PROS: very comfortable, reasonably close shaves, lightweight and easy to use, quiet (for a foil shaver), good battery life, travel lock, reasonably priced, compatible with the 5434 Braun cleaning stations
CONS: not as good as the old Series 5, not great with long & flat hairs, slightly under-powered, fixed shaving head, no slide-out trimmer, no travel case
The Series 5 from Braun is one of the company’s most compelling lines of electric shavers for men.
It strikes just the right balance between cost and performance, making it a very appealing option in the mid-range segment.
In early 2020, Braun launched a completely new Series 5 line for the USA & Canada markets.
The new shavers are a complete departure from the current Series 5 that we all know.
One of the models in this revamped line is the Braun 5018s (the UK/European version is called 50-B1200s). This particular Series 5 is bound to be the pick of the range thanks to its very reasonable price.
I’ve tested the Series 5 5018s for a couple of weeks and in this review I will be sharing everything you need to know before you buy it, including its pros and cons and how it fares against the old Series 5.
Let’s dive right in.
Table of Contents
- Features overview
- Build quality and ergonomics
- Included accessories
- Battery life and charging
- Shaving performance
- Cleaning and maintenance
- Replacement parts availability
- Wrapup—Who should buy the 5018s?
- Alternative shavers
It’s important to note that even though there are five models available in the USA/Canada and even more in Europe, the shaving performance and features are identical throughout the range.
So this review will also be relevant in the case of the other models like the 5050cs, 5020s or the UK 50-B1200s and 50-W4650cs.
As mentioned in the beginning, the Series 5 5018s (50-B1200s) will likely be the best pick in most cases unless you absolutely need a specific accessory.
Also, since all the models in this new release start with 50, I will be referring to it as the Series 5 50 just to differentiate the new shavers from the old Series 5.
With that out of the way, let’s get back to the main features of the 5018s in our review.
1. Three-blade shaving head
The new Series 5 50 sticks to the same 3 blade shaving system as before.
There are two outer foils that cut the hair at skin level, while the middle trimmer captures and pre-cuts long, flat-lying hairs.
And while the 3 cutting elements can move independently, the head unit of the 5018s (and the rest of the models) is fixed.
This is somewhat surprising since the old Series 5 had a flexible shaving head that worked really well in my experience.
2. EasyClean system
Braun makes a pretty big deal out of this feature of the new Series 5.
The EasyClean text is even printed right below the shaving head on the front of the razor and it’s also the first feature listed on the product page.
This design of the shaver, with a cutout right underneath the shaving unit, allows you to rinse off the stubble without removing the cassette.
We’ll see how well it works in the cleaning and maintenance section of the review.
3. EasyClick Precision trimmer
The Series 5 5018s doesn’t have an integrated slide-out trimmer like the old Series 5.
Instead, it comes with a separate trimmer that must be manually attached when you need to use it.
It just clicks in place of the cassette, but that also means you’ll have to swap them every time.
The Braun 5018s only includes the trimmer; other models come with various attachments, like different size combs, body trimmers or stubblers for maintaining a beard.
If you don’t need any of those, the 5018s is probably the one to buy as it’s cheaper than the rest.
4. Cordless, Wet & dry use
The Braun 5018s and all the new Series 5 razors are suitable for wet & dry use.
This means you can rinse them with water, but also shave in the shower or with your favorite shaving cream or gel.
It also means the shavers will only operate cordless, so you can’t use them while charging.
The Li-ion battery will ensure up to 50 minutes worth of cordless use, with the option of a 5-minute quick charge function.
The universal voltage converter (100–240v) allows you to use 5018s anywhere in the world, so you can definitely consider it as a travel shaver.
Build quality and ergonomics
The new Series 5 5018s looks and feels nothing like the previous, international generation.
The shaver is also much lighter at only 174g/0.38 lbs according to my kitchen scale.
That’s almost 60 grams less and it really makes a significant difference when holding and using the shaver.
