Philips Sonicare ProtectiveClean 6100 full review
The name may be a bit of a mouthful (fitting for a toothbrush, we suppose) but the Philips Sonicare ProtectiveClean 6100 is the company’s flagship non-smart brush. It’s designed to appeal to anyone willing to invest money in their dental health, but understandably sceptical about whether or not their toothbrush needs its own app.
That’s not to say this is short on fancy features, with multiple modes and intensities and automatic brush head detection and optimisation. I’ve been using the ProtectiveClean 6100 for a few weeks, and here’s what I think.
Price and availability
At list price, the ProtectiveClean 6100 isn’t cheap in the UK: it’ll set you back a whopping £299.99, though the US price is a much friendlier $129.99. That’s closer to what you should actually pay in the UK, though at the time of writing you can get it from Philips for just £90 in the UK or $99.95 in the US.
That’s still a decent chunk of money of course, but it’s much closer to the prices you’ll see for rival devices like the Oral-B Pro 6000 or Philips’ own app-connected Sonicare FlexCare Platinum. Take a look at the rest of our best electric toothbrush chart for our other recommendations.
If you want to spend a little less, Philips also offers the ProtectiveClean 5100 and 4300 models, which offer a similar design and use the same brush heads, but support fewer modes and intensities, and also drop the BrushSync feature.
Finally, you’ll need to make sure you buy the right brush heads for the new range - we’d recommend sticking with the official Philips brushes to make sure the BrushSync microchip works without a hitch, but the downside is that you will have to spend £5/$5 or so per brush head, which is a little steep.
Design and build
The first thing you’re likely to notice about the 6100 is that it actually looks pretty damn nice. That may not be your number one priority when it comes to choosing a toothbrush, but it is still welcome that Philips has put a bit of effort into aesthetics.
Available in white, pink, or black (pictured) in the UK, and white, pink, and navy blue for the US, your chosen colour covers the whole body, with the exception of a small silvery area around the two buttons - for power and changing the brush modes respectively.
All the info you’re likely to need is communicated through a few simple LEDs: three bars on the metallic area indicate the current intensity; below that three white LED dots let you know which of the brushing modes is currently active; finally at the bottom of the brush two coloured LEDs let you know the battery life and whether the brush head needs replacing.
Along with the brush itself, Philips throws in two whitening brush heads (in the UK at least - US buyers will only get the one brush), a charger, and a travel case that fits the handle and up to two brush heads.
The ProtectiveClean 6100 doesn’t bother with complicated connected features, but is instead intended to be as simple and effortless to use as possible.
There are three available brushing modes - clean, white, and gum care - but Philips hopes that you’ll never need to manually switch between them. That’s because each brush head is equipped with a microchip that’s read by the handle. As you connect the brush head, the handle will then automatically turn on and switch to the appropriate brushing mode.
The standard ‘clean’ mode is supposedly the best for all-round dental care, the ‘white’ mode is optimised for removing surface stains, and the ‘gum care’ setting adds an extra minute of low-power brushing which you can use to massage your gums.
It’s hard to say how much difference the various brushing modes really make - we suspect the brush head you go and buy will make a bigger difference really - but it will at least be a mild convenience for any families who share a handle but each use different types of brush or brushing mode.
This is also where you see the big differences between the 6100 and the cheaper 5100 and 4300 models. The 5100 includes all three cleaning modes but doesn't have intensity settings or the ability to automatically detect the brush handle and set the appropriate cleaning mode. Meanwhile the 4300 only has the basic 'clean' mode, though does at least give you a choice of two intensity settings.
A better use of the BrushSync tech is that it tracks how many times you’ve used each individual brush head, letting you know when it’s time to swap the brush for a new one. Since this reflects actual usage, it’s more accurate than vague guidelines like ‘swap brushes every three months’, and more precise than systems that rely on you checking the bristles for colour changes to cue a swap.
Beyond all that, the ProtectiveClean 6100 offers most of the other features you’d expect from a premium electric toothbrush: an automatic timer, alerts every 30 seconds to move on to the next section of the mouth, and a pressure sensor to let you know when you’re brushing too hard.
Battery life is actually one of our favourite things about the 6100, and between that and the included travel case it’s one of the best electric brushes we’ve tried for travel.
Philips boasts that the 6100 will last for 14 days of regular use without a charge, but I eked it out to over 20 days - brushing twice a day - and the low battery indicator didn't even kick in until day 21.
Battery life will naturally fade over time, but even so you should be able to comfortably take this brush on a two-week trip without worrying about bringing the charger along.
Just about the only thing missing from the ProtectiveClean 6100 is support for a smartphone app to monitor your brushing, but we’re slightly sceptical about the long-term benefits of connected brushes anyway.
Setting that aside, this offers a full feature set, surprisingly slick design, and an amazing battery life, all for a fairly competitive price (so long as you ignore that silly £300 UK RRP).