Braun Series 3 vs 5: Battle of the Budget Shavers

by Garrick Dee | Last Updated:
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Braun Series 3 vs 5

One of the more popular entry-level electric shavers from Braun is the Series 3.

Men like this razor because it has excellent reliability, cut facial hair well, and most importantly, it’s inexpensive.

However, it does have some limitations that the newer Series 5 addresses.

So the question is, are the upgrades found in the Series 5 worth the premium in cost?

Or does the Series 3 shave well enough, and have enough features to offset the not-so-good points.

We’ll answer those questions in this review of the Braun Series 3 vs. Series 5 and hopefully help you out in making a sound choice.

Braun Series 3
Shaving Elements: 3
Shave Time: 30 – 45 mins. *
Battery Type: Ni-Cad
Quick Charge: Yes
Wet/Dry: Yes **
Cleaning/Charge Base: Yes ***

Braun Series 5
Shaving Elements: 3
Shave Time: 50 mins.
Battery Type: Li-ion
Quick Charge: Yes
Wet/Dry: Yes **
Cleaning/Charge Base: Yes ***

* The entry-level Series 3 310S will run for only 30 mins while the newer 3010s will last up to 45 mins.

** There are select variants for both the Series 3 and 5 that have wet/dry functionality. Please scroll down below for more details on this.

*** Some models of the S3 and S5 shavers come with a clean and charge base. If you want this feature make sure to go with the option with the “CC” beside the model number.

Introduction to the Braun Series 3 and 5

The Series 3 is one of Braun’s most popular shavers because of its low price-point and decent performance.

It doesn’t have the extra features seen in higher-end Braun shavers like the Series 5 and Series 7, but if you want a practical option that will shave and nothing else, this is a great choice.

Braun Series 3 3010s ProSkin [latest]

The ProSkin is the latest Series 3 (or S3) variant that’s now waterproof up to 5 meters. You can use this inside the shower or tub using your favorite shaving cream or gel.

Here are some options for the Braun Series 3 shavers:

  • 3010s ProSkin – waterproof, wet/dry shaving, no trimmer
  • 3010bt – waterproof, wet/dry shaving, 5 combs + precision trimmer head, no popup trimmer
  • 3040s – waterproof, wet/dry shaving, popup trimmer
  • 3050cc – waterproof, wet/dry shaving, popup trimmer, clean & charge station

All these variants come with the same motor, battery, and shaving head, so expect similar outcomes across the range. The difference would primarily be the accessories that go with it.

The biggest strength of the S3 is its practicality. It’s one of the cheapest alternatives available. Men who shave every day or don’t have thick facial hair will benefit most from this.

One big downside to the S3 is its inability to tackle long flay-laying hair. It has a smaller motor that’ll take longer to address denser beard growth.

The Series 5 (or S5) solves this issue with the upgraded middle trimmer and more powerful motor.

Other improvements include the battery and the swiveling head that moves back and forth.

Braun Series 5 5090cc

The current S5 shavers are the third version that has come out to the market.

It’s the mid-priced option between the entry-level Series 3 and the higher-end Series 7 razor.

Here’s an overview of the different S5 variations:

  • 5090cc/5190cc – dry only/wet & dry, includes clean & charge station
  • 5070cc/5050cc – dry only, clean & charge station
  • 5030s – dry only, no cleaning station
  • 5040s – wet & dry, no cleaning station

Newer generation S5 shavers (or Series 5) use a four-digit 50** or 51** model number code while the older generation has a three-digit code (e.g., 550cc).

S5 shavers are comfortable to use and practically have the same shaving head as the S7. It lacks micro-pulsation technology, but it will still deliver similar results than the more expensive S7.

Performance comparison between the Braun Series 3 vs. 5

The most important feature of an electric shaver is how well it cuts facial hair, so we’ll kick it off in this section.

Comparing shaving performance is multi-faceted, and it includes the following:

  1. Closeness
  2. Comfort
  3. How it shaves long strands of hair
  4. Speed

1. Closeness

A quick look at the shaving head reveals that both the Series 3 and 5 razors have similar style heads.

