It’s one of the best, but picking the iO9 might be even better
The Series 8 is a very capable electric toothbrush. It delivers great cleaning results. It is packed full of clever features that can help you brush your teeth better.
The iO9 offers a bit more for a limited extra spend, or you can save money by going for the iO6.
- A premium looking handle with a built-in color display
- Quieter than other Oral-B brushes
- Rapid recharging with the magnetic charging stand
- Real-time tracking via Bluetooth can be valuable for the most committed users
- American Dental Association Approved
- Requires iO specific heads which are more expensive
- Bluetooth connectivity isn’t essential and adds to the cost
You’ll get better value from these alternatives
The next model up in the iO range, the Series 9, costs a little more but benefits from a charging travel case and enhanced tracking.
If you are not bothered about Bluetooth connectivity and such premium features, the Smart 1500 is a much more affordable option. It has the key features we recommend for an electric toothbrush.
Or, for something in the middle that strikes a balance between high tech and affordability, you have the iO Series 6.
|Oral-B iO Series 9||6,294 Reviews||$299.99 $249.99||View on Amazon|
The color screen looks more impressive than it really is
Few electric toothbrushes have a color display built into the brush handle. The iO8 is one of three brushes from Oral-B to offer such. Oclean is the only other brand to add this to a toothbrush.
It catches the eye and looks impressive. It is far from necessary and is really less useful than you might think. It appears to negatively impact battery life.
The addition of color vs the monochrome screen on the iO6 and 7 is purely aesthetic.
The screen is controlled via the function buttons above and below, rather than touch gestures. Believe me when I say this is good. Touch based gestures on such a small screen that gets wet can be irritating.
During a cleaning cycle the screen displays a timer.
Post brushing, you get an emoji to give you some feedback on how well you did. You don’t get any detailed feedback related to the iO8’s ability to track your coverage of zones in the mouth. I think they’ve missed a good opportunity here.
The battery charge level will be displayed just before the brush powers off. And at roughly 3 month intervals you will be notified that the brush head needs to be replaced.
A number of settings like the brush language, Bluetooth connectivity and light ring can be accessed, but more settings and choices are available from the app.
The main function and benefit of the display is to see and select your different cleaning modes. Given it shows an icon and a text label, this is much more user friendly than the icons only, or no icons of other Oral-B brushes.
The real-time tracking doesn’t give you the insights you might hope for
The iO8 is packed with numerous pieces of clever tech, but arguably the most clever is the sensors that detect the location of the bristles as you brush.
Using Bluetooth, data is passed in real-time to an app on your phone. It presents this meaningfully through engaging on-screen graphics.
You need to successfully brush each of the 6 zones, turning the pale blue teeth into shiny white ones. If you do, in theory at least, you should gain a good coverage score.
Unfortunately, it isn’t quite so simple and the tracking is somewhat questionable.
It’s a little more nuanced than this, but you can essentially brush just the outside surface of the teeth within a zone and it will imply good coverage, which isn’t strictly true.
There is a lag in the detection of zones and occasionally it has no idea where you’re brushing.
I am an advocate for the intention behind the approach. But you need to be committed and see past the quirks. If you are, you can take immediate corrective action, which will likely improve your oral health long term.
Lots of data is logged and available for review in the future, even if you didn’t use the app in real time. Charts do highlight trends and signpost you to make the necessary improvements.
When you’re spending this much, it’s fair to expect better. The iO Series 9 is a little more accurate, tracking an additional 10 zones. It monitors the brushing of each tooth surface rather than a collection like the iO8. The feedback is far more useful. You’ll know you need to brush the upper rear inner surface, rather than just the upper rear teeth. This video explains the differences in more detail.
You don’t need all this tech to brush your teeth well. And this is why we don’t recommend smart brushes.
It’s got dentist-recommended features
Most dentists won’t reel off a long list of must have’s for an electric brush. A timer, a pacer and a pressure sensor are the most important. Yes, these are present in the iO8.
Brush your teeth evenly and for longer
2 minutes is the minimum recommended time to brush your teeth, yet many people brush for just 45-70 seconds per day. If this is you, you are putting your oral health at risk.
The iO8’s timer and pacer encourage longer brushing. They too prompt you to move the brush around the mouth, so all tooth surfaces gain attention, not just those you show off as you smile.
As the iO8 is powered on, the timer is activated. Thereafter at 30 second intervals, the motor will momentarily pause. The sound and brushing sensation subsequently change. It’s at this point you want to move the brush head from one zone of the mouth to another. This repeats 3 times. When 3 pauses of the motor occur, you’ve achieved 2 minutes.
Some brushes power off automatically at this point. You might like it, whilst others will find it irritating. The iO8 doesn’t, to further encourage brushing for a bit longer.
Different pacing when you use the app and real-time tracking
When you do use the app, the aforementioned pacing is disabled.
