Panasonic Arc 5 Comparison Guide: Which One Should You Buy?

The Arc 5 family of electric razors from Panasonic is certainly at the very top when it comes to performance and even value for money.

However, it’s also one of the most confusing lines of shavers out there: countless updates, revisions and model names that make no sense.

Choosing a Panasonic Arc 5 and understanding the differences between the various models is a real challenge for any potential buyer.

Are the new generations actually better than the older ones? Will the latest foils fit an older Arc 5? Why are some Arc 5’s so expensive and do they actually shave better?

These are all fair questions and anyone should be able to find an answer before spending a considerable amount of money on a shaver.

I’ve been using Panasonic Arc 5 razors for more than 10 years and I’ve also tried to document every release and update on this website, with an emphasis on the differences that actually matter.

That said, I decided to put everything together into a comprehensive, easy-to-read comparison guide that should provide the answers to the most important Arc 5 related questions.

We’ll check out the differences between the most popular models, including the newest Japan-exclusive releases, see which ones represent the best picks in terms of performance and price, and hopefully help you choose the best Arc 5 for your needs.

Let’s dive right in.

Panasonic Arc 5: 3 generations and multiple revisions

Important: the differences between the Panasonic Arc 5 models in a particular generation/revision are related to accessories, colors, LED displays and so on. The shaving performance is identical.

Important: The last letter in a model’s name only refers to the color of the shaver: -K (black), -S (silver), -A (blue), -T (brown), -R (red). This letter is often left out (for example, ES-LV65-S and ES-LV65 refer to the same shaver).

1. First Arc 5 generation

Popular models: ES-LV61-A, ES-LV81-K

In 2009, Panasonic introduced the Arc 5 as their flagship line of electric shavers.

ES-LV61-A
The Panasonic ES-LV61, the very first Arc 5.

What set them apart from other foil shavers of the time was the highest number of individual cutting elements (five) and the slightly arched profile of the foils — hence the ARC 5 name.

The shavers were also fitted with the fastest motor in the industry, capable of delivering up to 14 000 CPM (cycles per minute).

That simply means the blades oscillate 14 000 times per minute, which translates into a very effective cutting action and short shaving sessions.

It also makes the shaver less likely to pull and snag hairs if you move the shaver too fast over the skin.

Fun fact: Up until 2021, the Panasonic Arc 5 was the foil shaver with the most cutting elements, 5, alongside another shaver from Xiaomi. That all changed with the launch of the Arc 6 (6 blades).

The most popular models of this first-generation Arc 5 were the ES-LV61-A (no cleaning station) and ES-LV81-K (includes an automatic cleaning station).

The first generation ES-LV81-K Arc 5 with the Vortex Hydra Cleaning System
The first generation ES-LV81-K Arc 5 came with an automatic Cleaning System

Other country-specific models (in different colors) were released as well, but the shavers themselves were identical.

These models have been discontinued for years and you can’t buy them anymore unless you stumble upon a stray one on eBay for example.

As a result, the first-generation Arc 5 isn’t really a viable option in 2021. But some users still own and use these razors, so I will still include them in the comparison.

2. Second Arc 5 generation

Popular models: ES-LV65-S (ES-LV65), ES-LV95-S (ES-LV95), ES-LV67-K (ES-LV-67, ES-LV67-A), ES-LV97-K (ES-LV97)

The first update to the Arc 5 range happened in 2013 when Panasonic released the second generation.

The Panasonic ES-LV65-S from the second Arc 5 generation.
The Panasonic ES-LV65-S from the second Arc 5 generation.

With this iteration, the design of the shavers looks more modern and the shaving head is also less bulky.

Panasonic’s excellent linear-drive motor has been refined and made progressively smaller as this image shows:

The evolution of Panasonic's linear drive motor.
The evolution of Panasonic’s linear drive motor. Image credit: panasonic.jp

With the second Arc 5 generation, the output is still 14 000 CPM, but it’s a more compact unit that is placed in the shaving head itself, allowing the engineers to make the head smaller and easier to maneuver.

Apart from this, another important change was actually related to the automatic cleaning station.

The first-generation station was very bulky and would sometimes leak.

Panasonic fixed these issues in this second release and the updated station would basically remain unchanged until present (despite having different part numbers).

Panasonic cleaning station.
The second-generation Panasonic Arc 5 cleaning station

With a smaller footprint and a modern design, the new Arc 5 station uses concentrated detergent packets that must be mixed with water in the station’s tray.

The older station required plastic cartridges that were usually more expensive.

The most popular shaver models in this second generation are by far the Panasonic Arc 5 ES-LV65-S (no cleaning station) and the Panasonic Arc 5 ES-LV95-S (includes a cleaning station).

Panasonic Arc 5 ES-LV65-S

Panasonic es-lv65-s Arc 5

See the price on Amazon

Tip: As mentioned, you’ll sometimes find these models listed as ES-LV65 and ES-LV95, respectively. The -S in the model name only stands for silver and it’s sometimes left out, so just keep in mind that they are the exact same shavers.

These two shavers, particularly the ES-LV65-S that is usually cheaper since it doesn’t include a cleaning station, are the best-selling Arc 5 models of all time.

Further reading: You can also check out my in-depth review of the ES-LV65-S/ES-LV95-S.

Other shavers worth mentioning are the ES-LV67(no cleaning station) and ES-LV97 (includes a cleaning station).

Panasonic Arc 5 ES-LV67.
The Panasonic Arc 5 ES-LV67-K.

While chronologically these would be third-generation Arc 5’s, I would rather consider them visually updated second-generation shavers (given their features and performance).

I will get into the actual differences later on.

Further reading: You can check out my in-depth review of the ES-LV67-K/ES-LV97-K here.

3. Third Arc 5 generation

The Panasonic Arc 5 2021.

This is where things start to become exponentially more complicated.

While everything is relatively straightforward and simple with the first two generations, the third one is an absolute nightmare to document.

And that’s because this third-generation includes 8 different revisions as of 2022.

And more are likely to come, but I will keep this post updated and include any new Arc 5’s in the comparison.

I will briefly go over these seven revisions, but I’ll include the links to the posts where I cover everything in great detail if you’re interested in knowing more about a certain revision.

1. Revision A (2015)

Popular models: ES-LV6A-S (ES-LV6N), ES-LV9A-S (ES-LV9N)

The third generation of the Panasonic Arc 5 family debuted in 2015 with revision A.

It was a major shift in design and materials compared to the previous second-generation Arc 5 models.

Panasonic ES-LV9N-S
The Panasonic Arc 5 ES-LV9A (ES-LV9N).

And while the Arc 5 has always been class-leading in that regard, the third-gen Arc 5 is even better: we get a sleek, modern design and some models even have a brushed aluminum body instead of plastic.

But the biggest change brought by the third Arc 5 generation is a new outer foil.

It now features two so-called comfort rollers (the gold bars in the image below) that allow the shaving head to glider easier on the skin and prevent the user from applying excessive pressure (which can cause razor burn).

The old Panasonic Arc 5 foil and blades (left) vs the new ones (right).
The old Panasonic Arc 5 foil and blades (left) vs the new ones (right).

And this update to the foil does work and I will discuss it later on when I’ll compare the performance of the various Arc 5 models.

Interestingly, while the outer foil is new, the two removable inner blades (part number WES9170) are the same ones used by the older shavers in generations 1 and 2.

In fact, those inner blades are the same for all Arc 5 generations and revisions ever released, which has major implications for the different replacement foils compatibility (more details later on).

Nowadays, the razors in this revision A family are getting pretty difficult to find as they were phased out and replaced by the newer iterations.

2. Revision B (2016)

Popular models: ES-LV6B-S, ES-LV9B-S

Only one year later, Panasonic introduced the first update of the original generation 3 Arc 5, the revision B.

es-lv9b
The Panasonic Arc 5 ES-LV9B from revision B.

Tip: the revision B shavers use B instead of A for the model names: for example, ES-LV9B vs ES-LV9A. This naming scheme will continue with future revisions, but it won’t always be consistent.

The B revision was an incremental update and the differences between the B shavers and the previous ones are subtle:

  • The B Arc 5’s use a textured material for the thumb rest instead of a smooth one;
  • The front-to-back tilt angle of the head is increased from 17 to 20 degrees;
  • The B revision has a low battery alarm.

Unsurprisingly, these changes don’t really have any noticeable effect on the shaving performance — we still have the same motor and foil/blades.

The B variations are also pretty much extinct at this moment, so unless you can find one on eBay, you probably won’t be able to buy one anymore.

3. Revision C (2017)

Popular models: ES-LV9Q, ES-LV6Q, ES-LV9CX-S, ES-LV9C, ES-LV7C, ES-LV5C, ES-CV51

Further reading: Panasonic Arc 5 revision C/D in-depth guide

This time around, the changes were more significant.

Compared to the previous B iteration, the Panasonic Arc 5 revision C comes with a new design, a new outer foil and some new features.

Panasonic Arc 5 ES-LV9Q

ES-LV9Q

See the price on Amazon

The flagship models (like the ES-LV9Q and ES-LV9CX) also feature a brushed aluminum body and a new smart lock function (that automatically unlocks the power button when you hold the shaver in your hand).

The Panasonic Arc 5 ES-LV9CX.
The Panasonic Arc 5 ES-LV9CX (revision C). Image credit: kakakumag.com

The shaving head now also features some impressive flexing capabilities, while the outer foil comes with a new cutting element called Power Quick Lift.

Panasonic ES-CV51 (ES-CV70) shaving elements
1 — Finishing foils, 2 — Reverse tapered foils, 3 — Power Quick Lift Trimmer

This Power Quick Lift trimmer should handle better those longer and flat-lying hairs, something Panasonic razors have always struggled with.

In practice though, the improvement was only marginal compared to the previous Arc 5 foil (revisions A and B).

Panasonic never officially released these C Arc 5’s to the USA (but you can still get them on sites like Amazon).

On the other hand, they were released in Europe and even today these models continue to be some of the most popular Arc 5 models.

And that’s because they usually cost less than the newer Panasonic Arc 5 revisions and are very similar performance-wise.

The ES-LV9Q (cleaning station) and ES-LV6Q (no cleaning station) are the best-selling models in this revision.

Panasonic Arc 5 ES-LV6Q

ES-LV6Q

See the price on Amazon

With the C revision, two compact Arc 5 variations were introduced as well: ES-CV70 (dry only use) and ES-CV51 (wet/dry use).

The compact models are equipped with the same foils/blades and motors, so the performance is top-notch.

