Pros: very comfortable, good with long and short facial hair, solid build quality, quiet, sleek design, excellent battery life, high-quality cutting heads, waterproof, easy to clean
Cons: doesn't shave as close as a foil razor, no travel case, the beard trimmer is cumbersome to use
Part of the new and updated Series 6000, the Philips Norelco 6880/81 Shaver 6800 is one of the most compelling mid-range rotary shavers you can currently buy.
With a reasonable price and a few very interesting features, it appears to be a viable, budget-friendly alternative to the high-end Philips models.
Even though it’s a relatively new model, this razor is already a best-seller in its category.
In this review of the Philips Norelco 6880/81 I will be sharing my experience with this particular model, having used it consistently for the past few weeks.
I’ll discuss its pros and cons, see how it compares to the similarly priced shavers from the competition and hopefully help you decide whether it would be a good choice for you.
Table of Contents
Before getting started, it’s important to note that there’s also another model from the Series 6000 available in the USA.
Precisely, it’s the Philips Norelco Shaver 6900 (S6810/82).
The differences are however only related to the included accessories, the shavers themselves being absolutely identical.
The 6900 comes with a charging stand and a beard styler with 5 length settings instead of the basic trimmer included with the 6800.
As mentioned at the beginning, I got the cheaper Philips 6880/81 (Shaver 6800), but this review will also be relevant in the case of the Shaver 6900.
The Philips Series 6000 models available in Europe/internationally are the S6650/48, S6680/26, S6630/11, S6620/11.
Oddly enough, those are different than the Series 6000 sold in the USA under the Norelco brand: they come with older cutting heads (the SH50) and so the performance will be different (most likely inferior).
So this review will only be relevant for the Philips Norelco Shaver 6800/6900.
With that out of the way, let’s quickly check out the main features.
1. 3 blade shaving head
As with most Philips rotary razors, the shaving unit of the 6880/81 has three individual cutting heads.
They can flex inward independently, while the whole assembly can pivot, which should help to maintain contact with the skin during use.
According to Philips, the blue rings around the heads (called ComfortGlide rings) feature a special coating that allows them to glide over the skin with minimal friction.
This should reduce irritation and make the shave more enjoyable.
We’ll see in the performance section of the review how well this works.
Also, you can see that each shaving head has two concentric tracks, featuring different slots for capturing both short and longer, flat-lying hairs.
The real novelty of the Series 6000 is however the new SH60 blade set, designed specifically for these models (more details later on).
2. Skin Guard Mode
The Philips Norelco 6880/81 Shaver 6800 is fitted with a special setting that slows down the motor, making the shaver more forgiving and allowing you to shave sensitive areas without discomfort.
Below the power button we have another one that activates this Skin Guard mode.
So this shaver basically has two speed settings, normal and slow/sensitive. It’s like a basic implementation of the speed settings found on Philips’ high-end shavers like the Series 9000 (those have 3 settings instead of 2).
I will share my experience with the Skin Guard feature later on.
3. Click-on trimmer
Since Philips only puts pop-out trimmers on entry-level shavers like the 3100, they usually include a separate attachment with the more advanced shavers and it must be manually inserted in place.
That’s the case with the Shaver 6800 (and 6900) as well.
The Philips Norelco 6880/81 Shaver 6800 model comes with a basic beard trimmer that’s good enough for some light grooming.
I think you could also use it to pre-trim your entire beard if you haven’t shaved in a long time (I didn’t get the chance to use it in that manner).
The more expensive Shaver 6900 (S6810/82) includes a beard styler with 5 hair length settings and an integrated comb.
4. Cordless, wet&dry use
The shavers in the Series 6000 are waterproof and suitable for wet & dry use, so you’ll also be able to shave in the shower or to use them with your favorite shaving cream or gel.
It also means that the shavers will only operate cordless and won’t work with the cord plugged in.
A fully charged battery should provide up to 50 minutes worth of cordless shaving.
The universal voltage converter will allow you to charge the shaver anywhere in the world (100–240v).
5. Two-year warranty
Philips offers a full two-year warranty for the Shaver 6800 and 6900.
You can also take advantage of their 45-day money-back guarantee if you are not satisfied with the performance of the shaver.