Apart from some glossy finish on the front and on the foil frame, the 5018s is entirely made out of matte plastic.
On the back and sides, there’s a dimpled rubber insert that along with the sculpted profile of the handle and the low weight ensures excellent grip and ergonomics.
Like all the other 2020 models, the Series 5 also has a thumb rest on the front part. Its position is just right and it’s covered in the same rubberized material.
The thumb rest area integrates the power button as well and it sits pretty much flush with the surface.
It is very clicky and easy to operate, including when your hand is wet or covered in foam.
The power button is also used to activate the travel lock function; you do that by pressing and holding the button for 3 seconds.
Further down we have the very basic LED display that shows various information, like battery level, travel lock, charging status, cleaning and cassette replacement reminder.
The back of the 5018s is completely barren, with no slide-out trimmers or charging pins.
I would have liked to see that rubber insert extending all the way to the bottom, but it still does the job decently.
On the bottom of the razor there’s the typical Braun charging port.
The 5018s is made in Germany, continuing the tradition from the previous Series 5.
So far things look pretty good for the Braun 5018s.
But as expected, not all is peachy.
My main gripe with this model (and with the new Series 5 in general) is related to the shaving head.
In my opinion, it’s a clear downgrade from the previous Series 5 models.
First of all, it is fixed.
The up and down swivel of the head that we’ve seen on all Braun models from the Series 5 and up was actually very useful in practice.
It allowed me to shave with less wrist work, especially when shaving below the jawline.
My other complaint is related to the cassette itself.
Just like I mentioned in the case of the new Series 7, I think it’s a step down in quality and performance from the one used on the old Series 5.
It actually resembles the one used on the entry-level Series 3 (pictured below in a side by side comparison) and it just feels like a cheaper part.
The frames surrounding the three cutting elements are now made of plastic and they don’t move quite as easily and smoothly as in the case of the older Series 5 cassette.
The glossy frame is also wider, making the shaver a bit more cumbersome to use in tricky spots.
There are also no release buttons/tabs, so you’ll have to pry the cassette off using brute force.
Again, it feels like a cost-cutting move.
And in all honesty, the new Series 5 is quite a bit cheaper. I just don’t think that the Series 5 name should be used as it will just cause more confusion.
Overall, the build quality and ergonomics are adequate considering the price of the Series 5 5018s, but the shaver feels underwhelming compared to the old (and pricier) Series 5.
My Series 5 5018s came with the following items:
- Precision trimmer attachment
- Charging cord
- Cleaning brush
- User manual
The bundle is as basic as it gets.
There’s no protective cap, travel case or lubricant included.
A travel case/pouch would have been particularly useful, but we’re not getting one with any of the new Series 5 50.
And again I must mention the older models that came with the excellent Braun hard travel case.
Battery life and charging
Since the Braun 5018s will only operate cordless, battery life is particularly important.
All the new Series 5 shavers are fitted with a rechargeable Li-ion battery that provides up to 50 minutes of use.
Braun mentions 3 weeks of shaving, but that’s not really realistic and doesn’t account for certain variables like the duration of your typical shaving session or how coarse your beard is.
Nevertheless, the battery life has been solid during my tests with the Series 5 5018s.
The claimed 50 minutes of use is definitely within reach.
Important: you must connect the shaver to a power outlet before the first use to activate the battery. Otherwise, it won’t power on.
Charging the 5018s from 0 to 100% takes around one hour. The charger (type 492-XXXX) has a USA plug and will work anywhere in the world (100–240v).
If you’re in a hurry, the quick charge function can come in handy. Charging the shaver for 5 minutes should provide just enough juice to complete a shave.
The battery indicator is very basic, with only 3 levels, each one representing a third of the battery capacity.
When the battery is almost drained, the red plug icon will light up, indicating that you must charge it.
Let’s now get to the part that really matters, and that is the actual shaving performance.