Panasonic ES-CV51 held in hand
The Panasonic Arc5 ES-CV51.

A single compromise was made: the flexing mechanism of the head is gone, so these compact Arc 5’s only have a fixed head.

However, I found them to be just as good as the full-fledged Arc 5 models, so these are fantastic options when traveling (although quite pricey).

Further reading: I reviewed the compact ES-CV51 a while back if you want to know more details about its performance.

4. Revision D (2018)

Popular models: ES-LV9DX (ES-CLV9DX), ES-LV9D (ES-CLV9D), ES-LV7D (ES-CLV7D), ES-LV5D (ES-CLV5D)

One year later, Panasonic launched yet another revision.

Panasonic Arc 5 es-lv9dx.
The Panasonic Arc 5 ES-LV9DX.

The D models were however released only in Japan and a few other Asian countries.

That said, the actual changes were minor.

Precisely, the D models have an improved beard density sensor that is 1.8 times faster compared to the one on the Arc 5 revision C.

Interestingly, all these revision D razors are only suitable for dry only use (washable), so they will work both cordless and corded. A revision usually includes both wet/dry and dry only models, but not this one.

That’s really it, everything else (including motor and foils/blades) remained unchanged.

5. Revision E (2019)

Popular models: ES-LV9EX, ES-LV9E, ES-LV7E, ES-LV5E

Further reading: Panasonic Arc 5 revision E in-depth guide

Continuing this trend of releasing Arc 5 updates only to the Japanese domestic market, Panasonic introduced the revision E in 2019.

Panasonic Arc 5 ES-LV9E.
The Panasonic Arc 5 ES-LV9E from the 2019 revision E.

The new models look pretty much the same as the C and D Arc 5’s (except for some new colors).

However, there’s also a new outer foil that features a supposedly improved cutting element.

Precisely, the Power Quick Lift of the C and D revisions has been replaced by a Slim comb slit blade (approximate translation from Japanese).

The new ES9179 outer foil.
The new ES9179 outer foil that debuted with the revision E Arc 5. Image credit: panasonic.jp

The improvements are again minor in my opinion when it comes to shaving longer, flat-lying hairs.

There’s also a new (and improved) AI beard density sensor. I will get back to these sensors later on, but having used lots of Arc 5 models, I never felt that they make any noticeable difference.

So I wouldn’t pay too much emphasis on them when trying to decide between two shavers.

Just like the previous revision D, all these revision E razors are only suitable for dry only use (washable), so they will work cordless and corded.

As usual, Panasonic never released the E Arc 5 in the USA or Europe, so if for some reason you absolutely must have one, your only option would be to import it from Japan.

I will share later on how I purchase my Arc 5’s from Japan.

6. Revision F (2020)

Popular models: ES-LV9FX, ES-LV9F, ES-LV7F, ES-LV5F, ES-LV5T

Further reading: Panasonic Arc 5 revision F in-depth guide

This is probably the most incremental update to this third generation of Arc 5 shavers.

The Panasonic Arc 5 ES-LV9FX.
The Panasonic Arc 5 ES-LV9FX.

So what are the differences compared to the previous Panasonic Arc 5 revision E?

Well, there aren’t any.

The model names now have an F instead of an E, but I personally couldn’t find any real differences: the motors, foil/blades, head flexing mechanism and beard density sensor are all exactly the same.

As you’ve probably guessed by now, these razors were only released in Japan.

7. Revision G (2021)

Popular models: ES-LV9U, ES-LV7U, ES-LV7G, ES-LV5U, ES-LV5G

Further reading: Panasonic Arc 5 revision G in-depth guide

Panasonic Arc 5 generation 3.
The Panasonic Arc 5 ES-LV5U (revision G).

Also a Japan-only release, the revision G models come with a rather significant update, but also with a few cost-cutting features.

Precisely, we have a new outer foil that has a new central cutter that again is supposed to capture longer hairs more effectively.

The new outer foil of the 2021 Arc 5.
The new outer foil of the 2021 Arc 5.

The cutter is called an Under chin trimmer blade (approximate translation from Japanese) and now has a distinctive gold color.

In practice, it is a bit better than the previous ones, but still nowhere near a Braun Series 9 that is really good with longer hairs; on the other hand, the Series 9 can’t really match the Arc 5 in terms of closeness.

Further reading: for more details on the performance of the 2021 Arc 5, you can check out my full review.

The two comfort rollers are now silver, so you can easily tell this new foil apart from the previous ones.

As for the cost-cutting features, the smart lock function is completely gone on the 2021 Panasonic Arc 5 (revision G).

The LED displays are pretty basic (5 or 3 battery levels) and none of them will show the duration of the shave.

Panasonic Arc 5 LED displays.
The LED display of the ES-LV65 from the second generation (left) vs the 2021 Arc 5. The older display would also show the duration of the shave.

Also, only the range-topping ES-LV9U comes with a leather travel case; the rest of them only include a cheap textile pouch.

The metal construction is gone as well and all the shavers come with the standard plastic body.

8. Revision H / Arc 5 PRO (2022)

Popular models: ES-LV9V, ES-LV7V, ES-LV7H, ES-LV5V, ES-LV5H.

Further reading: Panasonic Arc 5 PRO (revision H) in-depth guide

Finally, we have the 2022 revision H, aka the Arc 5 / Lamdash 5 PRO, so this is currently the newest Arc 5 generation.

es-lv9v
The ES-LV9V from the 2022 Lamdash 5 Pro/revision H.

While the PRO in this latest update might suggest a significant update from the 2021 Arc 5 revision G, that’s not the case at all.

In fact, it’s pretty much a rebranding of the revision G above.

The Arc 5 PRO 2022 models come with the same outer foil and basically everything about them is the same compared to the previous rev G.

There’s only a single new feature called bubble making mode — a special setting available on the wet/dry models that allows the user to lather soap/lotion when shaving wet.

Arc 5 Pro bubble making mode.
Image credit: panasonic.jp

Its usefulness is questionable, to say the least.

Just like the revision G, the 2022 revision H feels like a step down: the shavers come with the less capable 5 or 3 stage battery indicators, there’s no metal build, no smart lock and apart from the ES-LV9V, all the shavers come with a cloth pouch instead of a hard or semi-hard case.

The revision H Arc 5 will likely be limited to the Japanese market and will be available for purchase from June 1st 2022.

This pretty much sums up all the different Arc 5 models from the moment the series was introduced in 2009 until the present day.

Panasonic Arc 5 model comparison [2022 update]

This next part should only serve as a reference in case you’re struggling to decide between a few Arc 5 variations in a specific generation/revision.

As mentioned earlier, these differences mainly come down to the included accessories, colors, LED displays, wet&dry or dry only use.

Since the foil, blades and motors are the same throughout a generation/revision, the actual shaving performance will be identical.

First Arc 5 generation comparison table

Arc 5 modelCleaning stationLED display
ES-LV61-A [blue], wet/dry (cordless only)
No5 levels battery indicator, elapsed time
ES-LV81-K [black], wet/dry (cordless only)
The first generation ES-LV81-K Arc 5 with the Vortex Hydra Cleaning System
Yes (Vortex Hydra)5 levels battery indicator, elapsed time

Second Arc 5 generation comparison table

Arc 5 modelCleaning stationLED display
ES-LV65-S [silver], wet/dry (cordless only)
No10 levels battery indicator, elapsed time
ES-LV95-S [silver], wet/dry (cordless only)
ES-LV95-S
Yes10 levels battery indicator, elapsed time
ES-LV67-K [black], ES-LV67-A [blue], wet/dry (cordless only)
ES-LV67-K
No5 levels battery indicator
ES-LV97-K [black], wet/dry (cordless only)
ES-LV97-K
Yes5 levels battery indicator

Third Arc 5 generation rev A comparison table

Arc 5 modelCleaning stationLED display
ES-LV9A-S [silver], ES-LV9N [silver], wet/dry (cordless only)
Panasonic ES-LV9N-S
Yes10 levels battery indicator, elapsed time
ES-LV6A-S [silver], ES-LV6N [silver], wet/dry (cordless only)
No10 levels battery indicator, elapsed time

Third Arc 5 generation rev B comparison table

Arc 5 modelCleaning stationLED display
ES-LV9B-S [silver], wet/dry (cordless only)
ES-LV9A-S
Yes10 levels battery indicator, elapsed time
ES-LV6B-S [silver], wet/dry (cordless only)
es-lv6b
No10 levels battery indicator, elapsed time

Third Arc 5 generation rev C comparison table

ModelCleaning stationLED displayMetal bodyTravel case
Panasonic ES-LV9CX-S (silver) [washable, cordless & corded]
Yes10 stage, elapsed timeYesHard travel case
*Panasonic ES-LV9C-S (black or silver) [washable, cordless & corded]
Yes10 stage, elapsed timeNoSoft pouch
Panasonic ES-LV7C-T (brown) [washable, cordless & corded]
Yes3 stageNoSoft pouch
Panasonic ES-LV7C-A (blue) [washable, cordless & corded]
Yes3 stageNoSoft pouch
Panasonic ES-LV5C-K (black) [washable, cordless & corded]
No5 stageNoSoft pouch
Panasonic ES-LV5C-R (red) [washable, cordless & corded]
No5 stageNoSoft pouch
Panasonic ES-CV70-S (silver, compact) [washable, cordless & corded]
Panasonic ES-CV51
No3 stageYesHard travel case
Panasonic ES-LV9Q (silver) [wet/dry, cordless only]
Yes10 stage, elapsed timeYesSoft case
Panasonic ES-LV6Q (black) [wet/dry, cordless only]
No10 stage, elapsed timeNoSoft case
Panasonic ES-CV51 (silver, compact) [wet/dry, cordless only]
Panasonic ES-CV51
No3 stageYesHard travel case

Third Arc 5 generation rev D comparison table

ModelCleaning stationLED displayMetal bodyTravel case
Panasonic ES-LV9DX (ES-CLV9DX) [washable, cordless & corded]
Yes10 stage, elapsed timeYesHard travel case
Panasonic ES-LV9D (ES-CLV9D) [washable, cordless & corded]
Yes10 stage, elapsed timeNoSoft pouch
Panasonic ES-LV7D (ES-CLV7D) [washable, cordless & corded]
Yes3 stageNoSoft pouch
Panasonic ES-LV5D (ES-CLV5D) [washable, cordless & corded]
No5 stageNoSoft pouch

