Panasonic ES3831K Review: Portability On The Cheap

Review Summary

Pros: inexpensive, compact, good build quality, AA battery powered, wet & dry use, excellent value for money, fast motor for a travel shaver

Cons: not the closest shaving travel shaver, post-shave comfort isn't that good, can't really shave flat lying hairs, no pop-up hair trimmer

Our Rating:

[4 out of 5 stars]

Buy the Panasonic ES3831K

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The Panasonic ES3831K is one of the most popular travel electric shavers out there.

At first glance it also seems to tick all the right boxes: it’s compact and very reasonably priced, exactly what you would want from a travel shaver.

However, portability and low costs also mean a compromise in performance and many compact razors out there fail to provide a decent shave.

With the ES3831K, Panasonic promises smoother shaving, anywhere.

Well, let’s see if that’s the case after subjecting it to our usual, thorough tests.

Features overview

We’ll kick off this Panasonic ES3831K review with a quick look over the main features. Being a basic razor, the list of features is not by any means extensive.

Single-blade shaving head

The ES3831K is a single-blade, portable foil electric shaver.

The single blade shaving head of the Panasonic ES3831K.

The shaving head is as basic as it gets, with no pivoting or flexing capabilities. The foil can however be depressed, but it takes quite a bit of force to do so.

The perforations in the foil are also a unique take on the regular round ones:

Panasonic ES3831K foil pattern.


The ES3831K is powered by two AA batteries and this is in my opinion a great solution for a travel razor. Batteries are cheap and widely available and you don’t have to bring along a charging cord.

The ideal travel shaver would have a USB type C connector, but that’s obviously not the case here.

Wet & dry use

The shaver is suitable for wet & dry use and it is fully waterproof. This is one of the strong points of this shaver (more details later on).

Travel lock

A must-have on any travel shaver, the ES3831K has a cleverly integrated travel lock. Located on the triangle-shaped ON/OFF slider, it must be fully depressed in order to unlock the slider.

Panasonic ES3831K travel lock.

The protective cap acts as an additional locking mechanism. With the cap on, the slider can’t be moved into the ON position even with the travel lock button depressed.

I have to give props to Panasonic for putting a lot of thought into designing this mechanism.

Included accessories

Panasonic ES3831K

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The small retail box contains the following items:

  • Panasonic ES3831K shaver
  • Cleaning brush
  • Protective cap
  • User’s manual and various booklets
Panasonic ES3831K accessories

It’s worth mentioning that the paperwork included with this tiny shaver is one of the most extensive I’ve seen so far: user’s manual, cleaning instructions, product registration, warranty card, replacement parts and accessories leaflet.

The last one is definitely a rarity; the replacement parts are listed on a separate sheet of paper instead of being buried somewhere inside the user’s manual (if at all).

Panasonic ES3831K replacement parts leaflet

The AA batteries are not included and you won’t find a travel case either. Luckily, there are a few third-party cases available on Amazon that look pretty nice and are inexpensive.

Build quality and ergonomics

The Panasonic ES3831K is very compact and lightweight, even though it may not seem so from the images.

The Panasonic ES3831K is very compact and lightweight

Compared to another popular travel shaver, the Braun M90, it is slightly smaller in length and a bit thicker.

Panasonic ES3831K vs Braun M90

It definitely passes the portability test and will easily fit inside any toiletry bag.

I’ve been very impressed with the build quality of modern Panasonic shavers, even the entry-level ones, and the ES3831K continues this trend.

For an inexpensive, basic razor, the build quality is very good.

Panasonic ES3831K

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The plastic is of high quality and feels very solid, with no uneven gaps or cracking sounds when held firmly in the hand.

The front of the shaver features just the ON/OFF slider. It’s not a switch nor a button as the whole glossy fascia slides forward when switching the shaver on or off.

Panasonic ES3831K front view.
Panasonic ES3831K travel lock.

Just like the M90, the ES3831 has a smart approach to integrating a travel lock. Located on the ON/OFF slider there’s a tiny knob that must be depressed, otherwise it won’t slide forward.

I’ve seen this mechanism implemented on older three-blade Panasonic shavers and it works very well.

It is a very simple and efficient solution.

The back and sides are pretty much bare except for the left side which features the foil frame release button.

Panasonic ES3831K foil frame release button.

On the bottom of the shaver you’ll find the battery cover that you must twist to open.

Panasonic ES3831K battery cover.

It is again similar to the solution found on the Braun M90, the main difference being that on the M90 the cover remains attached to the body so you won’t misplace it.

