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.
Table of Contents
- Panasonic Arc 5: 3 generations and multiple revisions
- Panasonic Arc 5 model comparison [2023 update]
- What are the differences that actually matter?
- Do some Arc 5 models shave better than others?
- Replacement foils compatibility. Upgrading your older Arc 5
- Bottom line: which Panasonic Arc 5 should you buy?
- Bonus tips: getting the most out of your Arc 5
- Final word
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.
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).
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-LV67, ES-LV67-A), ES-LV97-K (ES-LV97), ES-ALV6HR
The first update to the Arc 5 range happened in 2013 when Panasonic released the second 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:
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).
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
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).
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.
There is also a new red variation of the ES-LV67, oddly named the ES-ALV6HR. Apart from the color, the two are absolutely identical.
Further reading: You can check out my in-depth review of the ES-LV67-K/ES-LV97-K here.
3. Third Arc 5 generation
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 9 different revisions as of 2023.
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.
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).
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.
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, ES-CV70
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
The premium 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 shaving head now also features some impressive flexing capabilities, while the outer foil comes with a new cutting element called Power Quick Lift.
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
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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) aka Series 900
Popular models: ES-LV9U, ES-LV7U, ES-LV7G, ES-LV5U, ES-LV5G
Further reading: Panasonic Arc 5 revision G in-depth guide
Initially 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 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 Arc 5 revison G, 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.
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.
UPDATE: The revision G Arc 5 models were officially released outside of Japan in 2022.
These can be now bought in Europe, Australia, etc for a reasonable price and represent a good alternative to the generation 2 Arc 5. They are not however available in the USA or Canada.
Interestingly, Panasonic markets them under a different name. Instead of Arc 5 or Lamdash, this line is called Series 900. It is however identical to the Japanese series.
The two models from the revision G that are available globally under the Series 900 name are the ES-LV9U and ES-LV6U. The former includes a cleaning station, while the latter does not.
Both are wet/dry models and will only operate cordlessly.
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
The 2022 revision H was the first one that also introduced the term Pro in the name.
So the official name in Japan is the Lamdash 5 Pro.
While the PRO in this revision might suggest a significant update from the previous 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.
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 body option, 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.
9. Revision J / Arc 5 PRO (2023)
Popular models: ES-LV9W, ES-LV7W, ES-LV7J, ES-LV5W, ES-LV5J
Further reading: Panasonic Arc 5 Pro (revision J) in-depth guide
The latest Arc 5 iteration currently available is the 2023 Arc 5/Lamdash 5 Pro.
We’ll call it revision J for the same reason as before. If you’re wondering why the letter I was skipped by Panasonic, I honestly don’t know.
Just like the 2022 iteration, it’s a Japanese-exclusive release and will probably stay that way.
As for any real changes, improvements or new features compared to the previous revision H, there aren’t any.
Actually, there is one — the beard density sensor can now read the density of the beard 233 times a second, while previously could only manage 220.
That’s really it, everything else has remained unchanged from the revision H, including the foil and blades.
We do have new model names and the colors are now only limited to Silver and Black.
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 [2023 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 model||Cleaning station||LED display|
|ES-LV61-A [blue], wet/dry (cordless only)||No||5 levels battery indicator, elapsed time|
|ES-LV81-K [black], wet/dry (cordless only)||Yes (Vortex Hydra)||5 levels battery indicator, elapsed time|
Second Arc 5 generation comparison table
Third Arc 5 generation rev A comparison table
|Arc 5 model||Cleaning station||LED display|
|ES-LV9A-S [silver], ES-LV9N [silver], wet/dry (cordless only)||Yes||10 levels battery indicator, elapsed time|
|ES-LV6A-S [silver], ES-LV6N [silver], wet/dry (cordless only)||No||10 levels battery indicator, elapsed time|
Third Arc 5 generation rev B comparison table
|Arc 5 model||Cleaning station||LED display|
|ES-LV9B-S [silver], wet/dry (cordless only)||Yes||10 levels battery indicator, elapsed time|
|ES-LV6B-S [silver], wet/dry (cordless only)||No||10 levels battery indicator, elapsed time|
Third Arc 5 generation rev C comparison table
Third Arc 5 generation rev D comparison table
Third Arc 5 generation rev E comparison table
Third Arc 5 generation rev F comparison table
Third Arc 5 generation rev G comparison table
Third Arc 5 generation rev H (Arc 5 PRO) comparison table
Third Arc 5 generation rev J (Arc 5 PRO) comparison table
What are the differences that actually matter?
