Pros: close and comfortable shaves, excellent beard trimmer + combs, compact and lightweight, practical and easy to use, reasonably priced, good build quality and ergonomics, lubricating oil included, easy to clean
Cons: fixed shaving head, rudimentary battery indicator, no travel case, foil head works best on short hair
With a reasonable price and offering great performance for the money, Panasonic’s 3-blade shavers have been a commercial success for quite some time.
One of the latest additions to this family of budget-friendly shavers is the Panasonic ES-LL41-K and in this review, I’ll be sharing everything you need to know about this so-called Hybrid shaver.
I have been using it extensively for almost 3 weeks and it managed to impress me both as a shaver and as a beard trimmer. However, not everything about it was perfect as you’ll see later on.
That said, I hope this post will help you decide whether the ES-LL41-K would be a suitable choice for your needs or you’d be better off with something else.
Side note: The Panasonic ES-LL21-K is an identical shaver available in the UK/Europe, the only difference compared to the ES-LL41-K being that the latter comes with two combs attachments, while the cheaper ES-LL21-K only includes one.
Performance-wise, they’re identical, so this review will be relevant in the case of the Panasonic ES-LL21-K as well.
Also, the -K in the name only refers to the black color of the shavers, so you’ll sometimes find them listed as ES-LL41 and ES-LL21.
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 ES-LL41-K?
- Alternative shavers
1. Three-blade shaving head
The Panasonic ES-LL41-K is basically an Arc 3 foil shaver and it inherits the series’ defining characteristic: a slightly arched, 3-blade shaving head.
So Panasonic went with a rather conservative approach, with a shaving unit comprised of two foil cutters that flank a central slit trimmer.
The foils are very thin so the blades cut the hairs almost at skin level, while the cutter in the middle catches and pre-trims longer, flat-lying hairs.
Unlike other Arc 3 models, the shaving head of the ES-LL41-K is fixed (the three cutters do move independently though). This is a very similar system to what Braun uses on their Series 3 models that also feature a fixed head.
As usual, there are two removable inner blades corresponding to the foils, while the central trimmer is integrated into the foil block itself.
For this shaver, Panasonic used the same foils and blades (with their trademark 30 degrees beveled edge) as on their older models like the ES8103s, so the performance should be similar as well (more details later on).
2. 13 000 CPM motor
I always try no to get too hung up on specs, but this one is particularly relevant.
For the Arc 3 lines, Panasonic uses 7 600 and 13 000 CPM (cycles per minute) motors. The ones fitted with the faster units perform exponentially better, so this is definitely a promising start for the ES-LL41 and ES-LL21.
3. Pop-up trimmer with comb attachments
The main selling point of the ES-LL41-K is its dual nature, being basically an electric shaver and a beard trimmer (hence the Hybrid term).
Panasonic went with a rather unique approach to achieving this. Usually, there’s a separate trimmer attachment that fits in place of the regular foil head and a bunch of combs.
With the ES-LL41-K, we only have two adjustable combs that are inserted over the integrated pop-up trimmer and allow the user to trim his beard to the desired length.
The smaller comb will leave you with a 1, 2 or 3mm beard. You can select the length by simply sliding the switch to the corresponding number.
If you prefer a longer beard, then the larger comb should be used instead (5, 6 or 7mm).
As mentioned previously, the ES-LL21-K model only includes the 1-2-3 comb.
4. Cordless, wet/dry use
This shaver is suitable for wet/dry use and it will only operate cordlessly.
Since it’s waterproof, you can also rinse the ES-LL41-K with water which is highly convenient and makes cleaning a breeze.
The included charger is fitted with an automatic voltage converter (100–240v), so you can charge it when traveling abroad as well.
Build quality and ergonomics
Generally, Panasonic electric razors have top-notch build quality and construction.
Regardless of price point, whether it’s an entry-level model or a high-end one, Panasonic has constantly outperformed the competition in this regard.
That basically means it doesn’t feel quite as premium, but it’s still a very solid shaver.
