What’s The Best Rotary Shaver For Men (2021)?

Switching to electric shavers can be beneficial for most men, especially in terms of practicality, comfort, and even costs.

Whether you’re a first time user or simply looking to upgrade your current electric razor, you’ll be faced with the decision of buying a rotary or a foil shaver.

Since you’re reading this article, you’ve probably already decided that a rotary shaver would be a better fit for you.

While this ultimately has to do with personal preference and shaving habits, let’s quickly see what they have to offer and how to find the best rotary shaver for you.

Advantages of rotary shavers — when should you use one?

Without the intent of transforming this article into a sterile rotary vs foil debate, here are some scenarios where a rotary razor would be, at least in theory, better suited for the job.

Rotary shavers work better with longer hairs that grow in different directions.

One of the situations where almost all electric razors struggle is when dealing with long, flat-lying hairs.

Things are even worse if the hairs also grow in different directions.

Rotary shaver are more suitable for longer, flat-lying hairs.

Since a foil razor requires shaving against the direction of growth, a rotary shaver used with circular, overlapping motions makes it easier for the hairs to poke through the shaving heads.

The wide slits in the combs of a rotary razor also help in this case.

If you shave less often, a rotary razor is probably better suited for you.

As stated previously, due to the design and operation of a rotary razor, they usually work better with longer facial hair than their foil counterparts.

Philips Norelco S9000 Prestige shaving heads.

So if you don’t shave daily, you should at least consider a rotary shaver.

Some advanced foil shavers like the Braun Series 9 work remarkably well when shaving longer beards, but that’s generally not the case with most foil shavers.

Even basic rotary shavers usually manage to perform better than similarly priced foil-based razors.

You can get away with a sloppier technique when using a rotary shaver.

While a foil shaver offers more precision and control (and some might say even a closer shave), you have to be more thorough and patient when using one: short, controlled strokes, always against the grain.

Using a rotary razor with circular motions requires less effort and allows you to be less aware of the particularities of the surface being shaved, like the jawline or your chin or the direction of hair growth.

Shaving these tricky areas with a foil razor would require multiple changes of direction and angle in order to get a clean shave.

A rotary shaver can cover large areas with ease and are also suitable for shaving the head.

Again, due to the way they are intended to be used, rotary razors can be a great option for men that need an electric razor for shaving the head as well.

The flexing rotary heads of a Philips shaver.

Because the individual shaving heads can flex inward, a rotary razor can easily adapt to the spherical shape of the head, which can lead to a more efficient and enjoyable shave.

Rotary shavers are extremely quiet during operation.

This is probably the only statement in this list that can be objectively verified.

Foil shavers have fast motors that oscillate at a very high speed, producing a loud, high pitched whine and sometimes strong vibrations, while rotary shavers only emit a low hum.

There are certain situations where a quiet operation of your shaver can be important — like not wanting to wake up your significant other, your children or roommate.

What are some of the best rotary shavers you can buy (2021)?

While there are quite a few manufacturers of electric razors out there — some of them lesser known to the general public — rotary razors are practically synonymous with Philips (Norelco).

First introduced in 1939, Norelco has continuously refined and improved the design of their rotary razors and became the undisputed market leader in this segment.

A Philips Norelco rotary shaver.

In finding the best rotary shaver for you, the most important aspects to consider are:

  • cost/performance ratio
  • availability and cost of replacement blades
  • ease of cleaning and maintenance
  • how suitable is a given shaver for your particular needs

I will highlight the pros and cons of each razor and also mention when it would be a suitable choice.

Without further ado, here are some of the best rotary shavers you can currently buy.

1. Philips Norelco S9000 Prestige SP9820

See the price on Amazon

The Series 9000 Prestige is the latest and greatest from Philips Norelco. Price aside, it is arguably the best electric rotary shaver you can currently buy.

Based on their previous flagship series, the 9000, the Prestige line represents a significant improvement, especially in terms of comfort and build quality.

Available in several variations (the differences mainly consisting in the included accessories), the S9000 Prestige SP9820 model is probably the pick of the range due to its availability and lower price compared to the other Prestige versions.

In my opinion, the highlight of the Series 9000 Prestige is the new shaving head.

The new Philips Series 9000 Prestige shaving heads

Precisely, the razor comes with new cutters called SH98 that were specifically designed for this series.

