When it comes to shaving close, it’s hard to beat having more blades.
But is too much a bad thing?
Arc 5 from Panasonic is the only electric razor that has five individual cutting elements.
Is it better than the Braun Series 9 that only has four?
We’ll be looking at the Panasonic Arc 5 vs. the Braun Series 9 – two of the biggest and closest cutting electric shavers available.
The question is which of these two monster razors is best for you?
Let’s look at both these products in detail, and go through the most important features to consider before choosing one.
A glance at the features of the Panasonic Arc 5 and Braun Series 9
** It will depend on the model
*** Initially, the first-generation Series 9 shavers are only compatible for dry shaving
Introduction to the Panasonic Arc 5 vs. Braun Series 9
Both these electric shavers are their respective brand’s flagship option.
There’s no question that these razors will shave close, but is it comfortable on the skin?
Will it irritate, especially on the more sensitive areas such as the neck?
Panasonic Arc 5
The Panasonic Arc 5 is one of the best performing electric shavers when it comes to closeness thanks to the five cutting elements that also is as comfortable to use.
The 5-blade system that Panasonic is gigantic and even dwarfs the 4-blade system found in Series 9.
It is the first of its kind and unlike the Series 9 that has only four blades but claims to have five, the Arc 5 it truly has five cutting elements.
How Panasonic put five blades in there is an engineering feat in itself. The head is massive, but the idea is to reduce the amount of time spend on shaving regardless of facial hair thickness.
Panasonic introduced the Arc 5 way back in 2009 and currently in its third generation.
We’ll look at each generation close and the following upgrades to give you a feel of the features and what to expect.
First-generation Arc 5 
- ES-LV61-A (no cleaning station)
- ES-LV81-K (with cleaning station)
The first generation Arc 5 shavers had bulkier cleaning stations that used the older detergent sachets that need to be mixed with water manually.
I wouldn’t recommend the first generation Arc 5 shavers even if you can find one because of the extra step of mixing cleaning solution and water. The cleaning station is large and takes too much space. Finally, it’s more expensive because Panasonic no longer sells these, only third party merchants.
Second-generation Arc 5 
Options for the second-generation Arc 5 include:
- ES-LV65-S (no cleaning station)
- ES-LV95-S (with the cleaning station)
The second generation Arc 5 shavers have a more compact cleaning station and reformulated detergent sachets that don’t need to be mixed with water.
Panasonic also upgraded the design with a more streamlined design and better screen.
Third-generation Arc 5 
The latest generation Arc 5 shavers were released by Panasonic on September 2015.
There are several iterations of this version starting from the “A” series:
- ES-LV9A-S (international version, automatic cleaning station)
- ES-LV6A-S (international version, no cleaning station)
The model numbers are slightly different for the American market:
- ES-LV9-N (US version, automatic cleaning station)
- ES-LV6-N (US version, no cleaning station)
These options are identical to their international counterparts.
Further improvements with the “B” series shavers such as the ES-LV9BS include a more detailed screen and an increase in tilt angle (from 17 to 20 degrees).
One year after the introduction of the third-generation Arc 5 shavers, Panasonic introduced the “C” and “D” revisions the have more advanced flex head feature, new smart lock function, more detailed LED screen, new travel cases, and redesigned outer foils.
On paper, these upgrades look a lot, but there isn’t much of a difference between the second and third generation Arc 5 razors when it comes to shaving quality.
I’d save my money and stick with the cheapest version if you don’t mind not having the improvements.
Braun Series 9
Currently, the Series 9 is Braun’s latest and their flagship electric shaver.
One of the most significant upgrades that this has over the Series 7 is the massive shaving head that has one additional cutting element.
Braun also reverted back to the Series 5 more tapered style handle and better ergonomically.
Currently, there are two generations of Series 9 shavers.
Original Braun Series 9
The early versions of the Series 9 like the 9090cc can’t be used for wet shaving, but subsequent releases have this compatibility.