Panasonic ES3831K battery cover.

The protective cap snaps very securely into place and apart from offering protection in case of mechanical shocks, it doubles as a travel lock as well.

Panasonic ES3831K protective cap.

When it comes to ergonomics, the shape, lightweight and compact dimensions of the ES3831K make it very easy to maneuver and it fits great in the hand.

Panasonic ES3831K is a very ergonomic shaver.

As for the negative parts, I would say that the satin finish used for the entire body of the shaver could offer a slightly better grip. For example, the Braun M90 has more of a rubber-like texture and it feels a bit more secure.

Finally, the Panasonic ES3831K doesn’t have a pop-up hair trimmer. I know, this is a bit too much to ask from an inexpensive compact shaver, but again, the M90 has one.

There’s actually a variation called ES3833 that comes in silver and features a hair trimmer, but that one is pretty pricey for a travel shaver and seems to be out of stock everywhere.


The ES3831K is powered by two regular AA batteries. As I said previously, I think this is an appropriate solution for ultra-portable electric shavers as it’s the case here.

Panasonic ES3831K is powered by two AA batteries.

For this review, I used the ES3831K for roughly 10 days and I didn’t manage to deplete the two alkaline batteries, so I would say that a single pair should easily last throughout your voyage.

Unfortunately, there’s no way of knowing when they’ll run out of juice as the ES3831K doesn’t have a low-battery notification LED.

You will just experience a drop in speed and the shaver will start pulling the hairs and shave less efficiently.

When that happens, it’s time to replace the batteries with a pair of new ones.

The graphics on the back of the shaver will provide the instructions on how you should insert them:

Panasonic ES3831K back.

The battery cover is fitted with a rotating latch, seamlessly integrated into it. You must twist it 90 degrees clockwise to unlock the cover, then simply pull to remove it.

Panasonic ES3831K battery cover.

Once the new batteries have been inserted you must reattach the battery cover and twist the cap 90 degrees clockwise to lock it and you’re all set.

Shaving performance

So how well does the Panasonic ES3831k shave?

In order to find out, I used it as my main shaver for a week and a half. I normally test a razor for three to four weeks, but since this is a travel shaver I decided that it will suffice and will accurately replicate how most men will be using this machine.

Just to put things into perspective, I have sensitive skin and thick facial hair. I usually shave every two days as this routine seems to yield the best results for me.

Shaving with the Panasonic ES3831k has both good and bad parts.

Let’s start with the good ones.


First of all, it’s one of the more punchy travel shavers I’ve tried so far.

With an 8500 CPM motor, it definitely got more cutting power compared to other popular battery-powered compact razors. You can feel it and also hear it when cutting the hairs.

Panasonic ES3831K

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I managed to finish my shaves faster than I was expecting given my previous experience with portable shavers, particularly the rotary ones.

The foil also remained perfectly cool even after extended use.

The comfort during the shave was actually quite good, with no notable discomfort apart from some occasional pinching.

When I used the ES3831k on very short stubble it managed to shave very decently. The closeness was not as good as in the case of a full-fledged shaver, but still satisfactory. Closeness is never a strong point of travel shavers and this one is no exception.

However, where many compact shavers fail, this one did quite good: it was surprisingly fast and during the actual shave quite comfortable.

So, what about the bad parts?


The main problem with the ES3831k is shaving longer hairs that lie flat on the skin.

I have precisely this type of problem on my neck and when I was using the shaver daily this wasn’t much of a problem.

However, when I tried it on a two or three-day beard it had major problems with getting the hairs that were lying flat on the skin, no matter how many times I tried going over those areas.

Pressing harder did not help either.

As a result, you should consider using the Panasonic ES3831k daily as it works best on short facial hair. If you have a very slow beard growth and the hairs usually stand straight you could get away with shaving less often and still get decent results.

The second major issue I encountered is related to comfort. As I said previously, during the actual shave it was pretty smooth and comfortable.

However, after the shave, I almost always ended up with some razor burn and redness, especially on my neck and above the upper lip.

There was some stinging along with the rash that eventually disappeared after a couple of hours.

I must mention again that I have sensitive skin and you may or may not experience this. But in my case it was definitely there.

Finally, the closeness. On my cheeks it was actually good, but on the areas where I have very thick hairs, like above my upper lip and on my chin I definitely wish it could have been better.

Again, I think that for a travel shaver it was adequate, but compared to even an entry-level Panasonic like the Arc 3 it just wasn’t as good.

