Oral-B Genius X Review: Genius in an Electric Toothbrush?
When we ordered the Oral-B Genius X for testing, we chose it because it is the top-of-the-line flagship model from one of the giants of the electric toothbrush industry. The Oral-B is a smart brush, and it was the smartest one that we tested, but is it really Genius?
Oral-B Genius X 200000 Luxe Edition
- Powerful cleaning action
- Best grip of any brush we tested
- Real-time brushing coach (great for first time electric toothbrush users)
- App is easy to use
- Stylish travel case
- Lost of brush head options
- Uncomfortable for sensitive teeth
- Very loud
- Average battery life (16 days after repeated testing)
- Dark rubberised back makes it difficult to keep clean
- Styling is a bit extreme
One Job: Cleaning your teeth
At TestHut, we believe that most products we test have one vital job, and the biggest question we ask is how well does it do the one job it was designed to do? We see many reviews that get off track by focusing on features and distractions that are not central to the purpose of the product. In this case, we bought an electric toothbrush and the most essential job it has is to clean our teeth between dental visits to avoid plaque formation and ultimately prevent tooth decay and gum disease. So aside from all the other features, how well does the Oral-B Genius X clean your teeth?
The Genius X boasts 3D cleaning action which combines the oscillating power of bristles moving back and forth at a maximum of 10,500 movements per minute with the brush head pulsating at about 48,000 movements per minute.
In our tests, we felt that despite its epic roar and beastly appearance, the Genius X does not clean teeth as well as some of the sonic models. It really feels like it is giving a vigorous clean with its oscillating and pulsating brush head, but even after two minutes, some testers felt that there was still plaque between the teeth, and some of our own plaque pill tests showed this to be true.
Also, this toothbrush is quite expensive, so if you are on a budget take a look at our best budget electric toothbrush picks.
Cleaning performance test results
Electric toothbrush cleaning performance rated from 1-5 based on test results (higher score is better).
|Toothbrush||CATEGORY OVERALL||Plaque removal (50%)||Feel after cleaning (25%)||Power and amplitude (25%)|
|Philips Sonicare 4300||4.8||5||5||4|
|Philips DiamondClean Smart||4.3||4||5||4|
|Oral-B Genius X||4.3||4||5||4|
|Oclean X Pro||4.3||4||5||4|
|Oral-B Pro 3000||4.3||4||5||4|
|Oral-B Pro 2000||4.3||4||5||4|
Ultimately, it doesn’t do a bad job of cleaning your teeth, but we feel like there are better options out there. As with most other electric brushes in our tests, it cleans much better than a manual brush and offers a unique cleaning experience.
The Oral-B Genius X is available in a variety of styles. We chose the 20000 Luxe edition in Anthracite Grey for our test. It is also available in rose gold and black. The Luxe edition includes a premium travel case along with all the standard goodies of a Genius X including four black Cross Action brush heads.
Look and feel
The Genius X may be a little extreme in its styling, but if people happen to see it in your bathroom, they will take notice. The glossy black surface and multiple buttons along with the colorful LED ring are definitely eye-catching.
The brush is well-weighted. It feels substantial but not heavy. I would compare it to a motorcycle handle, and when you turn it on, it does have a distinct growl to it.
We like that there are two buttons, one smaller button which turns the brush handle on and changes modes, and a larger button above which starts the cleaning process. One thing that does not make sense is that the mode selection button does not allow you to change modes while the brush is not running. So you have to start brushing and then change modes, which can lead to a mess of toothpaste splatter. We would like to be able to change modes before we start brushing. This seems like a no-brainer!
When you are brushing, the rubberized back of the handle feels very nonslip and your grip is assured even if the handle happens to get wet. The customisable LED ring doubles as a pressure sensor and it is bright and easy to see even if you are not looking in the mirror or at the app while brushing.
