Buying a Braun electric shaver can be a daunting task. Let’s take Braun for example. You have series like 3, 5, 7 and 9. Each series has numerous models that come with different price tags. Even if you understand all of the features they have, you still have to decide at the end of the day – which one to get!
To save you from doing hours of research by your own we have put together this comparison of the two most popular Braun series – 7 and 9.
Pros & Cons
What They Have In Common
Before Braun came out with its most high-end electric shaver series 9, it was the 7th series which defined how one foil shaver should look and feel. No wonder then that many of the features are shared between those two models. These features are:
- Wet&Dry use
- Pivoting head
- Both give a smooth and comfortable shave
- Cleaning and charging station
- Can be used and cleaned under running water
- Intelligent AutoSense Technology*
- SyncroSonic Technology*
- Battery capacity
- 5 min quick charge function
∗ More about this and the Intelligent AutoSense Technology at the end of the post
What Makes Them Different
The devil is in the detail as they say. At first glance, you may think that they are almost the same. But when you look closer, you will notice plenty of small differences and improvements when it comes down to 9th series. For many, these small improvements are worth the extra money. Let’s go over quickly the main differences:
- Cutting power (CPM)
- Number of cutting elements
- Travel lock
- Head locking mechanism
9th series took the best features of the 7th, improved them and incorporated them as their own. The question is, are these gains worth the expense? I hope you will have that answer at the end of this comparison.
The picture above illustrates the confusion that surrounds Braun electric shavers. All these shavers are from 7th series but carry a different model number. Same holds true with 9th series electric shavers. But what’s important is that they all perform the same way. All models in the 7th and 9th series have the same shaver head so no matter which one you choose they all shave the same way compared to other models in their series.
So why are there so many different models and how do you separate one from another?
What makes them differ from one another can be summarized like this:
- Supports wet shaving or not.
- Comes with cleaning station or not
- Color of the model
- Old or updated model
Wet shaving is now supported by all new 7th and 9th series models. This can be of importance as there are still older models rotating in which only a few support this feature. How to make sure you got the new model? All new and updated 7th series models have four digits in their model number, and the first two should be 78xx. Same with 9th series where the updated models start with 92xx. The cleaning station is an added accessory that comes with a higher price tag. You can easily tell if the model has this or not by looking at the model number. As you can see from the above illustration CC – stands for cleaning and charging station while S – means solo hence without it.
Shaving Quality: Which One Is Better
Both the 7th and the 9th series are superb electric shavers. Both appeal to men (and why not to women? Who says you can’t shave your legs with it?) with taste as they do look gorgeous and for men with sensitive skin. Beautiful to look at, pleasant on your skin and what’s more important – deliver a close shave few can compete with. Yet there are some dissimilarities between them when it comes down to how they perform when compared to each other. Let’s have a closer look.
Very comfortable shave and excellent for sensitive skin. Curly and flat longer hair can cause some trouble though
7th series shaver head has three shaving elements. Two foils and an active lift trimmer to capture flay lying hair. These elements combined provide an impressive amount of cuttings per minute (CPM) which means it is very efficient. Not quite Panasonic but darn fast anyway. The skin guard and pivoting head coupled with the individual suspension of all cutting elements means that shaver retains good contact with the skin the whole time you are shaving. Making the shave very comfortable and reduces irritation. While 7th series shave performance is excellent, it does struggle somewhat more with curly and flat-lying hair. The precision trimmer is useful if you want to trim your sideburns. But the way it opens makes it very uncomfortable to use if you wish to trim your beard for example. While the 7th series comes with this feature, its usability is limited.
9th series is even more gentle on your skin and one of the least aggressive shavers out there, its also better with curly and flat hair
The upgraded 9th series comes with four cutting elements. This adds 30% to the efficiency of the shave by increasing the cuttings per minute – CPM to 40 000. The added cutting element – hyperlift and cut trimmer – is great for cutting those stubborn curly hairs that defy the regular foils. Compared to 7th series the 9th series is more capable when dealing with those types of hair. Otherwise, I would say they produce very similar comfortable shave. What also makes 9th series stand apart is the added mobility of the shaving head. It almost clings to your skin even when going for the jawline. The Precision Trimmer is precisely the same as in series 7 and hence suffers from the same shortcomings. Unlike in Panasonic Arc 5 models, the trimmer opens perpendicular to the shaver. This makes it okay to use on your sideburns but renders it useless when trying to trim down longer hair in other parts of your face and body.
