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Philips Sonicare 4100 Series Review

4100 Series in hand

Our Verdict

5 Star Rating

The 4100 Series is the best overall choice within the Philips Sonicare range.

It has the essential features required, as well as some extras, all for an affordable price.

It is a must buy for those looking for a sonic brush from a reputable brand.

Pros

  • 2 intensity settings – choose between low and high power
  • The timer and pacer encourage brushing for the recommended time
  • Slim handle design – stylish & easy to keep clean
  • USB charging stand makes it more convenient for some
  • BrushSync technology – reminder when brush heads need replacing

Cons

  • Sonic cleaning action isn’t quite as good as more premium Sonicare models – motors configured differently
  • The pressure sensor isn’t visible – vibrates the handle instead
  • No indicator lights to show which intensity is selected
  • USB charger makes it less convenient for some
  • Battery life isn’t as good as some other Sonicare brushes 

Where to buy the Sonicare 4100 Series

The 4100 power brush can be purchased from Philips and Amazon to name just two.

It’s always worth checking eBay too.

Consider these other brushes

Of all the electric toothbrushes available today, it is the Oral-B Smart 2000 that is my top pick.

The small round brush head provides a great clean and the toothbrush and replacement heads are affordable.  It ranks top within our electric toothbrush recommendations.

The 4100 Series is the Philips Sonicare equivalent to the Smart 2000. It is my top choice if you prefer a sonic toothbrush, instead of the oscillating-rotating of Oral-B.

The debate has and will continue to exist as to which cleans better.  In truth, they are comparable. 

It’s worth noting that over its lifetime, the Smart 2000 will work out cheaper — the brush is more expensive to begin with, but the replacement brush heads are much cheaper.

More important is brushing for the right amount of time, twice a day and using the correct technique.  Our guide to taking care of your teeth shows you all the important things you need to know, irrespective of the toothbrush you use.

Our Choice
Oral-B Smart 2000 Electric Rechargeable Toothbrush
Philips Sonicare 4100 Power Toothbrush, Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush with Pressure Sensor, White HX3681/23
Brush Name
Oral-B Smart 2000
Sonicare 4100 Series
Customer Rating
Electric Teeth Rating
5/5
5/5
Price
CDN$ 89.99
CDN$ 65.99
Prime
Our Choice
Oral-B Smart 2000 Electric Rechargeable Toothbrush
Brush Name
Oral-B Smart 2000
Customer Rating
Electric Teeth Rating
5/5
Price
CDN$ 89.99
Prime
Philips Sonicare 4100 Power Toothbrush, Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush with Pressure Sensor, White HX3681/23
Brush Name
Sonicare 4100 Series
Customer Rating
Electric Teeth Rating
5/5
Price
CDN$ 65.99
Prime

4100 Series power toothbrush in-depth review

The fundamentals of an electric toothbrush haven’t changed in quite some time. This is for good reason; they work. And those from Philips are clinically proven.

A good electric toothbrush doesn’t need to be complicated, nor does it need to be expensive. 

The 4100 isn’t the cheapest model. But it certainly isn’t the most feature rich when you consider the innovation packed into higher end models like the Prestige 9900.

It strikes the balance between features and functionality.  Most importantly it has the elements we believe are essential for any good electric toothbrush.

They are a 2 minute timer, 30 second pacer (quadpacer) and a pressure sensor.

The 4100 Series is part of a wider range refresh that began in late 2021. It has resulted in slimmer and lighter handles compared to previous models.

The 4100 Series replaces the 4100 ProtectiveClean.

We rate the 4100 Series as the best Sonicare toothbrush for most people, all things considered.

Variants of this toothbrush

At the time of review, there are 4 different variants of the 4100 Series from Philips.

Technically, they are all the same.  The same brushing modes, battery life and performance.

The difference is the colour of the brush handle and in a couple of instances, the colour of the charging stand.  The default colour of the charging stand is white.

Your options are:

  • Sugar rose- HX3681/21
  • White – HX3681/23
  • Black – HX3681/24
    • Comes with black coloured charging stand
  • Deep pink – HX3681/26

Certain colour options may well be sold exclusively by specific sellers.

