A very likeable brush, but lacks the ultimate cleaning experience
Slim in hand, with the essential features I recommend an electric toothbrush has, there is lots to like about the Sonicare 3100 series.
I could happily use this on a daily basis.
But, the motor is configured differently to more premium Sonicare models and the battery life is not as good.
- 1 cleaning mode makes it nice & simple to use
- Reminds you when to replace the brush head
- Slim handle design – stylish & easy to keep clean
- USB charging stand makes it more convenient for some
- Cleaning action not as good as premium models – brush motor configured differently
- Battery life isn’t as good as most other Sonicare brushes
- USB charger prevents in bathroom charging
|Sonicare 3100 Series - White||6,104 Reviews||£89.99 £69.99||View on Amazon|
Consider these other brushes
Whilst the Sonicare 3100 Series gets the job done, we do recommend the brushes from our best electric toothbrush list, particularly the ‘best overall’ choice, from Oral-B, the Pro 3 3500.
It offers fantastic value for money, cleaning performance and has the features our in-house dentists recommend.
But, if you prefer the sonic cleaning action that Philips offers, the ProtectiveClean 4300 is worth investing in. It’s often a touch more expensive, but you get a more powerful motor offering the ultimate Sonicare cleaning experience. The 4300 is our best overall choice in the Philips range of brushes.
|Philips Sonicare ProtectiveClean 4300||3,121 Reviews||£139.99 £84.48||View on Amazon|
Design, usability, clean & general use
The 3100 Series comes in typical Sonicare packaging. It isn’t the most snazzy and eye-catching, but it fits in with the Philips theme and does the job it needs to.
It sounds daft, but it is nice that the box actually shows the brush and highlights the key features about it, so you know what you are buying. Believe it or not, many brushes have very little information on the box about what is inside. This is fine if buying online, but not quite so good for the shop shelves.
Another nice touch is the image on the box is colour matched to the handle inside.
Philips is working to improve their sustainability globally. This is a good thing. For quite some time their packaging has been mainly paper based as opposed to lots of plastics and materials like polystyrene.
As I will explain in more detail later, Philips have now even changed their conventional charging stand to reduce plastic use.
So why then, does the brush handle, the brush head, charging stand and the travel case all come in a plastic sleeve?! It is LDPE 4 plastic, which can technically be recycled, but it is still fairly difficult to do for most people.
I think on the whole Philips strategy is positive, but it seems a bit daft to wrap parts of the package in plastic when they don’t need to be. The brush head, I kind of understand, but the other parts?! It feels like they are missing some of the obvious bits here.
First impressions of the 3100 in hand are great. It is lovely and slim and fairly light too. It definitely isn’t the most grippy of all the toothbrushes I have used, but the matt coating to the handle means it doesn’t feel slippery to the touch.
There is certainly a feeling of quality when you handle this brush, which is a positive.
Like most toothbrushes, this is made up of 2 key parts, the brush handle and the brush head.
The handle itself is not a perfect cylinder. Although rounded, the edges are very slightly squared off which makes it feel solid and pleasant to hold.
The 3100 Series was introduced to the Sonicare range in late 2021. It technically replaces the DailyClean Series. It is considerably slimmer and lighter than its predecessor. And it is marginally thinner and lighter in hand, in comparison to most other Sonicare handles. This is a positive, but as I will explain shortly, it does have negative impacts, notably battery life.
It has a very typical Sonicare design to the handle, which is clean and practical in its approach. I can’t really fault it.
The 3100 Series is available in a number of different variants. Technically they are all the same, the difference is the handle colour and the box contents.
I have the HX3673/13 variant which is white in colour.
On the front of the handle, just below the metal shaft is the Philips Sonicare logo, in a grey font.
Beneath this within the upper third of the handle is the power button. It appears to have an almost seamless design, despite being rubber, compared to the plastic of the brush handle itself.
It is concave and has a power icon embossed on it. It is colour matched to the handle too. There is a nice clicky feedback to the button. It isn’t very firm, so it’s quite easy to activate. Great for those with limited dexterity.
It is hard to explain, but there is a contouring to the plastic of the handle that creates a long oval shape around the power button. It adds a design cue to the handle and becomes a natural resting place for the thumb.
