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Published: January 4, 2024

Oral-B iO3 review

Author: Jon Love (Leave a comment)
Oral-B iO3 review 1

Apart from the expensive brush heads, it's almost perfect

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The iO Series 3 cleans well, has a sleek design and a quiet motor.

It’s almost perfect as it doesn’t boast unnecessary features, but the expensive iO specific brush heads increase the total cost.

Oral-B iO Series 3 (iO3)
Oral-B iO Series 3 (iO3)
Oral-B iO3 review 2 Oral-B iO3 review 2 Oral-B iO3 review 2 Oral-B iO3 review 2 Oral-B iO3 review 2

Pros

Cons

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Premium looking handle that is easy to keep clean

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No cleaning mode labels/icons

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Quieter than other Oral-B brushes

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Requires iO specific heads which are more expensive

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Reminds you when to replace the brush head

The Oral-B Smart 1500 is cheaper, with comparable cleaning results

Our dentist recommended toothbrush is the Smart 1500. Similar to the iO3, it is more affordable, primarily because it doesn’t require the iO specific heads.

Alternatively, if you like the iO Series design, but want a few more features (the brush doesn’t clean the teeth any better) models like the iO Series 6 strike the balance between price and functionality.

Dentist recommended functions are included as standard

Our dentists don’t have the most extensive list of must have features, but the iO3 does have those that they feel are most beneficial: a pressure sensor, timer and pacer. 

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The pacer encourages even brushing

To achieve healthy teeth you need to give all of them fairly equal attention, not just the ones at the front that are visible when you smile.

As soon as you power on the iO3, the 2 minute timer and pacer are activated. The pacer momentarily pauses the brushing action every 30 seconds to tell you to move on to the next part of the mouth. After 2 minutes the alert changes slightly to tell you that you have brushed for long enough. 

Although the minimum brushing time might have been reached, the iO3 encourages longer brushing, by not powering off automatically. A simple press of the power button will turn it off.

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It teaches you how much pressure to apply

The pressure sensor implementation in the iO Series handle is one of the best enhancements to electric toothbrushes I have experienced in recent times.

Applying excessive force when you brush can be damaging to the teeth and gums, but too little pressure can result in less effective cleaning.

Striking the balance isn’t necessarily that easy, but here you get timely and helpful notifications so that you can take corrective action and ultimately improve your oral care.

The light ring around the top of the handle changes color based on the pressure applied.

  • White  – low pressure – not enough force is being applied. 
  • Green – the right amount of pressure is being used.
  • Red – high - excessive pressure is being applied and the force should be reduced.

Don’t worry if you brush too hard. When detected, the motor will slow the brush head movements until the pressure is relieved. 

If you know you have a habit of brushing with too much force, you can rectify this with the iO Series.

A softer and quieter brushing experience

Used correctly the iO3 does a really fantastic job of cleaning the teeth.

There are no compromises in the cleaning action because it is a more affordable model.

If the iO3 is potentially your first electric toothbrush you will notice the deeper and more effective clean it offers compared to a manual toothbrush. Do learn about the correct technique though, as it is different from a manual brush.

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It’s not as harsh on the teeth and gums as other Oral-B models

If you currently do or have previously used an Oral-B brush you will notice how the cleaning action of the iO3 is similar but feels more gentle and less aggressive on the teeth and gums. 

This is a result of the brushless magnetic drive system used exclusively in the iO Series. It directs the cleaning energy to the bristle tips along with what is known as micro vibrations. An intentional design choice, it does make for a more enjoyable experience.

If you have a perfectly functional toothbrush already. It’s not enough of a difference to justify the switch alone.

Oral-B has published impressive clinical results and the iO Series. It has been awarded the American Dental Association’s Seal of Acceptance, confirming it meets the claims made by the manufacturer.

The round head is small enough to get into tight gaps, but bigger than non-iO heads

A difference that existing Oral-B brush users might notice is the size of the brush heads.

The iO heads are still fairly small and round, but they are marginally taller, which might, for a small minority, pose a bit of an issue reaching some spaces in the mouth.

I would say they are about 10 percent larger than non-iO heads.

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It’s not as quiet as many other brushes, but far less noisy than non-iO models

Oral-B brushes are far more noisy than most electric toothbrushes, but the iO Series handles are quieter.

On average, they operate at 10 decibels (dB) less. The iO3 registers a maximum of 64dB. But, on the sensitive mode, it was a couple of dB quieter still. 

The sound is less mechanical than non-iO models. It is now a deeper humming or vibration noise. It isn’t as high pitched as most sonic toothbrushes that operate in the 60-70dB range.

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$12 per brush head, but it’s the cheapest Oral-B iO Series handle

A single Ultimate Clean head is included, one of our preferred options from the 4 different styles of iO brush heads available.

The iO specific heads cost on average twice that of the non-iO brushes (approximately $12 vs $5).  This has a fairly significant negative impact on the long term ownership costs.

Over 3 years, the iO3 will cost in the region of $202.

Compare this to the Smart 1500 at $120. That's a saving of over 40%.

The retail price for the iO3 is $80 but the average selling price of Oral-B models is often 20% less, thus around $64. I don’t think the iO3 will always be discounted quite this heavily though. I think over time the average selling price will likely settle nearer $70.

If you can pick up the edition that includes a travel case for no more than $10 extra, it’s worth it.

This makes it the cheapest and most affordable brush of the 9 different models in the range.  This is achieved by having only included the essential features and not lots of unnecessary extras.

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It’s not a smart toothbrush

Unlike all the other iO Series toothbrushes, the iO3 is the only one not to offer Bluetooth connectivity.

As such it does not connect to a smartphone via an app and it cannot track the position of the toothbrush in the mouth for real-time or post brushing feedback.

