Which one would we choose?
The DiamondClean Smart is the brush that I would choose.
It is a tough decision to make as the differences between these are realistically quite subtle.
However, as a complete package, the DiamondClean Smart just takes the edge.
The Sonicare offering just feels a tiny bit more refined and the way the technology is implemented feels slightly more intelligent.
- Cleaning/brushing action
- The DiamondClean Smart uses sonic cleaning action compared to the oscillating-rotating cleaning action of the iO.
- Handle design & colours
- Similar, yet different handle designs.
- The Oral-B iO has an interactive colour OLED display in the brush handle.
- The DiamondClean Smart is available in lunar blue.
- The iO is available in black onyx.
- The Oral-B iO has an LED light ring that can be lit a number of different colours.
- Cleaning modes
- The DiamondClean Smart comes with 5 cleaning modes (Clean, White+, Deep Clean+, Gum Health, and Tongue Care).
- The iO has up to 7 cleaning modes (Daily Clean, Sensitive, Super Sensitive, Intense, Whiten, Gum Care, and Tongue Clean).
- The DiamondClean Smart offers 3 different intensities to the cleaning modes, low, medium, and high.
- The DiamondClean pacer on 6 x 20 seconds intervals compared to the 4 x 30 seconds of the iO.
- The DiamondClean Smart turns off automatically at the end of a cleaning cycle.
- The Sonicare DiamondClean Smart gradually increases the power of the brush over the first 14 sessions to help new users get used to the power.
- Brush heads
- The DiamondClean Smart comes with 4 brush heads (1 x C3 Premium Plaque Control, 1 x G3 Premium Gum Care, 1 x W3 Premium White and 1 x TongueCare+).
- The iO comes with 2 brush heads (2 x Ultimate Clean).
- The 2 brushes have different shaped brush heads.
- BrushSync technology
- The Smart will alert you when it is time to change a brush head via an LED on the brush handle. This is not available on the iO.
- The DiamondClean will also select the most appropriate cleaning mode based on the brush head attached.
- Pressure sensor
- The DiamondClean Smart has an LED ring on the base of the handle that illuminates purple when too much pressure is applied.
- The iO has an LED ring at the top of the brush handle that lights up red when too much pressure is applied.
- The DiamondClean vibrates the brush handle to alert you, the iO does not.
- The iO also lights up green, when just the right amount of pressure is applied, the DiamondClean does not.
- Battery life
- The Sonicare DiamondClean Smart has better battery life at 3 weeks compared to the 2 of the iO*.
- The iO gives more feedback from the battery than the DiamondClean Smart.
- Charging stands
- The DiamondClean Smart uses a more premium looking, but bulky charging glass.
- The iO has a smaller, magnetic charging stand.
- The iO takes 3 hours to charge compared to up to 24 hours of the DiamondClean.
- Bluetooth/smart technology
- The iO uses artificial intelligence (AI) technology to help track your brushing action to rate your overall clean.
- The Oral-B tracking is more accurate than the DiamondClean Smart.
- The Oral-B app is more comprehensive but potentially overwhelming.
- Travel case
- The DiamondClean Smart has a travel case that is finished with leather effect material and allows the brush to be charged in that case thanks to a USB cable hardwired into. It holds the handle and 2 brush heads.
- The iO travel case allows the brush to be charged in the case and holds the handle and 1 brush head. A separate power adapter is required.
- Box contents/extras
- The DiamondClean Smart 9700 comes with a brush head storage compartment that holds up to 4 heads compared to the 2 heads of the iO brush head refill.
- Oral-B iO’s retail price is higher at $749 compared to the DiamondClean Smart’s $469.
These differences are explained at length later in this article. However, you might wish to learn more about each brush being compared. To do so, check out our hands-on reviews:
There are multiple variants of the Oral-B iO. It is the range-topping iO Series 9 that I am comparing here primarily making reference to the Series 7 and Series 8 where appropriate.
There are several different variants of the DiamondClean Smart. There is the 9100 and 9700. In this comparison I am comparing the top of the line DiamondClean 9700 (HX9954/56).
Every effort is made to ensure the key differences listed are correct, but these differences are subject to change without notice. Products and the box contents can be changed without notice and different variants can exist.
Detailed comparison: what’s the difference between the Sonicare DiamondClean Smart and Oral-B iO?
Let me be clear from the outset. Both of these brushes achieve the same results: clean teeth.