Sonicare 4100 Color Range
Various colour options of the 4100 Series

What’s in the box?

  • 1 x White Sonicare 4100 Series brush handle
  • 1 x White C2 Optimal Plaque Control brush head with travel cap
  • 1 x White USB charging stand
  • Documentation
Sonicare 4100 Series box contents
Limited but functional box contents of the 4100 series

Key Features

  • Sonic cleaning action – 31,000 brush strokes per minute
  • 2 cleaning intensities
  • Built-in pressure sensor
  • 2 minute timer and 30 second pacer
  • Automatic power off
  • Brush head reminder system

How the 4100 looks, feels and works

I want to make mention of the retail packaging the 4100 Series comes with.

It is typical Sonicare in the colours, branding and design.  It is nice because it is consistent and the box clearly shows what the brush is and what the key features are.  It works well on store shelves.  

A nice touch is that the image on the box is colour matched to the handle inside making it very obvious what you will get.

Sonicare 4100 Series with retail box

Surprisingly some brands seem to forget to mention key features on their packaging.  In some instances, it is hard to know what you are actually buying.

Philips is working to improve its sustainability globally. Credit where credit is due, the 4100’s box is minimal in size and weight.  The outer box and inner tray are made from cardboard and are easily recyclable.

As I will explain in more detail later, Philips has now even changed its conventional charging stand to reduce plastic use.

So why then, do the brush handle, the brush head and the charging stand come wrapped in plastic! It is LDPE 4 plastic, which can technically be recycled, but it is still fairly difficult to do.

It is admirable that Philips has reduced the overall packaging size and weight, but is it not missing an obvious trick? Removing this plastic would further reduce environmental impact.

A slim toothbrush that is easy to keep clean

First impressions of the 4100 Series are great.  

It looks good and feels nice in the hand.

Compared to its predecessor it is slimmer by between 0.1 and 0.2 of an inch and about 1 ounce or so lighter.

This does impact battery life, but thankfully not too much.  More on this later.

It definitely isn’t the most grippy of all the toothbrushes I have used.  Some have more raised notches and rubber panels to assist. However, the matt coating means it doesn’t feel slippery to the touch.

A benefit, which isn’t perhaps immediately obvious, is that the brush is easy to rinse and wipe clean.  You don’t get the same buildup of residual toothpaste and gunk as you can on some other brushes. Particularly those with rubber grips on the handle.

Like most toothbrushes, this one is made up of 2 key parts – the brush handle and the brush head.

The handle itself is not a perfect cylinder. Although rounded, the edges are very slightly squared off which makes it feel solid and pleasant to hold.

Philips Sonicare 4100 Series Review 1

The 4100 feels good quality and durable

The 4100 feels good quality and durable. There are some lesser known brands that are cheaper, but the materials just don’t compare.

I can’t really fault the handle design.

The 4100 Series is available in a number of different variants. Functionally, the brush handles are the same, the difference is the colour. 

I have the HX3681/23 variant which is white in colour. 

On the front of the handle, just below the metal shaft is the Philips Sonicare logo, in a gray font.

There is a nice clicky feedback to the power button

Beneath this, within the upper third of the handle, is the power button. It appears to have an almost seamless design, despite being rubber, compared to the plastic of the brush handle itself.

It is concave and has a power icon embossed on it. It is colour matched to the handle too. There is a nice clicky feedback to the button. It isn’t very firm, so it’s quite easy to activate. Great for those with limited dexterity.

It is hard to explain, but there is a contouring to the plastic of the handle that creates a long oval shape around the power button. It adds a design cue to the handle and becomes a natural resting place for the thumb. 

White Sonicare 4100 Series

It is then only in the lower third of the handle do you have any extra notable detail on the front of the handle. Here sit the icons and LEDs for the brush head replacement reminder and the battery. The LED sits above each icon. More on this shortly.

The rest of the handle, including the sides and back are smooth to the touch, with no raised elements for grip etc. 

The only exception to this smooth design is on the back of the handle. Right at the bottom is a small plastic notch extending from the handle. This is designed to prevent the handle from rolling about when laid on a countertop.

The base of the handle has a recess within it. This is a space into which the charging stand fits to wirelessly recharge the internal battery.

