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Published: February 10, 2024

Philips Sonicare 4100 Series review

Author: Jon Love (6 Comments)
Philips Sonicare 4100 Series review 1

A solid all-round performer – our most recommended Sonicare brush

star star star star star

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

We rate the 4100 Series as the best overall choice within the Philips Sonicare range. It is a must-buy for those looking for a sonic brush from a reputable brand.

Philips Sonicare 4100 Series
Philips Sonicare 4100 Series
Philips Sonicare 4100 Series review 2 Philips Sonicare 4100 Series review 2 Philips Sonicare 4100 Series review 2 Philips Sonicare 4100 Series review 2 Philips Sonicare 4100 Series review 2

Pros

Cons

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Slim, stylish & easy to keep clean

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No indicator lights to show which intensity is selected

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2 intensity settings – choose between low and high power

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Sonic motor configured differently to premium models

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USB charging stand makes it more convenient for some

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USB charger makes it less convenient for some

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Reminds you when to replace your brush head

A slim and minimal toothbrush that is easy to keep clean

First impressions of the 4100 Series are great. It’s lighter and slimmer than its predecessor, which impacts battery life, but thankfully not too much.

Durable and quality feeling in the hand

It definitely isn’t the most grippy of toothbrushes I have used. There is a lack of raised notches and rubber panels compared to others. Yet the matt finish somehow gives a reassuring resistance against the palm and fingertips. The squarer edges to the handle - which isn’t a perfect cylinder - help too.

The minimal design and lack of textured surfaces make it easier to keep clean.

It looks good and feels quality in the hand. It’s water resistant too, use it in the shower or rinse it under the faucet. 

Sonicare 4100 Series stood next to retail box

If you like variety, it’s available in a number of different color options:

  • Sugar rose- HX3681/21
  • White – HX3681/23
  • Black – HX3681/24
  • Deep pink – HX3681/26
  • Azure blue – HX3681/27
  • Dark forest – HX3681/28

The power button gives a nice clicky feedback

The only button on the handle has a concave shape, with a rubber finish and power icon embossed. It’s easily detected by the fingertip and when pressed gives reassuring feedback whilst producing a clicky sound.

It isn’t very firm, great for those with limited dexterity.

White 4100 Series heald between the fingertips
The 4100 has a slim durable water resistant handle with a great clicky power button.

Cleaning results that make you smile

Plaque disclosing tests confirm that the 4100 does a very good job of cleaning your teeth. I get that deep and invigorating clean feeling after each use. I certainly have no complaints. 

You can switch between 2 brushing intensities

1 brushing mode with 2 intensities keeps things reassuringly simple and easy to use.

Pressing the power button switches between these and gives the option of a more gentle or more intense setting.

The low mode is ideal for when your teeth and gums feel a bit tender or inflamed. It’s good for new toothbrush users too. But, the 4100 does have an EasyStart mode which gradually increases the brushing intensity over the 14 sessions to ease you in.

You can tell the difference between them based on the sound and intensity. The more powerful is preferred for everyday brushing. There are no labels or icons on the handle to confirm which is selected.

There is no whitening or gum care mode. Additional cleaning modes and their benefits are often overrated, rarely do they bring significant benefits.

The motor’s configured differently, but it doesn’t impact results

It doesn’t achieve 62,000 movements like many of Sonicare’s premium brushes.

A slightly less powerful feeling might be noticed by existing Sonicare toothbrush users. But, even to me, this difference isn’t immediately obvious due to the way the motor has been tuned.

Power and the number of movements the bristles make are only part of the equation in achieving clean teeth. So the fact that the motor in the 4100 is programmed slightly differently isn’t a massive issue.

Sonicare 4100 Series electric toothbrush stood upright on countertop

It’s worth sticking with the supplied brush head

Philips offers a diverse range of interchangeable brush heads that are compatible with the 4100 Series.

The provided C2 Optimal Plaque Control is one of our favorites, giving a good overall clean.

