Before we start our review, let me answer a question that a lot of you may have: what’s the difference between Norelco 4100 and 4500?
They both look the same. The main difference is that 4500 has a pivoting head and 4100 doesn’t. Otherwise, they are almost the same besides small cosmetic differences.
+ Easy to clean and maintain
+ Suitable for wet and dry use
+ 3-minute Quick charge option
+ 50-minute battery life with LED indicator
– Struggles with thick curly beards
– Not many accessories included
– Can’t use while charging
DualPrecision Shaving Head – For the closest shave possible, the rotating shaving head has wide slots that are designed to cut long hairs as well as holes to trim the very short and fine hairs
Super Lift & Cut – One of the shaver’s blades lifts the hair as a second blade delivers a close shave on skin level while the hair is elevated
Flex and Float Shaving System – This feature helps to keep the shaver well connected to your face as you’re shaving
LED Display – If the battery is low, charging, or fully charged, the LED indicator will alert you
Wet and Dry Shaving – You can safely use the Norelco 4100 and 4500 in the shower or over the sink since it’s fully waterproof. It also means that you can use it with shave creams and gels
Pivoting head – This feature is only on the Norelco 4500 model. The movement is limited, but it’s there.
Wet or dry, it provides pretty close shave. The Flex and Float system is designed to follow the curves of your face and the shaving elements moves in four directions. Your shaving experience can be further enhanced with shaving gel or cream (which also makes your skin less prone to irritation).
The dual precision shaving heads make it a versatile razor. It is able to handle both long or short facial hair along with the Lift and Cut system that helps to lift flat hairs before shaving them. This handy feature eliminates, in theory, the need to pass over the same area several times, which can irritate the skin and make for more razor bumps. Unfortunately, more often than not, you still end up doing multiple passes with this shaver. The closeness is something that can be expected from shavers in this price range.
Take note that with long beard hair, you should trim before shaving because while the Norelco 4100 can handle short hair, it’s not that impressive with longer hair. What it manages relatively well though are flat-lying hairs. The rotary blade design handles this better compared to foil electric shavers in the same price range.
This razor has an integrated pop-up trimmer that can help with detailing your mustache or sideburns. The motor, while strong, is not as powerful as the slightly more expensive Philips Norelco shavers, so it doesn’t do the absolute fastest job. This unit also doesn’t have variable speed settings, which is one of the compromises that had to be made to keep the cost of the unit down.
If you shave every 2 to 3 days, you might have a little difficulty in getting a very close and smooth shave, whereas daily shavers can get the most out of this shaver. This is something to keep in mind when regarding this model. While rotary shavers are better equipped to deal with curly flat hair, this particular model seems to lack sufficient power.
Battery Life and Charging
Both Norelco models take about an hour to charge its Li-ion battery, which gives you up to 50 minutes of shaving performance. This is the industry standard. You can easily tell when the battery is fully charged, needs to be charged, or is currently charging by the shaver’s LED indicator.
This unit comes without charging and cleaning station, so you need to charge it with the power cord. If you travel a lot, this may be even beneficial since charging dock can take up a lot of space. But what sucks about this though is that you can’t use it while it is charging. This is also a common issue with all current electric shaver. The reason for this is simple. It limits the lifetime of your electric shaver. Once the battery is dead, it is cheaper to buy a new one than to replace it.
If you’re in a hurry to get out the door but absolutely can’t leave without shaving or touching up your beard, there’s a nifty three-minute quick charge option. Be mindful that you can’t use the shaver while it’s plugged in for safety reasons as discussed in the previous paragraph.
Starting with looks, the color scheme of blue, black, and silver on the Norelco 4100’s body makes it look refined and masculine. The Norelco 4500 comes in a silver-black-gray suit. This shaver is ideal if you like a relatively lightweight and comfortable feel. It has an ergonomic V-shaped grip made out of a rubberized material that provides good grip even when shaving under the shower. The rest of it is made out of plastic, which is common even in a higher price range.
Unlike other more expensive Philips razors, the Norelco 4100/4500 doesn’t put too much of an emphasis on cutting edge design, but I find the simplistic design charming. Reminds me of my grandfather’s old electric shaver. Back then, it was more about build quality than design.
As for the blades, they are low friction, which means they’ll stay relatively cool during shaving. This is a useful feature if you like to take your time as you shave. Not that the head gets scalding hot, but some men find the excessive heat radiating from the shaver annoying.
