Which one would we choose?
Our choice: Philips Sonicare 9900 Prestige
2nd choice: Oral-B iO
The Sonicare 9900 Presitge is the electric toothbrush that I would choose.
The 2 brushes do the same job. They both clean the teeth very well. I could happily use either on a daily basis.
But, when you consider all the features on offer, the Prestige is the more compelling option.
It is a more complete offering that feels a little more current and considerate of the user.
- Cleaning/brushing action
- The Sonicare 9900 Prestige uses sonic cleaning action. The iO has an oscillating-rotating cleaning action.
- Handle design/colours
- The iO Series 9 is available in 1 colour option, black onyx. (White alabaster, black onyx & rose quartz options available internationally).
- The Prestige is available in 2 colour options (champagne & midnight blue).
- The Oral-B iO has an interactive colour OLED display in the brush handle.
- The Oral-B iO has an LED light ring that can be lit a number of different colours.
- Cleaning modes
- The iO has 7 cleaning modes (daily clean, sensitive, super sensitive, intense, whiten, gum care, and tongue clean).
- The 9900 comes with 5 cleaning modes (clean, white+, deep clean+, gum health & sensitive).
- The iO’s cleaning modes can be changed from the handle, whereas the 9900’s have to be changed via the app.
- The 9900 offers 3 different intensities to the cleaning modes, low, medium, and high.
- The pacer on the Prestige operates in 6 x 20 seconds intervals compared to the 4 x 30 seconds of the iO.
- The 9900 turns off at the end of a cleaning cycle.
- Brush heads
- The iO comes with 2 brush heads (2 x Ultimate Clean).
- The Prestige comes with 1 brush head (1 x A3 Premium All-in-One).
- The 2 brushes have different shaped brush heads.
- Pressure sensor
- The Prestige 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 9900 vibrates the brush handle to alert you, the iO does not.
- The iO also lights up green, when the right amount of pressure is applied, the Prestige does not.
- Both brushes have a claimed 2 week battery life. The Prestige achieved around 4 weeks in use compared to the 2 of the iO.
- The iO gives more battery feedback on the handle via the OLED display. The Prestige has an exact percentage (%) shown within the smartphone app.
- Bluetooth technology
- The Oral-B app tracks more tooth surfaces than the Prestige.
- It appears to take longer than 2 minutes in the Oral-B app to successfully clean all tooth surfaces.
- The Sonicare app feels more comprehensive, educational and useful.
- Other features & technologies
- The Prestige has Brushsync technology that will track how long the brush head has been used. It will illuminate an LED on the brush handle to alert you when it is time to replace it. This is not available on the iO.
- The Prestige has a scrubbing sensor (deactivated by default) that alerts you if you are moving the brush too much.
- Adaptive intensity technology in the Prestige will adjust the intensity of the cleaning mode if required.
- Travel case
- The 9900’s travel case is slimmer and more stylish than the iO’s.
- The Sonicare travel case charges via a USB Type C connector, rather than the bulky proprietary power adapter of the iO.
- Accessories & box contents
- The iO comes with a travel refill holder which holds up to 2 brush heads upright with a protective cap.
- The iO has a magnetic charging stand that can recharge the brush in around 3 hours.
- The Prestige takes up to 16 hours to fully charge via the USB charging stand.
- Both models come with a 2 year warranty.
- The iO’s retail price is higher at NZ$749 compared to the NZ$499 of the Prestige.
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:
Please note. 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.
There are 3 variants of the Oral-B iO. It is the iO Series 9 that I am comparing here. I make reference to the Series 7 and Series 8 where appropriate.
Detailed comparison: what’s the difference between the Sonicare 9900 Prestige and Oral-B iO?
Before I dig into the detail of the key differences, I want to share something with you. This is very important to know.
Both of these electric toothbrushes are very good. Both, will, when used correctly, leave you with very clean teeth.
Both models have the features I consider essential built-in.
Both too are far more premium models than you actually need. You can get excellent brushes for a lot less money. Yes, features will be sacrificed, but they are not deal breakers.
But, if you want to own the best, then these are the models to consider.
The first and most significant difference is the cleaning action.
The Prestige 9900 has a sonic cleaning action. The iO has an oscillating and rotating cleaning action.
The sonic technology uses 2 methods to clean the teeth. The first is a mechanical side-to-side cleaning motion. The second is a non-contact approach. It uses sonic technology to disrupt 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. It 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.