Premium alternatives of these push on and pull off heads exist, but they don’t provide any significant benefit. The main difference is the silicone backing to the head.

Worry more about your technique and brushing time than brush head style. None are going to provide dramatic differences in the cleaning results.

4100 Series with head detache don countertop
Sonicare brush heads are interchangeable. Just pull it off and push a new one on.

Only must-have features are included, not lots of unnecessary extras

The 4100 comes with the essential, dentist recommended features you need. Extras might enhance daily user experience but often bring limited benefits.

No travel case is provided, which is a bit of a shame. There is a 4900 Series variant that comes with one, but it isn’t worth paying much more for.

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

Most dental professionals, our in-house dentists included, recommend cleaning the teeth twice a day, for at least 2 minutes each time. Yet, the majority of Americans brush for just 45-70 seconds in total.

Let’s be honest, there are more fun things to do than brushing your teeth. 

The 4100 Series helps you achieve this though. The timer kicks in as soon as you press the power button. It then turns the brush off automatically after a 2 minute brushing session. So, if you turn the brush off, you know you haven’t brushed for long enough.

To keep your teeth healthy you need to try at least to give them all equal attention. The QuadPacer or 30 second timer pauses the bristle motion. It creates a change in sound and brushing sensation. This is your cue to move between the 4 sections of the mouth until all have been brushed.

Watch this video to learn more about quadpacers and how they work.

4100 Series being rinsed under a tap
The handle is easy to keep clean. A regular rinse is usually enough.

The pressure sensor alerts you when you brush too hard

Too much pressure can cause wear on the teeth and gums and in the long term result in irreversible damage. The 4100’s built-in pressure sensor can help you if you know you brush too hard. 

The handle vibration pattern changes whilst it detects too much force is being applied. At the same time, the brushing sensation and sound alter. 

Where you get a large visible light on many Oral-B brushes, you don’t on the 4100. Technically the BrushSync replacement reminder LED also flashes amber. Given its position and size, it is not the easiest to see. 

Don’t worry if you end up activating the pressure sensor occasionally, I still do. You just want to correct frequent forceful brushing.

Reminds you when your brush head needs replacing

The provided C2 head, along with the majority of other bristle options now have Radio Frequency Identification Chip (RFID) built-in.

Communicating with the 4100 handle, the usage time of the head is tracked. After the equivalent of 3 months use, a light is lit on the handle and a vibration is emitted to alert you that it’s time to change the head.

Philips Sonicare 4100 Series review 7
Amber/yellow LED brush head replacement light encourages brush head replacement.

Continuing to use it for a bit longer isn’t a massive issue, but it could be cleaning less effectively and the tips will likely have become worn and could be more abrasive on the surfaces in the mouth.

If you’re not too hot on remembering when you last replaced your head this can be a handy reminder.

This clever system is otherwise known as BrushSync technology. Our guide to BrushSync explains the things you need to know.

The battery gives a minimum of 2 weeks use 

I achieved 17 days of use on the higher of the 2 brushing intensities but a staggering 41 days on the lower. So it is safe to say that the minimum you will achieve is the 2 weeks Philips claim.

This is more than acceptable from the rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery, but the industry average does tend to be around 3-4 weeks. So the 4100 perhaps falls marginally behind here. The benefit is the slimmer and lighter handle.

Close up of LED for the battery on the 4100 Series
USB charging is more convenient for some. It takes up to 24 hours to charge the 4100.

USB charging has some advantages

The provided charging stand is a newer design for Sonicare. It has a slightly smaller footprint than previous designs. It still has a protuberance that fits into the base of the brush handle. The 2 pin adapter is replaced with a USB cable (approximately 43.3 inches long) hardwired into the round charger.

USB connectivity allows us to take advantage of powering it from more sources such as a computer or portable battery bank. It does also make it more travel friendly too.

It’s for environmental reasons that no 2 pin USB power adapter is provided. Many of us now have such we can use to connect the 4100 to a power outlet. Although I know some will be frustrated you don’t get one included.

A full charge can take up to 24 hours.

An LED on the handle gives feedback on the charge level when on and off the charger.

Fairly priced for the features

$49.96 is the very fair retail price for the 4100 Series.

This is one of the few brushes I would actually pay retail for.

It isn’t the cheapest Sonicare brush. The 1100 Series is a great budget option at $25, but it’s some $350 less than their most expensive.

Yet, as is common, some discount is available. You should be able to buy this for around $40 most of the time. If you can't $50 is justifiable.

Brush heads do negatively impact ownership costs. At around $10 each, they are typically twice the price of an Oral-B equivalent. But, those don’t have RFID chips in them.

The 4100 Series will cost around $150 to own over 3 years.

Our top recommended electric brush, the Smart 1500 works out about $30 cheaper. Yet, it is actually more expensive to buy initially. 

Nonetheless, the 4100 Series is our top recommendation for a Sonicare brush.

Philips Sonicare 4100 Series review 8

2 years support included as standard

I can often find any notable weaknesses in the product design having handled so many toothbrushes. I’ve no reason to complain or be concerned about the 4100, the handle looks and feels well built, with no meaningful gaps between parts. 

Philips has many years of manufacturing, research, and design experience. I trust that they have done a good job and learned from any previous mistakes. I nor Sonicare would ever suggest 100% reliability, but the failure rate should be very low indeed.

An industry average 2 year warranty against defects and workmanship is provided. Unfortunately, no parts on the brush are designed to be user serviceable thus, should it fail, in most cases, they will send you a new brush.

With a need to move to more sustainable approaches the lack of repairability is disappointing.

Environmental impact

Philips exclude a 2 pin power adapter citing the environmental benefits. This is good, but feels somewhat silly when the handle and charging stand still come wrapped unnecessarily in plastic.

The paper based packaging is recyclable and the box is relatively small all things considered.

We don’t know the exact environmental impact of this particular model, but as a general rule the impact of electric toothbrushes is around 11 times morea than a manual brush.

RFID enabled brush heads do add to the impact but do potentially provide a benefit to some.

Not being a smart brush reduces the total number of components used and means not as much waste is created when the brush no longer works.

Petroleum based plastic is used in the construction of the brush which uses up the planet’s finite resources compared to using plant-based plastics.

It has not been designed to be easily repaired by yourself. Trying to replace parts like the battery will likely break the brush. This makes it more likely to be discarded rather than repaired if broken.

Philips partnered with schemes such as TerraCycle in some countries, but making use of this facility isn’t always easy. 

Conclusion: a brush you should buy

Slim and stylish, equipped with the essential features recommended by dentists, and priced reasonably, there’s little to find fault with here. This is why we rate it as the best overall Sonicare toothbrush.

You won’t be disappointed if you buy this brush. 

Size Guide

  • Toothbrush height with head - 23.4cm / 9.2 inches
  • Toothbrush height without head - 17.3cm / 6.8 inches
  • Width - 2.5cm / 0.9 inches
  • Depth/thickness - 2.7cm / 1 inches
  • Weight with head - 97g / 3.4oz
  • Weight without head - 92g / 3.2oz
  • Package weight - 245g / 8.6oz

Noise

  • 60dB

Country of manufacture

  • China

FAQ

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.

What are the Sonicare 4300 & 4900 Series?

  • These are technically the same as the 4100 Series.
  • However, the 4300 Series (HX3684/23) comes with 2 x C2 Optimal Plaque Control brush head rather than 1. Plus, a slim travel case is provided in the box.
  • The 4900 comes with a different brush head and a travel case.  
  • The 4900 comes with a single W2 Optimal White set of bristles. This is compared to the C2 Optimal Plaque Control of the 4100.
  • Within the travel case you can hold the brush handle and 1 brush head.
  • There are 4 versions of the 4900 Series
    • Light blue - HX3683/32
    • White - HX3683/33
    • Black - HX3683/34
    • Deep Pink - HX3683/36

Sonicare 4100 vs 4300 vs 4900

Retail price
Number of cleaning modes
Brushing intensities
Timer
Pacer
Pressure Sensor
Battery life
Brush heads included
Travel case included
Colour
Philips Sonicare 4100 Series
Philips Sonicare 4100 Series
Philips Sonicare 4300 Series
Philips Sonicare 4300 Series
Philips Sonicare 4900 Series
Philips Sonicare 4900 Series
$50 $ $
1 1 1
2 2 2
yes yes yes
30 second quadpacer 30 second quadpacer 30 second quadpacer
yes yes yes
14 days 14 days 14 days
1 x C2 Optimal Plaque Control 2 x C2 Optimal Plaque Control 1 x W DiamondClean
- yes -
Black, White, Pink, Blue White White, Black, Blue, Pink
Author: Jon Love

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Leave a comment

B
Bill
November 27, 2023

Need to talk to someone - HOW?

JL
Jon Love - Chief tester
November 28, 2023

Assuming you need to speak to someone at Phillips? If so you can use the contact options ont heir website. We are not Philips, but might be able to answer some quesitons if you leave them here in the comments.

J
Jume
October 30, 2023

I’ve just recently replaced my worn out 5100 with the 4100 and so far like it very much. I have one minor annoyance that I encounter every time I use it however. Most people will likely want to use the high intensity rather than low intensity setting. For some reason, they decided to make the low intensity setting the default setting when you turn the toothbrush on. It’s very easy to switch to high intensity, just press the power button a second time within the first two seconds of use, but I don’t see why it can’t just remember to turn on with whatever intensity level was previously set. As I said, it’s certainly minor yet still an annoyance. It just seems to have been poorly thought out in this regard.

S
Sharon
September 22, 2023

Thank you so much for your thorough review. I have decided to purchase the 4100 series and I'm avoiding the Protective Clean per your suggestion. The one I found on Amazon instead of saying "4100 series" it says "Configuration: New 4100." Is this the same thing and a good choice? Thanks, Sharon

JL
Jon Love - Chief tester
September 22, 2023

Hi Sharon. I would suspect so, but it's worth checking the model number listed vs the Philips Sonicare website. It's also worth double checking that the seller is Amazon. Not to say 3rd party sellers are selling anything other than the real thing, but you reduce the risk of any issues when Amazon is the seller and the shipper.

LS
Lee Shelton
June 18, 2023

Could you please answer two questions? I read that the Sonicare 4100 sold now has less power than it used to have (you said it has 32K brush strokes vs. 62). Do you know when they changed it? I bought mine four years ago (it doesn't have 2 intensities) and wondered which I have. Re: the Oral-B, doesn't it take more time to brush since the round head is a lot smaller and you have to focus on each tooth individually vs. Sonicare that covers more teeth at once? Thanks much!

JL
Jon Love - Chief tester
June 19, 2023

Hi Lee, Sonicare made the change to the power/brush strokes with the introduction of the 4100 Series which was in 2021. If your toothbrush is 4 years old you likely have the ProtectiveClean 4100 which is a different model, the predecessor to the 4100 Series. As regards the time difference in brushing between Oral-B & Sonicare. No, this is not the case. Whilst the larger Sonicare heads typcially cover more than 1 tooth surface, you still spend the same 2 minutes. You just move the Oral-B head from tooth to tooth more than you do with the sonic brushes.

D
DoubleD
June 12, 2022

Wow, this is one of the best electric toothbrush review I have read so far. Thank you so much for such a detailed review. I have used Sonicare 5100 for 4 years, and I am looking for a new one. 4100 seems the best deal for me since I found I don't really use other cleaning modes. (The only concern is that it has less power, but that shouldn't be a big deal as you already reviewed.) And I also really like your other post - Bluetooth feature is not recommended in general as most users don't use it. That single post saved me more than a hundred dollars!

JL
Jon Love - Chief tester
June 13, 2022

Glad you have found the review and our other content helpful. 😁

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