Pros: very comfortable, highly capable with longer stubble, shaves close (for a rotary razor), excellent battery life, very good build quality, feature rich
Cons: bulky shaving head, mediocre hair trimmer, Quick clean pod has some limitations
The Series 9000 represents Philips Norelco’s range-topping line of rotary electric shavers.
And while the Series 9000 Prestige is a more premium variation of it, the new standard Series 9000, with models like the Shaver 9500 and 9800, is extremely similar, and, in certain aspects, maybe even better.
I’ve been testing the new Philips Norelco 9500 model for a couple of months and in this review, I’ll share everything you need to know from a user’s perspective.
I’ll also compare it to other shavers, including its close sibling, the Shaver 9800, but also the Series 9000 Prestige, both the old and new generations.
Philips generally makes things very difficult for the buyer with their highly confusing and complicated model names.
But there’s more to that — replacement heads compatibility and actual performance differences between the various models and generations.
So while this review will be focused on the performance of the Series 9000 9500 (and 9800), I’ll address the above-mentioned aspects as well.
Hopefully, you’ll be able to choose the high-end Philips shaver that makes the most sense for your needs and budget.
So let’s get right to it.
Table of Contents
- 1. The new Series 9000: different models, same performance
- 2. Features overview
- 3. Build quality and ergonomics
- 4. Included accessories
- 5. Battery life and charging
- 6. Shaving performance
- 7. GroomTribe app and smart features
- 8. Cleaning and maintenance
- 9. Replacement parts availability
- 10. Wrapup — should you buy the Philips Norelco 9500?
- 11. Alternative options
1. The new Series 9000: different models, same performance
There are basically 4 variations of this latest Series 9000 available in the USA:
- Philips Norelco Shaver 9400 (S9502/83)
- Philips Norelco Shaver 9500 (S9985/84) — the model I bought and tested
- Philips Norelco Shaver 9600 (S9507/87) — exclusively sold through Costco
- Philips Norelco Shaver 9800 (S9987/85)
The differences between them are related to accessories, color and several less important features.
But the actual performance, meaning how these razors actually shave, is identical for all four.
They’re all fitted with the same motor, same battery and same shaving head.
So here are the differences:
|Model||Cleaning Pod||Charge stand||Light ring||Oled display & menu|
|Philips Norelco 9400||No||No||No||No|
|Philips Norelco 9500||Yes||No||Yes||Yes|
|Philips Norelco 9600||No||Yes||No||No|
|Philips Norelco 9800||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
As you can tell from the table above, the Shaver 9400 is sort of the entry-level model since it lacks the bells and whistles like LED lights and a menu button.
It also comes with the fewest included accessories, like the Quick clean pod and charging stand.
But as mentioned above, it shaves the same, so it could be a viable budget-friendly option.
The 9500 is probably the best pick for most users.
It’s also the model I got and I think it strikes a good balance between price and features — at least when compared to the other ones.
The 9600 is a rather unusual variation. It’s only available at Costco and doesn’t even show up on Philips Norelco’s official site.
It’s extremely similar to the 9400, the only differences being the color (black for the 9600) and the inclusion of a few extra accessories: charging stand, beard trimmer attachment (in addition to the integrated one), and nose trimmer attachment.
Finally, there’s the 9800 which is the most expensive of the three.
Philips Norelco 9500 vs 9800
The only difference between the Philips Norelco 9500 and the 9800 is that the 9800 includes a charging stand, while the 9500 does not.
That’s really it.
The 9800 is more expensive, so in my opinion, unless you absolutely need a vertical charging stand, you should save some money and just get the 9500.
You can also purchase the stand separately later on should you choose so.
You can charge any of the three models via the stand or by plugging the cord directly into the shaver, so the stand is just a redundant charging option.
As you may have noticed, Philips uses a very specific model name for each one in addition to the short and simple 9400, 9500, 9600 and 9800: S9502/83, S9985/84, S9507/87 and S9987/85, respectively.
To keep things simple, I’ll just refer to them by their easy-to-grasp names.
Because they all shave exactly the same, this review will be equally relevant for the Philips Norelco 9400, 9500, 9600 and 9800.
Series 9000 European models
The new Series 9000 available in Europe are sold as usual under the Philips brand (not Philips Norelco) and while they look slightly different from the American models, the shaving performance is the same.
There are more than a dozen variations available at this moment, with different colors and accessories (like extra cleaning cartridges, charging stand, and so on).
These are the 3 most popular models at this moment:
- Philips Shaver Series 9000 S9987/55 (charging stand, Quick clean pod)
- Philips Shaver Series 9000 S9987/59 (charging stand, Quick clean pod, beard trimmer attachment)
- Philips Shaver Series 9000 S9986/63 (charging stand, Quick clean pod, 3 cartridges)
With the model names out of the way, let’s quickly check out the main features of the 9000 Series.
2. Features overview
Since I bought the Philips Norelco 9500, I will be listing the features specific to this model.
However, the most important ones are shared among all three models.
1. 3-blade shaving head
Rotary razors usually come with 3 cutting heads because it’s a good compromise for a shaver intended for the face.
A 3-blade head means it can shave a large area quickly but the size remains quite manageable.
Rotary head shavers like the Skull Shaver Pitbull have 4 or even 5 heads, but the use case is different and having more heads makes sense.
The three rotary cutters of the new Series 9000 sit in these plastic cradles that can flex independently:
In addition to that, the whole shaving unit is suspended on a flexible strut which further helps keep the heads flat on the skin while shaving.
Each rotary cutter has two concentric rows of blades which is common for a high-end shaver.
All other Philips series, from the 7000 down, have a single row of blades.
The ones on the Series 9000 feature wide slots on the outside and holes on the inner track to capture both long and short hairs.
Philips dropped its proprietary SuperLift & Cut technology for the high-end shavers with the introduction of the old Series 9000 Prestige, so the new Series 9000 doesn’t have it either.
SuperLift & Cut was an attempt of improving the closeness of the shave, a somewhat innate weakness of rotary razors.
For that it used blades with a double edge, the first one lifting the hair and the second one cutting it below skin level.
However, it only managed to make the shavers uncomfortable and would often pinch and inflict tiny nicks.
If you’ve owned an old Series 9000 like the 9300 or 9700 you’re probably familiar with the aggressive profile of the shavers.
Luckily, the SH91 blades that come with the new Series 9000 don’t have that double-edge SuperLift&Cut design, so they are a lot more comfortable than the old Series 9000.
2. Smart features to help you get a better shave
Philips came up with a couple of interesting features for the 9500 that’ll supposedly help you improve your shaving technique.
Among those we have the sensor that monitors how hard you press the shaver on the skin and the light bar around the head that changes color accordingly.
You can also pair the shaver with Philips’ GroomTribe app to get even more insights.
I will discuss these features and the app later on in the performance section of the review.
The Series 9000 9400 and 9600 models do not have the light feature but you can still pair them with your smartphone via Bluetooth and use the app.
These features may seem gimmicky and you can simply choose not to use them. You can even disable the light ring completely.
3. Shaving sensor
Just like the other brands with their flagship models like the Panasonic Arc 5 or Braun Series 9, the Philips Norelco Series 9000 is fitted with a shaving sensor that supposedly adjusts the power contentiously for a better shave.
This is in addition to the above-mentioned sensor which just measures the pressure you’re exerting.