Build quality and ergonomics
The shaver looks very slick in the official product photos and even better when you actually hold it in your hand.
Purely from an aesthetic perspective, I think it’s one of the best I’ve seen from Philips in recent years. The Shaver 6800 definitely looks and feels like a more expensive product.
Gone is that cheap, plasticky, hollow feel of the aforementioned models.
The new Series 6000 shavers come in different colors, the most striking one being the metallic blue of the European models.
My Philips Shaver 6800 has an all-black colorway (except for the blue rings around the combs) with both glossy and matte surfaces.
The front of the shaver has this high-gloss fascia, but again, doesn’t feel at all cheap. It could show scuffs and scratches more easily though.
The sides are covered in a very grippy rubber-like material with dimples for extra security, while the back features a matte plastic.
I would have liked the rubber sleeve to extended all the way to the back, but it’s still adequate.
On the front of the razor, we have a square power button with rounded corners that also doubles as a travel lock.
You can activate it by pressing and holding the button for a few seconds. A padlock will show up on the display, confirming that the shaver is now locked.
Pressing and holding it again will unlock the shaver.
Right below there’s a second button with a shield symbol that activates the Skin Guard Mode.
With the shaver turned on, pressing this button will make the motor run slower. While there isn’t any symbol on the display to confirm that, you can clearly hear a change in the sound of the motor.
Pressing it again will deactivate the Skin Guard mode and the shaver will run again at full power (normal mode).
Interestingly, the Shaver 6800 will always start in normal mode, which is the right call in my opinion as the sensitive mode should be used sparingly (more on that later on).
The LED display of the Philips Norelco 6880/81 is pretty basic but functional.
The battery level indicator only has 3 levels. Other than that, the display will also show notifications for cleaning, replacing the blades, travel lock and a reminder to disconnect the shaver from the outlet in order to use it.
The sides and back of the shaver are completely barren. There’s no integrated pop-out trimmer either.
Instead, we have a separate beard trimmer that can easily be swapped with the shaving unit.
You just pull it straight out as there are no release tabs. The trimmer only fits one way (and so does the shaving head).
There’s a cutout in the shaver (A) that must be aligned with a notch in the trimmer (B) and shaving head (C):
The charging port is located at the bottom of the razor and it uses the typical Philips two-prong connector.
As for the ergonomics, the Shaver 6800 fits really well in the hand, it’s nicely balanced and lightweight.
The body tapers down towards the bottom, allowing you to wrap your hand around it securely.
As a conclusion, the build quality and overall feel of the new Series 6000 exceeded my expectations. It’s definitely a nicer product than what I’ve seen in the past from Philips in this price range.
Here’s what you’ll find in the box:
- Philips Norelco 6880/81 Shaver 6800
- Beard trimmer attachment
- Charging cord
- Cleaning brush
- Protective plastic cover
- User instructions
The bundle is pretty basic and the lack of a travel case is a bit disappointing. Philips does include one with other models in the Series 6000, precisely the S6820 and S6810.
Unfortunately, it’s not available with the S6880 in our review.
Battery life and charging
All the shavers in the Series 6000 family are wet/dry models, so they will only operate cordless.
The Philips Norelco 6880/81 is fitted with a Li-ion battery that should last for up to 50 minutes of use.
Before shaving for the first time you should charge the razor to 100%.
Mine came with a completely discharged battery and going from 0 to full took approximately one hour.
The battery level indicator is comprised of three segments that light up when the battery is charged; as you use the shaver, they will gradually turn off.
The battery life was very solid during my tests with the Philips Norelco 6880/81, matching and even slightly exceeding the 50 minutes promised by the manufacturer.
When it’s time to charge the razor again, the bottom segment will flash red:
There’s also a quick charge function that gets activated automatically when the battery is completely dead and you plug the cable in.
This is signaled by the bottom battery indicator that will start flashing very quickly.
After approximately 5 minutes of charging, it will flash slowly, meaning that the battery now has enough power to complete a shave.
So no complaints in the battery department and the performance was overall very good.
So far the premises for a great shave with the new Philips Series 6000 S6880/81 are all there.
I’ve been using it for almost 3 weeks now on various beard lengths and I’m happy to report that my experience with this razor has been mostly positive.
However, not everything was great and I will be addressing the negatives as well.