Here’s a summary of the first-generation Series 9 Braun shavers:
- 9090cc (dry shave only, with clean & charge station)
- 9093s (wet/dry, no clean & charge station)
- 9095cc (wet/dry, with clean & charge station)
All these options provide the same results, so choosing between them will boil down to personal preference: the need for wet shaving compatibility and the convenience of a clean and charge station.
Updated Series 9 Shavers
The updates in these newer Series 9 shavers are mostly cosmetic. All options are usable with or without shaving cream and have the titanium coated Hyper Lift & Cut trimmer.
Newer Series 9 shavers have a slightly different number format. All start with “92xx” instead of the “90xx” in the first generation.
To summarize here’s the options available for the latest Series 9 razors:
- 9295cc (wet/dry, with clean & charge station)
- 9290cc (wet/dry, with clean & charge station)
- 9293s (wet/dry, no clean & charge station)
The newer titanium coated trimmer does not offer any significant improvements when it comes to performance.
But it does enhance longevity because there have been reviews that suggest the non-titanium coated trimmer is prone to failure after just a few months of use.
All these variants are still available, and the price with vary greatly, so please carefully research which option will suit your needs best.
Let’s now move on to more important stuff to compare.
Panasonic Arc 5 vs. Braun Series 9 Shaving Performance
How these products shave is, no doubt, the most crucial dynamic when choosing between the two.
Shaving performance isn’t a matter of how close it shavers, there’s more to it.
For this section, we’ll look at a broader spectrum, such as:
- Does it shave close?
- How comfortable it is to use?
- How the cutting elements deal with long flat-lying hair
- Can it shave wet?
1. Does it shave close?
The most essential factor to consider is how close these razors cut hair.
Panasonic with their latest shaver, the Arc 5 is king of the hill when it comes to closeness.
Foil shavers, in general, do a better job than a rotary shaver, but the Arc 5 takes it to another level.
It outperforms even the Braun Series 9 that is an excellent razor in its own right.
Let’s look closely at why the Panasonic does better than Braun.
The first and most obvious reason would be the number of cutting elements. The Arc 5 has five individual cutting elements (one more than Braun) with particularly sharp blades angled at 30 degrees that will cut proficiently.
Looking closely at the cutting elements, the foils aren’t entirely straight. These are slightly curved upward hence the term “Arc” in all Panasonic electric shavers. This design was done to enhance skin contact.
Powering this beast is a robust 14,000 cpm motor that, in my opinion, is the fastest motor available in any electric shaver available. In fact, Panasonic also uses this motor in their entry-level Arc 3 series.
Although the newer Arc 5 ES-LV9N-S offers more convenience features, this is crazy-expensive.
The second-generation ES-LV65-S offers fantastic value for money and one of the best foil shavers available when it comes to shaving close.
The Series 9 is no slouch with its four shaving elements.
Braun actually claims that this product has five cutting elements, but the supposedly fifth beetle is actually a skin guard that doesn’t do any cutting. So that claim is actually false.
Having fewer blades means this razor won’t shave as close as the Panasonic Arc 5, but all is not lost in this war.
2. How comfortable it is to use?
The Arc 5 may have won the battle of closeness, but shaving is more than that. Another vital yardstick to look at is how comfortable it was using it.
Braun is the industry benchmark for comfort with their popular Series 7 shavers, and they have taken it a notch higher with the Series 9.
The redesigned shaving head, more powerful motor and skin guard make the Series 9 one of the most comfortable electric razors to use.
If you have sensitive skin, it is the better option of the two.
Using the Series 9 is effortless and provides outstanding comfort. It uses a less powerful motor than Arc 5, which means the blades don’t heat up.
You’d really have to press hard to make the Series 9 uncomfortable to use.
The Arc 5 doesn’t offer this much margin as it heats up rapidly.
Choosing between these razors will boil down to closeness versus comfort. If your preference would be getting a really close shave or have extremely thick facial hair, then the Arc 5 would be a good option.
Otherwise, the Series 9 would be an outstanding option for men who value comfort over speed and closeness.
The heat generated by the powerful motor and five cutting elements will irritate sensitive skin.