According to Philips, the intelligent shaving sensor reads the beard density 500 times per second.
I’m personally not a fan of this technology, it never seems to actually do anything beneficial and it’s mostly something that looks good in the specs sheet.
4. Feature-rich OLED display
The 9500 and 9800 come with a more advanced OLED display, while the 9400 (9600) only has a basic LED display.
The OLED display shows various info and has sleek animations that look very crisp.
On the old Prestige for example the edges of the graphics were fuzzy and sometimes difficult to read because of the dim backlight.
5. Cordless, wet & dry use
The Philips Norelco 9500 is fitted with a rechargeable battery that will provide up to 1 hour of cordless use.
It will not work with the cord plugged in due to safety concerns.
This is a common limitation of wet&dry electric razors.
Since the 9500 is such a shaver, you will be able to use it dry or with shaving cream/gel and even in the shower.
It’s the same for all the models in the new Series 9000, like the 9400, 9600 and 9800.
6. Integrated hair trimmer
Unlike the old Series 9000 and the old Prestige, the new Series 9000 has an integrated pop-up hair trimmer for on-the-fly tweaks and touch-ups.
I personally think it’s more practical than a separate trimmer that must be repeatedly fitted in place of the shaving head.
7. Quick clean pod
First introduced with the Series 7000, the Quick clean pod is Philips’ take on a compact, simple and practical automatic cleaning system.
It’s not as capable or as effective as a full-fledged cleaning station like the old Philips SmartClean station from the past, but it’s still quite good.
I will go over what it’s like using it in the cleaning & maintenance section.
The Quick clean pod is only included with the 9500 and 9800 models in the USA, so you’re not getting it with the 9400 and 9600.
But if you already own one from another Philips shaver or intend to buy one separately later on, it will work with the 9400 and 9600 as well.
The Philips Norelco Series 9000 9500 comes with a full two-year warranty in the USA.
That can be further extended with an additional 6 months if you register your shaver here within 90 days of purchase.
Philips also offers a 45-day money-back guarantee if you’re not satisfied with the performance of the shaver.
3. Build quality and ergonomics
For the past few years, Philips Norelco has been pushing this new design language across its entire range of electric shavers.
The most distinctive and also polarizing feature of it is of course the new angular design of the shaving head.
In fact, only the entry-level Series 2000 and 3000 were skipped and are still using the more conventional round heads.
Everything else, from the new Series 5000 and up to the very latest Series 9000 Prestige models exhibits this new pentagonal shape of the heads.
The Philips Norelco 9500 that I got is no exception and also comes with this bulky shaving head.
The main difference compared to the previous Series 9000 and 9000 Prestige is the size (surface) and thickness of the head.
The angular heads don’t taper down toward the edge and they also have this wider/asymmetrical chin, making it more cumbersome to shave some areas, like right below the nose or around the sideburns.
The new design certainly looks modern, distinctive and sleek, but I wouldn’t say it’s an improvement from an ergonomic standpoint.
And most users seem to either don’t care or actually be bothered to some extent by the new shape.
But none of them seem to love the new head or prefer it for this very reason.
I will go into more detail on how this design affects the shaving performance later on.
As for build quality, the Philips Norelco 9500 is definitely an improvement over the old Series 9000 which was rather flimsy and didn’t really feel like a premium product.
I still think the Prestige models are better built, but this one is pretty good as well.
It’s a large shaver, but at 187 grams, it’s rather lightweight and nicely balanced.
Just by looking at it, you might think it’s heavy — I certainly did — but it’s actually not.
What I don’t like however is the shape of the body.
As mentioned earlier, the Philips Norelco 9500 is a large razor and the handle is rather thick.
Unlike the previous Series 9000 generation or the Prestige models, it’s not sculpted and the grip isn’t as comfortable.
The black surface on the sides and back has a soft, rubber-like texture, but isn’t very grippy.
This, along with the size of the shaver and the chunky handle make the Philips 9500 less comfortable to hold.
In most cases it should still be fine, but for older users with grip or other issues like arthritis, it could be a problem.
These are in my opinion the main two potential problems with the new Series 9000 or any of these Philips shavers with a similar design (like the new Series 7000):
- the size of the angular heads
- the shape of the handle
But there are definitely some positive aspects as well.
One of the main improvements over the old Series 9000 or the original Prestige models is the flip-open head.
Instead of prying the shaving unit off with your fingernails to clean it, you now simply press a button and the head will pop open.
You can then rinse it with tap water for easy and effective cleaning.
The top part of the shaving head, the one that holds the three cutters, can also be removed completely.
Normally you would only do that when replacing the cutters with new ones or when performing a deep cleaning.
The entire shaving head flexes freely and it can also be removed by pulling it straight off the main body.
It connects via the same system as all Philips models from the Series 5000 and up.
Another plus for the new 9000 Series is in my opinion the integrated hair trimmer.
It’s located on the back of the shaver (close to the head) and you deploy it via a switch right below it.
I’ll be honest, it’s not a great trimmer, but still useful to have.
Apart from Panasonic, none of the manufacturers can really nail the design and functionality of a basic hair trimmer.
In the performance section, I will provide more details on the 9500 trimmer and what it’s like using it.
The front part of the shaver features this matte silver trim which looks and feels nice and at the center we have the power button, display, and a menu button.
The power button feels mushy and it’s rather difficult to press. It’s not clicky as you’d expect and you have to exert quite a lot of force in order to operate it.
It doesn’t double as a travel lock like the one on the Prestige where you would press and hold for a few seconds to engage it.
Instead, you have to use the Menu button below the display in order to activate the travel lock on the Philips Norelco 9500 and 9800.
This menu button is used to select between three menus:
- Battery level (the first and default display)
- Travel lock
- Light control
In the first, default position, the display will simply show you the battery level in percentages.
I think this is the most useful way of displaying the remaining charge. I always like it when a shaver is able to show the exact charge instead of an led light.
Pressing the menu button again will select the travel lock menu. Pressing and holding it again will lock the shaver.
While pressing it there’s a padlock icon being displayed and a nice animation telling you how much longer should you keep pressing the menu button in order to activate the travel lock.
Once it’s locked, the power button cannot turn the shaver on.
To unlock it again you simply press and hold the three-dotted menu button.
The final menu controls the light ring around the top of the shaver’s handle that would light up in different colors during use.
You can deactivate the light by pressing and holding the menu button.
The 3 different lights correspond to the amount of pressure you’re exerting and should help you fine-tune your shaving technique: blue when the pressure is too light, green for just right and orange for excessive pressure.
Operating this menu is very simple and straightforward: a short press to select a menu and a long one to activate or deactivate the setting (travel lock or light ring).
The menu will always default to the first position (battery level) after a short while and I think that’s a good decision since you’re not constantly using the travel lock or the light menu.
The display fitted to the Philips 9500 and 9800 models is one of the nicest I’ve seen, but the buttons are rather finicky to operate.
However, it lacks something that I think would have been useful — the duration of the shave.
And considering the capabilities of this OLED display, I think it could have been implemented.
Only several Panasonic models show this and I personally like knowing how long it took me to complete a shave.
You can still see the duration of the shave in the Philips GroomTribe app on your phone, but it’s not as practical.
Overall, the Philips Norelco 9500 feels like a solid shaver with plenty of useful features, but of course it’s not perfect.
