The naming system to Sonicare brushes can be confusing at the best of times, but in this instance it is particularly confusing.
The brushes we are referring to in this review are the FlexCare range. However, there is also a FlexCare+, which we have reviewed here.
In the Amazon product description for the FlexCare, Amazon refer to this as the FlexCare+, but as far as we can tell — going by Sonicare’s listings on their own site — that is a mistake; it should be called the FlexCare. It is listed as the FlexCare in the Amazon product title – it is just the description and comparison table that are incorrect.
A solid toothbrush that would serve you very well.
However, it has a slightly dated design and lacks a certain wow factor. There are other brushes, like the 4300 ProetectiveClean that sacrifice features but are just as powerful and better value.
- Multiple cleaning modes
- Built in timer
- Long battery life
- Travel case included
- Design looks a little dated in comparison to alternative
- No pressure sensor built in to tell you when you are brushing to hard
- Better value options exist (see other choices)
The 3 BIG questions about the Philips Sonicare FlexCare
If you are short of time, the answers to the following 3 questions should let you know all you need to about the Sonicare FlexCare series of toothbrushes. If we have missed something, let us know in the comments.
If you want more detail, you can read our full Sonicare FlexCare review further down the page.
1. Is there anything drastically wrong with this toothbrush?
There is nothing drastically wrong.
There are several variants, my choice would be the HX6912/44.
It cleans well, offers a decent battery life and a number of cleaning modes.
2. Which other brushes should I consider?
As of 2018, the Sonicare range has been updated and I would suggest opting for the ProtectiveClean 4300.
Whilst it forgoes some of what the FlexCare offers, it is a more current offering with useful and useable features, you would want.
This includes a pressure sensor to alert you when you are brushing too hard and a system that reminds you when the brush head needs replacing.
If you want a little extra in box contents and cleaning modes, then take a look at the Philips Sonicare Flexcare Platinum Connected.
For a more in-depth comparison of options, see our best electric toothbrush 2020 post.
3. Where is the best place to buy the Sonicare FlexCare?
The availability depends on which variant of the brush is best suited to you. My suggestion is the HX6912/44 or /54.
Both the White (HX6912/44) and Black (HX6912/54) FlexCare+ were both available exclusively from Amazon at the time of writing, but that may have changed by the time you read this review, so shop around.
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And now for a bit more detail…
The FlexCare is a mid to higher mid-range offering.
The cleaning modes, box contents and functions are much better than you would expect of a basic brush, but they do not have the more innovative touches of the most premium models, despite their relatively high suggested retail price.
3 variants, as explained below, for the sake of convenience and clarity, I have combined all into one review to make it easier hopefully to understand, make comparison between and pick which, if any are right for you.
Variants of this toothbrush
Manufacturers sadly do not make things nice and simple for us consumers and this FlexCare range of brushes are no exception.
At the time of writing there are 3 different versions or variants of the Sonicare FlexCare.
Each are different to one another in some way.
Below I will try to explain the differences.
- Black coloured brush handle
- 1 x DiamondClean standard brush head included
- 14 day battery life
- 3 cleaning modes (Clean, White and Massage)
- 2 routines – Go Care & Max Care (Go Care is a quick 1 minute cleaning cycle set to the Clean mode and Max Care is a 3 minute cycle combination of Clean and Massage mode)
- Blue Willow coloured brush handle
- 1 x AdaptiveClean and 1 x DiamondClean standard brush head included
- 21 day battery life
- 4 cleaning modes (Clean, White, Gum Health and Sensitive)
- Black coloured brush handle
- 1 x AdaptiveClean and 1 x DiamondClean standard brush head included
- 21 day battery life
- 4 cleaning modes (Clean, White, Gum Health and Sensitive)
As you can see the HX6911/50 is quite a bit different in specifications, with a different number of cleaning modes and a shorter battery life.
The HX6912/44 and /54 are differentiated by the colour of the brush handle only.
What’s in the box?