The design of the blades and the combs ensure excellent comfort, the S9000 Prestige being by far the smoothest and most forgiving rotary shaver I’ve ever used.

Philips SH98 shaving heads.
The new SH98 shaving heads for the Prestige series

The closeness is also more than adequate and I think the majority of users will be pleased with it.

Most other rotary razors out there are a bit too rough for my skin and will often yank some hairs and cause a constant pinching and stinging sensation.

However, that’s not the case with the Prestige.

This shaver is also very impressive at how it can capture and cut longer, flat-lying hairs, even after 3 days of growth or even more.

So if you don’t shave often this is the rotary razor you’ve been looking for. Philips says that it can handle up to one week of beard growth. I haven’t pushed it that far, but I think it can be done.

All the Prestige models feature a brushed aluminum body that looks and feels great and it is a massive step-up in build quality from other Philips shavers.

Philips Series 9000 Prestige build quality

As for the downsides, the Prestige models and quite pricey and don’t include a cleaning station, which is a bit of a bummer.

For all the details about this shaver, you can check out my review of the Philips S9000 Prestige.

2. Philips Norelco Series 9000 9700

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The Series 9000 used to be Philips Norelco’s high-end line of rotary shavers, with the 9300 and 9700 often being the picks of the range.

With the launch of the Prestige line, these older models (Shaver 9300, 9700, 9800) can sometimes be found at a more reasonable price and they still represent an excellent choice.

The 9300 is however more difficult to be found nowadays and the 9700 is the one to have.

It is a highly capable rotary electric shaver that works really well both wet and dry.

It deals impressively well with difficult hair, especially on the neck or right below the jawline.

The shaver needs little to no pressure at all for a smooth and close shave. The highly flexible shaving heads ensure optimal contact with the skin at all times.

While the comfort isn’t quite as good as in the case of the newer S9000 Prestige above, it would still be adequate for someone that doesn’t have particularly sensitive skin.

The Norelco 9700 comes with the SmartClean station that cleans, dries and lubricates the shaver. There’s also a beard trimmer attachment included in the package, very useful for light grooming and touch-ups.

While the 9700 offers what is arguably one of the best shaves of any rotary razor, there are still other capable rotary shavers that cost even less.

3. Philips Norelco 8900 with SmartClean

Philips Norelco 8900 with SmartClean image

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UPDATE: The model that includes the SmartClean cleaning station doesn’t seem to be available anymore. Alternatively, you can still get the shaver only Philips Norelco 8900 for even less money.

Usually (but not always), the more you pay for a product, the better it is.

And that is also the case with electric razors.

However, there are times when the extra features of premium products are simply not worth the extra money.

With that said, in terms of cost and performance, it’s hard to find a capable rotary razor that will be significantly better than the Norelco 8900 from the Series 8000 line.

Philips Norelco 8900, a more reasonably priced rotary razor.

I definitely recommend checking out the 8900 first before spending twice that money on something like a Norelco 9700 or other models from the Series 9000. Allow me to explain why.

First of all, the Philips Norelco Shaver 8900 uses the same cutters (SH90 replacement heads) as the more expensive Series 9000 models.

Secondly, the 8900 can be bought in a variation that includes the SmartClean automatic cleaning system and still costs significantly less than a razor from the Series 9000.

Philips Norelco 8900 SmartClean station.

Objectively speaking, the only extra features of the more expensive Series 9000 are a personalization mode with three different speeds and a more complex LED display.

The 9700 also has a progress indicator for the cleaning cycle that is displayed on the station. Again, nothing that will significantly improve your experience with that shaver.

The 8900 is a very capable razor that should provide a close and adequately comfortable shave for most men who prefer rotary shavers.

The three cutting heads can independently flex in 8 directions and maintain constant contact with the skin, which translates into an efficient and fast shave and minimizes the number of necessary passes.

With its wet & dry operation, the shaver can also be successfully used with shaving cream or gel, further improving the comfort and closeness.

Alongside a high-quality travel case, you’ll also find a click-on beard trimmer inside the package.

While changing accessories can be fiddly, the trimmer attachment for this particular shaver goes one step further than the typical pop-out trimmer you’ll find on most electric shavers that are merely good enough for trimming your sideburns.

Philips Norelco 8900 smartclick attachment.

This is almost a full-fledged beard trimmer with 5 length settings and can even be used for trimming an entire beard.

This can be extremely useful when you haven’t shaved in a few days and you need to trim your beard down to a more manageable length before shaving.

