Philips Sonicare vs Oral-B: what's the difference and which is better?

We compare the world’s two biggest toothbrush brands to uncover which offers most bang for your buck

Philips Sonicare vs Oral-B
(Image credit: Philips Sonicare / Oral-B)

When it comes to the best electric toothbrushes, there are only two real contenders on the market right now: Oral B and Philips’ Sonicare. The question is, what’s the difference and which brand is the best at cleaning your gnashers? 

It’s a debate that has been central to the world of dental hygiene for quite some time. With each toothbrush company offering their own innovative teeth-cleaning tech, choosing between the two brands isn’t an easy task. Although, of course, that doesn’t mean we’re not going to try and solve the toothbrush debate once and for all.

To find out which is most worthy of your dosh, we’re pitting the world's biggest toothbrush companies head-to-head, comparing features from tech to design and other factors such as cost and battery life. 

Philips Sonicare vs Oral-B: Technology

Both Philips and Oral-B up the ante year after year when it comes to innovation, with each brand injecting the latest cutting-edge tech into their toothbrushes to ensure teeth cleaning is not only innovative but meticulous without feeling like a chore. 

In recent times, Oral-B has invested in developments such as connectivity and artificial intelligence (AI), features that were not previously seen in its rivals. The firm’s latest and greatest toothbrush - the iO Series 9 (opens in new tab) - is a shining example of this. Released in 2020, it boasts some pretty impressive toothbrush tech. Using tracking tech built into the brush, the iO’s app can detect where you’re brushing and highlight the areas of your teeth you’re covering, changing colour to give you stars when you’ve brushed an area well. 

The Philips Sonicare range might not be as in your face but it is still exceptionally impressive. The firm’s most advanced electric toothbrush, the Sonicare 9900 Prestige (opens in new tab), comes with something called SenseIQ Technology, which is able to sense your brushing style through detecting pressure, motion, coverage up to 100 times per second. It then adapts to this in real-time by adjusting intensity when it senses that you are brushing too hard, for example.

Like the iO, the 9900 Prestige also connects to your phone via an AI-powered Philips Sonicare app, which displays brushing data as well as personalised guidance. Currently, both brands’ flagship devices tout a similar level of innovation.

Winner: Oral-B

Best electric toothbrush

(Image credit: Philips)

Philips Sonicare vs Oral-B: Brushing performance

Philips and Oral-B each utilise a different kind of brushing technology to get your pearly whites gleaming like a Love Island contestant, and this essentially comes down to the types of mechanisms on offer.

Philips’ Sonicare range utilises a side-to-side motion, which sounds fairly simple but really isn’t as this happens at ridiculous speeds; a kind of vibration sensation referred to as sonic motion (hence the name). With the latest models reaching 31,000 strokes per minute, these sonic vibrations do a great job cleaning your teeth, leaving you with a fresh-feeling mouth for most of the day.

Most Oral-B toothbrushes make use of an oscillating-rotating power mechanism, with their brush heads pulsating to loosen plaque and then oscillating to sweep it away. The only exception in its line-up is the brand’s flagship iO toothbrush, which boasts a frictionless magnetic drive system that transfers energy towards the tips of the bristles. This feels almost sonic in the way it moves but isn’t as it employs more energy.

So which is best? Oral-B claims its iO toothbrush (opens in new tab) is “clinically proven to remove 48% more plaque along the gumline” and “62% more effective at reducing gum problems” when compared to Philips’ Sonicare DiamondClean Smart toothbrush. However, that isn’t compared against Philips’ top-performing toothbrush, so we don’t feel like it’s a fair comparison. 

There’s no real evidence out there currently to suggest one is better than the other, so the best here comes down to preference. We’ve tested both brands’ respective devices considerably over the years during the reviewing process and we have to say, it’s difficult to name a winner in the performance department. 

Winner: Draw

Philips Sonicare vs Oral-B: Design

Boasting a colour LCD display in the handle, the iO is one of the most impressively-designed toothbrushes you’ll lay eyes on. The screen not only looks cool, but it’s a really intuitive way of flicking through the iO’s seven different cleaning modes as it displays an icon and text description for each one. This also acts as a visual timer, showing you how long you’ve brushed for and giving you a score at the end in the form of a smiley face. Half a smile and you’ve probably not brushed for long enough. Starry eyes and you’ve done a great job.

Philips’ Sonicare range might not be as flashy - with fewer bells and whistles - but it boasts a much more slick and slender design that looks more appealing atop of your sink cabinet; a minimal yet elegant bit of kit that looks way more sophisticated than Oral-B’s range.

Design, ultimately, comes down to taste but for us, Philips Sonicare takes the biscuit. 

Winner: Philips Sonicare

Best electric toothbrush

(Image credit: Oral-B)

Philips Sonicare vs Oral-B: Battery life

Most of Oral-B’s toothbrushes give you about two weeks of use between charges, but this will depend on how long exactly you like to brush your teeth for.

Philips’ Sonicare range is slated at a slightly longer of three weeks battery life on a charge. While these are estimations set by the brand, we have to say that during our experiences using both companies’ products, Philips’ toothbrushes do tend to last longer between charges. 

Winner: Philips Sonicare 

Philips Sonicare vs Oral-B: Price

The iO Series 9 is priced at a whopping £500 in the UK, which - we admit - is a mind-blowing amount for a toothbrush. However, few retailers actually stock it at the full RRP asking price, and it can be picked up from most places, such as Amazon (opens in new tab), for £250.

If that’s still too much, you can find Oral-B’s much cheaper but still very well-performing Genius 9000 for a lower price of around £150 / $130 depending on where you buy it from. 

Philips’ flagship 9900 Prestige brush is the most expensive electric toothbrush between the two brands’ product lineup, retailing for £299 on most sites, such as Amazon (opens in new tab). Again, if you’re looking for something cheaper from Philips, we can recommend the Sonicare Diamondclean Sonic, which retailed at £300 upon release a few years ago but is now priced at a more palatable £100. 

Generally, however, Oral-B toothbrushes can be found cheaper than Philips Sonicare devices.

Winner: Oral-B

Philips Sonicare vs Oral-B: Conclusion

 With two wins each, it’s evident that there’s no clear winner between the world’s two biggest electric toothbrush makers - this, ultimately, comes down to what you are looking for from a toothbrush. For example: If design and battery life are more important to you, opt for Philips Sonicare. Or if you beleive price point and a slightly better brushing performance is more of a necessity, then perhaps Oral-B is the toothbrush brand for you. 

Lee Bell is a freelance journalist & copywriter specialising in technology, health, grooming and how the latest innovations are shaking up the lifestyle space. From national newspapers to specialist-interest magazines and digital titles, Lee has written for some of the world’s most respected publications during his 11 years as a journalist.