The Panasonic Arc5 is the best alternative to either the Braun Series 7 or Series 9. It offers the closest shave of any electric shaver we have reviewed and performs great in either wet or dry conditions. The Braun shavers may be slightly more comfortable, but they can’t deliver a closer shave than the Arc5.
- Closest & Fastest Electric Shave
- Excellent Wet & Dry Shave Performance
- Sleek Design
- Large Shaving Head
- Braun Models Are More Comfortable
Despite not having the same name recognition as Braun or Philips Norelco, Panasonic has been delivering excellent shavers for years and the Arc5 is no exception. Unlike the sleek and modern designs that European competitors put out, Panasonic’s industrial design appears to be focused on maximizing shaving performance.
Building on the great performance of the Arc3 and Arc4, the Arc5 uses five cutting elements on the shaving head to deliver an exceptionally close and fast shave. The Arc5 has the largest shaving head of any foil shaver but still manages to feel balanced while holding the shaver in the hand.
Panasonic Arc5 Models
Pansonic released updated models of the Arc5 in 2019. However, many stores still sell both older models (ES-LV65-S and ES-LV95-S) and newer models (ES-LV67-K and ES-LV97-K). Our review covers all models of the Arc5 currently being sold.
As with most electric shavers, Panasonic’s Arc5 line includes a dizzying number of model options. Fortunately, the shaving performance is identical, despite the slight variations in appearance, accessories, and features.
The newest models (ES-LV67-K and ES-LV97-K) feature a very nice matte finish that is closer to a dark blue/gray than black. In addition, the travel lock and battery LED indicator have changed slightly but still provide the same functionality regardless of the model.
Though the new models differ from the old ones in appearance, they use the same shaving head and provide the same shaving performance. Since the performance is identical and the features are mostly the same, we recommend choosing the Arc5 model that offers the best value.
For most people, the Panasonic Arc5 ES-LV95-S is a good choice. This version of the Arc5 belongs to an older generation but is typically cheaper than the newer versions.
Performance and Features
The shaving performance of the Arc5 can be described in two words, fast and close. Compared to the Braun Series 9, the Arc5 shave comes out slightly closer. As a result of its large shaving head and faster speed, it can also cut through stubble even more quickly.
The Arc5 shaving head moves back to front, side to side, and the cutting elements move up and down. This additional flexibility made shaving around the neck and jawline quicker than models that could only flex from front to back. In addition, you can lock the shaving head in its position for areas where the head’s flexibility makes shaving difficult.
The Arc5’s five cutting elements also effectively cut the different ways hair grows on your face. Although the Arc3 and Arc4 both feature a similar shaving head design, the Arc5 features extra cutting elements that allow it to cut more hair with each pass.
Compared to other Panasonic shavers, the Arc5 allows for a closer shave in less time. For example, what may take two passes with the Arc3 to cut against the grain of multiple growth patterns can be done with one pass with the Arc5.
Wet or Dry Shaving
One of the most impressive features of the Arc5 is its performance while using shaving cream or in the shower. Most shavers can be used in wet or dry conditions, but a wet shave will usually result in a worse shave than a dry shave.
This was not the case with the Arc5, and we found shaving with shaving cream or a dry face to be equally effective. We recommend trying both to see which is more comfortable for you.
We recommend removing the shaving head and manually rinsing the shaver before using the cleaning station when using shaving cream or gel. When manually cleaning your shaver, make sure you rinse the residue from the shaver with soap and water before allowing it to dry.
Panasonic’s Arc5 delivers one of the best shaves of any electric shaver. The Arc5 we pick is from the older generation since it’s typically cheaper than the newer models. However, shaving performance is identical between generations, so choose the model that offers the best value. We recommend a model with a cleaning station.
If there is one area where the Panasonic Arc5 falls short compared to the Braun Series 9 or Series 7, it is shaving comfort. Coming from a Braun Series 9, we found it somewhat challenging to get used to the Arc5’s larger shaving head and faster speed. The Arc5 may feel somewhat rougher against the face, but the closer cut likely causes that compared to Braun shavers.
When shaving longer beards, the Arc5 proved to be much less comfortable than the Braun shavers, and we would recommend the Series 9 if you shave every 2-3 days. Our Arc5 had difficulty cutting all of the hair in one pass, and we felt some tugging when we tried it against a 3-day beard.
The main difference between the newer Arc5 models and previous models is the feature set of the shavers. Electronic travel locks are used on the latest Arc5 models instead of the manual travel locks found on the ES-LV65-S and ES-LV95-S. Both methods effectively prevent the shaver from being turned on by accident while traveling.
The older models (ES-LV65-S & ES-LV95-S) of the Arc5 allow you to choose between an automatic shaving speed which adjusts the speed based on the thickness of your beard, or a full-speed mode.
The newest models get rid of the manual mode in favor of an upgraded automatic speed-sensing mode, which adjusts the speed quicker than in previous models. Rather than relying on the beard sensing mode, we prefer the option of the older models to use a manual or automatic mode.
A battery indicator on both new and older models indicates how much battery is left. The older models also included a timer to show how long the shaver had been running, but the new models ditch it in favor of a simplified display.
Like many Braun shavers, a pop-up trimmer is built into the shaver. However, the Arc5 trimmer is better than most built-in trimmers, and it is easier to get a clean finish on your sideburns.
All Arc5 models offer a 45-minute battery life that requires a 60-minute charge to recharge fully. With the latest update, Panasonic did not increase the battery life, which is surprising since the Series 9 offers about 60 minutes of battery life. There is also a 3-minute quick charge that charges the battery long enough to use one shave.
Cleaning, Charging, and other accessories
We feel more comfortable recommending an Arc5 model without the cleaning station compared to Braun’s shavers for two reasons.
1. The Panasonic Arc5’s shaving head allows you to separate the cutting elements and the foils. This design makes manually cleaning the shaver easier than the Braun shaving heads, which are one unit.
2. It doesn’t feel like the cleaning station on the Arc5 is as well built as the Braun cleaning stations. While we found the cleaning results to be comparable, there have been some complaints about the longevity of the cleaning station.
If the price difference is minimal, we would still recommend a model with the cleaning station. Compare the available models and their prices before making your decision. The ES-LV95-S & ES-LV97-K include the cleaning station, while the ES-LV65-S & ES-LV67-K do not.
NO CLEANING STATION
Unlike the cleaning cartridges used in Braun and Philips cleaning stations, the Panasonic models are refilled by mixing a detergent package with water. The detergent packs are readily available and don’t require as much space to store compared to cartridges.
The Arc5 cleaning station includes 3 different modes that you can select with a button on the station.
- Charge Mode – Station will only charge and not clean or dry the shaver.
- Clean/Dry/Charge – Station will run a 10-minute cleaning cycle followed by an 80-minute dry cycle and up to 60-minute charging cycle.
- Dry/Charge – Station will dry the shaver for 180 minutes followed by a 60-minute charging cycle. This mode can be useful if you manually cleaned the shaver outside of the cleaning station.
The Arc5 includes a faux leather travel case and a plastic shaving head protector. We were surprised Panasonic decided not to include a hard travel case like the ones included in the Braun Series 7 or Series 9 but it still protects the shaver adequately.
Braun Series 9
The closest competitor in price and shaving performance is the Braun Series 9. The Series 9 feels slightly more refined than the Arc5 and the included hard travel case is better for regular use. The shave the Series 9 provides is excellent but not quite as close as the Arc5.
Related: Braun Series 9 Review
Braun Series 7
The Braun Series 7 is our favorite shaver for the excellent shave it provides, the build quality, and the reasonable price it is usually available for. The Series 7 does not handle shaving with shaving cream nearly as well as the Arc5 and the shave is not as close.
Related: Braun Series 7 Review
Panasonic Arc3 or Arc4
The other models of the Panasonic shaving family feature a similar design to the Arc5 at a lower price point. The Panasonic Arc3 and Panasonic Arc4 use three or four shaving blades instead of the five blades that the Arc5 features. Both models are able to provide a close shave but the Arc5 shines for shaving quickness or shaving with shaving cream.
The Panasonic Arc5 is perfect if you are looking for the fastest and closest shave. The five cutting elements are effective at cutting hairs falling in multiple directions and limit the number of passes you have to make over the same area.
Unfortunately, the excellent shaving performance comes with some tradeoffs. The shave takes some time to adjust to and is not as comfortable as the Braun Series 9 or Series 7. The large shaving head can be difficult to use around the mustache and sideburn areas and has a tendency for the foils to get warm during prolonged use.
So who is the Arc5 the right choice for? Do you struggle with 5 o’clock shadow when using electric shavers? Are you someone who is not satisfied if there is any stubble remaining?
If you answered yes to either of those questions choose the Arc5, there is no other electric shaver on the market that will shave any closer.