The best budget Sonicare electric toothbrush
Competitively priced, the 1100 Series is the best Sonicare toothbrush for those on a budget.
The slim handled brush cleans the teeth well. It boasts a 2 minute timer and pacer, essential features of any good electric toothbrush.
It lacks a pressure sensor, which in our opinion, is very useful.
- 1 cleaning mode makes it nice & simple to use
- Slim handle design – stylish & easy to keep clean
- USB charging stand makes it more convenient for some
- No pressure sensor
- Cleaning action not as good as premium models – brush motor configured differently
- USB charger makes it less convenient for some
If your budget stretches further
The 1100 is our top pick for those wanting a Sonicare toothbrush on a budget.
But, if your budget allows, or can be stretched a little further, you will get the choice of a couple of other recommended brushes.
The 4100 Series is our best overall Sonicare, with a pressure sensor and more powerful brush motor.
Alternatively, you can consider the Smart 2000, which is our best overall electric toothbrush.
|Sonicare 4100 Series - White||20,434 Reviews||$59.95 $54.00||View on Amazon|
Design, usability, clean & general use
If you have ever seen and used a Philips Sonicare toothbrush, everything about the 1100 is typical Sonicare.
This is a good thing.
Many elements of the Philips Sonicare toothbrush are excellent and I think the word understated best describes a lot of the Sonicare brushes, the 1100 included.
The retail packaging isn’t the most eye catching, but it does what it needs to. It explains the key features and what you get included.
It might sound a bit ridiculous to compliment a box for highlighting the product inside, but believe it or not, many brushes have very little information on what the product inside actually offers. This is fine if buying online, but not quite so good for the shop shelves.
Another nice touch is the image on the box is colour matched to the handle inside.
Like many companies, Philips is taking a bit more of a proactive stance with their packaging to ensure it is more sustainable. The outer box and inner tray are made from cardboard.
As I will explain in more detail later, Philips has now even changed their conventional charging stand to reduce plastic use.
It is then a little disheartening to find the brush head, handle and charger are all wrapped in plastic. It is LDPE 4 plastic, which can technically be recycled, but it is still fairly difficult to do for most people.
I perhaps understand the brush head, but the stand and handle, is this really required? How much more plastic could be saved by dropping these. Other manufacturers don’t.
Right, to the toothbrush itself then.
The 1100 isn’t breaking any new ground with revolutionary design and innovation. And this is a good thing.
It is made up of 2 key parts, the brush handle and the brush head.
The handle of the 1100 is nice and slim.
It is much slimmer than some older and cost effective models like the Essence/E-Series or the DailyClean toothbrush handles.
In fact, the 1100 is one of a number of brushes that have benefited from a slight redesign. The result is a slimmer and lighter handle. Others include the 3100 and 4100 series.
The handle measures about 1 inch wide and 1 inch thick. And in hand, with the brush head fitted it weighs just 3.4oz.
It isn’t the absolute lightest electric toothbrush, but it is a good few grams lighter than some other models and it is noticeable.
At the time of review, the 1100 is available in just 1 colour option, white.
The handle has a matt white finish to it, rather than a gloss white, I approve of this. It is accented by the one and only button on the handle which is grey in colour.
The handle isn’t a perfect cylinder. There is a very slight squaring off to the body which does result in a comfortable and nice to use handle.
Aside from the silicone power button, the handle is smooth to the touch. It makes for a very clean and minimal looking toothbrush.
For some, it might be a bit slippy in hand. But, somehow the finish to the body means it doesn’t actually feel slippy, despite not having raised surfaces or different textures to grip onto.
Ultimately the handle feels solid, well built and durable for the price paid.
On the front of the handle, just below the metal shaft to which the brush head attaches, is the Philips Sonicare logo, in a grey coloured font.
Beneath this, within the upper third of the handle, is a subtle contouring to create an elliptical shape. Inside this is the power button. It appears to have an almost seamless design, despite being silicone, compared to the plastic of the brush handle itself.