The ergonomics of this large shaver with a bulky shaving head can be an issue for several users.
I personally prefer the old Prestige design with the more comfortable handle and the smaller, more manageable shaving head.
I was able to shave with the 9500 just fine, but I wouldn’t say the experience was as enjoyable.
4. Included accessories
The accessories vary depending on the version of the S9000 series you’ll be buying.
Here’s what’s included with the Shaver 9500 model.
- Hard textile travel case
- Quick clean pod
- Pod cartridge
- Cleaning brush
- User manual & leaflet
In the case of the Philips Norelco 9800, you’ll be getting a charge stand on top of the above-listed items.
Finally, if you opt for the 9400, that one doesn’t include the cleaning pod or the charging stand.
I think the Philips Norelco 9500 model makes the most sense considering its price and what you’re getting overall.
If however you don’t care for any automatic cleaning stuff, you might as well save some money and buy the cheaper 9400.
5. Battery life and charging
All the new Philips Norelco Series 9000 models come with the same rechargeable battery.
On paper, it should provide up to one hour of cordless operation.
And that is the case in practice as well.
Philips shavers generally have excellent battery life and also the lifespan of the batteries is really good.
In my experience and from the user feedback I got throughout the years, I’d say Philips is pretty much on top in this regard.
And that’s good since the Philips 9500 and the rest will only work cordless.
This doesn’t come as a surprise though as there are only a few low-end rotaries in Philips Norelco’s line-up that can work corded as well, like the Shaver 2300 in the Series 2000.
Charging the new Series 9000 from 0 to 100% takes less than an hour.
The shavers are fitted with the usual two-prong charging port and you can either use the cable directly or charge them via a Philips stand.
As we know, the stand only comes with the 9800 variation, but I happen to have the stand from my Shaver 7700 (it’s identical to the one shipped with the 9800).
The displays of the 9500 and 9800 will show a nice animation during charging, while the one of the 9400 only has a basic 3-level indicator.
Overall, the battery life of the Philips Norelco 9500 was excellent during my tests.
I was able to shave 7 or 8 times from a single charge (with some juice left), which is really good in my opinion.
There’s no wireless QI charging available with the Series 9000, so you’ll have to spend more on an S9000 Prestige model if you want that.
6. Shaving performance
Let’s now see how good the new Philips Norelco 9500 is in the real world.
I have to mention again that the shaving performance is identical for the 9400, 9500, 9600 and 9800 models.
While I normally kick things off by talking about closeness, I think the stand-out feature of the new Series 9000 is comfort.
And it’s a big improvement over the previous Series 9000 generation (9300, 9700, etc).
As we saw, the old Series 9000 used the SuperLift&Cut blades which were rather rough and unforgiving.
Luckily, the new Series 9000 debuted with new blades called SH91 (the old ones were the SH90) and the comfort has been vastly improved.
A while back I called the original Prestige SP9820 the most comfortable rotary razor you can currently buy.
I think the Prestige can now share that title with the new Series 9000 (and very likely with the new Prestige as well since it uses the same SH91 blades).
I have dry and sensitive skin and I normally have some issues when shaving with a rotary.
However, I didn’t have any serious discomfort using the 9500.
It’s a really smooth and gentle shaver that didn’t cause that constant pinching and stinging I would get with the original Series 9000.
Interestingly, that was also the case with other less advanced Philips rotaries in recent years, like the new Series 3000, 6000 or 7000.
The decision to ditch the lift&cut blades has without a doubt improved the comfort of Philips shavers massively throughout all the ranges.
I wouldn’t say the Norelco 9500 is as forgiving as a Braun Series 9 for example when pushed beyond the limit.
It did occasionally pinch my skin when shaving my neck but it wasn’t a problem most of the time.
As long as you don’t press excessively hard, you keep the shaving heads flat on the skin, and your circular motions are reasonably controlled, it should be just fine.
I think most users will be happy with the comfort of the shave.
If you’re coming from an older generation Series 9000, you’ll probably notice a big improvement in that regard.
That said, Philips has also enhanced the comfort of their lower-end series like the aforementioned 3000, 6000 or 7000.
And on that note, I wouldn’t say the range-topping Series 9000 is better — again, I am referring strictly to how comfortable these shavers are.
The Series 3000 is probably the one that impressed me the most — it’s a basic rotary with a reasonable price that shaves just as comfortably as the Series 9000 or Series 9000 Prestige.
Granted, is not quite as powerful, but still good enough in most cases.
In conclusion, the Philips Norelco 9500 is one of the most comfortable rotary razors out there, on par with the Prestige and better than the previous generation of the Series 9000.
I personally never found the closeness of any rotary razor to be outstanding and after using the Philips Norelco 9500 that will continue to be the case.
The results were on par with my old Prestige and just slightly better than other current lower-end Philips models like the Series 7000 or 3000.
It’s more than adequate for a rotary shaver, but for users that are very particular about closeness, I think a quality foil shaver like the Panasonic Arc 5 would definitely be a better option.
The 9500 did get very close on my cheeks and I was actually very impressed with it.
But on the neck and below the nose I could still feel some rough areas.
I shaved with and without a pre-shave and in terms of closeness the results were very similar.
The pre-shave did improve my shave overall, making the shaving head glide easier on the skin and with even greater comfort.
The closeness on the other hand remained the same.
I have to mention that the shape of the heads did not prevent me from getting a closer shave — I do have other gripes with the design that I’ll address soon. I would have gotten the same results with the conventional rounded heads as well.
But this is just an inherent limitation of rotaries in my opinion — while they have some other specific qualities, the closeness is never outstanding. Not for me, in any case.
There are men however that can only get a good, close shave with rotaries, so it’s not something set in stone.
If you know from previous experience that a rotary caters to your needs and shaving routine better, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with the performance of the new S9000.
Shaving longer stubble
Speaking of inherent rotary shaver strengths, the ability to capture and cut longer, flat-lying hairs is definitely one of them.
The Philips Norelco 9500 is really good at catching longer facial hair — I’d say you can comfortably use it to shave a 4 or 5-day beard if the hair grows slower.
The hair on my neck grows in lots of different directions and I have these swirls that are a bit challenging to shave normally.
And even if the hair is longer and stays flat on the skin, the 9500 was still able to shave it clean without an excessive number of passes.
Rotaries in general are a good option if you have a non-strict shaving routine.
For example, if you shave a couple of times a week or you don’t have a fixed number of days between shaves.
Side note: there are a few foil shavers that would be able to do that successfully as well and most of them are high-end Braun models like the Series 9/9 Pro or the Series 8.
On the other hand, you will probably get away with using even an entry-level rotary like the Philips Series 3000 on a 3-day beard, maybe even more.
Like most other Philips razors you can buy today, the new Series 9000 is suitable for wet & dry use.
So shaving in the shower or with your favorite shaving cream or gel is also an option.
Shaving in the shower doesn’t really work for me, so I’ve only tried the 9500 with shaving cream.
And it works really well provided the lather is thin and watery and you keep it hydrated throughout the shave.
Otherwise, the massive head will just get stuck. I wrote a guide on how to get the lather right if you want to check it out.
If you’re into wet shaving with your electric razor, I think you’ll like the Norelco 9500.
The comfort of the shave was at least as good and I’d also say the closeness was better, although not miles better.
But the improvement was noticeable.