One complaint about the Oral-B is that it is much louder than sonic brushes, and we found this to be true. The vibrations and volume are extreme, 72 decibels at 1 meter (equal to traffic or a vacuum cleaner), and this was the loudest toothbrush we tested. Most of the other brushes were closer to the volume of a light rainfall or normal conversion (50-60 db). If you are brushing late at night with light sleepers within earshot, they will know you are polishing your pearly whites, and the vibrations can be a bit strong for some users.
We took turns putting the Oral-B Genius through its paces, and we were mostly happy with how it functions as a daily-use brush. One feature they tout as unique is the round brush head with its oscillating bristles. We wanted to know if it actually cleaned better than the typical vibrating sonic brush.
Upon closer examination, the oscillating brush head looks more as if it is vibrating than scrubbing like a dentist’s rotating polisher would. Some claim that the smaller round brush head is good for getting behind teeth and giving each tooth an individual polish, but most of the testers found the more typically shaped toothbrush head to be more comfortable and effective in reaching all parts of the teeth. If you are used to a manual toothbrush, then it does take time to get used to letting the brush do the work instead of scrubbing yourself.
When switching positions, especially when trying to get a good angle on the back teeth, we found that the pressure sensor would sometimes light up, and cleaning was not as effective depending on the angle that we held the handle to our mouths. In our lab test, the pressure sensor triggers right at about 300 grams of force. The recommended brushing pressure above 150 g but no more than 300 g, so this brush is spot on accurate. However, it was hard to find the perfect grip for cleaning evenly in all four quadrants.
We liked the accuracy of the quad pacer that guided us from one part of our mouth to the next at 30-second intervals. And the brush does leave your mouth feeling mostly clean with a lasting feel of clean teeth for hours. But one reviewer felt that there was still some plaque in the hard to reach spots between some irregular teeth. The brush does continue to run after the set brushing time has elapsed, so you can continue to brush if you feel you need more time to finish. Some brushes automatically shut off after the session.
Battery life was just as accurate as the quad timer. The manufacturer claims 14 days, and in our lab test, the brush head battery indicator dropped steady from 3 bars (full power) to 1 over a series of 28 2-minute sessions, which is exactly 14 days of brushing. Then, on the 29th, the indicator light turned red. Another thing we do not like about the Oral-B line of brushes is that when the red battery light comes on, the brush automatically reduces power until it is charged. The Genius X continued for four more sessions on low power before completely shutting down which is 2 days worth of brushing on a lower power setting. We would rather have one more full-powered session to finish cleaning before having to charge it.
The charging time was about 12 hours from empty to full on the included induction charging base with a standard EU two-prong plug. The induction charging base is heavy and high quality with the longest cord we tested at 180 cm. You can also charge the brush in the deluxe travel case, but you have to use the same bulky cord which is not convenient. Some travel cases offer USB cables for charging on the go.
We have to take our hats off to Oral-B for their initiative in offering an amazing array of brush heads to choose from for their main line of oscillating brushes. The Genius X came with the powerful and multi-purpose Cross Action brushes, but we also used a variety of other brush heads which you can read about here .
For the most part, these brushes are similar in their round shape but with different bristle configurations for different purposes. They also make Deep Sweep and Dual Action models which are shaped more like traditional brush heads.
And if you are brave, there are many knock-off makers out there, but we think that the Oral-B OEM brush heads are priced reasonably enough that you would never want to risk buying a fake. However, we were surprised to learn that you may think you are ordering official Oral-B brush heads only to find that you have gotten counterfeits. So be careful and purchase your brush heads from a reliable source.
In our brush head comparison, we found that the OEM brushes are higher quality and clean better than the knock-offs that we tested.
Overall, we found that the Cross Action did the best job of cleaning our teeth, but one of our testers with braces used the Ortho Care brush head which did not clean that effectively. And the sensitive brush heads do not clean as well as the regular ones.
What else does it do?
In addition to cleaning your teeth, the Genius X boasts that it will coach you to improve your brushing habits. Being a smart brush, we were excited to give the Oral-B app a try to see if this really is “genius”, but we were initially very disappointed. The original app (v. 7.3) looked and felt very dated. It was clunky and ugly and hard to navigate. I cannot get the image of that ugly blue smiley face out of my mind when I think of using the Genius X and the app during testing.