Panasonic addresses this in their third generation Arc 5 razors by adding two comfort rollers that add some layer of protection.
Despite this upgrade, the Series 9 is still the better option when it comes to comfort.
3. How it does with long flat-lying hair?
One issue with using an entry-level foil shaver would be its inability to cut flay-lying hair.
This is where more advanced (though more expensive) electric shavers will do better at.
That’s why men who would opt for a cheaper electric razor will need to shave daily.
The Arc 5 utilizes a single trimmer they call the Quick Comb Blade that captures longer strands of hair and cuts them into more manageable lengths.
One the front and back of the trimmer are two foil blades that, in theory, will cut what remains of the flat-lying hair.
Braun uses a different system that consists of two middle trimmers they call the Hyper Lift & Cut and the Direct & Cut system.
This combo seems to work better than the Arc 5’s design at capturing long flat-lying hair that grows in different directions.
To summarize, the Braun Series 9 works better for men who plan on shaving every 2 to 3 days. Arc 5 can also cut long, flat-lying hair, but it will require more strokes that can cause irritation.
For shorter strands of hair, there’s no question that the Panasonic Arc 5 will do better but at the expense of comfort.
4. Can it shave wet?
While dry shaving is most cases comfortable with a good quality electric shaver, there are instances where wet shaving can be beneficial. Using shaving cream adds an extra layer of lubrication that will help men who have sensitive skin.
The first generation Braun Series 9 razors were only meant to be used as dry shavers. But the latter variants that came out also have are usable with and without shaving cream.
These models include the 9093cc, 9095cc, 9290cc, 9295cc, and 9293cc.
All Panasonic Arc 5 razors have wet/dry shaving compatibility so regardless of the variant, this feature is built-in.
However, there’s one crucial difference between these two models that are worth noting.
The Panasonic Arc 5’s cleaning station does not have any restrictions.
You can use it with the shaving head covered with shaving cream or not.
Braun’s clean & charge stations are more finicky.
It requires you to rinse off any excess shaving cream or gel before using it because doing so will clog the device.
For me, this handicap is quite surprising because it defeats the purpose of having a cleaning station.
The Series 9 is a better option for men who would prefer to dry shave while Arc 5 is an excellent option for men whose preference is to wet shaving.
Build Quality and Ergonomics Comparison
For several years, Braun has been the benchmark when it comes to the straightforward, utilitarian electric shavers that look and feels solidly built.
Consumers often praise their products for its high-quality workmanship.
So how does the Panasonic stack up against the industry-leading Braun?
It’s pretty close, to be honest.
Newer Arc 5 razors such as the ES-LV9N and ES-LV9Q have a metal handle which is a rarity these days. The earlier iterations only use a plastic handle.
The matte, metallic finish looks and feels like a high-quality product. In fact, it is a high-end shaver as the price suggests.
Combine that with the enormous head with the five separate cutting elements and two comfort rollers, this machine is a beast.
The matte finish of the Arc 5 will resist fingerprints, and the metal construction will hold up longer at least aesthetically speaking than the Series 9.
If you contrast this electric razor with the plastic finish of the Braun Series 9 side-by-side, you can feel and see the difference.
When it comes to quality, Panasonic has stepped up their game, and I feel it is the new industry standard.
Even the older Arc 5 shavers that have a plastic handle feels sturdier than, the newer Series 9.
When it comes to ergonomics, both products score high with a slight edge toward the Braun because it is lighter with the smaller shaving head.
Panasonic’s handle is actually a bit slimmer and tapers more aggressively with a textured backside that helps give you a good grip.
Braun’s handle is equally ergonomic with the lots of rubber all around to ensure it won’t slip.
The shaving head of the Arc 5 is massive with the five blades plus two rollers, but the fact that it can swivel and lock in place helps it reach difficult areas.
Braun also has the same swivel and lock feature but with a smaller footprint.
Regardless, these shavers will not do as well as more compact options for delicate work such as the sideburn or mustache.
These two shavers have trimmers that work decent for tasks such as trimming the sideburn, but it will not replace a beard trimmer.