The base has some regulatory information printed on it along with the model number.

The 4100 series does stand upright on a desktop.

The top of the handle tapers very slightly, just before flattening out to give a surface for the brush head to sit over. Extending from the top here is the metal shaft that connects to the brush motor inside the handle.

The provided 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.

It cIt comes with 31,000 brush strokes, not 62,000 movements

The motor in the 4100 isn’t the same as that used in the more premium Sonicare models.

The 4100 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 4100 can feel less powerful/intense compared to some other Sonicare toothbrushes.

Philips Sonicare 4100 Series Review 2

The lesser power on offer here isn’t immediately obvious. Even for me and I have tested hundreds of brushes.

This is because on the 4100 the ‘amplitude’ (the distance covered or the sweep angle of the bristles) has been tuned to be higher.

This makes the cleaning experience with the 4100 Series feel more intense and thorough.

According to Philips, it enables the 4000 Series to remove 5x more plaque compared to the 3x of the 1, 2 and 3000 Series brushes.

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.

You can have the best toothbrush in the world, but it’s no good if you are using it all wrong.

Your brushing time, frequency and technique all have a part to play.  Did you know you should hold the toothbrush at a 45 degree angle to the gumline? Our helpful guide explains the correct ways to brush your teeth.

The 4100 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.

4100 Series with head detached

The 4100 works with the full range of Sonicare brush heads

Included in the box with the Sonicare 4100 power toothbrush is a single C2 Optimal Plaque Control head.

It has been designed to be used everyday. It provides a thorough all round clean of the teeth. It works to remove the plaque that builds up as a result of eating, drinking and lifestyle habits.

It is one of our most recommended brush heads.

Philips Sonicare 4100 Series Review 3

It is important to be aware that this is just one of a number of different brush heads the company offers.

With few exceptions, all the heads are compatible with the 4100 Series. You want the push on and pull off heads, not the screw on style.

Each head is engineered to achieve different results. For example, teeth whitening or improving gum health. The cut, shape and length of the bristles all vary.

There are also more premium options that have a silicone coating on the back of the brush head. This is instead of the plastic you see on the C2 head. This is to make it softer on the gums and cheeks. 

The range of heads is confusing. Our ultimate guide to Sonicare brush heads explains each in more detail.

The thing to note here is that it is best to pick and use any Sonicare brush head, rather than worrying about which to pick. But, should you have a preference you do not have to stick to using the C2 Optimal Plaque Control head that comes with it. 

BrushSync technology tells you when to replace your head

You may already be aware, but in recent years Philips has made the majority of its brush heads ‘smarter’.

It has done this by placing a microchip into the base of the head.  

The Radio Frequency Identification Chip (RFID) communicates with compatible brush handles. The 4100 series is one of those compatible brushes.

The handle then tracks how long each brush head has been used for.

Once the head has been used for the equivalent of 3 months, a light on the brush handle illuminates.

The light acts as a visual indicator that the head has now passed its optimum condition and needs to be replaced.

BrusySync brush head replacement reminder Sonicare 4100
Amber/yellow LED brush head replacement light encourages brush head replacement

Once the head is replaced the system is essentially reset.

This clever system is otherwise known as BrushSync technology.

For it to function you need a compatible handle and head.

Heads without the RFID chip can be used on a BrushSync enabled handle, but you don’t gain the benefits.

I touch upon this within the pricing section, but these are more expensive. They cost around CDN $13 per head compared to CDN $10 of a regular head.  Third party/aftermarket heads can’t offer compatible heads.

They aren’t exactly good for the planet either.  They make an already complicated product even more difficult to recycle.

Arguably you don’t need this technology.  Built into the heads are bristles that will fade in colour over time and with use.  They go from a blue to a pale blue/translucent colour.  

The fading bristles do the same thing as the brush head replacement reminder system on offer.

Yet, too many people still don’t replace their heads. Our own research a few years ago discovered 26% of people only replace their head every 6 months.  That is twice the recommended time.

Worn heads can be damaging to the teeth and gums and less effective.  Thus, replacing them regularly is important.

Hence Sonicare trying to find a solution that will alert and help users.
This BrushSync technology article explains it in more depth.

