Superb brushing results: a great choice when at the right price
The iO5 cleans your teeth well, includes dentist-recommended features, and much more.
Its brush heads are a bit more pricey than alternatives, and real-time tracking will benefit only the most committed.
Premium looking handle that is easy to keep clean
Cleaning mode icons are confusing
Quieter than other Oral-B brushes
Requires iO specific heads which are more expensive
Reminds you when to replace the brush head
Bluetooth connectivity isn’t essential and adds to the cost
Real-time tracking via Bluetooth can be valuable to the most committed users
Better value options exist, with and without Bluetooth
Unless you want a smart toothbrush, you could save a good amount of money and go for a brush like the Oral-B Smart 1500. It cleans the teeth just as well.
Whilst the iO6 is almost identical in features. It is easier to know which mode is which due to the LED display built into the handle.
It connects to your phone and tracks your brushing habits — clever, but it’s not perfect
One of the unique features of the iO5 is its ability to give real-time feedback on your brushing. The intention being you take immediate corrective action so that your oral health improves in the long term.
Provided you use the app in real-time, on screen you will see how well you are cleaning each of the 6 zones of the mouth that the brush tracks. You will too see your brushing time, brushing pressure and cleaning mode selected.
You are scored at the end of a brushing session and can see just how well you cleaned each zone. If the teeth haven’t all changed to white, you haven’t done the best job you can. It is a useful tool for encouraging better habits.
But, it isn’t perfect. The accuracy of the tracking varies and isn’t as good as you might hope. And because it tracks only 6 zones, rather than each tooth surface, you don’t get as detailed insights as you might expect. You can for example brush just the outside tooth surface in a zone and the app will suggest good coverage for that zone, which isn’t strictly true. This video explains more.
This is addressed with the premium iO9 and 10, but they come at a significant price premium and the tracking still isn’t perfect.
Even if you use the brush without the app, the handle will store key data and sync this with the app next time, making it available for review in the future.
As a general rule, we don’t recommend smart brushes. This is because you don’t need them to achieve a good clean. You need to be committed to tracking your brushing and making the improvements the data highlights otherwise it’s a waste.
The iO5 tells you when you are using the correct amount of pressure
One feature we like to see included in any good electric brush is a pressure sensor.
The iO5 has this, but its sensor is better than most, altering you when you are using insufficient and the correct pressure, rather than just when you are using too much, like most sensors.
If you know you tend to brush with a lot of force, the iO5 could really help prevent you from doing unnecessary damage to the teeth and gums.
The light ring around the top of the brush handle changes color based on the applied pressure.
- 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.
If lit red, the motor will slow the bristle movements to further protect the teeth until such time the pressure is relieved. In a relatively short period of time, you will learn what the correct force you need to use.
If using the app, it will show on the screen if you are using the correct pressure or not.
The timer and pacer help you to brush for the right amount of time
An essential feature of an electric toothbrush is a timer and pacer.
Brushing for the recommended minimum of 2 minutes twice a day achieves maximum plaque removal. Yet many people brush for as little as 45-70 seconds per day.
You do too want to ensure you brush all your teeth fairly evenly to limit the chances of problems now and in the future. The timer encourages you to do just this.
Activated as soon as you power the brush on at 30 second intervals, the brush motor momentarily pauses. The sound and brushing sensation change. This is your notification to move to the next section of your mouth. Come 2 minutes, the alert is 3 momentary pauses. Hear this and you’ve brushed for the recommended minimum time.
Unlike some brushes, the iO5 doesn’t power off automatically.
The pacing is different when using the app
Of course, the real-time tracking of the iO5 helps work toward even brushing of the different zones.
But something you should be aware of is that the pacer is deactivated when using the app in real-time. You don’t get the pauses in the brush motor.
This is because you have an onscreen timer to guide you. The idea is you spend 20 seconds per zone, to realize the even clean.
This is different from the 4 zone (quadrant), 30 second pacing the brush uses when not being used in real-time with the app.
You get a satisfying, yet softer brushing experience
Decades of research, testing and manufacturing experience have gone into achieving the brushing results that the iO5 delivers. They are really good, I have no complaints. Nor does the American Dental Association. It’s been awarded their Seal of Acceptance.
And in case you were wondering, more premium iO models are not going to deliver any better cleaning results, the motor is configured in just the same way.