The Panasonic ES-LL41-K is made of plastic (just like any other electric razor in this price range) but it’s generally very good in terms of build quality.
The edges of the foil frame feel a bit rough, but other than that, there was nothing that stood out in a negative way.
Design-wise, I think it’s a really good-looking shaver, especially compared to the bland Series 3 from Braun.
The color scheme, mostly black and with a dark red pinstripe, is quite original and it works well. The two combs complement the aesthetics of the razor and don’t look like an afterthought.
The plastic surfaces have a matte finish which definitely helps with hiding any smudges, but there are a few glossy areas as well. Oddly, the thumb rest is one of them and I think the use of a rubber-like material would have been a better choice.
And speaking of it, the texturized sleeve on the back that extends to the sides provides an excellent grip. That, along with the small girth of the shaver and its weight of only 155g make holding and using the ES-LL41-K effortless and very enjoyable.
Another win in the ergonomics department is the shaving head. Precisely, the frame that holds the actual cutting elements is very compact, so this model feels noticeably nimbler than other Arc 3s during use.
In my opinion, this sort of makes up for the fixed shaving head and I actually didn’t miss that feature. The three cutters also stick out a bit more which again helps when shaving a tight spot like right below the nose.
I liked that Panasonic didn’t skimp on some of their useful features like the power button that doubles as a travel lock via a long press, the release tabs for the foil frame, and a very solid pop-up trimmer.
Even the two comb attachments have two small release buttons on the sides so you won’t have to pry them off using your fingernails — it may not seem like much, but most other hybrid shavers/trimmers lack this and it’s genuinely useful.
Once inserted in its place over the extended trimmer, the comb feels really secure and it would be impossible to come off by accident.
So overall, the Panasonic ES-LL41-K impresses with its thoughtful design and solid build quality, despite not looking or feeling as posh as the aforementioned LT series Arc 3.
As for negatives, the battery level indicator is really rudimentary.
There’s just a low battery light that shows up when you need to charge the shaver. That’s it. Even the venerable ES8103S has a percentage-based battery display that is a lot more useful.
And finally, there’s the persistent issue that affects all Panasonic razors, even the range-topping models: the cutting elements that are able to move independently (in order to stay in contact with the skin) require a LOT of force in order to move them.
Since you must only use light pressure when shaving, the three cutters will basically always stay in their normal position, as if they were fixed. In practice, this means you’ll have to do a bit more work in order to ensure that all of them are staying flat on the skin.
This isn’t an issue when shaving the cheeks for example, but on the neck and below the jawline it is more noticeable. Not a huge deal, but something to be aware of.
In the case of the ES-LL41-K model, here’s what you’ll be getting:
- The shaver itself
- Two adjustable comb attachments
- Protective cap
- Cleaning brush
- One small bottle of lubricant
- User manual
As mentioned previously, with the ES-LL21-K model only the small comb is included.
There’s no travel pouch in the box, which would have been nice to have, but even so, the bundle is pretty good for the price.
Battery life and charging
The Panasonic ES-LL41-K (ES-LL21-K) can only be operated cordless and it’s fitted with a rechargeable Li-ion battery that should last for up to 50 minutes of use.
That represents a small bump in battery capacity from Panasonic’s usual 45 minutes, but in practice, it’s not going to make a huge difference.
And that’s mainly because as the battery charge drops below a certain threshold (around 20% in my experience), the shaving performance will take a hit as well so you’ll want to charge the razor when that happens.
It’s not a huge drop in performance, but the shaver will feel slower and it’ll take more time to complete your shave, especially if your hair is on the coarser side.
Luckily, since this is a Li-ion battery, you can charge it whenever you want as it won’t affect the lifespan of the battery.
And speaking of charging, the ES-LL41-K comes with Panasonic’s usual charger, the RE7-87, that can take between 100 and 240 volts, so you can use it anywhere in the world.
Since my review unit was bought from Europe, it came with a European plug, but that will vary depending on where you’re buying it from.
Nevertheless, you will be able to use a simple plug adapter if you buy a USA version and you live in Europe for example, or the other way around.