I could feel the stubble on those areas when running my fingers over the skin right after completing the shave. So if closeness is very important to you I think you should avoid travel shavers in general as I doubt any will match the closeness of a proper electric razor.

One of the highlights of the Panasonic ES3831k is the wet/dry operation, which means that you can use it in the shower or with shaving cream if you choose so.

The Panasonic ES3831K is suitable for wet/dry use.

I tried it with my favorite shaving cream from Speick and in my case there was an improvement in comfort, but the closeness was pretty much the same I got from a dry shave.

The razor burn and the stinging sensation were reduced so this could be an option if you have sensitive skin.

Reviewing a travel shaver is tricky in the sense that I must restrain myself from comparing it to a full-fledged razor.

So with that in mind, I can conclude that the Panasonic ES3831K managed to perform decently, but it wasn’t the best in class as you’ll see in the Alternative shavers section.

Cleaning and maintenance

Being a very basic foil shaver, the Panasonic ES3831K is extremely easy to clean.

In fact, it literally takes less than one minute to give it a very thorough cleaning.

There’s a cleaning brush included as well, but I would strongly suggest you to clean the shaver with warm tap water and a bit of liquid soap.

Cleaning the Panasonic ES3831K is very easy

Since it’s fully waterproof, you also have the peace of mind that it won’t be damaged by water.

After completing your shave, press the foil frame release button to remove it from the shaver and gently tap the frame on your countertop to get rid of the bulk of hair clippings.

Snap the frame and foil assembly back onto the shaver, pour a bit of liquid soap on the foil, and turn the shaver on.

Put a bit of water over the foil while the shaver is turned on and let it run for 10 to 20 seconds.

Turn the shaver off, remove the foil frame and rinse it with warm tap water. Rinse the inner blade and shaver as well, then pat everything dry with a towel or paper tissue.

You should allow the parts to air dry before storing the shaver.

Replacement parts availability

You can purchase the foil and inner blade of the Panasonic ES3831K separately or as a combo.

The protective cap and battery cover can also be found as spare parts, but most of us will only be interested in buying new foils and blades.

Panasonic ES3831K replacement parts

And here is when things go a bit sour.

While the price is not by any means prohibitive, they can cost more than a brand new Panasonic ES3831K shaver.

UPDATE: the price of the replacement set has gone down in price significantly since originally posting the review.

Panasonic WES9979P Inner blade and foil


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With inexpensive, compact shavers like this one, you will sometimes come across this type of oddities.

For example, there are no replacement blades available for the Remington R95. The reason is most likely the same: the parts would cost more than the whole shaver, so you might as well buy another one.

And this is what I would suggest you to do as well. When it’s time to replace the foil and blade, just buy a new shaver if they cost about the same.

Wrapup — Who should buy the ES3831K?

I think the main question to be asked here is whether you’re willing to give up on performance for portability and cost savings.

Panasonic ES3831K

If the answer is yes, then the Panasonic ES3831K is one of the better travel shavers out there.

If you need a cheap, compact electric razor that performs reasonably well (compared to other products in this class) and one that you can simply throw in your gym bag, glove box or keep in a drawer at your office, then you should definitely shortlist the ES3831K.

If performance and particularly closeness are important to you, then you should probably look for something else.

I would rather sacrifice a bit of extra space in my luggage and bring along a proper shaver.

The closeness, poor performance when shaving longer hairs, the lack of a hair trimmer and the sub-optimal comfort are the things that ruin the experience with pretty much all travel shavers I’ve tried.

If most of these shortcomings are not a big issue or you just want a portable shaver to do some quick touch-ups, I would actually recommend you to consider the ES3831K.

Alternative shavers

It should come as no surprise that the first alternative to the ES3831K is a shaver that I’ve been constantly referencing throughout this review, the Braun M90.

Braun M90 Mobile Shaver


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While it is similar to the Panasonic in many regards (price, dimensions), after using both of them my conclusion is that the Braun M90 is overall a better shaver.

Here’s why:

  • The closeness of the shave is better; the M90 is still a basic portable shaver that can’t match the performance of an advanced shaver, but it shaves closer than the ES3831K.
  • The M90 is more comfortable to use. I still felt some discomfort after completing the shave, but it was less pronounced compared to the Panasonic.
  • The overall build quality is better. The M90 is really impressive when it comes to build quality, especially at this price point. The ES3831K is pretty good as well, but the M90 feels sturdier, more refined and offers a more secure grip.
  • Smarter design: the brilliant rotating cap that acts as a travel lock, the integrated cleaning brush and the battery cover that remains attached to the body when opened are small touches that put the M90 ahead.
  • Integrated hair trimmer. While it’s probably the smallest you’ll find on any shaver, it’s still better than nothing.