I decided to kick off the performance review of the Philips Norelco 6880/81 by discussing the comfort.
I usually start with the closeness of the shave, but the comfort was really the standout trait of this razor.
I have very sensitive skin and I can’t shave with most rotary razors without also getting some irritation or razor burn.
The Shaver 6800 was an unexpected and very pleasant surprise in this regard.
Using it wet or dry, on longer or shorter stubble, it was always adequately comfortable and apart from some minor stings on the neck, I didn’t have any trouble with it.
In my opinion the main reason for the excellent comfort is the introduction of the new shaving heads, the SH60.
I got the first clue that these SH60 could be surprisingly good even before using the shaver for the first time.
As you can see in the image below, they’re extremely similar to the SH98 used by the Prestige line.
They even come with the same hybrid metal and plastic retaining rings. To me, that is a sign of quality as the basic rotaries from Philips only have a single large plastic bracket.
The blades themselves look identical as well and even the combs of the two shavers are almost the same:
Another important aspect regarding these heads is that they use a single blade design (again just like the Prestige) instead of the double Super Lift & Cut blades that tend to be quite aggressive.
I personally never liked those as they would constantly pull hairs and pinch my skin.
Fortunately, I didn’t experience any of that with the Philips Norelco Shaver 6800.
I shaved dry most of the time using my pre-shave lotion of choice from Speick which made the shave even more comfortable and allowed the head to glide with less resistance on the skin.
The Shaver 6800 is also pretty lightweight at only 175 grams, which made it very easy and enjoyable to use.
Skin Guard Mode — does it actually work?
Since we’re on the subject of comfort, it’s probably the time to address the efficiency of the Skin Guard, one of the defining features of this razor.
Activating this mode by pressing the shield button (with the razor switched on) will slow down the rotation of the blades, supposedly making the razor even more forgiving and gentle.
I’ve tested this feature quite extensively and at least in my case, it didn’t make a big difference.
The shaver seemed to be a tiny bit more comfortable and allowing me to be a bit sloppier with my technique, but it also made the shaver slower.
I guess you could use it sparingly, but I never really felt the need to do it.
So the efficiency of the Skin Guard Mode is in my opinion limited and I think the shaver would have been just as good without it since it’s already adequately comfortable.
Overall, I was really impressed with the comfort of the Philips 6880/81 and again it exceeded my expectations.
It’s pretty difficult to balance comfort and closeness and most electric shavers will excel only in one area.
And that’s kind of the case here as well.
Since the comfort was quite outstanding for a rotary razor, the closeness of the shave with the Philips Norelco 6880/81 wasn’t anything special.
I would say that it’s on par with the rest of the mid-range Philips models, which isn’t too bad actually.
For me, someone dealing with sensitive skin, I would take comfort over closeness any day, so it’s not a deal-breaker.
If however you want a very close shave, you’ll be better off with a foil shaver (for roughly the same money).
Again, the Philips 6880/81 wasn’t by any means bad, but nothing out of the ordinary.
On the cheeks it actually fared very well, but on the neck, chin and below the nose, the closeness could have been better.
For example, when using it alongside my Prestige I could notice the difference (I shaved half of my face with one shaver and half with the other one).
The Prestige left the skin feeling a bit smoother to the touch, while I could still detect some slightly rough patches on the other half.
I tried the 6800 with shaving cream as well, but it didn’t seem to improve the results to a significant degree.
I will not however hold the closeness against the Shaver 6800 — after all, it wasn’t any worse than most other rotary shavers I’ve used and you’ll have to spend significantly more for one that would be better.
Shaving longer hairs
There were no surprises here, the Philips Norelco Shaver 6800 being perfectly capable of shaving a 3 or 4 days beard.
Even the hairs that lie flat on my skin were captured and cut with only a few additional passes.
Moreover, it did so without causing any serious discomfort.
In the past, especially when using Philips razors with a double blade design, some of the longer hairs would just be pulled instead of cut.
I didn’t experience any of that with the Philips 6880/81.
Rotary shavers are generally good at cutting longer whiskers and this one was no different.
So if you don’t usually shave very often, it could be a good option.
Regarding how long it takes to complete a shave with the Norelco 6880/81 Shaver 6800, it’s a bit of a mixed bag.