With the introduction of the new SH90 cutters, the blades can now be individually cleaned and replaced.

The transition from the old RQ12 shaving heads to the new RQ12+ or RQ12/62 (that now use the individual SH90 cutters) was met with mixed reactions, especially from long-time Norelco users. Time will tell if it was the right move as both the Series 8000 and 9000 now use them.

Considering all the above aspects, I highly recommend checking out the Norelco 8900 as a more cost-effective alternative to the Series 9000. For more details, make sure to read my detailed review of the 8900.

I definitely consider the 9700 and 9300 to be at least as good in terms of performance, but I just don’t think they have enough compelling extra features to justify the higher price.

4. Philips Norelco Series 6000 6880/81 (Shaver 6800)

Philips Norelco 6880/81.

See the price on Amazon

Just like the 8900 above was a more affordable version of the Series 9000 9700, the new Series 6000 from Philips is pretty much a budget-friendly Prestige.

While some of the premium features like the aluminum build, LCD display, and speed settings were ditched in order to keep the price down, the shaving performance is not that far off.

Precisely, the Philips Norelco is a very comfortable rotary razor (just as good as the Prestige in my experience) that’s also really impressive at shaving longer facial hair.

The main reason for the surprisingly good performance (at this price point) comes down to the new SH60 blades.

If we take a close look at them, they seem to be identical to the ones on the Prestige:

The SH60 blades (left) and the SH98 (right) used on the Shaver 6800 and Prestige, respectively.
The SH60 blades (left) and the SH98 (right) used on the Series 6000 and Prestige, respectively.

They even use the same metal-reinforced locking rings, which is again something we’re not used to seeing on mid-range rotaries.

The build quality and overall aesthetics also appear to be better than in the case of the Series 8000 8900.

So if you were put off by the price of the Series 9000 Prestige, I think the Series 6000 can be a worthy, more affordable alternative.

The Shaver 6800 and Prestige side by side.

The Series 6000 6880/81 (Shaver 6800) model is the best pick thanks to its price (at least in the USA), while in Europe there are other variations available, but the performance is identical.

As mentioned previously, the Philips Series 6000 doesn’t have the speed settings found on the Prestige, but comes with its own implementation called Skin Guard.

This mode, activated by pressing a dedicated button, should make the shaver even more comfortable by slowing down the motor.

The button that activates the Skin Guard mode on the Philips Shaver 6800.

In practice, I found it to be of little to no use since the shaver was very comfortable in the normal mode, but it is there nevertheless.

The closeness wasn’t quite up there with the Prestige as the motor seems to be a bit less powerful; however, it was definitely adequate for a rotary razor.

There’s no cleaning station available, so you will have to clean it manually after every shave.

Rinsing all t he parts with water.

And as usual, that’s easy and straightforward most of the time.

The Philips 6880/81 (Shaver 6800) is waterproof and suitable for wet & dry use.

For most users, this shaver is one of the best rotaries in 2021 given its performance and price, especially for users looking for a very comfortable razor.

You can check out my full review full review as well to get all the details.

5. Philips Norelco Shaver 3100

Philips Norelco 3100

See the price on Amazon

Finally, there’s the Philips Norelco Shaver 3100 (S3310/81) that offers the best bang for your buck.

While it lacks the wet & dry operation of the shavers above, it costs significantly less and most users will shave dry anyway.

The Shaver 3100 is a basic, no-frills rotary razor that will get the job done.

As it’s the case with all entry-level razors, the 3100 works best when used more often, even though during my tests it managed to cope remarkably well with longer, flat-lying hairs.

The Norelco 3100 is an inexpensive rotary razor, perfectly suitable for the budget-oriented buyer.

The closeness and comfort are adequate, but again can’t really match the performance of the high-end rotary razors like the Philips Series 9000.

And to top it off, it works both corded and cordless.

For more details, make sure to check out my complete review of the Shaver 3100.

Final word

This pretty much wraps up my top 5 recommendations that will hopefully cater to everyone’s needs for a rotary shaver.

There are of course other excellent or similar razors out there, so definitely check out our reviews section as well for in-depth, real-world reviews of the most popular electric shavers.

If you have any other questions regarding rotary shavers, make sure to post them in the comments section below.

30 thoughts on “What’s The Best Rotary Shaver For Men (2021)?”

