Even though it was launched all the way back in 2008, the Arc 4 line of electric shavers from Panasonic still packs some serious punch.
In fact, I think the Arc 4 line represents a better option today than it did in its prime days.
And in this guide, I’ll go over the key advantages of the models in this series and see what exactly makes them a great option.
We’ll also compare them against each other and point out the specific pros and cons.
Let’s dive right in.
Table of Contents
- Panasonic Arc 4 features overview
- Panasonic Arc 4 model comparison
- Top performers, underrated and reasonably priced
- How come the Arc 4 didn’t immediately become a success?
- Which Panasonic Arc 4 model should you buy?
- Are there any cons?
Panasonic Arc 4 features overview
The Panasonic Arc 4 shavers fill the gap between the entry-level Panasonic Arc 3 and the high-end Arc 5 models.
Here are the most important features of the Arc 4 family, present throughout the entire range.
There are also some model-specific differences that I’ll address in the next section.
1. 4 blade cutting system
As the name Arc 4 implies, the shavers have 4 individual cutting elements that exhibit Panasonic’s trademark arched profile of the foils.
So that’s one blade less than the range-topping Arc 5, but 4 cutters are still plenty for anyone’s needs.
This particular design solution — the arched shaving head — is specific to Panasonic shavers and ensures optimal contact with the skin, especially when shaving the area below the chin.
This, along with the powerful motors and very sharp blades will reward you with what is likely the closest shave you’ll get from an electric shaver at this price point.
All the Panasonic Arc 4 models feature two removable inner blades, while the other two are integrated into the foil block.
2. Powerful motors
One of the reasons I’ve always liked Panasonic shavers was their sheer cutting power.
And for the Arc 4 line, they didn’t skimp on power and fitted the shavers with the most powerful units they have, the 14 000 CPM (Cycles Per Minute) linear drive motors that are also used on the premium Arc 5 shavers.
And this really shows during use: an Arc 4 feels and sounds fast and will cut even the coarsest hairs with ease.
There are a few exceptions to this rule though and two of the more popular Arc 4 models, the ES8243AA and ES-RF31-S, actually come with slightly less powerful motors (13 000 and 10 000 CPM, respectively).
However, that’s still quite impressive. A Braun Series 7 for example uses a 10 000 oscillations motor.
3. Solid construction, wet & dry use
Even though the Arc 4 shavers are made of plastic, the quality is top-notch.
While some of them don’t look as posh as other newer shavers, I know from personal experience that they can take a serious beating and will last for years if you show them some love.
4. Easy to clean manually
While there is the option of an Arc 4 model that includes a cleaning station, you really don’t need it as they’re extremely easy to clean manually.
In fact, thoroughly cleaning an Arc 4 with water and liquid soap literally takes less than one minute.
Panasonic fitted all of them with a so-called Sonic cleaning mode that will make the blades vibrate extremely fast and dislodge any stubborn dirt while also preventing water splashes.
So as far as specs go, the Arc 4 were (and still are) very capable electric shavers.
And those aren’t just numbers on a paper, the real-world performance really is excellent.
Panasonic Arc 4 model comparison
The features listed above are common to all the models in the Arc 4 line.
Let’s now check out the ones that are not.
Here is a table showcasing the most popular Panasonic Arc 4 models and the differences between them.
|Arc 4 Model||Distinct features||Motor (CPM)||Price|
|ES8243AA (ES8243A)||10 level battery display, elapsed time, slim head||13 000||See on Amazon|
|ES-LA63-S||10 level battery display, elapsed time, travel lock, second vibrating motor, bulkier head||14 000||See on Amazon|
|ES-LA93-K||10 level battery display, elapsed time, travel lock, second vibrating motor, bulkier head, cleaning station||14 000||See on Amazon|
|ES-LF51-A||5 level battery display, travel lock, slim head||14 000||See on Amazon|
|ES-RF31-S||3 level battery display, travel lock, slim head||10 000||See on Amazon|
Images credit: Panasonic
In my opinion the most important differences are related to the motors and the size of the shaving head.
The first one is pretty clear, while the latter is less obvious.