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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 revisions G, H and J, 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.
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).
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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).
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.
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), revision H (2022) and revision J (2023) which share the same foil.
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 four different foils of the third Arc 5 generation very similar performance-wise, with a slight advantage in the case of the revision G, H and J foil that does seem to be just a bit 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.
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, ES-LV6U 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.
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 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, ES-LV9Q or ES-LV9U).
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.
Finally, there’s the revision G or Series 900 which was officially released globally (not in the USA and Canada, unfortunately), so the prices in Europe for example quite reasonable for the ES-LV6U and ES-LV9U models.
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 J 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 and J 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.
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/revision||Foil 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, H and J)||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 2023.
Panasonic Arc 5 ES-LV65
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
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
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, we’re only left with the C through J revisions to pick from.
However, only the C and G (Series 900) revisions have been released globally, are easy to buy and somewhat reasonably priced.
As a result, I would consider a revision C model or the newer revision G, aka Series 900.
From the C revision, 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
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.
Also, as mentioned previously, the 2021 revision G Arc 5 is now available in specific countries for a rather reasonable price (but not in the USA, at least not officially) under the Series 900 name (ES-LV9U, ES-LV6U).
Panasonic Series 900 ES-LV6U
These are now viable options, especially if we consider the price and that they come with the latest foil.
I would strongly consider the ES-LV6U model (no cleaning station) if you can get a good deal on it.
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, H and J 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, H and J 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 signing 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 with 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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
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
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.
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.
The Panasonic Arc 5 performs phenomenally 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.
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.
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.
150 thoughts on “Panasonic Arc 5 Comparison Guide: Which One Should You Buy?”Leave a comment
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.)
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):
Hope this helps.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Thanks for your guide. You save me from the confusion during black friday sales. I got my ES-LV65 in USD99.9.
That’s awesome, Alan, glad you found the info useful. I hope you’ll enjoy shaving with your ES-LV65.
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.
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.
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!
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!
Just thanking you for your comprehensive reviews and updates.
This info is the best available – and you leave no stone unturned.
You are way too kind, glad you found the info useful.
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?
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.
Re: USB charging for Panasonic Arc razors. I bought this on Amazon and I can verify that it works to charge my Arc5 (ES-LV65).
Excellent, I will mention it as an alternative in the reviews. Many thanks.
I can confirm that this cable mates with, and charges my ES-LV67-K (the exact one shown in the above photos). While I was at it, I ordered this fitted case (link below) and it works very well. Now I can put the USB cable in the case for travel, and not have to worry about the bulky wall wart pressing on to the razor while the case is closed, and being significantly more convenient for charging from the USB charging devices I already own.
Thanks for the confirmation, MJ. I’ve ordered the cable as well, should arrive soon.
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).
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.
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!
Thanks for the comment. Can you tell me the exact model of the Arc 5 you’re planning to get?
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!
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.
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.
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.
Thanks a lot Ovidiu.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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?
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).
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!
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.
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
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).
Excellent and thorough details that help me a lot. Thanks a lot!
Thank you so much, Matt, glad you found the info useful.
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
I already replied to your original comment here.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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
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 (email@example.com)?
Thank you Ovidiu for your swift reply. The broken part is indeed off the foil head. I have emailed a photo.
You are very welcome — I emailed you back, hope you’ll be able to source the part.
WoW WoW WoW
I sourced the part. It was delivered to an address in Germany. It has just arrived in Malaysia. I cannot thank you enough
That’s awesome, Robert, glad you managed to get it.
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.
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.
Thanks so much for your helpful reply.
My pleasure, Jack, glad I could be of help.
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?
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.
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?
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.
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?
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?
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.
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
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Thank you for the comment — that’s awesome, glad you’re happy with your Arc 5.
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?
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.
Thanks Ovidiu. I will try it.
I have looked at the prices for the same replacement foil that was included in my shaver originally, and it is expensive. Im curious to see what the price is for the newer foils, but cant find the names of them, what keyword should I use to find em?
No problem. The part numbers for the newer foil & blades sets are ES9038 and ES9040. These come on the revisions rev E/F and G/H, respectively.