Third Arc 5 generation rev E comparison table

ModelCleaning stationBattery indicatorDetails
Panasonic ES-LV9EX (Silver) [washable]
es-lv9ex
Yes10 levels, elapsed timeMetal body, smart lock, leather case, cordless + corded use
Panasonic ES-LV9E (Silver) [washable]
es-lv9e
Yes10 levels, elapsed timePlastic body, soft faux leather pouch, cordless + corded use
Panasonic ES-LV7E (Brown or Blue) [washable]
es-lv7e
Yes3 levelsPlastic body, soft faux leather pouch, cordless + corded use
Panasonic ES-LV5E (Black or Red) [washable]
es-lv5e
No5 levelsPlastic body, soft faux leather pouch, cordless + corded use

Third Arc 5 generation rev F comparison table

ModelCleaning stationOperationDetails
Panasonic ES-LV9FX [-S silver, washable]
es-lv9fx
YesCordless and corded [dry only]10 level LED, elapsed time, metal body, smart lock, leather case
Panasonic ES-LV9F [-S silver, washable]
es-lv9f
YesCordless and corded [dry only]10 level LED, elapsed time, plastic body, smart lock, soft faux leather pouch
Panasonic ES-LV7F [-T brown, washable]
es-lv7f
YesCordless and corded [dry only]3 level LED, plastic body, soft faux leather pouch
Panasonic ES-LV7T [-A blue, wet/dry]
es-lv7t
YesCordless only [wet&dry]3 level LED, plastic body, soft faux leather pouch
Panasonic ES-LV5F [-R red, -K black, washable]
es-lv5f
NoCordless and corded [dry only]5 level LED, plastic body, soft faux leather pouch
Panasonic ES-LV5T [-A blue, wet/dry]
es-lv5t
NoCordless only [wet&dry]5 level LED, plastic body, soft faux leather pouch

Third Arc 5 generation rev G comparison table

ModelCleaning stationOperationDetails
Panasonic ES-LV9U [S, silver]
es-lv9u
YesWet/dry (cordless only)5 level LED, hard leather case
Panasonic ES-LV7U [A, blue]
es-lv7u
YesWet/dry (cordless only)3 level LED, textile pouch
Panasonic ES-LV7G [T, brown]
es-lv7g
YesDry only (corded & cordless)3 level LED, textile pouch
Panasonic ES-LV5U [A, blue]
NoWet/dry (cordless only)3 level LED, textile pouch
Panasonic ES-LV5G [T, brown]
es-lv5g
NoDry only (corded & cordless)3 level LED, textile pouch

Third Arc 5 generation rev H (Arc 5 PRO) comparison table

ModelOperationCleaning stationDetails
1. ES-LV9V [-S, Silver]
Wet/dry (cordless only)Yes5 stage battery display, hard travel case, bubble making mode
2. ES-LV7V [-A, Blue]

es-lv7v
Wet/dry (cordless only)Yes3 stage battery display, cloth pouch, bubble making mode
3. ES-LV7H [-S, Silver]
es-lv7h
Dry only (cordless & corded)Yes3 stage battery display, cloth pouch
4. ES-LV5V [-A, Blue]
es-lv5v
Wet/dry (cordless only)No3 stage battery display, cloth pouch
5. ES-LV5H [-S, Silver]
es-lv5v
Dry only (cordless & corded)No3 stage battery display, cloth pouch

What are the differences that actually matter?

Panasonic Arc 5 differences

The tables above can be helpful if you’ve already settled on a particular Arc 5 generation/revision and only have to decide on things like color, the type of travel case, LED display and so on.

As mentioned previously, the shaving performance throughout a generation/revision is identical.

But the most important and difficult part is to figure out which Arc 5 generation/revision makes the most sense for you.

Fortunately, there are only a few things you should factor in, so let’s check them out.

1. Design

When we say design, we tend to only think about the visual part: colors, textures, shapes and so on.

And the three Arc 5 generations can differ dramatically in that regard.

However, design is more than just looks and it will impact the way you use a particular shaver.

In my opinion, there are three important things here in terms of Arc 5 design:

  • The shaving head
  • The LED display
  • The build quality

The shaving head

Being a 5-blade foil shaver, the Panasonic Arc 5 has a large shaving head.

The new outer foil of the 2021 Arc 5.

That can make it a bit awkward to use, particularly for someone just getting started with electric shaving.

And while the surface of the 5 cutting elements is the same for all Arc 5 models, that can’t be said about the shaving head itself.

The very first Arc 5 generation (ES-LV61, ES-LV81) was fitted with an earlier iteration of the 14 000 CPM motor that was larger than the more recent ones.

As such, in order to accommodate it, the engineers had to make the whole shaving head larger.

And that really makes a difference during the actual shave — a first-generation Arc 5 will feel bulkier and more difficult to use when shaving below the nose or the jawline.

Fortunately, with the introduction of the more compact motors of the second generation, the shaving heads were also reduced in size.

Second generation ES-LV95-S.
Second generation Arc 5 (ES-LV95-S).

All Arc 5 variations from the second generation and up feature this smaller shaving head.

The third Arc 5 generation also introduced some impressive flexing capabilities of the shaving unit (revision C and up).

The flexible shaving head of the latest Arc 5.
The flexible shaving head of the latest Arc 5.

However, I wouldn’t consider that a must-have feature when trying to decide between a second or third-generation Arc 5 for example.

In practice, that highly flexible head doesn’t seem to make a big difference. The range of motion is limited and it’s just not as effective as other shavers that use a simpler system (like the Braun Series 9).

All Arc 5 models come with a locking switch that allows you to lock the head when more precision is needed.

The multi-purpose locking switch on the ES-LV67.
The multi-purpose locking switch on the ES-LV67.

Also, the pop-up hair trimmer is identical for all Panasonic Arc 5 variations and it’s an excellent trimmer — the best in business in my opinion.

The LED display

The LED display is another feature that can vary a lot among the different Arc 5 models.

It may not seem like an important aspect, but some of them show a couple of really nifty information: the battery level in 10% increments and the duration of the shave.

Panasonic Arc 5 LED displays.
The LED display of the ES-LV65 from the second generation (left) vs the 2021 Arc 5.

Tip: you can refer to the tables above to see the exact models that come with this feature-rich display that can also show the elapsed time.

In contrast, other Arc 5 models, including the latest 2021 revision G, only offer a 5 or even a 3-stage LED display — something you would normally find on an entry-level Arc 3 for example.

It’s not a deal-breaker, but when you pay a premium price on an electric razor, you also expect to get all the extra features.

Some of the popular (and widely available) models that come with the more advanced displays are the ES-LV65-S, ES-LV95-S, ES-LV9Q and ES-LV6Q.

The build quality

As for build quality, the Arc 5 series (and Panasonic shavers in general) has always been at the very top.

In fact, I think they currently have the best build quality out of all shaver brands.

That said, some Arc 5’s take it one notch higher.

With the third generation, a few select models come with a metal body. To be more precise, the main panels are made of brushed aluminum instead of plastic.

The metal Panasonic Arc 5 ES-LV9A-S and ES-CLV9CX-S.
The Panasonic Arc 5 ES-LV9A-S and ES-CLV9CX-S feature a metal body. Image credit: higesori-club.com

These models are usually more expensive and include a cleaning station as well (the exception being the two compact models, ES-CV51 and ES-CV70).

Panasonic ES-CV51 sides.
The compact ES-CV51 also has a metal body.

The rest of the Arc 5 shavers that come with a metal body are the ES-LV9A (ES-LV9B), ES-LV9Q, ES-LV9CX (ES-CLV9CX), ES-LV9DX (ES-CLV9DX), ES-LV9EX and ES-LV9FX.

The ES-LV9Q is usually the easiest to get, particularly in Europe as it’s part of the revision C that was officially released there. It also costs less than other Japan-exclusive models with a metal body.

ES-LV9Q

See the price on Amazon

I own both plastic and metal Arc 5’s and while the metal feels oddly nice and cold in the hand, there’s nothing really wrong with the plastic ones either.

The Panasonic Arc 5 ES-LV67-K held in hand.
The Panasonic Arc 5 ES-LV67-K held in hand (plastic body).

It’s a high-quality plastic that doesn’t tarnish in time nor does it creak when you hold it firmly. The panel gaps are small and even and I never had any issues with mine.

3. Outer foil

A second generation Panasonic Arc 5 (ES-LV65-S)

Arguably the most important component that varies across the different Arc5 generations and revisions is the outer foil.

This is a key element because it’s the part that comes in direct contact with the skin and will have the greatest impact on the comfort, closeness and how well the shaver catches facial hair.

The Panasonic Arc 5 has 5 cutting elements: 4 micro-foils and one central cutter.

Arc 5 shaving head structure.
The structure of an Arc 5 foil: A — a central trimmer, B — two reverse tapered foils, C — two finishing foils

That central cutter, along with the two outermost foils has built-in blades, while the blades that oscillate behind the foils that flank the central cutter are removable.

Removable inner blades (left) and integrated blades (right)
The two removable inner blades (left) and the three integrated blades (right)

Therefore, a replacement set for the Arc 5 will include the outer foil and the two removable blades.

You can usually purchase them separately as well (the foil, inner blades and the set will have different part numbers).

WES9032P foil and blade set.
Arc 5 foil and blades set.

Important: the two removable blades have been the exact same ones (part number WES9170) since the introduction of the first generation Arc 5 in 2009 and until the very latest 2022 revision H.

So the only part that can be different with different Arc 5 models is the outer foil.

The first and second-generation Arc 5 shavers come with the same foil/set, while for the third Arc 5 generation we have 4 different foils (depending on the revision).

However, all four of them have a distinct feature compared to the first two generations: the comfort rollers.

First and second generation foil (left) next to third-generation foil (right).
First and second-generation foil (left) vs the third-generation foil (right). You can see the two gold comfort rollers on the newer foil.

These rollers are basically two metal bars that spin freely when you move the shaving head over the skin.

This helps it glide easier and also prevents the user from applying excessive pressure.

Some users find it annoying for precisely that reason; I personally haven’t had any issues with it and the closeness has been just as good.

In fact, that’s the main pro of all the newer (generation three) foils: all of them are slightly more comfortable than the previous one (no rollers).

In terms of closeness, I haven’t noticed any improvements, so it’s still excellent, arguably the best out there.

According to Panasonic, the main improvement of the newer, tweaked foils is in the way they handle longer, flat-lying hairs.

That central trimmer has been constantly refined, particularly in the case of the latest revision G (2021) and revision H (2022) which share the same foil.

The new outer foil of the 2021 Arc 5.
The new outer foil of the 2021 Arc 5 revision G.