But getting back to the battery life, I think you should easily get 40 minutes of use at maximum performance. If you go beyond that you’ll probably experience a bit of a performance drop, but this is common with almost all electric shavers.
Overall, the battery life of the ES-LL41-K is definitely satisfactory.
Charging it from 0 to 100% takes a bit less than an hour, again in line with most of today’s shavers.
As mentioned earlier, the battery level indicator on this model is almost useless in telling you how much charge you got left. There’s only a low battery icon that lights up when you have only around 10 minutes worth of shaving left.
I highly recommend charging it when that happens as from that moment on, you’ll likely experience a gradual decrease in the shaver’s speed.
Apart from the basic battery indicator, I guess another negative would be Panasonic’s use of their proprietary charging port instead of adopting the now ubiquitous USB Type-C.
It’s the same situation in the case of the other two big brands in the industry, but some newcomers have already made the jump to USB.
We can only hope that it’ll happen with the rest of them sooner than later.
It’s now time to see how good the Panasonic ES-LL41-K really is. I’ve been using it constantly for a few weeks now, both as a shaver and as a beard trimmer and I can honestly say that it has exceeded my expectations.
While the shaving performance was no surprise, being basically a standard Arc 3 fitted with the more powerful motor, it proved to be a very capable and practical trimming tool as well.
But we’ll get to that later on, so let’s now focus on the shaving part, starting as usual with the closeness.
Closeness of the shave
The outer foils are very thin, while the slightly curved profile ensures optimal contact with the skin. The blades are also very sharp and thanks to that 30-degree bevel, they can cut the hairs clean and efficiently.
I’m glad to say that all this is true in the case of the ES-LL41-K and the closeness was generally on point regardless of how the razor was used.
Even when I shaved dry, with no pre-shave lotion, it was more than adequate. Throwing in a good pre-shave like Tabac or Speick will further improve the results, especially for users with coarser beards.
Also, while it did take more time to get the desired smoothness on areas with thicker stubble (in my case those being the chin, neck, and below the nose), I was quite happy with the outcome.
For example, I would usually still have some rough patches left on those areas when shaving with a Philips Series 2000 or 3000 and even a Braun Series 3.
But with a bit of extra work, that wasn’t an issue with this Panasonic, especially when applying a pre-shave.
Another aspect worth highlighting is just how easy the ES-LL41-K is to use.
Because it’s so lightweight and compact, and the shaving head is among the slimmest of any 3-blade shavers I’ve used, shaving with it is just enjoyable and effortless.
For this reason, I would definitely recommend it to beginners as well.
Unlike other Arc 3 models, the 3 cutters stick out more and the foil frame is very compact, making it ideal to shave those nooks and crannies, like right below the nose.
I honestly didn’t miss the flexing head of most other Arc 3 variations. In fact, I used my ES-LT3N to shave the other half of my face and I definitely prefer the ES-LL41-K.
While in the photos it doesn’t seem like much, the smaller head of the ES-LL41-K makes a huge difference. It’s also better balanced (the other one feels a bit top-heavy).
Overall, the performance of the ES-LL41-K was very satisfactory in terms of closeness and just stellar as far as ergonomics go.
While the closeness was always one of the key advantages of the Arc 3 over similarly priced shavers from the competition, the comfort was never class-leading.
And this was by far the most surprising thing about the ES-LL41-K during my tests. Precisely, it was among the most comfortable Panasonic razors I’ve ever used.
In fact, it was better than my Arc 4s and on the same level with an Arc 5. This was particularly surprising since the Panasonic ES-LL41-K uses the same foil and blades as some of my older Arc 3 razors and those were never very gentle.
To put things into context, I usually have to apply a pre-shave or shaving cream in order to get a comfortable shave with an Arc 3. However, I didn’t really need to in this case.
The Panasonic ES-LL41-K is just comfortable enough right out of the box.
The foils never got hot even after I used it extensively. From past experience, I know that after a few months of use that will eventually begin to happen, but it can be greatly reduced by lubricating the blades with the included oil or even better, a spray lubricant for electric shavers.