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  1. Thanks for your helpful point can you please elaburate how to clean the heads should it be cleaned by decapping them or wadhig them would be sufficient? Specially the one located in the center .

  2. Thanks for your helpful point
    I got a Q-rotary Shaver with 5 heads.
    can you please elaburate how to clean the heads ?
    should it be cleaned by decapping each head to clean . or washing them under watet would be sufficient? Specially the one located in the center which doesnt seem to be oppend easily.

    • Hi Saeid,

      I haven’t personally used a Q Shaver, so I’m afraid I cannot give you any advice on how to take apart the center shaving head. Your user’s manual should normally include detailed instructions on how to perform this operation. Regarding the actual cleaning, the exact steps and how to perform them when taking apart the shaving heads for a more thorough cleaning will vary for different shavers. I’ve only used Norelco and Remington rotary shavers, so I don’t think it would be of much help in this case. It usually involves removing the shaving head holder, removing a retaining frame that holds the cutters inside the combs and then cleaning the cutters and the inside of the combs one by one, taking extra care not to mix them up. In the case of your shaver this can be different to a less or higher degree.

      Also, this in-depth cleaning should be performed from time to time, like once every week or two if you don’t have or use an automatic cleaning station. Again, this depends on your shaving frequency and you can do it more or less often.

  3. I had an Arcitec Shaver, used the now discontinued RQ 10 replacement head. I bought a 7000 series razor which isn’t as good as the Arcitec. Why did Norelco Philishave discontinue the RQ10? Haven’t enjoyed a shave since then.

  4. Hi,
    first wanted to congratulate You for this site. I have a question regarding new Philips Star Wars edition of rotary razor – SW6700. Have You checked that out or will You check it in near future? What’s interesting in this little fellow – same shaving head as 9000. Also I believe it uses the same replacement blades as SH90. Instead of personalization mode it has turbo mode, probably known from 5700. I was wondering about razors performance because in my country You cannot find 8900 so there is no cheaper 9000 alternative and maybe SW6700 could be one (around 110$).

    • Hi Mike,

      Thank you for your comment. I haven’t tried the SW6700 yet, but its performance should be similar to the 8900. You are correct, they use the same cutting heads as the Series 9000. For $110 I would say that it looks like a good deal as well.

      Hope this helps.


  5. Hi, could you include Philips AquaTouch S5070? It’s so hard to find decent review of this particular type.

    • Hi,

      I haven’t got the chance to try that one yet, so I’m afraid I cannot help you.


  6. First of all, amazing articles!!!, this place is the shaver heaven!!, thanks for share.

    I am searching for a new shaver, actually, I have an HQ6950 which is more than enough (I don’t have a lot of beard, in fact, I shave every 3 days my mustard and I use the pop up trimmer every 5 days.
    I am planning to buy a 4100 and a Multi Groomer MG3750. What do you think? I also thought in a foil shaver buy I never had one and for the mustard maybe the rotary is better.


    • Thank you for the kind words, Santiago. Since you were pleased with the HQ6950, going for another rotary shaver is probably the right thing to do. The 4100 is a very good shaver in its price category and I think it’ll serve you well.


  7. Which razor have you heard is the best for shaving heads? I shaved my head over a year ago and with blades, I sometimes get razor burns on my head. A friend recommended using a 3 head electric razor. Just don’t know which is best for heads. Can anyone help? Thanks

    • Hi Mitch,

      Any decent electric shaver can be used for shaving the head as well. The Series 9 is really good (and it’s even being used at barbershops specifically for this). It’s also very comfortable and gentle, so you likely won’t get any significant razor burn. Rotary shavers can be more practical as they adapt better to the spherical shape of the head but aren’t as comfortable in my opinion and foil shavers also shave closer in most cases.

      Hope this helps.


  8. A question regarding the slots and holes on the Norelco heads. The simpler SH30 heads (Comfort Cut) come with only slots whereas the SH50 (Multiprecision Cut) heads have both holes and slots. I know many men who swear by the simpler head found in the 3000 series and below. Have you any experience with this? In other words, is the explanation given by Philips actually valid or more marketing hype than anything else (i.e. that the holes provide for a closer shave in terms of picking up stubble whereas the slots more easily pick up longer hairs sometimes found on the neck)?

