Pros: reasonably close and comfortable shave, suitable for shaving the head, practical pop-up trimmer, wet & dry use, light and comfortable to handle, quiet, inexpensive replacement shaving heads
Cons: pricey compared to other similar shavers, not ideal for sensitive skin, doesn't shave as close as similarly priced foil shavers
The 3500 is one of Philips Norelco’s more popular mid-range electric razors.
Marketed as an affordable shaver capable of delivering close and comfortable shaves, the Philips 3500 (S3560/81) is looking like a solid option for anyone looking for a decent, but still reasonably priced rotary shaver.
However, the 3500 does have its pros and cons, so in this review we’ll be taking a close look at all the aspects that matter and hopefully help you decide whether it’s the right shaver for you.
UPDATE: For the new Philips Norelco Shaver 3500 (S3212/82), check out this review.
Table of Contents
The Philips Norelco 3500 packs quite a few features for a basic rotary razor.
Here’s a summary of the most important ones.
ComfortCut Blade System
The shaving heads of the Norelco 3500 have rounded edges, which should ensure smooth gliding over the face.
This is sometimes an issue with entry-level rotary razors that tend to stick to the skin.
4-Direction Flex Heads
The three heads can tilt inward and can also be slightly depressed. This should provide better contact with the skin, regardless of the area that’s being shaved.
Super Lift & Cut
In order to provide a closer shave, Philips used a double edge design of the blade.
One blade is used to pull the hair up and a second one practically cuts it below skin level, at least according to Philips.
The Shaver 3500 features an integrated pop-up trimmer that can be easily deployed and used for some light grooming.
It’s definitely a welcome feature on shaver in this price range and other more expensive Philips models come with separate attachments that aren’t as practical.
Wet & dry use
The shaver is fully waterproof and can be used wet or dry. You can use it in the shower as well.
As all wet/dry electric shaver, it will only work in cordless mode.
Other noteworthy features include a 3-minute quick charge function, LED indicator for battery full, battery low and charging, automatic voltage converter.
Build quality and ergonomics
Due to its ergonomic profile and reduced weight, the Norelco 3500 (S3560/81) feels very comfortable in hand.
It also features a non-slip rubberized area on the front for a very secure grip.
If I were to find anything wrong with the built quality I would have to say that it just doesn’t feel as upmarket as you would expect from a Norelco shaver. It is a bit too plasticky and a feels bit hollow.
Also, the battery level indicator is almost useless, signaling only a low battery. In this price range, you can find a three or even 5 level indicator on other electric shavers.
Overall, the design and construction of the Philips 3500 should be good enough for most users.
Battery life and charging
The Philips Norelco 3500 comes with a Li-ion battery that will provide more than 50 minutes of cordless use.
In real life, the battery life of this razor is very solid. It should give you enough power for two weeks of cordless shaving, depending on your shaving routine.
You do have the option to quick-charge it for 3 minutes if the battery is completely drained and you are in a hurry.
Also, being a Li-ion type means that it won’t overcharge and affect its performance in the long run.
Other similar Philips shavers require 8 hours to charge the battery completely, but luckily the 3500 only needs around one hour.
Cleaning and maintenance
This razor is one of the easiest to clean: just pop the shaver head open and rinse it under running water. That’s it.
You can also use the included brush as an alternate way of cleaning it, especially on the inside of the head unit and hair chamber, but it won’t be as effective in my opinion as a simple rinse with warm tap water.
Every once in a while, each rotary blade and comb should be cleaned more thoroughly to avoid grime and dirt buildups.
This implies taking apart the shaving unit. Make sure to consult the user’s manual and only perform this operation one head at a time so you won’t mix them.
The blades and combs are matching pairs and mixing them will affect the performance of the shaver.
The Philips Norelco 3500 will provide a decent, close and comfortable shaving experience for most users.
It’s also great for shaving your head if you’re looking for a razor that needs to be good at that.
The trimmer is also pretty well designed and useful.
The positioning and the fact that it’s long and not too wide means that you can actually see what you’re doing and the shaving head won’t get in your way.
As with all shavers, not everything is perfect and this one has some minor drawbacks.
First of all, the motor is not as powerful as on older Norelco shavers and some may find that it takes a little longer to shave.
This shouldn’t be a problem at all if you’re a daily shaver since it can deal with short stubble quite well.
Where it might struggle a little is with long or very tough beards.
While it will get longer, flat hairs more efficiently than other similarly priced foil shavers, if your beard is very coarse, it will struggle a bit.
In this case, the Norelco 3500 may not be the most suitable option and you should consider a more advanced rotary razor like the Series 9000.
Also, rotary shavers are not the most comfortable out there, so if you have sensitive skin you may be better off with foil shaver.
I find rotary shavers that use the Lift & Cut double blade design (like the 3500 reviewed here) to be particularly harsh on the neck.
I do have very sensitive skin, so for other users this won’t be a problem.
Here’s what you will find inside the box:
- Protective cap
- Power cord
- Cleaning brush
- User’s manual
There’s no travel pouch included, unfortunately.
Replacement parts availability
Just as the other models in the Series 3000 range, the Philips 3500 (S3560/81) uses the SH30 shaving heads.
These parts are widely available and quite reasonably priced, especially when compared to the competition.
Philips SH30/52 Shaving Heads
Philips recommends changing the shaving heads every year, but depending on how you use the shaver you may need to replace them sooner or later than that.
The 3500 also has an indicator that will signal you to replace the heads after approximately one year.
Wrap–up. Who should buy the 3500?
Overall, the Philips Norelco 3500 (S3560/81) is a good, simple, effective and usually reasonably priced rotary shaver.
I would recommend it to Norelco users that don’t want to spend a ton of money on a new shaver or to anyone getting into electric shaving looking for a decent rotary razor.
This can be a great first shaver as it’s pretty comfortable and simple to use.
However, I think that there are more compelling options out there and will even cost less money.
Let’s check them out.
Philips Norelco 3100
The Philips 3100 will basically provide the same shaving experience. It uses the same shaving heads and while it’s marketed as a dry only shaver, you can still clean it with water.
It can also be used while charging and it usually costs a lot less than the 3500.
One downside is however that it takes more than 6 hours to charge the battery completely, but the ability to use it corded sort of makes up for that.
Braun Series 3 ProSkin 3040s
I think a foil shaver would make a very interesting alternative for the 3500.
Unless you’re a die-hard rotary razor fan, the Series 3 from Braun will be a better choice in most cases.
It shaves a bit closer and it’s more comfortable, making it a better choice for sensitive skin.
Moreover, it’s very reasonably priced and the shaving heads last a long time.
The Series 3 3040s is probably the pick of the range due to its price and features.
Finally, if you live in Europe, the S3560/81 may not be available. In that case, you should check out the S3580/06 or S3560/11 from the same Series 3000 line.
The shaving performance will be identical.