While all the Panasonic Arc4 have 4 cutters, some models have a narrower, more compact head which makes them easier to use, especially for beginners.
As mentioned in the table above, these are the ES-LF51-A, ES8243AA, and ES-RF31-S.
Top performers, underrated and reasonably priced
The Arc 4 shavers have been around for quite some time now.
And in these situations, it’s likely that we’ll also see some massive price drops.
Luckily, that’s precisely what happened with Arc 4 family. And we are the ones that benefit the most from this situation.
Panasonic will sooner or later update or discontinue the Arc 4 line. But until then (and likely long after that, as it’s the case with the new Arc 3 and Arc 5 shavers) we’ll still be able to get the old ones at bargain prices.
To get an idea of the prices we’re talking about, you can now even find an Arc 4 costing just slightly more than an Arc 3.
That’s fantastic value for money and they really are among the best shavers you can buy today.
The best picks are usually the ES8243AA for North America and the ES-RF31-S if you live in the UK/Europe.
How come the Arc 4 didn’t immediately become a success?
The Arc 4 shavers had all the premises to sell like hotcakes. But they didn’t, at least not back in the day.
Here are my thoughts on why I think that happened.
The Arc 4 was positioned as a mid-range shaver, but the price tag was rather premium. So why not just buy the Arc 5 since the cost was just slightly higher?
Also, the Arc 3 was priced significantly lower and still offered decent performance, making it a great budget option.
So the problem was the target audience — nobody wanted to buy them as there were other options that better catered to the buyer’s needs: Arc 5 for premium, Arc 3 for affordable.
Let’s see how things are today.
Which Panasonic Arc 4 model should you buy?
The short answer is any of them.
They’re all almost identical in terms of actual shaving performance, so just buy the cheapest one you can find.
Here’s a short overview of the most popular Arc 4 shavers (in no particular order).
1. Panasonic Arc 4 ES-LA63-S
This is one of my personal favorites and a shaver that I recommend quite often.
It offers excellent performance, being able to provide very close shaves while also remaining adequately comfortable.
Its main advantages over other Arc 4 shavers are the multi-flex pivoting functions of the head and the addition of a second motor inside the actual shaving head.
Precisely, it’s the only Arc 4 that has a shaving head that can swivel up and down (in addition from side to side).
The second motor makes the foils vibrate and supposedly helps capture flat-lying hairs.
While the efficiency of this motor is debatable (at least in my experience), the performance is great.
The Panasonic ES-LA63-S is a complete and compelling package with top specs that I highly recommend to pretty much anyone.
It has a very useful 10 stage battery level indicator and also shows the elapsed time.
You should be aware that out of all the models, this one has the bulkiest head. While the cutting elements have the same size, the plastic frame surrounding them is more bulbous.
It may not appear so from the photos, but during use, you can feel the difference between it and the ES-LF51-A for example.
For more details make sure to read my review as well.
2. Panasonic Arc 4 ES-LA93-K
The ES-LA93-K is identical to the ES-LA63-S presented above. It comes in a glossy black color scheme and includes an automatic cleaning and charging station.
Personally, I would skip this one and just buy the cheaper ES-LA63-S.
The problem is that the ES-LA93-K comes with the older generation Panasonic cleaning station: they’re massive, look a bit dated, and aren’t really necessary since the shaver is dead easy to clean manually.
If you really want a top-performing Panasonic that includes a cleaning station, I suggest taking a look at a second or third generation Arc 5 (like the ES-LV95-S or ES-LV9Q respectively).
The updated cleaning stations are a noticeable improvement over the older ones.
You can check out the full review of the ES-LA93-K here.
3. Panasonic Arc 4 ES-LF51-A
This is another excellent Arc 4 that’s also more budget-friendly if you can still manage to find it.
It doesn’t have the complex pivoting capabilities of the shaving head as the models above, nor does it have a second motor or 10 level battery display, but it’s still able to provide very close and comfortable shaves.
In fact, because it has a more compact shaving head compared to the rest of the Arc 4 models, it’s actually easier to use.
