Technology is meant to make our lives simpler, easier, and more convenient. That is true for the complex computers in our pockets to the mundane electrical products scattered around our homes. Electric shavers are probably some of the last things you’d consider to be technological innovations, but every new generation does try to add a little something new that tries to help us free up time for the more important things in life. Braun’s new Series 9 Pro electric shaver is one such example, and we give it a few tries to see if those incremental improvements do add up.
As the name suggests, the Braun Series 9 Pro builds upon an older base model, one that was launched six years ago. The electric shaver company hasn’t exactly been sitting on its during that period but had released other incremental upgrades to the Series 9 foil shavers. The Braun Series 9 Pro may sound like the culmination of those improvements, but it’s easy enough to mistake it for its predecessors because of how they all look eerily similar.
Granted, electric shavers of this type tend to share the same basic design, and the Series 9 Pro is definitely not an outlier. Like many of its kind, its design is utilitarian rather than aesthetic, putting a heavier emphasis on handling and ergonomics rather than looks. Since a shaver is something you’ll hold for minutes on end, often a few times a week, comfort is definitely near the top of the list, with safety and performance being the greatest concern.
To that extent, it’s not really surprising that the majority of the Braun Series 9 Pro is made of plastic that’s painted to look like polished metal. Although definitely not environment-friendly nor sustainable, aluminum would have made the shaver too heavy. The plastic coating, however, is a fingerprint magnet, and you might lose a lot of time trying to make it look pristine after every use. Unlike the chrome finish on the front, the Series 9 Pro’s back is covered with a dimpled rubber material that is clearly more for ergonomics than looks.
The electric shaver doesn’t have many design elements to distract the user from its intended purpose. Aside from the large shaver head, the only other part that really calls your attention is the textured thumb rest in the middle, with a “PrecisionLock” switch and the power button below it. There’s also an LED screen for the battery and travel lock indicators, but don’t expect a high-quality display. In fact, you might even notice a bit of backlight bleeding around the icons.
The Braun Series 9 Pro comes with a 5-in-1 SmartCare Center “dock” and, depending on the actual model, a PowerCase with a built-in battery. The latter makes this travel case less conducive for travel, making the mostly plastic case heavier than it looks. The SmartCare station follows the Series 9 Pro’s very basic design, with a single power button as its only user interface.
As a product that’s meant to be held with one hand for slightly longer periods of time and multiple days a week, Braun designed its Series 9 shavers to be comfortable to use. The choice of lightweight plastic materials and the rubber cover on the back work towards that end, but they thankfully don’t cheapen the feel of the device. The Series 9 Pro feels solid and durable, designed to face the wear and tear of semi-daily use.
The contours of the electric shaver let most hands grasp the body firmly, but it’s the rubber back and the textured thumb rest that really gives you a grip on it. The lack of a cord dangling out of the shaver’s body definitely adds to its usability. In fact, you can’t even use it while it’s plugged in, so you have to be sure there’s enough charge remaining for your use.
While the head can only move back and forth, the four cutting foils can each move independently, depending on the pressure applied and the surface they’re moving on. Together, this range of motions allows the Braun Series 9 Pro to smoothly move on almost any surface of your head, including your scalp. But in case you prefer having more direct control over the head’s movement, the PrecisionLock below the thumb rest can keep the head still while still letting the foils move on their own.
The Braun Series 9 Pro, just like its predecessors, is clearly designed for ease of use, but one particular part of it seems to stick out like a sore thumb, almost literally. The shaver hides a “precision trimmer” that slides out from its bottom that’s meant to be used for trimming beards. Unfortunately, its location makes it a bit awkward to use in its default position, forcing you to turn the shaver upside-down instead. It doesn’t work that well, either, so it might be the most underutilized part of the shaver anyway.
There is a growing trend among some consumer electronics manufacturers, including smartphone makers, where sustainability or at least eco-friendliness has become an advertising point. Although they can’t completely do away with some materials, they try to at least reduce their use, especially in packaging. Braun, unfortunately, isn’t there yet, and the Series 9 Pro definitely won’t score marks in this department.