Both brushes offer more than what anyone needs. You can get a perfectly satisfactory brush for a lot less money. We list some cheaper alternatives in our post on the best electric toothbrushes.
But, if you want to own one of the best then these are the brushes to consider.
Despite achieving the same end goal, there are quite a few differences between these 2.
The first and perhaps most significant way in which these brushes differ is their cleaning action.
The DiamondClean Smart (DCS) offers a sonic cleaning action compared to the oscillating-rotating action of the Oral-B iO.
The sonic technology uses 2 methods to clean the teeth. The first is a mechanical side-to-side cleaning motion of the brush and the second is a non-contact approach that uses the sonic technology that disrupts plaque beyond the tip of the bristles.
Oral-B’s cleaning is completed via an oscillating-rotating movement, and new for the iO is micro-vibrations, another form of movement.
Oral-B brushes have a small, round brush head that moves back and forth (side to side movements) in a circular motion to help remove plaque and dental debris. The movement of the bristles and the head itself essentially scrub the teeth clean. You don’t need to repeatedly move the bush up and down, back and forth.
Micro vibrations offer an extra dimension to the clean. Essentially a ‘non-contact’ form of brushing and relies on pulsations/vibrations like Sonicare brushes do.
Whilst the cleaning action found on the Oral-B iO is more highly regarded clinically, both do a fantastic job.
Whilst technically it is a fundamental difference between the 2, don’t get too worried about which approach is best.
So, then to the looks of these 2 electric toothbrushes.
There is of course a certain amount of similarity in the overall design, but there are a number of notable differences to consider.
Oral-B have made massive strides with the iO, improving the materials, aesthetics and overall design language to better compete with Sonicare.
More closely matched than ever, the DCS is, in my opinion at least, still the slightly more premium looking brush. It appears more refined and classy. This is most notable to the touch, it feels less plasticy!
Both handles are similarly shaped, although neither are perfect cylinders, they have that rounded design to the handles.
Both toothbrush handles feel solid in hand and I have little in the way of concern for the durability and reliability of these models.
The DiamondClean Smart’s measurements are as follows:
- Height (without head) – 19cm
- Height (with head) – 25.5cm
- Width – 2.7cm
- Thickness – 3cm
- Weight (without head) – 137g
- Weight (with head) – 142g
The iO measurements are:
- Height (without head) – 18.5cm
- Height (with head) – 23.7cm
- Width – 2.8cm
- Thickness – 3cm
- Weight (without head) – 131g
- Weight (with head) – 139g
As you can see from the size and weight, there are not significant differences here.
The images better depict the design differences than I can explain in text, so do take a close look at these.
Both have a separate power and mode button to power the brush on and change the cleaning modes.
The buttons on the iO are of the same concave design, but do have a rubber/silicone coating to them to make them a little more grippy compared to the DCS.
Although they are almost invisible until they are backlit, the DiamondClean has the cleaning mode labels on the front of the handle below the lower mode button.
With the iO, all of the modes and other information is displayed on the OLED screen that is positioned between the 2 buttons. It is quite a different setup.
That screen is something that set’s these 2 brushes apart. It does not significantly alter your brushing experience, but it does offer some potentially beneficial elements to it. The most notable being the emoji style faces you get after you brush. Happy, sad or starry eyed faces give you a form of feedback not given by other products.
Then again, these are led more by brushing time than anything. If you have brushed for 30 seconds, you probably know that is not good enough compared to the recommended 2 minutes.
A fairly major aesthetic difference is the light ring around the neck of the handle of the iO, compared to the DCS.
This translucent panel that runs a full 360 degrees around the handle. Via the smartphone app or the handle itself, this can be programmed in different colours.
This light ring also doubles up as a pressure sensor on the iO. When too much pressure is applied, the light will turn red to alert you.
However, a neat piece of technology is that the ring will also be lit green when the correct brushing pressure is applied.
You actually want to aim to have the ring be lit green when brushing.
The DCS does have a pressure sensor, but this is around the bottom edge of the handle. It lights up purple when the sensor is activated rather than red. On both brushes this alert goes away when the pressure is reduced.
However, with the DCS, the handle also vibrates to alert you. This is something that the iO does not do and is very useful as it is quite easy to miss the light ring on the handle.
The handle colours do vary between the 2 models.
Sonicare offers the DCS in lunar blue. Although you can get the lesser featured 9100 in white.
The iO on the other hand is available in onyx black. A;though the Series 8 is available in white alabaster and the Series 7 in both black and white.