It features the same powerful 14 000 CPM motor and the 30 degrees nanoblades.
I actually find it to provide the closest shave compared to the other Arc 4 shavers that I own.
You can read my detailed review of the ES-LF51-A here.
Panasonic ES-LA63-S vs ES-LF51-A
This is one of the most common questions I get regarding the various Arc 4 models.
And there’s no right or wrong answer here as both are excellent performers.
However, there are some differences.
I actually prefer the ES-LF51-A over the ES-LA63-S because it has a smaller shaving head and I just seem to get a slightly closer shave.
The difference isn’t huge by any means, but I personally notice it.
On the other hand, the ES-LA63-S has a better LCD display, but I don’t know how many will actually care about that.
4. Panasonic Arc 4 ES8243AA (ES8243A)
The ES8243AA is usually the most reasonably priced model in the Arc 4 line.
In order to keep the price low, the shaver was fitted with a slightly less powerful 13 000 CPM motor, but that’s still plenty of cutting power.
It also doesn’t have a travel lock like the rest of the Arc 4 variations, but it does come with an excellent display, similar to the ones found on the ES-LA63-S and ES-LA93-K.
The head is slimmer in profile compared to those, so it will be easier to use.
Performance-wise, it does feel slightly slower than the ones with the more powerful motors, so I would suggest you to consider it if you have moderate to coarse facial hair.
As usual, I tested the ES8243AA thoroughly and you can read my complete review here.
Panasonic ES-LA63-S vs ES8243A (ES8243AA)
As mentioned previously, the ES8243AA (and ES8243A) comes with a slight downgrade in terms of power.
As a result, when comparing the ES-LA63-S to the ES8243A, the former has an advantage.
If feels a bit faster and more powerful and shaving a coarse beard will take less effort.
Also, the ES-LA63-S has a travel lock, while the ES8243AA/ES8243A doesn’t.
But the ES8243A is fitted with a more compact head, which makes it easier to use, especially below the nose.
It’s also cheaper than the ES-LA63-S.
Again, no definitive answer here and you should simply pick the one that makes more sense in your case, taking into account things like your budget, the coarseness of the hair and how experienced you are using an electric shaver.
5. Panasonic Arc 4 ES-RF31-S
The previously mentioned Arc 4 models are almost impossible to buy in Europe (except if you’re willing to import them from the USA for example).
Luckily, the one that is available (and usually for a very reasonable price) is the ES-RF31-S.
It comes with a few shortcomings, the most notable one being a less powerful motor (10 000 CPM).
The ES-RF31-S also has a very basic battery level indicator with only 3 levels, but the battery itself is larger, providing up to 65 minutes of cordless operation.
It does have a slimmer head just like the ES8243AA and also comes with a travel lock.
Performance-wise, it’s on par with it, so if you don’t mind the aforementioned negatives, it’s a solid choice, especially if you live in Europe.
Are there any cons?
No shaver out there is perfect and the Panasonic Arc 4 is no exception.
Here’s what you should be aware of if you’re thinking of buying one.
- The Arc 4 is beginning to show its age. This is mainly related to the design of the shavers and the fact that they still use the aging first-generation cleaning stations. Panasonic recently updated the Arc 3 and Arc 5 lines and it’s about time to do the same with the Arc 4.
- They are not the most comfortable shavers out there. Panasonic’s close shaves come with a small trade-off in comfort. Pressing hard can sometimes result in razor burn. Therefore, if you have very sensitive skin, you should probably opt for something like the Braun Series 7 or 5.
- They’re not the best with long, flat-lying hairs. Panasonic shavers in general excel at providing really close shaves and work best on short facial hair. If you shave daily or every two days at most, you’ll be perfectly fine. You could get away with more days between shaves if you have a light beard or if the hairs grow back slower. Otherwise, you’ll probably be better of with something like a Braun Series 7 that is much better at catching long and flat hairs.
- The bulky shaving head takes some getting used to. This is particularly the case with models like the ES-LA63-S or ES-LA93-K.
Overall, the downsides are minor and trumped by the benefits they offer: reasonable price, excellent performance for the money, close shaves, and great build quality.