Pros / This time-tested, solid performer is the most affordable electric toothbrush we tested.
Cons / Its design is old school and bulky, and it has limited features and accessories.
Verdict / The Philips Sonicare Essence 5600 is an excellent first electric toothbrush that continues to rank in our top 10. If you’re unsure about making a switch from your manual toothbrush, this is an affordable place to start.
The Philips Sonicare Essence 5600 consistently ranks in our top 10 because it gives you all the cleaning technology of Sonicare’s 31,000 brush strokes per minute at a fraction of a higher-end product’s price. While it doesn’t have many features and accessories, it leaves your teeth feeling clean and provides up to two weeks of use between charges.
Compared with newer electric toothbrush designs, the Essence 5600 is bulky. Its handle is cumbersome and wide, and changing its brush heads is taxing. Philips Sonicare recently introduced an upgrade, the Philips Sonicare Essence+, featuring a slim, ergonomic handle and more easily wrangled toothbrush heads. As the new entry becomes more widely available, it will likely replace the Essence 5600 in our review.
In the meantime, the Essence 5600 is simple and straightforward to use. It has a two-minute timer built in to its handle, and it introduces you to sonic wave technology gently. Its power gradually increases during your first 14 brushes until it reaches full intensity, which is nice if you have sensitive teeth. Sonic cleaning may be a new sensation, and it can sometimes take time to adjust.
The Essence 5600 comes with its handle, one e-Series standard brush head, a travel cap and a charger. It has one cleaning mode: Clean. Rubber grips on its handle ensure it isn’t slippery to hold, but it still feels unwieldy. If you’d like something sleeker, we recommend the Waterpik Sensonic SR-3000.
Like all Philips Sonicare brushes, the Essence 5600 is backed by a two-year warranty. You can reach customer service by phone, email and chat, and we appreciated the company’s responsiveness to our questions.