It is then only in the lower third of the handle do you have any extra notable detail on the front of the handle. Here sit the icons and LEDs for the brush head replacement reminder and the battery. The LED sits above each icon. More on this shortly.
The rest of the handle, including the sides and back are smooth to the touch, with no raised elements for grip etc. For some this is a negative, but despite the lack of gripping points the 3100 doesn’t feel uncomfortable or like it will really slip in the hand. For those who particularly struggle with getting a tight grip, the slimmer handle of the 3100 might not be ideally suited.
The only exception to this smooth design is on the back of the handle, right at the bottom, is a small plastic notch extending from the handle. This is designed to prevent the handle from rolling about when laid on a countertop.
The base of the handle has a recess within it. This is a space into which the charging pin on top of the charging stand fits to provide the wireless charging of the internal battery.
The base has some regulatory information printed on it along with the model number.
The 3100 series does stand upright on a desktop.
The top of the handle tapers very slightly, just before flattening out to give a surface for the brush head to sit over. Extending from the top here is the metal shaft that connects to the brush motor inside the handle.
The provided brush head simply pushes onto and pulls off of this. There is no need to twist or lock any head in place.
Once fitted, if you take a look at the handle from the side, the head sits perfectly vertically. There is no angling of the brush head as is the case with some other models.
This is subject to change, but the brush head supplied with the 3100 series by default is the C1 ProResults brush head.
It has been designed to be used everyday. It provides a thorough all round clean of the teeth and has what many call a ‘W’ profile to it. There are slightly longer bristles at the top, bottom and in the middle.
It sounds odd to say this, but it is one of the more basic brush heads within the Sonicare range. It is more than functional and does a good job. But do be aware that Sonicare has a range of different brush heads, which fit to and are compatible with the 3100 Series. Many of these alternative options are considered more premium and more specialised.
To give you an example, some have a silicone on the back of the brush head rather than just the plastic you see on the C1 head. This is to make it softer on the gums and cheeks. You will likely pay a price premium for these though.
With others the length, cut and shape of the bristles are different to achieve different results.
Some are engineered for plaque removal, whilst others are designed for helping the gums or whitening teeth.
The range of heads is confusing. Our ultimate guide to Sonicare brush heads explains each in more detail.
The things to really note here is picking and using any Sonicare brush head designed for everyday use is more important than worrying about which to pick. But, should you have a preference you do not have to stick to using the C1 ProResults head.
For existing and new Sonicare toothbrush users, it is worth being aware of some developments in the Sonicare brush head range. For a long time, the brush head supplied was simply named ProResults. It has more recently been renamed C1 ProResults. Same design, new name.
But, in addition, the head has also had a technology upgrade. It has gained an RFID chip.
This chip makes the head BrushSync compatible. I shall explain what this means, but just be aware that because the heads have been upgraded stock of the original heads, without the chip in, still exist and are sold.
A small disclaimer/point to note here is that I bought my 3100 Series from the Philips website as soon as it launched. Instead of coming with a C1 ProResults brush head, I actually received a C2 Optimal Plaque Defence. Does the same job, just slightly different. I *think* I received this because the BrushSync enabled C1 heads were not available at the time of production.
We have an article that explains BrushSync technology in detail, but essentially there are 2 parts. There is the ‘brush head replacement reminder’ and ‘brush head mode pairing’.
The 3100 series has only the brush head replacement reminder.
Inside the C1 ProResults (and other heads) is a small microchip.
When the brush head is fitted to the brush handle, the chip is detected by sensors in the 3100 handle.
As it detects the head, it will flash the light on the front of the handle 3 times. This acts as confirmation that the handle has detected the head and that the electronics inside the handle will now keep track of it.
As you use the brush head, the handle continues to track how often it has been used.
The handle knows that the brush head should be replaced every 3 months. So once the handle detects that the brush head has been used for this amount of time, the ‘BrushSync’ LED on the handle will light up an amber/orange colour to tell you it is time to change the brush head.
Using the brush head for longer than suggested can potentially cause damage to the teeth and gums and can cause the head to be less effective in its cleaning.
But, the brush is cleverer still.