    • Well, in my opinion the main advantage of having both holes and slots is the better performance when shaving longer hairs. The improvement is particularly obvious if we compare a basic rotary shaver like 3000 Series with the S9000 Prestige, the latter being arguably the best in that regard. A simpler head (with only holes) could yield better results for someone that shaves often for example, so it’s mostly short stubble.


  9. Honestly, the best combination is to get the cheaper Norelco 9300 and then add the SH98 blades. The new blades fit the older 9000 series razors(even though Philips says they don’t, look up the reviews of the blades on Amazon) and the blades are what make the s9000 prestige so good. The extra sensing motor really doesn’t do all that much(I had the s9000 Qi but returned it), at least not as far as I can tell.

    Getting the 9300 with the SH98 blades, gives you the shave of the S9000, along with a cleaning base, for a cheaper overall price.

    • That is true, I’ve even mentioned this in my review of the Prestige. For current 9300 owners, it is definitely a worthy upgrade.


  10. I am a long time Philips Norelco user. I purchased Prestige shaver last year. It gave a close shave but it would pinch my neck skin between the heads. I sold it and bought a foil shaver. It shaved a little closer, but as you have noted, it was very noisy and it did “burn” my skin. I noticed that Philips updated their 3000 shaver to a “new series” 3800 model. It’s like one I had years ago. I bought it and I find that it gives a good shave when using a gel and it doesn’t pinch my skin. It is far less cheaper than the Prestige, had “flip top” cleaning, and comes with a trimmer installed. It was like “back to the future”.

    • Thank you for your comment, Michael. The pinching is the main issue I also have with rotaries, especially with the models that use the Lift & Cut double blades. The Prestige does actually come with a single blade row, so I find it a lot less likely to pinch. So at least in my experience, it was better in that regard than most other Norelco models I’ve used. I haven’t tried the new 3800 yet, but it uses the same blades as the old 3000, so I think the performance will be similar as well.


  11. The top five are all Philips Norelco. Hum. That seems just a little suspicious. What were all the brands that you considered? Are you paid or reimbursed in any way for your opinion?

    • Just as it is stated in the about page, this website is not paid or reimbursed in any way by Philips or any other manufacturer. I buy and review all the shavers myself. The reason why all 5 are Philips is because Philips is currently the only brand that makes decent rotary razors. I’ve used (and reviewed) Remington rotary shavers as well, but they’re just plain bad. And apart from a few cheap Chinese knock-offs, that’s pretty much it.

      By the way, in my top 10 shavers of 2020, there are only two Philips shavers. Two out of ten.


  12. I recently bought a Chinese Jinding 5-cutter rotary shaver. Big mistake. It doesn’t shave nearly as well as a 10+ year old Norelco 8865 with the original parts. (The Norelco’s power switch/button has worn out.)

    No discussion of electric shavers I’ve seen addresses the problem of the vibrations from foil shavers aggravating Reynauds syndrome. This involves the loss of circulation in fingers due to the destruction of the capillaries from using tools such as chainsaws – and foil razors.

    • Thank you for your comment, Steve. Chinese knockoffs are usually very poor when it comes to performance.

      I actually posted an article some time ago where I make the case that rotary razors are better in certain cases due to the reduced noise and vibrations. I am not a medical professional so I cannot weigh in on the specific matter of Raynaud’s syndrome.


  13. Hi Ovidiu,

    In your Best Shaver Guide, you said:
    “Because of that, I can’t really recommend getting the European versions.”

    However here you instead stated:
    “while in Europe there are other variations available, but the performance is identical.”

    Should probably mention the inferior head in this article too.
    Also the international versions seem to have 60min batteries.

    Any thoughts on the new pentagonal Series 5 & 7?
    I appreciate the lubrication guide, very slick!

    • Hi,

      Many thanks for the heads-up, I will update the information here as well. The European versions do have a different/inferior head as mentioned in the Best Shavers Guide. I’ve just received the Series 7 with the new cleaning pod (model S7782/85), but I haven’t got the chance to shave with it yet. I will of course post a detailed review after a few weeks of testing.


    • With regular/daily use, at least 3 years would be a reasonable expectation. That’s standard battery lifespan according to most shaver manufacturers, but generally a battery should last longer than that (provided you take proper care of it).

      Being a new model, I’m afraid I don’t have any info regarding the exact type of battery needed.


  14. CVS Pharmacy is still selling the 2500, and at a “good” price. If you’ve reviewed this one in the past, can you point me in the direction of the review, please? Thanks, Ron


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