Pros: great performance for the price, very comfortable, suitable for sensitive skin, very good build quality, excellent cleaning station, can be used while charging (5090cc), waterproof, hard travel case, inexpensive replacement shaving head
Cons: pretty loud and strong vibrations during use, fiddly to clean manually, mediocre long hair trimmer, not the closest shaving razor in this price category
The Series 5 line from Braun has been steadily growing in popularity, the main reasons for this being its excellent performance and reasonable price.
With a host of compelling features, the Series 5 appears to be a viable alternative to the more expensive Series 7 but without any significant trade-offs in performance or build quality.
The 5090cc (5190cc) is one of the best-selling Series 5 models that has been getting quite a lot of attention for being basically a Series 7 on a budget. Moreover, it also includes Braun’s Clean & Charge station.
In order to find out if the hype around it is real, we have given the 5090cc the full ShaverCheck treatment and subjected it to thorough testing.
In this Braun Series 5 5190cc/5090cc review we will take a close look at all the things that matter and see if the Series 5 line is up to the expectations.
UPDATE: The (original) Series 5, with models like the 5090cc and 5190cc has been discontinued. The best alternative is now the Braun Series 8 which is really similar in all regards.
Table of Contents
- Features overview
- Included accessories
- Build quality and ergonomics
- Battery life and charging
- Shaving performance
- Cleaning and maintenance
- Replacement parts availability
- Wrapup — Who should buy it?
- Alternative shavers
3 blade shaving system
The Braun Series 5 is a three-blade foil shaver suitable for dry-only use. The more recent Series 5 models like the 5190cc, 5195cc or 5197cc can be used wet or dry.
All of them are however waterproof and can be cleaned with water.
The shaving head configuration is typical Braun and features two outer foils with the trademark octagonal perforations and one middle trimmer.
The outer foils catch and cut short stubble close to the skin, while the middle cutter, called the ActiLift Trimmer, captures longer, flat-lying hairs that grow in different directions.
Flexing shaving head
The three cutting elements can move independently to maintain constant contact with the skin, regardless of the area that’s being shaved. Braun calls this FlexMotionTec with MicroMotion.
Apart from that, the whole shaving head pivots to further improve the contact between the cutting elements and the different contours of the face.
The pretentious term used in this case is FlexMotionTec with MacroMotion.
The head of the Series 5 can also be locked into place when more precision is needed.
This is carried out via the head-locking switch located on the front of the shaver, just below the shaving head.
There are 5 predetermined positions for locking the shaving head and you can go through them by simply pushing the head into a different one without any damage to the ratcheting mechanism.
This is a major improvement over the locking mechanism of the Series 7 which would simply break when you applied more pressure.
In the two extreme positions, the middle trimmer and one of the two foils are also retracted, so you end up with just one of the foils protruding, very handy for shaving tricky areas like under your nose.
Long hair trimmer
On the back of the Series 5 you’ll find a long hair trimmer, similar to the ones used on the Series 3 and Series 9.
When fully extended, it just about passes the shaving head so you can sort of see what you are doing.
Automatic cleaning station
As all cc models in Braun’s lineup, the 5090cc/5190cc comes with an automatic cleaning & charging station.
The station uses an alcohol-based solution and takes care of cleaning, lubricating and charging your Series 5 shaver. We’ll cover the station in great detail later in the review.
Corded or cordless use (5090cc)
The 5090cc is equipped with a Li-Ion battery that should provide 45 minutes of cordless use.
Since this shaver is suitable for dry use only, you can also shave while it is plugged in.
The 5190cc variation on the other hand and all the newer wet&dry Series 5 shavers (5195cc, 5197cc) will only work cordless as a safety precaution.
You can charge the shaver via the station or by plugging the included cord directly into the shaver.
While the 5090cc in our review is waterproof and can be safely rinsed with water, you cannot use it in the shower or with shaving cream or gel.
Other noteworthy features of the Series 5 5090cc include a 5 level battery indicator, hygiene status, 5-minute quick charge option and a travel lock.
The 5190cc/5195cc/5197cc models feature a 3 level battery indicator.