Wet & Dry Use
With older models, you had to be careful as not all of the models supported wet use. This was true both with 7th and 9th series. Because the older models have been mostly phased out, I will focus on the updated models. But should you come by some of the older models carefully read the features list.
In case you don’t know what wet use means I will give a quick rundown. Initially, electric shavers were dry use only. But then companies started to manufacture shavers that could be used under the water with shaving foam/cream. This is now widely supported by most electric shavers.
Can be used with shaving creams and gels but the cleaning afterward is tedious even with C&C station
All updated 7th series models support wet shaving. It means that you can shave under the shower and with shaving cream. Because hair gets softer and more pliable under the shower, it results in a more comfortable and closer shave. The problem though is the cleaning afterward. More about this later in the cleaning and maintenance section
In this regard, the 9th series is almost the same as 7th. It supports wet use but be prepared to clean it afterwards
All of the new 9th series models support wet use. Everything I wrote under 7th series holds true also for the 9th series.
Build quality, design and ergonomics
Both series look stunning. The minimalistic clutter-free design, something that Braun has been known for, makes it one of a kind. Not only is it chic but it is also very ergonomic. But there are other things to consider. Quality of materials, finish, etc. so let’s begin with the comparison.
Be aware of the head locking mechanism that can break
7th series comes in three colors: silver, gray and black. They are all matte, so the stains are less visible. While being maybe a tad less glamorous than the shiny 9th series it is more convenient from the cleaning aspect. The body is made out of plastic and feels sturdy. The back of the razor, as well as the sides, are covered with rubber coating which assures excellent grip. Now one thing that Braun seriously got wrong with series 7 electric shavers is the locking mechanism of the shaving head. Once you lock the head into a position, you have to make sure you unlock it before trying to change the position again. Should you forget to do this, you can break the whole mechanism as many have found out, unfortunately. This was fixed in the 9th series where the locking mechanism releases the lock when you try to force the shaving head into another position while it’s locked.
Another thing that bothers me is the positioning of the display and its readability. When you shave, it is almost impossible to quickly glimpse at it to assess how much battery you have left. And if you do, then the display is confusing enough to leave you puzzled. And while it comes with a travel pouch, it could still have a travel lock just in case.
The glossy finish shows stains more compared to the 7th series
Glossy 9th series finish while looking great is a real pain when it comes down to keeping it clean. Fingerprints and water stains are more apparent compared to the 7th series gray matte finish. There is also a silver matte finish which is a little bit better than the chromed and glossy silver finishes. All in all the stains do show more on shiny surfaces. Another thing that is somewhat downer is the all-plastic body. A shaver in this price range should go the extra mile and add a metallic housing like the Panasonic Arc 5. While the plastic is good quality and the shaver otherwise feels solid, the tactile sensation from the metal would add to the already luxurious feeling. Where the 9th series shows superiority design-wise, is the pivoting head. All of the cutting elements have individual suspension, and the head allows better maneuverability. They also redesigned and fixed the locking mechanism in series 9. What they have done better design wise besides the aforementioned is the better placement of the LCD screen. It is easy to read and understand. Last but not least is the travel lock feature. This quintessential feature ensures that your shaver is ready to go even after traveling.
Cleaning & Maintenance
Because Braun makes both, they have the same weaknesses and advantages. In this regard, they are very similar. Same goes with the upkeep.
Between the two the 7th series is little bit cheaper to maintain
7th series models are all waterproof. It means you can rinse it under running tap water if you wish to clean it manually. By itself, it is a straightforward job, but the issue is that it is hard to clean under the foil and between the cutting blades. This is because the outer foil with the cutting blades comes as one unit called cassette. You can not remove the foil separately, so your manual cleaning is somewhat limited. Cleaning station uses cartridges that contain alcohol. During the cleaning cycle, the shaving head is continuously flushed with the cleaning solution. It works very well and thanks to the alcohol they are also being sterilized though you shouldn’t share your electric shaver with others. What is somewhat bothersome after wet shaving with shaving foam is that you need first to remove the foam residue manually. Otherwise, the cleaning station gets clogged. The cleaning station lacks one feature though – drying. After the cleaning is done it will airdry so that it takes several hours to dry.