If it detects you have brushed 3 times a day every day or brushed with more pressure, it will activate the BrushSync alert system sooner, as the bristles will have worn out sooner than the typical 3 month time period.
The bristles do wear out over time. They are not designed to be used indefinitely.
By the same token, it will delay alerting you to replace the brush head. If you used that head just once a day over 3 months, it would not tell you to replace it until it had been used for equivalent to 4 minutes a day for 3 months.
This is a very neat touch and shows how technology can be used in a positive way to better the nation’s oral health. It may well be overkill, but it is there to help.
It is worth knowing that it is perfectly possible to use a non-smart brush head on the 3100 as it is perfectly fine to use a smart brush head on a handle that does not offer BrushSync technology. But, do be aware, the BrushSync will only work when a compatible head is used on a compatible handle.
In addition to the head replacement reminder, you do have bristles on the brush head that fade in colour. These are usually blue in colour, but over approximately 3 months they will become much paler, turning a white/translucent colour. This is another visual clue the head needs replacing.
Safe in the knowledge that your brush head is being monitored, you can make full use of the 1 and only cleaning mode on this brush handle.
This mode, known as clean, is all you really need, making for a really simple to use toothbrush.
Yes, potentially there are benefits from different cleaning modes, but for the vast majority of users, 1 mode like this is more than adequate.
Some more premium Sonicare models offer the ability to change the power of the brush motor, to offer a more intense or more gentle brushing experience. Yes, there are circumstances and individuals who will find this beneficial, but it is not essential for most.
The 3100 offers no ability to change the power or intensity of the brush motor.
It is here that I should mention how the motor in the 3100 isn’t the same as that used in the more premium Sonicare models.
The 3100 motor does offer up to 31,000 brush strokes, but it doesn’t achieve the 62,000 movements often quoted with the more expensive models. It is configured differently.
As a result, the 3100 does feel less powerful/intense compared to some other Sonicare toothbrushes.
Technically, more power or movements does mean better cleaning results. But, it isn’t quite as simple as this, there are more factors at play.
The lesser power on offer here isn’t immediately obvious. Even for me and I have tested hundreds of brushes. The brushing sensation is slightly different. It is most noticeable if you have used other premium Sonicare toothbrushes before.
The 3100 still does a very good job. My teeth feel clean after each brushing session. It is just a bit of a shame that you are not getting the ultimate Sonicare cleaning experience.
As with any toothbrush, be that manual or electric, it is important that you use the correct tooth brushing technique. There is a different technique to using an electric toothbrush to a manual brush. Did you know the brush should be held at 45 degrees to the gumline?
Our helpful guide explains the correct ways.
Be sure to learn the best approach, so that with each brushing session you are maximising the benefit you get.
The cleaning mode is activated by a single press of the power button. A second press will stop the toothbrush.
You should brush your teeth twice a day for 2 minutes each time. That is the recommendation of the vast majority of dental professionals.
Sadly, too few of us brush for this time, so the 3100 has a timer and pacer built into the handle to help encourage longer brushing sessions.
These are activated the moment the brush is powered on.
As the bristles move the timer counts and once it hits 30 seconds, it pauses the brush motor briefly.
This pause changes the sound and brushing sensation. It is your alert to move from one quadrant of the mouth to another.
This then repeats every 30 seconds, until the brush gets to 120 seconds (2 minutes) at which point it will turn itself off.
If you are not familiar with the concept of quadrant and 30 second intervals, allow me to explain.
Whilst dentists recommend 2 minutes of cleaning twice a day, what this does not help with is ensuring you and I brush our teeth evenly.
The idea is that you break the mouth up into 4 sections:
- upper right
- upper left
- lower right
- lower left
You spend 30 seconds cleaning each section. As you do, you try and give equal attention to the front, back and biting surfaces of the teeth. If you do, come the 120 seconds (2 minutes) of brushing time, you should have achieved an even clean to the teeth and gums.
The pacer acts as an alert to you, to change the quadrant as you brush to encourage this even clean.
Of course you don’t have to follow it, but it is good practice.
When brushing your teeth, the bristles need only really skim the surface of the teeth. You need just a little bit of pressure, not lots. Too much pressure can cause wear on the teeth and gums and in the long term result in irreversible damage.