The cleaning action found on the Oral-B iO is more highly regarded clinically, both do a fantastic job.
Don’t get too worried about which approach is best.
With the cleaning action covered, let’s now talk about the design of these 2 models.
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
The Prestige 9900 measurements are:
- Height (without head) – 17.5cm
- Height (with head) – 24cm
- Width – 2.7cm
- Thickness – 2.8cm
- Weight (without head) – 117g
- Weight (with head) – 123g
It is clear that they both share the typical electric toothbrush form factor. Yet there are small differences in the aesthetics of the handles.
Where once Sonicare took the lead in design, Oral-B have made significant improvements. The iO and is a model more fitting of the price tag requested of it.
Whilst neither handle are perfect cylinders, the iO is the slightly more rounded of the two. The Prestige feels squarer in hand.
The hands-on images throughout this review show the design differences of each handle.
Both have quite a clean, minimal look to them.
In hand and use, I think I do prefer the Sonicare. Although the pressure sensitive buttons on the 9900 are more awkward than the tactile buttons that the iO has. You get more feedback when pressing the iO’s buttons. They are too rubber/silicone coated so feel more obvious to the fingertip than those on the 9900.
The Prestige does not have any cleaning mode labels on the brush handle. This is unlike most other models from the brand. This helps with the clean look. Even the intensity setting icons appear to vanish into the handle. Only when backlit do they become obvious.
With the iO, all the brushing modes are shown on the OLED screen, which is quite a unique feature.
That screen is something that set’s these 2 brushes apart. It does not alter your brushing experience. Bt it does offer some beneficial elements. 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 know that is not good enough compared to the recommended 2 minutes.
A major aesthetic difference is the light ring around the neck of the handle of the iO, compared to the 9900.
This translucent panel 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.
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 Prestige 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 9900, 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.
In addition, the Prestige will reduce the brushing intensity. Called ‘adaptive intensity’ it will reduce the power from high to low if you apply too much pressure for too long.
Utilising this LED ring at the bottom of the Prestige brush handle is too the scrubbing sensor. This is disabled by default. If activated, it will monitor how rapidly the brush head is moved as you brush. It will alert you via a yellow light and vibrations if you need to reduce the amount of brush head movement.
The handle colours do vary between the 2 models.
Sonicare offers the Prestige in 2 colours, midnight blue and champagne. The iO on the other hand is available in 1 colour within New Zealand for the Series 9. That colour is black onyx.
In other regions of the world, it is available in white alabaster, black onyx and rose quartz.
The Series 8 is available in white. In other regions too you can get a violet ametrine colour option of the iO, but this is exclusive to the Series 8.
Right, so to the cleaning modes then.
Both have multiple modes.
The iO has 7 modes:
- Daily Clean
- Gum Care
- Super Sensitive (not available on Series 7)
- Tongue Clean (not available on Series 7 or 8)
The Prestige has 5:
- Deep Clean+
- Gum Health
On top of this, the Prestige 9900 has 3 different intensity settings, low, medium and high.
LEDs on the handle light up to reflect the intensity level that has been set.
- 1 light – low intensity
- 2 lights – medium intensity
- 3 lights – high intensity
You could therefore say the Prestige has 15 different possible cleaning configurations. 5 cleaning modes each with 3 intensity settings.
Rarely do you actually need extra modes, but in some instances that can be useful. The sensitive and gum health modes are most useful. They are slower and less powerful, offering a less intense option.
A point to note here is that with the iO you can change the modes right from the brush handle.
With the 9900 the mode has to be changed via the app. Although it has 5 modes, only 1 mode is active and set on the brush handle at any one time. You can’t switch between clean and white mode without using the smartphone application.
What this means is you will only know which cleaning mode is set on the Prestige by going via the app. Whereas the display on the iO will have this labelled.
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 and for the recommended amount of time.
The iO is configured with 30 second pacing. The Prestige is set with 20 second pacing. This is a subtle, but notable difference between the 2 models.
This means during a 2 minute cleaning cycle you have 4 x 30 second periods or 6 x 20 seconds, subject to the toothbrush being used.
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 seconds, the brush motors pauses. This changes 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 9900 has a 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. It will power off after 5 minutes, but you don’t need to brush for this length of time.
A point to note is that this pacer is disabled with the iO when used at the same time as the app.
No toothbrush would be complete without a brush head.
The iO comes with 2 heads, whilst the Prestige comes with one in the box. The styles are different.
