Panasonic has been constantly releasing incremental updates to its Arc 5 family of shavers for the past few years.
And in June 2021, they did it again. No fuss, not even an official press release.
And while this time around things still seem to be in line with the previous updates (meaning minor changes that wouldn’t improve the actual performance), this one is also a bit different.
The new 2021 Arc 5 (Lamdash 5) revision G shavers are still only available on the Japanese domestic market, but what might set these models apart is their new outer foil.
And it really is a new design that could finally address one of the few shortcomings of all Arc 5 models: dealing with longer, flat-lying hairs.
So let’s see what’s the deal with these 2021 Panasonic Arc 5 models, what are the differences between them, and what to do if you already own an older Arc 5 or you’re thinking of getting one of these latest models.
Table of Contents
- Panasonic Arc 5 revision G (2021) overview
- The new foil: finally something to look forward to
- Panasonic Arc 5 revision G (2021) model comparison
- How do they compare to the previous generations?
- Availability and price
- Should you buy the 2021 Arc 5? Are there better alternatives?
- Tips for current Panasonic Arc 5 owners
Panasonic Arc 5 revision G (2021) overview
First of all, I just want to mention that this Revision G moniker is not an official one, but it’s the way I’ve been referring to these updates on this website for years, and it makes sense to continue doing so for clarity’s sake.
We’ll call them that because the 2021 model names end in G (well, some of them do).
As mentioned above, Panasonic didn’t issue a press release as they usually do for newly launched shavers.
They just casually showed up on Panasonic.jp and as of now there are 5 new Arc 5 2021 models (we’ll get to the differences between them later on).
Here’s the official promo clip:
So what changed compared to the previous revision F update?
Well, apart from the new outer foil, nothing significant, so I will only briefly go over the most important features.
1. A 5-blade shaving head
The defining characteristic of the Arc 5 line is obviously still here: a shaving system comprised of 5 individual, slightly arched cutters.
The setup is the same, with the two outermost foils (numbers 1 and 5 in the image above) being the finishing foils that cut the hairs at skin level and are responsible for the excellent closeness we associate with the Arc 5.
Moving inward we have the so-called reverse tapered foils (2 and 4) that should lift and cut shorter hairs that stay flat on the skin or have a tendency to curl towards the skin. The remaining stubble is then cut by the previously mentioned finishing foils.
Finally, there’s the true novelty of this revision: the new middle trimmer (3) that is now called an Under chin trimmer blade (approximate translation from Japanese) and the descriptive name should provide a hint about its capabilities.
The trimmer’s role is to tackle longer, flat-lying hairs (including the ones that grow in different directions). I will get into more details in the next section since this is basically the showpiece of the new Arc 5.
We also have the two comfort rollers, but this time around they’re silver, not gold.
As usual, we have two removable inner blades (corresponding to the reverse tapered foils) and the other 3 are integrated into the foil block itself.
Interestingly, the two removable inner blades are the same one used in all the other previous Arc 5 generations, the WES9170.
This is a very important aspect as you’ll see later on.
All blades feature that trademark 30-degree bevel for very effective and clean cutting.
2. 14 000 CPM motor
We still have Panasonic’s powerful and excellent linear-drive motor that can provide up to 14 000 cycles per minute.
It’s been constantly refined and tweaked throughout the years and it’s so compact that it can be fitted inside the shaving head itself.
And while in theory Xiaomi’s 15 000 CPM motor is faster, after testing it side by side with an Arc 5, I can confidently say that Panasonic is easily on top. Their motors are just on a different level — so powerful, smooth and reliable.
3. Close contact 5D head
The new Arc 5 models come with the same ridiculously flexible head that can move in all imaginable directions.
This should provide constant contact with the skin, even when shaving the neck or jawline.
I was never really a fan as I found the head too wobbly, but other users seem to really like it.
4. Beard density sensor
This technology is becoming ubiquitous with other brands as well, despite that the actual benefits are debatable.
