A great choice but its got competition
Well designed, the Boka brush has impressed me. it performs just like the more recognized Sonicare brand and is without doubt a good alternative.
The subscription plan helps with the appeal but it lacks something to make it the stand out recommendation.
- Stylish design
- 3 cleaning modes
- Good battery life
- Magnetic charger
- Subscription price
- Charcoal bristles
- No cleaning mode icons
- No pressure sensor
- Subscription configuration
Which other brushes should I consider?
The obvious alternative to Boka is the Burst sonic toothbrush.
Like Boka, it is a subscription brush, it has charcoal infused bristles and multiple cleaning modes. Unlike Boka, Burst offers a lifetime warranty. In fact, it is our top recommended subscription toothbrush.
Subscribing to regular brush head deliveries is not for everyone and in this instance, the Oral-B Smart 1500 is the brush we recommend.
It has a different cleaning action, but the results are comparable. It has the visible pressure sensor that Boka & Burst offer. It is the top pick in our best electric toothbrush guide.
|Burst Sonic Toothbrush - Black||6,455 Reviews||$49.98||View on Amazon|
Design, usability, clean & general use
When it comes to a sonic toothbrush the overall design is going to always be similar from one brand to another, but each brand tries to add their own flare.
Given the number of choices, I think Boka has done a good job to personalize it. Although the all white colour scheme can often be considered a bit clinical looking there are some nice stainless steel accents and shaping to the handle to give it a unique look.
Coming back down to earth, it would be nice if Boka ditched all the foam in the box. Card would have been fine and the foam feels a little unnecessary and less considerate from a waste perspective.
The handle has a cylinder shape with the exception of the front of the handle which has been flattened out slightly.
This adjustment of the shape gives a nice design touch to the handle and actually creates a bit of an edge to help with grip in hand.
The handle itself has limited gripping points, but the paint finish is matte and by no means that slippy.
I like the lack of gloss plastics, it makes it feel a bit more classy.
The side and back of the handle are free of any controls or notable elements, with the exception of a very small plastic notch at the bottom of the handle at the back. This actually stops the brush rolling about when laid on a worktop. This is a good inclusion.
The front of the brush is the most busy, but then again the design is still very minimal.
Just above the halfway point of the handle is a round power button. White in color, it has a stainless steel ring around it which makes it stand out.
Below this is the BOKA brand name, with the letters stacked on top of each other, running down the handle.
There is then a small LED for the battery status.
The logo, LED and power button all fall within this flatter panel on the front of the handle.
Thanks to a flat base, the handle will stand upright on a worktop.
At the top of the handle is another stainless steel ring, this sits just below where the brush head attaches.
2 brush heads are included in the box.
Each head pushes on and pulls off of the Boka toothbrush handle. No twisting necessary.
The Boka heads are designed specifically for this brush. Sonicare or generic sonic toothbrush heads will not fit and Boka heads do not fit Philips Sonicare toothbrush handles.
The heads attach to the metal shaft that extends out from the handle itself.
That metal rod connects to the brush motor and delivers up to 30,000 vibrations to the brush head.
All the electronics are sealed inside the brush handle. It is perfectly fine to use the brush in the shower if you choose, it is waterproof.
Inside the handle is a rechargeable battery. It is a lithium-ion battery and is not user removable or replaceable.
You can get 25 days from the battery and a charging stand is included.
With a single press of the power button you will turn the brush on and launch into the first of three modes on the handle. The button provides satisfactory feedback. It is not too soft or too firm to the touch.
These brushing modes do not have any specific names and Boka themselves don’t even mention them on their website or other documentation from what I have seen.
They are best described as low, medium and high. This is because they use a different amount of power from the brush motor giving a softer more gentle brushing experience through to a much more intense clean.
To change the mode you have to press the power button quite quickly after turning the brush on.
Rather frustratingly in my opinion, there is no easy way of telling which mode you are using. There are no cleaning mode labels or icons on the brush handle. You have to listen to the pitch and see the motion of the brush head to determine the difference really.
The brush will remember the last mode you used, which is a bonus if you have a preferred mode.
How exactly the power differs between each I can’t say specifically. As a complete guestimate it would be something like 20,000 vibrations for the low mode, 22,000 for the medium and 30,000 for the highest and most intense.
