Affordable electric shavers represent a highly competitive segment for all the major brands.
The reasonable purchase price, low costs of ownership and the excellent price/performance ratio are among the things that make these razors very appealing to the potential buyer.
In this head to head episode, we’ll take a close look at two of the best entry-level electric razors, namely the Panasonic Arc 3 vs Braun Series 3.
We’ll find out how they stack up against each other in some key aspects and we’ll also see where one would make a better choice than the other.
Let’s get started.
Table of Contents
- Different models in a series, same performance
- Panasonic Arc 3 vs Braun Series 3: what are the differences?
- Panasonic Arc 3 vs Braun Series 3: which one should you choose?
Different models in a series, same performance
Both the Arc 3 and the Series 3 have been around for quite a while. During this time, both lines have seen new models being added to the current lineup.
Here’s a quick overview of both.
The Panasonic Arc 3
Panasonic’s Arc 3 family of shavers was launched in 2008 and until 2015 there have only been incremental updates, consisting mainly in visual improvements.
Therefore, the shaving performance has remained pretty much the same throughout the whole Arc 3 line.
The new models introduced in 2015 by Panasonic, called the LT-series, are a departure from the older ones, going for a more premium positioning.
This is also reflected in their price which is a bit higher than what most would be willing to pay for an entry-level razor.
As for the performance, it has remained pretty much consistent and on par with the older generation, at least for all the models that are fitted with 13 000 CPM motors (more details later on).
The Braun Series 3
Braun has also updated its Series 3 line in late 2015 and called it the Series 3 ProSkin, but it was more of a visual makeover of the older models.
The new razors (3040s, 3010s, 3000s, 3050cc, etc.) even use the same shaving heads, so the performance is again identical for all Series 3 ProSkin shavers.
The prices are also similar, however the previous models (340s, 380s, .etc) have mostly been phased out and can’t be found anymore.
As such, we’ll only be referring to the newer Series 3 ProSkin.
Important: There’s also a basic, cheaper Braun Series 3, different from the ProSkin range. Those shavers (like the 300s, 310s) have a much smaller battery and are fitted with an inferior shaving head.
For these reasons, I’ll actually be referring to the Series 3 ProSkin models whenever I’ll mention Series 3 in this comparison.
All the different razors in Braun’s Series 3 (ProSkin) are identical in terms of performance.
It’s the same situation for the Arc 3 range from Panasonic.
The differences between two Arc 3 or two Series 3 razors mainly come down to design, accessories and wet/dry or dry-only use.
For example, the Braun Series 3 3050cc is a dry-only razor that comes with an automatic cleaning station.
The Series 3 3040s on the other hand can be used wet or dry but doesn’t include a cleaning station. The shaving performance between the two is the same.
Further reading: For all the differences between the various models, you can check out my Series 3 guide.
Panasonic Arc 3 vs Braun Series 3: what are the differences?
Both the Panasonic Arc 3 and the Braun Series 3 are reasonably priced electric razors, featuring a shaving head with 3 individual cutting elements.
As all entry-level shavers, they are best suited for shaving daily or every other day, offering excellent performance for the price.
You can of course get away with more days between shaving sessions, especially if your beard is on the lighter side or grows slower.
Let’s now address the things that interest us the most in this Panasonic Arc 3 vs Braun Series 3 comparison, the actual differences in performance.
1. Closeness of the shave
Getting a close shave is probably very high on the priority list of anyone looking to buy an electric shaver.
While a more advanced razor like the Braun Series 9 Pro or a Panasonic Arc 5 will provide a closer shave, the Arc 3 and Series 3 can yield very good results, especially if you follow a few simple tips.
However, in my personal experience, I have found the Panasonic Arc 3 to be better than the Series 3 from Braun when it comes strictly to the closeness of the shave.
I can attribute this to the more powerful 13 000 CPM motor that was fitted to the Arc 3, their 30 degrees sharp blades and to the curvature of the foils (thus the Arc in the name) which ensures optimal contact with the skin.
Panasonic Arc 3 ES8103S
Also, the Arc 3 feels faster and completing a shave takes slightly less time if your beard is short.
It’s worth mentioning that the performance will be the same in the case of all the Arc 3 models fitted with the 13 000 CPM (cycles per minute) motors.
This would be the single most important thing to consider when choosing an Arc 3. You’ll want to go with a model that features a 13 000 CPM motor (sometimes listed RPM instead of CPM).
