The good: very close and irritation free shaves, powerful motor, fast shaving times, relatively quiet (for a foil shaver), wet and dry use, great for shaving the head, quality inner blades, solid build quality
The bad: bulky shaving head, replacement parts are pricey, no cleaning station
The ES8243A Arc 4 is one of Panasonic’s top best-selling electric shavers, offering a blend of performance and comfort, a powerful motor and rock solid build quality.
And to make the deal even sweeter, it is also very reasonably priced.
Read along for our in-depth Panasonic ES8243A review and find out if it’s the right shaver for you.
Table of Contents
The Panasonic ES8243A Arc 4 can be considered an upgrade to the already excellent and highly popular ES8103S from the Arc 3 line.
The shaver was beefed-up by adding a fourth cutting element to the shaving head, called a finishing foil.
Here are the key features:
13 000 RPM motor
This razor features the same excellent high speed linear motor. Even though Panasonic managed to bump the speed up to 14 000 in some of its other more expensive shavers from the Arc 4 family, 13 000 is still easily enough, especially when considering that other manufacturers don’t come close to those numbers.
I’m talking of course about Braun that uses 10 000 CPM units even for the high-end shavers like the Series 7.
Having a powerful motor also has a minor downside, meaning that this is not the most quiet foil shaver out there.
However, the advantages outweigh this shortcoming.
30 degrees hypoallergenic nanotech blades
Gimmicky name aside, these blades that have been around for a while in Panasonic’s shavers are among the best.
The aggressive 30 degree bevel ensures a very efficient cutting action, with no pulling or tugging.
The shaving head, as the name Arc 4 suggest, is made out of 4 cutting elements.
The outer two are the typical blades that oscillate behind a foil screen and are responsible for the bulk of the shaving action.
The ones in the middle are integrated into the foil and work together with the outer ones to shave more efficiently. One of them features a special design, with long slits that will trim down the longer hairs to a more manageable length and are then cut close to the skin.
Flexible pivoting head
The shaving head can move back and forth and also from left to right, supposedly ensuring permanent contact with the skin and making it easier to follow the contours of your face.
The foils are also slightly curved for the same reason.
You can lock the head into a fixed position with a switch located on the side of the razor.
Other features that will be covered later are:
- Popup trimmer
- 10 stage LCD display
- Wet & dry use
- 100% waterproof
- 5 minute Quick charge option
Build quality and ergonomics
Compared to other shavers, the ES8243A is very lightweight and well balanced. It is also very comfortable to operate and the rubberized inserts ensure a very secure grip.
As far as aesthetics go, I was always a fan of the futuristic, hammerhead-like design of Panasonic razors. This one is no exception and it looks excellent in my opinion, although not as classy as top of the line Braun or Norelco shavers.
Build quality is also excellent and everything feels solid and robust, despite an all plastic build.
Battery life and charging
The razor can be fully charged in about one hour and should provide enough power for 45 minutes of use. Nothing out of the ordinary, just the normal battery life you would expect from a quality shaver.
It’s important to mention that the razor shouldn’t be left plugged in for more than one hour, as doing so repeatedly will affect the battery’s performance in time.
As it’s the case with all the electric shavers that can be used for wet shaving, you can’t use the ES8243A while charging.
This is a safety precaution and we won’t consider it to be a negative aspect anymore, especially since there’s a 5 minutes quick charge option.
The LCD display shows the remaining battery in percentages in increments of 10%, but also the duration of the shave in minutes and seconds.
This is very handy in my opinion and I wish more electric razor would have this feature.
The automatic voltage conversion adapts to any voltage between 100-240v, so you can also use it when traveling abroad.
Cleaning and maintenance
As you probably know, the shaver doesn’t come with a cleaning station. Given the fact that the ES8243A is fully waterproof and dead easy to clean manually, you won’t really feel the need of an automated cleaning system.
Cleaning only requires a bit of liquid hand soap and warm tap water. To ensure a proper cleaning, the razor features Panasonic’s Turbo cleaning mode that should be used when the faucet symbol appears on the LCD display.
To activate the Turbo mode (which bumps the speed from 13 000 to 17 000 CPM) you must press and hold the ON/OFF switch for more than 2 seconds. It will automatically stop after 20 seconds.