You can switch between 2 brushing intensities

The 4100 offers 2 brushing intensities.

You have a softer and more gentle ‘low’ mode and a more powerful ‘high’ mode.

It is quite nice to have the choice, although the more powerful high mode is the one you will most likely want to use.

The softer mode is good to have if your gums are a bit inflamed and tender to the touch.  It is also a more pleasant option for first time electric toothbrush users.

Additional cleaning modes and their benefits are often overrated.  Rarely do they bring significant benefits. A single cleaning mode is generally all you need.

In many respects, 2 brushing intensities achieve an additional mode.

If I were to recommend an additional mode over a standard clean mode, it would be a sensitive mode.  The low intensity mode is this.

Power button Sonicare 4100

The brushing results are pleasing

I have found the brushing results to be really quite pleasing.  I get that deep and invigorating clean feeling after each use.

The cleaning intensities are activated by a single press of the power button. 

The brush will default to the last used mode, which is great. You don’t have to worry about switching to the correct one each time.

Should you want to change, press the power button promptly for a second time. It will then select the other intensity.

A third press will turn the toothbrush off.

If you wish to change intensity mid cycle, you have to turn the brush off first.

It is a shame that there are no LEDs on the handle to make it really clear what intensity you have selected.  For example, 1 LED for low and 2 LEDs for high.  Premium Sonicare models do. 

EasyStart eases you in 

If you are a new electric toothbrush user a sonic toothbrush, even set to a lower intensity, can seem quite powerful and intense.  It is a different sensation from a manual brush.  Some people are not at all phased by it, whilst others struggle.

EasyStart is a feature that gradually increases the power of the toothbrush over the first 14 brushing sessions (7 days).  This helps you get used to the brushing sensation and power that a Philips Sonicare toothbrush offers.

Come the end of the 14 sessions you should have gotten used to the sensation and can happily use the brush at the full power settings.

The 4100 comes with Sonicare’s EasyStart feature activated by default.  It is possible to deactivate this if you require.

The timer and pacer help you to brush for the right amount of time

Most dental professionals and health bodies recommend brushing the teeth twice a day, and to do so for at least 2 minutes each time.

This advice has existed for decades, yet too few brush for the right amount of time, if they even brush twice a day at all. 

Let’s be honest, there are more fun things to do than brushing your teeth.  Even when you do, it is easy to get distracted or think you have been brushing for longer than you have.

With the 4100, you shouldn’t be able to get it wrong.

Philips Sonicare 4100 Series Review 4

Firstly, the 2 minute timer, or SmarTimer as Philips names it, is activated from the moment you turn the brush on.

In fact, the brush turns itself off automatically after a 2 minute brushing session.  So, if you turn the brush off, you know you haven’t brushed for long enough.

It is all well and good brushing for 2 minutes, but no good if you only clean the front teeth.

The QuadPacer or 30 second timer is designed to help you clean the teeth more evenly.

At 30 second intervals the pacer kicks in.  You will note a pause in the bristle motion, a change in sound and brushing sensation.  This is your cue to move from one section 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.

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 to 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.

Of course, you don’t have to follow it, but it is good practice.

The pressure sensor alerts you when you brush too hard

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.

To help prevent this, the 4100 has a pressure sensor built-in.

When the brush detects too much force is being applied, the handle vibrates very differently.  You can feel the change in your hand.  At the same time, the brushing sensation changes. As does the sound the brush generates.

The BrushSync replacement reminder LED also flashes amber. Given its position and size, it is not the easiest to see.  You don’t get a large visible LED as you do on many Oral-B brushes or models like the DiamondClean Smart.

It is these changes though that alert you to the issue at hand.

Relieve the pressure to stop these alerts and prevent any damage.

If you are new to the 4100 Series, you might begin activating the sensor quite frequently.  Within a few days though you will get used to how much pressure is appropriate.

Once you do, you shouldn’t activate it all that often, but it is still a useful tool to have built into the handle.

It’s water resistant, but not submergible

Sealed inside the 4100’s brush handle is all the technology that makes this brush function. This includes the user rechargeable battery, which should give 14+ days of use on a full charge.