It is recommended to change the cassette every 18 months. This is an easy and straightforward thing to do. The price for the single cassette is reasonable, and if you refill your cleaning cartridges the average monthly cost can be as low as $3
9th series replacements parts (the cassette) cost more
9th series is very similar to the 7th when it comes down to cleaning them. They are also waterproof so you can rinse them manually under water or if you have a model with a cleaning station then use that. Like I already said in 7th series part the manual cleaning is a little bit inefficient due to the design of the shaver head. The cutting blades form with the foil a single unit called cassette. Because you can not remove the foil separately, it is impossible to remove hair manually that’s been stuck between the cutting block. And because you are supposed to remove all of the shaving cream/soap residues, if you have been wet shaving, before inserting the shaver into cleaning station you may end up clogging the cleaning station. The cleaning station works the same way like the 7th series cc stations by using cartridges. They do have a more refined design though, and Braun also added the drying function. As the name implies, you can dry your shaver faster. Is this important? No, but it’s convenient. Some men have to shave twice a day.
Maintenance means replacing the cassette and cleaning cartridges. Cassettes should be replaced every 18 months or so, depending on how much have you use it. Cleaning cartridges every 6-8 weeks. The average maintenance cost is higher due to the pricier replacement head (cassette), but if you refill your cleaning cartridges it will be around $4
Accessories and Battery
The battery is the same for both units. The list of accessories is also pretty similar. But let’s have a quick rundown.
The S7 quick charge function is a handy feature should you be in a hurry. In 5 minutes you have enough for one shave
7th series comes with a travel pouch, power cord, and a brush. Charging takes around 60 minutes which will give you 50 minutes of shaving time. It has a quick charge option so that you have enough for one shave after 5 minutes of charging. Unfortunately, it doesn’t support shaving while plugged to the power cord. It means that at some distant future you need to replace the battery or buy a new shaver. Gone are the days where you could pass your old shaver to your son or grandson. Also, there is no charging stand option so you can only charge it with the power cord or with CC station if you have it.
9th series also has the quick charge function and comes with an added charging option - the charging stand
9th series comes with an identical set of accessories. Instead of travel pouch though you get travel case. The case is harder and has more structure to it, while the pouch is just a fabric bag. So it protects better the shaver. Charging and shaving time is identical. The quick charging function works the same way giving you sufficient energy for one quick shave after 5 minutes charging. It has an additional charging option as well which is unique only to the 9th series – the charging stand. It acts as a stand for your electric shaver while charging it. And just like 7th series, it won’t work while it is plugged to a power cord.
Intelligent AutoSense Technology – Both the 9th and the 7th series come with this feature. It adjusts how much power it uses in an area according to the beard density. Logically one might think that it means how much power goes to the motor that drives the cutting element. More power = faster cutting, less power = slower cutting. Correct? Wrong! After some digging and harassing Brauns customer service, I found out that it actually means how much the shaver vibrates.
So will the speed of the cutting change according to the density of your beard? The good news is that does. In 9th series, this is achieved automatically while in 7th you can adjust it manually. There are two buttons parallel to the power button. Is this important? No! Unlike adjustable safety razors where you really feel the difference between different levels of aggression, it is very hard to sense the subtle changes in the CPM output.
SyncroSonic™ technology – This is another confusing feature because it is, well, confusing. So besides the cutting elements that cut your hair, you also have this extra feature. This is supposed to deliver up to 10 000 micro vibrations to your skin and hair providing a better shave. Both the 7th and 9th series have this. But if you think about the actual cutting motion of the blades under the foil (see the illustration) it raises a question. Are the micro vibrations indeed a feature on their own or just byproduct of a normal shaving action? Because most electric shavers vibrate more or less. If it were true, this would only be a marketing gimmick and nothing else.
Both series are excellent. Declaring the clear winner in this comparison would be difficult.
9th series look a tad more refined and handles those stubborn curly hairs better. It is also a little bit more gentle on your skin when you shave. These are unmistakable improvements but are they worth the extra money?
7th series, on the other hand, delivers almost identical shave. While it maybe looks less luxurious and slightly struggles more with curly, flat-lying, hair, it presents better value for money in my opinion.
If you want the absolute best and money is no concern, then choose Braun Series 9. It is also undeniably the best when dealing with sensitive skin
If you are more price sensitive, then go with Braun Series 7. It is fantastic shaver and comes very close in all aspects to its more expensive cousin