- Philips Sonicare FlexCare electric toothbrush
- 1 x AdaptiveClean and 1 x DiamondClean standard brush head (1 x DiamondClean standard only with HX6911/50)
- Charging station
- Travel case
- Sonic cleaning action
- 4 cleaning modes (Clean, White, Gum Health and Sensitive) (3 with HX6911/50)
- Built-in rechargeable battery
- 3 week battery life (2 weeks with HX6911/50)
- 2 minute timer
- 30 second pacer
- Automatic power off
- Travel case
Pro & Cons
Here are what I consider to be the main plus and minus points for the Sonicare FlexCare electric toothbrushes.
- Cleaning modes – Up to 4 different cleaning modes (subject to variant) suiting a wider range of users and needs.
- Battery life – Up to 3 weeks of battery life (subject to variant) you can brush with confidence and go away without taking a power cable
- Timer – A much underrated feature, the built-in timer and quadpacer ensure you are brushing for the right amount of time with a degree of equality to different areas of the mouth.
- Travel case – Solid case to hold the brush and up to 2 brush heads protecting from damage and accidental activation.
- Added extras – The Easy-start and automatic power off features are small but significant in the way in which you use and come to love the brush.
- Design – Look a little dated in comparison to some of the options available today.
- Price – Variance from store to store and potentially high in comparison to some other options.
- Pressure sensor – No pressure sensor included. A great tool for new electric toothbrush users to avoid doing too much damage to their teeth and gums.
- Bluetooth connectivity – Not for everyone, but other brushes from competing brands offer such, are Sonicare behind here?
Design, usability, clean & general use
I will be the first to point out that whilst the design and build of these toothbrushes are not unconventional, they are not the most appealing brushes to look at.
They are perfectly fine, usable and many would be happy with them.
However, brushes like the Sonicare DiamondClean and the Oral-B Genius 9000 come in an array of colour options, with soft pastel shades and more choices to suit your personal taste and style.
With the FlexCare, Black or White is the choice.
There are 3 versions of the FlexCare at the time of writing, 2 of which are Black in colour and 1 is primarily White.
In hand, like other Sonicare models it feels weighty and solid. Not too heavy, but there is a weight that feels premium rather than really light and cheap plastic.
On the front of the brush a little below the point at which the brush handle and removable brush head meet is a Philips Sonicare logo in a Grey colour font. It contrasts nicely against the primarily White and Black handles of the brush.
Below this, running down the majority of the front of the brush handle is a panel, within which is the power button, cleaning modes buttons, icons and LED’s for the available cleaning modes and the battery status gauge.
The colour of this panel varies between the 3 variants.
On the HX6911/50 it is a very dark Grey almost Black colour. On the HX6912/44 it is Silver and the HX6912/54 has a Silver/Grey colour, not quite as shiny as the HX6912/44.
In line with this the button colours differ too.
The HX6911/50 and the HX6912/54 have an all Black power button with a deep Grey/Silver bezel. The cleaning mode button is a Silver colour in the centre with a Black outer ring and then the deep Grey/Silver bezel. The HX6912/44, on the other hand, has a Blue Willow coloured power button. The cleaning mode button is a Silver colour in the centre, with a Blue Willow outer ring and then the deep Grey/Silver bezel.
The power button sits above the cleaning mode button on all variants and both provide a good level of feedback. Neither are too soft or too firm and should not be accidentally pressed all that easily.
Whilst the power button turns the brush on and off, it is the cleaning mode button that needs to be pressed to cycle through the different cleaning modes available.
All 3 variants have multiple cleaning modes each with an LED to signal which is in use. More on this shortly.
On the base of the brush is a recess into which the charging prong on the provided charging stand sits.
On the back of the brush handle is a rubber grip that runs the whole length of the handle and actually flows more prominently onto the sides of the rounder handle around the neck of the brush.
Black coloured grips come with the Black coloured brush handles, but the White handle has a Blue Willow grip, which is much more pronounced. This Blue Willow colour extends to a circular ring at the bottom of the brush handle that gives an extra accent and flare.
Sealed inside the brush handle is the Lithium-Ion battery and the motor. From this runs a metal shaft that pokes out at the top of the brush handle.