And while these changes did improve the performance of the third-gen Arc 5 with longer facial hair, it’s not as good as a Braun Series 7 or 9.

It will still require multiple strokes and changes of direction in order to get those difficult hairs.

I find all the four different foils of the third Arc 5 generation very similar performance-wise, with a slight advantage in the case of the 2021 revision G foil that does seem to be better with longer, flat-lying hairs.

So this is how I would sum up the performance of the different Panasonic Arc 5 foils.

Later on, I will also address the foils compatibility and the possibility of upgrading your Arc 5.

3. Wet/Dry vs Dry only use

All Panasonic Arc 5’s are fully waterproof and can be washed with water for easy and effective cleaning.

Rinsing the head with water while the sonic mode is active.

And while most models are specifically marked as suitable for wet/dry use (ie with shaving cream or in the shower), there are some that are only washable (as in you can clean them with water), but can only be used dry.

The most important consequence is that a wet/dry Arc 5 will only work cordless, while a washable model will also work while charging (corded).

The latter seems to be very important to some users, but unfortunately, those models are usually only sold in Japan.

You can also check out the comparison tables above to see exactly which are the wet/dry (cordless only) and dry only (cordless and corded) models.

The ones that are widely available in the USA and Europe, like the ES-LV65, ES-LV95, ES-LV67, ES-LV97, ES-LV6Q and ES-LV9Q are wet/dry, so cordless only.

I personally never use electric shavers with the cord plugged in and since the Arc 5 performs amazingly with shaving cream, I am fine with the cordless only variations.

Besides, the other ones are a lot more expensive to buy from Japan (the shipping and customs fees are high).

4. Cleaning station: yey or nay?

The fourth important aspect you should keep in mind when buying a Panasonic Arc 5 is the cleaning station.

Should you get a variation that comes with or without one?

Well, it depends as both options have pros and cons.

The single shaver models (ES-LV65, ES-LV67, ES-LV6Q etc.) are cheaper and since the Arc 5 is also very easy to clean manually, these are probably the better pick for most users.

Important: You won’t be able to use it with a compatible station purchased later on as the shaver lacks the contact pins on the back.

Panasonic ES-LV67 back view.
The back of the Panasonic ES-LV67-K. You can see three round blanks where the contact pins of the ES-LV97-K model would be.

Now, the Panasonic Arc 5 cleaning station (from the second generation and up) is actually very good.

You can choose to only charge, dry or do a complete cleaning and drying cycle. The detergent-based solution also doesn’t evaporate as fast as other alcohol-based fluids.

Panasonic Arc 5 ES-LV95-S

The Panasonic ES-LV95.

See the price on Amazon

The solution has lubricating properties as well, so you won’t have to oil the blades yourself.

That said, the Panasonic station is not as practical as the ones from Braun for example.

And that’s mainly because you have to mix the concentrated detergent with water in the station’s tray and then you’re pretty much stuck with it.

Braun stations use plastic cartridges that you can take out and put the cap back on and store them in a safe place until further use.

Also, you have a lot more options for cheap third-party solutions for Braun stations. With Panasonic, you’re stuck with their detergent packs.

And as mentioned earlier, the Arc5’s that come with a station cost more than the ones that don’t.

If those things aren’t deal-breakers, then by all means you should get one with a cleaning station (like the ES-LV95/ES-LV97 or ES-LV9Q).

Personally, I always buy Panasonic shavers that don’t include a cleaning station. I just don’t find it necessary and cleaning these shavers manually is a breeze.

5. Price and availability

Last but certainly not least, there’s the price.

In my opinion, value for money should be a decisive factor when deciding which Arc 5 to buy.

And the prices of these razors vary tremendously and don’t always make sense.

For example, you’ll sometimes find there’s a significant price difference between the ES-LV65 and ES-LV67 models.

And since the performance of those is pretty much identical, you should definitely buy the cheaper one — whichever that may be.

The newer, Japan-exclusive Arc 5’s, particularly the top-of-the-line models ending in -X (ES-LV9DX, ES-LV9EX, ES-LV9FX etc.) are usually the most expensive.

They come with cleaning stations, metal bodies, the smart lock feature and a nicer hard leather travel case.

So you’re not really paying more for extra performance — as mentioned, that stays the same throughout a generation/revision.

In terms of bang for the buck, the older, second-generation Arc 5’s (no cleaning station) will generally be the best. They’re also widely available.

Also, some of the third-generation revision C models can be found at reasonable prices and are available in Europe and the USA.

This way you won’t have to spend extra money on shipping and customs fees.

The takeaway is that in the case of the Panasonic Arc 5, the price doesn’t always tell the whole story and you shouldn’t necessarily pay more for a newer version.

I will also be sharing the Arc 5 models that I think are worth buying given their performance and price.

Do some Arc 5 models shave better than others?

Simply put, the aforementioned differences also lead to a difference in performance.

So the answer is yes, some Arc 5 models do shave slightly better than others or are better in certain specific areas, but the differences are marginal.

Here’s a short summary:

  • The second generation Arc 5 shaves the same as the first one, but the smaller head and the better, redesigned cleaning station makes them a better pick. Also, the first generation has been long discontinued.
  • The third-generation revisions A and B have a nicer design compared to the second one and the comfort of the shave is slightly better thanks to the comfort rollers. The redesigned central trimmer is also slightly better at catching longer hairs, but nothing significant.
  • The revisions C through H come with an updated design and more flexing capabilities of the shaving head (that doesn’t make any difference in practice). The foils are again slightly better with longer hairs compared to the A and B, the latest revision G & H foil being the most capable in that regard.

As you can see, when it comes to performance, the difference is made by the outer foil.

However, there’s an important catch, which leads us to the next section.

Replacement foils compatibility. Upgrading your older Arc 5

One of the key elements that make a strong case for buying an older and cheaper Arc 5 model is the possibility of upgrading the outer foil later on.

I’m referring mainly to the second-generation shavers like ES-LV65/ES-LV95 and ES-LV67/ES-LV97 as those can still be bought pretty much anywhere in the world.

However, if you still own a first-generation shaver and is still in good shape, this next part still applies.

As we saw earlier, there are 4 different outer foils available with the various revisions of the third generation.

The differences between these foils are minor and each of them was slightly tweaked and improved compared to the previous one.

So which foil is compatible with which Arc 5?

The answer is actually really simple:

Any Arc 5 foil is compatible with any Arc 5 shaver, regardless of the generation/revision. The two inner blades are the same for all Arc 5 models ever released.

This is hugely beneficial for the end-user.

It means you can buy a reasonably priced second-generation Arc 5 for example and later on, when it’s time to replace the foil/blades, you can upgrade it to the latest set and reap most of the benefits of the newer razors.

The second generation Panasonic Arc 5 ES-LV65 with the latest revision G foils.
The second-generation Panasonic Arc 5 ES-LV65 with the latest revision G/H foils.

Of course, that could mean spending more money on a set or even importing it from Japan.

But it’s really nice to have that possibility.

You won’t find this cross-generation compatibility documented anywhere officially, but I’ve tested many Arc 5 foils and shavers combinations and they work just fine.

Here’s a table with the replacement sets that each Arc 5 generation and revision originally comes with. However, they are backward-compatible. The two inner blades (WES9170) are always the same.

Arc 5 generation/revisionFoil and blades set
First generation WES9032P (ES9032, WES9032Y)
Second generation WES9032P (ES9032, WES9032Y)
Third generation (rev A and B)WES9034P (ES9034)
Third generation (rev C and D)WES9036 (WES9036Y, ES9036)
Third generation (rev E and F)ES9038
Third generation (rev G and H)ES9040

Further reading: For all the details regarding the exact foils/blades/sets part numbers and where to buy them from, make sure to check out my Arc 5 replacement foils guide.

Bottom line: which Panasonic Arc 5 should you buy?

Hopefully, by this point, things are beginning to be pretty clear.

In my opinion, the best Panasonic Arc 5 is one that is reasonably priced, easy to get and ticks the boxes for most of the user’s personal needs.

Those are things like the cleaning station, the LED display, the type of travel case and so on.

Obviously, these won’t affect the shaving performance, but some of them are nice to have, especially if you can get a particular feature-rich model at a discounted price.

That said, I think the second generation’s best-sellers, the ES-LV65 and ES-LV95, would be the best pick for most users even in 2022.

Panasonic Arc 5 ES-LV65

Panasonic es-lv65-s Arc 5

See the price on Amazon

They usually cost the least, can be upgraded with the latest foils and you can buy them in the USA, Canada, Europe, etc.

The performance is top-notch and as mentioned earlier, their only downside compared to the third-generation Arc 5 is the old foil that isn’t quite as comfortable and a less flexible shaving head (not a big deal in practice).

Alternatively, the newer ES-LV67 and ES-LV97 come with an updated design, but use the exact same foils, and can be a great option if for some reason you can’t buy the ES-LV65/ES-LV95 in your country.

Panasonic Arc 5 ES-LV67

Panasonic Arc5 ES-LV67-K

See the price on Amazon

Compared to the ES-LV65 and ES-LV95, these two have a more basic LED display that won’t show the elapsed time. The shaving sensor is also always on, while in the case of the ES-LV65 and ES-LV95 you had the possibility to turn it off.

Again, this is a minor shortcoming that shouldn’t steer you away from them, particularly if the price is lower.

Side note: in Europe, the blue ES-LV67-A variation is sold instead of the black ES-LV67-K. The color is the only difference between them.

Panasonic Arc 5 ES-LV67-A

ES-LV67-A

See on Amazon.co.uk

As you can tell, these models do not come with a cleaning station, but you can of course opt for the ES-LV95 or ES-LV97 variations if you need the station.

Again, with Panasonic shavers, this decision should be made from the get-go because a model bought without a station will not work with one.

As for the third generation, considering that the A and B revisions have been discontinued and the D through G updates are only available in Japan, the revision C is in my opinion the one to get.

Precisely, the ES-LV6Q (plastic body, no station) and ES-LV9Q (metal body, cleaning station) are available in Europe and even in the USA.

Panasonic Arc 5 ES-LV9Q

ES-LV9Q

See the price on Amazon

Compared to the ones above from the second generation, the ES-LV6Q and ES-LV9Q come with a nicer design, an updated (and more comfortable) foil and a more flexible shaving head.

If they don’t cost a lot more, I think you can get them instead. Otherwise, the older ones are still fantastic performers and you can always upgrade the foil.