There’s also a narrow pop-up trimmer on the shaving head, and while it isn’t the best, it gets the job done if you like to detail your mustache, beard cut or sideburns.
Cleaning and Maintenance
The Norelco 4100 and 4500 doesn’t have the SmartClean system like the more expensive versions do. If its time and convenience you value, you should opt for the more expensive models like the Norelco 9300 and 8900 that come with the cleaning station. It cleans, lubricates, dries, and charges your shaver. The cleaning station uses cartridges which are reasonably priced. You can buy the cartridges for the system here.
On the other hand, it doesn’t take a lot of effort to manually clean them. All you do is simply rinse it under your bathroom faucet! To thoroughly clean the unit, you can use the cleaning brush that should be included to make sure no hair bits are stuck between the blades. Once you rinse it out with water, be sure to dry it thoroughly before using it again.
Now and then, it’s wise to clean each of the three shaving heads separately. This is to completely remove any small hairs and grime that are possibly stuck inside the combs. This requires you to take the shaver apart to clean each cutter and comb, but be sure not to mix them up for they are matching pairs.
Avoid using alcohol, oil, and detergents on the shaver. These can potentially damage the shaving head. The blades on the Norelco 4100 and 4500 need to be replaced once a year (HQ8 has been replaced by SH50). Replacement shaving heads are readily available to buy and won’t cut deep into your budget.
How often should you change the cutting head depends on how often you use your shaver. If you use it mainly as your travel shaver for a couple of times a year, it will probably outlive you. But if it is your daily driver, then you need to replace it regularly. Read more about it in the replacement parts sections.
Replacement Parts Availability
All shavers from the PowerTouch line from Philips use the same replacement part which is the SH50/52. If you happen to come across Philips Norelco HQ8 cutter heads, then these are suitable as well. But they have been discontinued by Philips.
This replacement part should last you at least one year before it needs to be switched out. But of course, this all depends on how often you shave as stated earlier and how coarse and curly your facial hair is.
Overall, the safest maintenance cost estimate would be around $2.5 a month. Provided you only change it once a year. It’s a lot cheaper than replacing cutter heads from much more high-end shavers like the Philips Norelco S9311/87 from the Series 9000.
There are a few basic accessories that come along with the Norelco 4100 and 4500:
• Protective cap for the shaver’s rotating heads
• A cleaning brush
• A charging cord
Both of the Norelcos are fairly mid-sized shavers. While there are smaller travel shavers, I would say both of these models fit this category as well. The dimensions of the Norelco 4100 are approximately 1.8 x 2 x 6 inches, and it weighs about 6 ounces. Norelco 4500 is a tad bigger, but the difference in size and weight is negligible.
If you tend to pack light and small, this shaver doesn’t take up too much room. It’s small enough to fit into your gym bag, backpack, or overnight bag without significantly compromising space.
It doesn’t come with a case by default, but you can buy an inexpensive one here if you wish to protect your shaver further while it’s packed away.
Who Should Buy the Norelco 4100/4500?
If you’re a regular shaver and shave every day rather than every 2 or 3 days, then the Norelco 4100 and 4500 might be an ideal choice for you. They are comfortable and efficient enough to help you achieve a close shave. Even for the most tricky parts of your face.
They both require minimal maintenance and are easy to clean. If you prefer an electric razor that you can just quickly rinse and leave next to the sink to dry then this it.
On the other hand, if you have a lot of hair on your face or body, the rotating blades may not be the best option. Especially if you have a thick fast growing beard. If you have a little more room in your budget and wish for more comfort and more power I would recommend also checking out Norelco Series 5 electric shavers.
Overall, the Philips Norelco 4100/4500 can give you quite a decent performance for its price.
It is not the closest shave nor the most comfortable one but its decent. Electric shavers are mostly about saving time and keeping it simple. If you want comfortable extra close baby butt smooth shave, then nothing beats the old-school safety razor or straight razor. If you wish to shave fast and get it affordably – choose this.
This is also an excellent travel razor. Quality of the shave is good enough for most men, and the price is attractive. And what’s the best part – you will not feel remorse should you lose it.
If you have a reasonable expectation from an electric shaver and you are okay with some stray hairs AND you need to shave fast – go for it! Great value for money.