I feel confident enough to recommend the Panasonic ES-LL41-K even to users with sensitive skin, which again I think is a first in the case of the Arc 3.
This model is also fitted with the beard density sensor that Panasonic uses on all their newer razors.
Basically, it should improve the comfort by slowing down the motor when shaving areas with light facial hair and increasing the power when needed to tackle coarse stubble.
Well, the shaver is definitely comfortable and forgiving, but not because of this sensor (which is there mainly because it looks good in the specs sheet).
For example, when I start shaving, the razor isn’t operating at full speed. After 10 seconds or so it changes to full power and stays that way for the rest of the shave, regardless of the thickness of my beard.
I personally don’t mind this, in fact, I prefer taking advantage of the motor’s entire power. In my experience, slowing it down won’t really yield any benefits — quite the contrary.
So it’s a good thing that it doesn’t really work as it should. I would have liked to be able to disable the sensor, but that’s only possible with older Arc 5 models like the ES-LV65.
All in all, the Panasonic ES-LL41-K was a surprisingly comfortable and gentle shaver.
Shaving longer, flat-lying hairs
Panasonic razors generally perform (a lot) better when shaving short facial hair. And with the ES-LL41-K/ES-LL21-K it’s pretty much the same story.
Not only was I able to finish my shave faster, it was also more comfortable. If the beard is too long (more than 3 days of growth), the shaver is less forgiving and can actually snag a few hairs.
If you’re very careful and move the shaving head slower you can still get a decent shave though.
Things are a bit worse if the hairs are lying flat on the skin or grow in different directions. That’s not surprising as even the range-topping Panasonic models have some trouble in this situation.
Ideally, you’ll want to use the Panasonic ES-LL41-K more often in order to get the best results. Luckily, if the beard is too long, you can simply use the comb attachments to trim it down to a reasonable length before shaving.
It will work really well as a daily shaver, but you can also shave every other day with it. If your beard grows slow or is on the lighter side, you can get away with more days between shaving sessions and still have an enjoyable experience.
The vast majority of Panasonic shavers are wet/dry models and so is the ES-LL41-K/ES-LL21-K.
That means you’ll be able to shave with your shaving cream/gel/soap of choice, but also use it in the shower if that’s something you prefer.
The downside is, as usual, that the razor will only work cordless.
As for the wet shaving performance of the Panasonic ES-LL41-K, it was really good.
It will make a more noticeable difference if you have a coarser beard as I found the closeness on the chin and below the nose to be even better when I used the razor with shaving cream.
The comfort was at least as good and I didn’t experience any post-shave discomfort.
I would still recommend shaving more often in order to get the best results if your hairs tend to stay flat on the skin.
But all in all, solid wet shaving performance as it was expected.
Using the trimmer and comb attachments
I will start off by admitting that I was quite skeptical about the hair trimmer and combs of the Panasonic ES-LL41-K.
I’ve used many shavers in the past that tried to achieve this shaver + trimmer functionality but only managed that with limited success.
They’re a bit fiddly to use and I just didn’t like that system enough in order to consider them suitable for long-term use — I would rather just buy a separate beard trimmer. The trimmers attachments are kinda bulky, they don’t cut the hairs close enough and require many passes.
Then there’s a similar implementation from Braun with their 2020 Series 5, 6 and 7. Those suffer from the same shortcomings of the aforementioned Philips models.
Getting back to the Panasonic ES-LL41-K/ES-LL21-K, it comes with an integrated pop-up trimmer that I find a lot more practical for basic grooming and touch-ups: shaping/adjusting sideburns, edging, cleaning beard lines, and so on.
It also cuts really well and close to the skin, it doesn’t fall back in place if you apply more pressure and because the head of the shaver is quite compact, you can actually see what you’re doing.
But I still had my reservations regarding its use in conjunction with the combs for trimming/maintaining an entire beard.
I simply thought that it wouldn’t be able to cut the longer hair efficiently and it’ll just be cumbersome to use.
Well, I’m glad to say that I was completely wrong.