The design is different from the Braun’s trimmer sliding up and the Panasonic’s popping up to the side.
One similarity is the position of it just behind the shaving head that obstructs visibility.
This is more noticeable on the Arc 5 because of the large head.
You can remove the head to improve visibility, but using it as a standalone trimmer can be challenging because of its position.
The trimmer of the Arc 5 seems to be sharper and thus perform better than the Series 9 trimmer.
Cleaning Station Comparison
Another essential factor to consider is the functionality of the cleaning stations if you opt to purchase a shaver with such.
Braun is universally known to manufacture one best-built cleaning stations.
The alcohol solution that they use is outstanding at cleaning, disinfecting, and lubricating the blades.
It’s quite an efficient system that works fast.
That would also be case comparing the first generation Arc 5 cleaning station to the Series 9.
However, Panasonic upgraded the cleaning station in subsequent releases that improved usability.
The improvements are quite significant:
- More compact: The newer Arc 5 cleaning stations have a smaller footprint than the earlier generation.
- New formulation: There’s no need to mix the cleaning detergent with water.
- Cheaper cleaning solution: The sachet refills of the Arc 5 are less expensive than the refills of the Series 9.
- Dry only option: The Panasonic Arc 5 cleaning station provides the option just to dry the shaver as opposed to the Series 9 station that has to go through the whole cleaning cycle.
- A better option for wet shaving: The most significant advantage is the capability of the Arc 5 station to clean the head even if there’s shaving cream or gel residue. Braun does not allow this because it will clog.
If your mind is set on the Panasonic, make sure to get at least the second generation ones. These upgraded devices were easier to use and less bulky. It also didn’t have the leaking issue that some consumers had.
You can save money by getting the model without the cleaning station as it is easy to clean manually.
Let’s now shift to Braun, and I would strongly recommend purchasing one with the clean and charge station.
Braun shavers are harder to clean manually because the blade and foil system that they use is an integrated design, meaning its one piece.
Hair and gunk tend to get trapped and harder to dislodge with just running water or a brush.
The Braun cleaning station does an outstanding job keeping the foils and blades free from hair and dead skin residue.
Remember that if you’re shaving with shaving cream or gel, residue needs to be rinsed before placing it on the cleaning station.
There’s no need to use the clean and charge station every time you shave.
Once a week is sufficient to keep the blades clean and just manually rinse the razor the rest of the time.
When not in use, remove the cartridge and put the cap back on so the alcohol solution does not evaporate.
Another advantage that the Braun system has is the availability of aftermarket cleaning cartridges.
Panasonic shavers use a more straightforward design that provides better access to the foils and blades for a thorough clean, unlike the Braun head that’s one piece.
The Arc 5 has a special cleaning mode Panasonic calls “Sonic Mode” that vibrates really fast to extricate any dirt and hair trapped.
So to wrap up this section:
- For me who prefer the Braun, it’s better to purchase the Braun Series 9 with the cleaning station because the design of the cassette makes it difficult to clean manually.
- Arc 5 is a better option without the cleaning station because it’s easier to clean manually.
- Men who do a lot of wet shaving should opt for the Panasonic over the Braun because the former can be used even with the head covered with shaving cream.
Which Shaver Provides Better Value for Money?
Another noteworthy factor to consider is the cost, not only the purchase price but also the running costs over the long haul.
We’ll look closely at how the Panasonic Arc 5 vs. the Braun Series 9 in these three categories:
- Initial purchase cost
- Price of replacement blades
- Cleaning cartridges or detergent
Product and parts availability will vary depending on where you buy these products.
Remember only to buy from authorized distributors to prevent issues with warranty and returns.
Newer models are also more expensive, but the good news is the older versions getting cheaper.
If the changes are minor, I’d stick to the older version and save some money.
Here’s an overview of what to expect in terms of cost of ownership.
Braun Series 9
As I’ve said at the earlier part of this article, the Braun Series 9 has two versions: the 90xx and the 92xx series.
Strangely enough, the cassette of the 92xx with the titanium coated middle trimmer is cheaper than the 90xx cassette at least in Amazon.