So the ES8103S above is not the only option and you might as well opt for a different one (again, as long as it’s not using a less powerful motor).
For example, the ES-LT41-K or the ES-LT67 are equally good options as well.
2. Comfort during (and after) the shave
When it comes to comfort, the Braun Series 3 has the edge, at least in my experience and especially during a dry shave.
The difference is not massive and some may not even notice it, but it’s important to take this into account if you have sensitive skin.
A Series 3 razor feels a bit smoother and gentler to the skin, while the Arc 3 shavers are a bit grabbier.
The downside of providing a closer shave is a small tradeoff in comfort in the case of the Arc 3, but again, not by much.
Braun Series 3 3040s
Also, this is only true in the case of the Series 3 ProSkin models like the 3040s above.
As mentioned previously, the basic Series 3 (non-ProSkin) like the 300s comes with a different shaving head that doesn’t perform as well.
3. Hair trimmer
All Panasonic Arc 3 come with an integrated trimmer, while certain models from the Series 3 don’t have one (those also have a lower price).
For example, the Series 3 ProSkin 3010s doesn’t have a trimmer and neither does the 3000s.
Panasonic’s popup trimmers are suitable for light grooming and trimming your sideburns, mustache, and goatee and are sharp and very efficient.
Their main drawback is related to the positioning — behind and perpendicular to the shaving head.
This can make it more difficult to see what you’re doing. A workaround that I found to be quite effective is to remove the foils and the two inner blades.
But even so, most users will have no trouble using it. I personally find Panasonic pop-up trimmers to be the best on the market.
The hair trimmer found on the Braun Series 3 razor slides out and extends beyond the shaving head, but it still suffers from the same problem to some degree.
Likewise, you can remove the shaving head to get a better view of what you’re doing.
However, Braun’s trimmers seem to be rather dull and you have to go over an area many times to get all the hairs.
And even then it just doesn’t cut them as close as the one on the Arc 3.
Overall, the pop-up trimmer on the Panasonic Arc 3 is definitely better compared to the one on the Series 3.
Both are pretty useful to have for some light grooming, so I would still consider a Series 3 model that comes with one (like the 3040s).
4. Wet & dry use
All Panasonic Arc 3 shavers are suitable for wet & dry operation. They’re also fully waterproof, so you can use them in the shower as well.
Panasonic shavers work particularly well with shaving cream, so if you’re into that definitely consider an Arc 3.
Braun opted to include razors that can be used wet & dry or dry only in the Series 3.
I wouldn’t consider this a minus as you’ll just have to pick one depending on how you’ll be using it.
That said, all Series 3 shavers are fully waterproof and can be cleaned with water.
5. Cordless and corded operation
An electric shaver that is suitable for wet&dry use can only be operated cordless as a safety precaution.
That’s the case with all Panasonic Arc 3 models.
On the other hand, there are a few dry-only Braun Series 3 models that will also work with the cord plugged in.
Some users consider this a must-have feature and if you’re one of them, then you should consider the Series 3 over the Arc 3.
Braun Series 3 ProSkin 3000s
The pick of the range seems to be the Braun Series 3 3000s, a dry only model that usually has a very reasonable price.
Even though it’s only suitable for shaving dry, the razor is still waterproof and can be washed with water.
6. Price and cost of ownership
A Braun Series 3 razor and a corresponding Arc 3 from Panasonic, both similar in terms of accessories and capabilities, will also have relatively similar prices.
Of course, you can find one or the other at some great discounts and in that case, you should probably go for the cheaper one.
For example, the Braun Series 3 3040s can even be found at half the regular retail price.
However, when it comes to ownership costs, Braun is the clear winner.
All Braun Series 3 ProSkin shavers use the same blades and foils head, called a cassette. These cassettes are priced lower than the corresponding parts for the Panasonic Arc 3.
Moreover, the blades used for the Arc 3 razors, even though they seem sharper at the beginning, tend to become dull faster, so you’ll probably have to change them more often.
Cleaning cartridges will also increase the running costs if you opt for a model with a cleaning station.
However, there are cheap third-party alternatives for Braun’s cleaning solution.
It’s also important to note that since both the Arc 3 and the Series 3 have many similar models, older or newer, the prices can vary to a high degree. So definitely check out as many as you can before buying a particular one.
I would also recommend staying below a certain price threshold as there are better alternatives for only slightly more money (like the Panasonic Arc 4 or the Braun Series 5).