The round button has a concave shape and power icon embossed on it. There is good clicky feedback to it and as it isn’t very firm, it’s quite easy to activate. Great for those with limited dexterity.
The implementation of the button and contouring results in a space on the handle that becomes a natural resting place for the thumb when in use.
The only other meaningful item on the handle is the battery status LED in the lower third of the handle.
The LED sits above a battery icon.
Different coloured lights and patterns are emitted from this LED subject to the status of the built-in rechargeable battery. I have listed these in the battery life section of this review.
The sides and back of the handle are free of controls.
The only other small thing worth mentioning is on the back of the handle, towards the very bottom are 2 raised bits of plastic on the handle. These are there to prevent the toothbrush from rolling when laid on a flat surface. Genius.
The toothbrush will stand upright. The base of the handle is flat, but it does have a recess for the pin on the charging stand to fit into.
Printed on the base is the model number along with some regulatory information.
The top of the handle tapers in very slightly, just before flattening out to give a surface for the brush head to sit on.
In the middle of this flat surface, extending out upwards is a metal shaft that connects to the brush motor inside the handle.
The provided Simply Clean brush head simply pushes onto and pulls off of this. There is no need to twist or lock any head in place.
Once fitted, if you take a look at the handle from the side, the head sits perfectly vertically. There is no angling of the brush head as is the case with some other models.
I feel it is worth pointing out at this stage that the Simply Clean brush head is one of a number of different options on offer from Philips. All the different choices are listed in our Sonicare brush heads explained article.
But the key thing to be aware of is that whilst the vast majority will fit and work with the 1100, the BrushSync enabled heads will not be tracked.
The vast majority of heads on offer now have BrushSync technology, but this handle does not support this.
You can gladly use the BrushSync enabled W3 Premium White if you like, just know the 1100 is never going to tell you when to replace the head.
You can save yourself a few dollars by opting for those heads that don’t have an RFID chip built-in. This includes the C1 SimplyClean, S Sensitive and the C1 ProResults. Although be aware even the ProResults is in the process of being upgraded.
If you want a handle that tracks your brush head, you need to look at more premium models such as the 3100 and 4100.
Subtle differences in cleaning results do exist between the brush heads, but more significant improvement will be gained from improving your brushing time and technique than picking one particular brush head.
The supplied SimpleClean head is a great everyday brush head with a W profile to maximize the cleaning ability of the brush. It cups the teeth and cleans deep between them too.
You should replace the head on average every 3 months. Whilst the handle itself won’t remind you, bristles on the head do fade to act as a visual reminder to you to do so.
Be sure to recycle your brush heads when done with them. We explain your options here.
The 1100 has just one cleaning/brushing mode.
This is in truth all that the vast majority of us need.
It makes it nice and simple to use.
Yes, potentially there are benefits from different cleaning modes, but the vast majority of users don’t require these.
If I was going to pick any one extra mode, it would be a slower and more gentle sensitive mode.
This is great for those with sensitive teeth and gums, but also great for new toothbrush users, to ease them into the increased power that these brushes offer.
Although the 1100 doesn’t offer a second mode, it does have you covered with its Easy Start feature. This limits the full power of the brush over the first 14 brushing sessions to help make the transition for new users easier.
The default cleaning mode lasts for 2 minutes. The brush automatically turns itself off when 2 minutes have elapsed. This is a very clear indicator that the recommended brushing time has been achieved.
As the brush powers on the timer and quadpacer are activated.
As the bristles move the timer counts and once it hits 30 seconds, it pauses the brush motor briefly.
This pause changes the sound and brushing sensation. It is your alert to move from one quadrant of the mouth to another.
This then repeats every 30 seconds, until the brush gets to 120 seconds (2 minutes) at which point it will turn itself off.
If you are not familiar with the concept of quadrant and 30 second intervals, allow me to explain.
Whilst dentists recommend 2 minutes of cleaning twice a day, what this does not help with is ensuring you and I brush our teeth evenly.