For this review, I’ve been using the Braun Series 5 5018s exclusively for almost two weeks.
I tried to test it in a variety of scenarios so I can get a better understanding of its pros and cons and when this shaver would be a suitable option.
I used the 5018s both wet and dry, daily, every other day and I also skipped shaving on weekends to see how it copes with a longer beard.
I will break down the performance review into several parts, starting as usual with the closeness.
Closeness of the shave
In my case, the closeness was pretty good; in fact, it was better than expected.
Given the striking similarities to the entry-level Series 3 and the obvious cost-cutting decisions in the case of the cassette, I really didn’t have high expectations.
The most surprising part about it was the closeness on my neck during a dry shave.
This is a problem area for me with most entry to mid-range Braun shavers.
But when shaving with the 5018s, it was perfectly adequate.
To my surprise, it was also good on the chin and under the nose, two areas where I have particularly thick facial hair.
It wasn’t as good on the cheeks though; I could still feel some rough patches even after doing more passes than usual.
The results were slightly better when I used a pre-shave lotion or shaving cream, but not dramatically better.
The shave was however more enjoyable and I even managed to finish in a shorter time.
I think the reason was the added slickness as the head of the 5018s tends to get stuck and doesn’t glide as easily on the skin as other shavers, like the old Series 5 and 7.
It tends to be a bit jerky and sticks to the skin occasionally. This can make shaving more tedious and lead to a longer session.
I also have to mention that the motor fitted to the Series 5 5018s is not as powerful as I would have liked.
It sounds and feels a bit sluggish and you will notice it if you have very coarse hair or you’re shaving less often.
I’d say that the 5018s and the rest of the models in this lineup will be suitable for someone with light to medium facial hair.
Otherwise, shaving will just take longer and won’t be that enjoyable.
All in all, the closeness was satisfactory for a Braun shaver in this price range, but if you’re really concerned with getting a very close shave, there are better alternatives from Panasonic.
Another aspect regarding the Braun 5018s that came as a very pleasant surprise was the comfort.
It is a very gentle and smooth shaver provided that you’re not moving the shaving head two fast across the skin.
As long as you stick to slower, controlled, shorter strokes and don’t press hard, it should be perfectly suitable even for someone with sensitive skin.
I personally have very sensitive and dry skin, especially on the neck, but didn’t have any major issues using the 5018s.
For the majority of the time, it was perfectly comfortable and smooth during a dry shave, with no hairs getting yanked and no serious discomfort during or after the shave.
I again recommend using the Series 5 5018s on shorter facial hair to avoid any potential discomfort.
The foils always remained cool, maybe only slightly warm towards the end of the shave.
I tried it with the Beard Lube from Black Jack — a latherless shaving balm — and the comfort was just sublime.
I particularly enjoyed using the 5018s wet mainly because of the added slickness; the head just glides over the skin effortlessly.
Overall, the comfort of the shave with the Braun 5018s was very good.
Shaving longer, flat-lying hairs
This is in my opinion the area where the new Series 5 shows its limitations.
Foil shavers aren’t usually very good at capturing and cutting difficult facial hair.
This includes long, wiry, flat-lying hairs.
Some (more advanced) electric razors like the Series 7 and 9 are very good in these situations, but the cheaper ones tend to struggle.
And while it wasn’t by any means horrible, the Braun Series 5 5018s did require more work when used on a 3 days beard.
First of all, I had to use even slower strokes to avoid hairs getting pulled. On a short beard, it wasn’t usually a problem, but in this situation more attention was needed.
Secondly, the flat hairs on my neck required many passes and even so, a few odd stray hairs just refused to surrender.
I had to switch to the beard trimmer and cut them — this is when I also missed having an integrated trimmer that I could just extend and use.
Shaving flat and long hairs with the 5018s is when the downgrade from the previous cassette is the most obvious.
My older Series 5 was significantly better in these situations.
In conclusion, my recommendation would be to consider the Braun 5018s if you plan on shaving often for the majority of the time.