Thank you so much for this fantastic work! I guess this is the most comprehensive website worldwide on electric shavers in general, and Panasonic ones in particular. I found this highly valuable when looking for the first electric shaver for my son (for his 16th birthday). I have been using the ES-LV9Q for some years now, and I am very happy with it (much more than with Braun shavers before). Based on your information, I decided to purchase the newer model ES-LV9U which is no longer a Japan-only model, but actually available in Europe, as you also acknowledged in a post above. I got it here in Germany from amazon for 170 Euro only – probably a very good deal. It comes with an all-black automatic cleaning and charging station (which you described for the 2022 generation H update like ES-LV9V). Once one has a fixed place in the bathroom to put it and leave it there, I think these automatic cleaning stations are a very nice add-on that I do not want to miss, and I am confident my son is going to like that, too: it will remind young people of charging stations for computer mice and smartphones they are used to, and let the station do the cleaning is very convenient, too.
Thank you so much for the comment, I really appreciate it. That’s a fantastic deal you got for the ES-LV9U and I think Panasonic finally made the right call by making these models available outside of Japan. Happy birthday to your son, I think it’ll be a fantastic gift! 🙂
I am completely impressed by your knowledge on the matter, i am speechless.
I am a huge fan of Panasonic shavers, already my third one (with stations).
My last one lv97 is making a vibrating noise when using (always under the shower with foam) a few weeks after I changed the changed the foil and blades. It s like when the blade and cutter are old. Weird. If i put water (under the shower) in the head of the razor then the noise comes back to normal for a few seconds then .. back to this vibration noise.
Already cleaned with station and even lubricate with panasonic oil but no difference.
Something worn in the head ?
Or just bad luck with blades and cutters ? Very expensive here : 60€.
On amazon.de today there is some opportunity to buy the 97 for 135€ (/$) or the 9q for 185€ (/$).
What shall i do ?
Thank you so much for the kind words, I’m glad you found the site useful.
Regarding your problem, if the issue started right after replacing the foil and blades, it’s likely to be related. When the head is filled with water, the sound is muffled and the vibrations are reduced because the blades oscillate in some liquid, not freely.
To exclude a problem with the linkage inside the head, do you happen to have the old foil and blades? If so, try changing them again and see if the vibrating noise is gone. Defective (brand new) parts are rare, but not impossible. Also, make sure the foil is properly inserted into the frame and that the blades are securely mounted on those struts. You probably already did this, but just to make sure that’s not what causes the vibrations.
Really good deals on both the 97 and the 9Q, but it’s really up to you if you’re willing to spend more on an entire new shaver + station.
Many of the newest ARC 5 and the ARC 6’s are cordless. Without a cord how do I take these shavers on two week plus trips? It doesn’t seem the batteries will last for a shave a day for 14+ days. Is that true? Can these cordless shavers be used when traveling? I can’t imagine dragging along a charger/cleaning station or the amount of space needed to pack a cordless shaver charging station with the limited space in a suitcase. Am I missing something? Can these cordless shavers be used when traveling? I searched the site the best I could and could not find an answer.
Cordless means the shaver will not turn on when the cord is connected. All models come with a charger (cord). On a longer trip you would take the charger with you as it takes up little space. You do not have to bring along the cleaning station.
Are there any differences in the battery or operating times for these shavers as they get newer? I have a 10 year old LV-81 (which I love) but I am starting to see the operating time become less and less. Do you have any suggestions for that? Also, are the hard travel cases universal?
Thanks in advance!
The battery capacity has remained the same with every new Arc 5 iteration. So even the latest models only offer 40 to 45 minutes of cordless use, pretty much the same as your LV81. The battery performance does degrade in time though, so a new shaver with a new battery will last longer than a 10 year old shaver. The most economical option for you would be to replace the battery when it can’t really hold a charge anymore. While it’s officially non-replaceable, many users have successfully replaced the battery of their Arc5s. It’s a pretty straightforward operation but I highly recommend watching some video tutorials beforehand (you can find some on Youtube).
The battery for your model (and for a LOT of other Panasonic models) is the Panasonic WESLV9ZL2508. You should be able to source it easily, it’s quite a popular battery. Also, the waterproofing of your shaver may be compromised once you open it, so definitely keep that in mind if you used to clean the shaver with water. You can use some sealant paste, but I would still be mindful of that.
As for the hard case, it will fit most of the Arc 5 models, but I cannot say it will 100% fit yours since it’s an old model with a different shape of the head.