The idea is that you break the mouth up into 4 sections:
- upper right
- upper left
- lower right
- lower left
You spend 30 seconds cleaning each section. As you do, you try and give equal attention to the front, back and biting surfaces of the teeth. If you do, come the 120 seconds (2 minutes) of brushing time, you should have achieved an even clean to the teeth and gums.
The pacer acts as an alert to you, to change the quadrant as you brush to encourage this even clean.
Of course, you don’t have to follow it, but it is good practice.
When brushing your teeth, the bristles need only really skim the surface of the teeth. You need just a little bit of pressure, not lots. Too much pressure can cause wear on the teeth and gums and in the long term result in irreversible damage.
Many toothbrushes have a pressure sensor built-in to alert you when you are brushing with too much force. It is one of the key features we recommend looking for in a brush.
Unfortunately, the 1100 doesn’t have one. This means you won’t be alerted if you brush too hard. Do your best to avoid damaging the teeth and gums and brush with little force.
Something to be aware of is that the motor in the 1100 isn’t the same as that used in the more premium Sonicare models.
The 1100 motor does offer up to 31,000 brush strokes, but it doesn’t achieve the 62,000 movements often quoted with the more expensive models. It is configured differently.
As a result, the 1100 does feel less powerful/intense compared to some other Sonicare toothbrushes.
Technically, more power or movements does mean better cleaning results. But, it isn’t quite as simple as this, there are more factors at play.
The lesser power on offer here isn’t immediately obvious. Even for me and I have tested hundreds of brushes. The brushing sensation is slightly different. It is most noticeable if you have used other premium Sonicare toothbrushes before.
The 1100 still does a very good job. My teeth feel clean after each brushing session. It is just a bit of a shame that you are not getting the ultimate Sonicare cleaning experience.
For first time users of an electric toothbrush this isn’t a deal breaker on its own, but something to be aware of. Even for existing Sonicare users, don’t get too hooked up on this point. The implications are not as great as you might think.
Your technique and brushing time will likely have more impact on your oral health than the number of bristle movements.
If you want to ensure you are doing the best by your teeth, view our helpful guide that explains the correct ways to brush the teeth.
Sealed inside the 1100’s brush handle is all the technology that makes this brush function, which includes the user rechargeable, but not user replaceable lithium-ion battery.
The handle is water resistant, which means toothpaste, saliva and water shouldn’t pose a reliability issue. A rinse under the tap to clean it is fine. Sonicare tends not to advise use when bathing, but I know many do brush their teeth whilst in the shower. The important thing here is to avoid full submersion in water.
At this time the 1100 doesn’t come supplied with a travel case which is a bit of a disappointment. It can be useful to own one of these to protect the handle and brush head when on the go.
You can buy cases from Philips or find third party alternatives for a few dollars.
And lastly, Sonicare does offer a 2 year warranty that covers any mechanical or workmanship faults, but not user damage.
Summary of design, usability, clean & general use
- Slim and comfortable brush handle
- Sonic cleaning action isn’t quite as good as more premium Sonicare models – motors configured differently
- 1 cleaning mode
- 1 brush head included
- Various styles of brush heads are available separately
- Built-in timer and 30 second pacer
- No pressure sensor
- No travel case
- 2+ week battery life
- Water resistant handle
- 2 year warranty
Inevitably, we all have different opinions on how much battery life a toothbrush should offer.
For me, and I believe the vast majority of users, a usable life of 2+ weeks is desirable.
Whilst it is not necessarily often you will be away from a charger for more than 2 weeks, it offers flexibility. For example, going away on vacation, you want to avoid having to take more than you need. Not having to take the charger is preferable. With 2+ weeks of battery life you won’t have to worry that it will run out of power.
The claimed battery life of the 1100 series is 14 days. Therefore it achieves my ideal minimum.
However, often with Sonicare toothbrushes, they claim x number of days and it usually outperforms by quite some margin.