The downside is that it will take longer and you will need to clean the shaver more thoroughly.
In my opinion just rinsing the head with water (like you would do after a dry shave) won’t be enough.
Dried-up lather is notoriously stubborn to remove and even trace amounts will pile up inside the cutters over time.
So you would need to clean the shaver with some liquid hand soap or use the cleaning pod. I will get back to the cleaning part in the next section.
Angular heads — form over function?
The most divisive feature of the Philips Norelco 9500 has to be the design of the shaving head.
There are two trends that Philips seems to have embraced with their latest iterations:
- The switch to these angular heads for all their shavers except the basic Series 2000 and 3000
- Completely dropping any automatic cleaning stations in favor of the Quick clean pods (which are a whole different thing)
After using a few of these angular head rotaries, I have to say that I prefer the older, conventional round heads, like the ones of the old Series 9000 and old Prestige.
The problem isn’t the shape itself, but the fact that these heads are also quite a bit larger and thicker.
And that impacts the way you shave and not for the better.
In the case of the 9500, there’s this big chin on each of the three heads which makes them unnecessarily large.
When shaving under the nose and around the sideburns that part gets in the way as you can’t get the actual metal cutting head close enough to the nose/sideburn.
If you turn the shaver 90 degrees, so that the thinner side of the pentagonal shape becomes the leading edge, it kind of works, but it’s an extra fiddly tweak you need to make.
In the case of the old heads, it wouldn’t have been necessary.
These wide plastic holders also make the entire head really large. And I found it to be the most inconvenient when shaving my neck, that concave part between the jawline and the throat.
The head is so large that it won’t properly stay flat on the skin in its entirety. I have to turn it and only use two of the three heads.
That’s not ideal and some hairs can get pulled if you move the shaving head when it doesn’t sit properly on the skin.
I also have to tilt my head backward a lot in order to open up that concave area and make it flatter — I hope this makes sense.
And finally, the three heads are very thick and don’t taper at the edge, so they get in the way of seeing the area you’re shaving.
This further makes the whole shaving experience, at least in my case, not as enjoyable as it could have been.
The general feedback regarding these heads of the 9500 and the rest of the S9000 models seems pretty consistent.
The design either doesn’t bother the user or it does (to some degree), but no one seems to genuinely like it better.
I personally don’t think it’s a deal breaker, but I am convinced that my 9500 would have been better with conventional rounded heads.
And speaking of those, I tried swapping the head with the one from my old Prestige.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t fit.
As you can see in the image above, the Prestige has a much shorter shaft and it just doesn’t reach far enough into the scalloped fitting of the 9500.
Otherwise, the locking mechanism is the same found on all Philips series from the 5000 and up.
Unfortunately, with the new Prestige models featuring the same angular heads, it seems like the only Philips shavers currently available with rounded heads are the entry-level Series 2000 and 3000.
All high-end Philips rotaries will come with these large angular heads which don’t bring any benefits.
The decision to integrate a pop-up trimmer instead of a separate attachment is a departure from the old Series 9000.
But unlike the switch to the angular heads, I think this is a good move.
I’ve never been a fan of switching back and forth between the rotary head and the trimmer (this will also wear out the plastic fitting).
That said, the pop-up trimmer of the Philips Norelco 9500 is, in typical Philips fashion, mediocre (at best).
The trimmer can’t cut the hairs as close to the skin as I’d like and it takes many passes to catch all of them.
On top of that, there’s the problem with the spring holding it upright — it’s just too weak and you must always use it in a way that counters the problem.
And I have to say this again, Panasonic is the only brand that (currently) knows how to design and implement a hair trimmer.
I use these integrated trimmers all the time to adjust my sideburns and even if I’m not shaving with a Panasonic razor, I always grab one just to use its trimmer.
They really are in a different league and Braun and Philips could learn a thing or two in that regard.
The Philips Norelco S9000 is similar to most other rotaries in terms of noise during use. So it’s pretty good and definitely quieter than any foil shavers out there.
There’s a constant whirring sound, a bit less metallic and with a lower frequency compared to the Prestige models, but the perceived loudness is similar.
I think the vast majority of users will find the sound perfectly bearable.
7. GroomTribe app and smart features
The Philips Series 9000 comes with a couple of extras that may or may not seem like gimmicks to some.
Precisely, you can connect the shavers via Bluetooth to Philips’ GroomTribe app and access quite a few features and resources.
These are supposed to help you improve your technique and educate you on the topic of electric shaving.
In addition to that, the 9500 and 9800 models also feature this light ring around the shaving head and it changes color depending on the pressure you’re exerting.
In theory, it should help you apply just the right amount depending on the coarseness of your beard, how sensitive your skin is, and how close you want your shave to be.
All these parameters can be set inside the app and the sensor will react accordingly.
You can also modify these parameters later on to suit your preferences. You would do that by answering a few questions during a setup wizard.
Before customizing them in the app, the sensor is simply calibrated with some default, middle-ground settings that should be fine for most users.
When turning the shaver on (with no pressure applied), the light ring is blue:
When pressing it optimally it turns green and if you keep pushing past a certain point it will turn orange, in which case you should use a lighter touch.
But how well does it work?
In my experience, it’s pretty much spot on when shaving my cheeks or other perfectly flat areas where all three heads are pressed equally against the skin.
However, when using only one of them when shaving below the nose for example, I found that I had to press a bit too hard to be in the green.
I would get some noticeable razor burn if I continued pressing that hard.
So don’t always rely on that light when shaving tricky areas.
You can also adjust the light intensity in the app or disable it altogether.
Unlike the 9500 and 9800, the Philips Norelco 9400 and 9600 don’t have the light ring, but those still pair with the GroomTribe app and have access to the rest of the features.
The app is in my opinion very well designed, it looks polished and I think they’ve put a lot of work into it.
Pairing the shaver is seamless, you just have to turn it on, keep it relatively close to your phone and follow the instructions on your phone.
After connecting my 9500 I got a prompt for a software update which took less than a minute to complete.
There are basically three main sections of the app: Home, Profile and Settings.
The Home screen will display various articles on grooming and quick links to sections of the app, like your shave history and an overview of Philips’ current shavers.
In the top right corner, there are two icons.
The first one (the winking moustache emoji) will use your phone’s selfie camera and overlay various beard styles over your face to see which one would fit you the best.
To be honest, it’s not particularly good and the beards and moustaches don’t look realistic.
The other one — the shaving head icon — will take you to a practice screen called Guided Shave where you can try to get a feel for the optimal pressure and circular motions.
The Profile page with its two sub-pages — Shave and Style — lets you quickly check out several aspects of your last shave (duration, how correct was your technique) or get tips and recommendations on which beard style would suit you the best.
Finally, there’s the Settings page where you can customize various aspects of the shaver, like pressure feedback and light intensity.
There are also links to register your shaver for extra warranty and to customer support.
The most useful part of the app is my opinion the Shave history, but I must really stress that you shouldn’t rely too much on the scores you get there for pressure and how correct your circular motions are.
As I said previously, you would need to alter the pressure depending on the area you’re shaving and it would be impossible to stay in the green zone for most of your shave.
Also, you’ll sometimes have to use a combination of motions, not just perfectly overlapping circles.
Sometimes I even use straight strokes below my sideburns to get a clean shave and get as close as possible to the sideburn edge.