Inevitably I am going to compare this to Sonicare and they rate their brush head on strokes and movements. A Sonicare brush offers 31,000 brush strokes which is the same as 62,000 movements.
I believe when Boka says vibrations, it is equivalent to the strokes. 1,000 less than Sonicare, to me, in use I would not really be able to tell the difference. I tried them side by side and on the highest setting they felt basically identical.
With any of the modes, the moment the brush is powered on the 2 minute timer and 30 second pacer are activated.
What this does is at 30 second intervals pauses the motor movements very briefly. In turn this changes the brushing sensation and sound of the toothbrush. This is your cue to move from one quadrant to another.
You want to be brushing your teeth for 120 seconds and doing so evenly to achieve a good clean.
If you break your mouth up into 4 sections (quadrants – upper right, upper left, lower right, lower left) and spend 30 seconds cleaning each, you should be on track for a good oral health routine.
It is all too easy to think you have been brushing longer than you have, so this timer helps.
You also know that if the toothbrush has not turned itself off, that you still need to brush. That is because this brush has an automatic power off feature at the end of the cleaning cycle. It is a simple but effective little feature.
In use the brush is comparable in the noise it produces to any other sonic toothbrush. There is an audible humming sound and a vibration is felt in the handle.
You could easily brush your teeth in the bathroom, whilst others in the house are asleep, and not wake them up.
As I have intimated from the cleaning modes/intensities, the brush is comparable to Sonicare and I was really pleased with the overall clean I achieved whilst using Boka. I have no complaints here.
It would have been nice if the brush had a pressure sensor built-in to alert you when brushing with too much force, but it does not. It is not a deal breaker, just a nice to have, particularly for new electric toothbrush users.
The bristles on the brush head felt relatively soft on the teeth and gums as I used them.
They are black in color because they are infused with charcoal.
Binchotan activated charcoal can help limit bacteria growth on the brush head.
Activated charcoal is something that has been used for many years within health circles. But more recently there has been a bit of a trend to use it to help with cleaning the teeth, particularly as a toothpaste alternative.
The abrasive and also porous nature of charcoal can potentially help clean teeth more effectively and keep bacteria levels down. The evidence is limited and even more so when you consider the very small amounts that are infused into the bristles.
I am not suggesting that this is a negative, but I think the benefits are far less than might be perceived and really they are a bit of an on trend addition rather than something you need.
Perhaps, you can realize more benefits if you change the brush head more frequently. Seeing as Boka offers 2 heads every 3 months on their subscription plan. Perhaps changing the head every 1.5 months will gain the most benefit?
If you are subscribed you need no reminder to change the head. That reminder arrives on your doorstep.
But, if you buy this outright, there are no fading indicator bristles or brush head reminder systems like you get with 4100 Series from Sonicare for example.
Mark a 3 month replacement date in your calendar if you tend to forget.
Boka does offer a 30 day money back guarantee should you not be happy with the toothbrush for any reason. You do also get a 2 year warranty included when you buy it.
What is slightly disappointing is the lack of lifetime warranty to those who subscribe. Other brands continue the warranty as a bonus of the subscription. This means that if you brush fails 5 years after you first got it, providing you still subscribe to replacement brush heads you will get a new brush sent to you.
You do get a small plastic travel cap to fit over the brush heads provided, to protect them when traveling. They are easily lost and sadly there is no travel case included and no option to buy one as an additional accessory either. I think offering one would be a nice value add.
Overall I really like the Boka powered toothbrush. What criticisms I have are in the scheme of things small. It is just there is tough competition in the market today and I am not sure if Boka is differentiated enough?!
Summary of design, usability, clean & general use
- Smart looking toothbrush that doesn’t look clinical despite being all white in color
- Minimal design
- 3 cleaning modes/intensities
- No easy way of knowing which mode is selected
- Will remember the mode used last
- Cleans really well – comparable to market leader
- Built-in 2 minute timer and 30 second pacer
- Brush turns off automatically at the end of the cleaning cycle
- No pressure sensor
- 2 brush heads included in the box
- Charcoal bristles are a bit overrated
- No brush head replacement reminder system
- No travel case provided or option to purchase separately
- 30 day money back guarantee
- 2 year warranty
Opinions differ on what is a good or bad battery life.
