Oral-B iO 7 Review: Is it a Game Changer?
Remember when you were a kid, and you really, really wanted that toy for Christmas, and the anticipation was so much that when you finally got it, it left you feeling rather disappointed? Welcome to the Oral-B iO 7.
Oral-B released the iO series just as we were wrapping up the testing of our original set of electric toothbrushes, and we waited awhile before ordering one. When we finally did, we had huge expectations, but ultimately, this is just another (very expensive) smart electric toothbrush that uses the same app and technology as the Genius X with an added monochrome screen (the Oclean X Pro has a full-color one for about 1/2 the price).
Oral-B iO 7 Test results
- Powerful cleaning action
- Real-time brushing coach
- App is easy to use
- Fast Charging
- Aesthetic and modern styling
- Uncomfortable for sensitive teeth
- Average battery life
- Difficult to keep clean
- Only two expensive brush head options
One Job: Cleaning your teeth
Aside from all the bells and whistles the iO 7 advertises, we were most excited to see if it could do the one job an electric toothbrush should be able to do and that is to clean your teeth.
Once the iO 7 arrived, we had had lots of practice in testing using plaque reveal tablets. We wanted to see how this brush compared to the best brushes in our test, so we did side-by-side comparisons which you can read in our electric toothbrush reviews article.
The result is that the iO 7 cleans very well, but it is not the best. From all of Oral-Bs advertising rhetoric, you might think that this new technology and fancy brush head would somehow lead to a breakthrough in cleaning, but it doesn’t. The brush cleans well, but it isn’t clearly ahead of the other Oral-B brushes we tested, and it isn’t as good as the Sonicares.
Oral-B really stepped their game up when they packaged the iO series. The older packaging looks ancient compared to this sleek box with upscale cardboard inserts. Everything was tidy and felt planned.
Our iO 7 is the base model and, as for now, it only comes in white. The higher end iO 8 and 9 both come in three colors. The package included the iO7 handle, a magnetic charging base, basic travel case, brush head holder and one iO standard brush head. We purchased the extra brush heads for testing that appear in the photo.
Look and feel
One complaint that we had about the other Oral-B brushes that we tested is that they all looked and felt dated compared to the sleeker models in our tests. Oral-B clearly took note of this when they decided to create the iO series. This brush is very sleek in all white with no visible seams or distractions for the eye. The modern styling stands out from the other Oral-B model series.
However, the iO lacks the grip of the other Oral-Bs and actually feels as if it might slip out of your hand easily. There are no gripping points, and nothing to keep it from rolling when it is on its side.
The brush is light and easy to hold, however, the brush head is noticeably larger than the standard brush heads and cut at an angle, so it does not stand up on its own.
The iO touts that it comes with a screen on the handle. However, unlike the Oclean X Pro, this is not a touch screen. It is a monochrome screen and you use the buttons to move through the menu. All in all, the two buttons are well-placed and quite comfortable, but we wish the screen were more useful. It is mostly for changing modes, and there are also some settings you can manage with it. One really nice thing about the iO design is that you can change modes on the fly while brushing with a push of the second button.
Like the Genius X, the iO comes with an LED light ring at the top of the handle the color of which you can customize using the built-in screen. This LED ring also acts as a visible pressure sensor.
Personally, the biggest disappointment of this iO is that it is not much quieter than the other Oral-B brushes. In their marketing, Oral-B kept bragging about a whole new motorized system that was revolutionary with micro vibrations. We thought, surely this will be less harsh and quieter than its cousins, but it still came in right at 70 dB in our tests, which is like a loud conversation.
After having tested other Oral-B brushes, we were excited to see how different the iO would be. Oral-B claims that this has a revolutionary motor with micro vibrations.
One difference that we noticed right away is that the brush head is significantly larger than the standard Oral-B brush head. The area of bristles is about the same, but the width and length are substantial. This comes into play then you move the brush to the back of your mouth, the tapered brush head forces you to open wider, and this can lead to foam escaping and making a bit of a mess. For people with smaller mouths, this effect will be even more noticeable.