First of all, the attachments themselves are of high quality, they look and feel nice and snap securely over the extended trimmer.
They can only be inserted one way, with the length adjustment switch facing the bottom of the shaver.
You then select the desired beard length — for example, if you want a 3mm beard, you should use the attachment with the switch at number 3, then press the power switch and start trimming.
The dark grey part of the comb that actually touches the skin is made out of a very glossy plastic that ensures minimal friction and it glides effortlessly on the face, even if the hair is short or less dense.
This is a big plus of the Panasonic over the other hybrid shavers mentioned above.
Also, the angle at which you hold the shaver/trimmer against the skin is just right and makes the experience very enjoyable. You can hold upside down as well (depending on the area you’re trimming).
To my surprise, the hairs were cut very efficiently and faster than I would have expected.
The trimmer is powered by the same nippy 13 000 CPM motor, so it’s quite capable for an integrated cutter. In my experience, it is significantly faster than the other 2 in 1 systems currently available (from Philips and Braun).
It also makes a very satisfying and reassuring noise whenever the hairs are being clipped. It does make a bit of a mess, so I would suggest taking your shirt off and leaning over the sink.
I don’t usually grow a beard as my skin can’t take the itching (I also don’t think it fits my physiognomy), but I let grow for a few days just to test the trimmer and combs.
Overall, I was quite impressed with the trimming capabilities of the Panasonic ES-LL41-K and I actually see it being successfully used in this manner as well, not just occasionally.
Also, users in Europe should probably opt for the ES-LL41-K over the ES-LL21-K because as I mentioned at the beginning of the review, the former comes with two attachments.
For someone who prefers a longer beard and not just that stubble look, the second larger comb (4 to 7mm) will come in handy.
Cleaning and maintenance
Panasonic is generally better than most brands when it comes to the ease of cleaning and this model follows suit.
While you could use the included brush for a quick, dry sweep, the best and most effective way to clean the ES-LL41-K is with warm tap water and some liquid hand soap.
And the whole thing should take less than a minute.
Here’s how I normally do it.
Once I finish shaving, I turn the shaver off and remove the foil frame. While Panasonic doesn’t say you should do this, I like to remove most of the hairs trapped inside the shaving head before moving to the next step.
In order to do that, I lightly tap the plastic part of the foil frame on the sink and also blow a few times over it and over the inner blades.
I insert the frame back in place, add a bit of warm water, then pour a few drops of liquid soap over the foils.
Pressing and holding the power button for a few seconds will make the shaver enter the so-called sonic cleaning mode.
The blades will oscillate at a faster rate and also prevent water from splashing around.
Add more water if needed to lather the soap nicely.
After 20 seconds the shaver will turn off automatically or you can do it yourself sooner by pressing the power button.
In order to rinse the lather more effectively, activate the sonic mode again by pressing and holding the power switch and rinse the head thoroughly with warm water.
Turn it off, remove the head, and give the foils and blades a final rinse under the tap. You can do the same for the trimmer and comb attachments if you’ve been using them.
Shake off the excess water, optionally pat with a dry cloth and that’s pretty much it. I prefer to let the shaver air dry (with the foil frame removed) overnight before storing it in a cabinet.
In order to get the most out of any electric shaver and prolong the lifespan of the foil and blades, it should be lubricated regularly.
With the ES-LL41-K, Panasonic also provides the lubricant which is definitely a nice touch. You could use a light mineral oil as well, like clipper oil or even a spray lubricant for electric shavers.
If you clean your razor with water and soap, then you should lubricate it after every cleaning. Just make sure that the shaving head is completely dry before applying the oil.
I personally do it right before I shave.
If you only clean the razor with water (no soap) or with the brush, then oiling the blades once or twice a week should suffice.
You should only put one or two drops on the outside of each cutting element (including the blades of the pop-up trimmer), then turn the razor on for a few seconds.
Using a paper tissue, wipe the excess oil and you’re all set. For more info, you can check out my guide on how and when to lubricate an electric shaver.
Replacement parts availability
For a recently released shaver, the Panasonic ES-LL41-K uses rather old foils and blades.
