Philips Norelco 3500 (S3560/81) Review

Review Summary

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

Our Rating:

(4 out of 5 stars overall)

Value for money:



Buy the Philips Norelco 3500 (S3560/81)

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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.

Features overview

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.

The lift and cut system. Image credit:

One blade is used to pull the hair up and a second one practically cuts it below skin level, at least according to Philips.

Pop-up trimmer

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.

Misc features

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.

Philips 3500

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.

I 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.

Philips 3500 blade and comb.

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.

Shaving performance

The Philips Norelco 3500 will provide a decent, close and comfortable shaving experience for most users.

Philips Norelco 3500

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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.

Included accessories

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


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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.

Philips Norelco 3500

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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.

Alternative shavers

Philips Norelco 3100

Philips Norelco 3100

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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

Braun Series 3 ProSkin 3040s

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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.

8 thoughts on “Philips Norelco 3500 (S3560/81) Review”

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  1. Maybe it was because I was new to electric shaving and didn’t have the correct technique down yet, maybe it is my beard, but I never got a close shave with a rotary electric shaver and had other problems with them. There were times it was like not shaving at all making repetitive pass after pass and not do much more than just knock the tops off the beard hair. Never a smooth spot on my face, just lowered stubble. And then there were the ingrown hairs and bumps, sometimes turning into cysts on my jaw line or neck. Always left with long hairs and stubble the razor couldn’t touch and a deteriorating skin condition the rotary shaver sent me back to my double edged blade several times until I tossed the electric in the garbage can determined to never look back. Lift and cut was a marketing lie as far as I was concerned.
    The answer for me was the Foil shaver. I have a full face/neck beard of average thickness yet extremely coarse, think coarsest grade sandpaper, and a beard that lays in one direction on each section of my face. When I was put on blood thinners and nicked myself once very lightly and squirted blood for about 5 minutes I decided to give electrics one more try and this time went with the Bruan 340-S and am elated that I did. I would have to do a four way shave with a Feather blade and spend about 30 – 40 minutes shaving/re-prepping to get the results I get with that Bruan 340 in about 15 minutes. A BBS shave with NO razor burn, cuts, nicks or ANY discomfort in any way. Just for fun once I bought a bottle of Mennen Skin Bracer see how it felt after a shave with this heaven-sent electric and it was like splashing cool water on my face…that’s all. No burn or redness. If you have ever used Skin Bracer you know what I mean. Even with the Schick Hydro and shaving with the grain Skin Bracer will burn you and leave your face reddened. I fell in love with my Braun 340 and will never return to a blade/wet shave again…but will never use a rotary shaver either. I honestly think there are Foil men and Rotary men and I’m a Foil guy and sorry to say I hate Rotary’s and will never use one again.

    • Thank you for sharing your experience, William. I must say that I fully agree with your opinion regarding rotary and foil shavers. Different strokes for different folks. Even though I get along well with both types of shavers, I was always more at home when using a foil shaver and the results were also superior. There are of course men that prefer rotary razors for the same reason: they simply work better for them. Right now my go to shaver is a Braun 380s-4 and it is pretty much identical in terms of performance to the 340 that solved your shaving problems. It is without a doubt an excellent product with a very reasonable price. I’m glad that you managed to find a shaver that is right for you.

      Best regards,

  2. I love my Norelco shaver. I grow thin stubble so an electric is perfect for me. This shaver has a quiet motor but gives a close shave. I always start with a pre-shave lotion, shave, rinse off then finish off with my favorite aftershave. My Norelco feels right in my hand and is easy to get around the face and around sideburns. I am ordering a Panasonic foil to compare.

    • Thanks for your comment, Ernest. It is indeed a very quiet shaver, especially when compared to foil shavers. A pre-shave lotion or powder is something everyone should try, even though the improvement is not always so noticeable for some men. Let us know how your new foil shaver from Panasonic performs.

  3. I just purchased a S3212, is there a way to adjust the depth of cut? Mine is apparently not cutting deep enough. Leaving me with a short beard.

    • Hi Ron,

      Apart from making some tweaks to your shaving routine, no. You could try a pre-shave lotion that often helps with getting a closer shave, while also using slower, more controlled strokes for a more thorough shave.


  4. Hello my name is Naser. I just bought the 3500 myself so I can shaved my head. I tried both with and without shaving cream. I didn’t notice much difference but I definitely got a close shave. Very simple to clean too.

    • Hi Naser,

      Thank you for your comment — glad you’re happy with your 3500, it should work very well as a head shaver.



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