We are much happier with the look and flow of the new version of the app (8.1) which is now available on the Google Play and Apple App stores. It offers the same features as the original app, but it looks much more modern and is much easier to navigate. Unfortunately, they kept a more minimalist (and patriotic?) version of the creepy smile.
One of the best things about using the Genius X when paired with the app is that it does not require any registration or log in. I could use the app just by pairing with the brush via bluetooth and jumping right in. All of the other smart toothbrushes in our test required using Facebook or at least an email and password to use their apps with the brushes. Other brushes, like the Xiaomi, required a complicated pairing procedure involving several steps. You can create an Oral-B account for storing information online, but you do not have to.
The most powerful feature it offers is a coaching mode which shows you a 3-D model of a mouth, and when you start brushing, it tracks your movements to see if you brushed your whole mouth for the proper amount of time (generally 2 minutes). The idea is that while you brush, the handle has built-in sensors (Position Detection) that detect where the brush head is as you move it around your mouth. Then the app shows you which teeth you are brushing, and shows you where you need to spend more time. You can set the brush time to up to 4 minutes using the app.
We found that the Genius X does a relatively good job of giving accurate feedback while brushing. It seems to reliably sense where the brush head is in your mouth while brushing and calculating an overall score based on how well you brushed your teeth. Other apps we tested were spotty, and some were just downright wrong.
As you brush, the virtual teeth on your app screen turn from a dirty green to a sparkling white. Virtual bubbles form to show you where you are brushing. If you move slowly and deliberately (as you should with an electric toothbrush), the app detects your movements after a slight lag.
After you finish your session, you get an overall score out of 100 telling you how well you brushed. Achieving 100% coverage is the goal, and it is challenging to do in just two minutes, but if you keep working at it, you can get the app to believe you have cleaned all of your teeth properly.
However, this coaching only works if you brush with the app open and follow along on your phone. While the handle does record brushing sessions, it only records the length of time and not the quality of the brushing. If you want to keep a running tab on how your brushing habits are and whether you are improving, you must have your phone running the app with you while brushing. If you brush well for a certain period of time, you can earn medals on the app as motivation for developing good brushing habits.
The calendar display is not very well implemented. There is a confusing bar system that shows how long you brushed each day or the brushing score you achieved each day. It is not easy to get a clear overview of your brushing habits over time.
In our opinion, we think that the only value a smart app has with an electric toothbrush is as a motivator to brush often and to brush correctly. Since we had all been using electric toothbrushes prior to testing, we felt that the app was not necessary, although we did learn some things about our brushing habits, and the pressure sensor was appreciated.
For a first-time electric toothbrush user, we think the app would be helpful for a while, but we just don’t see anyone using this every time they brush over the long haul.
Overall, the app does a pretty good job compared to the other brushes in the test, but we expected more with the app for the price we paid. It does not offer full customizable brushing times and modes as some of the other brushes. It offers you the chance to join “journeys” which are somewhat customized to meet your oral health goals:
- Fresh Breath
- Plaque Fighter
- Gum Health
- Ortho Care
However, the system seems a bit clunky. It doesn’t explain what your brush will do once you have selected these journeys. I tried brushing with the Plaque Fighter journey and was a bit frustrated that I could no longer change modes on this very expensive brush that I had just started using. I had to end the journey to try different modes.
The Oral-B is the only brush in our test which paired with Apple Health, although the information you get from the app is very minimal. It just records how many times you brushed and the length of each session. We aren’t sure how useful this information would be to anyone.
Despite its flaws, we found that the Oral-B Genius X is the best out of all the smart brushes we tested. Overall, we were not very impressed with any of the apps, but we feel that this one offers the best features and connectivity.