I can confirm the 1100 does last longer than 14, but not many more.
In my hands-on testing, I achieved on average 36 brushing sessions. That is equivalent to 72 minutes of usage time, or 18 days of use on a full charge.
That is 4 days longer than the claimed 14.
It isn’t as good as some other Sonicare models, but, for me, this is good enough.
I don’t know the exact capacity of the battery in the 1100 due to the slim handle it is likely less than some other Sonicare models.
It is a Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) battery that is user rechargeable.
To recharge the brush you can use the supplied USB charging stand.
White in colour, the stand allows the brush to sit on top of it. A prong on the stand fits into the recess on the base of the brush handle.
However, unlike most toothbrush charging stands that have a 2 pin power adapter suitable for Canadian power outlets, this has a USB type A cable hardwired into it.
This connector is designed to fit into a USB port on your computer, laptop, battery bank, USB plug adapter or wall socket if you have one.
No separate USB to 2 pin plug adapter comes included.
So, if you want to charge this toothbrush from a 2 pin socket in Canada, you will need to use a USB plug adapter you already have or source one.
The reason Sonicare gives for this setup is to reduce the amount of plastic and electrical waste caused by producing these adapters that often go unused. They are thinking of the environment and claim to be saving 19 million bottles worth of plastic.
For some this will not be an issue, for others this will be a big inconvenience.
Most of us do have USB plug adapters spare at home, but I don’t think most would expect to have to supply their own for their toothbrush.
If you are an existing Sonicare electric toothbrush owner, you might be pleased to know that the 1100 will work/charge from your existing charging stand. With the exception of the charging stand for the DiamondClean and Prestige Series.
The USB stand potentially makes for a more convenient option for frequent travellers who do need to take their charger with them. USB charging is an international standard. There is no need to worry about voltages and plug adapters in quite the same way.
Compared to previous/other charging stands, this one is circular and has a similar overall footprint to previous Sonicare chargers. It is a little wider than the typical charging stand you would expect, but then again it isn’t quite as thick.
There are 3 small rubber feet on the base to help prevent movement on a countertop.
The toothbrush can be placed in any position on top of the stand, providing the pin on the top fits into the base of the toothbrush. The handle can actually rotate a full 360 degrees on the stand.
The cable that extends from the stand is approximately 43.3 inches in length.
It supports an input of 4.75-5.25v / 0.3A / 1.5W.
Once placed on the charging stand, the toothbrush can take up to 24 hours to charge fully.
When placed on the stand the handle vibrates and 2 beeps are emitted to confirm the toothbrush is charging. This is such a small and subtle thing that gives a perception of quality to the 1100.
Thanks to the LED on the front of the brush handle, you do get feedback on the power within the battery.
The way in which it flashes and the colour it is lit tells you how much power remains.
- A solid green LED means a full battery.
- A flashing green LED means a partially full battery.
- A flashing amber LED and three beeps means a low battery.
- A flashing amber LED and five beeps means it is empty. There are no brushing sessions left, you need to charge the toothbrush.
Summary of battery life
- Lithium-Ion battery technology
- Sonicare suggest 14 days/2 week battery life
- Achieved 18 days usage based on 2 cleans per days for 2 minutes
- Comes with a USB charging stand
- No 2 pin USB plug adapter provided
- Takes about 24 hours to charge fully
- Battery status indicator on the brush handle
- A solid green LED means a full battery
- A flashing green LED means a partially full battery
- A flashing amber LED and three beeps means a low battery.
- A flashing amber LED and five beeps means no brushing sessions left
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.
The retail price of the Sonicare 1100 is a very reasonable CDN$29.99.
Compared to many brushes from the same company with prices will in excess of CDN$100, a $30 price tag seems almost too good to be true.
As I write this, the top of the line Sonicare 9900 Prestige has a CDN$499.99 retail price. You can buy 16 of the Sonicare 1100 for the price of just 1 Sonicare Prestige. They are very different products, but does the Prestige clean the teeth 16 times better? No, it does not.