Both Oral-B and Sonicare provide a black coloured brush head to match their black handles.
Moving on to the cleaning modes then.
The iO offers 7 cleaning modes as opposed to the 5 on the DiamondClean Smart.
The modes on each brush are as follows:
- Daily Clean
- Gum Care
- Super Sensitive (not available on Series 7)
- Tongue Clean (not available on Series 7 or 8)
- Deep Clean+
- Gum Health
- Tongue Care
A bit like the cleaning action of the 2 brushes, don’t concentrate too much on the different modes.
I have come across limited evidence to really suggest that these extra cleaning modes actually deliver better results, compared to a single standard clean mode.
The DCS offers the ability to change the intensity of the brushing that it offers. You can select between low, medium and high. You can change this intensity at any point in any mode.
Essentially the power of the brushing mode is altered to be more gentle or more intense depending on your preference.
The brush does automatically select the best intensity, but you can override it.
By changing the intensity, you essentially achieve the Sensitive and Super Sensitive options offered on the iO.
Taking into account the 3 intensity settings and the 5 cleaning modes this does then give you 15 different cleaning configurations compared to the 7 modes available with the iO.
The intensity selected is shown on the handle via 3 vertical light bars that are located between the power and cleaning mode button on the DCS.
Another small touch, for new toothbrush users, is that the DCS has a feature called ‘EasyStart’. What this does is gradually increase the power of the brush motor over the first 14 brushing sessions. It is designed to help ease new toothbrush users into the power of the cleaning the brush offers.
Both Oral-B and Sonicare have timers and pacers built into these brush handles. The idea is that these encourage you to brush the teeth evenly for the recommended amount of time.
However, a subtle difference is that Oral-B has configured the iO, like all of its other brushes to 30 second intervals whereas the DCS is configured to 20 seconds.
A point to note is that this pacer is disabled with the iO when used at the same time as the app.
In any typical 2 minute cleaning cycle you have 4 x 30 second periods or 6 x 20 seconds.
So, the areas you brush under 30 second pacing looks like:
- Upper right
- Upper left
- Lower right
- Lower left
When brushing at 20 second pacing:
- Upper right back teeth
- Upper front teeth
- Upper left back teeth
- Lower left back teeth
- Lower front teeth
- Lower right back teeth
At the end of the 20 or 30 second sections, the brush motors pause briefly changing the sound of the brush and the brushing sensation, this is your cue to move to the next section.
At the end of the cleaning cycle the same thing happens, but the DCS has an automatic power off feature, which makes it very clear the cleaning cycle is complete. The iO Series 9 continues to function, relying on you to turn the brush off. Well technically, it will auto power off after 5 minutes, but you don’t need to brush for this length of time.
Key to cleaning the teeth is the brush heads and this is where these 2 models differentiate quite significantly.
Both Oral-B and Sonicare offer a range of heads which are interchangeable with their brush handle.
The DCS 9700 comes with 1 x C3 Premium Plaque Control, 1 x G3 Premium Gum, Care, 1 x W3 Premium White & 1 x TongueCare+ tongue brush, whereas the iO comes with 2 x Ultimate Clean brush head.
The Oral-B head is small and round compared to the larger ovalish shaped heads of Sonicare. It is the smaller Oral-B heads that can be more comfortable to use for some.
Either brush handle requires replacement heads during ownership and on average should be replaced every 3 months.
Whilst the Oral-B and Sonicare heads can be tracked within their relevant smartphone app, the DCS has a special bit of technology built-in.
Each brush head has an RFID chip inside, that is tracked by the handle. It is part of a technology Sonicare calls BrushSync.
It works in 2 ways.
The first is that the chip built into the brush head communicates with the handle to track how long it has been used for. Once used for 3 months, a light on the brush handle is lit orange/amber to alert you. This is incredibly clever and very useful for giving that visual reminder to change the brush head.
The second part is that depending on what brush head is fitted, the best-suited brushing mode is automatically selected. So, for example, fit the G2 Optimal Gum Care head and the Gum Health cleaning mode will be selected.
Whilst the Oral-B brush heads have fading indicator bristles and an in-app reminder, the iO, despite its clever technology and screen does not alert you via a light when the head needs replacing, nor does it change the brushing mode based on the head you attach.
With either brush, you can use any of the brush heads on any of the cleaning modes available on the toothbrushes.
The brush heads themselves fit only to the respective brands, but both are easy to replace, pulling off and the replacement pushing back on.