Fortunately, Braun electric shavers are backward compatible so the newer 92s replacement head.
The price difference plus the durability of the titanium coated trimmer makes it a no-brainer to go with the 92s cassette.
Cartridge refills are also abundant in large online stores like Amazon.
The average cost of refills will go between $3 to $5 per depending on how many you buy.
Obviously, it’s cheaper to buy a six-pack rather than a four-pack refill.
Inside these refills is a liquid solution that consists of alcohol, so it evaporates quickly.
Make sure to put the cover back on and store it somewhere away from sunlight when not in use.
Another alternative to save more money and avoid contributing to our world’s growing plastic waste is using this concentrated cleaning solution by Essential Values.
The one-ounce concentrate is equivalent with three cartridge refills when mixed with 15 ounces of 70% (or higher) Isopropyl Alcohol.
It’s a much cheaper alternative to repeatedly buying refills.
Panasonic Arc 5
There are three generations of Panasonic Arc 5 shavers available.
If you ask me, the most bang-for-the-buck option is the second generation ES-LV65-S that costs much less than the 92xx shavers from Braun.
It comes with or without the cleaning station. For men on a tighter budget, a shaver-only option is an excellent option since it’s easier to manually clean the Arc 5.
The third generation Arc 5 razors are also available, but these are much more expensive at the $300++ range depending on the vendor.
Just in case you’re going with the option with the cleaning station make sure to get at least the second generation version that’s more compact and easier to use.
Unlike the Braun shavers that use alcohol, Panasonic’s cleaning solution is detergent-based, so there are no evaporation issues to worry about.
Another difference between would be Panasonic using detergent sachets instead of cartridge refills.
These by default are much, much cheaper over the long haul. If you’re looking to save more buy in bulk.
Panasonic replacement foils and blades will cost more than the Braun.
Here’s the good news, you can save even more in the future by purchasing the newer Arc 5 foils with the golden rollers since it is backward compatible.
Aside from the more costly foil and blade sets, the cost of ownership of the Panasonic is lower thanks to the less expensive sachets versus the cartridge refills of Braun.
That, however, is offset if you opt for the concentrated cleaning solution.
The verdict: Which is better?
So this concludes my comparison between the Panasonic Arc 5 vs. the Braun Series 9. Which is the better option?
That will depend on different factors such as preference, skin type, and shaving habits.
To help you make the right decision I’ve enumerated reasons why you should buy a Braun or Panasonic.
Five reasons to choose the Braun Series 9
- A better option for sensitive skin: Braun is hands-down better for men with sensitive skin because it is designed more for comfort. The foils don’t heat up, and there’s less risk of irritation.
- Prefer to dry shave: One drawback to Braun’s clean and charge stations is its inability to clean the shaver with shaving cream residue. The residue has to be rinsed before using it, which is an extra step.
- More compact head: The Series 9 has a smaller head that will do more finesse jobs better.
- Less expensive cassettes: Braun’s 92B cassettes are much cheaper than the Arc 5 foil and blade sets. If you want to save over the long haul, this can be the clincher.
- Prefer to shaves every 2 to 3 days: The dual middle trimmer design in Series 9 is better at capturing and cutting long flat-lying hair.
Click here to learn more about the Braun Series 9.
Four reasons to choose the Panasonic Arc 5
- Shaves extremely close: There’s no question that the five-blade design of the Arc 5 is superior to the Series 9 when it comes to closeness.
- It has a more versatile cleaning station: The newer Panasonic cleaning stations are better built with the ability to clean the razor even if it’s filled with shaving cream. It also gives you the option to dry the shaver without going through the cleaning cycle – something that’s not possible with Braun.
- Dirt cheap sachets: Unlike the Braun that uses more expensive cassettes, Panasonic uses a detergent that they put in sachets. It’s cheaper to manufacture, thus lowering the cost.
- Easier to clean manually: The Arc 5 shaving head is easier to clean since you can remove the foils which provide better access to dislodge debris.
Click here for more information about the Panasonic Arc 5.