Now, if you don’t mind spending a premium just to have the very latest Arc 5, even though you won’t really be getting much more in terms of performance, you can import one from Japan.

Or maybe you want an Arc 5 that you can use both cordless and corded.

I’m mainly referring to the D, E, F,G and H revisions that were only released in Japan.

The ones ending in -X are particularly impressive with their all-metal build, regardless if it’s a D, E or F revision (the latest G and H shavers only come with the standard plastic bodies).

Since most stores won’t ship to Europe or the USA, you can use a proxy service to have it shipped to your location.

I personally use a service called forward2me.com and it works great. Upon sign up, you’ll basically receive a Japan-based address where you can have the shaver shipped and then they’ll ship it to your address for a rather reasonable fee.

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated or endorsed by forward2me.com and I do not receive any compensation for recommending them. It’s just a service that I’ve used and found to be very reliable.

You’ll find most of the Japan-exclusive Panasonic Arc 5’s on Amazon.co.jp and on Rakuten.

Bonus tips: getting the most out of your Arc 5

Now that we’ve hopefully covered all the important differences, let’s see how you can put your Arc 5 to good use.

Holding a Panasonic Arc 5 revison G.

Even if some Arc 5 variations offer excellent value for money and represent a great investment, the upfront cost is still significant.

The price of the replacement foils and blades is also quite high, so you’ll want to keep your shaver in top shape for as long as possible while also getting a great shave.

Luckily, there are a few simple, but very effective things you can do in that regard.

These generally apply to any electric shaver, but some are particularly important in the case of the Arc 5 as you’ll see next.

1. Clean and lubricate your Arc 5 regularly

Giving the foils and blades one final rinse.

This will probably make the biggest difference to the quality of the shave and the lifespan of the foil and blades.

Ideally, you’ll want to clean the shaver thoroughly after every use.

You could do that using a brush (usually included in the box) or some compressed air, but the best way to do it is with water and (optionally) some liquid soap.

Side note: if your Arc 5 has a cleaning station and you use it regularly, you don’t have to clean or lubricate your shaver manually.

I personally always clean my Arc 5’s with warm tap water and a bit of liquid soap after every shave.

Cleaning the ES-LV5U in the sonic cleaning mode.
Cleaning the shaver with water and liquid soap.

It literally takes less than a minute and it’s very effective.

Tip: if you shave with cream or gel, you should definitely clean your Arc 5 with water and soap after every use.

The Arc 5 is fitted with a so-called Sonic cleaning mode that you can activate by pressing and holding the power button for a few seconds.

Cleaning the ES-LV65-S is very straightforward.
Rinsing the ES-LV65-S with tap water (sonic mode activated).

With the Sonic mode turned on, the blades oscillate at a much higher rate for 20 seconds, dislodging any stubborn dirt and preventing water from splashing when rinsing the shaving head.

Your user manual will have detailed instructions on how to clean your Arc 5 manually or you can check out the cleaning section of my Arc 5 reviews.

Lubrication is equally important.

The Arc 5 is one of the closest shaving razors out there and one of the reasons for it is that the cutters and foils are machined with very tight tolerances.

Precisely, the gap between the outer foil and the blades is extremely small.

The exposed inner blades of a Panasonic Arc5.

In fact, during use, the blades will rub against the foils. And metal on metal at 14 000 cycles per minute with no lubrication is bad.

This is why lubrication is particularly important here.

It will minimize the friction between the blades and foil, reducing the wear and the heat.

It also means that most of the power will be used for actually cutting the hairs, with minimal loss in the form of heat.

You’ll get a closer and more comfortable shave and you won’t need to replace the foil and blades for a longer period.

It’s a major benefit for such a simple and trivial task.

Lubricating an Arc 5 is dead easy: a single drop of lubricant on the outside of each of the 5 cutters will suffice.

Lubricating the shaver with the included oil.
Lubricating the shaver with the included oil.

You then turn the shaver on for a few seconds and spread the lubricant evenly with your finger.

Panasonic sometimes includes a small bottle of oil with the Arc 5, but that’s not always the case.

Luckily, you can use clipper oil (it’s basically the same stuff, ie highly refined mineral oil). Clipper oil is cheap and widely available.

Wahl Clipper Oil

Wahl oil

See the price on Amazon

If you only clean your Arc 5 with water, applying the oil once or twice a week will be enough.

If you also use liquid soap, then you should lubricate the blades after every cleaning — just remember that the blades must be dry before applying the lubricant.

Further reading: How to properly lubricate an electric shaver

Alternatively, you can use a spray lubricant for electric shavers.

In my opinion this works even better since it also cleans the blades. Besides, if the water is hard, it will remove any mineral deposits as well.

My favorite is the Remington Shaver Saver. Unfortunately, you can’t really find it in Europe anymore (it’s still available in the USA though).

The one I’m currently using is the Andis Cool Care Plus. It’s effective, cheap and comes in a huge can that lasts forever.

Further reading: Using a Spray Cleaner And Lubricant

2. Make sure the shaver has enough charge before you shave

Charging the 2021 Panasonic Arc5 takes approximately 50 minutes.

Even though Panasonic claims the Arc 5 will maintain peak power even when the battery charge drops, that’s not really the case.

I personally can feel a significant performance difference when shaving with 20% battery vs 50% or more.

If you want the best results in terms of closeness, comfort, and speed, charge your shaver.

Side note: charging the shaver more often will not harm modern Li-ion batteries.

3. Use a pre-shave lotion

For most men, the addition of a quality pre-electric shave lotion will be beneficial for getting a closer and smoother shave.

Aramis Lab Series Electric Shave Solution

Even though the Arc 5 is already an excellent performer, a pre-shave can make it gentler and also improve the closeness, especially during a dry shave or if you have very coarse, flat-lying hair.

Pre-shave lotions are cheap, easy to apply and won’t clog the shaver.

My favorites are the ones from Speick and Tabac and you can read all about them in my pre-shave lotions guide.

4. Use shaving cream

I know this tip won’t be too popular as most of us prefer a quick dry shave, however, you shouldn’t dismiss wet shaving altogether.

Shaving wet with the Panasonic Arc 5 is a real treat.

The Panasonic Arc 5 performs absolutely phenomenal with shaving cream or gel.

If you want the absolute closest shave with an electric shaver, this is the way to get it.

There are however a few tweaks you can make in order to get the best results, so make sure to check out my wet shaving tips as well.

5. Shave more often

Although Panasonic made incremental progress with the newer foils, they’re still nowhere near as good as Braun for example when it comes to shaving longer, flat-lying hairs.

Panasonic Arc5 foils and blades.
The evolution of the Panasonic Arc 5 foil (from the oldest to the most recent 2021 foil).

Things are even more difficult if they grow in different directions.

To minimize this shortcoming, you should strive to shave more often. Even if your hairs grow parallel to the skin or have different grains, things are usually a lot easier if the hair is shorter.

6. Don’t press too hard and take your time

Finally, the Arc 5 is a beast of a shaver and it will let you know if you press too hard.

You will get some razor burn even if you don’t have very sensitive skin.

The best approach is to only use light pressure and let the shaver do the work.

Use straight, controlled strokes, always against the grain.

Do not rush through the process and try to enjoy it.

Final word

Out of all the different series of electric shavers out there, the Panasonic Arc 5 is probably the most difficult to document.

The sheer number of models, generations and revisions makes this task really challenging.

With this comparison and buying guide, I tried my best to showcase the differences between the models, but also to reduce the buying decision to only a handful of important factors.

Hopefully, this will make choosing an Arc 5 easier. With all these models available and the appeal of a newer and possibly better shaver, it can easily get overwhelming.

Over to you now — if you have any other questions regarding this topic or you’d like to share your experience of owning and using an Arc 5, make sure to leave a comment below.

Article by

Hey. I’m Ovidiu, the founder and editor of ShaverCheck.com. I independently buy and test electric shavers and I’ve been sharing my findings on this site for almost 10 years, hopefully helping others choose a suitable shaver.

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80 thoughts on “Panasonic Arc 5 Comparison Guide: Which One Should You Buy?”

Leave a comment
  1. Wonderfully comprehensive overview! Thanks, Ovidiu.
    I own a ES-LV65. Is there any way—other than lapse of time (the manufacturer, I believe, recommends one year for foil and two for cutters) to know when to replace these parts? (I plan to replace the foil with the ES9040 that I have already received.)

    Reply
    • Thank you, Marc, you’re way too kind. In my opinion the interval recommended by the manufacturer isn’t necessarily relevant with real-world use. You may need to replace them sooner (or even later) than that. I usually notice a few things with my Panasonic shavers (so not really specific to the Arc 5, but in the case of the Arc 4 and Arc 3 as well):

      • The foils get noticeably warmer during use (and that happens even with proper lubrication)
      • It takes me more time to get a satisfactory shave
      • The closeness isn’t as good, particularly on areas with thicker and denser hairs (below the nose, chin)
      • I start getting some razor burn, most likely because I’m tempted to press harder in order to get a close shave (plus the increasingly hot foils)

      Hope this helps.

      Sincerely,
      Ovidiu

      Reply
  2. Many thanks for your reviews – all a bit overwhelming!!

    I have a Braun 7 which I am not very happy with – not a close shave and needs at least one repeat during the day. I was thinking of going to a 9 series.

    Now and based on this review, I am wondering about a good Panasonic.

    How will I ever decide?

    Cheers

    Reply
    • Hi Robert,

      Thank you for the comment, much appreciated.

      In my opinion if you want a closer shave, going from a Series 7 to a Series 9 won’t make a huge difference. It might, but mainly because you’d be using a brand new shaver with sharp blades and a new foil (you’ve probably been shaving with the Series 7 for quite some time).

      I think a Panasonic Arc 5 would be a better option.

      Sincerely,
      Ovidiu

      Reply
  3. Extremely helpful guide thanks. But what about the very high cost of replacement foils/blades? Should I choose a different shaver?
    – I value speed of shaving.

    Reply
    • Hi Chris,

      You are very welcome, glad you found it helpful.

      The newest foils and blades are quite pricey and even the older ones (that come with the gen 1 and 2 shavers) aren’t exactly cheap. But considering that you’d be getting at least one year of use (with proper cleaning and lubrication), I think the Arc 5 is still a good investment. If we look at the cost per shave relative to cartridge razors for example, the Arc 5 fares a lot better. If you value speed of shaving, it’s one of the best currently available shavers.

      Sincerely,
      Ovidiu

      Reply
  4. Very informative article Ovidiu. Thanks!