But upon closer inspection, there are nuances between the two.

While both shavers use the same twin foil, one trimmer system, the S5’s middle trimmer is better at cutting longer strands of hair.

You’ll notice when using the Series 3 that it does an excellent job at cutting short hair and then struggles with the lengthier ones.

It leaves you with a relatively smooth result but with strands of long hair hanging around.

The S5 does not have this issue as the more powerful motor and better-designed cutting elements will shave closer.

If you have sensitive skin, the S5 is the obvious choice because it does the job faster, thus irritating less.

2. Comfort

On its own right, the Braun Series 3 shaver is pretty comfortable to use. That is if you’re shaving day-old stubble.

Using this beyond a two-day growth will take longer and require more strokes, thus affecting comfort.

The middle trimmer also doesn’t do as good a job at tackling long hair follicles.

Trimming flat-lying hair is no longer an issue with the Series 5 thanks to the better-designed trimmer and more powerful motor.

Comparing the cassettes of the Series 3 and 5

Mowing down a multi-day growth with the S5 won’t be an issue as it can handle longer strands of hair better.

The S5 uses a similar shaving head as the S7. In fact, the 70s cassette for the Series 7 will fit on the Series 5.

Using both of these for dry shaving is quite good, but using a good shaving cream will improve performance. Just in case you experience any discomfort, try using an electric pre-shave.

3. How it cuts longer strands of hair

An essential guide for choosing an electric shaver is how it deals with long hair.

One issue with the S3 having the smaller motor is its inability to consistently cut long strands of facial hair. It just lacks the oomph for this task. This is an issue for all-electric shavers at this price range.

The Series 5 can better handle this thanks to the larger motor and better-designed middle trimmer that captures flat laying hair better.

However, you may need to go against the grain to accomplish it, which can cause some irritation.

4. Speed

Two things that Braun improved upon in the Series 5 that enables it to shave faster.

First is middle ActiveLift trimmer that lifts flat hairs, pulls it in one direction then cuts it. Put the two shavers together, you can clearly see that the S5 has larger combs than the S3.

Actually, the S5 is one of the best at its price range to tackle such.

Bottom line

Series 3 is an excellent option at its price range. Its utilitarian design is simple and yet robust and will do a pretty decent job shaving, but it does have its limitations. One of those limitations is its inability to cut flat hair. Series 5 addresses this issue with the newer ActiveLift system that has a bigger comb and a stronger motor.

It will shave longer beard growth better than the Series 3 would. For men who shave daily, the Series 3 will suffice otherwise opt for the Series 5.

Build quality, ergonomics, and design

Comparing the design and build quality of the Series 3 (on the left) and the Series 5 (on the right).

For a budget razor, the Braun Series 3 feels solid despite being lightweight. The handle slightly tapers down from the top and then straightens out.

Its thickness is substantial, and I like how Braun put a lot of textured rubber on the sides that offer outstanding grip.

I doubt that this razor will slip from your hands even inside a damp environment.

Depending on the variant, the color options can be either bland or wow.

Personally, I like the 3010s combination of teal and black. Even if the handle is made from plastic, it feels rugged. Not bad for an electric shaver at this price range.

The Braun Series 5 is longer and heavier than the Series 3 with a more tapering body that scores high marks in ergonomics.

This actually looks like a more aesthetically pleasing product with a glossy/matte blend of silver, black, and blue (or red) accents gives it a high-end look.

The design is so good that Braun decided to go back with the same design with their Series 9 shavers.

Like the S3, the S5 is also has a generous amount of rubber around the handle that will not easily slip.

The build qualities of these electric razors are good, and it is what Braun is known for.

However, the entry-level Series 3 is manufactured in China, while the Series 5, like the Series 7 and 9, is made in Germany.

The Series 5 is a beefy razor with considerable girt. Fit and finish are also excellent, with no unsightly gaps with everything snapping in place snugly.

It’s got a more glossy finish that smudges and scratched easily, so extra care is a must during usage.

The Series 3 is no slouch in this regard as well. It’s got ample thickness, and that fits snugly on your hand.