Question, is there supposed to be a cover for the charging port on the ES-LV97-K? I do not see one in the instructions or parts list, but wanted to make sure before I started using it and shocking things happen.
None of the Arc 5 models have a cover for the charging port, it’s always exposed.
Thank you for your complete review!
As to me, I have three 5 arc models: ES-LV65, ES-LV9B and ES-LV9Q.
I have to say that the second generation piece ES-LV65 shaves me better( cleaner), than the third generation shavers ES-LV9B and ES-LV9Q !
I guess that extra flexibility of the shavers head for the third generation shavers might be the reason for that.
It could be, of course, due to individual features of my small face or due to some specifics of my face hairs ( of which I do not know anything).
But the fact itself is surprising – it looks as if Panasonic while introducing newer features in their shavers for five years was working in vain, not for my benefit anyway. Interesting, is not it?
Many thanks for your comment, I really appreciate it.
One could definitely argue that the improvements to the Arc 5 family throughout the years have been rather incremental. The comfort of the newer iterations has been improved and the design and materials also got better. The closeness was already excellent and among the very best, so I personally am not that disappointed with the lack of progress there. I would have hoped for a better cutter for longer/flat hairs, but that never happened. Also, the way the 5 shaving elements flex is still pretty much useless and the highly flexible heads are impressive on the specs sheet, but not so much in practice.
Regarding the better shave you’re getting with the ES-LV65, I would actually blame the comfort rollers present on your other newer Arc5s. Some users feel like the two bars get in their way and cannot get the shaver to cut quite as close. That could be the case here as well and maybe exacerbated by your facial hair like you’ve said or even technique — it’s really difficult to pinpoint it.
Thanks again for taking the time to share your experience.
Ovidiu, thank you so much for the great review, he SUPER, it’s the best of all that is on the Internet!!!
I’ve always used Braun Series 3, 5, 7 seconds, decided to switch to Arc 5.
But it is possible that the second generation of Arc 5 is not fully described!!!
There are models ES-LV54, ES-LV 64 red, ES-LV 74, ES-LV76, ES-LV92, etc.)))
Thank you so much for the comment.
That is true, I did however decide not to include them in order to not overly complicate an already hefty guide. Those are Asian-specific models and some have been discontinued for years. But apart from the color and displays, they are the same as the ES-LV65 for all intents and purposes (same foil and blades, cleaning station and same shaving performance). I think I will only mention this in a future update just to keep it simple. Thanks again for the input, much appreciated.
I bought an Arc 5 LV65 largely off of your recommendation. I’ve used a few weeks now, most often wet with shave cream, and clean it after almost every use.
Today, it was very grabby, was painful to shave and reddened my skin greatly. Mostly on my neck, but also under and on my chin.
What might have caused that? I haven’t damaged it to my knowledge.
Could it have gone defective so quickly?
Thanks for any assistance
It’s very unlikely to have gone defective (with proper use), though not completely impossible. A faulty shaving head is immediately obvious from the first shave and with Panasonic these are extremely rare (quality control is a lot better compared to Braun cassettes for example). So unless it wasn’t induced (like damaging the foil during cleaning or someone dropping the shaver), I would consider other factors.
Here are a few things to check:
– make sure the foil frame is properly inserted
– check the inner blades to ensure they are inserted securely on the two struts
– the battery level should be above 20%; the shaver can slow down significantly and cause some pulling when the charge drops below 20%-15%
– lubricate the blades after every water + soap cleaning (when the shaving head is completely dry)
Also, have you made any changes to your shaving routine prior to this last shave? Like washing your face right before your shave, using a certain product or shaving a longer beard than usual.
I have been using a ES-LV95 shaver for over 10 years. It happens to be your top pick for most people which I find incredible after so many years.
The battery in my shaver is at the end of its life, and the foils and blades all need replacing. The shaver cannot work from the power cord. The fan in the cleaner has a build up of dust etc and I don’t know whether this can be serviced.
The decision I am faced with is should I spend $AUD150 to replace the battery and update the foils, or should I upgrade to a new Arc 5 ES-LV9Q-S841 currently on sale for $AUD449?
Be very grateful for your opinion.
Normally I am all in favor of saving money and holding on to your existing shaver if it’s still in good shape. But given its age (10 years is really impressive for current-generation shavers) and the potential problems with the station, battery and other issues that might break due to wear and tear, I think it makes sense to get a new shaver.