Apart from the shaver itself, inside the package you’ll find the following items:
- Automatic cleaning & charging station
- One cleaning cartridge
- Charging cord
- Cleaning brush
- Hard travel case
- User’s manual
Unfortunately there’s no plastic protection cap or a small bottle of lubricant. I would have liked to see those included, but for the price of the 5090cc, it’s not too bad
I particularly like the hard travel case that offers far better protection in case of mechanical shocks compared to the flimsy faux leather pouches used by Panasonic for example.
Unfortunately there’s no room for the charging cord inside the case.
It’s also interesting to note that other Series 5 models come with different accessories.
For example, the 5090cc reviewed here is the only Series 5 that comes with a hard travel case. All the other ones include a soft pouch or none at all.
The newer models like the 5190cc also come with a plastic protective cap.
Build quality and ergonomics
Braun’s Series 5 sits right between the Series 3 and the Series 7. However, if we consider the overall quality and performance, it is a whole lot closer to the Series 7.
To back this up, the Series 5 is made in Germany, just like the more premium Series 7 and 9. The entry-level Series 3 is made in China.
One interesting thing is that only the shaver is made in Germany.
The cleaning cartridge is made in Ireland, the cleaning station is made in Hungary, while the charging cord, cleaning brush and travel case are made in China.
The Series 5 5090cc (5190cc) is made entirely out of plastic, with both glossy and matte treatments.
The color scheme of our review unit looks quite striking with the black and red combination.
The back of the shaver is pretty plain. There is a generous, textured rubber insert that extends to the sides and provides an excellent grip even when your hands are wet.
The same rubberized material covers most of the long hair trimmer as well.
You can also see the two metal studs that come into contact with two metal plates inside the cleaning station.
The Series 5 5090cc/5190cc is a big shaver. It’s got a considerable girth and looks very beefy.
However, it is lightweight and feels well balanced.
It’s also quite similar to the range-topping Series 9 in terms of design language and proportions.
The backside of the two looks almost identical (5090cc to the left, 9290cc to the right):
The overall build quality of the Series 5 is very good, with no visible defects or unsightly gaps between the various surfaces.
The glossy black does show smudges and fingerprints and it probably scratches easily, so you’ll have to be careful with it.
The shaving head looks and feels of high quality and snaps securely in place. It also pops out easily when you need to clean it manually.
With only 3 cutting elements, it’s also quite slim and very easy to maneuver in tight spots, especially when compared to a 5 blade Panasonic Arc 5 behemoth.
The simple and clear LED display is very practical and a definite improvement over the oddly placed and dim display of the Series 7.
It shows the battery level, when you need to clean the shaver or when the travel lock is activated.
Speaking of which, this is another minus of the Series 7 that was fully addressed with the Series 5.
While the Series 7 doesn’t have a travel lock, you can activate it on the Series 5 by pressing and holding the ON/OFF switch for 3 seconds.
As for the not-so-good things about the 5090cc/5190cc and the Series 5 in general, that would be the noise during use. Actually it’s not the noise itself, but the vibrations.
They are really strong and you can definitely feel them in your hand and on your face when using the shaver.
A Series 7 is much more refined in this regard. I didn’t find the vibrations to affect the quality of my shave, but I definitely couldn’t ignore them.
Overall, I must say that I am very pleased with the build quality, looks and ergonomics of the 5090cc.
Battery life and charging
The 5090cc comes with a Li-Ion battery that provides up to 45 minutes of cordless shaving time. I found this claim to be pretty accurate and it even slightly surpassed these numbers during my time with the shaver.
The newer 5190cc is rated for 50 minutes of use, so that one should be even better.
It takes around 60 minutes for the battery to fully charge and you can achieve this by plugging the cord directly into the shaver or by placing it into the cleaning base that also charges the shaver.
Being suitable for dry only use, the Braun Series 5 5090cc can be used while charging with the included cord, unlike the wet/dry 5190cc.
There’s also a 5-minute quick charge option that should provide just enough power to complete one shaving session.
The LED display is very straightforward, with 5 bars that indicate the charge status of the battery. The 5090cc is the only Series 5 with a 5 level battery indicator, the rest of them having a 3 level display or even 2 (5040s).
There is also a low charge light that will start blinking when the battery is running low. When this happens you should be able to complete your shave with the remaining charge.
