Panasonic Arc 5 Revision F (2020 Models): All You Need To Know

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Panasonic Arc 5 Revision F (2020 Models): All You Need To Know

The Arc 5, Panasonic’s premium line of electric shavers for men, is currently at its third generation, having undergone multiple revisions during the past few years.

Continuing that trend, Panasonic recently announced yet another iteration of the Arc 5 range, precisely the F revision.

These new shavers will be available in Japan starting in October 2020.

Unsurprisingly, this release only added to the confusion caused by the previous iterations, particularly the revision D and revision E that were also limited to the Japanese domestic market.

The only available information is on Panasonic.jp, so trying to make sense of the features, performance and differences between these 2020 Arc 5 F models and the older ones is difficult, to say the least.

In this article, I will try to present all these aspects in an easy to grasp manner, focusing on the parts that really matter.

So without further ado, let’s get right to it.

An overview of the Arc 5 (LAMDASH) Revision F (2020)

Being the very latest update in Panasonic’s range-topping series, a new Arc 5 will always spark a lot of interest among potential buyers.

Newer shavers should normally come with improvements over the previous generations, so wanting to know more makes perfect sense.

Looking back at the previous revisions, we can easily conclude that most of the updates were incremental and didn’t really have an impact on the actual shaving performance.

Apart from the revision C, which was by far the most significant one, with a new design and features, the rest of them consisted of minor changes.

Let’s see how these things are with the latest F revision.

5 blade shaving head

As expected, the Arc 5 still rocks a massive shaving unit comprised of 5 individual cutting elements.

The shaving unit of the Panasonic Arc 5.

Just like all the previous ones, we also have the two comfort rollers that despite my initial skepticism, really do help and make the shaving experience more pleasant compared to the older Arc 5 models that didn’t have them.

The F revision models come with the exact same outer foil and inner blades as the E revision, which immediately suggests extremely similar (if not identical) performance.

Precisely, we have the following part numbers:

  • Outer foil: ES9179
  • Inner blades: WES9170 (WES9170P)
  • Outer foil & inner blades set: ES9038

This is not surprising at all and we’ve seen it before; moreover, all these newer foils and blades are backward compatible with the older Arc 5 generations (like the ES-LV65-S/ES-LV95-S).

But getting back to the outer foil of the F (and E) revision, it is the latest and features an improved slit trimmer that’s supposedly better at catching flat-lying hairs, definitely the Achilles’ heel of all Panasonic shavers.

The new, updated slit blade.

According to Panasonic, it is 10% more efficient compared to the one on the revision D outer foil.

In my opinion that improvement will not have a massive impact, but I will have to test one myself.

14 000 CPM motor

No changes here either, so the 2020 Arc 5 comes with the same snappy 14 000 CPM (cycles per minute) linear drive motor.

The new Arc 5 F models are fitted with the same 14 000 CPM motor as the previous generation.

While it has shrunk in size throughout the years (currently at its 8th generation), the specs have remained unchanged and it’s still the fastest you’ll find on any electric shaver.

It’s a great unit, smooth, powerful and reliable.

The 8th generation of the Arc 5 motor.

Also, because it is located in the shaving head itself, there’s no need for a complex linkage between it and the blades, so there’s no power being wasted and fewer things to go wrong.

Fun fact: there is a Xiaomi electric shaver called Mijia 5 that claims to have a 15 000 CPM motor. I haven’t used one yet, so I cannot comment on its performance.

5D active suspension

The head unit of the Arc 5 is probably the most complex of any foil shaver out there.

Arc5 5D active suspension.

Precisely, the flexing mechanism allows the whole head to move in 5 different planes: front to back, left to right, up and down, slide forward/backward and twist as well.

Impressive? Definitely. Overkill? Probably.

I was personally never a fan of it since in my experience a basic up and down movement, backed by a great range of motion works better in practice.

I just don’t find this 5D system that much useful and it can even get a bit annoying since the head is massive and feels a bit wobbly.

According to Panasonic, this technology should help put less strain on the skin and keep the foils in contact with the area that’s being shaved.

The same 5D active suspension system was also present on the C, D and E revisions, so no changes here either.

AI beard density sensor

Just like the previous Arc 5 revision E, the 2020 Arc 5 F also comes with the so-called AI Beard density sensor that reads the stubble density and adjusts the power accordingly (up to 220 times per second).

The new Arc 5 F is fitted with an AI beard density sensor.

This should make the shaver more efficient and more comfortable when shaving areas with light hair.

I’ve used many shavers with similar technologies and again, the improvements seem to be small if any at all.

That pretty much sums up the main features of the 2020 Panasonic Arc 5 revision F.

