One of the most affordable Philips Sonicare toothbrushes available, the PowerUp series stands out from the pack by being low cost and powered by AA batteries.
The first thought you may have is to wonder whether or not you can get adequate brushing performance from an AA battery powered toothbrush. The short answer is: power is not a problem with this brush. You can always get rechargeable batteries, which free you from having to worry about battery failure with a non-replaceable battery – unless you’re a DIYer with some electronics skills.
First we’ll take a look at the current models, and then discuss their performance.
As of the publication date of this review, there are 2 Sonicare PowerUp models listed by Philip Norelco as being current models and 8 total as being “supported.” We’re only going to discuss the current models, and this review will be updated as new models are released.
Philips Sonicare PowerUp (HX3631/06)
- 1 Brush Mode
- Brush Head Included: 1 PowerUp Medium
- Batteries last for about 120 Two-minute brushing sessions (About 2 months)
- Requires 2 AA Batteries
- 15,000 Strokes per minute
- Smartimer (2-minute timer)
- 1 Year Warranty
Philips Sonicare PowerUp – HX3631/06 or HX3631/10
The difference between the two models is more aesthetic than performance. However, do notice the Pink Model (HX3631/10) comes with the Soft brush head, whereas the Blue Model (HX3631/06) comes with the Medium brush head. This is a common theme with many of the different Sonicare Series brushes, and you will find there are only small changes between different models in each series. Usually, the brush heads are different.
Regarding performance, the PowerUp toothbrushes produce about 15,000 strokes per minute, whereas most other Sonicare toothbrushes produce 31,000 to 62,000 strokes per minute. So you shouldn’t expect the same performance from the PowerUp Series as you would get from the rechargeable Sonicare toothbrushes.
Common User Complaints
The PowerUp series seems to be somewhat contentious, and some people love these toothbrushes, while others find them to be underpowered or overpowered (depending on who you ask).
Some people complain the brush heads are too big, while others complain that they’re too small. What we can tell you is that they’re no larger than any of the other Sonicare brush heads, so this seems to be false. However, the PowerUp handle is larger than other Sonicare models since it has to fit two AA batteries, whereas the battery is integrated into the other models.
The PowerUp models are indeed on the cheap side of the Sonicare toothbrush spectrum, and we think the power and performance are adequate for an electric toothbrush that costs little more than a case of beer. One way to improve your experience is to choose the right batteries. We’ll get to that after discussing the replacement brush heads.
PowerUp Replacement Brush Heads
Sonicare PowerUp Replacement Toothbrush Heads, HX3023/64
Only compatible with Philips Sonicare PowerUp handles.
Sonicare PowerUp Replacement Toothbrush Heads, HX3013/64
Only compatible with Philips Sonicare PowerUp handles.
The HX3013/64 (blue/orange) brush heads are the medium type, while the HX3013/64 brush heads are the soft type. We recommend sticking with the genuine Philips Sonicare brush heads, because the generic brush heads sometimes don’t quite fit right. Since you’re going to be attaching these brush heads to the end of a rapidly vibrating metal shaft, they’re completely useless if they don’t fit right.
These brush heads only fit the PowerUp toothbrushes and none of the other Sonicare brush heads will fit the PowerUp models. For example, the DiamondClean or InterCare brush heads do not fit the PowerUp Series toothbrushes.
It’s recommended you change the brush head every 3 months, so you’ll only need to buy new ones about once per year. The brush heads are relatively expensive compared to the price of the toothbrush itself, which is somewhat discouraging, but you have to replace brush heads no matter how much you spend on the handle. The downside to these is that if you ever decide to upgrade to one of the higher tier Sonicare models, then you will have useless brush heads.
Best Batteries for Philips Sonicare PowerUp Toothbrushes
Philips recommends using Polaroid AA batteries for the best performance.
However, those batteries are not rechargeable.
