A very likable brush, but less powerful than other Sonicare models
The Sonicare 3100 series is slim and has the essential features I recommend. There is lots to like about this brush — I could happily use it daily.
It’s not as powerful as other Sonicare brushes, though. For similar money, you can get the 4100 Series which has a stronger feeling motor and additional cleaning mode.
- 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
- Battery life isn’t as good as most other Sonicare brushes
- USB charger prevents in bathroom charging
- Sonic motor configured differently to premium models
These two brushes are a better overall choice
Whilst the Sonicare 3100 Series gets the job done, there are a couple of other brushes you could consider.
The Oral-B Pro 3 3500 is similarly priced to the 3100 Series but works out cheaper in the long run because the brush heads aren’t as expensive.
If you want to stick to the Sonicare range, it’s worth considering the 4100 Series. It’s roughly the same price, but you get a more satisfying clean because the motor has been tuned differently. It’s our top recommended Sonicare brush.
|Philips Sonicare 4100 Series||12 Reviews||£69.93 £54.99||View on Amazon|
It doesn’t overcomplicate things
Too often products are more complicated than they need to be, with extra modes and non-essential features. Thankfully the 3100 Series isn’t.
1 cleaning mode is more than sufficient
Just 1 cleaning mode is available on the 3100. A single press of the power button is all that is needed to get brushing.
For the vast majority of users, 1 mode is more than sufficient, provided you use the correct technique. A common misconception is that additional modes bring extra benefits, but they rarely do.
A lower powered sensitive mode can be desirable as it’s extra gentle on the teeth and gums, but you don’t need this unless you are suffering from sensitive teeth or gums.
The 2 minute timer and pacer encourage even brushing of your teeth
Keeping things simple is the 2 minute timer that turns the brush off automatically when the dentist-recommended 2 minutes of brushing time has passed. If you turn the brush off yourself, you haven’t brushed for long enough.
Brushing for the right duration is one thing, but another is to give all your teeth fairly equal attention. Failing to do so can lead to problems long term. You need to brush the inner, outer and biting surfaces of the teeth.
To help with this the 3100 has a pacer built in. At 30 second intervals, the timer pauses the bristle motion. It creates a change in the sound and brushing sensation. This is your cue to move between the 4 sections of the mouth until all have been brushed.
Brushing time and technique are more important than any particular toothbrush. It’s therefore worthwhile familiarising yourself with how a timer and pacer work to get maximum benefit.
The pressure sensor helps to stop you from brushing too hard
Too much pressure can cause wear on the teeth and gums. Long term, this can result in irreversible damage. The 3100’s built-in pressure sensor can help you if you know you brush too hard.
The handle vibration pattern changes if it detects too much force is being applied. At the same time, the brushing sensation and sound alter.
Where you get a sizeable visible light on many Oral-B brushes, you don’t on the 3100. The BrushSync replacement reminder LED on the brush head flashes amber, but 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.
It cleans your teeth well despite the less powerful motor
The C1 ProResults brush head does a good job of cleaning all over the tooth surface and along the gumline. It is one of our top picks from the wide and confusing range of Sonicare brush heads.
Larger than the round heads on Oral-B brushes, it can be trickier to get into the tightest of spaces in the mouth. If you know you have a small mouth, sonic toothbrushes might not be ideal. Consider an Oral-B brush instead.
I have no complaints about the cleaning results achievable with this brush. They are more than satisfactory.
However, the brushing power and intensity aren’t as strong as some other models from Sonicare.
The motor has been tuned differently and doesn’t have the 62,000 movements of some of Sonicare’s more expensive brushes.
If you haven’t used an electric toothbrush before, the 3100 will still feel intense. But, existing electric brush users may notice the difference. The clean isn’t quite as invigorating.
This difference isn’t a reason to avoid the 3100, but something to be aware of. It still does a perfectly good job of cleaning your teeth.
You do gain a more intense and powerful feeling from the 4100 Series. Its motor is tuned differently. But, it’s still not the same as the most premium Sonicare brushes. Its design is identical to the 3100. It comes with an extra sensitive cleaning mode, and the option of a travel case. It costs only a little bit more.
A slim, comfortable handle with a minimal design
The 3100’s handle is slimmer and lighter than previous Sonicare models with similar features and price point.
Durable and quality feeling in the hand
The water resistant handle doesn’t have lots of textured surfaces. It isn’t the most grippy to the touch. Yet, despite this, it doesn’t feel slippery in the hand. A matt finish to the plastic gives a reassuring resistance to the palm and fingertips.
Although rounded, the handle isn’t a perfect cylinder and there is a slightly squared design to the handle which works well.
In the hand, the brush feels solid and well built. There are certainly no creaking or groaning sounds from the plastic. There are no gaps or build issues that I’ve seen.
It stands upright on a countertop and strategically placed nodules on the rear of the handle help prevent it rolling when laid flat.
The minimal design looks good and does make it easier to keep clean.
For those with limited dexterity, the handle might be a bit slimmer than would be ideal.