The 1100 is priced very aggressively and I don’t expect you will see any significant savings on this price. You may time it right and you might find a dollar or two can be saved. But, there is no point delaying your purchase in the hope of some half price offer, it is very unlikely to happen.
Because the 1100 is an entry level model that is priced so competitively it is widely stocked. You will find this in many grocery stores and pharmacies and online retailers.
Supplied in the box is a single brush head, the C1 Simply Clean.
This is one of a range of brush heads available from Sonicare, the vast majority of which are compatible with the 1100.
If you want to use the W3 Premium White brush head on the 1100, you can. You don’t have to stick to the Simply Clean head.
However, do be aware that many of Sonicare’s brush heads now have an RFID chip embedded, so the brush handle can track the brush head when in use.
The 1100 does not support BrushSync. This means that whilst technically a BrushSync enabled head like the W3 White will work on the 1100, it won’t be tracked. You won’t get the full benefits of that particular head.
These BrushSync enabled heads do command a small price premium and dominate the range of options.
Because the 1100 doesn’t support BrushSync, you might as well buy the standard heads that don’t have these chips built-in and save yourself a couple of dollars a time too. The C1 SimplyClean and ProResults are the best options. S Sensitive is another.
There is then the range of third party/aftermarket heads if you prefer.
We like to get an approximate cost of ownership for the 1100 to compare it to other models.
We price the brushes over 3 years to give this cost for comparison.
11 additional heads are required over a 3 year period. Each typically cost CDN$10, so there is CDN$110 to be added to the CDN$30 purchase price.
Over 3 years this brush costs CDN$140 to own.
A relatively low price this is, unfortunately going against the 1100 a bit is the price of official Sonicare heads. They are more expensive than other brands.
The Oral-B Smart 2000 works out about CDN$30 more expensive, despite an average selling price twice that of the 1100. This is because the Oral-B replacement bristles are cheaper.
Own they brush for 5+ years and the Smart 2000 is even more affordable and benefits from a visible pressure sensor and additional cleaning modes.
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
- Retail price of CDN$29.99
- Don’t expect a discount – competitively priced
- Standard brush heads are cheaper than BrushSync enabled heads
- Costs CDN$140 over 3 years
- Good value all things considered
- Competition well priced due to lower brush head cost
Reliability & long term use
As should be expected when testing a toothbrush from a premium brand like Philips, I have not experienced any reliability or usability issues when testing the 1100. Everything worked as expected.
Having taken a good look at the handle and its construction I don’t have any obvious concerns for its long term durability. Of course, we will only ever really know once users have had it in their hands for months and even years.
To me, the handle feels solid and well made. There is a slimmer profile to it compared to many other brushes, but this doesn’t appear to have compromised anything.
The lack of extra features may well be a benefit in its reliability. And whilst Philips work to ensure durability, the nature of the product means it isn’t infallible. Some will inevitably fail, but this is unlikely to be caused by a deep rooted problem in the handle design or construction.
The Sonicare 1100 is backed by a 2 year warranty should anything go wrong.
The Sonicare 1100 is one of the best value toothbrushes available today.
Used correctly, it can clean the teeth really well.
Ideally, the 1100 would have a pressure sensor built-in, but sadly it does not.
It does have a 2 minute timer and a 30 second pacer that are so valuable and building and maintaining a good oral care routine.
There are more capable toothbrushes available, but the 1100 really packs a punch at a great price.
Slim in hand and easy to use this is a great option for new and existing electric toothbrush users.
- Height (without head) – 17.5cm/6.9 inches
- Height (with head) – 23.5cm/9.4 inches
- Width – 2.6cm/1 inch
- Thickness – 2.6cm/1 inch
- Weight (without head) – 92g/3.3oz
- Weight (with head) – 98g/3.4oz
All are approximates
- 57dB in operation peaks at 63-68dB with the clicking of a button and pausing of motor for pacer.