However, the “revolutionary” new drive system did not impress us much. To be honest, it feels quite a bit like the older Oral-B brushes, but it is a bit quieter and the motion is not as jittery. Ultimately, the cleaning experience is okay, but the motion can be a bit harsh for people with sensitive teeth and gums. One of our testers found it less comfortable than other Oral-B models and found himself forced to use the sensitive mode because it was too harsh.
The new and improved pressure sensor now gives you a green light when you are using just enough pressure (we measured 50 grams) and then turns red if you push too hard (about 220 grams). When first learning how to use the brush, this leads to a Christmas tree-like experience as the LED ring blinks from your custom color to green and then red and back again. Once you get used to it, it isn’t that bad, and it is nice to know when you are applying the right amount of pressure.
The equipped quad pacer is accurate, vibrating every 30 seconds to help guide you through quadrants of your mouth as you brush. Another nice feature of the iO is that you can change the brushing time, and the quad pacer will adjust automatically to your new time. And if you need to brush longer, the iO will keep running for a full 5 minutes before shutting off automatically.
The iO gave us a bit of confusion in our battery test. We ran a lab test to see how many times we could get through the 2-minute Daily Clean cycle on one charge. It surprised us by giving us 124 sessions on a single charge. This is about 60 days of brushing, which is way higher than the advertised 2-week run time.
However, in our home tests, we got fewer than 14 days of brushing after fully charging it. This means that the handle must draw significant power on standby mode.
One thing that really bothered us is that with all this technology, the battery indicator is terribly implemented. There is no light on the handle, and you cannot use the app to see the battery life. The battery indicator will show up when you put it on the charger and after you finish brushing, if you wait and watch the screen, it will show how much battery you have left. But why they did not add a battery level menu on the touchscreen is beyond us!
The good news is that the new mag charger will top off the brush in about 3 hours which is great, but the magnetic connection is not that stable, so you want to be careful not to knock the handle over when it is charging.
One area that the iO struggles in when compared to other Oral-B brushes is with the new brush heads. We were impressed with the rest of the Oral-B line because they have many brush heads available at affordable price points. But with the iO, you can only get two varieties: Ultimate Clean and Gentle Care.
Not only are there just two options, but they are extremely expensive. Right now, you can get 2 brush heads for about 30 pounds. At around 10 pounds apiece, these are by far the most expensive brush heads that we have tested. This means that in a normal year, you will buy four brush heads spending 40 pounds a year just to continue using this already high-priced brush. With those 40 pounds, you could buy a decent electric toothbrush.
In addition, the iO series brush heads have an angled base. This means that you cannot take the brush head off and stand it upright, as you can with every other brush head we tested. Instead, you have to store them in the special stand that you get with the brush. This is a nice accessory, but why they angled the base of the brush heads makes no sense to us. It seems like a purely aesthetic feature that has no practical application.
One nice little feature is that brush heads each have a small shape inscribed on the bottom like a triangle or circle. So if you are sharing the handle with someone, you can tell your brush heads apart using these little symbols.
What else does it do?
As the new flagship series from Oral-B, the iO comes with lots of additional features via the built-in screen and the app.
While this is not a touch screen, so it isn’t as useful as the one built into the Oclean X Pro that we tested, this screen does offer some nice features.
To access it, you press the lower button which turns the screen on and allows you to quickly scroll through the available modes including Daily Clean, Sensitive, Whiten, Gum Care, and Intense. You use the power button to make your selections from the menu. It is intuitive and simple to operate.
After you go through the modes, you come to a “Settings” option. You select the option by pushing the power button. Here you can enable or disable Bluetooth, change the color of the LED light ring, change the language (with 12 available languages!), or perform a Factory Reset.
For more available options, you can also use the Oral B app.
You can tell that Oral-B is excited about the iO. When I connected for the first time, it gave me a little snowflake screen splash showing me that I was connecting an iO!