And now let’s get to the most important part of the review, the actual shaving performance.
I used the Series 5 5090cc exclusively for 3 weeks, shaving daily and every other day for the most part.
I didn’t shave on weekends just to see how it would deal with a longer beard on a Monday morning when you probably want to get it over with as fast as possible.
Closeness of the shave
When it comes strictly to the closeness of the shave, the 5190cc (and the Series 5 in general) is pretty good.
It’s not the closest shaving electric razor in this price category — that title goes to the Panasonic Arc 4 — but most men will probably be satisfied with the results.
To me the Series 5 is on par with the Series 7 in this regard, even though it lacks some of its trademark features, like the sensitivity settings or the micro-pulsations technology.
In real life use, they don’t seem to make any significant difference.
With that said, if you have a very fast beard growth, you could see a 5 o’clock shadow creep up sooner than you would like.
If that sounds like you, then a Panasonic Arc 4 would probably be a better choice for pretty much the same money.
The Series 5 5190cc copes surprisingly well with longer hairs, at least for a foil shaver. After two or three days of growth, it managed to get the flat-lying hairs on my neck and right under the chin.
This is an area where most electric shavers I’ve used have struggled. As long as the hairs aren’t completely flat and unreasonably long, the Series 5 will do just fine.
The head locking feature was really useful for shaving right under my nose.
Even though the 3-blade shaving head of the 5090cc/5190cc is pretty slim, if you lock it into positions 1 or 5, the middle trimmer and one of the foils are retracted, so you’ll end up with just one foil touching the skin, excellent for precision work and getting a close shave in tight spaces.
Using a pre-shave lotion does help in making the Series 5 glide more smoothly over the skin.
If your skin is a little damp it can hop and drag over the skin. I used Williams Lectric Shave, but any pre-shave of your choice will do.
While the closeness of the Series 5 isn’t class-leading, this shaver shines when it comes to comfort.
It really impressed me how it always provided a perfectly comfortable shave, even when I pressed harder than I normally would.
The shaving head remained cool during the entire shaving session which is something a lot of shavers fail to do. For example, the foils and trimmers on most Panasonic shavers get really hot after a couple of minutes of use.
That’s not the case with the Series 5 or any of Braun’s razors in general.
The 5090cc/5190cc is very forgiving and gentle to the skin and I never experienced any discomfort or irritation.
How fast does it shave?
The Series 5 is fitted with the same motor as the Series 7 as far as I know, even though they sound different. The Series 7 is more refined, while the Series 5 is louder and vibrates vigorously.
I would say that they are pretty similar in terms of speed, maybe with a slight advantage to the Series 7.
A Panasonic Arc 4 with a mighty 14000 CPM motor will shave faster than a Series 5 that uses a 10000 CPM unit provided that your beard is reasonably short.
So if you want the fastest shaving electric shaver for the money then the Panny is probably the better choice. But keep in mind that it’s not as comfortable as the Series 5 and it doesn’t shave flat hairs as easily.
Long hair trimmer
The long hair trimmer on the Series 5 5090cc/5190cc is positioned on the back of the shaver and it’s very handy for sideburn shaping and the likes.
I don’t like the fact that it has a curved profile, I find that a straight edge works much better.
You have to tilt the shaver so that the extremities of the trimmer will come into contact with the skin. Otherwise just the middle part will do the cutting and depending on what you’re doing this may not be ideal.
Finally, I would have liked it to be a bit wider and sharper; it just takes me more time to shape my sideburns with the 5090cc compared to other shavers.
How does it compare to the Series 7?
I cannot wrap up the performance review of the Series 5 without addressing the elephant in the room — how it compares to the Series 7.
I will say it right off the bat, as far as shaving performance goes, they are very similar.
In fact, I can’t really find any compelling reason to pay more for a Series 7. The replacement shaving heads used by the Series 5 are also cheaper compared to the ones needed for the Series 7.
The Series 5 really is a viable, more affordable alternative to the Series 7.
The Series 7 feels more refined, a bit faster and more forgiving, but again, nothing dramatically different.
Cleaning and maintenance
Cleaning our gear is an integral part of any shaving routine and ideally it should be fast and easy to perform.