To help prevent this, the 3100 has a pressure sensor built in.
When the brush detects too much force is being applied, the handle vibrates, the brushing sensation changes and the sound changes too.
The BrushSync replacement reminder LED also flashes amber. Given its position and size, it is not the easiest to see.
It is these changes that alert you to the issue.
Relieve the pressure to stop these alerts and prevent any damage.
It does not have the large visible pressure sensor like the Oral-B Pro 3 3500 and Sonicare’s own DiamondClean Smart.
Personally, I do think the light is more obvious, particularly when most of us tend to brush in front of a mirror.
Sadly, the flashing amber light is on the wrong side of the handle for you to really notice. But, you will be hard pressed to not notice the vibration change in the handle and the sound too.
The vibration will kick in every time too much pressure is applied.
Within a few days, you will get used to how much pressure is appropriate.
Once you do, you shouldn’t activate it all that often, but it is still a useful tool to have built into the handle.
Sealed inside the 3100’s brush handle is all the technology that makes this brush function, which includes the user rechargeable, but not user replaceable lithium-ion battery, which should give 14+ days of use on a full charge.
When the power is low, the brush will indicate this through the battery indicator LED. Just pop it on the provided charging stand for up to 24 hours to fully recharge. You can get more information in the ‘Battery Life’ section of this review.
The handle is water resistant, which means it has been designed to resist the water, toothpaste and saliva that it will inevitably come into contact with. A rinse under the tap to clean it is fine. Sonicare tends not to advise use when bathing, but I know many do brush their teeth whilst in the shower. The important thing here is to avoid full submersion in water.
As I have already mentioned, there are different variants of the 3100 series.
One of the differences is that some variants come with a travel case. The version I have does.
It is a basic, but perfectly functional case. It is also one of the more compact travel cases I have come across from Sonicare, which I like.
It holds the handle and 1 brush head, not 2 brush heads like many others.
The colour of the case depends on the variant you opt for. I have a white case.
Made from plastic, it is thicker on the left side, where you find the hinge. It tapers down to the right, where the clip/locking mechanism is.
Press the top of the case over the bottom to lock it shut.
To open, press into the lower right side of the case and the clip should release.
The top of the case has the Philips logo debossed on it. There is to a slim cutout in the case to offer ventilation.
It is a nice option and protects the handle and head from damage and accidental activation when on the go.
Sonicare does offer a 2 year warranty that covers any mechanical or workmanship faults, but not user damage. If you register the brush within 90 days of purchase, there is also the ability to extend the warranty by a further year.
Summary of design, usability, clean & general use
- Slim and comfortable brush handle
- Different colour options
- Sonic cleaning action isn’t quite as good as more premium Sonicare models – motors configured differently
- 1 cleaning mode
- 1 brush head included
- Various styles of brush heads available separately
- Brush head replacement reminder
- Built in timer and 30 second pacer
- Pressure sensor to stop you brushing too hard
- Travel case included with some variants
- 2+ week battery life
- Water resistant handle
- 2 year warranty
Inevitably, we all have different opinions on how much battery life a toothbrush should offer.
For me, and I believe the vast majority of users, a usable life of 2+ weeks is desirable.
Whilst it is not necessarily often you will be away from a charger for more than 2 weeks, it offers flexibility. For example, going away on holiday, you want to avoid having to take more than you need. Not having to take the charger is preferable. With 2+ weeks of battery life you won’t have to worry that it will run out of power.
The claimed battery life of the 3100 series is 14 days. Therefore it achieves my ideal minimum.
However, often with Sonicare toothbrushes, they claim x number of days and it usually outperforms by quite some margin.
I can confirm the 3100 does last longer than 14, but not many more.
In my hands-on testing, I achieved on average 34 brushing sessions. That is equivalent to 68 minutes of usage time, or 17 days of use on a full charge.
That is just 3 days longer than the claimed 14.
Compared to the likes of the Sonicare 4300 ProtectiveClean that is advertised with 14 days and lasts 5 weeks, it isn’t quite as impressive.
But, for me this is good enough.