From that point on, the app is identical to the one we tested with the Oral-B Genius X.
The most useful feature that the app includes is the real-time brushing coach which will track your movements as you brush and then give you a score after you finish.
When you begin the coaching app, it shows a 3-D model of your teeth all colored blue. And as you brush each section of your mouth, the teeth will turn white showing you that they are clean with a sparkling animation.
One issue with using the brushing coach is that the quad pacer no longer works. You can see your brushing time on the screen and move the brush accordingly, but you will have to develop your own pacing.
The brushing coach divides your mouth into 6 sections, 3 on top and 3 on bottom, and it is challenging to get all the sections clean in just 2 minutes. I found myself brushing for at least 30 more seconds each time to try to get my cleaning score up. I guess this is a good incentive to brush longer.
Once you finish, you are given a score showing you what percentage of your teeth you cleaned. The app will keep track of your sessions so you can track progress.
Like the Genius X, the app only tracks your brushing when you have it open on your phone. It will record sessions in the handle, but you will only know how long you brushed. The little screen on the handle itself also times your sessions and gives you a smiley face if you brush long enough, which is a nice touch.
The app also gives motivating medals on the Challenges screen like achievements in a video game. You can also subscribe to Journeys here to improve specific areas of your oral health such as “Fresh Breath” or “Gum Health”.
The app will show you your overall score average as well as keep track of all your brushing sessions. The calendar view is a single week, and a bit confusing to follow.
You can see Data insights going back a full year, and it also shows you your session as you scroll through the History.
Other useful features include a brush head tracker so you know how long you have been using the current brush head and when it is time for a replacement.
The iO 7 comes with 5 available brushing modes. As we have said before, we aren’t a big fan of modes. We have found that the daily clean mode is pretty much all you need. If this brush causes some discomfort, we can see some value in having a sensitive mode, but remember that using this mode will also reduce the cleaning power.
We do like how the modes are displayed on the screen. This is an upgrade from previous Oral-B brushes which had confusing icons for the different modes. The icons are still here, but the screen also names each mode so it is very easy to tell which one you are in.
You can also change modes while brushing by pushing the button. This is a nice feature that was not available on the Genius X. However, you would have to take the brush out of your mouth to see the screen to know for sure which mode you have switched to. So if you want to do a little gum care at the end of a session, you can memorize how many times to push the button (3 times) and switch without looking.
The app also displays the mode, so if you brush with your phone then you can see the modes on the screen. We wish they included a phone holder to make brushing with the app easier.
The iO comes with a travel case that is functional but nothing special. It holds the brush handle and up to two brushes. It is white slippery plastic that snaps shut. When the brush is inside, there is nothing to keep it from rolling around, so it can fall out easily when you open it.
You also get a brush head holder which holds two brushes. This has semi-transparent plastic covering a white silicone base which attracts dust. It is necessary because, as I mentioned before, the brush heads are angled, so they do not stand upright on their own.
Care and long-term use
One issue we have seen right away with the iO is that gunk and grime collect under the brush head if you leave it on after brushing. After just one session, I found a terrific amount once I took the brush head off for testing. Keeping it clean is a bit more challenging than other brushes we tested.
As we mentioned before, the brush heads are expensive, so operating the iO for a year will cost you about 40 pounds. It is recommended that you replace your brush head every 3 months.
The handle seems durable and it passed both our drop test and water test. However, it is not as stable as some other brushes we tested, and it will tip over easily if you are not careful.
While the Oral-B iO is a fine toothbrush, it did not live up to the hype nor the expense in our opinion. It offers sleek styling that is a step forward for Oral-B, and it cleans very well. It is quieter than the older brushes, but for each step forward, it takes a step back. It is not comfortable to clean with, and brush heads are expensive with few available options.
If we were going to buy a brush in the Oral-B line up, we would stick with the Pro series (2000 or 3000) for a much lower upfront and annual cost. And if you are looking for a high-priced elegant brush, the Sonicare DiamondClean series is still a better option than the iO.