Ideally, I would use it daily or every other day.
As mentioned previously, I personally find the new Series 5 a bit underpowered.
And this is quite important for getting a quick shave, especially if your beard is dense and thick.
Secondly, the head of the 5018s is fixed, so you’ll have to work a bit more in order to maintain the foils flat on the skin.
The 3 cutting elements also don’t protrude as much and while they do move independently, the range of motion is quite short and the movement is a bit jerky.
Finally, the foil frame is unnecessarily wide (wider than on the old S5) and the head just doesn’t glide as easily on the skin.
All these aspects combined lead to longer shaving sessions, at least when compared to the previous Series 5 or 7.
I’d say that the experience is very similar to the Braun Series 3 ProSkin, which isn’t particularly flattering.
Precision trimmer attachment
I personally have a preference for integrated hair trimmers.
They’re always there and extremely handy when you need to cut a stubborn hair or shape your sideburns.
If that’s how you use a trimmer in the majority of the time, you probably won’t like the trimmer attachment shipped with the Series 5 5018s.
You’ll have to manually remove the cassette and pop it in its place every time you need to use it.
For some light grooming like the situations mentioned above, it is not ideal.
I find it too large and unpractical and I would very much rather have a pop-up trimmer always at hand.
But if you need to pre-trim a beard, it’s definitely better than any integrated trimmer.
It fits both ways, so that’s definitely practical in this case, allowing you to use it both ways depending on the area you’re trimming.
But in my case, it doesn’t make much sense as I tend to shave often — every three days at most — so there’s no need to pre-trim my beard.
The 5018s only includes this trimmer (called a Precision trimmer), but other Series 5 models come with comb attachments, body trimmers or stubblers.
The Braun Series 5 5018s is actually quiet for a foil electric shaver.
It is one of the quietest Braun models I’ve used so far, on par with the Series 9 in this regard.
One of the reasons for this is of course the less powerful motor which also contributes to a lengthier shaving session.
It also doesn’t vibrate as much as most Braun shavers when cutting the hairs.
So it’s overall a quiet razor, although not by any means as quiet as a rotary.
Cleaning and maintenance
None of the new Series 5 models are available with an automatic cleaning station.
And that’s a bit odd since all of them are actually compatible with the stations shipped with the 2020 Series 7 and 6 (the station type is 5434).
So if you already own one of those, you’ll be able to use it with the 5018s.
I actually tried the station that came with my 7071cc and it worked perfectly (pictured below).
However, most users won’t have that possibility and they’ll have to clean the shaver manually.
And judging by the way Braun is making a big deal out of it, the EasyClean system is one of the highlights of the Series 5 50.
Precisely, it’s a workaround that should allow you to clean your shaver with water without removing the cassette.
There’s a cutout below the shaving unit covered by two rubber flaps.
The pressure from the stream of water pushes those flaps inward and enters the head of the shaver, flushing away the hair clippings.
I tried cleaning my 5018s exclusively in this manner for the first 3 shaves just to see how effective it is.
Sadly, it’s not very effective.
While the bulk of the hairs were removed, there were still plenty of finer strands left, especially towards the extremities of the three cutters on the inside of the cassette.
And I was really thorough with it and spent quite a bit of time doing it.
But the truth is that it would have taken me less time to simply remove the cassette and give it a thorough rinse (inside out). And the results would have been much better also.
So in my opinion, while interesting, this solution is more of a gimmick.
The best way to clean a waterproof shaver is with a bit of liquid soap and warm tap water.
You don’t have to use soap after every shave (unless you use shaving cream or gel).
As usual, I start my cleaning routine by removing the cassette and gently tapping out the hairs.
Do not hit the foils as they will get damaged.
You may also use the included brush, but only on the inside of the cassette, never directly on the foils.
Snap the cassette back in place, add a bit of water to the foils and then pour some liquid soap on the foils.