The Series 5 5090cc (5190cc) comes with Braun’s Clean & Charge station, but you can also clean it manually if choose so.
I’ll first go over the manual cleaning process and then we’ll see how the station performs.
After completing the shave, the first thing I do is detach the shaving head from the hand-held unit and very gently tap it on the countertop, foils side up.
This is necessary in order to get the bulk of the hair clippings out of the shaving head.
You can also use the included brush to further clean the inner area of the cassette. Do not use it on the foils as they can be easily damaged.
It’s unlikely that this method of cleaning will be enough to remove all the hairs and dirt from the inner housing of the shaving head. You can put the cassette back, switch the shaver on and rinse the head with warm running water from the tap.
You can use a few drops of liquid soap on the foils, let it run for a bit, then generously rinse it under tap water to remove all the foam.
After that, switch the shaver off, remove the cassette and further rinse the inner area. You can then let it air dry before putting it back on the shaver.
It takes a few good minutes to get all the hairs out and I was still not convinced that there weren’t any left.
In order to find that out, I inserted a brand new cleaning cartridge into the station and performed an automatic cleaning cycle right after my thorough manual cleaning.
You can see the result in the closeup photo below:
There were quite a bit of fine hair clippings left behind, even though the shaving head seemed perfectly clean.
If a manual clean of the Series 5 seems a bit fiddly (and futile) that’s because it is.
Braun’s implementation of these cassettes, with the foils and blades merged into one piece that offers limited access is what makes a manual cleaning more difficult and time-consuming compared to other foil shavers like Panasonic.
Below you can see a side by side comparison between the shaving head of a Panasonic Arc 4 (left) and the 52s shaving head used by the Series 5 (right).
Thoroughly cleaning the Panasonic literally takes me less than 30 seconds.
That’s not the case with the Series 5. Luckily it comes with an automatic cleaning base that takes care of the cleaning.
The cleaning station included with the 5090cc/5190cc has a minimalist design with a single button that starts the cleaning process.
This particular station also analyzes the hygiene status of the shaver and selects a cleaning setting accordingly: short, normal or high intensity.
These are depicted by the droplets symbols on the right side of the station’s ON/OFF button.
Unfortunately this analysis is solely based on how long you have been using the shaver since the last cleaning and doesn’t accurately account for how dirty it actually is.
The cleaning cartridges used by Braun’s stations contain an alcohol-based solution that cleans and lubricates the cutting parts.
The use of alcohol has both pros and cons. It works excellent for cleaning and sanitizing the shaver and also dries very fast.
On the flip side, it is flammable and there are restrictions to storing and shipping the cartridges.
Moreover, alcohol evaporates fast. So if you won’t be using the station for a few days in a row, it’s probably a good idea to remove the cartridge from the station and put the plastic cap back on.
This is probably one of the reasons why Braun’s cartridges need to be replaced more frequently compared to the ones from Panasonic and Norelco.
Here are some easy, actionable tips on how to make the refills last longer.
To insert the cartridge you have to press a button on the back of the station and it will pop open.
Remove the plastic cap from the cartridge and slide it from the rear of the base until it snaps into place.
You then close the housing and you’re ready to start cleaning your Series 5.
While not required, it helps to remove the shaving head and gently tap it on your sink to remove the bulk of hairs before using the station.
This will help you get more cleanings out of the cartridge before needing to be replaced. I personally do it every time as it takes only a few seconds.
Once placed into position, the shaver will sit at an angle into the station, with the front of the shaver facing you and the two metal studs on the back aligned with the contacts inside the station.
The cleaning cycle is very short and takes approximately 3 minutes or less depending on the hygiene status.
During this time the shaver is switched on and off several times and the fluid passes repeatedly through the shaving head, cleaning and removing hairs and dirt.
The selected cleaning setting is depicted on the station via a droplet symbol (one for a short, two for normal and three for high intensity).
Once the cleaning cycle has ended, the drying process will begin. Well, the station doesn’t do anything active in order to dry the shaving head, but being alcohol-based, the solution will simply evaporate after 3 hours or so.
This is the major difference between the station included with the Series 5 and the ones that come with the Series 7 (only the older models) and 9.