I would have normally suggested another ES-LV95 or ES-LV97 if you can get a great deal on them (should be significantly less than the discounted ES-LV9Q). If not, the ES-LV9Q is a really impressive Arc 5. It’s by far the most premium feeling shaver I’ve ever used (it easily tops the latest Arc 5 iterations and even the Arc 6 in that regard). You will definitely feel the upgrade whichever Arc 5 you end up buying, mainly because of the new and sharp blades and the power sustained by a new battery.
Thanks for the great advice and for your generosity with your time.
In the end I have gone with the ES-LV9Q as your comment on the luxury feel appealed to me (hoping for another 10 years use from the new shaver), as well as the fact I am using credit card points to make the purchase so the purchase doesn’t leave me out of pocket.
I did locate the ES-97 at another store for $AUD329 but just not at a preferred store.
My pleasure, Adrian, glad I could be of help. Hope you’ll enjoy shaving with your new LV9Q.
Do you have an opinion between the Arc5 in which one to buy? I have an arc 3 currently, but I see the 5s are on sale and thinking about getting one. I’m looking at either the eslv67k ($119) and the eslv65s ($104).
I personally would get the ES-LV65-K. The reasons are the same as I’ve mentioned in the post above, mainly the more feature-rich and useful display, the ability to turn off the shaving sensor, and in this case also the price. I personally like the travel lock better as well on the ES-LV65, it’s a physical rotating switch that’s really effective and intuitive as opposed to long pressing the power button on the ES-LV67-K with the razor switched on.
But the shaving performance will essentially be the same, I didn’t notice any differences with the ES-LV67-K despite always shaving in sensor mode. So if for some reason you want that one, maybe you like the way it looks more, it’s a perfectly fine alternative. But objectively, the ES-LV65-S seems like the better pick.
Thank you for your feedback. Sorry for the duplicate posting.
Is lv97 worth the extra $15 over the LV95? I see they’re both on sale at the moment. Just wondering if there are any advantages to justify the additional expense. Thank you.
I finally got my hand on the Panasonic ES-LV97 for Christmas.
I was using the 9000 series Braun with the Series 7 cassette coming 5+ years with a straight razor in between as I don’t justice the cost of Gillette product range or buy into the monthly razor head (Harry) for a low (not so low) price.
let’s focus on the new beauty in my life.
I notice from the get-go how smooth my first shave was and how light to hold compared to my Braun.
My beard had 3 days (2-4mm) of growth, probably the max I would be comfortable with.
The test comes with the moustache as it grows quicker and thicker, the LV97 destroyed it and left nothing but smoothness behind.
I would like to say that I’ve been reading reviews from this site for a few years and I would not have chosen this without all of the information you have provided.
I want to say a huge thank you for all the effort.
thank you so much for the kind comment, I really appreciate it.
The ES-LV97 and the Arc 5 line in general are fantastic shavers that will outperform a lot of the more expensive models from the competition. They’re particularly better for shaving dense and coarse hair close to the skin. I’m also blessed with extremely thick and dense hairs in the moustache area and I can only get a perfectly smooth shave (with no trace of that greyish 5 o’clock shadow) with an Arc 5 or Arc 6. I’m glad you enjoy yours and thank you again for taking the time to share your experience.
Phenomenally comprehensive review. I used to be a Braun user but have been a Panasonic shaver user for over 12 years and have been very happy. Just in the last few days I got a new LV-65 to replace an old LV-95. I have always liked the cleaning station and use it weekly as I have a nice shelf and shaver socket in the bathroom for it to sit on.
I was fully aware that the LV-65 does not come with a new cleaning station but took for granted I could still use it with the OLD cleaning station as the shaver design between the 95 & 65 are identical….but this is not the case as there are no metal contacts on the 65, just rubber nodules! I guess I will have to learn cleaning it manually! I know the newer 67 & 97 have slightly newer designs and cleaning stations so did not go for those models. So now I have a perfectly good cleaning station that I can’t use with my new 65 model. Disappointing.
Keep up the good work.
Thank you for your kind comment, much appreciated. That is true, unfortunately, you won’t be able to use any Panasonic shaver with a station if it didn’t come with one. Unlike Braun, Panasonic replaces the metal contacts with rubber blanks on those models. On the bright side, the ES-LV65 is very easy to clean manually.
Fantastic information in this article!