The power button gives 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 if you suffer from arthritis and painful joints.
The optional travel case provides protection when on the go
Different versions of the 3100 are available. Technically they are all the same, the difference is the handle colour and the box contents.
Your options are:
- 3100 with no travel case
- Sugar rose – HX3671/11
- White – HX3671/13
- Black – HX3671/14
- 3100 with travel case
- Sugar rose – HX3673/11
- White – HX3673/13
- Black – HX3673/14
- Dual handled 3100 (no travel case)
- White – HX3675/13
- Black & sugar rose – HX3675/15
My pick is the variant with the travel case. It holds the handle and brush head. It isn’t the most durable, but it’s functional and incredibly useful for those nights away from home.
You’ll be reminded when you need a new brush head
Do you know the last time you replaced your bristles?
Bristles wear over time. Using them for more than 3 months can result in less effective and more abrasive brushing.
With the 3100 you don’t have to remember or diarise when to replace the head, it will alert you.
The provided C1 ProResults head is tracked by the brush handle, using a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chip built into its base. Each session is logged and when the optimum time to replace the head is reached the handle vibrates and an LED is lit.
This clever system is otherwise known as BrushSync technology. Our guide to BrushSync explains the things you need to know.
Do be aware that the 3100 does not have the mode pairing of some other BrushSync enabled devices.
The 2 week battery life is less than most Sonicare brushes
A rechargeable Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) battery is sealed inside the 3100 Series brush handle. 2 weeks is the claimed usage time. I achieved an average of 17 days on a full charge.
3-4 weeks of use is now common for an electric brush. Whilst Philips don’t advertise such usage times, premium models including the 4300 ProtectiveClean achieve this.
The 3100’s battery life is a little below average, but this is potentially a trade-off for the slimmer handle. That said there are even slimmer handled brushes like SURI that outperform the 3100, whilst offering a comparable brushing experience.
An in-handle LED gives feedback on the battery’s charge level when off and on the charger.
USB charging makes it more difficult for some
A new style of charging stand is included. Compared to previous stands with a 2 pin power adapter, this has a USB type A male connector. The cable is hardwired into it and measures 110cm (43 inches) long. The footprint of the stand is smaller too with a more rounded shape.
A protuberance on the top of the stand still exists. This fits into the base of the brush handle.
A full charge can take up to 24 hours.
Environmental reasons mean that no 2 pin USB power adapter is provided. This is an inconvenience for many who want to charge from a bathroom shaver socket.
Unless you source an adapter (they are not readily available), you will have to charge it from another socket in your home. Most of us now have USB to 3 pin adapters that can be used. Your smartphone or other tech gadgets likely came with one. Or because it has a USB connector, you can take advantage of powering it from more sources such as a computer or portable battery bank.
USB connectivity arguably makes it more travel friendly though.
Pricey brush heads add to the overall cost
The price you pay for the 3100 Series tends to be around 50% less than the recommended retail price.
This means the standard model costs about £40 rather than its advised £79.99.
The variant with the travel case costs £20 more at £99.99, assuming retail prices. But, typically the selling price is £45-50. Get this version if you can, providing you are paying no more than £10 extra. It’s a surprisingly handy accessory.
These are very fair prices for a toothbrush with this performance and feature set.
Our top recommended electric toothbrush the Oral-B Pro 3 3500 is similarly priced, but works out better value over 3 years of ownership. You can expect to pay £78 compared to the £117 for the 3100 Series.
Sonicare brush heads negatively impact ownership costs. Each costs £7 compared to around £3 for an Oral-B head. That’s a premium of about £40 on brush heads alone.
Save £4-5 per head by considering generic Sonicare brush heads. They are not made by Philips but are compatible with the 3100 Series The main compromise will be no BrushSync technology to track the head.
The best overall Sonicare toothbrush, the 4100 Series is worth consideration. You gain an additional cleaning mode and that more powerful feeling clean, for similar money.
2 year warranty included as standard
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.
By no means a defence, Philips has many years of experience behind them. The 3100 appears very well built and I’ve not found any cause for concern during my use.
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 more than a manual brush.
The impact of this model is reduced by excluding a 2 pin power adapter. What good this does is somewhat countered by the fact that the handle and stand come wrapped in plastic and the brush isn’t designed to be repaired.
RFID-enabled brush heads further add to its planetary impact.
The brush heads are made of petroleum based plastic rather than more sustainable plant-based plastic.
Philips has partnered with schemes such as TerraCycle in some countries, but doesn’t have its own scheme.
Conclusion: a good toothbrush at a fair price
The 3100 Series is a strong choice — it has all the essential features you need.
The slim-handled brush is nice to hold and use. The cleaning results are more than satisfactory and come at an affordable price.
The main downsides are the slightly less powerful motor and 2 week battery life. These are minor factors that can be overlooked.
I’d pick the 4100 Series instead though. Its motor is tuned to be more powerful and you get a sensitive cleaning mode. You can buy it for about the same money.
- 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