For rechargeable batteries, we recommend the
When it comes to rechargeable batteries, there doesn’t seem to be a clear winner regarding quality and discharge curve. Looking for a good sale and picking up a few of any type is always a good idea. Most of them last long enough to make the total cost come out to pennies per charge.
Non-rechargeable alkaline batteries, on the other hand, can have quite a bit of variability in their discharge rates and how well they maintain their voltage during discharge. There are other factors such as temperature and current flow that affect the voltage curve during discharge as well. If you want to see an interesting comparison between different brands, then check out this thread.
The graph is available here as well.
Another disposable battery alternative is AA lithium batteries. These are much more robust than alkaline batteries and are less likely to leak. Of course, they are more expensive.
Maintenance and Troubleshooting
It’s a good idea to keep the area between the brush head the handle clean. Dried toothpaste or other nasty things can make a home in this area. This is a tip that is true for every electric toothbrush.
This isn’t a huge issue, and you may never have any trouble if you naturally take the brush head off occasionally. It’s just a good idea to give it a rinse at least everytime you have to change the brush head.
What if you have a leaky alkaline battery?
As long as you’re using your toothbrush daily (as you should), then you shouldn’t have this problem. However, as you know alkaline batteries do sometimes leak and leave behind crusty white powder on the battery contacts.
In most cases the device isn’t ruined, you just need to clean off the contacts. The best way to do that is with a cotton swab soaked in an acid, such as lemon juice or distilled white vinegar.
You don’t want the acid to get inside the internal components of the toothbrush, so be careful and only use a little at a time. Once you’ve got the metal contacts clean, just replace the batteries and you’re good to go.
If you’re on a shoestring budget, then these are a super affordable option. If you like being able to easily replace your batteries instead of worrying about making sure you remembered to charge your toothbrush, then the PowerUp is worth considering.
The PowerUp models do have the Smartimer feature to make sure you brush long enough but lacks the Quadpacer and other fancy features that track your brushing habits. We consider the Smartimer or equivalent, to be an essential feature as merely brushing the recommended time goes a long way in improving your dental health.
Don’t forget that you get a 1-year warranty. It’s not long, but be sure to take advantage of it if you have any trouble. The longest warranty available for any Sonicare toothbrush is 2 years, which comes with just about every other Sonicare toothbrush.
Other Models to Consider
We’re going to recommend skipping the Essence toothbrushes and going for the Essence+. One thing to keep in mind is the batteries in the Essence+ are NiMH rechargeables. Though you can go 10 days on a single charge, it’s recommended that you don’t let the battery discharge down that far. Also, try not to keep the toothbrush plugged into the charger when it doesn’t need to be charged.
Philips Sonicare Essence+ (HX3211)
The Sonicare Essence+ is a sensible upgrade at a reasonable price. It’s compatible with a wide variety of Sonicare brush heads and has the Smartimer and Quadpacer features. Additionally, it produces 31,000 strokes per minute, which is double the PowerUp model output.
The Sonicare Essence+ toothbrushes have built-in NiMH rechargeable batteries that last up to 10 days on a single charge.
The Essence+ isn’t a massive jump in price but has a nice boost in performance and future-proof compatibility with other brush heads. On top of all that, the Essence+ has a 2-year warranty instead of the 1-year warranty provided with the PowerUp series.
If you’re a frequent traveler outside of North America, you might be worried about plugging up the charger. Sonicare Essence+ models are compatible with 110-220 V outlets, but you will need an adapter to fit plugs outside of North America. Global Voltage compatibility is in just about every Sonicare model, except the Essence series. That’s another reason we recommend skipping it and going with the Essence+.
Frequent travelers may find the PowerUp series to be more convenient than worrying whether or not you remember to plugin your toothbrush. It means one less cord you have to keep track of on the road or in the air. Either way, the PowerUp and Essence+ are very affordable options.
Still not sure what Sonicare is right for you?
Check out our comparison of all the different Sonicare toothbrushes available.