To this, the brush head attaches, and the power is transferred from the motor to the bristles to clean the teeth.
I will speak more on the brush heads shortly, but you might be keen to note that the Black coloured handles come with colour matched brush heads, which is a nice touch. The only issue here is that buying replacements can often be a little more difficult as they are not as widely stocked as the more typical White colour found on the HX6912/44 handle.
Within the front panel of the brush handle are the named cleaning modes available on the brush.
The FlexCare HX6911/50 offers 3 cleaning modes and 2 routines compared to the 4 cleaning modes and no routines on the other handles.
Clean, White and Massage are the available modes and the routines are labelled Go Care and Max Care.
Each is accessed by pressing the cleaning mode button. Press the button multiple times to cycle through and select the mode you want.
When the toothbrush is switched on, you can switch between modes but not between routines. Routines should be selected before you brush your teeth.
The standard clean mode offers superior teeth cleaning, whilst the Massage mode is gentle, yet thorough in its, cleaning of sensitive teeth and gums. White mode offers 2 minutes of the Clean mode, with an additional 30 seconds of White mode to focus on your visible front teeth.
The 2 routines work as follows.
Go Care is a 1 minute brushing cycle in the Clean mode, for a quick clean. You hear the quadpacer signal at 15 second intervals.
Max Care routine is a 3 minute brushing cycle that combines the Clean and Massage modes in one routine for a thorough mouth clean. There are 30 seconds of Clean mode and 15 seconds of Massage mode for each of the 4 sections of your mouth. You will hear the quadpacer signal at 45 second intervals.
The HX6912/44 and 54 offer Clean, White, Gum Health and Sensitive modes. The Clean and White modes work in the same was as the HX6911/50 model. Sensitive and Gum Health are very similar to Massage in that they operate at different speeds to offer a different level of comfort when brushing.
In all 3 variants, the brush head moves at up to 31,000 times a minute to offer a great clean.
The brush itself creates quite a strong humming sound when in use, much quieter than the Oral-B brushes, which have a more mechanical sound.
For me, the movement and cleaning action feels quite soft on the gums and the larger brush head covers a larger surface area.
The clean is good, it is not harsh on the teeth and gums.
If you have used Sonicare before you will be used to the experience. If you have used Oral-B it is quite different, feels less aggressive. If you have never used an electric toothbrush before then you will feel the benefits compared to a manual brush.
What is particularly great about Sonicare models is the EasyStart feature that is built-in and perfect for new users. Over the first 14 brushing sessions, providing they are 1 minute long, the brush will gradually increase the power and number of movements it delivers, until it reaches the maximum 31,000 movements per minute.
When the brush is running, the internal timer and quadpacer begin working too. The idea behind these is to encourage you and I to give equal attention to the different parts of the mouth and brush for the recommended time.
At 30 second intervals, there is a slight pause in the brush head motion which changes the sound emitted from the brush and stops bristle movement, signalling to you to change quadrant of the mouth when cleaning.
When the 2 minutes are complete, the brush automatically powers off, signalling the end of the clean.
Automatic power off is a simple but great touch that conserves battery life and offers convenience.
A feature that in my opinion is missing, is a pressure sensor.
A pressure sensor is not generally found on Sonicare brushes (DiamondClean Smart and FlexCare Platinum Connected being the exceptions), but are found on Oral-B handles.
As the name implies if too much pressure is applied during cleaning a light is illuminated to alert you and you can reduce this so as not to do damage to the teeth. You soon learn, and it comes somewhat redundant. It is not an essential but would be a nice inclusion that would help new users I think.
This said, brush too hard with the brush and you notice a change in motor sound which should act as a sign to reduce the pressure. The bristles of the brush need only skim the tooth surface.
Provided in the box is either a single DiamondClean brush head or a DiamondClean brush head and an AdaptiveClean head, subject to the variant.
These are just 2 from a range of different brush head styles that all achieve slightly different results. You can read our guide to Sonicare brush heads to learn more.
What you should know is all the different heads are fully interchangeable and work with any cleaning mode, even if they are designed to work best with certain modes.