Whilst on the topic of heads, the iO comes with a brush head refill accessory in the box that holds up to 2 spare heads. It sits on a countertop, but has an opaque cap that fits over the top and essentially creates a case that allows you to then take the heads with you should you choose.
The DCS 9700 does also come with a brush head storage compartment. It is larger and looks more premium. It holds up to 4 heads. The cover that goes over the top is not secured in place and it can’t act like a travel case. It is purely designed for storage and protection on a countertop.
Built into both brushes are rechargeable lithium-ion batteries each claiming a battery life of 2 weeks.
In my testing, the DCS outlasted the iO by approximately an 1 week*.
They do report the battery information a little differently, the iO doing a better job thanks to the display.
At the end of each cleaning cycle, it shows the remaining power on the screen as an icon with a percentage (%) stated. It is set to 10% increments.
The DCS on the other hand just has an icon at the bottom of the handle which only gives real feedback when at approx 10% or below.
Oddly, despite the iO being a smart toothbrush, the app does not report any battery status, yet the DCS does. What is displayed is not a helpful percentage (%), instead, the words high, good and low, but it is better than nothing.
Both models will, of course, need charging at some point and both come with 2 options to charge the toothbrush. Both have a charging stand that the brush sits on to be charged and both come with a travel case that allows the brush to be recharged whilst inside the case.
The iO comes with what initially looks like a more traditional charging stand. A circular stand, it has a slight protuberance on the top that aligns with the slight recess in the base of the handle.
This stand is in fact magnetic and holds the brush upright. It actually charges the iO rapidly, in just 3 hours.
The DCS on the other hand comes with a stand made up of 2 parts. There is a charging base plate onto which fits a glass holder. The handle then sits within this leaning slightly, not standing perfectly upright. It functions in basically the same way. It looks and feels the more premium. But, in reality, the iO solution is better. It can take up to 24 hours to charge the DCS.
Both charging stands have a 2 pin power connector that connects to a 2 pin power outlet and both support 100-240v.
With these brushes you get a travel case that allows the brush to be charged inside.
The DCS configuration looks smarter and is more practical.
It holds the handle and up to 2 brush heads.
Hardwired into the base is the charging cable that can be accessed and unwound to offer a USB connector that can be plugged into a mains socket, power adapter or computer’s USB connection.
The iO’s power2go case on the other hand, has a separate proprietary charger that supports 100-240v and connects to a 2 pin socket.
The case feels cheaper too, being all plastic construction. There is no soft touch leather effect top like there is on the lid of the DiamondClean’s case.
You can too only hold 1 brush handle and head, rather than the more typical 2 heads.
Simply put, the Sonicare option is more refined and practical.
Now a key selling point for both brushes is the fact that they are smart and offer real-time feedback.
Both brushes use Bluetooth to connect the handle and the smartphone. Both companies offer Android and iOS apps for free.
Both apps are designed to take data collected by sensors in the brush handle and interpret it so that you can take insight and learn from it to be able to clean your teeth better.
Whilst you don’t have to use either app at the same time as you brush, maximum benefit is gained if you do.
Both essentially show a graphic of the teeth on screen and they change from a dull colour to a bright white as you successfully clean them.
The Sonicare app guides you around your teeth, showing you which sections to brush in which order in a way that the Oral-B app and the iO does not.
I think the guidance in the Sonicare app is actually better than Oral-B’s.
However, the real-time tracking and position detection of the brush is much better with Oral-B. Although neither are perfect the iO configuration better understood where the brush was in the mouth and charted this better during and after the cleaning cycle.
The Oral-B app is much more comprehensive than Soncare’s app. This is a pro and a con, but ultimately more of a positive.
Sonicare’s app is now limited to 7 days worth of data.
This data is then charted in a fairly simplistic way to make it very clear and easy to understand.
The use of 3 colours does make it possible at a glance to achieve key learnings. However, due to the lack of historic data you can’t see improvements over extended periods. This is where Oral-B really shines.
In both instances, the aim is for us to achieve better oral health care at home.
Does one clean better than the other?
The short answer is no.
The longer and more complicated answer is yes, the iO could potentially clean the teeth better.
The reality is that actually positively saying 1 brush cleans better than the other is very difficult.
There are many variables and only if tested as part of a thorough and well managed clinical trial could conclusive evidence be gained to confirm, which, if either actually brushed better.
There are very valid arguments that the Oral-B iO is able to clean the teeth better.
