Oral-B is the world's biggest and best electric toothbrush maker – it rules the roost and has made a success of its toothbrush line through some innovative teeth-cleaning tech including gum-pressure sensors, AI-power, and app-support.
The latest iO Series was hailed as the biggest innovation in oral care history (by Oral-B) and was released with much fanfare.
Not only was the iO Series supposed to be unveiled at a big event at Mobile World Congress (which was eventually cancelled), months after that, journalists received their review samples via drone (although not ours as apparently our part of London is just too urban and dangerous for such things).
The reason for this? That would be because the iO Series is one of the most premium out there. Sitting at the top of the range is the iO Series 9, which has an entirely ridiculous RRP of £500. Needless to say, it is not worth that (no electric toothbrush is).
The good news is that discounting has now kicked in, and you can often get the iO9 for half that. £250 is still not exactly cheap, clearly, but it's a bargain compared to the original price.
But, is the Oral-B iO9 really worth the dosh? Let’s find out...
Oral-B iO9 review: Price And Availability
The Oral-B iO9 was released in August 2020, and, as we literally just mentioned, it has a phenomenally high RRP of £499.99. Since that time, the price has come down somewhat, and can now be picked up for half that – a mere £249.99.
The colours available include Black Onyx, White Alabaster, and Rose Quartz.
For that price, you get one powered toothbrush handle, one toothbrush head, a magnetic charger, a toothbrush head holder, and a charging travel case.
The Oral-B iO9 ships with one of Oral-B’s Ultimate Clean toothbrush heads, featuring round brush heads and twisted bristle technology. Oral-B claims these are designed for an effective clean, and remove up to 100% more plaque than a conventional manual toothbrush.
These brush heads are designed to last around three months, and will cost £30 for a pack of two, or if you prefer to buy in bulk, £53.99 for a four-pack. Just like the main brush, however, we've seen deals on these heads, with a four-pack coming in as low as £27.
If you are an existing Oral-B customer with some leftover brushes, that is tough luck – the new design isn't compatible with older heads.
Oral-B iO9 review: Design
The iO9 is very stylish and well made for an Oral-B brush. They are usually the poor relation to Philips' best Sonicare brushes when it comes to slick styling, but this is a match for any Philips brush when it comes to slimline design, nice materials, quiet operation and colour display (more on that later).
The iO9 is available in Black Onyx, White Alabaster, and Rose Quartz. While the more colourful options certainly are eye-catching, we feel you can't beat the classic white (which just so happens to be the model we reviewed). It also happens to be the option that hides any remnants of toothpaste better than the others, which is something to keep in mind if you're a messy scrubber. If you do opt for the Black Onyx model then be prepared to clean it more regularly.
There are two buttons on the iO9 which are fairly easy to use. The top button turns the toothbrush on, as well as selecting the brushing modes and menu options. The second button cycles through the brushing modes and menu options. There are seven modes in total, Daily Clean, Sensitive, Whiten, Gum Care, Intense, Super Sensitive, and Tongue Clean.
In the menu, you can select the language, toggle Bluetooth on or off, and choose the colour of the light ring.
Now, obviously, the colour display is a completely superfluous feature – you can't watch a tiny screen while brushing your teeth and it does little to improve the functionality. It does however appeal to the tech-geek inside of us, and still blows our mind when we're greeted in the morning by a little animated sun icon.
The display can also tell you how long you've brushed for after a cleaning session, as well as show your remaining battery life.
Overall, we’re big fans of the Oral-B iO9’s design and suspect most people would love to have it sitting on their bathroom shelf.
Oral-B iO9 review: App And Connectivity
The Oral-B iO9 is smart in the sense that it’s connected to an app that you’re supposed to view on your smartphone while brushing your teeth to help you improve your teeth-cleaning experience.
The app provides real-time individual tracking and coaching, thanks to artificial intelligence informed by thousands of recorded brushing sessions.
The Oral-B iO app has a simple and intuitive user interface that guides consumers through a two-minute brushing session with 3D teeth tracking to ensure a professional clean feeling every time.
This has been tried by Oral-B and Philips before and it didn't work. And guess what? It still doesn't!
For example, you could be brushing your upper left teeth and the Oral-B mobile app shows you beavering away on your lower right teeth. The result? You end up having no idea what parts of your mouth you have or have not cleaned 'correctly'. The only thing to be said for this is, if you're anything like me, you will end up cleaning your teeth a LOT, until the app finally admits you have cleaned everywhere.
Oral-B iO9 review: Cleaning and Performance
The Oral-B iO9 may not know which of your teeth it's cleaning, but it is undeniably brilliant at actually cleaning them. Using a magnetic motor gives the Oral-B an interesting new twist: it is still a rotary head, but it now has a vibrating mouth feel, more like a Philips brush.
Cleaning results are excellent and there are some great sensitive, whitening and deep cleaning programmes for those who like to stray away from the Daily Clean setting. It does a fantastic job of cleaning your gnashers and leaving you with a fresh-feeling mouth for hours afterwards.
If you’re not using the app, you’ll appreciate that the iO9 has a built-in timer that will pulse every 30 seconds to encourage you to move onto the next quadrant of your teeth and turn off after two minutes.
Battery life is also very good – and we like the small, chic and magnetic charging dock supplied.
What we find weird about this brush, given its premium and luxurious airs, is that it is inherently prone to getting mucky, and is a pain to clean. Without going into too much gross detail, a mixture of saliva and toothpaste invariably gets sucked into the brush head, then oozes out and sets into what we can only describe as 'clag'. Call us Captain Picky if you will, but that doesn't feel all that premium and luxurious, to us.
Oral-B iO9 review: Verdict
The Oral-B iO9 is one of the best electric toothbrushes that will leave you with a super clean and fresh feeling mouth. We love the performance and the design, there are, however, a few problems with the iO that are hard to ignore in a product that is meant to cost £500.
The colour display, while impressive, is relatively superfluous, and 3D teeth tracking with AI still doesn't work.
If you're tempted by the iO9, but can't justify spending that much on an electric toothbrush, there are other options in the Oral-B iO range. The iO8 is the same brush but without the (non-functional) 3D teeth tracking thing. The iO7 is the same brush but with no 3D teeth tracking, a black and white screen and fewer cleaning programmes. You could also check out our guide to the best electric toothbrushes, which feature rivals from Philips and Panasonic.
However, it is worth noting that endless deals at Amazon and elsewhere mean you will almost never need to pay full price for this brush. If you see it discounted down to the £100-£200 bracket – and you will, if you keep checking our pricing widgets in a diligent manner – then clearly it is suddenly much easier to recommend.