The iO comes with an Ultimate Clean brush. The Prestige comes with A3 Premium All-in-One head.
Both are designed to be a bit of a do it all head, reducing the need for different styles of heads for different modes. They remove plaque effectively, promote healthier gums and help whiten teeth. This is more aggressively marketed with Sonicare. You don’t need others, but you do have some choice if you so desire.
The Oral-B head is small and round. This is typical for the brand. Whereas the Prestige comes with a larger ovalish shaped brush head. This larger head is like those found on most manual brushes.
With either brush, you can use the brush head on any of the cleaning modes.
The brush heads themselves fit only to the respective brand’s handles. Both are easy to replace, pulling off and pushing back on. No twisting or locking into place required.
Brush heads should be replaced with either model on average every 3 months.
Both brands allow you to track the brush heads usage via the smartphone application. Yet, Sonicare is much smarter. This is because it has an RFID chip built into the brush head.
The chip is detected up by the handle and tracked. Once used for 3 months, a light on the brush handle is lit orange/amber to alert you. This is clever and very useful for giving that visual reminder to change the brush head. This is part of a technology Sonicare calls BrushSync.
Both brands have fading indicator bristles built into the brush heads. This acts as an extra reminder feature.
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. It creates a case that allows you to then take the heads with you should you choose.
Powering both brushes are Lithium-Ion batteries. These are built into the handles and are not user removable.
Both companies claim a battery life of around 2 weeks. This is based on 1 user brushing their teeth twice a day for 2 minutes.
Where the iO lasts 2 weeks on a full charge, the 9900 Prestige lasts twice as long. My own hands-on testing achieved over 4 weeks.
Both brushes give a bit of feedback on the remaining battery charge via the brush handle.
The iO displays the battery percentage in 10% increments (10, 30, 60, 80% for example) on the display. Whereas the 9900 battery charge light is illuminated as follows:
- A solid white LED means a full battery.
- A flashing white LED means a medium battery.
- A flashing white LED and three beeps mean a low battery.
- A flashing white LED and five beeps mean no brushing sessions left, you need to charge the toothbrush.
If you open up the Sonicare app on your phone you actually get the precise percentage (%) shown on the screen. For example 47%. The iO does not do this.
Both toothbrushes come with a charging stand included in the box.
The iO’s stand is slightly heavier and has magnets inside to align and hold the handle in place. It can charge the brush fully in 3 hours.
The 9900’s charging stand is made up of 2 parts, a base plate and a puck that then sits on top.
It can take up to 16 hours to fully charge the Prestige.
Both have power cables hardwired into the stands.
The iO’s power adapter connects to a 3 pin socket found in bathrooms and supports 100-240v.
The Prestige has a male USB Type A connector on the end of the cable. Couple this with the 2 pin USB power adapter (supporting 100-240v) and you can charge in a bathroom. Or forget the adapter and charge via a USB socket on a laptop, computer, wall socket or battery bank for example.
The charging might be slower with the Prestige, but it feels like a more practical option.
As is common with premium brushes like this, both come with travel cases.
Each case holds the brush handle and a single brush head.
The 9900 has a far superior case in my mind.
It is slimmer and far more stylish, having been wrapped in vegan leather. It has a little strap built in to hold onto the case.
The standout feature is the USB charging it offers.
The USB cable is not hardwired into the case, nor is there a place to store it. But, the case itself has a USB Type C connector on it. A very current connection. It is futureproofed and makes charging wherever you are easy.
You can pair up the USB A to Type C cable provided with the provided power adapter or use the USB cable on its own.
The iO’s case is much larger. It too allows the toothbrush to be charged whilst inside. But, it requires a proprietary power adapter. You can’t charge it via a USB cable.
Both cases do the job. But the 9900 Prestige is sleeker and a more practical option for a regular traveller.
As I have already stated, both of these models are considered ‘smart’. They have Bluetooth built-in. They are able to do more than your average electric toothbrush.
The intention behind the technology in both instances is the same. To inform and educate users into taking better care of their teeth and oral health. The implementation is slightly different.
There is lots I could talk about. There are subtle differences. I am taking a very broad overview in this comparison. Please do refer to the individual reviews for more information.
Both companies provide a free application for Android and iOS.
Both apps have their pros and cons, but I do believe that the Sonicare app is the better.
Each app collates and stores lots of data. I think the Sonicare app presents it in a more intuitive way. Charts use green or orange colours. The green represents good, whilst orange depicts areas for improvement. Visually it works.