The most convincing argument is that an independent study by Cochrane suggests that there is evidence that Oral-B is more effective.
It was however quite clearly stated whilst evidence favoured Oral-B the differences are small and clinically unclear with further studies required.
So, realistically don’t worry about this too much. Both will clean the teeth really well if used correctly.
But, to potentially complicate matters further both of these brushes are smart, with applications for smartphone that highlight key brushing data that could be of use to you.
Now technically, the apps or the data have no direct bearing on how well the toothbrush itself cleans the teeth, but they do have a bearing on us as the user of the app.
If we engage with the app we could improve our brushing technique, which in turn improves how much plaque we remove etc.
Both apps are similarly featured, with real-time tracking and feedback.
The Sonicare app is a little lighter, not as heavy and intense feeling to use. It does a better job of actually guiding you on which tooth surfaces to brush and in which order.
However, the Oral-B iO and app are more accurate with the tracking and logging of the position of the toothbrush. Therefore it more accurately recognises which teeth have and have not been brushed correctly.
The Oral-B app retains much more data. Recent updates to the Sonicare app have restricted the amount stored. Sonicare arguably presents key data a little better but the limited amount is long term more restrictive than the more comprehensive Oral-B app configuration.
Is one better priced than the other?
Yes and no. Sorry, perhaps not the simple answer you wanted.
If we take the recommended retail price alone then the answer is yes.
The DCS is $469 compared to the $749 of the Oral-B iO Series 9.
A $280 premium is a significant premium to pay even for those who can afford to spend more.
Based on retail prices alone, the DiamondClean is the better buy.
However, I don’t ever suggest you buy either brush at their retail price.
The reality of the situation is that these prices are artificially high so that they can be discounted to a still high, but perhaps more justifiable amount.
Prices and discounts are always subject to change, but Oral-B brushes tend to be discounted by 50%, thus bringing the iO to a cheaper, but still pricey $375.
At times the discount is even greater and I would not be at all surprised to see the iO settling at around $350.
Sonicare brushes do to get discounted, but the range is anywhere between 20-50% on average.
At the time of writing the DCS 9700 is selling for around $400 also, a 15% discount on retail price.
Factoring in these discounts and there is not a great deal of difference in the price to buy at least.
Moving the needle slightly is the longer term cost of ownership. As you will need to purchase replacement brush heads, this will affect the cost.
The DCS 9700 over 3 years and the io work out at approximately $0.46 per day.
Whilst the retail prices make the Sonicare a clear favourite, the adjusted selling prices mean that there is little to choose between them in price.
It is your decision really. Pay a price you are happy with and can justify, but do so knowing the difference between these models.
Please note that all prices quoted are approximates and will vary based on location, supplier and time of purchase. These figures were correct at the time of writing and should not be relied upon as hard fact, but used as a guide during your decision process.
For many years, it has been a contest to some extent between Oral-B and Sonicare.
One company’s premium toothbrush has always offered something the others has not. And deciding which to buy has never been the simplest of decisions.
That difficulty in selecting which is best for you remains today. What differences exist are subtle.
Both clean the teeth really well, and that is the main job of a toothbrush right?!
Sonicare in my opinion has always offered the more complete and refined package, and this remains true when comparing the iO and the DiamondClean Smart.
Oral-B have really upped their game with the iO. It is sleeker, more refined and has innovative touches. In many ways, it challenges the DiamondClean Smart more than any other toothbrush ever has.
But, for me at least, when you take the prices of these brushes and what they offer, the DiamondClean is the one to go for. It feels slightly more worthy of the premium price that both these products command.
Ultimately, whatever brush you decide upon, it is you who needs to make the decision; but do so based on which is best for your needs or that of the end user.
Only pay the price you are happy with and do not be led into buying something if it is not right.
Hopefully, I have presented the facts and made the whole decision process that little bit easier.
If you found this useful, have any questions, thoughts or opinions, please leave them in the comments below.
*A previous version of this comparison suggested the iO had a superior battery life of compared to the DiamondClean Smart.
As part of our testing process, it is necessary to simulate battery use for consistency. We do this by charging the brush fully and running the toothbrush through brushing cycles until it discharges completely.
The iO continues to offer a battery life of 6+ weeks in these tests. However, repeated in hand testing has shown the battery life to only be 2 weeks. This is a discrepancy we have never previously experienced. All other brushes have to date performed almost identically during in hand test to those simulated.