For example, here’s my last shave which took 3:33 minutes (I actually only shaved half my face with the 9500 and the other half with my old Prestige to compare them).
According to the app, I only used the correct pressure 29% of the time and I should press harder next time.
I won’t be doing that because I will most likely get some razor burn.
The motion was also only correct 38% of the time and again I don’t think it really reflects the reality.
The duration of the shave is a useful metric and I wish the shaver would show it on the display without the need to go into the app.
The data between the shaver and the app synchronizes later on in the background when the shaver is close to the phone, so you don’t have to bring the phone with you when shaving.
Overall, I think the GroomTribe app is interesting and even somewhat useful sometimes, but you’ll probably just stop using it after a while once the novelty effect wears off.
8. Cleaning and maintenance
Just like you would with any waterproof electric shaver, you can safely clean the Philips Norelco 9500 with warm tap water (and optionally some liquid hand soap).
But with this model (and with the 9800) you’re also getting a Quick Clean Pod.
Philips has stopped making true automatic cleaning stations for all of their current shavers.
It’s still unclear to me what triggered this decision but the fact is that we’re now getting either the cleaning pod or no cleaning device at all.
Let’s first see how you would go about cleaning your Philips Norelco S9000 manually.
If you don’t want to use the pod or you buy the 9400 model, you will need to clean the shaver manually.
Fortunately, that’s easy and straightforward most of the time.
Philips includes a small brush that you would use the clean the inside of the shaving unit, but that’s not as effective as rinsing the shaver with water.
Once you finish shaving, turn the shaver off and pop open the head by pressing the small release button.
This is one of the more obvious improvements of the new Series 9000 over the old one.
This shaver does a good job of containing the clipped hairs inside the shaving unit, so opening it will reveal a lot of hairs.
But it’s better to have them contained there than spread across your forearm or t-shirt.
I usually tap it very lightly on my sink, then I rinse it generously with warm tap water (inside out), making sure I don’t miss any of the three heads.
I gently shake off the excess water — when open, the flap is really wobbly — and I let the shaver air dry overnight with the top part still open.
That’s all the cleaning you’ll normally need to do and performing this after every shave will also prevent excessive dirt from accumulating inside the cutting heads.
Sometimes you may need to clean the heads more thoroughly, a so-called deep cleaning, if for some reason the heads get clogged with grime.
If you rinse the shaving head after every use as described above, this likely won’t be needed too often.
But under certain circumstances, you will have to clean each head individually.
For example, if you shave wet and don’t clean the head regularly, dried lather can become a problem.
Also, excessive skin oil, dust or a very humid environment can in time cause dirt to pile up and affect the cutting performance of the shaver.
In that case, you must take apart each head and clean it.
You would first need to remove the top part of the shaving unit by opening it and pulling it straight off the head.
The three cutting heads are held in place by locking rings.
It’s highly recommended to remove them and clean the heads one at a time.
This way you won’t intermix the blades and guards which are matching pairs.
To unlock a ring, you must turn it counterclockwise — using your fingernails placed right against the two raised notches of each ring.
The ring will pop out and you can now remove the blade and guard and clean them with water, making sure to remove any hardened grime.
After that, put the guard and blade back in the saddle, place the ring over them and turn it clockwise to secure it.
Only now you can proceed to clean the next one.
It’s again very important that the blade and guard pairs remain the same, otherwise the cutting performance of the shaver will take a hit.
Remington has a simple but effective way of preventing this by using three different colors for each of the cutting heads.
But Philips doesn’t use any plastic on the guards, so it’s up to the user to ensure the blades and guards don’t get mixed.
This thorough cleaning shouldn’t be needed too often if you clean your Series 9000 after every use, either by rinsing the head with water or by using the cleaning pod.
Philips however recommends doing it once a month. In my experience, that’s a bit overkill in most cases.
Automatic cleaning (using the Quick Clean Pod)
The Philips Quick Clean Pod was first introduced with the new Series 7000 (with the same angular heads).
It’s in essence a very basic cleaning station — we can still call it automatic since the user doesn’t have to do anything.
But unlike a standard automatic cleaning station, the Philips pod isn’t electrically powered and it won’t charge or dry the shaver.
Instead, it’s powered by the shaver itself.
The pod is comprised of three parts:
- The lid (where the active cleaning mechanism is located)
- The tub which is simply a small container where you would place the cleaning cartridge.
- The cleaning cartridge
On the underside of the pod lid, there’s this extension with a small impeller at the end that gets submerged in the cleaning solution.
This impeller is driven by a shaft that gets splined to that tiny metal piece we saw at the very center of the shaving head.
Here’s a closeup of the shaft and the metal piece:
When the shaver is placed in the pod and switched on, that metal coupling turns the shaft connected to the impeller.
That is causing the cleaning fluid to get sucked from the cartridge and pumped into the pod’s cleaning chamber.
It’s a simple and effective solution that works reasonably well in practice.
The cartridge has a screw-down cap which is great as you can remove it from the pod, put the lid back on and store it somewhere out of sight.
To set up the pod, place it on a hard, even surface and remove the lid.
Unscrew the cap of the cartridge and carefully grab it by the tiny handle and place it inside the pod.
Do this slowly as the cartridge is full to the brim and will make a mess if you tilt it.
Take the pod lid, carefully insert the impeller arm into the cartridge’s opening and turn it clockwise to secure it.
The Quick clean pod is now ready to clean the shaver.
Place it upside down with the front facing the small window on the pod and press the razor’s power button.
The shaver will turn on and after a few seconds, it will determine that it is placed inside the pod and start the cleaning process.
The display will show a timer icon and a rotating droplet symbol throughout the cleaning.
The shaver will turn on and off repeatedly, flushing the fluid through the shaving head.
The whole process takes just one minute and when it’s done the shaver will automatically turn off.
You can do it sooner if you want to by pressing the shaver’s power button.
If you just remove it briefly from the pod it’ll turn off but resume the cleaning process if you place it right back.
Since the pod is a simple device, it cannot determine in any way if the cleaning fluid is low or over-contaminated.
In fact, it can’t even tell if there’s a cartridge inside the pod and it’ll still do a dry run with no cartridge inside.
Just for fun, I tried just placing the shaver in the pod’s lid while holding it in my hand.
As you can see in the image below, it still ran the entire cleaning routine without any objections.
This is somewhat good in my opinion as Braun stations for example can sometimes show an empty cartridge and refuse to run the cleaning program even though there’s still plenty of fluid left.
Braun uses the electric conductivity of the solution as a metric in assessing the state of the fluid.
In the case of the cleaning pod, it’s up to you to decide when it’s time to change it or replace the solution.
The small window on the top of the pod only shows you when there is a cartridge inside (by turning opaque). That’s all there is to it, it’s a simple glass window.
But how good is the automatic cleaning with the Philips Quick Clean Pod?
I think there are two main problems with it and I’ll get to them as well, but it’s pretty good otherwise.
It’s small, practical, easy to store and carry since the cartridge has a lid.
The solution smells nice and cleans the shaver effectively and also lubricates the blades.
It’s a detergent-based solution and doesn’t contain any alcohol. This means it won’t evaporate quickly and it’s easier to travel with or to store since it’s not hazardous.
But let’s now talk about the downsides.
The main one is in my opinion the fact that the cartridge doesn’t have a filter.
This means the liquid that gets pumped through the shaver’s head contains hair clippings from previous use.