The handle is water resistant. This means it has been designed to resist the water, toothpaste and saliva that it will come into contact with. A rinse under the tap to clean it is fine. Sonicare tends to advise not using the brush 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.

Sonicare 4100 under running water

Accessories and extras

The 4100 comes with the essential things you need and not lots of unnecessary extras.  You certainly don’t need anything else.  Maybe a 2 pin charger, rather than USB charging, but everyone has different opinions on that.

A travel case can be handy for those on the go.  Even for infrequent travellers, a case can be useful.  It protects the handle and head from damage and accidental activation. Sadly there is no case supplied with the 4100.

Sonicare does also offer a 2 year warranty that covers any mechanical or workmanship faults, but not user damage.

The 4100 is a very pleasant toothbrush that I genuinely struggle to find fault with.  I would have no issue using this on a daily basis.

Summary of design & general use

  • Slim and comfortable brush handle
  • Different colour options
  • Sonic cleaning action isn’t quite as good as more premium Sonicare models – motors configured differently
  • 2 brushing intensities
  • 1 brush head included
  • Various styles of brush heads are available separately
  • Brush head replacement reminder
  • Built-in timer and 30 second pacer
  • Pressure sensor to stop you from brushing too hard
  • Travel case included with some variants
  • 2+ week battery life
  • Water resistant handle
  • 2 year warranty 

The battery last for 14 days on a full charge

For most people, there isn’t a need to have months of use available from a single charge of the toothbrush battery.  Yes, it has its benefits, but I can’t say I have seen many complaints about having to recharge.

In fact, a large proportion of users put their toothbrush back on charge immediately after use.

That said, I wish for a toothbrush to last at least 2 weeks on a single charge.  

This should cover most use cases. In particular, it gives the ability to go on vacation and not have to worry about it running out of power.

Built into the 4100 Series is a user rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery.  It is said to offer 14 days on a full charge.

Brushing intensities affect battery life

In my hands-on testing, using the higher intensity option, I achieved 34 brushing sessions, each  2 minutes in length.

This equates to 17 days of brushing twice a day, without needing to replenish the battery. Or to put it another way, 68 minutes of usage time. 

This is acceptable and surpasses the claimed 14 days (2 weeks).

Unfortunately, it isn’t quite as good as the battery life in models like the ProtectiveClean Series. These typically surpass 3+ weeks on a single charge.  They do so whilst delivering more bristle movements per minute. Then again the 4100 is slimmer and lighter.

That said, the 4100 Series has 2 intensities. When used on the lower powered modes, I achieved in the region of 82 brushing sessions.

That is equivalent to 41 days, or over 5 weeks of use.

More impressive this is, but you are not getting the maximum benefits of the brush on this less intense cleaning mode.  But, if you do need to extend the usable time, switching to this intensity level will allow for a longer usage time.

The charging stand connects via USB

Provided in the box is a charging stand for the 4100.

White in colour, the stand is a newer design, compared to older stands the company offered.

It 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 deep.

There is a prong in the middle of the stand that fits into the recess on the base of the brush handle.

There are 3 small rubber feet on the base to help prevent movement on a countertop.

Sonicare 4100 Series on USB charging stand

Unlike most chargers that have a 2 pin plug connected to them, this has a USB connector.

It is a male, USB Type-A connector. 

This 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 the US, you will need to use a USB plug adapter you already have or source one.

Included is a leaflet. It states that dropping out the power adapter reduces plastic use equivalent to 19 million plastic bottles.

I am all for reducing plastic, but I think many will take issue with this.

The USB stand potentially makes for a more convenient option for frequent travellers. USB charging is an international standard. There is no need to worry about voltages and plug adapters in quite the same way.

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.

Compared to the previous stand, the toothbrush can be placed in any position on top, rather than in a specific position.  And, the handle can actually rotate a full 360 degrees on the stand.

Once placed on the charging stand, the brush will emit a couple of beeps and vibrations to confirm it is charging.  It can take up to 24 hours to charge fully.

If you have a Sonicare toothbrush already (excluding the DiamondClean charger), the 4100 does work with this.

How the battery LED notifications work

Towards the bottom of the brush handle is an LED notification light.  It gives 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.