Whilst few of us really need a toothbrush that lasts months on end, most of us will desire a toothbrush that lasts a couple of weeks, so that at the very least we can go away on vacation and not have to worry about running out of power.
Who wants to take a toothbrush charger with them in their bag?!
Boka advertises a battery life of over 25 days, whilst the box that Boka comes in suggests up to 30 days.
This is a positive thing, as boasting a battery life of nearly a month certainly puts Boka up with the best of electric brushes today.
Burst offers around the same amount of usage time. Compare this to Oral-B at just 2 weeks on most brushes and that is a fair improvement.
Naturally, I tested the claims.
Set to the highest and most powerful setting I managed exactly 25 days from the battery on a full charge.
I did not try it, but I suspect, set to the lowest brushing intensity the battery would have likely made it to 30 days of use.
I am certainly pleased with this battery performance.
The battery is a Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) and it is sealed inside and is not designed to be user replaceable.
Boka doesn’t stipulate how long it takes to fully charge the battery when it is depleted. I suspect it takes about 12 hours or so. I did not time this precisely.
For most of us this is not an issue as it can be left on the charger overnight.
The charging stand is well designed and quite unique in its design.
The base of the charger is round with a stainless steel ring.
Just above this is an LED strip that is illuminated with a white light when the brush is sat on the charger.
Above this is then a white plastic body that tapers in towards the top.
At the top is a depression into which the toothbrush stands upright.
There are no proterberences from the stand. The base of the handle is flat and magnetizes to the charging stand.
The magnets in the stand help keep the brush upright and are reasonably strong. They will prevent the odd knock or wobble, but they are not strong enough to stop them all.
The base is actually quite heavy, but the weight of it keeps it secure on a countertop helped further by the large rubber foot that goes around the bottom of the stand.
On the base is a microUSB port, into which the provided USB to microUSB cable connects.
You can charge this brush via a USB outlet on a laptop or computer, or you can use the 2 pin power adapter to connect to the wall socket. I like this, it is a more versatile and flexible solution.
Supporting 100-240v the power adapter can be used internationally, providing you have a plug adapter to convert the 2 pin US connector (if required).
When stood on the stand there is a ring of white light from the charging stand itself and then the LED on the front of the Boka brush will illuminate red to confirm it is charging.
It might just be a charging stand, but it is one of the nicest I have come across.
And finally, when the battery is running low and has not been charged, the battery LED does light up on the handle to intimate a charge is required soon.
Summary of battery life
- Built-in rechargeable battery.
- Claimed battery life of over 25 days
- Achieved 25 days of use on a full charge and the most powerful mode
- MicroUSB powered charging stand
- USB to microUSB cable provided
- 2 pin USB power adapter included in box
- White light from stand and red light from brush handle when on charge
- Brush magnetizes to the stand
Price & where to buy
I have included links to buying options here at the start of the review.
In the section below, I discuss the price more generally and in relation to similar products.
Boka is available for purchase directly from the company at www.boka.com and this is the primary place through which you can purchase the toothbrush and other accessories.
It is also their website you need to visit if you wish to subscribe and have brush heads delivered at regular intervals to your door.
However, you can also purchase the toothbrush without subscription from Target, Best Buy, Walmart and Amazon.
The same applied to their replacement brush heads.
One of the key selling points is the subscription plan, but you can purchase it without having to subscribe.
Whilst prices are always subject to change, Boka themselves tend to sell this for $65 as a one-off purchase price.
They do not have an overinflated retail price that is then always discounted.
At $65 this feels a fair ticket price.
You get 2 brush heads in the box and replacement brush heads are sold in packs of 2 for $14.
Here at Electric Teeth we like to price the toothbrush over a 3 year period to give a benchmark for ownership costs.
Assuming you purchase the Boka brush for $65 and replace the brush head every 3 months, it will cost $135 or $0.12 per day.
This is the price based on buying the toothbrush and not subscribing. One of the appeals of Boka is the subscription plan. It delivers cost savings potentially as well as a certain level of convenience.
If you subscribe, the brush costs $45.
Then, at 3 monthly intervals you will be charged $9.60 for a pack of 2 replacement brush heads.
Over 3 years, the total cost is $150.60 or $0.13 per day.