Clinical data suggest Oral-B brushes may have the edge in performance, but the reality is few brushes do a bad job if used correctly. So don’t base your decision on this alone.
iO Series brushes offer a different brushing sensation to other Oral-B models and truthfully, it is much more pleasant.
It is a softer and less aggressive feeling on the teeth and gums, yet still manages to give you the feeling that your teeth have been cleaned really well (which they have).
If you’ve got a perfectly usable toothbrush already, it’s not worth the switch for this alone, it’s just a nice additional benefit.
As an oscillating and rotating brush, it does still feel different in use to a sonic toothbrush, it doesn’t feel as light and gentle as they often do.
The brush head is bigger than what you might be used to
iO specific heads are required for the iO5. Compared to brush heads you might be familiar with from Oral-B, they are marginally deeper. You're looking at about a 10 percent difference.
For most, this won’t pose any issues, but for those with the most crowded of mouths, you might find it a little more difficult to position the round brush head.
The overall size is still significantly smaller than most sonic toothbrush heads.
Quieter than most Oral-B brushes, but louder than other brands
The vast majority of electric toothbrushes produce 60-70 decibels (dB) of sound in use. Most Oral-B models operate around 75dB.
As part of the iO Series, the iO5 benefits from a completely redesigned motor which allowed Oral-B to address the noise. They reduced it by about 10dB, meaning the iO5 produces up to 64dB.
It is less mechanical sounding, making daily use more enjoyable. You do hear more of what is going on around you.
It’s somewhat of a shame, the opportunity wasn’t taken to really get the brush to operate in the low to mid 50dB range and make this stand out even more.
iO brush heads cost twice as much
A normal Oral-B replacement brush head will cost in the region of $5. But, you will be paying at least twice this if you opt for the iO5.
iO Series handles require an iO specific head. The Series 5 comes with a single Ultimate Clean. There are 4 different styles available with an average cost of $12 each.
$120 is the suggested retail price of the iO5. It’s not a bad price for what’s on offer, but you should be able to save around 20%. Therefore expect to pay around $96.
It is still not cheap given some of the more affordable options you could pick, but given the features, there is some justification here.
Over 3 years, the iO Series 5 will cost in the region of $228.
If you want the smart features the iO5 offers, it is worth giving serious consideration to the iO6. It is often similarly priced, with perhaps a small premium. It has a display built into the handle which is more intuitive when it comes to selecting and knowing which mode is in use.
If you would like to put some money back in your pocket, you could save about $30 by opting for the iO Series 3. It lacks Bluetooth real-time tracking but retains the iO Series design.
The Smart 1500, our top pick for an electric toothbrush today is around $100 cheaper. It has no smart features, is noisier and is not quite as refined in its design, but still cleans the teeth as well.
Better battery life than premium iO models, though still a bit below average
The average battery life for an electric toothbrush today is in the region of 3-4 weeks.
All Oral-B brushes fall short here, but the iO5 has some of the best battery performance from an iO brush. I achieved an average of 17 days of use from a full charge of the lithium-ion battery.
That is better than premium brushes like the iO9, which has very inconsistent usage times, despite a claimed 2+ week battery life. Yet, to my knowledge, all iO models have the same battery sealed inside the water resistant handle.
Supplied in the box is a charging stand. White in color, it has a 1.2 meter (4 foot) cable hardwired into it. The plug on the end of the cable is a 2 pin power adapter. It supports 110-1300V.
Unlike premium iO models, this is not a magnetic charger and is not capable of recharging the battery in 3 hours.
Instead, the protuberance on the top of the stand will fit into the recess on the base of the iO5’s handle and will recharge the brush in up to 16 hours.
An LED on the brush handle gives feedback on the charge status when on or off the charger.
The app too gives a more meaningful percentage reading of the remaining power.
The minimal design is great
Like the other iO brush handles, the iO5 has a rounded handle design with no harsh edges. There are minimal extras, no gloss plastics and a lack of textured surfaces which results in a clean and premium look, which I like.
The big difference here is that there is no LED display built into the handle like there is with premium models such as the iO6, 7 8, 9 and 10. In truth the displays have limited benefit, albeit they look impressive, so no great loss here.