After my original 2 blade Panasonic wet dry died, I bought an Arc 4 – and didn’t notice much difference between the new arc 4 and the old 2 blade model, except that the battery lasted longer on the old razor.
When the Arc 4 needed new foil and blades again this last December, I saw that the difference in price between foil and blades for the Arc 4 and a new Arc 5 LV65 s was only $10. Based on your review, and your info that the blades and foils from all the arc 5 razors were interchangable, I bought the Arc 5. It is the best electric shave I have ever experienced!!
I do have an esoteric question on the inner blades. Way back with my first 2 blade Panasonic, early web sites recommended that each time the razor was cleaned, the 2 inner blades should be either switched front to back, or rotated 180 degrees to evenly distribute wear. This always sounded a bit extreme, but I wonder if yiu have any experience with that practice?
Thank you again for a fantasticly researched article.
Thank you so much for the comment, I really appreciate it. Looks like the ES-LV65 is a winner and you got it for a great price as well.
As for interchanging the inner blades, in my opinion no, it’s not worth doing. I could even argue that it might have the opposite effect as it’s the case with rotary blades and guards. Another reader of the website asked the very same question a while back and I go into more detail in this comment if you want to check it out.
Thank you for the Info. Instead of playing with the blade positions, I ordered the newest 9040 blades for my new lv65 just to see if they make a difference. As you noted, they are somewhat more comfortable than the blades and foil that came with the 65, but I am not really sure that they shave any closer. The LV 65 does a fantastic job (with either the stock or 9040 blades), except around the point of my jaw line near my ear lobes. I actually took my old arc 4 lv51 with the worn blades and shaved in that area after several passes with the lv65, and was surprised that the 51 trimmed it down just a bit more. The lv65/9040 blades made it very smooth – enough to get through a full day, but the 51 just added a little something extra at that spot. But that was the only spot on my face that the 51 offered any advantage, and it was so minor it wouldn’t normally be worth the effort. Even when new, the arc 4 never gave me as close and comfortable a shave as the lv65 on the rest of my face.
Thanks so much for the follow-up, John. My experience has been really similar, the newer foils do not shave closer than the old ones. There are some benefits in terms of comfort (that aspect is quite obvious in my case) and maybe with how they catch difficult hairs, but that’s a rather small improvement.
Regarding the LF51, that was a fantastic 4-blade Panasonic. It shaved just as close as the Arc 5 but had a smaller and more manageable head. I still have one, but the foils now get extremely hot, to the point that it can cause some injury to my skin, so I don’t use it anymore. It’s a real shame Panasonic decided to discontinue that model, it was by far the closest shaving mid-range electric razor out there.
What you recommended ?
Panasonic ES-LV9C or Brauns Series 9 9415S?
I shaving 1-2 twice a week and I like/need good trymer also.
The price is the same.
For shaving once or twice a week I’d say the Braun would be more effective if your facial hair tends to stay flat on the skin. I personally find the trimmer on the Panasonic a lot better, but both trimmers will work fine for some quick grooming and touchups. I wouldn’t use it to trim an entire beard, especially not the Braun trimmer.
Hi Ovidiu, you’ve done such a great work of research and review, congrats!
I have a Panny ES-LV65-S811. I changed blades a couple of times and it is still great but the battery is now spoiled and doesn’t last long after recharging. So I’m thinking to buy a new one: would a LV9-FX be an upgrade, also the cleaning station is worth buying? What do you suggest?
Thank you so much for the comment.
It would be an upgrade in a few ways — better build quality, quieter, decent battery, more comfortable and enjoyable to use. Most of these upgrades are actually the result of the shaver being brand new, not necessarily better performance-wise. All Arc 5 models are very similar in the way they perform. For me the station is not necessary, I always clean my Arc5s manually. But it’s a very nice station nevertheless, objectively better than Braun and Philips stations. If you can get a great deal on the LV9-FX, it’s a really impressive shaver.
Hello, and thank you for all the detail which greatly helped me select the razor last year.
Can you help me find the best replacement foil and blades for my Panasonic ES-LV9FX-S
I think the replacement is the ES9038 unless I have this wrong or if there is a better one. Price is not an issue.
As always thank you,
Thank you so much for the comment, glad the info was helpful.
The best Arc 5 foil + blades combo is currently the ES9040 that comes standard on the revisions G and H. It will fit your shaver perfectly. It’s not exactly cheap and the older ones are pretty close performance-wise, but objectively, this is the current best set.