I often see them on the outside or even the inside of the shaving head and that’s not what you’d expect after an automatic cleaning that should do a better job than me.
There aren’t a lot of hairs but will get worse as you continue using it and the solution gets contaminated with even more hairs.
The second problem is that the solution foams a lot and the head is dripping wet and covered in foam once the cleaning is done.
You may need to pat it dry with a paper tissue.
Also, I would never leave the shaver in the pod to dry. Because it won’t.
You must take it out and let it dry with the head open, just like you would after a manual cleaning.
The Quick Clean Pod uses Philips pod cartridges that you can buy in various batches, but if you can still find some of the old Philips JetClean solution, you can use it to refill the cartridge.
Philips Quick Clean Pod Cartridge (pack of 2)
This is more convenient economically. I still have a bottle of JetClean from my old Philips razors and it works just fine.
Alternatively, you can buy some third-party cleaning solutions like the concentrate from Shaver Shebang.
Philips says a cartridge is good for 30 cleans, but as we saw, there’s nothing to prevent you from using it beyond that.
Just make sure the liquid isn’t murky or overly contaminated with dirt and hairs.
9. Replacement parts availability
The Philips Norelco S9000 shavers, including the new angular-head Prestige, use the SH91 replacement heads.
With the likely discontinuation of the SH98 heads of the old Prestige series, the SH91 are now Philips Norelco’s top-of-the-line cutters.
Side note: The SH91 are also compatible with the old Prestige, new Prestige (angular heads) and the old Series 9000 (9300, 9700 etc).
These heads appear to be identical to the SH98 and are in my opinion some of the better ones out there.
They’re very comfortable and well-made, with metal reinforced locking rings and tend to last a lot before needing to be replaced.
Philips SH91 Replacement Shaving Heads
According to the user manual and Philips Norelco’s USA website, you should replace the cutters every year.
However, on the European website, that is bumped to 2 years.
Moreover, on the SH91 package itself, it’s explicitly mentioned that the cutters must be replaced every 2 years.
And 2 years is also consistent with any previously made Philips rotary cutters.
So in my opinion I think we can safely consider 2 years as a reasonable interval for changing the blades.
By the way, the SH91 appear to be compatible with other Philips series as well, apart from the 9000 with its different variations (old and new, Prestige or non-Prestige).
For example, the Series 7000 which normally comes with the single-track SH71 blades can be upgraded to the SH91.
You can see mine in the picture below.
If you’re wondering how the performance is, I’d say similar to the 9500, but the 9500 is faster since it’s fitted with a more powerful motor.
You can also see the original SH71 blade and guard pairs taped together so they don’t intermix.
I recommend doing this if you alternate between several sets of rotary cutters.
The SH91 aren’t cheap, but they tend to last longer than the shaving heads of foil razors and are sometimes priced slightly lower than the replacement parts of high-end foil shavers like the Braun Series 9 or Panasonic Arc 5.
10. Wrapup — should you buy the Philips Norelco 9500?
The new Series 9000 is the result of Philips’ new direction for its range-topping series: angular heads, Quick clean pod or no cleaning station at all, integrated hair trimmer, smart features.
Apart from the new heads, these are reasonable and even welcome changes.
The Philips Norelco 9500 is arguably the pick of the series if we take into account the price and features.
Philips Norelco Series 9000 9500
The Philips Norelco 9500 is a very comfortable rotary shaver, it’s highly effective if you shave less often and the closeness is good as well.
The build quality is definitely a step up from the old Series 9000, but the lack of a proper cleaning station is a minus.
Assuming the larger head isn’t an issue, I think long-time rotary users will enjoy shaving with it.
Since the Prestige variation of the Series 9000 is the flagship in Philips’ lineup, the price of the regular Series 9000 (like the 9500) is lower.
In terms of value for money, I think the Philips Norelco S9000 9500 does quite well and definitely better than the Prestige.
I would mainly recommend it to seasoned users who know from previous experience that rotaries work better for their beard and needs.
Otherwise, my suggestion would be to consider a similarly priced foil shaver that might still work fine even if you shave less often.
Also, in most cases, a foil shaver is able to cut the hair closer to the skin.
So let’s check out some alternatives.
11. Alternative options
Philips Norelco Series 9000 (9500) vs S9000 Prestige
It’s only natural to take a closer look at the Series 9000 Prestige models, both the old and new ones (that feature the same angular heads as the 9500).
With the Prestige line, Philips basically takes the Series 9000 one notch higher.
This is mainly reflected in the build quality, the Prestige models feeling even more premium with the aluminum-like body, nicer case and packaging or the wireless pad.
The usefulness of the latter is however debatable and you may or may not see it as a must-have, in which case there are models that only come with regular wired charging.
However, the Prestige also has 3-speed settings and in the highest one, it feels slightly faster than the 9500 or the other regular Series 9000 models.
But I wouldn’t say it makes a huge difference and especially in the case of the new Prestige which uses angular heads and SH91 blades, the performance is pretty much identical.
The old S9000 Prestige however which is my personal favorite of these high-end Norelcos has the small, rounded heads that taper down and make shaving easier and more enjoyable.
However, the old one doesn’t have the flip-open head for easy cleaning or the integrated trimmer. It’s also not compatible with the Quick clean pod.
The new Prestige does feature the flip-open head (but still no integrated trimmer) and again it’s a lot more similar to the 9500 than different.
In fact, the main differences are related to the handle — the Prestige has a more ergonomic body — and the inclusion of a QI wireless charging pad for specific models.
Unless you absolutely have a need for one or both, you might as well buy the regular Series 9000 (like the 9500) since it’s cheaper and shaves pretty much the same.
In that regard, we could say that it’s better than the new Prestige.
The ideal rotary would in my opinion be the old Prestige with the standard round head design, but with a flip-open head, integrated trimmer and the option of a proper SmartClean station.
There’s no such thing unfortunately and the chances of it happening are zero.
Braun Series 8 or Series 9
As for some alternatives from the foil camp, I think the Braun Series 8 or Series 9 would make the most sense.
These are currently the most capable foil shavers for tackling longer stubble, especially the Series 9/9 Pro.
They’re also easier to use than a rotary for most users and will likely provide a closer shave and excellent comfort.
The Series 8 costs less and would be the better pick for someone that shaves up to every 3 days or so.
It has a smaller head, making it suitable for beginners as well.
Depending on the variation, it should cost around the same as the 9500.
The 8457cc in particular is very appealing since it comes with an excellent cleaning station (the same that comes with the Series 9), with three cleaning modes and active drying.
You can also buy cheap third-party cleaning solutions.
The Series 9 (or Series 9 Pro) is Braun’s current flagship shaver and it’s extremely capable at shaving coarser, longer hairs.
It has 4 active cutting elements and it’s a very effective, fast, and comfortable shaver that would be a great alternative to the 9500.
It’s louder and the blades won’t last as long, but in my opinion it shaves better and most users will probably get a better experience.
It’s not cheap though, being more expensive than most Series 9000, including the 9800.
But you can sometimes find the Series 9 or the 9 Pro at a discounted price.
By the way, the differences between the regular one and the Pro are minor, so the price should be the decisive factor.
Finally, if you just want a cheap rotary, the Shaver 3800 or 3500 from the new Series 3000 are the only ones worth considering in Philips’ current lineup.