The DiamondClean head focuses more on tooth whitening whilst the AdaptiveClean is more focused to a great overall clean. Pick the one you prefer using, both will do a great job of removing plaque and bacteria.
No doubt you are aware that it is important to replace the brush head regularly. Every 3 months is the general recommendation, sooner if the bristles are worn.
Every head has a set of reminder bristles that fade from a Blue to a pale Blue/White colour over time. You can use these as a visual reminder as to when you need to replace your brush head, if you don’t remember when you last did.
Whilst always changing and varying form one retailer to another, the DiamondClean heads tend to be a bit cheaper than the newer style AdaptiveClean heads.
AdaptiveClean are my preference, but try them out and find the one that works best for you.
Also included in the box is a travel case that is colour matched to the brush handle.
It is hinged on the longer side and offers a home to the brush handle and up to 2 brush heads.
Plastic in construction, it clips shut with a clip on the opposing edge to the hinge. Branded on the lid with the Philips logo the case is robust enough to survive most that will be thrown at it, but most importantly protect the handle and the heads from damage and accidental activation in transit.
The handle is water resistant and it is perfectly fine to be exposed to water, toothpaste, saliva etc. Ideally, you should rinse it off after use and dry it. Whilst I suspect little harm would come to the brush if used in the shower, Sonicare do suggest not to use it when bathing.
Modern connectivity options might not be for all, but Bluetooth is another feature that is beginning to creep in at this price point on other electric toothbrushes. Whilst it is far from required, it is another feature that makes the likes of Oral-B brushes potentially more compelling, but Sonicare have their own and arguably better integrated solution on the FlexCare Platinum Connected.
I would take a few moments to considering the other options if looking at these FlexCare brushes as the package contents of some of the other options are quite compelling.
The FlexCare from Sonicare is well built, feels good in the hand and offers a good clean. Whilst the likelihood of failure is slim there is a 2 year guarantee should something go wrong.
Summary of design, usability, clean & general use
- Looks ok, but not as appealing as some other brushes
- 3/4 cleaning modes subject to model
- Separate power and cleaning mode button
- 1/2 brush heads included subject to model
- Alternative brush heads available
- Cleans the teeth well
- Built-in quad pacer and timer tells you when to change quadrant and finish brushing
- Lacks a pressure sensor
- Lacks Bluetooth connectivity
- Travel case included
- Easy-start feature is really compelling
- Automatic power off really helps achieve an excellent battery life
- 2 year warranty as standard
An electric toothbrush is no good without a battery inside to actually power it.
Built into the brush handle of the FlexCare is a Lithium-Ion battery, that is not designed to be user removable.
The battery powers the brush motor when the brush is switched on.
Recharged via the charging stand provided in the box, the brush handle actually uses inductive charging to replenish the battery and does not require a physical cable to be connected.
A recess on the base of the brush handle is what accepts the prong on the top of the provided charging stand. The stand is connected to mains power and thanks to coils of wire inside the prong and inside the base of the brush handle, the charge is transferred, even through there 2 layers of plastic between them.
It is clever stuff and what helps keep things safe when used in a bathroom.
If your smartphone has wireless charging, it is essentially the same thing.
A White or Black coloured charging stand is provided in the box. The power cable fixed into this is about a meter in length and connects to the 2 pin sockets found in UK bathrooms.
This is not a 2 pin plug that you might see in other European countries.
It is possible to charge from a 3 pin UK mains socket, but you need to purchase an adapter, this does not come in the box.
The stand works on voltages of 100-240, which means if you travel to countries that use lower voltages, all you need is a plug adapter and not a voltage adapter. A small but useful feature.
Depending on how long you travel for, you may not need to take a charger.
The FlexCare HX6911/50 has a 2 week battery life whilst the HX6912/44 and HX6912/54 have a 3 week battery life.
Well, that is the quoted battery life from Sonicare, but my own hands on testing has found that generally speaking you are going to get a few more days from the battery, which is good news.
Depending on what model you opt for will actually depend on the brushing time, but with the handles that offer 3 weeks life, this means you will get a minimum of 84 minutes or 42 brushing sessions.