Sorry to bother you, but this eBay seller from Japan wrote me this back:
New message from: shop_tokyo123 (1,137)
Thank you for your inquiry.
Unfortunately, it is not adapted to ES-LV9FX-S.
Sounds like they don’t know the product they are selling. Would you agree you have it right and they have it wrong?
I would agree. Officially, Panasonic only list as compatible the foils/blades that originally came with a specific model. But others will also fit, I’ve tried this myself and many readers of this website. Just make sure that you’re asking for the ES9040 foil and blades set, not the foil frame for example which can be different. Maybe the vendor misunderstood your inquiry and thought of the foil frame or maybe he just doesn’t know that the latest foils are backward-compatible. But the foil and blades will fit your shaver just fine, I’ve even tried them on my ES-LV65 which as a much older Arc 5 and they fit perfectly.
Appreciate the insight. When you say frame, do you mean I need to have only the blades and that black insert with the foil and not the crome frame.
I think what I’m trying to say is I want to keep my frame and buy the black piece with the foil that clips into my existing silver frame or do I want a totally new frame head as well?
Sorry my my confusion as I am not the sharpest tool in the shed haha!
That is absolutely correct, Tom. You would keep the existing chrome frame and only buy the foils (by foils I mean the black piece with the foil that clips into the silver frame).
As always, thank you so much, Ovidiu for all your wisdom and time helping all of us.
PS, do you think there comes a time when a new razor say for $275 is better than paying the $87 for blades lol.
My pleasure Tom, glad I could be of help.
That time can definitely come. I’m a bit more conservative at recommending users new/pricy shavers if there are more economical workarounds. That said, it makes sense to get a new razor if there are some other issues with your current one and simply buying a new head just won’t be enough. Maybe the trimmer broke, the battery is on its last leg or there’s serious rattling/vibrations from the inside and so on. Or maybe you’re just not happy with it overall and a new shaving head won’t fix the core issue. If it’s any of that, you could consider buying that new shaver.
Would you know off hand about how long the ES-LV9FX-S battery’s life expectancy is with daily use?
No problem, Tom. Since this is a newer and not easy-to-get Arc 5, I don’t have much info on that. But Panasonic tends to use the same batteries throughout the different Arc 5 generations, so normally you should expect more than 3 years. There are users who even got close to 10 years with the older models, but that’s of course not the norm. There are also some unfortunate cases when a battery lasts less than the claimed 3 years, but that’s not specific to Panasonic or electric shavers for that matter.
Wow. What am amazing review! Thank you thank you!
You are very kind, Alan, thanks so much for the comment. Glad you found the article useful.
Excellent review! I am trying to decide what generation/model to buy and I am stuck on one point. Of the most recent Arc5 models, which ones have a US Warranty? I have read that if the non-US models are purchased in the US that Panasonic will not honor the warranty, so that impacts the price/value analysis for me.
Thank you for the comment, I appreciate it.
I think only the Arc 5 models that were officially released in the USA have a so-called US warranty. So the newest ones would be the ES-LV67 and ES-LV97 which aren’t really new anymore. There are some revision C models available in the USA and even newer E or F, but those are sold by third-party importers and I’m not sure the US warranty will cover them. You can try and ask Panasonic customer support in the USA, but personally, I’m a bit skeptical about the warranty.
Thank you so much Ovidiu for such a comprehensive and informative article! I had been wet shaving with a double edged razor for years, but I want to start shaving daily and the irritation even with the best gear is just too much. So I’ve bought a ES-LV6Q which was actually a little bit cheaper than the best priced ES-LV67 (the ES-LV6Q was originally cheaper but then Amazon jacked up the price before I could buy it).
I’m really looking forward to trying it as a wet shaver and being able to have a smooth, comfortable face every day!
Thanks so much, glad you found the post useful. Price is in my opinion one of the decisive factors when buying an Arc 5 and I think you made the right choice by getting the cheaper one. Hope you’ll enjoy shaving with it.
What an impressive review. I actually read the whole thing. I looooove the Arc5, and with the advice in your article, it’s time for a foil upgrade. Reading this article reassured me that the Arc 5 is excellent and that I will not be switching brands. Please keep creating amazing articles like this. To say the least, your work is impressive and thorough! I’m also going to subscribe to your newsletters.