I don’t find the pricier Series 5000, 6000 or 7000 better performance-wise.
Moreover, the Series 3000 is easier to use since it doesn’t have the angular head design and the replacement cutters are cheaper.
Finally, if you’re purely interested in getting a close shave, the best electric shaver for that is in my opinion the Panasonic Arc 5.
Some models cost even less than the 9500 and are just superior in that regard, but you will need to shave more often for optimal results (every 2 to 3 days at most).
That pretty much concludes my review of the new Philips Norelco S9000 (9500, 9800).
If you have any questions or you’d like to share your experience, make sure to leave a comment below.
33 thoughts on “Philips Norelco 9500 & 9800 Review: Better Than The Prestige?”Leave a comment
Great review, Ovidiu. Three times (I’m a slow-learner) I had this shaver in my house for a total of about two months all told. I will say on the positive side that it provided a close shave, albeit one that was a bit difficult to achieve. The reason for that was the non-ergonomic handle and the incredibly awkward pentagonal head assembly that requires a 90 degree rotation of the shaver achieve a close shave under the nose and under the ears. This is not easily done for those like myself who have some difficulty maneuvering this shaver. In addition, the cleaning module while providing some assistance in cleaning and lubricating the blades, leaves the shaver wet the next morning UNLESS you remove it from the cleaner later in the day to air dry. For such an easy shaver to clean with its hinged top assembly, the cleaning pod was essentially unnecessary. It is a far cry for the superior plug-in cleaning station that came with earlier Norelco flagship shavers. But having said all that, I will admit that the shave was a decent one. In my view, like your own, I would opt for the much better Prestige with the older round head assembly and either the SH98 or newer SH91 blades. Why Philips is taking such a strange path (pentagonal heads, poor trimmer, lack of proper cleaning station) is beyond me since I’ve been with them for over 5 decades and am left scratching my head.
Thanks so much, Wayne, much appreciated. Great feedback and as you can probably tell from the review, I feel pretty much the same. One could reason they made the switch to the pentagonal heads for the Prestige just to make it compatible with the cleaning pod. The old one just wouldn’t work. Besides, sharing the same shaving head across two distinct series also means simpler logistics and lower production costs.
Great Review Ovidiu.
Just some observations about the new Prestige model.
The new Prestige with the wireless charging pad does not include the quick clean system. I wonder why? The Prestige model also does not have the flip-up trimmer. Only the removable trimmer like the old model. I have been using it for two months and love it.
Thank you so much.
That is correct, the new Prestige doesn’t have the integrated trimmer. I think the reason is the sculpted back, they just couldn’t fit it there, whereas with the 9500 and that straight, thick handle, it was easy to implement.
I think they wanted to offer some variety by offering just the wireless pad or just the cleaning pod, even though some might want both. But at least the pod will still work when bought separately.
Will the pod work with my Prestige? Norelco says it is not compatible! Also my counter space is limited so in practical terms there may be no room for the pod and the charging pad to coexist.
If it has the tiny metal fixture at the center of the head, my guess is that it will in fact work. But I have no way of actually testing that right now, unfortunately.
Hi guys, from the UK here. I recently bought the new Prestige and although it didn’t come with the quick clean pod, I bought one separately. Although the Prestige does indeed have the central spindle and the angular head that Philips own website means it’s compatible with the pod, when you put the shaver on the pod it doesn’t recognise it and it doesn’t begin cleaning automatically. You have to start it manually, it doesn’t start and pause through the cleaning process and then auto shut off after a minute – it just runs constantly until you turn it off yourself. Very strange. On Amazon in the UK you can buy the Prestige in a bundle with the cleaning pod, yet my experience when buying them separately is disappointing – the don’t appear to be fully compatible, at least not with fully fledged functionality.
Thanks so much for the feedback. Every Philips shaver that comes and works with the pod must be started manually, it doesn’t start automatically, so in this regard it’s the same. But the rest is indeed really strange and your Prestige doesn’t seem to be compatible with the pod. I think there are two main drawbacks if it runs continuously. The first one is of course that you need to stop it yourself. And the second is — and I can only assume — that the solution will foam up a lot. That’s an issue even with the shavers that pause throughout that one minute of cleaning.
The silver lining is that this semi-autonomous cleaning should still be just as effective as in the case of a fully compatible model. But it is really mind-boggling that Philips decided to make the range-topping Prestige only half-compatible. It has the required hardware but it doesn’t pair with the pod. I can only hope that they can address this with a future update via the app.
Hey, Jay. I think I’ve mentioned this before but perhaps it bears repeating. Given that the new pod only cleans and lubricates for one minute and then leaves the shaver “wet” with no drying coil or fan my old solution could apply. What I’ve done for shavers that would not work in my older Norelco cleaning station is this: I fill a small Tupperware container with Norelco cleaner. I rinse my shaver first under the tap then run it face down in the solution for 10 seconds, lift it out to dry and then repeat a couple of times. Then I shake it off, remove the top place (or in your case flip it open) and leave it to air dry. Put the lid on the Tupperware container, put it away and you’re good to go… no pod taking up room and your shaver cleaned and lubricated. I’d do this about once a week. When the container looks cloudy I dump it, rinse it and replace the cleaning solution. It should last you a couple of months this way.
Thank you so much for putting this blog together. Your reviews are fantastic, and I wish I had found your blog two weeks ago.
I’ve had the same Phillips HQ7363 for the past 12 years and it’s worked very well. I recently decided that I need to start treating myself better and, on a whim, purchased a new pentagonal Phillips 5400. After using it for a week, I had the same feelings and confusion as you about the pentagonal head — forcing me to rotate my arm 90 degrees to shave under my nose and shave blind around my sideburns seems like an insane fumble by their marketing/design department. I finally returned the 5400 despite desperately wanting to love it.
Fortunately, though, your blog inspired me to order SH30 heads to replace my HQ8 “super lift and cuts”. Hopefully my old trusty HQ7363 gets some new life and will provide a more comfortable shave around my sensitive neck skin.
Thank you so much for the comment, you are too kind.
I totally agree and I just can’t find a compelling reason to recommend the Series 5000, especially now since it also uses the pentagonal heads. There used to be a Series 6000 a few years ago, that one was just the perfect mid-range rotary — it felt like a budget Prestige. It got discontinued abruptly and was replaced last year with a new one with angular heads and inferior single-track blades.
I hope the SH30 will make your shave better — I personally much prefer them to the HQ8.
Ovidiu: how does the SH30 heads differ from the HQ8 heads? I have an older AT830 and seldom use it since it has the HQ8 heads which irritate the heck out of my neck.
The SH30 seem less grabby and definitely gentler and less irritating.
In my case all these non-Lift&Cut heads (SH30, SH60, SH71, SH91, SH98), some of them replacing some old/discontinued SuperLift&Cut blades, have been better for my skin/beard/technique. Some seasoned users that just don’t seem to be affected by the aggressive double-blade design actually prefer the HQ8 to the SH30 as they feel they’re able to get a closer shave. For me it was the exact opposite — even though a Lift&Cut blade is in theory able to cut closer, in practice it never did so because I could never be as thorough and confident as usual.
If for example you’d pick the SH98 over the SH90, there’s a good chance you’ll also prefer the SH30 to the HQ8.