Further reading: You can check out my guide on the best men’s shavers at various price points.
7. Cleaning and maintenance
Both Arc 3 and Series 3 offer razors that are available with an automatic cleaning station.
However, just the dry only variants from Braun’s Series 3 can be bought with one.
I consider Braun cleaning stations necessary from the Series 5 and up, but I don’t really see the need for one with the Series 3.
Yes, the shaving heads used by the Series 3 are a bit more difficult to clean manually compared to the Arc 3 since the blades are integrated into the cassette, but it’s still pretty straightforward.
If you still want the convenience of a cleaning station, make sure to check out the Braun Series 3 3050cc below. You can also read my in-depth review of it here.
Braun Series 3 3050cc
You should also look at older Series 3 models, like the 350cc-4 as you might be able to grab one at a nice discount.
As previously said, they will provide similar shaving performance, so simply buy the more conveniently priced variant.
If you choose to save some money and skip the cleaning station, then you’ll have to manually clean your razor after every use.
In this case the Panasonic Arc 3 shavers are easier to clean as the foils and blades can be separated for a more thorough cleaning.
They also feature a so-called Sonic cleaning mode that makes the blades oscillate at a very high rate, removing any stubborn grime and preventing water from splashing around.
You can get a cleaning station as well with some Arc 3 models like the ES-LT7N-S, however I would recommend you to save some money and skip it.
Panasonic Arc 3 vs Braun Series 3: which one should you choose?
While both the Arc 3 and the Series 3 offer very compelling features, due to their differences, there can be situations where one would make a better choice than the other.
Let’s now settle the Panasonic Arc 3 vs Braun Series 3 dispute and see which would be right for you.
Choose the Panasonic Arc 3 if you:
- Want the closest shaving entry-level shaver
- Shave more often
- Want an affordable shaver that is very easy to clean manually
- Will also be using the shaver with shaving cream or gel
Choose the Braun Series 3 if you:
- Need a reasonably priced shaver that is suitable for sensitive skin
- Have a limited budget and want low costs of ownership
- Need an entry-level razor with a practical automatic cleaning system
- Will be using your shaver mostly for dry shaving (they are more comfortable than the Arc 3)
- Shave less often (the Series 3 is better on a two days beard)
Lastly, since you can’t go wrong with either of the two, don’t neglect the purchase price.
Since these are budget electric razors, the price should be a decisive factor when making your pick.
So if you stumble upon an Arc 3 or a Series 3 shaver at a great price, simply go for it.
Over to you now: what was your experience with these electric razors? If you have any other questions, make sure to post them in the comments section below.
32 thoughts on “Panasonic Arc 3 vs Braun Series 3: Which One Is Better?”Leave a comment
Hi and thanks for the great comparison. Do you have any information about the battery life of these two?
Hi and thank you for your comment. I’ve actually owned quite a few Arc3 and Series 3 shavers and the battery life was very good for both. Definitely consistent with the manufacturers’ claims — 45-50 minutes of use from a fully charged battery.
Between these two – which is louder?
They’re pretty similar and pretty loud as all foil shavers are. But the Series 3 is a bit quieter to my ear — the sound has a lower frequency and is more muffled, while the Arc 3 produces a very sharp, high pitched buzz.
Oh, how is the side trimmers on these two? Hoping the series 3 is better as aiming for that one. I have a braun series 9 and the side trimmer is not great. And as a shaver itself – its loud.
I personally don’t like Braun trimmers — they just don’t cut as well as the ones on Panasonic shavers. So in this regard, I’d say the Arc 3 is much better.
I’ve read a lot of articles and reviews about them and finally I will go with the arc 3. What are your pick between es-rt 47 and es-st3n? I find them in similar price.
The ES-ST3N should provide better performance (faster 13 000 CPM motor vs 10 000).
I think that there is no flexible pivoting head in the es-st3n model. Is that a major issue?
In my opinion no. I don’t find their implementation of flexible shaving heads particularly useful. On older models it’s jerky and the range of motion is very limited, while on the latest Arc 3 models the whole head is just wobbly and too much of a good thing.
Thanks a lot
I have a sensitive skin and I shave every 3 4 days which brand do u suggest 3040 or arc 3 which gives clean shave and is the arc 3 rough?
For sensitive skin I’d recommend the Series 3 (3040s, 3010s or whichever similar model you can get at a reasonable price). The Series 3 is also better with longer hair which is another plus here since you shave every 3 to 4 days.