The shaver is very comfortable and glides pretty smoothly on the skin (unless it’s damp), it catches flat-lying hairs with few passes and it’s compact and lightweight.
If there’s something holding it down, that would be the motor. It just feels like it has less torque compared to the ones on the Series 9000 for example.
Even with the Skin Guard Mode turned off, I would have liked a bit more power, especially when shaving areas with thicker stubble.
You have to be more thorough and use slower strokes in order to get a smooth shave. The Prestige on the other hand allows me to do it quicker while still cutting the hairs efficiently.
But then again, the price difference between the Philips Series 6000 and the Series 9000 is quite significant, especially in the case of the Prestige models.
For me, the performance of the beard trimmer was just mediocre.
It wasn’t really a surprise as I’ve used other Philips shavers in the past that came with the same trimmer attachment.
And for some quick, on-the-fly grooming, like straightening and trimming your sideburns it just doesn’t cut the mustard.
The trimmer blades seem dull and require many passes in order to get the hairs. And even then it doesn’t cut them as close to the skin as I would like.
On top of that, it’s rather bulky and awkward to use.
Things are better when it comes to using the attachment to pre-trim your beard; it just works better on longer facial hair and not for finesse work.
In my case that doesn’t help much as I usually shave often and don’t need to trim my beard beforehand.
But to some users this might be useful. However, if you need to trim your beard regularly, I recommend getting a separate beard trimmer as well, it’ll still be much quicker and easier to use.
The Philips Norelco 6880/81 is a wet/dry shaver, which means you also have the option to use it with shaving cream or even in the shower.
While I haven’t tried the latter, I did shave wet a couple of times.
And it works fine, but I didn’t really get a better shave, which is why I preferred to shave dry for most of the time.
The comfort was already good, so the improvements in that regard were marginal if any.
What I was hoping for was a closer shave. And again, I didn’t quite get it.
The closeness remained pretty much the same — adequate, but not great.
In conclusion, I think most users should probably stick to using it dry as the results won’t be significantly better in the case of a wet shave.
But you do have this option nevertheless.
Cleaning and maintenance
None of the Series 6000 variations come with an automatic cleaning station, which means the shavers must be cleaned by hand after each use.
Luckily, that’s a very straightforward operation (for most of the time).
There are two cleaning routines that need to be performed.
A quick cleaning after each use and a thorough cleaning that must be carried out every month or so.
Here’s how you should go about doing each of them.
1. Quick cleaning
Once you’ve finished shaving, turn the shaver off and remove the top part of the shaving unit by prying it off.
Empty the hairs trapped inside and gently tap the plastic frame of the sink to remove the rest.
Don’t worry if there’s still some hair left, just remove the bulk of it. You can use the included brush as well (on the inside of the heads).
Put back the top part of the shaving head, turn the shaver on and rinse it under warm tap water for 15 to 20 seconds.
Optionally, you can also pour a bit of liquid soap over the three heads and let it run a bit for a more thorough cleaning, especially if you use shaving cream.
Turn the shaver off, remove the shaving head holder again and give it a thorough rinse inside out. Rinse the bottom half of the shaving unit as well.
Shake off the excess water and let the parts air dry completely before putting the shaving head holder back on.
Side note: the shaver has a cleaning reminder that will flash every time you turn it off.
That’s pretty much it; as mentioned, this cleaning routine should be performed after every shave.
2. Thorough cleaning
In time, some hairs and grime could remain trapped inside the actual shaving heads, so a more thorough cleaning is required in order to remove the residues.
This operation implies disassembling the cutters and cleaning each pair of blades and guards individually.
With the shaver turned off, pull the shaving head holder off the bottom of the shaving unit:
On the inside you’ll see the three retaining rings that hold the cutting heads in place.
For each of the heads (one by one), remove the corresponding ring by turning it counterclockwise.
The ring will be released and you can simply lift the blade and guard from the holder.
Rinse them thoroughly with warm tap water and remove any visible grime.
It’s very important to do this one cutter and guard at a time as they are matching pairs and mixing them will affect the performance of the shaver.
Once you’ve cleaned them, place the guard, blade and ring back into the holder and lock the ring by turning it clockwise. It should snap securely in the locked position.