Precisely, it’s the WES9013PC set that was present on the very first Arc 3 models.
But this isn’t actually a bad thing. The parts are widely available and can cost less than the newer Arc 3 foils and blades.
Panasonic WES9013PC Replacement foil & blades
That said, it’s still more expensive than a Braun Series 3 shaving head for example.
Panasonic says you should replace the outer foil every year and the inner blades every two years. These parts are also available separately, not just as a set: WES9087PC (foil) and WES9068PC (blades).
I personally think replacing both at the same time would be ideal, but that’s just my take on this.
It’s difficult to predict how often you’ll need new parts as it will greatly depend on the coarseness of your hair, how often you shave and how well you take care of the shaver (cleaning and lubrication).
I highly recommend a spray lubricant like the Remington Shaver Saver as it seems to make a big difference in the case of Panasonic shavers, extending the lifespan of the blades and foil.
Wrapup — who should buy the ES-LL41-K?
Since the Panasonic ES-LL41-K is basically an Arc 3 with the added functionality of a beard trimmer, it would be a very compelling option for someone that wants a solid, budget-friendly razor that’s easy to use and to clean.
The shaving performance is excellent in this price range, in particular when the razor is used on short facial hair.
It’s compact and lightweight and the shaving head is slimmer than most 3-blade razors from Panasonic, making it ideal for beginners as well.
And there’s of course the trimmer with the two attachments and it’s a surprisingly capable machine in that regard.
It’s very practical, well-thought and can be a decent option for someone that alternates between a beard and a clean-shaven look.
I personally prefer it to the similar hybrid shavers from Philips or Braun for the reasons I outlined in the review (basically, it’s more effective and practical).
It won’t be as good as a dedicated beard trimmer and if you constantly wear a beard and need more flexibility in terms of comb sizes, then you’ll probably need to get a dedicated beard trimmer as well.
But I definitely think the Panasonic ES-LL41-K is one of the better 2 in 1 shavers out there right now.
The price is quite reasonable as well and this model is widely available, although in certain countries you’ll only be able to get the ES-LL21-K variation that comes with a single comb.
Let’s now check out a few alternatives.
Braun Series 3 ProSkin 3010BT
This is one of Braun’s shavers that are also compatible with accessories for trimming and maintaining a beard.
But unlike the Panasonic, the Braun 3010BT doesn’t have an integrated trimmer, so it is provided as a separate attachment alongside 5 different size combs.
This is the more common approach and it can also work well.
I personally prefer Panasonic’s take on this as there are only two extra things you’ll need: the two adjustable combs.
With the Braun 3010BT, the same functionality is achieved with 6 accessories: the beard trimmer itself (you must first remove the foil head and insert it in its place) and 5 basic combs.
I find the Panasonic to be a bit faster as well, regardless if you’re using the trimmer with or without any combs.
As for the shaving performance, the Braun is a bit better with flat-lying hairs and maybe slightly more forgiving if you have sensitive skin, but doesn’t shave quite as close as the ES-LL41-K.
It is generally cheaper though and so is the replacement shaving head.
To be perfectly honest, there aren’t that many hybrid models out there that manage to perform satisfactorily both as shavers and as beard trimmers.
We also have the new 2020 Braun Series 5, 6 and 7 and certain models include various trimming attachments, similar to the 3010BT above, but they’re usually much more expensive than the Panasonic ES-LL41-K.
And the same goes for Philips; most models only include a trimmer attachment with no combs, so that drastically impacts the versatility. Unfortunately very few come with an adjustable comb (Philips Norelco 8900 being one of them), but again we have the same pricing issue and the ES-LL41-K undercuts them by a lot.
So I think this is where the Panasonic ES-LL41-K really stands out, being quite affordable and practical compared to the alternatives.
Personally, I would choose it over all the other options from the competition.
This concludes my ES-LL41-K review and hopefully I managed to cover all the important parts about owning and using this 2 in1 shaver & trimmer. If you have any other questions, make sure to post them in the comments section below.