The app also offers some extra configuration options that can work well for some people.
Please note, that the software is regularly updated. Things may change in time.
Both brushes offer real-time position tracking.
Sensors in the brush handle relay information back to the application. This is then displayed on the screen. I do think the tracking is marginally better with the iO as it is tracking up to 16 zones of the mouth. Compare this to the 12 of the Prestige. Oral-B tracks brushing of the front, back and top of tooth surfaces. Whereas Sonicare doesn’t currently track the brushing of the top (biting) surfaces.
To get perfect coverage with Oral-B, it seems necessary to brush for well over 2 minutes. This is despite the tracking accuracy being marginally being better than Sonicare.
Oral-B allows for a less regimented approach to toothbrushing when used in real-time. It will track you no matter what surface you are brushing. The Sonicare app will only log it if you are brushing the area it stipulates on the screen.
Both have their pros and cons. I do think the Sonicare app encourages better habit formation. This is important with oral care.
Lastly, both models come with a 2 year warranty as standard.
Does one clean better than the other?
At the time of writing, there is no clinical data to confirm this.
Even if it did, the likelihood of there being a meaningful difference between them is very low.
In fact, the following has more impact on your oral health than either of these particular models:
- Your brushing technique
- Your total brushing time
- The number of times you brush per day
Arguments can be made for either model. If I absolutely had to pick one model, it would be the iO.
This is based on the results of an independent study by Cochrane. It suggests that there is evidence that Oral-B is more effective than Sonicare.
Evidence favoured Oral-B. The differences are small and clinically unclear. Further studies are required.
Therefore worry less about which brush and worry more about getting your technique right.
To complicate the situation further… There is an argument that smart technology could have an impact on how well you brush your teeth.
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.
In both instances, the apps are designed to help educate and inform you and me as the user. We can get insights into our brushing habits. And from this make the necessary corrections to improve our oral health.
Both apps are similarly featured, with real-time tracking and feedback.
The iO tracks and more tooth surface data than Sonicare. However, the implementation with Sonicare is stricter. It encourages better habit formation.
The Sonicare app does too have small elements that feel slightly better thought out. I feel that the way the data is interpreted and presented within the Sonicare app is a little more useful.
Is one better priced than the other?
Yes, if you look at the retail prices alone the Sonicare 9900 is the much better value buy.
It has a retail price of NZ$499 compared to the NZ$749 of the iO.
With $250 between them, anyone will agree that this is a significant price premium.
Yet, it isn’t quite as simple as considering the retail price only.
Oral-B models tend to sell on average for 50% less than retail, bringing the cost down to around NZ$350.
Compare this to Sonicare models that often have a much smaller discount and the 9900 comes in at around NZ$480. This makes the premium $130 for the Prestige.
Prices are always subject to change. They can vary significantly from one seller to another.
To give a more accurate cost comparison you need to factor in the cost of replacement brush heads.
There can be a reasonable variance in these prices too. A brush head for the Prestige 9900 should be around NZ$16 compared to the NZ$12-20 for the iO.
Based on 1 user over a 3 year period you are looking at a daily cost of NZ$0.60 for the 9900 Prestige. The daily cost for the iO is NZ$0.46.
The retail prices make Sonicare a clear favourite. When adjusted selling prices are used the iO appears more favourable.
It is your decision. 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.
These are 2 premium smart electric toothbrushes.
Both clean the teeth extremely well. This is the most important part of an electric toothbrush after all.
Both have the essential timer and pacer built-in. And they both have pressure sensors too.
Actually choosing between them though isn’t that simple.
There always has and will continue to be the debate about which brand is better, Sonicare or Oral-B.
What sets these 2 models apart as small subtle differences.
Yet, in some instances, these subtle differences will have a big impact on daily use.
For example, the 9900’s travel case is more compact, offers USB charging and has a Type-C connector. Compare this to the larger, cheaper looking and feeling Oral-B case. And unlike Sonicare, the iO’s travel case requires a proprietary power adapter.
The Prestige is the more complete package in my opinion. It feels more refined and more fitting of the price commanded of it.
The iO is excellent, make no mistakes about it. The colour display is innovative and the fast charging is welcomed. I do like the fact it shows when you are using the correct amount of pressure too.
Unless one feature stands out as a must have, pick the one you feel appeals most to you.
If you already own either brand of toothbrush, I suggest sticking to what you know rather than switching.
Do you own or have you used the Oral-B iO or Sonicare Prestige?
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.