This is a fair level of battery life given the size of the handle.
Oral-B’s Pro and Smart Series handles tend to be a bit slimmer, but the battery life is not normally as good.
It takes up to 24 hours to charge the battery in the brush fully.
All 3 models benefit from the same battery indicator, which is useful and gives all important feedback on the remaining power in the brush.
3 Green LED’s mean you have 75-100% battery power.
2 Green LED’s mean you have 50-74% battery power.
1 Green LED means you have 25-49% battery power.
1 flashing Yellow LED means you have less than 25% remaining.
If the battery charge of the Sonicare is low, you hear 3 beeps and 1 LED on the battery level indicator flashes yellow for 30 seconds after the 2-minute brushing cycle.
When on the charger the flashing light of the battery gauge indicates that the toothbrush is charging.
1 solid Green LED indicates that the toothbrush is 34-66% charged. 2 solid Green LED’s indicate that the toothbrush is 67-94% charged and 3 solid Green LED’s indicate that the toothbrush is fully charged.
When you hear 3 beeps and 1 of the 3 battery indicator LEDs is flashing Yellow, this will mean the power is too low and needs to be recharged.
Summary of battery life
- Lithium-Ion battery built-in, not user removable
- Up to 3 weeks or 84 minutes of usage time
- Takes up to 24 hours to charge fully
- A charger included in the box that works on 110-220v
- 3 Green LED’s mean you have 75-100% battery power.
- 2 Green LED’s mean you have 50-74% battery power.
- 1 Green LED means you have 25-49% battery power.
- 1 flashing Yellow LED means you have less than 25% remaining.
- 1 solid Green LED when charging – 34-66% charged
- 2 solid Green LED’s when charging – 67-94% charged
- 3 solid Green LED’s when charging – Fully charged
- 3 beeps and 1 flashing Yellow LED – Recharge required
Price & where to buy
You can pay less than £20 for an electric toothbrush, but as you might expect the quality and features are not likely to be as great as one 5-10 times the price.
For most people, anywhere between £40-100 will get you a very good electric toothbrush.
Naturally, there are more expensive ones, in fact, Sonicare top the charts with their DiamondClean Smart which is not all that far off £300!
The 3 FlexCare models reviewed here have a recommended retail price of £220-230, so on the face of it not all that cheap.
However, it is common for brushes to sell below the recommended retail price.
With some brands the discount can be as much as 50%, Oral-B, in particular, are known for this.
Sonicare prices do get discounted, not to quite the same level but you can buy them for less than the suggested retail price and my advice is to do so. At the end of the day, the savings are in your pocket.
Older brushes in particular or at certain times throughout the year do see the prices reduced further than they would normally.
The FlexCare is available for considerably less than the £230 RRP, but prices do vary considerably between stores.
Models HX6912/44 and /54 are available for as little as £70 whilst HX6911/50 prices varied from £220 down to £85.
Whilst prices are subject to change at the time of writing it is slightly scary that you can buy the same brush for over £130 less. You don’t need to be a genius to see that is a massive saving.
Ultimately though, what a brush is worth and how much you are prepared to pay for it is personal opinion.
Whilst some are prepared to pay several hundred pounds others want to spend just tens of pounds.
On average, the expected life of an electric toothbrush is 3-5 years although many do last longer.
At Electric Teeth, we like to price the models over a 3 year period to get a rough idea of what the total ownership cost is and how they compare to other brushes on the market. This includes factoring in the cost or replacement brush heads.
The provided DiamondClean heads work out on average about £5 per head to replace, whereas the AdaptiveClean heads are around £8 per head.
Using the models HX6912/44 and /54 as the example. Assuming a purchase price of £70. Factor in the cost of 10 x replacement DiamondClean heads required in addition to the 2 heads included in the box and you have a total cost of £120 and a daily cost over 3 years of 11p.
With any brush you can extend the value by sharing the brush handle with another user. Of course, change the brush head and be aware that you will need to recharge more frequently, but this can help keep the cost of ownership down.