So u don’t suggest Panasonic arc 3 ? Arc 3 is not for sensitive skin
I do wet shaving using a shaving cream I don’t do dry shaving
The Series 3 will be more forgiving and comfortable and if you have sensitive skin, that’s the one I’d recommend in this case.
Panasonic ES-LL21 what about this? If I must choose between Panasonic ES-LL21 and braun 3040s, the winner will be?
The ES-LL21 is very similar to the 13 000 CPM Arc 3 models mentioned in the post. So there’s not an absolute winner. I think the Panasonic will provide a closer shave in most cases and it’s faster as well on a short beard. The Series 3 is more comfortable especially when shaving dry. It’s also better at catching flat, longer hairs, so likely a better choice for sensitive skin or if you have that type of facial hair.
Hey i would like to ask for recommendation between panasonic es-st2r, braun 310s, and phillips 5000 series. Which one is better? And what is the advantage and disadvantage of the product. Thanks
Strictly between those models I would go for the Panasonic or the Braun, mainly because they’re more comfortable and shave closer than the Series 5000.
Between the ES-ST2R and the 310s, the former is more powerful and edges the 310s when it comes to closeness. On the other hand, the 310s is more comfortable during a dry shave and a bit better with longer, flat-lying hairs. The Panasonic has a larger battery (45 mins vs 30 mins) and also a pop-up trimmer. These would be the main pros and cons.
I am currently on the verge of choosing between two models. The Braun 310s Series 3 and the Panasonic Pro Curve ES-SA40. I have sensitive skin, however I am currently serving in the military, so a close shave is necessary. What do you think?
I cannot wholeheartedly recommend either, but if you have to pick one of them, then the Braun 310s is definitely the one to have. The ES-SA40 is a single blade shaver that unless you only have a very light beard, will perform poorly. The 310s comes with the 21b shaving head fitted from the factory which I’m not a fan of, but the better 32b shaving head (available with the Series 3 ProSkin models) is compatible as well. So you might want to upgrade to that one instead when it’s time to change the head.
The panni es ll 41k is comparable to all the other arc 3s?
Yes, it is and should offer roughly the same performance as the other Arc3s fitted with 13 000 CPM motors.
Hi. I’m looking for a good good but not too expensive electric shaver. I live in Europe now and I have found Panasonic ES-RT37-K503 in one of the stores. I heard (and read on your website) that the Panasonic electric shavers shaves more closely than the Braun. Would you recommend this model? Is it worth to buy it? I just want to have a good clean shave and it would be my first electric shaver.
I wouldn’t really recommend the ES-RT37. It comes with a slower 10 000 CPM motor compared to most other Arc 3’s that feature 13 000 CPM motors. The integrated hair trimmer is also not quite as good. If you live in Europe, maybe you can get one of the following models: ES-LL21-K, ES-LT2N, ES-LT6N, ES-RF31. Those are better performance-wise and the price should still be pretty reasonable.
Thank you Ovidiu. So I will go with ES-LL21-K. I’ve read about it but I wasn’t sure what kind of electric shaver it is. There are too many models for my taste 🙂 Thank you once again and take care.
Oh, and one more thing. Could you tell me what is the number of replacement parts for this shaver (ES-LL21-K)? Sorry, I forgot to ask ealier 🙂
No problem, Michael. That would be the WES9013PC foil & blades set.
Great web site, Ovidiu!
There is one thing that I am wondering: for the Panasonic shavers you are so focused on the CPMs, advising against less than 13,000 CPM, whereas you don’t provide any information on S3’s CPM.
Do you have any information on Braun’s S3 CPM?
Thanks so much, glad you found the site useful.
I usually try to avoid mentioning specs or features unless it really is important. And in this case I think it is. The only reason I always recommend the 13 000 CPM Arc3s is simply because those shave so much better than the other models with less powerful motors. So it’s not about the actual CPM figure, but more about how to reliably pick an Arc 3 that will perform great.
Braun never really discloses any motor specs except for the Series 9. That one has a 10 000 CPM unit. That number alone doesn’t tell the whole story though as it’s a very torquey motor, but an Arc 5 for example with a 14 000 unit does feel and sound faster. Both shave great and have some specific pros and cons.
The S3 would be somewhere between 8000 and 10 000 if I were to take a guess. But the same motor is fitted to all Series 3 models so choosing one is more straightforward.