    I’ll be curious to see what Panasonic does with the Arc 5 family as the Arc 6 family evolves. They already took away the flagship model, what would have been the LV9GX. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Arc 5 become just a replacement for the Arc 4 with only the LV65/95 and LV67/97 and the Arc 5 Gen3 models migrate into the Arc 6 family.

    If that happens, hopefully we’ll see an Arc 6 released in the States and in Europe.

    Reply
    • Hi Bill,

      Thank you, I really appreciate it.

      I think that could happen since Panasonic seems to have completely forgotten about the Arc 4. No updates or info whatsoever, which is a shame really because a new Arc 4 would be awesome. At the same time, making it too good and cheaper than the Arc 5 would probably cannibalize the Arc 5 sales. I also hope to see the Arc 6 available outside of Japan, but I’m a bit skeptical at this moment.

      Sincerely,
      Ovidiu

      Reply
  5. Your reviews are the absolute best in the world. What dedication to your work. These professional analyses are outstanding on so many different levels.

    I have a ESL 65 and am impressed that now more than one foil combo can be used.

    Reply
    • Clyde, you are way too kind. Thank you for the comment, glad you found the info useful.

      That is correct, you basically can choose between any of the newer foils for your ES-LV65.

      Sincerely,
      Ovidiu

      Reply
    • That’s awesome, Alan, glad you found the info useful. I hope you’ll enjoy shaving with your ES-LV65.

      Sincerely,
      Ovidiu

      Reply
  6. So I’ve had a bit of “fun” with my shavers lately. I gave up on my Braun Series 9 due to the faulty head issue. I tried a Panasonic ES-LL41, which I acquired from Amazon for a mere $5 (my wife opened an Amazon CC to get $50 off). Severe razor burn on my neck. Currently trying a Philips S9985/84. Not as close a shave as I remember – I used Philips for thirty years until about ten years ago. Current shaver is still within their 45-day refund guarantee. So I am left with some questions on an Arc 5:

    What is the likelihood that foils and blades will be available into the future, given that the later Arc 5 models have only been issued in Japan?

    How does comfort and razor burn compare between LL-41 and, say, the LV65? I must say that the Philips is very comfortable – it is just not an acceptably close shave for me.

    Reply
    • I wouldn’t worry about the Arc 5 foils. For example, the C revision was released pretty much everywhere in the world (minus the USA and Canada), so those foils are also available everywhere and are very similar performance-wise to ones that come on the Japan-exclusive models. Besides, the older ones (that come on the ES-LV65 and ES-LV67) are still everywhere. But most importantly, any Arc 5 foils are compatible with any Arc 5 shavers, so you will definitely be able to get some in the future.

      The ES-LV65 is gentler than an Arc 3, however, if the ES-LL41 gave you severe razor burn, I’m not sure that the Arc 5 would be right either.

      I’m not really surprised about the closeness you got using the Philips 9500 — that’s pretty much standard with the current rotary razors.

      Since you’re still in the return window, have you considered a Braun Series 7? The older generation like the 7865cc, 790cc and so. A Series 7 is similar to the Series 9 performance-wise (closeness, comfort) despite having one less blade, but doesn’t have any issues with the reliability of the cassette.

      Sincerely,
      Ovidiu

      Reply
  7. Insanely comprehensive guide, you’re the best! I just went back to using a foil since I used one in high school. I came here to get some tips and figure out which to buy and your guide is awesome. Anyway, I took your suggestion and bought a ES-LV65, but put a gen 5 outer foil with rollers on it after about 3 days of using the LV65 (shipping took longer on the foil). Maybe because I’m kind of a first timer (again?) and my skin wasn’t used to it, but I thought the LV65 created a ton of friction that was substantially alleviated by the rollers on the gen 5 foil. I honestly thought it was a big difference. Frankly, I thought both foils were great – close shave, easy, convenient and even with the friction they still worked great. But the gen 5 with rollers, I think is even smoother and more comfortable. Just wanted to give you my 2 cents. Thanks again!

    Reply
    • Hey,

      Thank you so much, glad you found it useful. Definitely less friction with any of the foils that have the rollers. Enjoy your upgraded ES-LV65!

      Sincerely,
      Ovidiu

      Reply
  8. Hu Ovidiu,
    Just thanking you for your comprehensive reviews and updates.
    This info is the best available – and you leave no stone unturned.
    Thanks Sir!

    Reply
  9. Thanks, Ovidu, for your most recent, as usual, outstanding review of the Arc 5. Your past guidance prompted me to acquire the Braun series 7, which I have been very pleased with. But your revisit of the Arc 5, especially with your praise of the closeness of its shave, led me to take my Arc 5 out and begin to use it again. It does provide a very close shave. But I have a question: Braun recommends not washing your face before shaving. I wonder if you know the basis for that recommendation? I have continued the practice with the Arc 5. Can you shed some light on this issue?

    Reply
    • Hi Bert,

      Thank you, glad you found the post useful.

      Braun’s recommendation makes sense in the context of a dry shave when you’ll want the skin as dry as possible in order to get the best results. That’s why it’s also recommended not to shower right before shaving; the use of an alcohol-based pre-shave lotion that dries any moisture from the skin can also be beneficial. I also support this approach of having the skin as dry as possible and it’s one of the easiest and most effective tweaks you can do before shaving dry — regardless of the shaver, be it rotary or foil, Panasonic or Braun etc. It’s a whole different story in the case of a wet shave when you’ll want to wash your face with plenty of warm water.

      Sincerely,
      Ovidiu

      Reply
  10. Hi Ovidiu,

    Shavecheck.com has allowed me to dive into the state of the art of the subject, so, many thanks. Here go my doubts. It seems to me that, unfortunately, there will be no new Arc 4 update in the near future (I am pretty sure it will suffice for me, but current models are “a bit” out of date) and the Arc 6 will continue to be only available in Japan and out of budget. According to your recommendations (editor’s choices), the picks are LV65 and CV51. I know the differences between both models (display, sensor cancellation, plastic/metal body, original foils…, thanks to your excellent reviews), but never had them in my hand nor shaved with any of them. The intended use will be as main shaver for daily dry shaving with pre-shave or wet shaving, depending on the mood and hurry. I guess I have medium hair and relatively sensitive skin. I use Andis Cool Care Plus and Clipper Oil regularly with my current shaver. No need of cleaning station. From your point of view, if both shavers (LV65 and CV51) were sold/available at the same price, which one would be your pick as main/only shaver? How much would be the difference in euros in order to prefer one over the other? The prices of both shavers are getting closer and closer, and just a Panasonic hard travel case (ES-2L13) for LV65 costs 40 € (a third party one, a half – a third).

    Sincerely,
    Jordi

    Reply
    • Hi Jordi,

      Thank you for the comment, glad you found the site useful.

      In the past, the CV51 used to be a lot more expensive, so unless you absolutely needed a compact, but capable shaver, the LV65 was the better pick. If the price is the same, I guess the CV51 would offer more: better build quality, newer outer foil, compact body, premium hard travel case. The motor and battery are the same, so the shaving performance isn’t hindered in any way. Granted, the CV51 only has a fixed shaving head, but to me, that was never a big deal as I often shave with my LV65 with the head locked (it is a bit too jiggly). You also get a more basic display and you lose the ability to turn off the shaving sensor with the CV51.

      If the price is the same, you should get the CV51 if you think you’d benefit from the compact form factor. At least that’s what I would do. Otherwise, you can’t really go wrong with the LV65.

      Sincerely,
      Ovidiu

      Reply
  11. Hi Ovidiu,

    Thanks to you, I’ve chosen an Arc5. I’m in Taiwan and of the 2 models I was considering, one said “corded and cordless” in your chart. The chart info seemed ambiguous on that particular model. The sales guy reassured me that it could be used with shaving cream, but I recalled you saying that a shaver that works corded is dry only. I prefer to shave in the shower with gel. The one I chose is because of the “5D” head range of motion as opposed to the “3D” ROM. Is using my “corded” model with gel (without the cord of course!) going to be an issue? Thanks very much!

    Reply
    • Hi,

      Thanks for the comment. Can you tell me the exact model of the Arc 5 you’re planning to get?

      Sincerely,
      Ovidiu

      Reply
      • Thanks Ovidiu,

        In the intervening time between posting my comment and seeing your reply, I went to the Panasonic Hong Kong site and was able to clearly see in Chinese that the model I was sold did not support wet/dry shaving. Now I was in the unenviable position of having to go back to the store and try to have this conversation with the sales staff in Chinese, so having that chart from Panasonic HK was very useful. Fortunately, my wife asked me what the situation was and she got involved (she is native Taiwanese). It took about 10 minutes to get the point across, believe it or not.

        Taiwan only has four ARC5 models – and as you alluded to, they are not the very latest iterations, which seem limited to domestic Japan. The four Taiwan models are with/without cleaning station, and corded/cordless. I returned the first one and got the only one that was available without the cleaning station: ES-LV67. Thanks to your excellent breakdown and very clear observations, I also saw no need for the cleaning station.

        It’s interesting that the Taiwan sales staff didn’t really understand the differentiation between a shaver being waterproof and being designed for a wet shave. They said that when they were trained, they were told that all those shavers could be used “in the shower” and “with shaving cream” but they didn’t make any connection with “washable” and “wet/dry” being any different from one another. I showed them 2 different models right there in the showroom, and the whole issue seemed unimportant to them. On the back of each shaver, it’s noteworthy that there are icons for washable type (a water faucet) and a wet/dry (a bathtub with water and a shower head) type. Pointing that out resulted in indifference. So, my advice when shopping is to know your stuff first and don’t rely on the sales person to be able to tell you the whole story. Employee training is an issue around the world, so its important to remember that your salesperson may have simply been trained improperly.

        In the end, I just told them what I wanted to do and was insistent, but polite of course. The ES-LV67 was cheaper than the original one and it came with a free gift, so I actually made out in the end.

        Thank you very much for all the work you’ve done on this site. I subbed to your newsletter. I’ll be telling my followers about your site on my next live stream as one of my viewers recently asked me some questions about shaving issues. I am an engineer and I’ll say that your reviews are some of the best examples of clear, concise writing that is not just easy to understand, but, virtually impossible to mis-understand. After reading 3 of your articles, I realized how little I actually knew about care and maintenance of my electric razors and you can be sure that I’m going to be taking much better care of my new Arc5, thanks to you!

        Reply
        • You are very welcome — and thank you for your support and appreciation, it truly means a lot. I’m glad the problem was eventually solved. I’ve actually had to deal with similar situations myself where I live (Romania). But as you said, doing some research beforehand is definitely the way to go. The ES-LV67 is an excellent choice especially if you manage to get a great deal on one. I hope you’ll enjoy shaving with it, with or without shaving cream.