I don’t know the exact capacity of the battery in the 3100 or the 4300, but I suspect the 3100’s battery is smaller. The 3100 is physically slimmer and lighter, so the battery must be different.
It does have a user rechargeable Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) battery, which are widely considered better than the Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) batteries found in some of the competition’s products.
Thanks to the LED on the front of the brush handle, you do get feedback on the power within the battery.
The way in which it flashes and the colour it is lit tells you how much power remains.
- A solid green LED means a full battery.
- A flashing green LED means a partially full battery.
- A flashing amber LED and three beeps means a low battery.
- A flashing amber LED and five beeps means it is empty. There are no brushing sessions left, you need to charge the toothbrush.
Provided in the box is a charging stand.
White in colour, the stand allows the brush to sit on top of it. A prong on the stand fits into the recess on the base of the brush handle.
However, unlike most toothbrush charging stands that have a 2 pin plug suitable for UK bathrooms hardwired into it, this has a USB connector.
It is a male, USB Type-A connector. This is designed to fit into a USB port on your computer, laptop, battery bank, USB plug adapter or wall socket if you have one.
No separate USB to 3 pin plug adapter comes included.
So, if you want to charge this toothbrush from a 3 pin socket in the UK, you will need to use a USB plug adapter you already have or source one.
And to my knowledge, there is no way to use this in a bathroom within the UK. Typically the only power outlet in the bathroom is a 2 pin ‘shaver socket’. There are no USB to 2 pin shaver socket adapters.
This means the only place to charge the 3100 series is anywhere other than the bathroom.
Sonicare includes a leaflet that says by dropping out the power adapter in the box, results in reducing plastic use equivalent to 19 million plastic bottles.
I am all for reducing plastic, but I think many will take issue with this.
For me personally, this is less of an issue as I don’t actually have a shaver socket in either of the 2 bathrooms in my home. I have to charge my toothbrush elsewhere. But, this isn’t the same story for many others.
A lot of people have been conditioned to charge their toothbrush in the bathroom.
If you are an existing Sonicare electric toothbrush owner, you might be pleased to know that the 3100 will work/charge from your existing charging stand. With the exception of the charging stand for the DiamondClean Series.
The USB stand potentially makes for a more convenient option for frequent travellers who do need to take their charger with them. USB charging is an international standard. There is no need to worry about voltages and plug adapters in quite the same way.
Compared to previous/other charging stands, this one is circular and has a similar overall footprint to previous Sonicare chargers. It is a little wider than the typical charging stand you would expect, but then again it isn’t quite as deep.
There are 3 small rubber feet on the base to help prevent movement on a countertop.
The toothbrush can be placed in any position on top of the stand, providing the pin on the top fits into the base of the toothbrush. The handle can actually rotate a full 360 degrees on the stand.
The cable that extends from the stand is approximately 110cm/43.3 inches in length.
It supports an input of 4.75-5.25v / 0.3A / 1.5W.
Once placed on the charging stand, the toothbrush can take up to 24 hours to charge fully.
When on a working charging stand a flashing green LED means it is charging, whilst a solid green LED means it is full. It will turn off after 30 seconds.
Summary of battery life
- Lithium-Ion battery technology
- Sonicare suggest 14 days/2 week battery life
- Achieved 17 days usage based on 2 cleans per days for 2 minutes
- Comes with a USB charging stand
- No 2 or 3 pin USB plug adapter provided
- Takes about 24 hours to charge fully
- Battery status indicator on the brush handle
- A solid green LED means a full battery
- A flashing green LED means a partially full battery
- A flashing amber LED and three beeps means a low battery.
- A flashing amber LED and five beeps means no brushing sessions left.
Price & where to buy
I have included links to buying options here at the start of the review.
In the section below, I discuss the price more generally and in relation to similar products.
Price should not be the only factor you consider when buying a toothbrush, but inevitably for the vast majority of us, it does play a part in our decision.
The truth is, you don’t have to spend a great deal of money to get a good electric toothbrush.
Generally speaking, you can purchase a decent brush for around £50 or less.
The 3100 comes in a number of different variants, which impacts the price.
The standard variant has a suggested retail price of £79.99, whilst the variant I am reviewing here has a retail price of £99.99. An extra £20 for a travel case, a touch pricey!
