I had to take the extra step of washing it off mid-shave, otherwise I could not see what area still needed some work. On the other hand, the Philips transports most of the hair and lather inside the brush head, so you can still see your skin clearly.
So again, the Philips was the clear winner to me.
It takes about an hour to charge theBraun’s Lithium Ion battery to its fullest capacity of 45 mins of shave time, and it takes about 5 mins of charging to get one extensive shave out of the machine, which is good to know if you are in a hurry. Just like laptops, it can be charged anywhere in the world, which reduces the guesswork when packing.
Just like with the Philips, the cleaning system seems a bit superfluous to me if you rinse and clean your electric razor properly every time you use it. It really does not take long and you do not have to dry the razor off at all. If you are concerned about hygiene, buy a larger bottle of alcohol at the pharmacy and use it to clean the razor every once in a while.
In Europe, the current price is about €235 and I assume it would be about the same in US$ once it hits the market in the states. Every once in a while you will have to exchange the blades, which costs €30 for a pack of two. At this point, I cannot tell you how long they will last, but I am certain the thickness of your hair, as well as the number of shaves per week, will impact
the renewal cycle considerably.
The Braun Series 5 has a compact design, strong motor and mostly decent shaving capabilities for an electric shaver. However, the positioning of the trimmer deems it useless for the area underneath the nose and so I cannot recommend this product.
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