Shaving head comparison

The shaving heads of the S3 and S5 have the same design, but the S5 has the ActiveLift system that does a better job at long, flat-lying hair.

Of the two options, the Braun Series 3 is the more basic option.

It has a 3-blade shaving system that consists of two foils that cut shorter hair plus a middle trimmer that captures and shaves longer flat-laying hair.

Braun calls this the SensoFoil technology. It has openings that look like a comb that helps it supposedly capture longer hair strands. Underneath it, some grooves help feel hair to the blades.

The shaving head of the S3 is fixed and does not pivot, unlike the S5 that does. But the individual cutting elements can move individually, thus the term Triple Action FreeFloat System.

Like the S3, the S5’s head utilizes two foils that flank one middle trimmer. While both designs look similar at first glance, the S5 has more nuances to it.

The SensoFoil technology is now supplanted by what Braun calls the ActiveLift Trimmer, which does a superior job at seizing, flat-lying hair that grows in different directions.

These three shaving elements pivot independently to maximize blade contact with the skin.

Aside from this, the S5’s whole shaving head pivots back and forth to help improve contact between skin and blades.

The head also locks in place if more precision is needed using a locking tool in front of the razor.

You can lock the whole head assembly in place at five different points by pushing the head into a different position.

The design is sturdy enough that it will not damage the internal locking mechanism.

Another neat feature is how the foil retracts if you lock the head in any of the two extreme positions.

This will help significantly at shaving trouble zones like the chin or mustache area.

Braun did an excellent job with the locking apparatus in the Series 5. It is sturdy and does not break, unlike the more fragile latch in the Series 7.

Long hair trimmer

Not all S3 options have trimmers. Only the second generation Series 3 ProSkin series such as 3010s and the 3050cc comes with the slide-out trimmer at the back.

The first generation S3 shavers like the 310s don’t have this feature but costs less than the newer models.

All S5 models come with a similarly designed trimmer that slides up from the back.

When it comes to the trimmer position on the S3 sits a little higher than the trimmer on S5 when fully extended.

This helps with visibility when it comes to trimming the sideburn area. While the positioning was right, it does lack power, frequently leaving strands of hair behind.

The S5 also utilizes the same slide-out trimmer as the S3, but the position is a little bit lower – almost at the same level as the shaving head.

Unfortunately, the performance of both variants is a bit underwhelming as it lacks power.

Don’t rely on this as a standalone trimmer. You’ll be better off purchasing a separate one for your trimming needs.

Other Braun comparison articles

If you want to learn more about other Braun electric shavers, please check our article on the best Braun shavers. Also, please have a look at the other comparison articles comparing the different series shavers.

Interface and display

Of the two, the Series 3 has a simpler interface but offers excellent contrast as it uses the black and neon green combo.

Comparing the interface of the S3 3010s (left) and 310s (right).

The first generation S3 shaver uses a simple battery indicator, while the second generation S3, has a better looking three-bar gauge that tells you the level of the battery.

With the S5, Braun provides more information on its LED display.

Not only will it tell you the status of the battery, but it also has a hygiene status gauge that lights up when the shaver needs a deep cleaning.

The black and red combo provides excellent controls and is easily readable even in low light environments.

Travel lock

Only the Braun Series 5 has a travel lock feature of the two options. The Series 3 does not have this feature, but since it takes so much force to turn this razor on, it may not matter. Also, the S3’s cap extends all the way to the switch; thus, it doubles as a travel lock.

Cleaning and maintenance

For both series shavers, some options offer the automatic cleaning station. Foil shavers, in general, are easier to clean, but there are several advantages of purchasing a Braun with such.

Here are some reasons:

  1. Excellent design and practicality: Braun cleaning stations are well-built and are probably the best designed in the industry.
  2. Cleans & sanitizes: The alcohol-based solution not only cleans but also sanitizes the blades reducing the risk of infection.
  3. Not expensive: Braun refills aren’t costly, and you can increase the interval time with these tweaks.
  4. Third part refills available: You can purchase third-party refills at a fraction of the cost of the OEM version.
  5. Compatibility: Braun CCR’s are compatible across all their electric shavers.
  6. Lubricates foils and blades: This will help keep the razor functioning at its peak.