Both the Braun M90 and Panasonic ES3831K are equally bad when it comes to shaving flat-lying hairs, but when used daily the M90 has the edge.

However, the M90 is pricey compared to the ES3831K, costing almost double the money.

Braun M-60 Mobile Shaver


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The M-60 is identical to the M90 above, with a few key differences: it comes in a semi-transparent blue color and lacks the hair trimmer.

However, it’s also noticeably less powerful than the M90, so despite the lower price, the M90 is probably the better buy for most users.

Philips Norelco PQ208/40

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Finally, if you prefer rotary shavers, there’s another popular option from Philips Norelco, the PQ208/40.

Price-wise it is on par with the ES3831K that we tested and also runs on a couple of AA batteries.

I would however stick to one of the foil shavers above as they’re a lot easier to clean and the Norelco is not (officially) washable.

Article by

Hey. I’m Ovidiu, the founder and editor of ShaverCheck. I independently buy and test electric shavers and I’ve been sharing my findings on this site for more than 10 years, hopefully helping others choose a suitable shaver.

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10 thoughts on “Panasonic ES3831K Review: Portability On The Cheap”

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  1. Bought one of these for less than $25 on Amazon. Just got done using/testing it on some very short stubble (one day) and found it to perform very well, however, I did experience some irritation after the shave as said in your review. Area above my upper lip was stinging. The closeness was almost that of a Bic razor except for under my chin/neck. I can still feel a tiny bit of stubble when I rub said area with my fingers. I’m gonna keep using my ES3831K at least once or twice a week to get a real feel for it since I’m still on the fence with it. I feel like Panasonic is a better brand than Remington. Other than that, I enjoyed your review and thought it was pretty spot on.

    • Thanks so much for the feedback, Michael. The upper lip area is also where I get the most razor burn, so I try to be a lot more careful when shaving there. Gentle pressure and short, overlapping strokes. A good post-shave balm also helps in my case to alleviate the stinging and redness.


      • After a couple beers, I made the decision to send the ES3831K back to Amazon and get a Braun Series 3 ProSkin 3000s from Walmart. I prefer a dry shave as it’s more convenient. The Braun is double the price but I’m sure it’s going to perform better for home use. Thanks again!

  2. Agree on the long wiskers not being cut. But, I’ve found it is provides a very close shave. I’ve come to realize it does a closer shave than my Braun System 5 razor (although the Braun does well with longer wiskers). I don’t know if it is due to the Pansonic having one foil which makes it thinner compared to the Braun with the two foils and long hair cutter making it thicker and thus less conforming to the face.

    • Thank you for the comment, Arthur.

      It does shave surprisingly close — thin foil and very low tolerances between the blade and the foil. Using it on short stubble will however result in a surprisingly good shave.


  3. Hi, Ovidiu,
    I actually have bought the Panasonic ES3831K, the Braun m90, and the M60 over the years. I basically agree with your comparison of the Panny VS the M-90. However, the M-60 has more differences than just the lack of the little trimmer. I bought one for $10.00 at a BrandsMart store, less than the average $24-$30 for the M-90 on Amazon. The M-60’s motor is under-powered and much slowered than the one on the M-90. It might cost less than half the more expensive M-90, but it is not even 1/3 the shaver. Braun should have repremanded the person who approved bringing the under-powered M-60 to market.

    As for a nice after-market travel case, On Amazon you can get the Hermit Shell zippered travel case for any of these small travel shavers at a reasonable price.

    • Brent,

      Thank you so much for the heads up. It’s been many years since I had an M-60 and never shaved with both at the same time. That’s what I usually do when I compare different shavers. I will be updating the info, so again I appreciate the feedback.


  4. “There’s actually a variation called ES3833 that comes in silver and features a hair trimmer, but that one is pretty pricey for a travel shaver and seems to be out of stock everywhere.”

    I just bought one of these rare ES3833 from eBay, brand new, free shipping from greater China. Pricey, but still… It also has a nice protective case.

    • Hi,

      Thank you for the comment.

      That one is indeed very difficult to find. But the one thing the ES3831K lacks is the hair trimmer, otherwise it’s a very decent travel shaver. Hope you’ll enjoy shaving with your new ES3833.



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