It is your conventional electric ‘dumb’ brush without all the extra tech.

Reliable 18-20 day battery life, but below the industry average

Although Oral-B is not explicit about exactly how many days of usage you should get from the rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery sealed inside the handle, I happily achieved an average of 18 days in my testing. Occasionally I managed an extra day or two.

This is more than satisfactory as the performance was pretty consistent. It is a bit below the industry average of around 3-4 weeks, but better than the more premium models such as the iO9 and 10 that have inconsistent usage time.

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You get a charging stand included in the box. It isn’t the magnetic style provided with some iO models. Instead, it’s a standard white colored charger, with a protuberance on top that fits into the base of the iO3.

Hardwired into it is a 1.2 meter (4 foot) cable with 2 pin power adapter. It will recharge the battery in up to 16 hours.

An LED on the brush handle gives feedback on the charge status.

A better looking handle than cheaper alternatives

All of the iO Series brush handles share the same design profile. 

Yes, some may have a display built-in;  the iO3 doesn’t. But it does mean the Series 3 looks much more premium and desirable than some of the more affordable models from Oral-B.

There are no gloss plastics here. Instead, there is a matt finish to the plastic body that somehow feels quite grippy to the touch despite the reduced number of textured surfaces and gripping points compared to models like the Pro 500.

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It feels solid and is well balanced. It stands upright on a countertop and doesn’t roll when laid on a flat surface.

Each function button has a slightly concave shape and a different material finish to the rest of the handle, thus it's obvious to the fingertip where it is positioned

The iO3 is available in matte black, white and ice blue color options. In all instances, the brush head and charging stand are white in color. 

There are variants with a basic but functional travel case to protect the handle and up to 2 heads. Vents in the case allow the contents to dry even when closed. It is my preferred choice if you can get it at a fair price.

Get timely brush head replacement reminders

It’s all too easy to forget when you last replaced your brush head. The recommendation is every 3 months as using for longer can potentially result in damage to the teeth and gums, as well as less effective plaque removal.

Thankfully the iO3 has a reminder system built-in.

A yellow light gets lit within the mode button when a replacement is due.  It’s easily reset.

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If you don’t clean it, the heads can get moldy

The water resistant iO3 brush handle can be happily rinsed under a tap and even used in the shower if you so desire. It is pretty easy to keep clean.

You do want to pay particular attention to the head and attachment though. Failing to do so increases the chance of mold building up.

This isn’t a problem exclusive to the iO Series, but compared to previous generations, there is a gap between the magnetic attachment and the plastic frame that offers an ideal trap and breeding ground for bacteria.

3 different cleaning modes, but no icons or labels on the handle

The iO3 offers 3 different cleaning modes. This is more than enough, you don’t need more than this.

Some iO models offer as many as 7. There is minimal difference between them and I have yet to see any really meaningful evidence that additional modes equal better results. Your dentist isn’t really going to be able to tell if you have been using the standard clean or whitening mode.

Over and above the Daily Clean mode, if I was to request 1 additional mode, it would be a sensitive mode. Or something that is a little less powerful and a more gentle option for users who might have tender teeth and gums. The iO3 has this.

Your options are:

  • Daily Clean 
  • Sensitive 
  • Whiten 

Unfortunately, there is no indication from the brush handle itself as to which mode you have selected. No icons or labels. You have to remember the order.

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Industry average 2 year warranty included

Having handled 9 different variants of the iO Series, I know first hand how well built they are.

The iO Series does use a newer motor and handle design that doesn’t have years and years of reliability data, but as an established player in the market, Oral-B knows a lot of the failure points and has tried to mitigate these with the iO Series.

I’ve been using the iO Series 9 since it launched in the summer of 2020 and it still functions as you would expect.

As standard, you get a 2 year warranty included, typical for most well known brands. Like many brushes today, I anticipate that in 5 or more years, this could still easily be your daily toothbrush, there isn’t a need for regular replacement.

With a need to move to more sustainable approaches, it is disappointing that no parts on the brush are designed to be user serviceable. This is common practice for electric toothbrushes.

Environmental impact

The environmental impact of electric toothbrushes is on average 11 times greater than a manual brush. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t use one. You need to balance effective cleaning and disease prevention against the environmental impact.

The lack of extras in the box is a good thing here. The overall shipping weight is lower, although the overall box size could potentially be reduced a little.

Because the iO3 doesn’t have a screen or Bluetooth connectivity the amount of components and e-waste is reduced too.

While Oral-B has partnered with schemes such as TerraCycle, it does not yet have its own recycling scheme for used brush heads or faulty products.

Its brush heads are made from petroleum-based plastic, which uses up the planet’s finite resources compared to using plant-based plastics.

Conclusion: premium pressure sensor, iO styling and more wallet-friendly

Benefiting from our dentist recommended features, the iO3 is a great toothbrush. Used correctly you get brilliantly clean teeth. I could happily use this on a daily basis.

Price is the sticking point here.

Although the most affordable iO model, it is far more expensive than other Oral-B brushes that clean the teeth comparably. It’s primarily a consequence of the iO specific brush head pricing.

If you are not worried about getting the absolute best value for money, then I know you won’t be disappointed with the iO3.

Size guide

  • Toothbrush height with head - 24cm / 9.5 inches
  • Toothbrush height without head - 18.3cm / 7.2 inches
  • Width - 2.8cm / 1.1 inches
  • Depth/thickness - 2.8cm / 1.1 inches
  • Weight with head - 136g / 4.8oz
  • Weight without head - 127g / 4.5oz
  • Package weight - 439g / 15.5oz

Noise

  • 64dB

Country of manufacture

  • Germany (handle & brush head)
Author: Jon Love

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