The Arc 5 is fitted with a sensor that should read the beard’s density and adjust the power accordingly (up to 220 times per second).
And just as before, the sensor is always on and you can’t turn it off like you could in the case of the older ES-LV65/ES-LV95.
5. Wet/dry and dry only use
Even though all revision G models are waterproof for easy cleaning under the tap, only a few models can be used for wet shaving/in the shower.
As a safety precaution, those models will only work cordless, while the dry-only variations can also work while charging.
I will go over all the models and their differences in great detail later on.
6. 5 or 3-level battery indicator
Unfortunately, this is a downgrade (although not a significant one) compared to the previous F revision of 2020.
Precisely, none of the 2021 Arc 5 models has the excellent 10-step battery indicator that would also show the duration of the shave.
Instead, they only come with rather basic 5 or 3 level indicators, which is a bit disappointing.
The new foil: finally something to look forward to
With the previous Arc 5 revisions, the outer foils have remained almost the same and all the subtle changes didn’t really improve the performance.
And by performance, I’m referring mostly to how the Arc 5 copes with longer, flat-lying hairs.
This has always been one of the most significant shortcomings of all Panasonic shavers.
I would like to believe that Panasonic engineers have finally listened to their user base and with the new revision G, the cutting element responsible for catching long hairs has been redesigned completely.
As a side note, it seems to be the exact same cutter used on the 2021 Arc 6 models, but on the Arc 6, there are two of them for a total of 6 cutting elements.
It now comes in this gold finish — probably the result of Titanium Nitride coating — and to me it’s definitely similar to a cutter found on the Braun Series 9.
And that’s a good thing since the Series 9 is arguably the best foil shaver out there when it comes to capturing longer, flat-lying hairs that also grow in different directions.
So while in terms of closeness I expect the new Arc 5 revision G to be just as good as any of the previous generations, I’m really excited about this new trimmer and its capabilities.
It’s completely different from the older ones and Panasonic even mentions explicitly on their website that it’s more powerful compared to their conventional products. And by conventional, they mean any previously released Arc 5 variations.
So it should now pre-cut those difficult long hairs a lot more efficiently.
I’m quite optimistic about it and I can’t wait to test the new razors, hopefully pretty soon.
The part number of the new foil and blades set is ES9040, while the outer foil itself (if you wish to purchase it separately) is called ES9181.
As noted earlier, the two inner blades are the same ones since the Arc 5 inception, the venerable ES9170.
And yes, the foil will most likely be compatible with all the previous Arc 5 models. Unfortunately I cannot say this with certainty until I actually try it with my Arc 5 razors.
As soon as I manage to source the foil, I will update this post and confirm.
UPDATE September 2021: The new 2021 Arc 5 foil is compatible with the older Arc 5 shavers.
The bad news? The suggested retail price for the set is 10,450 yen which converts to approximately 95 USD.
That is outrageously expensive and I hope it will go down as time passes.
Panasonic Arc 5 revision G (2021) model comparison
Here are the main differences between the 2021 Arc 5 models:
These are also the ones that can be used for wet shaving/in the shower, but will only work cordlessly as a safety precaution.
However, all 5 models are waterproof and you can clean them manually as well under the tap.
The actual shaving performance is absolutely identical for all the models.
Let’s now talk about some slight downgrades.
The smart locking function, present on a few of the range-topping models from the previous revisions, is now gone.
That function automatically unlocked the power button when you picked the shaver in your hand.
Instead, the revision G Arc 5 shavers are all fitted with a regular electronic travel lock (activated via a long press of the ON/OFF button).
And we don’t even get the soft faux leather pouches anymore. Apart from the ES-LV9U that comes with a hard leather case, the rest of them only include a textile pouch.
I guess we can say that they cheaped out with the accessories. That pouch is usually included with the very basic razors and it’s not particularly useful.