The big brush makers all seem to be using this idea of modes to show how much better one brush is than another. When you follow a product line up the chain from Philips or Oral-B, you notice that the more expensive a brush is, the more modes it offers. In fact, the Genius X has 6 modes! The problem is that we really don’t know what all the modes are good for and cannot imagine using them on a regular basis.
We also don’t like how the modes are displayed on the brush handle. Most other brushes use words like “clean” and “whitening” but Oral-B went with icons like a diamond and feather.
The strangest thing is that the main cleaning mode has no indicator light at all. All you see when in this mode is the bluetooth icon which means you are in standard cleaning mode. It seems like they ran out of room, so they just left the main mode off of the brush handle.
Cleaning is our main criteria in deciding how well a brush performs, and any other mode but the main cleaning mode that has the brush running at full power will likely diminish cleaning results. We tried the sensitive mode because this brush was a bit too harsh and loud on full power, but how many modes do we need? Do we need a tongue cleaning mode and a massage mode?
We do like the idea of being able to customize the brush by setting an intensity level and a timer for brushing that matches our brushings style, but too many modes seem like overkill.
One of our favorite features of the Genius X Luxe model is the stylish case. It is sleek and we like the feel and design of the exterior. However, the brush does not sit tightly in the case, so when traveling, it can jostle around a bit.
The case doubles as a charger, but you must take the original power brick with you unlike the Sonicare high-end case which comes standard with a USB cable. The Genius X Luxe case will also charge your phone with an external USB port, and it has a built-in phone stand. But we cannot understand why the phone stand holds the phone in landscape position, while the app only works in portrait mode. This is something we hope that Oral-B will address in an update.
Care and long-term use
Because of its layers of dark plastics, the Genius X brush handle seems to collect noticeable bits of toothpaste and residue after brushing. It takes work to keep it clean. While most of the brushes we tested just rinse clean, this brush takes some extra effort.
The Genius X did not come with a brush head holder or any sort of storage, so you will likely keep the head on the brush handle after you brush. I like to store my brush heads separately after brushing so the handle dries out. I have had bad experiences with goop accumulating after not changing the brush head for a few months.
Branded Oral-B brush heads are about around 2-3 pounds apiece and you should expect to replace your brush head every 3 months. The app comes with a handy reminder to let you know when you should replace your brush.
The handle is well-made and seems durable. The Oral-B brush comes with a standard 2-year warranty, so we think this brush will last.
During testing, we spent hours deliberating over the value of the “smart features” of these brushes including the Genius X. We came to the conclusion that none of the smart brushes really have features that we would continue using for the life of the brush. They are nice to have when you first start brushing, especially if this is your first go around with an electric toothbrush. The Genius X does show you which teeth you are brushing and which parts of your mouth need more work, but is this worth the premium price?
However, we cannot say that it is really a “genius” brush or technically even a “smart” brush. In the ever engaging world of AI, expectations are that a “smart” technology is one that has the capability of learning and adapting to new information. We would love to see a smart electric toothbrush that learns about your brushing habits and adapts to you, but so far, these really just record movements and create reports.
The luxury feel and look of the Genius X makes it a nice option in the Oral-B line up, but if you are looking for a nice cleaning at a decent price, we would recommend stepping down the the Oral-B 3000 (or 2000) if you are looking for an oscillating brush, but overall, we liked the sonic brushes better.
Oral-B Genius X Features & Specs
|Brushing Action||3D cleaning action: Oscillation 10,500 movements per minute and vibrations 48,000 movements per minute.|
|Included Brush Head(s)||4 Cross Action brush heads|
|Battery Life||16 days (as tested)|
|Battery Indicator||Light on handle|
|Charging Time||13 hours (as tested)|
|Brushing Timer||2-4 minutes via the app|
|Pressure Sensor||Yes: handle vibration warning and LED light|
|Brush head reminder||Yes: calendar in app|
|A.I. Brushing Coach||Yes|
|Accessories||Induction charging base|
Note: Oral-B has released iO series. Read the full Oral-B iO 7 electric toothbrush review.