The use of plastics and rubber might be understandable, at least given the limits of today’s materials, but the company could have still taken small steps towards reducing waste. One example is the charging cable, which uses Braun’s two-pronged connector. Given the aim of portability, it could have taken the opportunity to adopt USB-C since many people today have phones that charge over that standard. That said, it does have the advantage that you can use new accessories like the PowerCase with older Series 9 shaver models that use the same proprietary connector, saving you the expense and hassle of buying a new cord if you already have one.
Like traditional consumer electronics, Braun didn’t build its shavers with self-repair in mind. None of its shavers are easily repairable, and the only replaceable parts are the cassette holding the cutting elements and the head itself. Once broken or worn down, there is no room for repairs, and these have to be thrown out. Braun doesn’t have any guidance or system for recycling these parts either, which could have gone a long way in getting the company started in a more sustainable direction.
The Braun Series 9 Pro closely resembles the rest of its family in both design and function, but the biggest upgrade it got is one you can only see and feel after using it regularly for a while. Braun is advertising a new 4+1 Shaving Elements and a “ProLift Trimmer” that’s meant to catch long and hard-to-reach hairs, or at least that’s the theory. In practice, it gets close but not close enough.
The Series 9 Pro generally works well and gives a close shave, managing longer hairs that have grown for as long as seven days. It’s no magic wand that will make your facial hair disappear with one flick, though. You might have to do a few passes in areas like the neck. And despite the flexibility of motion, getting to those hairs under the nose can get a bit tricky, too.
Part of the Series 9 Pro’s trick is its powerful motors, but that increased power does come at some price. Although not unbearably loud, the shaver still produces enough audible noise to call attention to it or, worse, wake someone up. The shaver could also sometimes feel a bit rougher on your skin, though not enough to produce discomfort or irritation unless you have extremely sensitive skin. There’s a tendency, unfortunately, to have the occasional pinched skin or get a long hair snagged.
Braun advertises about 60 minutes of use with a full battery, and it’s pretty much on point in that estimate. Charging the shaver, on the other hand, takes a good 50 minutes to full. And that’s when the Series 9 Pro is plugged directly. The PowerCase almost doubles its battery life but naturally charges a lot slower. The SmartCare Center also charges the shaver, but only when it’s not cleaning it.
That “dock” is actually one of the biggest highlights of the Series 9 shavers and is what makes this particular family easy to use and maintain. Simply plopping the Series 9 Pro in its “cradle” and pressing the power button initiates not only a cleaning process but also a lubrication session. Of course, you can clean the shaver manually and might want to do a thorough cleaning from time to time, but this worry-free maintenance definitely takes some burden off owners’ shoulders.
At $349.99, the Braun Series 9 Pro is one of the more expensive electric shaves in the market; there’s just no escaping that fact. It doesn’t have one killer feature that easily makes it stand out, but it’s the sum of its parts that can justify its price. Fortunately, there are also other aspects that help soften the blow, but it’s still a bitter pill to swallow in the end.
There is, for example, an option to buy one without the PowerCase, but that only saves you $20. Braun’s Series 9 accessories and parts are also mostly interchangeable and backward compatible, so you can at least stop worrying about your shaver being obsolete when the next Series 9 model appears. It definitely feels more like a long-term investment rather than a regular purchase, and hopefully, the shaver will last as long as you need it, at least until Braun launches the Series 10 in a few years.
Electric shavers are almost a dime a dozen these days, but not many have been able to really deliver on the promise of a quick but close shave. Braun has been at it for years, especially with the Series 9, and the Series 9 Pro, in particular, tries to combine all those lessons learned into a single package. It definitely comes close but also comes up short in a few places as well.
Its powerful motor and new head design definitely get close and personal with longer hair, but you’ll still need more than just a few passes to weed out the more stubborn ones. Its power comes with a bit of roughness, but the real cost is in the literal price. Even Braun’s older Series 9 shavers could offer close to the same performance for less.
As far as product design goes, however, the Series 9 Pro doesn’t exactly offer anything innovative or exciting. Its use of light but durable plastic and grippy rubber is a standard among electric shavers, though it tries to add a bit of glamor with some silver coating, a few gold accents, and an ergonomic shape. It’s durable to boot, and its SmartCare Center dock helps make sure it will last longer, which is for the best since there’s very little in the Braun Series 9 Pro that’s built to last or be easily replaced and recycled.
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