In the palm of the hand, the brush feels nicely weighted. It stands upright on a countertop too.
The 2 concave shape of the function buttons make them very noticeable to the fingertip. They are not too stiff and do provide reassuring feedback.
The lack of textured rubber grips doesn’t pose quite such a usability issue as you might expect. It’s not slippery to the touch and consequently makes it easier to clean. Grime can’t build up in the nooks and crannies in the same way as it can on an Oral-B Pro 500 for example.
Do be sure to thoroughly rinse your brush head after use though. The design means that grime can get stuck inside the head and this can lead to mold without regular cleaning. It 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.
The handle is available in 2 colors, white and black. Technically they are the same, the color is the only difference.
Included in the box with the iO5 is a travel case. It’s pretty basic but perfectly functional. It does the job of protecting the handle and preventing accidental activation. Vents do let the handle and up to 2 heads dry properly.
The handle and app tell you when you need a new brush head
3 months is the recommended usage time for a set of bristles. Using them for longer can mean less effective cleaning and the potential of being more abrasive on the teeth and gums. But, it’s easy to forget when you last replaced them. I am as guilty as anyone else and I test them for a living!
The iO5 alerts you when it is time to swap them out.
A yellow light will be lit inside the mode button on the handle and a notification will appear within the app when a replacement is due.
More frequent brushers, or those who brush for longer can expect to get an alert sooner than the normal 90 days.
When you get the alert it is easy to reset this.
A wide selection of cleaning modes – more than you’ll likely ever use
The iO5 offers 5 different cleaning modes.
Your options are:
- Daily Clean
- Super Sensitive
Simply put, you don’t need so many. Daily Clean is more than sufficient for most. But, the Sensitive mode can be a nice extra to have for those days the teeth and gums might feel a little more tender.
Cleaning performance is comparable between each with limited evidence to really suggest one is better than another. You’re certainly not going to get significantly whiter teeth just by using whitening mode.
Cleaning mode icons take some getting used to
Backlit icons on the handle are your visual clue as to which of the 5 modes is currently selected.
Compared to the likes of the iO3 or 4 with no icons, this is a definite improvement.
Unfortunately, in my opinion, the icons are not all that logical with multiple icons lit for specific modes.
The icon configuration is as follows:
- Daily Clean – Tooth
- Sensitive – Feather
- Super Sensitive – Feather and the Plus (+) icon beneath the feather
- Whitening – Diamond
- Intense – Tooth and the Plus (+) icon beneath the tooth
If you are using the smartphone app in real-time as you brush the app will tell you which mode you are using on-screen.
Industry average 2 year warranty included
Despite a real need to move to more sustainable approaches, it is common practice for electric brushes not to be user serviceable. The iO5 is no exception.
Oral-B is an established player within the oral care sector and their electric toothbrushes are on the whole reliable.
It is not possible to say that the iO5 would never fail, but the odds are very low.
There are fewer failure points than more premium models and the fact the electrical components are sealed inside helps limit the chances of failure.
A 2 year warranty is included, which is pretty standard for a premium brand like Oral-B.
According to a 2020 study, 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 iO5 comes in a box that is perhaps a little bigger than it needs to be. But, it's not terribly oversized. It’s easily recycled and in many instances, you are not getting lots of unnecessary extras included.
There is potentially more e-waste generated as a result of the Bluetooth connectivity, but it’s not as bad as the handles in the range that have displays built in.
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: A solid performing brush with a few likable extra features
With all the essential features dentists recommend built-in, the iO5 is a very good toothbrush.
The smart pressure sensor is particularly likable. And although the real-time tracking isn’t perfect, it can help those committed to brushing better.
For many, there are ‘better’ choices available from Oral-B. The iO6 addresses a couple of the shortcomings of the Series 5, whilst there are better value alternatives if smart features are not for you.
- 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
- Travel case size - 20.5cm / 8.1 inches (L) x 6.3cm / 2.5 inches (W) x 3.5cm / 1.4 inches (D)
- Travel case weight - 62g / 2.2oz without brush or 198g / 7oz with brush
- Package weight - 610g / 21.5oz
Country of manufacture
More Oral-B iO content
In case you hadn't noticed, the Oral-B iO range now includes several models.
We explain the differences in our Oral-B iO comparison.
We've also reviewed each brush individually: