Philips S9000 Prestige Electric Shaver Review (Model SP9840/31)


As someone who might have the worst possible combination of facial hair and skin features for shaving regularly, yet wishes to have a smooth-shaven look, (trust me, I look like 20 years older than I am even with like only a three-day beard) I have tried many different shavers over the years, so I feel I have something to contribute to the conversation about electric shaving.

To indeed try and contribute, I have already tried to convince you to give electric shaving a try and now I will offer my opinions about some of the electric shavers I have had over the years.

But, if you’re not sure why would you want to try an electric shaver, I suggest that you check out my previous post on the subject.

We’ll be starting our journey with a Review of the best and most famous rotary shaver of them all: Philips S9000 Prestige.


Philips S9000 Prestige

The Philips (or Philips Norelco if you’re from the US) S9000 Prestige is a rotary electric shaver. Just to briefly remind you, rotary shavers feature blades that spin in a circular motion to cut the hairs. These blades are hidden behind a metal guard or a comb and never touch the skin directly. Instead, the guard captures the hairs which “fall” into the openings where the blades cut them.


The Philips S9000 Prestige features three shaving heads, each with two rows (or tracks) of blades – these tracks are designed to work together, with the outer track capturing and cutting longer hairs and the inner taking care of the shorter hairs and stubble.

Philips S9000 Prestige

These blades rotate 360º, enabling them to cut hair in every direction with fewer passes. In addition, every blade has two edges. The first edge is supposed to lift the hair and the second one would cut it. Philips calls this system Lift & Cut, which should theoretically provide a closer shave. Philips claims it provides up to 0,00 mm of closeness, although my experience suggests that this is a number Philips got from the lab in ideal conditions. For example, the closest shaving electric shaver ever is in my experience Panasonic Arc 6, with closeness being genuinely comparable to a safety razor and yet I haven’t seen any claims from Panasonic about 0.00 mm.

The shaver also has a special coating which supposedly enables the shaver to glide even more smoothly on your skin – and I can confirm that the shaving is indeed a smooth experience – especially the wet shaving which if you take your time, feels almost like a massage. The coating however won’t help you if you press too hard, in which case you will probably experience some redness. That is no different on even the foil shavers, but it’s important to remember that the coating is not magic and you should still mind your pressure.

The shaver also features a “Power Adapt Sensor” which reads beard density 500 times per second and adjusts the cutting power accordingly. However, in my case, I wasn’t able to detect this. But that is maybe how it is supposed to work.

The best and most visible feature for me is the flexibility of the shaving head and the blades which in my opinion is unmatched, which makes shaving a breeze and reduces the amount of passes needed to get to those hard-to-reach places.

Build Quality

From the moment you look at it, the shaver certainly feels Prestigious and from just looking at it you might even think the body is made of metal. Sadly, that is not the case. The body is made out of high-quality plastic which is a step back from the previous generation Prestige, which featured a metal-aluminium body. It is a pity Philips has decided to abandon this as this provided the extra-premium look and feel and justified the Prestige suffix. Judging from the price tag, I wouldn’t say that the savings were passed to the consumer.

That being said, so is the case with the competition as well, as there is a tendency to move to a plastic body. Panasonic’s Arc 5 shaver featured a metal body which could compete with the previous generation of Prestige shaver, but in the new Arc 6, Panasonic has moved to a plastic body as well. Braun has never had a metal body, as far as I know, anyway, not even in their top-of-the-line Series 9 Pro shavers.

What I find borderline dishonest is that all three big manufacturers tend to use flattering lighting and other techniques in their commercials to make it appear as if shavers have a metal body. Yet none of the latest models have it. But I digress.

I however did not mean to imply that the Prestige is crackly or crinkly built. The shaver is extremely well-built and it still says “high-quality”, even if not as much as the previous generation. There are no signs of poorly fit edges, parts not fitting together or other artefacts, à la Tesla Cybertruck. Everything fits perfectly.

Prestige in hand
Build Quality of the Prestige Is superb

When it comes to ergonomics, I have only good things to say. When you first look at the shaver, you get the impression that it is kind of heavy and you’re pleasantly surprised when you take it in the hand and discover how light it is, compared with what you expected. The back is covered with a grippy, gum-like material which sits well in the hand and makes it easier to grip and hold during shaving, When you combine this lightness with the flexibility of the head and the blades, it certainly provides a smooth and ergonomic experience.

The shaver is also very quiet, and noticeably quieter than the foil shavers of the competition, like Panasonic and Braun, even when using the maximum power setting. At the lowest power setting, the shaver is naturally the quietest, and at the highest, it features this high-pitched whine which is by no means a distraction. However, here is a short audio, which I recorded using only my phone, meaning it will naturally not be of the highest quality but it should still give you an idea of how the Prestige sounds.