And now let’s get to the most important part of our ES8243A review, the actual shaving performance.
The ES8243A is advertised by Panasonic as a one pass shaver. Although in practice you’ll find that there simply isn’t such a thing, this razor will indeed deliver an excellent shaving experience.
The massive, 4 cutter shaving head can cover large areas very quickly. This, coupled with a powerful motor and sharp blades make the Panasonic ES8243A one of the most capable electric shavers in this price range.
The closeness of the shave will satisfy almost everyone, being almost on par with what you’ll get from much more expensive shavers.
The most impressive thing about it is just how comfortable and effortless the shaving experience is. Men with coarse facial hair will particularly benefit from the powerful motor and the sharp blades.
Using a pre-electric shaving lotion will further improve the comfort and the performance of the shaver; it will also help straighten the hairs that stay flat on your skin. I highly recommend it, especially for sensitive skin. You can read more tips on dry shaving here.
The Panasonic ES8243A can also be used for wet shaving, where it simply shines. It doesn’t get clogged with shaving cream like others and you can easily rinse it with with water if you need to.
Finally, there’s the popup trimmer; while it does perform well and works excellent for basic grooming, it has the same problem as most Panasonic shavers.
The placement, together with the fact that the shaving head is so big means that you simply can’t see what you’re doing.
One thing that seems to work is to have the shaving head and the inner blades removed before using the trimmer.
Of course, one downside of having a large shaving head is that it can be somewhat unpractical for detail work, like shaving the base of your sideburns, upper lip area or around a goatee.
This is a thing to keep in mind for some men, but I think the benefits you get from a large shaving head far outweigh this shortcoming.
As for other negative aspects of the shaving performance, there is the always tricky neck area, that requires multiple passes to get a close shave, especially if you have hairs that lay flat on your skin and grow in different patterns.
This is however a problem with almost all electric shavers and can’t really blame a particular one.
Apart from the shaver, in the box you’ll find the following items:
- Power cord
- Travel case
- Plastic protective cap
- User’s manual
Replacement parts availability
Changing the blades and foil of your shaver must be done once a year. Unfortunately, the replacement parts for this shaver are a bit pricier than what you would expect.
You can buy them in two flavors:
I recommend changing both the foil and inner blades as you won’t get the best out of your shaver by using a worn part together with a new one.
Wrapup—Who should buy it?
This shaver has to be one of the top picks for men with medium to coarse facial hair and works particularly well for shaving daily.
However, you can get away with using it every other day or even more if you have a slower growth and still get excellent results.
If you suffer from post shave irritation, razor burn and have a history of “bad shave days”, the Panasonic ES8243A can also be a viable option, especially if you use it with a pre shave or shaving cream.
Given the fact that it is a solid, all around great performer for both dry and wet shaving, you can’t really go wrong with this one.
In terms of value for money, you will be hard pressed to find a foil shaver in this price range that performs better.
As mentioned throughout this review, the Panasonic ES8243A Arc 4 is definitely one of the best electric shavers for the money. However, one of the (few) complains about it is that you can’t have it with a cleaning and charging station.
If you really must have one, there is another shaver from the Arc 4 line that comes with one, the ES-LA93-K.
I would personally skip the cleaning station, but if you really must have one with your Panasonic shaver, the ES-LA93-K is a good option.
For men with very sensitive skin, a Braun Series 5 is more comfortable out of the box. There are several variations available, but all of them are generally more expensive.
Braun Series 5 5090cc
The Series 5 5090cc that I reviewed here is probably the best in terms of value for money as it also comes with an automatic cleaning station.
And unlike Panasonic shavers, the ones from Braun are notoriously more difficult and fiddly to clean manually. So you’ll definitely want the cleaning station as well.
Finally, if you’re on a very tight budget, the tried and tested and highly popular Panasonic Arc 3 ES8103S offers the best bang for your buck.
Panasonic Arc 3 ES8103S
Same 13 000 CPM motor, same high quality blades, only that in this case there are only 3 of the, While it will be slightly behind the ES8243A in terms of raw performance, it should still be good enough for most men. You can read my full review of it here.