Thank you so much for the support, Dave, I really appreciate it. Enjoy shaving with your (soon to be) upgraded Arc 5.
Thanks for all your great reviews and comparisons.
My old Panasonic shaver just won’t hold a charge any more. I am trying to decide between the ES-LV95 and the ES-LV97. One thing I think I have found is that the LV95 comes with a cleaning station model no RC9-15 but the LV97 (and later models) come with an RC9-22. Do you know whether that is right and whether there is any difference between the cleaning station models?
Thank you for your comment.
That is correct, the shavers do come with different stations, ie the part numbers are different. But from a functional point of view, the stations are the same. The one included with the ES-LV97 is slightly revised in the sense that the opening is larger to accommodate the different shape of the ES-LV97 head and handle. If you place the ES-LV97 shaver in the RC9-15, the contact pins on the back of the handle won’t be able to touch the three contact plates on the station because there’s not enough room in the cleaning bay for the shaver to tilt back as much as needed.
But I don’t think there are any other differences between the two stations.
Can I ask that model numbers ES-CLV9U-S (https://www.biccamera.com/bc/item/9214416/) and ES-CLV5U-A (https://www.biccamera.com/bc/item/9214420/)?
Is in which revision? Should I buy these instead of a newer model?
Thank you so much
Both of them are in the revision G, aka SERIES 900 (released in 2021), so the second to last. The only newer model is the revision H, but is basically identical to the G. So you can safely buy on of the models you linked.
Thank you for your continued support! I was wondering: how big of a deal is it that ES-LV67-K ($102 right now) cannot turn off the beard sensor compared to ES-LV65-S ($154 right now). The difference in price would allow me to buy an extra ES-9036 blade set (with gold comfort rollers). Does the always-on sensor reduce shaving effectiveness/speed or produce annoying variations in pitch/sound? I do care about a very quick shave. I am okay with the less informative display on ES-LV67-K and actually prefer the design. But I don’t want to buy an inferior shaver if the sensor (or less 3D head movements?) present issues such as slowness, noise, etc. Thank you!
I think in this case you can (and should) get the ES-LV67. The sensor thing is just a minor advantage of the ES-LV65 that allows the user more granular control. But I would only factor that in if for example the price of the shavers is the same. In this case the ES-LV67 is definitely a better deal. The shaving performance is overall identical with or without the sensor (it almost always runs at full power on the ES-LV67 as well). Add to that the fact that you prefer the ES-LV67 design and the choice is clear.
Thank you! I did not move fast enough. The price is now the same . Apparently it was a deal only for a few hours…
But many thanks for your great advice!
So sorry I didn’t manage to reply faster. If you can still use your old shaver for a while, maybe wait a bit more as there are often great deals, possibly during Easter as well.
Not at all. That’s 100% on me! Thank you for your kind reply. At this point, I could also just get an ARC 3 ES-LT67-A for $86! I wonder how much faster a shave ARC 5 would give in comparison given that I shave daily most of the time…
An Arc 5 will be better if your beard is also coarse and dense. It’ll simply feel like a more refined, faster and more powerful shaver with plenty of headroom.
The Arc 3 will get the job done as well, it just won’t be that enjoyable. I personally preferred the discontinued Arc 3 ES8103S over the ES-LT67-A because it was cheaper, more compact and had a smaller foil frame, making it a lot more nimble. Since that one can’t be bought anymore, the Arc 3 ES-LL41-K or ES-LL21-K would be my picks for roughly the same reasons, although the prices have gone up as well and now cost about the same as the ES-LT67-A.
If you can wait a bit more maybe you can get a great deal on an Arc 5.
Just an update on the ES9040 foil & blade set. Two years ago I had to purchase from Japan at a cost of $91.45. I was able to find it today on eBay for $66.98 in the US.
Thank you for all of your hard work and advice!
Thank you for the follow-up, Jack. Glad you managed to buy it at a reasonable price.
I have just got an arc5 today LV6q, and when I picked it up from the store the guy said excellent choice. I have always been a Phillips man but got this from this review, all I can say is wow what a shaver, leaves the Phillips for dead.
Thanks so much for the feedback, Nigel, glad you’re enjoying your Arc 5. Your experience is actually similar to other users who never used anything except Philips rotary shavers. And except for the (few) cases when a rotary works better, the switch to a powerful and capable foil shaver like the Arc 5 is usually spectacular. Enjoy shaving with your LV6Q.