As you can tell, the changes from the outgoing revision E are pretty much non-existent: same shaving unit, same foil & blades, same motor.

Let’s now check out the individual models and their differences as there are quite a few interesting details you should be aware of.

Panasonic Arc 5 revision F model comparison

Here’s a table with all the new 2020 Arc 5 Lamdash models and the main differences between them.

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

All Panasonic Arc 5 revision F models are fully waterproof and can be rinsed with water.

However, most of them (the ones marketed as washable) are officially suitable for dry only use, so you won’t be able to shave in the shower for example.

The reason is related to safety since all these washable models will also work while plugged in.

There are only two models explicitly presented as wet/dry models that will only work cordless, namely the T variations: ES-LV7T and ES-LV5T.

The first one also comes with an automatic cleaning and charging station. Both of them will only operate cordlessly and are suitable for wet shaving.

The performance is absolutely identical among all the models, so the differences mainly consist of color, accessories (cleaning station) and several (not crucial) features.

The ES-LV9FX features a full-metal body.

For example, only the flagship ES-LV9FX has a metal body, the rest of them featuring a standard plastic build.

From previous experience, I know that it is however a high-quality plastic and it looks and feels premium as well.

Also, only the ES-LV9FX and ES-LV9F have a 10-level battery level indicator and the display will also show the duration of the shave.

The rest of the models only come with either a 5 or 3-level battery indicator and will not show the duration of the shave.

Also, the so-called smart lock feature is only limited to the top ES-LV9FX and ES-LV9F models.

Basically, the travel lock system is active at all times and automatically unlocks the shaver when you hold it in your hand.

The other ones come with the standard travel lock (activated by pressing and holding the power button when the shaver is running).

In my opinion the only differences that really matter are related to the inclusion of the cleaning station and the ability to use the shaver while it is plugged in.

But regarding the latter aspect, there’s a rather odd limitation.

Take a look at the screenshot below taken from a Panasonic user instruction manual.

Using a corded/cordless Panasonic shaver.

That basically means you won’t be able to use a dry only/washable Arc 5 with the cord plugged in if the battery is completely worn out.

And that totally renders this feature useless. The whole point of having a cordless/corded shaver is to be able to keep using it even when the battery can’t hold a charge anymore.

At least that’s how the rest of these cordless/cored shavers work.

So there’s really no reason to go after a cordless/corded Arc 5 model in this case.

Also, there is now a 3-minute quick charge function (an improvement from the previous 5 minute).

Availability and price

While there’s no official information yet, the revision F shavers will probably only be available in Japan and they will cost a lot.

That was the case with the previous D and E models, while the C revision was eventually released in Europe and other regions as well (but not in the USA).

So Panasonic continues this trend of not making the latest top of the line shavers available outside of Japan.

If you’re planning on getting one, your only option would be to buy it from a Japanese vendor that is willing to ship overseas.

That obviously means spending even more money with shipping and customs fees.

If you do manage to grab one, it will work anywhere in the world thanks to the automatic voltage switch (100 to 240v). You may however need a basic plug adapter.

Are they worth the trouble?

Well, that really depends.

In my opinion, if you already own a revision C Arc 5 (and up), the upgrade to an F model is really not worth it.

The shaving performance is basically the same and apart from a few minor changes, you’re not really getting anything significantly better.

If you’re planning on getting your first Arc 5 and your budget allows it, then you can go ahead and buy one. It’s definitely a great shaver that will satisfy pretty much anyone.

As for the owners of older Arc 5 models like the ES-LV65-S or ES-LV95-S, if your shaver is still in good condition, remember that you also can upgrade it to the latest foil and blades used by the revisions F and E.

Panasonic Arc 5 Replacement Foil and Blades.

The old and new Arc 5 outer foil.

I wrote a detailed guide on that topic here.

Since the motor has the same specs and most of the changes are related to design and some fancy features (like the smart lock function, AI density sensor and so on), older Arc 5 models that are widely available still make a lot of sense, especially since the price is lower.

Which leads us to the next section.

Alternatives you can buy right now

In my opinion, the closest alternative (performance and design-wise) that is still relatively easy to get and reasonably priced is the revision C.

These models (like the ES-LV9Q and ES-LV6Q) are widely available, particularly in Europe, they now cost less money and are very similar to the latest 2020 revision F.

And while Panasonic didn’t officially release them in the USA, you can often get them on sites like Amazon.com as well.

I would definitely consider one of those instead of getting through hoops and paying a premium for a revision F model.

The only real novelty of the 2020 F revision is that AI beard density sensor which is supposedly improved and the revised outer foil.

However, as mentioned earlier, you can actually upgrade the foil to the latest one as it is backward compatible.