Turn the shaver on for around 15 seconds, adding more water if needed so that the soap will lather and coat the cutters.
With the razor still on, rinse it with warm tap water. Turn it off, remove the cassette, and give it a final rinse inside out.
Shake off the excess water and optionally pat the parts dry with a clean cloth.
You should let the shaver air dry completely (with the cassette removed) before storing it in a cabinet.
That’s pretty much it.
Cleaning is mostly pretty straightforward in the case of the Series 5 5018s.
The blades and foils can’t be separated (like in the case of Panasonic shavers), so some stubborn hairs and debris may get stuck in hard-to-reach spots.
There’s no lubricant included with the Braun Series 5 5018s, but you can use any light oil like sewing machine oil, clipper oil or even a spray lubricant for electric shavers.
If you clean the razor with soap after every shave, then you should also lubricate it after every shave.
Just make sure the cassette is completely dry before applying the lubricant.
A single drop on each cutting element will suffice.
You should switch the shaver on for a few seconds after that to help distribute the oil evenly across the cutters.
If you only clean your 5018s with the brush or just water, lubricating it once a week should be more than enough.
You can read my complete guide to lubricating your electric shaver for more details.
Replacement parts availability
The 2020 Series 5 models (including the 5018s) use a new shaving head (cassette) called 53b.
Braun Series 5 replacement head (53b)
At the moment of writing this review, the cassette is not yet available for purchase.
I will update the post as soon as it’s released.
UPDATE: The part is now available.
I wouldn’t be too worried about this as we’ve seen this happening with other newly launched Braun models in the past.
The part should also cost less than the previous Series 5 cassette (the 52s/52b) given that it’s objectively not quite as good.
Fun fact: the 53b appears to be identical to the 73b and 73s cassettes used by the 2020 Series 7. I switched them around and they fit perfectly.
Apart from having different part numbers, they seem to be identical.
Wrapup—Who should buy the 5018s?
I think the main problem with the Braun Series 5 5018s is its name. Precisely, the Series 5 part.
It doesn’t have anything to do with the current Series 5 as we know it.
It feels like a whole different product in its own right. Something like a Series 4 would have made much more sense.
And that’s because the 5018s is significantly cheaper and the performance is also not quite at the same level as before.
However, it’s still quite a compelling product in this price range.
The comfort is excellent and the closeness is adequate for the most part.
I’d say that it’s slightly more comfortable than a Series 3 ProSkin, while the closeness is pretty much the same.
Men with sensitive skin that usually shave more often can consider the 5018s.
I wouldn’t recommend it to users with coarse, wiry hair or if you plan on shaving every three days for example.
In that case, I think it’s well worth spending a bit more on a better shaver (more details in the next section).
If you already own a previous Series 5, don’t think you’ll get an upgrade with the 5018s. You definitely won’t.
With that said, let’s take a look at a few alternatives to the 5018s that would make more sense in several situations.
Braun Series 5 5140s
The current Series 5 generation is still one of the more compelling options in the mid-range segment.
While definitely more expensive than the 5018s, the 5140s is a better shaver in every way.
It’s more powerful, better with longer and flat-lying hairs, it has a superior shaving head that can swivel up and down, it comes with a travel case and it also has an integrated trimmer.
I personally prefer it over the 5018s and would gladly pay more for it.
The 5140s is usually less expensive than other Series 5 variations, particularly the cc models that come with a cleaning station.
If you plan on shaving less often or have a coarser beard, I think you’ll be happier with this one.
Braun Series 3 ProSkin 3040s
I think this model makes a really good case for itself, especially if you’re on a tighter budget.
The shaving performance is similar to the 5018s, but it costs less, the replacement cassette is cheap and widely available, it has an integrated slide-out trimmer and just feels like you’re getting pretty much the same experience.
As mentioned previously, the shaving heads of the Series 3 and the new Series 5 are strikingly similar.
So definitely consider the 3040s for the same reasons you would consider the 5018s.