When on a working charging stand a flashing green LED means it is charging, whilst a solid green LED means it is full. It will turn off after 30 seconds.

Battery notification light Sonicare 4100
Battery LED lit green shows a full battery

The battery is not user replaceable

The rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery is sealed inside the brush handle.

Sealing it inside helps prevent water ingress and any risk of damage when being used daily.  This approach is commonplace across the electric toothbrush industry.

The options with removable batteries are usually those powered by an AA or AAA cell.

I agree with this from a safety and reliability point of view.

However, it is quite apparent now that products need to be more sustainable and repairable in an effort to reduce our impact on the planet.

It is rare for a battery to fail. I would suggest that the typical life of an electric toothbrush is in the region of 5-7 years.

No doubt during that time you will have gotten your value from it. But it would be good if there was an option to replace the battery if required.  Even if you and I couldn’t do it at home ourselves, we could have a trained professional do it in exchange for a fair fee.

Disappointingly the user guide specifically states that there are no user-serviceable parts. It explains how to remove the battery, only in a way that would likely longer make the brush usable.

Summary of battery life

  • Lithium-Ion battery built-in
  • The battery is not user removable
  • Sonicare suggests 14 days/2 week battery life
  • Achieved 17 days of use on high intensity
  • Achieved 41 days of use on low intensity
  • 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.

I have been quite clear from the outset that the 4000 Series isn’t the cheapest Sonicare toothbrush. It is far from the most expensive though.

But, it is in our opinion the best value overall when you consider the features, performance and price.

It is a must buy, if you are in the market for a sonic toothbrush.

How it compares to other Sonicare prices

The recommended retail price of the 4100 Series is CDN $79.99. This is reasonable, all things considered. Particularly when the top of the line model is commanding a price of CDN $499.99.

I can confidently tell you that it doesn’t clean the teeth 6x better for that price premium.

But at $50 or thereabouts it is double that of the 1100 Series at CDN $29.99.

Sonicare does suggest the 4100 removes 5x more plaque than the 3x of the 1100.

The 1100 is a great budget choice, but I do believe the 4100 is worth the extra, if you can afford it.

Philips Sonicare 4100 Series Review 5

Discounts are available

Prices are always subject to change and vary from one seller to another. It is pretty commonplace to achieve around 20% discount on the retail price though.

It can vary with times of the year and seasonal promotions, but it isn’t uncommon to expect the 4100 to be available for CDN $65.

Since launch, the retail price has held up pretty strong. The retail price has been set lower than its predecessor, so the discount might not be quite as frequent as I have been used to.

I do believe, even at $80, it is still a solid choice.

A quick word on brush head pricing

The 4100 comes with 1 x C2 Optimal Plaque Control brush head included.

It is advisable to replace a brush head every 3 months. This ensures you are getting maximum cleaning efficiency from the bristles and not doing unnecessary damage to the teeth.

As I highlighted earlier in the review, the 4100 has BrushSync technology built-in.  This gives you a notification of the right time to replace the head.

The consequence is compatible brush heads are more expensive.

You are typically looking at a price of CDN $13 per head compared to the $10 of a head without the RFID chip that enables BrushSync.

You can use heads without this technology, you just won’t get the benefit.

I wish not to fixate on the competition, but an Oral-B head typically costs around $8, but it doesn’t have the same tech built-in.

How the long term ownership costs work out

At Electric Teeth we like to price a brush over a 3 year period to give a bit of a benchmark by which to compare it to other models.

A toothbrush might be very affordable to buy initially, but expensive replacement brush heads can make the longer term ownership costs very high.  Or, it could be the other way around.

Assuming 1 user, you will need to purchase a further 11 brush heads at a cost of CDN $143. 

Add this to the average selling price of around CDN $65 and you have a total cost of CDN $208.

Our most recommended brush, the Smart 2000 from Oral-B costs $168. Not significant differences, but a saving nonetheless.

But, you will likely own the brush longer and this is where the difference really starts to show.  An additional 2 years brush heads for Sonicare will cost CDN $104 compared to the $64 of Oral-B.

To extend the value of the brush, you could share the handle with another user, swapping out the brush heads each time.