Finally, the older second-generation Arc 5 shavers like the ES-LV65-S offer great value for money and are still top performers.

Panasonic Arc 5 ES-LV65-S.

And yes, you’ll also be able to upgrade to any of the newer foils which are in my experience a bit more comfortable and glide really smoothly on the skin.

Other budget-friendly alternatives are the ES-LV67-K and ES-LV97-K, basically a generation 2 Arc 5 with a new design.

That pretty much sums up my initial impressions of the 2020 Panasonic Arc 5 revision F. I will be getting one for a detailed review once they become available.

If you have any questions, make sure to post them in the comments below.

Images credit: Panasonic.jp

10 comments on “Panasonic Arc 5 Revision F (2020 Models): All You Need To Know

Leave a comment
  1. Alex

    Hi, do you think £59.99 for the Panasonic ES-RF31 is a good price or is there anything better suited in that kind of price range. I’ve noticed the model numbers & prices vary significantly between retailers so it gets a bit confusing knowing what is higher or lower spec’d.

    I look to shave every other day, currently have an old Braun Series 3 380s-4 which is ok but struggles to shave with the same closeness on the jaw line and above the chin. Hair on my neck grows in different directions so can also be difficult to shave with my Series 3 without it looking patchy.

    Thank you

    Reply
    1. Ovidiu Nicolae Post author

      Hi Alex,

      I’d say that it’s a reasonable price for an Arc 4. There are better (Panasonic) shavers, but not in that price range.

      Sincerely,
      Ovidiu

      Reply
  2. Dave

    Thank you for the great information. I find your website to be the best resource for electric shaving on the internet.

    I have a couple questions and I’d appreciate your insight.

    I currently use a rotary shaver, the Norelco Prestige. I am quite happy with this shaver but have been considering the Panasonic Arc 5 as well (I love gadgets and the Arc 5 seems impressive).

    My questions are… does the skin need to adjust when switching from a rotary to a foil (as it does when switching from say a cartridge razor such as a Mach 3)? And a related question, is it effective to switch back and forth between a rotary and foil shaver depending on your daily preference or is it better to pick one and stick with it?

    Note: My skin is not sensitive and I’ve used foil razors successfully in the past. I’m not looking to stop using the Prestige but hoping to successfully use the Prestige and Arc 5. Obviously, I won’t take the plunge if alternating razors is not a sensible approach.

    Reply
    1. Ovidiu Nicolae Post author

      Thank you for your comment, Dave.

      That’s actually an excellent question. The skin doesn’t really need to adjust when alternating between two different types of electric shavers in the same way it needs to adjust when switching from a razor blade to electric.

      Instead, the adjustment mainly has to do with your technique getting better and how well your skin generally gets along with the other type of shaver. And from what I understand, you’ve used foil shavers before without any issues, so I don’t see anything wrong with alternating between your Prestige and an Arc 5. It would be ineffective only if for some reason you’ll constantly be getting poor results with one of them (for example, I almost never get a good shave with rotary shavers as I have very sensitive skin).

      Hope this makes sense.

      Sincerely,
      Ovidiu

      Reply
      1. Dave

        Thanks Ovidiu.

        Your response makes complete sense and I appreciate your insight.

        Based on the articles and reviews on this site I think I’ll give the Arc 5 ES-LV65-S a shot.

        Dave

        Reply
        1. Ovidiu Nicolae Post author

          No problem, Dave, glad I could of help. It’s a really good shaver and definitely the Arc 5 model that offers the best value for money, at least right now.

          Sincerely,
          Ovidiu

          Reply
  3. Garrett

    Thank you so much for your thorough reviews. There is so much confusing content out there that claims to tell you everything you need to know, but then doesn’t go into the detail that I want to truly understand how shaving works. Not at all the case here, here there are wonderful in-depth articles showing everything I need to know, with the kind of knowledge that came from trying everything for a while, rather than just looking up how things should work. Thank you for your excellent journalism Ovidiu.

    Reply
    1. Ovidiu Nicolae Post author

      Garrett, thank you so much for your comment, you are way too kind. Glad you found the information on this website useful.

      Sincerely,
      Ovidiu

      Reply
  4. vijay

    Hi, thanks for the great article, I just bought C revision Arc 5. I didn’t realise it was Dry shave only model. Can it be used with a shave gel or foam or it will spoil it?

    Reply
    1. Ovidiu Nicolae Post author

      Hi,

      Thank you for your comment. I cannot recommend using an electric shaver contrary to the manufacturer’s instruction. Since all the models are waterproof, they shouldn’t sustain any damage when used with shaving cream.

      Sincerely,
      Ovidiu

      Reply

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