This is in part because you have the on-screen timer you can follow instead.
But, because the brush is tracking 6 zones, the reality is you need to move to sextant pacing. That is 20 seconds per zone rather than the 4 zone quadrant pacing.
Yet the app or brush doesn’t do this. It relies on you to move the brush from zone to zone as and when you like.
The best pressure sensor on a toothbrush today
If you’ve ever been told that you brush too hard, the iO8 can help.
Its pressure sensor detects and alerts you when you brush with too much force. It will too reduce bristle movement to protect the teeth until such time as the pressure is relieved.
This sensor goes further though, because it will show you when you are applying insufficient force as well as the correct amount.
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.
The light isn’t always easy to see unless you brush in front of a mirror. If using the app, it will alert you on the screen.
Unfortunately, Oral-B has assumed that all users have sight. Blind users would not know it was active. It would be better if the handle had different vibration patterns, but no such luck. Philips do this when their brushes detect too much force.
Superb cleaning results from larger (but more expensive) brush heads
Arguably the most important thing about any toothbrush is that it cleans the teeth well.
Rest assured the iO Series 8 does a brilliant job, as long as you use the correct technique and stick to a regular routine.
The oscillating, rotating and mico vibrating brush head is clinically proven and my at home plaque tests have confirmed it manages to lift the bacteria and debris really well.
It perhaps is no surprise that after independent testing, which confirms the product performs as the manufacturer claims it has achieved the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance.
More gentle on the teeth and gums whilst being quieter to the ear
Compared to many existing brushes, the iO Series uses an entirely new motor that makes use of a magnetic drive system.
Ignoring all the technicalities the result is a more gentle and less aggressive brushing sensation than you might be used to from Oral-B.
To some people, existing brushes feel a bit too intense in the way they clean. There is a noticeable difference with the iO8. The cleaning results are as good and you still get that feeling of having had a thorough clean.
If you’ve been put off in the past, the experience here is much more desirable. But, it’s not a reason on its own to switch. It still feels more intense than most sonic toothbrushes.
Another benefit is the noise, there is less of it and what sound it does produce is less irritating.
Rather than the rather grating mechanical sound, it is now more of a blend between sonic hum and mechanical noise. That’s probably a poor way to explain it, but trust me, it’s an improvement.
Many Oral-B brushes register proudly over 75 decibels, but the iO8 glides in just over the 70dB mark, maxing out at 72.
Oral-B has missed an opportunity to really make a significant change to the noise. The iO8 is no competitor to many of the sonic brushes that top our chart of quietest electric toothbrushes.
The brush heads got bigger and so did the price tag
Possibly intentional is the fact that the iO Series now has its own range of brush heads that fit only iO handles.
The long established range of small round brush heads Oral-B have become known for are not compatible.
iO specific heads are very similar. The range has been shrunk to just 4 styles of heads rather than 8.
Although still smaller in total surface area than a typical sonic head, the iO heads are a bit larger. Approximately 10% deeper.
For me and many it will be noticeable but doesn’t affect daily use.
But, if you’ve become a fan of the small heads because you have a cramped mouth then the iO heads might be more of a mouthful. You’d likely prefer sticking to the existing, more affordable options.
The average brush head price has doubled with the iO bristles. I see no logical justification for this, other than, they can.
Expect to pay $12 per replacement head rather than approximately the $5 we’ve gotten used to. 3 are supplied with the handle.
The inconsistent battery life isn’t acceptable
Around about 14 days is the typical usage time you will get from a fully charged iO8 battery.
It isn’t great considering many brushes, both cheaper and more expensive, often last twice as long.
Unless you travel frequently the shorter battery life probably isn’t a big issue. Particularly when you consider it takes just 3 hours to charge the Series 8. That’s a quarter of the time most other brushes need.
Its charging stand is different from the usual one supplied with Oral-B. This is a magnetic charger.
Circular in shape, it’s wider and deeper than a normal charger. It doesn’t have the prong on top the brush fits on. Instead, a slight convex zone in the center aligns with the concave base of the iO8’s handle.
Hardwired into it is a 2 pin power adapter. The cord is about 4 feet (1.2 meters) in length. The stand supports 100-240 volts, unlike the 110-130 volts of the standard charger. This is better for you if you travel internationally regularly.
The display will give feedback on the battery charge level and the light ring at the top of the brush handle will flash red when low or pulse white when on charge. You can also see the remaining power in the smartphone app.
It’s good you have a few ways to check the battery life because performance is inconsistent.
14 days is about average, but I’ve gotten a few less for no really obvious reason. The most logical explanation is the color screen. It would appear to at times drain more than it should.
As much as I like the display, I would have taken better battery life over such.
It’s probably the best looking brush Oral-B has made
I’ve always thought Philips did a better job with their toothbrush design than Oral-B.