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
  • Recommended retail price of CDN $79.99
  • Tend to sell for up to 20% less, so around CDN $65
  • BrushSync head will typically cost CDN $13 each
  • Works out at around CDN $208 over 3 years
  • Oral-B Smart 2000 is cheaper

My thoughts on reliability and repairability

Having tested many different electric toothbrushes over the years, I can often find any notable weaknesses in the product design.

Only years or repeated use will tell the whole story. From my time with the 4100 Series gives me no reason to complain or be concerned.

The handle looks and feels well built, with no meaningful gaps between parts.  This is the same story for other more affordable models. This includes the 1100, 2100 and 3100 Series, which share the same handle design. 

Philips have many years of manufacturing, research and design experience. I trust that they have done a good job and learnt from any previous mistakes.

The nature of an electronic product, to be used in the mouth and exposed to water always brings with it challenges. I nor Sonicare would ever suggest 100% reliability, but the failure rate should be very low indeed.

The 4000 Series comes with a 2 year warranty against defects and workmanship, so you have the option of repair or replacement should it ever fail.  In most cases, they will send you a new brush, once the fault has been confirmed.

Unfortunately, no parts on the brush are designed to be user serviceable. This isn’t uncommon for an electric toothbrush. With a need to move to more sustainable approaches this is disappointing.

Sustainability

Electric toothbrushes don’t fare well in their impact on the environment.

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t use one. You need to balance effective cleaning and disease prevention against the environmental impact.

Electric toothbrushes can reduce the need for dental treatment. And avoid the need for planetary impacts that come from procedures such as fillings.

There is a lack of detailed evidence to confirm that a filling is worse than use of an electric toothbrush.  But, with the data available, dentist Gemma Wheeler believes that a single filling is worse than an electric brush with a usable life of 5 years.

There is no perfect solution as yet. We want to see manufacturers doing more to tackle this issue and achieve significant improvements.

Schemes to recycle brush heads only scratch the surface of what needs to be done.

Related to the 4100 specifically:

Pros

  • Limited box contents – not lots of unnecessary extras. This reduces the weight of transportation
  • Small box with limited weight and recyclable cardboard inner tray.
  • USB charging stand supplied.
    • Dropping the 2 pin power adapter is said to save equivalent plastic to 19 million plastic bottles

Cons

  • The handle and charging stand are wrapped unnecessarily in LDPE 4 plastic.
  • BrushSync heads require a microchip.
    • Arguably not required if users make use of fading indicator bristles or remember to replace a head regularly.
  • No user serviceable parts.
    • Removing the battery breaks the brush.

Conclusion

Buy the 4100 Series as your next electric toothbrush.  You won’t be disappointed.

It does a good job of cleaning the teeth, when used correctly.

The handle is slim, stylish and comfortable to use.

Despite the lack of textured surfaces to grip to, it feels secure in hand and the bonus is an easy to clean handle.

The Oral-B Smart 2000 is my ultimate choice for a new electric toothbrush today. Truth be told the differences between that and the 4100 are not significant. 

The 4100 is the best overall Sonicare toothbrush available.

Our Choice
Oral-B Smart 2000 Electric Rechargeable Toothbrush
Philips Sonicare 4100 Power Toothbrush, Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush with Pressure Sensor, White HX3681/23
Brush Name
Oral-B Smart 2000
Sonicare 4100 Series
Customer Rating
Electric Teeth Rating
5/5
5/5
Price
CDN$ 89.99
CDN$ 65.99
Prime
Our Choice
Oral-B Smart 2000 Electric Rechargeable Toothbrush
Brush Name
Oral-B Smart 2000
Customer Rating
Electric Teeth Rating
5/5
Price
CDN$ 89.99
Prime
Philips Sonicare 4100 Power Toothbrush, Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush with Pressure Sensor, White HX3681/23
Brush Name
Sonicare 4100 Series
Customer Rating
Electric Teeth Rating
5/5
Price
CDN$ 65.99
Prime

Size Guide

  • Height (without head) – 17.3cm/6.8 inches
  • Height (with head) – 23.4cm/9.2 inches
  • Width – 2.5cm/0.9 inches
  • Thickness – 2.7cm/1 inches
  • Weight (without head) – 92g/3.2oz
  • Weight (with head) – 97g/3.4oz