Those paying attention will see that the subscription is actually more expensive than buying it outright.
You can sometimes pay a premium for convenience of the subscription, but most are looking for a cost saving. And more often than not you get a cost saving.
The reason you do not get that here with Boka is because Boka ships 2 brush heads every 3 months.
All other toothbrush subscription services I know ship an individual head or work on the basis of a user replacing their brush head every 3 months.
My calculation for the purchase without subscription works on this basis too. Had I based it on 2 heads every 3 months it would cost $205 or $0.19.
With a subscription plan with Boka over 3 years you are acquiring twice the brush heads you actually need.
I see why they ship 2. It is more convenient, because their heads are sold in packs of 2. But, why not ship them every 6 months rather than 3? It seems slightly wasteful.
Some, do choose to replace their brush heads more frequently, so this may appeal to a select few. The vast majority do not, so it just seems odd.
If you do the maths, over the long term (3+ years) it does work out better value. This is because you will be using the brush heads you have paid for, received and not used.
Whilst I suspect the Boka brush will still function in 3+ years, you are well outside your warranty period and could be left with unused brush heads should it fail. Your choice would then be to take the loss or buy another Boka brush.
It makes it harder to compare to other services from an ownership cost perspective.
The only exception here where Boka could work really well, is if you were sharing 1 handle between 2 people. If you live together as a couple for example. You could each use the handle, but change the brush head each time you use it. In this instance the replacement packs of heads every 3 months would be great. But, given that the heads are the same with no unique identifiers between them it can then be hard to tell whose is whose.
Whilst other products have their pros and cons, it is the Burst Sonic toothbrush that is most similar to Boka.
This works out at $0.12 per day over 3 years, when on subscription. Cheaper still if you take advantage of a referral code. They ship just 1 head every 3 months. See my Burst toothbrush review for more information.
Oral-B’s Smart 1500 is not sold on a subscription plan but works out at $0.11 per day to own.
3 very similarly featured and similarly priced brushes.
From time to time Boka does run special promotions where further savings can be had, but I can’t say specifically when these will be running. When they do, these tend to be on the one off purchases rather than the subscription.
Whilst Boka is fairly competitive, the subscription plan is not as attractive as it might seem at first and some might prefer to make outright purchases than take the associated negative consequences of the subscription.
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.
Summary of price & where to buy
- List of buying options included here
- No overinflated retail price
- Typically sells for $65 as a one-off purchase
- $45 when you subscribe
- Replacement brush heads sold in packs of 2 for $14
- Replacement brush heads available for $9.60 every 3 months when you subscribe
- 3 monthly shipment includes 2 brush heads
- Competitors offer 1 brush head every 3 months
- Works out at $135 or $0.12 per day over 3 years as a one-time purchase
- Works out at $150.60 or $0.13 per day over 3 years when you subscribe
- Comparably priced to the competition
Reliability & long term use
I have been testing Boka for a few weeks, not months or years. Therefore it can be difficult to say how well this will really last over extended periods.
Having spent time actually using it and looking at the materials and construction I certainly have no immediate reasons to be concerned.
I have seen little in the way of complaints from other users to suggest there are reliability issues.
Therefore I think it is pretty fair to say that really the risk level is comparable to most other products of this type.
Boka provides a 2 year warranty should things go wrong, which will bring a peace of mind to many I am sure.
Unfortunately, it does not offer to extend that warranty if you are a subscriber to the toothbrush.
The Boka electric toothbrush is a solid performing brush that I could happily use on a daily basis.
There is little I can actually find to criticize about this toothbrush, but there is little that I feel really makes it stand out from the competition.
In part, this is because there are so many excellent choices today.
The subscription plan is appealing, but is it perhaps a bit unnecessary to have 2 brush heads every 3 months?
For me, I can’t help but think I would prefer to go for Burst if you want the subscription.
Oral-B’s 1500 is a great option if you are not set on subscribing.
Is it right for you? Ultimately, this will be up to you to decide.
- Height (without head) – 7.3 inches / 18.5cm
- Height (with head) – 9.8 inches / 25cm
- Width – 1.1 inches / 2.9cm
- Thickness – 1.1 inches / 2.9cm
- Weight (without head) – 3.9oz / 110g
- Weight (with head) – 4oz / 115g
All are approximates