The dual handled variant is the most expensive at £139.99.
It would be very rare for me to ever recommend buying a toothbrush at its retail price. This is because with limited exceptions, electric toothbrushes are subject to sizable discounts.
It can range from about 20-60% as a general rule, but market leading brands like Sonicare and Oral-B are most often sold with a discount of approximately 50%.
Of course, prices are always subject to change and this does vary from one retailer to another.
What this means is those retail prices will essentially be readjusted to £40 and £50 respectively.
Here at Electric Teeth we like to price products over a 3 year period to give an approximate benchmark of what it costs to own.
If we assume a purchase price of £40 for the 3100, we then need to add on the cost of replacement brush heads. Assuming you use the BrushSync enabled heads, a further 11 heads will cost £77. This gives a total cost of £117 or £0.11 per day.
I do think for £50 or less, the 3100 is a good electric toothbrush and I can’t really fault it.
But, and yes, there is a but.
Our top recommended brush, the Oral-B Pro 3 3500 is similarly priced at around £45 on average, including a travel case.
It works out at about £78 over 3 years, some £39 cheaper than the 3100. So, if price is important to you, you really might want to consider this.
These prices do exclude the cost of water, toothpaste and electric to charge it, and do work on some assumptions, but you get a rough idea.
I am not sure how much value you can place on the BrushSync technology, but it is clearly having an impact on the cost. An Oral-B head is on average around £3 compared to the £7 of the Sonicare BrushSync head. That said, Philips Sonicare products as a general rule do command a premium price.
Based on price alone, the Sonicare 4300 isn’t an outright better buy. It is more expensive to purchase. However, when you factor in that the battery life is twice that of the 3100, it offers double the number of brush movements, and extra cleaning mode/intensity and comes with a travel case it is a much more compelling option. Oh and it comes with a standard charger too.
When I first reviewed the 4300, the ownership cost around £0.14 per day, but thanks to recent price drops this has come down to around £0.13 per day on average.
I think, for many, despite the extra cost, if you really want a Sonicare toothbrush, the 4300 is the better choice.
Sharing the brush handle, but switching heads with other users in your household is one way to help bring the cost down and drive more value from it, if desired.
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.
Summary of price & where to buy
- List of buying options included here
- Recommended retail price of £79.99, £99.99 or £139.99 subject to variant
- Tend to sell for 50% less, so £40, £50 and £70 respectively
- Brush heads vary in price, on average £7 each
- Works out at around £0.11 per day over 3 years
- Oral-B Pro3 3500 is better value
- Sonicare ProtectiveClean 4300 is likely a better buy
Reliability & long term use
I am unable to test the 3100 for extended periods of time to really say how well it will fare over months and years of use.
However, from my experience and having analysed the brush as best as I can, I see no immediate cause for concern.
The handle appears well constructed and although this is a newer and slimmer handle profile than we are used to from Sonicare, it is based on similar handle designs.
As one of the leading brands within this space, many years of experience have gone into designing the 3100.
Any electrical product is prone to breaking, it isn’t possible to have a 0% failure rate. But, if the worst should happen you do have the 2 year warranty to fall back on.
Hand me the 3100 series and tell me this is the only toothbrush I can use from now on, and I wouldn’t complain.
It is more than satisfactory and is in truth a lovely well designed toothbrush. I really do like the slim handle and small details Sonicare built into this.
The problem, if I can call it this, is that there are so many other great options on the market today.
If you are not brand loyal, the Oral-B Pro 3 3500 is better value purchase, whilst ticking all of the boxes for essential features of an electric toothbrush.
If you want the Philips Sonicare experience, the ProtectiveClean 4300 is a little more premium and addresses some of the shortcomings of the 3100 series, without significant extra expense.
I advise investing in the 4300 over the 3100, unless your budget is particularly tight. It will give you extra peace of mind and day to day user satisfaction.
- Height (without head) – 17.3cm/6.8 inches
- Height (with head) – 23.4cm/9.2 inches
- Width – 2.5cm/0.9 inches
- Thickness – 2.7cm/1 inches
- Weight (without head) – 93g/3.3oz
- Weight (with head) – 98g/3.5oz
All are approximates