All are approximates

Noise

  • 60dB

FAQ

  • Is the 4100 Series an oscillating brush?
    • No. It is a Sonic electric toothbrush.
  • How many cleaning modes does the 4100 have?
  • What brush head does it come with and what alternative ones can be used?
    • The brush head supplied with the 4100 is the C2 Optimal Plaque Control head. You get 1 included in the box.
    • Sonicare offer a total of 12 different brush heads, each of which can be purchased separately and used with this toothbrush. Those options are:
      • C1 Pro Results
      • C2 Optimal Plaque Control
      • C3 Premium Plaque Control
      • G2 Optimal Gum Care
      • G3 Premium Gum Care
      • I InterCare
      • S Sensitive
      • W DiamondClean
      • W3 Premium White
      • T1 TongueCare+
      • SimplyClean
      • A3 Premium All-in-One
    • You can find out more about Philips Sonicare brush heads here
  • Does the 4100 have a pressure sensor?
    • Yes, it does. The handle vibrates to alert you. There is no visible pressure sensor.
  • Does the ProtectiveClean 4100 have Bluetooth?
    • No, it does not.
  • Does it come with a travel case?
    • No, a travel case is not supplied.  
  • Does it come with a charger?
    • Yes, a charging stand is included. It is a USB charger.
  • How long does the battery last?
    • The battery lasts up to 68 minutes or 17 days when used on the standard high intensity mode, twice a day for 2 minutes.
  • Can I use the 4100 in the shower?
    • No. Although the handle is designed to be water resistant, Sonicare does not advise use in the shower.
  • Does the 4100 come with a warranty & how long is it?
  • How to turn on and off EasyStart
    • Put the handle on the plugged-in charger.
    • Press and hold the power on/off button while the handle remains on the charger.
    • Keep the power on/off button pressed until you hear a single short beep (after 3 seconds).
    • Release the power on/off button.
    • Triple tone of low-med-high means the EasyStart feature has been activated. The battery level light indicator will also blink green 2 times to confirm activation.
    • Triple tone of high-med-low means the EasyStart feature has been deactivated. The battery level light indicator will also blink amber 1 time to confirm deactivation.
  • How to turn on and off brush head reminder
    • A smart brush head must be fitted to the handle to activate or deactivate.
    • Put the handle on the plugged-in charger.
    • Press and hold the power on/off button while the handle remains on the charger.
    • Keep the power on/off button pressed until you hear a series of two short beeps (after 5 seconds).
    • Release the power on/off button.
    • Triple tone of low-med-high means the Brush head replacement reminder feature has been activated. The battery level light indicator will also blink green 2 times to confirm activation.
    • Triple tone of high-med-low means the Brush head replacement reminder feature has been deactivated.  The battery level light indicator will also blink amber 1 time to confirm deactivation.
  • How to turn on and off pressure sensor
    • Put the handle on the plugged-in charger.
    • Press and hold the power on/off button while the handle remains on the charger.
    • Keep the power on/off button pressed until you hear a series of three short beeps (after 7 seconds).
    • Release the power on/off button.
    • Triple tone of low-med-high means the pressure sensor feature has been activated. The battery level light indicator will also blink green 2 times to confirm activation.
    • Triple tone of high-med-low means the pressure sensor feature has been deactivated. The battery level light indicator will also blink amber 1 time to confirm deactivation.
    • If you continue holding the power on/off button after the three short beeps, the activate/deactivate sequence repeats.

Your Opinions

Do you own or have you used the Sonicare 4100 Series?

Are there certain features that you really like or dislike?

Let us know what you think about this brush and let others who may well be considering purchasing one know your opinions before they do.

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Philips Sonicare 4100 Series
Author Rating
51star1star1star1star1star

About Jon Love

Jon is a leading voice on electric toothbrushes and has been quoted by mainstream media publications for his opinions and expertise.

Having handled & tested hundreds of products there really is very little he does not know about them.

Passionate about business and helping others, Jon has been involved in various online enterprises since the early 2000s.

After spending 12 years in consumer technology, it was in 2014 that he focused his attention on dental health, having experienced first-hand the challenge of choosing a new toothbrush.

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