Series 3 Clean & Charge Station

Specific S3 models have the clean & charge station included, such as the 3050cc, 3070cc, and the 3090cc. The cleaning station that comes with it is a bare version of the S7.

It does not have the LED level indicators and cleaning modes. This version does not have the option to charge without cleaning.

Put this beside the S5 CC station, it does have a smaller footprint. It does have a protruding arm on top that holds the razor in place. This isn’t a big issue unless you plan on bringing this on a business trip.

Usage is simple as there’s only a single button. Once you place the razor upside down on the base and press the button, the process starts. The cleaning cycle is short – just two minutes. It’s the drying part that takes up the most time – up to 4 hours because it does not have an active drying system.

Series 5 Clean & Charge Station

Similar to the Series 3, the S5 clean & charge station only has a single button.

It’s bulkier but does not have the protruding arm on top.

Expect the same results when it comes to the cleaning and drying cycles – around 3 to 4 hours.

Both the CC stations of the Series 3 and 5 shavers don’t have the active drying system that the Series 7 and 9 has.

It really isn’t a big deal because you probably won’t be using the razor until the next day at the earliest.

One important note

Regardless of whether you’re using the Series 3, 5, 7, or 9, using a Braun electric shaver with shaving cream will require manual cleaning first before using the cleaning station.

This is a necessary step to remove residue from the shaving cream or gel.

There’s a considerable risk of the station clogging up and failing prematurely if you fail to manual clean first. Keep this in mind before making a purchase decision, but for dry shaving, it won’t be an issue.

Price and maintenance costs

One crucial dynamic when selecting any electric razor is the purchase and maintenance costs.

We’ll compare how the Braun Series 3 and 5 differ in this aspect.

The S3 is the less expensive option of the two when it comes to purchasing cost across the product range.

As far as maintenance costs, there are two things to consider – the price of the replacement heads (or cassettes) and the clean & charge refills (if you decide on purchasing the options with it).

Since the Series 3 and 5 shavers use the same refills, we’ll only be focusing on the cost of cassettes.

Braun Series 3 Cassette

Braun Series 5 Cassette

While the S3 cassettes are cheaper, the difference isn’t much. It’s less than ten dollars depending on the option you choose.

The S5 is actually better value if you consider the overall maintenance costs because it can handle longer growth better without spending significantly more on cassettes.

Braun Series 3 vs. 5: Which one should you choose?

The choice between the Series 3 and 5 can be a head-scratching decision.

On the one hand, the S3 is cheaper at least with the initial purchase cost, but the S5 offers better value over the long term since the cassettes are only marginally more expensive.

While both the Series 3 and 5 will shave decently, the Series 5 is more capable of cutting long strands of hair better than the Series 3 because of the better designed middle trimmer.

Understand that there will be tradeoffs when picking between these two.

The S3 fits the man that has thinner beard growth or someone who shaves daily. And the Series 5 is an excellent option for the man who doesn’t mind being a little gruff and only shaves twice or thrice a week.

Both these shavers have cleaning stations, but the S3 takes up more real estate with the large handle on top.

However, the S3 and S5 don’t have special chips that allow for better compatibility with the cleaning stations. So make sure to decide beforehand whether you’re purchasing a solo variant (“s”) or something with the automatic charging station (“cc”).

To summarize, here are a few things you must consider before choosing between these two shavers.

Reasons why you should choose the Series 3:

  • Want something cheap that will provide a decent shave.
  • Don’t mind shaving every day or have work that requires such.
  • Want something that will shave comfortably.
  • Looking for an electric razor suitable for a beginner.
  • Closeness isn’t really a high priority.

Reasons why you should choose the Series 5:

  • Need something to shave on sensitive skin.
  • Want something a bit more refined and not mind spending the extra $$$ for it.
  • Have a lot of flat-lying hairs growing in a different direction.
  • Want a premium-quality electric razor without paying the premium price.