Whilst it does not have the same number of cleaning modes, the newer and technically more advanced Sonicare Platinum Connected would be one of my alternative choices. Subject to change, at the time of review, the cost of the brush is nearer to £100, which gives a similar ownership cost, but you have the benefit of it being a newer model and offering up connectivity too, should you want this.
When it comes to making the purchase, if this is the brush for you, be sure to shop around and pay the price you are comfortable with and from a retailer you trust.
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
- Recommended retail price of £220-230
- Available from £70-220 subject to model
- Considerable price variance between retailers
- Works out at around £0.11 per day over 3 years
- Share brush handle with another user to extend value
- Other similar options perhaps a bit more expensive but better
Reliability & long term use
Sonicare are on the whole a much loved brand that have built a reputation on quality and reliability, even if it does mean paying a little extra in the outset.
As one of the largest electric toothbrush manufacturers their design and production process has been developed with reliability and performance in mind.
The FlexCare gives me no real cause for concern over the build quality and reliability from my hands on time with it. The number of possible failure points are low.
The nature of an electric toothbrush with moving parts and electrical circuits does mean that there is the potential for failure.
Should something go wrong, you have a 2 year warranty to fall back on in which time, if you make contact with the support team they will either have the brush handle repaired or replaced.
Sonicare would have to do a lot wrong to make a bad electric toothbrush.
Thus, if you were to opt for the FlexCare you are going to be getting yourself a fairly decent electric toothbrush that delivers a solid clean.
Battery life is good too, with 3+ weeks and the build quality is top notch too.
The variety of cleaning modes are more desirable to some than others but with the FlexCare you have the choice.
A slightly dated design, as I said about the FlexCare+, it lacks a certain wow factor. There are other brushes, like the 4300 ProetectiveClean that sacrifice features but are a just as powerful and more valuable package.
Subject to price you could get yourself a great deal, but do not go paying the RRP, you are really being ripped off.
If you are going for the FlexCare, make sure it’s the HX6912/44 or HX6912/54 you choose — you can view them both here on Amazon.
These answers apply to our suggested models HX6912/44 and /54.
- Is the Sonicare FlexCare an oscillating brush?
- No, it is not.
- How many brushing modes does the Sonicare FlexCare have?
- This brush offers up to 4 different cleaning modes, Clean, White, Gum Health and Sensitive.
- What brush head does it come with and what alternative ones can be used?
- The FlexCare comes provided with 1 x AdaptiveClean and DiamondClean standard brush heads. These are 2 from a range of interchangeable heads that all fit on this brush handle. They include the DiamondClean, ProResults, ProResults Gum Health, Sensitive, AdaptiveClean and InterCare.
- Does the Sonicare FlexCare have a pressure sensor?
- No, it does not.
- Does the Sonicare FlexCare have Bluetooth?
- No, it does not.
- Does the Sonicare FlexCare come with a warranty & how long is it?
- Yes, it does. The warranty is 2 years.
- Does the Sonicare FlexCare have a built-in timer?
- Yes. At the end of a 2 minute cycle, the brush automatically turns off signalling the end of the cleaning time. If you want to extend your clean, you will have to power the brush back on. It does also have a 30 second pacer also referred to as a quadpacer. At 30 second intervals a slight pause in the brushing mode to tell you to change quadrants. There are 4 quadrants to the mouth.
- How long does the battery last?
- Officially the battery lasts up to 84 minutes, which is equivalent to 3 weeks or 21 days of usage based on 2 x 2 minute cleans per day.
- Does it come with a charger?
- Yes, a charging station is included with the toothbrush. It works on 100-220v.
- Can this be fixed to a wall?
- The charging station has not been designed to be fixed to a wall.
- Can I use the Sonicare FlexCare in the shower?
- We would advise avoid it. The brush is water resistant and designed to withstand exposure to water but the prolonged exposure to water in a shower is not ideal for the brush and the manual explicitly states do not use when bathing.
- Does it come with a travel case?
- Yes, it does.
Do you own or have you used the Philips Sonicare FlexCare?
Are there certain features that you really like or dislike?
Let us know what you think about this brush and let others who may well be considering purchasing one know your opinions before they do.