In the case of the Series 7 and 9, the stations use either induction heating or a fan to speed up the drying process.
This is one one the compromises that had to be made in order to keep the price of the Series 5 low. It’s not a very big deal as most of us won’t need to use the shaver again within a few hours of a previous shave.
The result is a perfectly clean shaving head, with all the hairs and dirt removed. The blades are also lubricated and have a nice, citrusy scent.
Braun’s stations work wonderfully and they are useful to have in my opinion. They take care of all the hassle associated with cleaning your shaver manually.
I actually think the cleaning station is one of the highlights of the 5090cc/5190cc and contributes massively to what makes it an overall great package.
The costs of the cleaning cartridges are pretty reasonable and well worth the extra money in my opinion.
Braun Clean & Renew replacement cartridges
You can squeeze more cleaning cycles out of them by using the station less often and performing a manual cleaning when you’re not in a hurry.
Replacement parts availability
All the Series 5 shavers, including the 5090cc in our review, use the 52s (silver) or the 52b (black) replacement shaving heads, called cassettes.
They are widely available and very reasonably priced and help with keeping the cost of ownership low.
Braun Series 5 52s shaving head
For example, the replacement shaving heads for the Series 7 are more expensive and so are the blades and foils combos for the Panasonic Arc 4.
As a result, the Series 5 offers excellent value for money.
According to Braun, you should replace the shaving head of your Series 5 shaver once every 18 months. This is only a broad guideline and it will depend on how often you use your shaver and how coarse your beard is.
Regularly cleaning and lubricating your shaver will prolong the lifespan of the cutting parts and minimize the wear on the blades and foils.
With the cc models like 5090cc or 5190cc you won’t have to worry about doing these operations yourself as the cleaning station that takes care of everything.
Wrapup — Who should buy it?
The Series 5, and particularly the 5090cc/5190cc reviewed here with its reasonable price and excellent cleaning station represents a strong option for anyone looking to buy a quality foil shaver without a premium price tag.
The Braun Series 5 works great when used for shaving daily or every other day. You can get away with even more days between your shaves as it can tackle longer, flat hairs better than any other foil shaver in this price range.
Being a dry only shaver, your pre-shave routine would be minimal to non-existent, consisting only in the use of a pre-shave lotion. And that’s optional as well.
You can simply grab your 5090cc, shave, then toss it into the station to have it charged, sanitized and lubricated, ready for your next shave.
If you have sensitive, irritation or acne-prone skin, the Series 5 is again a very good option and it won’t cost as much as a Series 7 or 9.
Unless you’re particularly concerned with getting the closest possible shave, you’ll probably be satisfied with the performance of the Series 5.
Let’s now see when the Series 5 won’t be the ideal choice and check out a few other options.
As mentioned throughout this review, the direct competitor of the Series 5 is the Arc 4 line from Panasonic.
The main advantages of the Panasonic are in my opinion the closer shave and the faster motor; these allow the Arc 4 to shave closer and faster, but with a tradeoff in comfort. It’s also not as good with longer, flat-lying hairs.
But if you don’t suffer from sensitive skin and a closer shave is more important, the Arc 4 will be a better choice for a similar price.
Panasonic Arc 4 ES-LA63AA
My pick would be the ES-LA63AA for its high-end features, great performance and excellent price. Being suitable for wet/dry use, you can also shave in the shower or with your favorite cream or gel.
The ES-LA63AA doesn’t include a cleaning station, but it is a breeze to clean manually. If however the station is a must-have, it is available in the ES-LA93-K variation.
The Series 7 is another alternative to the Series 5 5190cc. If you can get one for not a whole lot more, I think the Series 7 will be worth it for the added refinement.
There are the other Series 5 models mentioned throughout this review, the 5195cc and 5197cc. Since the 5090cc is getting more difficult to find, either of the 5190cc, 5195cc or 5197cc would be perfectly fine alternatives.
It really comes down to price and availability, so simply buy the one that is more convenient for you. Performance-wise they will be the same.
And finally, there’s the Braun Series 8, which despite its name is basically a rebranded Series 5 with a larger battery.
There are various models available, with or without a cleaning station and all of them shave the same.
As a result, you should simply get the cheapest one available in your country.