          Sincerely,
          Ovidiu

          Reply
  12. This is a great comprehensive review.

    I own the Panasonic Arc 4 since before the Arc 5 was released. I have no idea how many years have passed, but still (with a couple of blades changes) is running quite well. Nowadays I’m mostly shaving just part of my face since I like my beard and I do it with a straight razor. But I frequently use my Panasonic Arc 4 for my fades ( I cut my hair by myself) and other parts of my body.

    I really like to have premium clippers and I was co sidereal a new shaver to pair my best clippers, so I ended up reading many of your reviews, including the one related to the Arc 6.

    After analyzing quite a lot, I decided to purchase the Panasonic ES-LV9Q mainly for the upgraded blades and aluminum body. The Arc 6 seems to be a little too much for my needs and a bigger head, IMO is less desirable.

    I agree with you, the Panasonic shavers are easily washable with soap and water (I do it in the shower). I don’t know if I’m gonna give a good usage to the cleaning station, because I don’t plan to buy refills.

    If you have any recommendation to use the cleaning station without purchasing refill, it’s gonna be very welcome.

    Thanks for your review.

    Reply
    • Hi Mauricio,

      Thank you for the comment, much appreciated.

      I also cut my own hair and use a foil shaver to get a skin fade. I’m currently using the Series 9 Pro for that, it gets just as close as the Arc 5 when fading hair, but with less irritation. The back of my head is really sensitive and fading with the Arc 5 leaves me with some redness and irritation. Nothing major, but it’s why I tend to use the S9 more.

      Regarding the cleaning solutions, there’s the one from Shaver Shebang, haven’t personally tried it, but it’s got really good reviews and the costs are lower compared to the Panasonic detergent packs. The JetClean solution (used with Philips cleaning stations) could also work, but again, I haven’t tested it yet.

      I have quite a few Panasonic stations lying around that I’ve never used. I just clean the shaver with tap water and soap, then apply a spray lubricant. I’ve been doing this for years with great results and minimal costs.

      Sincerely,
      Ovidiu

      Reply
  13. I got my shaver, the ES-LV9Q. I have mixed feelings. On one hand it’s a very good looking shaver, it feels more premium that my Arc4, having a littlebiymt of metal composition is good. On the other hand, the travel case doesn’t seems to be leather, it feels cheap and I think it will peel off with the time as it happened with my previous Arc4 case. Another thing that I dislike is all that movement in the head. It’s too much, it also feels fragile. That seems to be an step back compared to the Arc4.

    In terms of closeness, the Arc4 wins hands down here, those rollers in the Arc5 may get a more confortable shave but at the expense of closeness. This was an easy test, first I tried the Arc5 and once I couldn’t get closer, I tried the Arc4 which gave me a closer shave.

    All in all seems to be a good shaver, but I’m afraid it will not be as sturdier as the Arc 4. Only time will tells.

    I already bought the hard case from Japan because.

    If someone has the ES-LV9Q, could you tell me if the case that comes with the shaver peels of or if it’s real leather.

    Reply
    • Hi Mauricio,

      Thank you for the comment.

      I’ve actually noticed the head of the latest Arc 5 (and even Arc 6) as being too wobbly and also mentioned it in the reviews. You can however use the switch to lock it in place if you find it too annoying during use.

      A small percentage of users do feel like the rollers may get in the way of a closer shave — I’m not in that category and can’t relate, but I would try to tilt the shaver a bit towards the leading foil when going over an area that still feels rough. Ultimately, the older WES9173P foil that doesn’t have the rollers will fit the ES-LV9Q as well. It’s a good alternative when it comes the time to replace it.

      I have quite a few generation 3 Arc5s that all have some variation of that highly flexible head and no reliability issues so far.

      Sincerely,
      Ovidiu

      Reply
  14. Money is not a big issue for me an i’m in the U.S. I really dont need a cleaning station. But I want a wet/ dry shaver. So which model should I buy? Es-Lv67 , es-Ls6Q or what other one do you recommend?

    Reply
    • Hi Gary,

      In the USA there are basically 3 wet/dry Arc 5 models available (without a cleaning station): ES-LV65, ES-LV67 and ES-LV6Q — the latter was never officially released, but it can be bought nevertheless.

      I don’t think one is intrinsically better than the other ones and since the price is not an issue, choosing one should come down to your own preferences.

      The ES-LV6Q comes with an updated foil which is a bit more comfortable, but other than that, it doesn’t shave closer or better than the ES-LV65 or ES-LV67. And you can in fact upgrade the foil on those as well. Also, the ES-LV67 has a 5-level battery indicator, while the other two have a 10-level indicator and will also display the elapsed time. These are pretty much all the differences that matter.

      Hope this helps.

      Sincerely,
      Ovidiu

      Reply
  15. Hi Ovidiu, huge fan of your articles and I constantly come to check any updates from Braun and Panasonic.

    Been using the Braun Series 7 (740s-7) for a few years now and thinking about an upgrade. I love wet shaving with this device as the lather makes the cassette more gentle on my sensitive skin. However, I do wish I could get a closer shave without damaging my skin, so I’ve been eyeing the Panasonic Arc5 (ES-LV97-K or ES-LV6Q) and the Braun Series 9 Sport (9310cc).

    What are you opinions for someone who has very sensitive skin but wants a closer shave? Is the wet shaving experience on the Arc5 (or, potentially even the new Arc6) better than the wet shaving experience on Braun Series 9 Sport? If cleaning manually is no problem for either because of my experience cleaning my Series 7, what’s the right move here?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Hi,

      Thank you for the comment, I really appreciate your support.

      The safer choice would be the Series 9 9310cc since you know from previous experience that it works well enough (in my opinion it is very similar to an older generation Series 7 like the 740s in terms of comfort and closeness). I think wet shaving with an Arc 5 will improve the closeness and still be comfortable. The Arc 6 is even better in that regard, but it’s significantly more expensive and still not widely available (should be released globally this month).

      Any Arc 5 works great with shaving cream, so you should just get the one that makes the most sense to you (considering the price, availability, the inclusion of a cleaning station, the LED display and so on).

      Sincerely,
      Ovidiu

      Reply
  16. Awesome, very in depth review. I am brand new a shaving with a cordless shaver and narrowed down to a Panasonic Arc 5 with cleaning station. I want the most current model available in the US. I just don’t know which one to buy. Then, I hear that the Arc 6 is coming out. Not sure when it will be available here in the US. Any thoughts, suggestions would be extermely helpful. Much appreciated!

    Reply
    • Hi Mike,

      Thank you for the comment, I really appreciate it. The Arc 6 will be released in the USA this month (there’s no exact date). There will be two variations available, with and without a cleaning station. I’ve actually compared the Arc 6 to Arc 5 in great detail here, I think you can find some useful bits of info there to help you with your decision.

      Sincerely,
      Ovidiu

      Reply
  17. Hi

    Hope you’re well.

    Is there any benefit to paying the extra money in buying the arc 5 with the cleaning kit station? Or can it be cleaned as good manually with the instructions you have provided in your helpful articles (e.g. soap and water)?

    Also, if I were to purchase the arc 5 with the cleaning kit station, can I still clean it manually the same way you advised in your helpful articles?

    Don’t want to pay extra for a cleaning kit station if not needed.

    Thanks in advance

    Reply
    • Hi Liyad,

      As a personal preference, I do not think the Arc 5 station is necessary. In my opinion getting a cheaper model with no cleaning station makes more sense. I never use the Panasonic stations I have as cleaning the shavers manually is very straightforward (you can of course still do it even if you buy a shaver that comes with a cleaning station).

      Sincerely,
      Ovidiu

      Reply
  18. For some reason, I am not finding my original inquiry and your reply. I asked a followup about how to replace a battery once it goes bad – according to the Panasonic ES-LV65, that iis about 3 years when charging every two weeks. Hope that does not mean the razor is also gone after 3 years! Thanks, Bill

    Reply
  19. How do I know when the blades need to be changed? Reason I ask is, I bought a used one on ebay years ago and still going strong. Still shaves good, it’s just that I have always wondered how some brandnew blades would feel because I doubt the one I got had absolute new blades on it considering I got it for only $70! – Note: I even use this for body shaving several times per week! Of course still not as close a shave as a 5 blade Gillette with good ole shaving cream, but the next thing to it! Best razor on the market imo! Japan manufacturing rules! – Including the made in Japan Fender Aerodyne Jazz bass I have! lol! – Oh and by the way thanks so much for letting us know any of the heads will work for any of the Arc 5’s!

    Reply
    • Hi Cristopher,

      If it’s still going strong and shaves good, I don’t think you need to buy new blades & foils. The first thing I notice with dull blades and worn-out foils is excessive heat — the foils get way too hot early into my shave. Also, it takes a lot of strokes for a close shave and even then the result is not quite as good as in the case of new blades.

      How would new foils and blades shave? Pretty amazing 🙂 But as I said above, you don’t need to do it right away. I would however lubricate the blades a couple of times a week (using clipper oil or a spray lubricant like the Andis CoolCare Plus or Remington Shaver Saver). Particularly the sprays tend to make a big difference in the case of slightly dull blades that still cut decently.

      By the way, Japanese luthiers really are phenomenal.

      Sincerely,
      Ovidiu

      Reply
  20. Sorry one more question when ya have the time. – I have been using a small an old toothbrush to clean the head and razors with. My question is do the brush bristles dull the blades? Is there any certain direction I should be moving the brush while cleaning? Thanks so much! This article was an awesome and very helpful read!

    Reply
    • Thank you, glad you found it useful.

      Definitely be careful when using a brush to clean the shaver (I personally recommend warm tap water and optionally some liquid soap). You must never brush the blades longitudinally, but rather with the direction of the blades (hope this makes sense). Also, never use any brush directly over the foils as they will get damaged.

      Sincerely,
      Ovidiu

      Reply
  21. Hi Ovidiu – fabulous read and lots of food for though. I purchased an ES-LV9Q 18 months ago in the UK. I’ve been delighted with the build quality and shave. Today after cleaning the head and whilst fumbling to reattach the outer foil case (I have Parkinson’s) a tiny lug on one side, securing the case sheared off! Is it possible to get a replacement outer foil case or do I need to buy a whole new unit? Geographically I live in Malaysia but I can shop globally… Thank you in advance

    Reply
    • Hi Robert,

      Thank you for the kind words, much appreciated.