Whilst Oral-B brushes have always been functional, they haven’t had the same desirability.
I don’t need my toothbrush to win prestigious design awards, but if I like the color and how it looks I am more likely to use it. I am sure you would agree.
The iO Series is much sleeker than models like the Genius X.
Large rubber grips and gloss plastics have been replaced with matt plastic handles with a resistive finish.
Of course, the display helps with the appealing look too.
Available in white, black and violet colors the rounded handle has no harsh edges and feels well balanced in the palm.
With a button on either side of the display, the handle looks very clean. Their convex shape and silicone coating stand out to the fingertip and provide reassuring feedback.
Even the provided travel case has been improved. It’s thicker and more robust than a typical plastic case. It has a nice inner molding in which you can place 2 heads and the handle.
It’s the small things, but they make a big difference.
Your money will go further if you don’t buy the iO8
The iO Series 8 is a very good toothbrush, but I would be lying to you if I said it was a good buy.
It may well be if you buy it at a time when there is some promotional price available. Yet, in most instances, your hard earned money can be better spent on the iO6 or iO9.
$249.99 is the asking price for this brush.
Quite often you are able to buy electric toothbrushes for 20% less, therefore the actual selling price is $200.
With iO specific heads now costing $12 on average you can expect the Series 8 to cost $308 over 3 years.
That is easily 3 times more expensive than the best Oral-B electric toothbrush.
It’s rare for me to encourage you to spend even more, but in this instance, I feel it’s worth it.
The Series 9 is the next model up in the iO range. The key differences are that it comes with a travel case; you can charge the brush inside and it tracks an additional 10 zones of the mouth.
It’s only going to cost you about $28 more.
Alternatively, if you’d rather keep some money in your pocket, but still want a lot of the tech on offer, seriously consider the iO Series 6.
You’ll forgo 3 hour charging and you’ll have to make do with a monochrome display and ditch a cleaning mode, but if you can put up with these sacrifices you will save $56.
A brushing mode for nearly every day of the week
Not 1, not 2, not 3, but 6 different brushing modes are available on the iO8.
Your options are:
- Daily Clean
- Super Sensitive
- Gum Care
The big question is do you need them all? The answer is no.
Our guide to the Oral-B brushing modes explains in detail how each differs, but fundamentally they all do a comparable job.
All can be used on braces, crowns, veneers and implants. And no one mode is going to deliver brushing results that are clinically superior. Your brushing technique and frequency are likely to have a bigger impact than a particular mode.
I do like having the sensitive and super sensitive modes as an option. These are good for new electric toothbrush users, for those with gum recession or trying to overcome gum disease. But, they are not essential.
For the majority, Daily Clean is the best mode to opt for. It provides a solid overall clean.
The iO8 will default to your last used mode and you can change the order via the app if you like as well as disabling those you won’t ever use.
An industry average 2 year warranty
Where more affordable brushes from lesser known brands typically come with a 1 year warranty, the iO8 is supplied with a 2 year guarantee. This is pretty typical for an Oral-B brush and those from other leading brands like Philips Sonicare.
It’s not impossible, but not all that common for a brush to fail during this time. Oral-B has had years to perfect the design and manufacturing to limit such.
A number of iO brushes I have been using for several years remain functional with no issues.
Regretfully the iO8 or any of the iO models have not been designed to be repaired yourself. It is common practice for electric brushes not to be user serviceable. It’s a shame more environmentally considerate approaches are not being factored in by leading brands.
Given that the average electric brush’s environmental impact is on average 11 times greater than a manual brush. The iO8 has to be worse considering the addition of Bluetooth technology, position tracking sensors and a color display.
Over the lifespan of the brush, it might not be quite so bad if it lasted longer than less reliable alternatives, but we will never really be able to say for sure.
The retail box isn’t that compact, even allowing for space for the provided extras. But, at least it is paper based and recyclable, unlike Oral-B’s polystyrene packaging of times past.
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 the planet’s finite resources compared to using plant-based plastics.
Conclusion: your money is better spent on the iO6 or iO9
Like other brushes within the iO Series, the 8 is far from a bad brush. In fact, it is excellent in many ways.
But, for me, based on what I have learned users want, I know the iO9 is a more sensible purchase.
I say this with some caution as it is more expensive and we don’t generally recommend smart brushes. But, for those who want a smart toothbrush, the 9 has it all and will likely work out better value than the 8.
The iO6 is an option for those who would rather save a sizable chunk of cash, but still want the tech.
- Height (without head) – 18.3cm / 7.2 inches
- Height (with head) – 24cm / 9.45 inches
- Width – 2.8cm / 1.1 inches
- Thickness – 2.8cm / 1.1 inches
- Weight (without head) – 131g / 4.6 ounces
- Weight (with head) – 140g / 4.9 ounces
All are approximates
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: