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Philips Sonicare Essence vs Essence Plus

Philips Sonicare Essence vs Essence Plus

Which one would we choose?

Our Choice: Sonicare Essence+ (view on Amazon)
2nd Choice: Sonicare Essence (view on Amazon)

The Essence+ is the more expensive brush to buy, but over its lifetime it works out the cheaper of the 2, whilst bringing benefits such as a built-in pacer and a broader range of brush heads.

Philips Sonicare HX5611/01 Essence Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush, Mid-Blue
Brush Name
Philips Sonicare Essence
Customer Rating
Electric Teeth Rating
Our Review
Philips Sonicare HX5611/01 Essence Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush, Mid-Blue
Brush Name
Philips Sonicare Essence
Customer Rating
Electric Teeth Rating
Our Review

Key Differences

  • The Essence+ has a different design to the Essence.
  • The Essence+ comes in 4 color options (black, dark blue, mid-blue and light blue) compared to the 2 of the Essence (blue and pink).
  • The Essence+ uses the standard range of Sonicare brush heads compared to the screw on E-Series heads of the Essence.
  • The Essence+ has a built-in 30 second pacer.
  • The Essence+ has a battery status icon.
  • The Essence has a 14 day battery life compared to the 10 days of the Essence+.
  • The Essence+ uses a different charging stand to the Essence.
  • The Essence is the cheaper of the 2 brushes.

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.

Detailed comparison: what’s the difference between the Philips Sonicare Essence and the Essence+?

Considering that these 2 brushes are part of the same family, there are a surprising number of differences between them.

The Essence+ is the newer, more feature rich model.

Philips Sonicare Essence vs Essence Plus 1

Both brushes are a little on the chunky and weighty side.  These are certainly not the slimmest or lightest brushes you will hold.

In some respects, the size works for them, but then again it goes against them.

Both feel like they will survive a relatively hard life!

The Essence+ is perhaps the more shapely of the 2.

A little more rounded, there are less angular edges and it looks a bit fresher and the nicer of the 2 in my opinion.

Both come in a couple of color options.

The original Essence comes in Blue or Pink.

Philips Sonicare Essence vs Essence Plus 2

Whilst the main brush handle is white in color, the blue and pink is injected into the handle via the angled gripping points.  The pink option does too have a circular/bubble theme going on.

With the Essence+ the color injection is too on the gripping points, but that color makes its way to the power button too.

The color choices here are black, dark blue, mid-blue and light blue.

Philips Sonicare Essence vs Essence Plus 3

The color choice, at least at time of purchase does affect which brush head you get supplied with the handle.

The 4 versions are as follows.

  • Essence+ – Black – HX3211/57 – Comes with 1 x DiamondClean brush head
  • Essence+ – Dark Blue – HX3211/33 – Comes with 1 x ProResults Gum Health brush head
  • Essence+ – Mid-Blue – HX3211/17 – COmes with 1 x SimplyClean brush head
  • Essence+ – Light Blue – HX3211/02 – Comes with 1 x Sensitive brush head

What this does mean though, is that the Essence+ is actually using the more typical style of interchangeable brush heads.  These are the ones you pull off and slide onto the brush handle.

The original Essence uses what are referred to as E-Series brush heads which work only with that handle.

Rather than sliding on and off, you have to physically screw them onto the handle.

Philips Sonicare Essence vs Essence Plus 4

Both clean well, but the screw on approach is a little clunky and you get more choice with the pull on and off heads that the Plus variant offers.

As you brush with either of these models, there is a 2 minute timer running, that automatically turns the brush off at the end of the clean.

However, something the Essence+ offers is a built-in pacer or 30 second timer, which I feel is massively important.

During the 2 minute cycle, the general recommendation is to spend 30 seconds cleaning each quadrant of the mouth.

Those quadrants are, the upper right, upper left, lower right, and lower left.

The pacer pauses the movement of the brush head momentarily at 30 second intervals.  Giving you a visual (if you look at the brush head) and audible warning,

This helps ensure that during your 2 minutes of brushing, you clean fairly evenly across the mouth.

Philips Sonicare Essence vs Essence Plus 5

I am a firm believer that this is one of the best additions to help improve your oral health.

Despite the Essence+ being the theoretically more premium model, the battery life is actually worse.

Just 10 days, or 40 minutes of usage time is possible, compared to the 14 days or 56 minutes of running time of the Essence.

Both use rechargeable Nickel Metal Hydride batteries that are sealed inside the brush handle.

It is not a major issue, but it is a shame that it does not last longer considering the size of the handle.

In the Essence+ favor is the inclusion of a battery status icon on the front of the brush handle.

Philips Sonicare Essence vs Essence Plus 6

It is visible once the brush is turned off or automatically powers off.

If it is a solid Green color then the battery condition is good and you have anywhere up to 20 cleaning sessions left in the brush.

If the battery indicator is a flashing Orange and you get 3 beeps at the end of the clean, there is enough power for 2-5 cleans in the battery.

If you get the same flashing Orange light and 2 sets of 3 beeps you have just 1 clean left in the brush.

The Essence does not have this.  The only warning you get is the brush slowing down or stopping.

When either brush needs recharging it can take up to 24 hours to fully recharge the batteries.

Both come with charging stands, to allow this.

Philips Sonicare Essence vs Essence Plus 7

The Essence brush handle has a flat base to it and the charging stand is flat too.  The handle sits on top of it and is held in place by a plastic frame that that handle sits inside of on the stand.

With the Essence+, the charging stand has a prong on the top of it.  This fits into the recess that is found on the base of the brush handle of the Essence+.

Both brushes are fairly cost effective, but it is the Essence that tends to be the cheapest.

It can be purchased for around $25, whereas the Essence+ will cost around $30.

The cost of the replacement brush heads are approximately $10 for the Essence and just $8 for the Essence+.

With the differences covered, it is probably worthwhile to reconfirm some of the features that both brushes have.

Philips Sonicare Essence vs Essence Plus 8

Full detailed written reviews and videos are available for both of these models, see the links at the end of the article.

So, what features do these 2 brushes share?

  • Built-in user rechargeable NiMH battery
  • A motor that delivers 31,000 movements per minute
  • One cleaning mode
  • Angled brush head
  • A 2 minute timer
  • EasyStart – Increases the power of the brush over a 2 week period
  • Automatic power off – Turns the brush off after 2 minutes
  • Charging stand in box
  • Water resistance
  • 2 year warranty

Does one clean better than the other?

My hands-on testing has not been carried out in any way that could be considered scientific of clinically accurate, so I have no evidence to suggest that one cleans better than the other.

My teeth and gums felt clean after brushing with both and I have no concerns.

There may well be an argument that the newer style brush heads that come with, and are suitable for the Essence+, are better than those with the older Essence and E-Series heads.  However there are variables that make proving this difficult and in reality, bigger benefit can be gained from other things.

Ultimately the resulting clean is influenced by how you move the brush around the mouth and how well you have perfected the technique of brushing.

The built-in pacer on the Essence+ will help many ensure a more even and balanced clean of the teeth and gums.  By giving more balance to the clean, it can have a vast improvement on the condition of the teeth and gums as they may be getting more attention than they did previously.

Philips Sonicare Essence vs Essence Plus 9

Is one better priced than the other?

Yes and no.

You see the Essence has a suggested retail price of $25 compared to the $40 of the Essence+.

However, the Essence sells (from my observations anyhow) on average at $25 whilst the + sells at $30.

Factor in the cost of replacement brush heads and this is where things get interesting.

On average an E-Series brush head will cost $10 each, whereas the heads for the Essence+ will cost just $8.

When you price the brush over 3 years, that makes the cost of the Essence $135 or $0.12 per day, compared to the $118 or $0.11 per day.

Philips Sonicare Essence vs Essence Plus 10

Of course’ the prices are subject to change and it will depend on when and where you buy it.

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.


Both of these brushes offer something for those on a budget when choosing an electric toothbrush.

They are most certainly good options as a first electric toothbrush, but the physical size and weight goes against them a little.

The Essence is the outright cheapest to buy, but factor in the lifetime ownership costs and the more featured + variant is the more cost effective brush to actually own.

Therefore my choice has to be the Essence+.

Philips Sonicare HX5611/01 Essence Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush, Mid-Blue
Brush Name
Philips Sonicare Essence
Customer Rating
Electric Teeth Rating
Our Review
Philips Sonicare HX5611/01 Essence Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush, Mid-Blue
Brush Name
Philips Sonicare Essence
Customer Rating
Electric Teeth Rating
Our Review

Your Opinions

Ultimately, whatever brush you decide upon, it is you who needs to make the decision; but do so based on which is best for your needs or that of the end user.

Only pay the price you are happy with and do not be led into buying something if it is not right.

Hopefully, I have presented the facts and made the whole decision process that little bit easier.

If you found this useful, have any questions, thoughts or opinions, please leave them in the comments below.

About Jon Love

Jon is a leading voice on electric toothbrushes and has been quoted by mainstream media publications for his opinions and expertise.

Having handled & tested hundreds of products there really is very little he does not know about them.

Passionate about business and helping others, Jon has been involved in various online enterprises since the early 2000s.

After spending 12 years in consumer technology, it was in 2014 that he focused his attention on dental health, having experienced first-hand the challenge of choosing a new toothbrush.

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1 thought on “Philips Sonicare Essence vs Essence Plus”

  1. This was a great article. A very thorough review of the products both fair and well written. I will be buying the essence plus per your recommendation. I really liked the voice of this article and I think it should be given to study by kids in school.

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