And again, the LED display will only show the remaining battery charge on 5 levels (ES-LV9U) or on 3 (the rest of them).
So in terms of bells, whistles, and accessories, the new Panasonic Arc 5 2021 G models aren’t as impressive as the previous ones.
Not a deal-breaker in my opinion, especially if they’ll cost less and that redesigned foil will perform better.
How do they compare to the previous generations?
That would be really difficult to say without actually testing the revision G Arc 5 and I hope I’ll be able to share a detailed review in the near future.
UPDATE September 2021: here’s the review of the revision G.
But until then, considering what has actually changed compared to the older models, the only real improvement should be in the way the shaver copes with longer, flat-lying hairs.
That was always the Achilles’ heel of Panasonic and the new foil looks promising.
But other than that, no, I don’t think the 2021 Arc 5 will be significantly better in other aspects.
Availability and price
Unfortunately, as was the case with the previous revisions, Panasonic will probably release these razors only in Japan.
The USA market was skipped completely in recent years, at least when it comes to new Arc 5 models. For example, Panasonic didn’t even launch the C revision in the USA, while in Europe they did and those models are still quite popular to this day.
So getting one of the 2021 Arc 5 razors will be quite challenging for someone living outside of Japan. You will likely need to use a forwarding service and also pay import and shipping fees and those can really add up.
All Panasonic Arc 5 rev G models are already available for purchase on Amazon.jp and from what I can tell, they are more reasonably priced than the F revision.
The two variations that don’t come with the cleaning system, namely the ES-LV5U and ES-LV5G, are also the cheapest.
And considering how easy it is to manually clean a Panasonic shaver, I think those two represent the pick of the range.
I doubt we’ll see a global release of the new Arc 5. In fact, I think that’s more likely to happen with the Arc 6 models, especially if Braun will come up with a new Series 10.
Should you buy the 2021 Arc 5? Are there better alternatives?
If you have the possibility and the budget, I’m quite confident that you’ll be really happy with a Panasonic Arc 5 revision G.
Performance-wise, all Arc 5 generations have been at the very top, particularly when it comes to the closeness of the shave and getting that really smooth finish under the chin.
Granted, they’re not really the best for longer facial hair and not quite as gentle as a range-topping Braun, but nevertheless fantastic performers.
And this latest revision seems to be the only one capable of addressing the former issue.
Personally, I feel like the purchase price should be decisive when choosing an electric razor.
And considering the fantastic performance for the money offered by the older Arc 5 models, I think most users should consider those as well if getting a 2021 Arc 5 turns out to be too complicated or expensive.
While they do come with the older outer foils (no comfort rollers) and they lack the complex flexing system of the head, they still shave amazingly.
Besides, you can always upgrade to those newer foils (I wrote a comprehensive guide on the compatibility of Arc 5 foils and blades here).
Finally, if you live in Europe, you can buy some of the generation 3 revision C shavers (ES-LV9Q, ES-LV6Q) for a really good price as well.
Tips for current Panasonic Arc 5 owners
If you already own an Arc 5 and it’s still in good shape (which most of the time means that it can hold a decent charge), I think you should just upgrade to some of the newer foils (whichever you can find at a fair price).
Even though the newest Panasonic Arc 5 rev G comes with some nice features, when it comes to shaving, things won’t be dramatically better. Again, except maybe for how it performs on a 3-day beard.
We still have the 14 000 CPM motor, the same inner blades, the same setup of the shaving unit.
I would simply buy the revision G foil when the price drops and more vendors will be selling and ship it overseas.
And even if you want to buy a brand new Arc 5 shaver (for whichever reason), don’t overlook the models I mentioned in the previous section. Those are still highly capable machines that you can often find at a bargain price.
I hope this article managed to answer some of the questions surrounding the new 2021 Panasonic Arc 5 and in case I missed anything, please comment below and I’ll do my best to help.
Images credit: Panasonic.jp