      I’m not exactly sure I understand correctly — the tiny part that came off was from the foil head/frame (the one you detach to clean it) or from the rest of the shaver? Can you snap a picture and email it to me (contact@shavercheck.com)?

      Sincerely,
      Ovidiu

      Reply
  22. I want to thank you for such a wonderful and fully comprehensive analysis. I have been shaving for about 64 years and have seen the evolution of electric shavers from my dad’s old Remingtons – he had to use to two to get a reasonable shave, to the first generation Norelcos and now the Arc 5. The men in the family have extraordinary difficult beards to shave. In my younger years the 5 o’clock shadow would appear about lunch hour (now a gray shadow). My current shaver of choice is my Arc 5 ES LV65. I find ARC 5 better than the Braun Series 7, ( I currently also have several Norelco rotary shavers as well – a bit easier on the face but not as close a shave). I have replaced the foil and blades on the Arc 5 ES LV65 and because the trimer has broken, I am contemplating replacing it in kind, but was most interested to learn of the cross-compatibility with rev. G&H foil and blades (ES -9040).
    I have not, however, been able to find ES-9040 on line- is it available in the states; is it significantly more expensive and in your opinion is it worth the upgrade?
    Thank you again.

    Reply
    • Hi Jack,

      Many thanks for the kind words and for taking the time to share your experience with electric shavers — I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

      If you can’t easily source the ES9040 set or it costs a lot, you can definitely try the older variations (pre-revision G) that also have the pair of rollers. You can rest assured that you won’t be missing out on much. I find the previous foils (like the ES9036 or even the ES9034) to be extremely similar with regards to closeness and comfort. The ES9040 is a bit more effective on flat hairs, but if you shave often that won’t matter at all. The ES9040 is difficult to get in the USA and Europe because the revisions G and H Arc 5 have not been officially released outside Japan.

      The main benefit of the newer foils (ES9034 and up) compared to the first generation (like the one on your ES-LV65) is the comfort. I find the closeness to be exactly the same, so if your ES-LV65 is reasonably comfortable, I don’t think it’s worth spending a lot more money on the newer foils.

      Sincerely,
      Ovidiu

      Reply
  23. Dear Nicolae,
    Thank you for the thorough analysis and descriptions you have provided for the Arc 5 shaver and its various models.

    I own an old Arc 5 LV81 which is still working and in good condition. One of the outer foils got damaged the other day, and having read your above article, it seems I can replace it with the latest one, i.e. the one with the rollers? If yes, do I have to replace the cutting blades as well?

    Reply
    • Hi,

      Thank you, much appreciated.

      That is correct, the new foil models with the rollers will fit. It’s generally a good idea to replace the blades as well because they’re probably blunt and you won’t get the best out of the new foil.

      Sincerely,
      Ovidiu

      Reply
  24. One more comment please, I noticed that it is extremely difficult to get hold of the detergent of Panasonic shaver cleaner, and if available it is something like 25 dollars each (from Japan only).
    Do you have any knowledge of this please?

    Reply
    • Depending on where you live, sourcng the detergent can be really expensive. One workaround would be to try a third-party cleaning product. The only one I know of is from Shaver Shebang. I’ve only used them with Braun cleaning stations, but should work fine with Panasonic as well.

      Sincerely,
      Ovidiu

      Reply
  25. Dear Nicolae,
    Thank you for your prompt answers on my above questions.
    Another question please, subjective though, between the LV97K and LV9Q which one would you choose?
    I am considering one of them, but I am concerned by the “very” flexible head of the LV9Q reliability over the LV97K. Performance wise you already stated they are identical (more or less). Plus the 3 years only battery life, and cost difference (the LV9Q is 50% more expensive than the LV97K, where I am).
    This battery thing is a bit strange to me, I normally keep all my electric shavers close to 10 years, and their battery has so far worked well.
    Any opinion on this please?

    Reply
  26. brilliant source of information regarding electric shavers, thank you for all your time and effort – BUT – I am struggling to find any information about the panasonic ES-LV6U? i’m based in England and can source one through amazon but simply cannot find any info other than what panasonic have on their own website

    any thoughts or pointers?

    Reply
    • Hi Sebastien,

      Many thanks for the comment, glad you found the site useful.

      The ES-LV6U (and also the ES-LV9U) are actually region-specific Panasonic Arc 5 generation 3 revision G, so everything I said in the post above about the Japanese revision G applies to the ES-LV6U and ES-LV9U as well — these were recently released in Europe, Australia etc. You can also check out my in-depth review for more details.

      Sincerely,
      Ovidiu

      Reply
      • thanks for the time taken with the comprehensive reply, i’m looking at buying this particular arc 5 – I recently returned a braun 9 pro (under the braun 100 day guarantee) as I simply could not get on with it, I found the performance underwhelming, particularly when it came to cutting “longer” hairs on my neck despite several passes in different directions, and the battery life was nowhere near as advertised. A shame really, as I liked the braun in all other respects. It seems as i’m getting older (51) my skin is getting more sensitive so it’s a toss-up between the panasonic I asked you about (with the comfort rollers) and the new philips 9000

        I’ll try to report back with my findings

        Reply
        • Hi Sebastien,

          No problem, glad if the info was useful in any way. The S9 Pro is usually pretty good, in fact it’s among the best on longer hairs and the battery life is also solid (better than the Arc 5 in that regard). So it’s a bit surprising, maybe you got a defective unit? The Arc 5 feels more powerful and I would rate it higher for closeness and also when shaving coarse and short beards, but I think the S9/S9 Pro is superior with longer, flat-lying hairs.

          I am usually more restrained at recommending rotary shavers unless I know they work well for someone from previous experience. The new S9000 with the angular heads is also more cumbersome to use in my opinion than the older iteration with the more conventional (rounds) heads.

          Sincerely,
          Ovidiu

          Reply
  27. Hi Ovidiu,
    I have just bought a ES LV6Q and used it for two days. I used it wet with Gillette shaving gel. Is it normal that the razor does not really cut? It is true I have a very difficult beard, but I always had to use the manual blade after to finish my shave…
    Is it because the skin has to become acquainted with being cut from an electric razor and so I should persevere? Or is there something I am failing?
    Thanks

    Reply
    • Hi Sandro,

      It is certainly not normal, but I think things will drastically improve. In my opinion the underwhelming results don’t have a lot to do with the skin getting used to the new method of shaving (that part is mainly in the form of irritation, razor burn etc), but more with you getting to know the shaver and how to get the most out of it. Normally you should be getting a smooth shave without much effort.

      It would be difficult for me to say what went wrong and how to improve your shave just from the comment above, but getting the basics right is usually a good place to start. First of all, I’d recommend trying the shaver dry — despite the fact that the Arc 5 and a quality shaving cream is a fantastic duo. But I think it’s easier to shave dry until you tweak your technique and find out what works best.

      Secondly, try shorter, steady, controlled strokes (alternate the speed of your stroke as well to see what works better in certain areas). Always go against the direction of hair growth and keep the shaving head flat on the skin (adjust the angle relative to the skin when shaving below the jawline for example). Later on you should definitely try shaving with your favorite products.

      As a side note, if you used the Gillette canned gel (the one that morphs into a thick, fluffy lather), I’d say that one is not ideal for shaving wet with an electric razor and can actually make things more difficult. I go into more details about that here if you want to check it out.

      Hope this helps.

      Sincerely,
      Ovidiu

      Reply
  28. This is brilliant, thanks for this.
    I am living in China and spend the last 2 days trying to work out all the differences between the different models after my philips unexpectedly died. Well, not too unexpected as I’ve had 3 of them die on me over the years and all after being left on the charger for too long. Anyway, thanks to your work I settled on the LV 9EX which is about $240 on taobao (china’s ebay) so hopefully I don’t get a lemon.
    Cheers

    Reply
    • Hi Simon,

      Thank you for the comment, glad you found the info useful. I’m afraid I do not have any experience buying from that site. But if it’s anything like eBay, then buying from a reputable vendor with positive user feedback should be fine. Hope you’ll enjoy shaving with your new Arc 5, normally it should be a significant upgrade from an old rotary.

      Sincerely,
      Ovidiu

      Reply
  29. Hi Ovidiu,

    Thanks much (again) for your inciteful reviews and info.
    Question.. What is the difference between the Panasonic ES-CLV9E-S and the ES-LV9EX?? I see the CLV available on Amazon, but it did not see it described in your article above. I am again out to purchase and I am considering the ES-CLV9E-S (Revision E model) in lieu of the newer ES-LV9V-S (Revision G) based on the info you provided. However I do not know what the “C” in the ES-CLV9E-S signifies.

    Thanks in advance for your help.

    Reply
    • Hi,

      Thank you for the comment, much appreciated.

      Usually the models that have a C in front of the LV part of the name are exactly the same with some minor differences like the color of the protective cap (grey vs silver). That’s really it. So in this case, you could very well consider the ES-CLV9E-S and ES-LV9E-S the same shaver. The CLV was not available when I initially posted the comparison, so it’s not mentioned there. But to summarize the differences between the ES-CLV9E-S and the ES-LV9EX (respectively):
      – plastic vs metal body
      – conventional travel lock vs smart lock
      – soft travel pouch vs hard leather case

      I also think it’s a better buy than the revision G which comes with some obvious cost-cutting changes that aren’t reflected in the final price.

      Sincerely,
      Ovidiu

      Reply
  30. Hi Ovidiu,
    I just replaced a broken Braun 9290cc with a Panasonic ES-LV65, chosen mostly based on your exhaustive articles. I’m very happy with it, your analysis seems spot on. Thank you for publishing all this detail! Knowing that I can upgrade later via the cassette is very helpful.

    Reply
  31. Hi, thanks once again for this blog. I dont know what to do and where to find the answers if you hadent started this 🙂

    I got the shaver ES-LV6Q. The foil is giving a less close shave today compared to 1 year ago. I guess the foil is starting to get bad. Do these foils have shorter lifespan compared to those of Braun?

    Reply
    • Hi,

      Thank you for the comment.

      I wouldn’t say Panasonic foils & blades have a shorter lifespan, but they are more susceptible to wear if not properly lubricated. The friction between the foils and blades is greater with Panasonic shavers. I would try a spray lubricant for electric shavers before getting a new set for your ES-LV6Q. If you can source it, the Remington Shaver Saver spray works great and you can get the most out of a foil that doesn’t cut as close anymore. The next best thing would be the Andis CoolCare Plus spray.

      Sincerely,
      Ovidiu

      Reply

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