Shaving Performance & Experience


When you turn the Shaver on, you feel a slight twitch as the rotating motor spins up with this high-pitched whine and you know immediately that you’re dealing with an efficient, premium machine.

In terms of removing the beard efficiently, this shaver is simply superb. The rotating blades make short work of even 3-5 day’s worth of growth. And this takes into account that I have a pretty rough beard

When it. comes to efficiency, I would declare the Prestige to be the best of all the premium shavers because I always seem to require the least amount of passes over the same spot to get a similar level of closeness. It is also, in my opinion, the most efficient in capturing long hairs and dealing with coarse beards.

But the shaving is more than just efficiency. The shaving is about the whole experience, from the moment you start up to and including the end when you run your palm up against your freshly shaven face, hopeful to admire the fruits of your labour and your silky-smooth face. So, when we are talking about the whole shaving experience, in addition to efficiency, we’re also talking about the comfort and closeness of the shave. We will be taking a closer look at the dry and wet shaving as well, respectfully.


In terms of comfort, while that heavily depends on the fact if you’re doing wet or dry shaving, I believe that it can be safely said that the Prestige is very comfortable, once you get used to it.

In terms of comparing it to the previous generation, the comfort is very much comparable, maybe even the same. That is quite an accomplishment on the side of Philips, considering that the previous generation did not have the Lift&Cut System, meaning this time the closeness is better, while comfort stays the same.

That being said, in both wet and dry conditions, the comfort is less than what the competition from Braun has to offer, with Braun’s Series 9 Pro still being the most comfortable shaver I have ever tried.

If you’re completely new to the rotary shavers, in the first few weeks you might expect some redness in the neck area, due to two factors: your beard and the face need to adjust to the new way of shaving and: you need to adjust to the (kinda) new way of shaving.

If you’re used to the safety or cartridge razors, your first instinct might be that you’re finally done with all that preparation, so you might directly jump in and shave dry, using the same motions as with the safety razor. This will probably not work well, as rotary shavers are best moved in small, circular motions and do not need to be pressed as hard on the skin as safety and cartridge razors. Instead, you would optimally have the shaver just gently glide over the beard.

The second reason is that when shaving with an electric shaver, the blades do not ever touch the skin directly. This is different to the “manual” razors where the blades do touch the skin and in effect remove a very thin layer of it. The removal of this thin layer makes your body produce a very, very thin layer of scar tissue and it takes a few weeks for your body to get rid of it. That is why you need at least 3 weeks to adjust to an electric shaver.


The following is naturally only my subjective experience which I tried to generally derive from some months of using the shaver on my face, whereby I have a rough beard but sensitive skin. Your experience may vary.

Let’s get obvious out of the way: generally speaking, given enough time to shave, in most cases, high-end foil shavers like Braun Series 9 Pro or especially the king of closeness, Panasonic S900+ (Arc 6) will give you a closer shave. The difference is very slight, though, with Braun being identical on the face and cheeks and very slightly better than the Prestige on the bottom part of the neck. Panasonic, however, again given enough time, beats them both,

Regarding the closeness in general, the Prestige is very, very good and unless your desire is really to have a safety-razor three-pass closeness, you will most likely be very satisfied. That being said, personally, on the neck I was never able to achieve that 0.00 mm Philips is talking about. When it comes to the neck, if I ran my palm against the grain I always felt at least a bit of grain left, at least in some place.

Dry Shaving

This is really what every shaver review comes to, isn‘t it? That is because, in the minds of many people, a lot of benefits of electric shaving are lost if you are going to perform a wet shave, using a shaving cream or gel. And this does in a way make sense. The biggest benefits in my view are saving time and the comfort of the shave. So if you’re going to lather up, why not simply use a classic shaver? We’ll get to that, but you can see why people think that the review of the dry-shaving performance is “the review“.

An efficient system: the outer track takes care of the longer and the inner of the fine hairs.

When it comes to efficiency, there’s just no comparison with anything. Well, because, as mentioned in the previous post, rotary shavers are better when it comes to rough and coarse beards and the fact that the Prestige might be the best rotary razor ever, this should come as no surprise. Considering that I have just such a tough beard, it’s no surprise indeed that I hold prestige in high regard.

If you’re looking for speed, the Prestige and dry-shaving is an unmatched combination.

It is superb when dry shaving a beard that has a few days of growth – it is ahead of anything that the competition from Braun and Panasonic can provide – the efficiency is simply unmatched, so it requires the fewest passes to get the job done. As I already said, I have a tough beard, so whenever I have a few days of growth, I almost always reach for the Prestige.

However, unfortunately, I also have sensitive skin and this is where I pay the price. The Prestige might be gentle when compared to safety or a cartridge razor, but it is also a bit unforgiving, especially on the neck and under the chin.

The Prestige features specially coated shaving heads which are supposed to just glide over the beard and in most cases, this works fine. But at least I do have to pay extra consideration to not use extra pressure and to indeed use small circular motions, as Philips says you should, otherwise I do get some skin irritation and redness on the lower part of my neck, especially when dry-shaving.

I find that the sensor which is supposed to measure your beard density and adjust the shaver speed to get a smoother experience doesn’t help here a lot. If I am not careful or am pressing too hard, there’s just no help – I do experience some skin irritation. While dry-shaving I couldn’t notice any difference in speed at all no matter which part of my face I was shaving. Now, that is not to say that you won’t feel a difference or that it does nothing, I am saying that in my subjective feeling, it makes no difference while dry-shaving.

However, the shaver does have 3-speed modes which you can use to adjust your shaving experience. The first mode is the softest and it features the least power, meaning shaving takes the longest. The second setting is a balance of power and gentleness and is maybe what you should use if you shave every day. The highest power setting makes shaving a breeze, even on the week-old beards, but it has also the most potential to irritate the skin, at least when you have your mind on other things, are not paying attention to what you do and press a little too hard. That being said, the highest power mode is still my mode of choice 95% of the time, as other modes are in my opinion just not worth it.

Yes, they are gentler, but that simply leads to the shaving lasting longer and me having to do more passes which in the long run causes my skin to be more irritated because after a few minutes, I lose motivation to pay attention to how I shave. Your experience might be different, though.

That being said if I am careful not to use quick motions or excessive pressure, and optimally, also as Philips recommends, use small, circular motions and let the shaver glide, the shave can be an enjoyable experience, even when dry-shaving. It’s just that in my view to get the most premium and optimal experience, you should be doing wet shaving with the Prestige.

Wet Shaving

What is wet shaving anyway? Wet shaving does not mean that the shaver can be used while showering – although it can, which is why the shaver cannot be used while charging, just when the charging cable is disconnected – I just hope nobody is stupid enough to even try to carry it to the shower while it is connected to power.

Wet shaving means using the shaver with shaving cream or gel, similar to how you would use a safety or cartridge razor.

The wet-shaving experience with this shaver is in my opinion, much, much better than the dry-shaving, even if it does take some more time to perform the entire procedure. Why? Well, because it is much more comfortable to do a wet shave. And when you combine this comfort with the power and efficiency that the Prestige provides, wet shaving with this shaver is indeed an amazing experience.

You can simply wash your face with some warm water, then take some shaving gel – not much is needed, about the size of a bean, rub it between your palms and then apply it to your face.

I particularly like Nivea’s Ultra Glide Shaving Gel for sensitive skin.

Note that you should not aim for a rich and thick lather, as you normally would when, for example, shaving with a safety razor. You want just a thin layer of the shaving gel, applied against the grain so that it softens and raises your facial hair.

You can leave the shaving gel on for two minutes or so to get the beard to soften a bit more but it is not necessary. After that, you can simply shave as you would shave dry, using small, circular motions and not applying much pressure. You might find the circular motions a bit challenging and to be completely honest, it is annoying to have to re-learn stuff again. Luckily, you can also get away without them, although it is not recommended. One of the great benefits of rotary razors, including the Prestige is the flexibility of the shaving head. Not only does the entire head flex and adjust but all the blades flex inward as well. When you use up and down motions, you might end up needing more passes to fully take advantage of this flexibility, but still, it is good to know that it certainly isn’t necessary to completely change your style.

Battery and charging

Of all the Premium shavers, I find that the Philips S9000 Prestige has the best battery life. Philips says that it is enough for 60 minutes of shaving and I find that not to be an exaggeration. But what does that mean in real life?

Well, even on a three-day beard, I rarely need more than 7-8 minutes and 10% of the battery charge, which means that I can shave 9-10 times before recharging the battery. And that should be enough for all your needs, as even if you go on a week-long trip and forget your charger, you should be able to look good the entire week nonetheless.

The very crisp and readable display turns on when you take the shaver in hand to show the battery percentage.

Depending on the model you select, you might or might not get a charging pad, so if you don’t get it, you will be using the Philips proprietary charging cable which I think is a better option as you will be saving some money and the wireless charging is slower anyway. Considering that the charger can fully charge the shaver in about an hour and it is cheaper to get the shaver with a regular charger, this seems like a no-brainer to me.

Not only that but according to what I found online, if you choose the model with a charging pad, you can only ever charge the shaver wirelessly, which I find very stupid, to be honest. Imagine that you could charge your mobile phone only wirelessly. Yes, there is a difference, because even if you shave every day, you just leave the shaver on the charger and that is it. But if you forget to charge your shaver, you will be forced to wait for the slow wireless charging. My advice is to avoid the wireless charging models if you can. Instead for the price difference, you can go for the cleaning pod, or even buy a little something for your mom.


Same as with charging, there are two routes you can take regarding cleaning – you can either opt for a model with an “automatic” cleaning pod or do the manual cleaning yourself.

Regarding the possibility of automatic cleaning, Philips in this regard takes quite an innovative route which I find rather good and would go as far as to say that this is my favourite way of automatic cleaning because of its simplicity.

Instead of going the way of Braun and Panasonic and having a rather expensive cleaning station which needs to be connected to the power source and which then not only cleans but dries and charges the shaver as well, Philips opted for a simple cleaning pod. You see, when you put the shaver in the cleaning pod and turn it on, the shaver will detect that it is inside the pod and its internal power will be used to pull the cleaning liquid inside the pod and clean the shaver,

There are at least three major wins with this approach: price, flexibility and speed. The price point is obvious. The speed point is obvious in a way because the whole cleaning process takes maybe 30 seconds to complete, after which you’re left with a clean shaver and a quiet room – and a wet shaving head which should be left to dry, but how often will you shave, clean the shaver and then have another shave in 15 mins or so?

Naturally, this approach means that you cannot clean and charge in one go but considering that the Prestige has a long-lasting battery which is enough for approximately 10 shaves, you have plenty of opportunity to connect it to the charger before you get to the “red zone”.

But the biggest point for me is flexibility. As the pod doesn’t need any batteries or a connection to the power grid, you can place it just about anywhere in the house. And as the cleaning takes a very short time and is quiet, you can clean the shaver right before bedtime, in case you’re like me and sometimes like to shave in the evening. This is very different than the automatic cleaning stations from Panasonic and Braun which, from feeling, take about an hour to finish the clean, dry and charge cycle, thereby producing quite a lot of noise and light and are therefore quite annoying if you decide to start the process before going to bed.

So, if the financial situation allows you, you should opt for a bit more expensive model which enables the use of a cleaning pod.

Rotate to take out the blades on the Prestige
Rotate to take out the blades for a thorough cleaning.

However, I think the shaver is also not that difficult to clean manually. You just open the shaver head, wash it under running water, and let it dry. Optionally, you can use a bit of liquid hand soap. You’re done in 30 seconds.

Especially if you’re not using the cleaning pod, once a month you should thoroughly clean each blade. This is a pretty straightforward process, as you can disconnect the upper part of the head – the part which pops open – and then you have easy access to each blade.

You need to rotate the holders as shown until you hear a click, then take out each blade and wash it thoroughly under running water. Don’t drop them in the sink if you have a big drain. The important thing during this process is that at the end all blades should end up in their original places. That is because during usage they are self-sharpening a certain way by losing tiny microscopic particles and if you mix them up, you will experience a poorer performance of the shaver and some irritation until the blades readjust. You might consider this a marketing scheme, but trust me, I have experienced this effect first-hand on the previous version of Prestige. Yes, the procedure might be a bit complicated but it is easily done in a few minutes and ensures the optimal operation of your shaver.


Are there better options? Well, it depends on your use case. If you shave every day or have a soft beard, you might enjoy the closeness of the Panasonic S900+ a bit more. Panasonic S900+ shaves extremely close and for me, it is indistinguishable from a safety or a cartridge razor. However, in my case, I have found that on the 3-day beard, the Panasonic needs a bit more passes to get the job done.

Regarding other alternatives, the Braun Series 9 Pro (not the Pro+, as it is in my opinion too expensive and the only real difference between it and the regular Series 9 Pro is the better trimmer on the Pro+) is nearly as efficient as the Prestige, on a beard of the similar length, although it required more passes to get the job done. However, it is more comfortable than the Prestige, which means you might end up getting a closer shave as Braun is gentler to the skin, so you might not mind doing an extra pass to get better closeness. If you’re new to electric shaving, it might be a safer choice as the shaving style of foil shavers is more similar to that of the cartridge razor.

Philips S9000 Prestige

All in all, the Philips S9000 Prestige is a very comfortable, powerful and close-shaving electric razor which offers all-in-all a great package and even if it is a bit on the pricier side, I find that in any case, you will not regret getting it, as there is very little where it doesn’t shine.

Especially if you don’t shave every day, have a rough beard or a lot of relatively long, flat-lying hairs, you will enjoy the Prestige.

I find it to be a good value for money as well, because, at the time of writing, I have found it to be the cheapest of the top-of-the-line shavers: between the Braun Series 9 Pro+, Panasonic S900+ and the Prestige, the Prestige was the cheapest.

For example on Amazon Germany it was even cheaper than the previous generation of the Braun Shavers, the Series 9 Pro (without the plus), so especially if you happen to catch it at a discount for for black Friday or something, I am sure you will be very satisfied.

About the author


IT-Consultant. I make Web-Based Systems and Apps work. Humanist. Liberal. Progressive. Occasional blogger. I write about IT, Books and Philosophy. Opinions posted anywhere on the web are my own.

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