Following up on the SH30 vs. HQ8 discussion, I recently changed to the SH30 in my old HQ7363 and it’s been a revelation. Enormous improvement in comfort and the closeness seems about the same.
That’s great, thanks so much for the follow-up. Enjoy shaving with your renewed HQ7363. 🙂
Ah… thanks for the information. And yes, I do prefer the SH98 to the SH90 so that seems to suggest that the SH30 would be a better fit for my old AT830. It’s interesting that after all these years of shaving with Norelcos, I’m still learning things. Much appreciated.
My pleasure, Wayne. I think we’re all still learning new things and discovering new perspectives — about shavers and in general as well. 🙂
I am using the new Prestige and loving it. We are renovating so there is some migrating plaster dust. After I shave I open the shaver head and rinse the razor under the tap. I don’t know what else I can do to protect the shaver.
I wouldn’t be too worried. Unless there’s a massive amount of dust in the room where you leave your shaver to dry, it should be just fine.
I have shaved with Noreclos since the 1990s and feel they are losing their way. I owned a basic corded non-waterproof model in the 1990s, had the Quadra Action 7610X, a Speed XL model, and currently the newer 5300, and a cleaned up and Vollco head sharpened Quadra Action 7610X. Back in the 1990s and early 2000s it seemed Norelco was actually making performance improvements.
The 5300 heads are just not as functional as rounded heads. They are simply too big, as is the rest of the shaver. Sure the shaver might look nicer and more like a building, but the cutting diameter is just a tad larger than my old 7610x, despite the 5300 being way larger overall. The 5300 takes up too much room if luggage space is at a premium and it didn’t even come with a case!
I see the Norelco 7700 is $160. This shaver uses the same heads as my 5300. I know my Quadra 7610x, which came out about 20 years ago will provide a closer shave. There are a bunch of used Quadra Actions on eBay for $29.99. Throw in a set of Vollco VSH sharpening heads for $18 and you have a closer shave than the 7700. Kind of embarrassing for Norelco.
I was reading through all the info about the app and was like they went through all this detail but are producing bulky square shaver heads that have to be rotated at crazy angles just to cut under one’s nose!
Sorry to sound like a grumpy middle aged man, but I see no reason to spend more money on any of the higher end Noreclos with these square heads and at least on the 5000/7000 heads shaves that are not as close as 20 year-old Quadra Action models.
Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. I agree, the new head design is just form over function and it can even be detrimental to the performance. I feel like with the current Norelcos, apart from the pre-owned/vintage shavers you can still find, you can either get a budget Series 2000 or 3000 which are easier to use and similar to a 5300 in terms of performance for example, or splurge on a more powerful series. Unfortunately, the last high-end Norelco with the more conventional/compact heads was the original Prestige and it got replaced with a new one with the same type of heads as the 5000/7000/new 9000.
As a side note, I just got my first Vollco kit, looking forward to using it on an older Series 3000.
Hey, Mike. Good to read your comments. I’ve been shaving with Norelcos forever, it seems (I guess back in the 70’s when I started with rotaries and before that in the 60’s with Remingtons). I completely agree that Philips appears to have lost its way with this newly designed head. I “think” I literally bought the last older model Prestige from Costco a couple of weeks back (it’s no longer available) when it was on sale. It came with the rounded heads and the SH98 blades. I tried on three separate occasions to make the pentagonally shaped heads on the 9500 series work but finally threw in the towel (too much fiddling to shave closely under the nose by having to rotate the shaver as well as under the ears for the same reason). And the non-ergonomic handle was ridiculous to try and hold. If this is, indeed, the direction this company is heading in, I’ll opt for buying older Norelcos from eBay when my new Prestige goes belly up. Hopefully some engineers at the Philips plant will get his act together and cut out this nonsense.
A bit off topic, but I’m not sure this issue fits anywhere else better. Something that perplexes me to no end is the way shaver manufacturers stay strictly in their own swim lanes and never venture beyond. I, for one, would like to see Braun and Panasonic take a stab at making a rotary … and if Phillips ever came out with a Prestige foil shaver … I’d probably go out and buy it immediately … without even waiting for a review. I understand that every maker just sticks to that company’s traditional formula (ie Braun makes foils and only foils), but it would be nice to have some variety … even it were just one non-formula razor per maker.
Thanks so much for the comment.
That would be really interesting and I would absolutely want to see that as well. Realistically, I don’t think it’ll ever happen.
Remington has both rotary and foil razors, but apart from a couple of rotary head shavers and maybe the foil F5, they just can’t compete with the other 3 brands in terms of performance (that’s been the case for the last 20 years or so).
All the expertise, R&D, tradition, etc revolve around foil shavers for Braun and Panasonic, while Philips has patented and stuck to rotary razors since forever. Switching/diversifying would be really difficult to justify (both in terms of costs and reasoning). For decades Braun said foil shavers are better while Philips obviously considered their concept superior.
Hi Matt, that would be interesting for sure. I think a big part of it is much of Phillips marketing strategy is based on “the benefits of rotary shavers” and this is pretty prominent on their website. If they started making foil shavers many of their longtime loyal customers might be a bit perplexed.
I don’t want this to sound elitist, but the vast majority of electric shaver owners are not digging down into sites like this one. Most likely their dads got them either a rotary or foil when they were a teen as that has been their go to all these years later. (Before finding this site I was strictly a Noreclo and Lectric Shave guy from the 1990s until just a few months ago.) It seems there is a lot of loyalty in the shaving world.
And Norelco has by far the best selling shaver in the US and Braun dominates the world foil market so why mess with that success?
Good points by both of you and well taken, my post was more of a thought exercise than anything else. As much as I like my Arc 5 (and am a sucker for Panasonic’s latest Japanese marketing showing the new incremental improvements of a revision), any modern Panasonic foil shaver does look pretty similar to the XLR 3000 Remmington I had in the 80s or the Braun 5567 I had in the 90s … foil on the outside, cutter block on the inside. I do feel like both types (ie rotary and foil) might be due for a new set of eyes on them, after all innovation doesn’t usually come from monopolies and the big 3 seem to have quasi monopolies depending on how you look at the market. That said, if someone ever developed a sharpener for old foil blades (similar to the rotary options available now), I’d love to re-try a few of my old foil shavers via ebay.
I’ve gone back to Lab Series electric shaver solution. My new Prestige glides easier and the head feels a bit cooler. I am not sure it shaves closer though.
It’s still an improvement in my opinion, even if the only benefit is getting a more enjoyable shave. Lab Series is among the slickest pre-shaves and works really well with rotaries.
I was rereading the review. The new Prestige wireless does not have the thick handle issue that you mentioned. The trade-off is there is no integrated trimmer. Given the more compact handle, I fully understand this. I doubt if the handle is different for the wired version but you never know.
That is true and both the wireless and wired models have the same handle. If I somehow made it sound otherwise in a specific part of the review please let me know and I will rectify it.
The review seems to imply that all the newer 9000 variants have thick handles. I think the review should distinguish that the new Prestige has a handle similar to the old Prestige.
Thanks, Jay. I tried to convey precisely that, even explicitly motioned that the new Prestige has the same handle as the old one and the same head as the 9500. For example the quote below:
I went over the review again and couldn’t find any instances that seem to imply that the new Prestige has the same handle as the 9500/new 9000. If there’s a particular passage you think may be unclear, I will tweak it to be more specific.
Thanks for checking.