Repeat this process for the other two shaving heads.
This thorough cleaning should be performed once a month for the best performance.
Philips only explicitly mentions lubricating the trimmer, and not the shaving heads of the 6880/81.
It’s true that lubrication is particularly important in the case of foil shavers where the friction is higher and the foils are a lot thinner.
So it’s less necessary in the case of rotary razors like Series 6000.
However, it probably won’t hurt, especially if you also clean the shaver with liquid soap.
A light mineral oil like clipper oil would the best option. Alternatively, you can also use a cleaning and lubricating spray.
Applying the spray and oil every couple of weeks should be enough in order to ensure optimal performance.
You can apply the oil directly on the slits of each cutter (a single drop will suffice).
A spray should be applied directly on the cutter and on the inside of the guard (more details here).
Again, Philips doesn’t recommend lubrication in the case of the Shaver 6800 or any of the Series 6000 models, but doing it properly can be beneficial.
Replacement parts availability
As mentioned previously, the new Philips Series 6000 is fitted with a new generation of blades called SH60.
These blades are in my opinion a key contributor to the overall good performance of this shaver.
They also seem to be of high quality and hopefully will last more than some of the other Philips blades in recent years that were frankly a disappointment.
The SH60 blades are already available for purchase.
Philips Norelco SH60 Replacement Heads
They are a bit pricey at this moment, but will probably get cheaper later on.
Philips recommends replacing them every 12 months, but that will vary a lot in practice.
Things like the coarseness of the hair, beard density, frequency of shaving, and cleaning will have a great influence on the lifespan of the blades.
There’s a replacement head reminder that will show up on the display when the shaver thinks you need new blades. You shouldn’t necessarily do it when that happens for the very reason mentioned above.
You will know when the time comes as the performance of the shaver will drop significantly, which could happen before or after the reminder shows up.
Also, in order to reset it, press and hold the power button for 7 seconds. The reminder will reset automatically after 9 shaves if you don’t do it yourself.
Wrapup — Who should buy the Philips Norelco 6880/81?
This new Series 6000 is in my opinion the most compelling rotary shaver in the mid-range sector.
It’s better than the cheap 3100 and the likes and more comfortable than the Series 5000, 7000 and 8000.
It is a lot cheaper than the Series 9000, both the regular and the Prestige models.
This makes the Philips Norelco 6880/81 Shaver 6800 a very attractive option for someone who prefers rotary razors but doesn’t want to pay a premium price for one.
It’s a very comfortable shaver as well, definitely among the best in Philips’ lineup in that regard.
So it’s a viable option even for users with somewhat sensitive skin, mainly thanks to the new blades.
It works well on both short and longer facial hair and can be used wet or dry, making it very versatile.
The closeness is typical for a rotary shaver, meaning it’s not the best out there, so if you’re very demanding in that regard, you’ll be better off with something else as you’ll see in the next section.
But overall, I think this is the Philips shaver to buy for most users and an excellent performer for the price.
That said, let’s check out a few other options that will be better in certain situations.
Panasonic Arc 4 ES8243AA
For roughly the same money, you can buy a Panasonic Arc 4.
The main advantage over the Philips 6880/81 is the closeness of the shave.
Foil shavers, particularly the ones from Panasonic, are able to cut the hairs closer to the skin thanks to the very thin screens.
This particular shaver from the Arc 4 line is also surprisingly comfortable, definitely better than other similar models in this range.
It has an integrated pop-up trimmer that’s sharp, effective, and easy to use.
As for downsides, it’s not as good at handling longer, flat-lying facial hair, so you’ll want to use it more often in order to get the best results.
For more details, you can check my review as well.
Braun Series 5 5030s
The older Series 5 is another viable alternative to the Philips Norelco Shaver 6800.
It’s also a foil shaver, but unlike the previous option, this one is quite good with longer facial hair.
The comfort is great as well, being even better than the Panasonic in that regard.
As for the closeness, I would place it somewhere between the Philips and the Panny.
The main problem is that it’s getting pretty difficult to find as the old Series 5 is being gradually replaced by the newer models (which are a step down in terms of performance).
If you can still find it (or other Series 5 variation like the 5140s), it’s a really good shaver.
You can check out more alternatives in my guide on how to choose the best shaver for you.