Philips Norelco 8900 (S8950/90) Review: Your Closest Shave Yet?

Wet shaving is hands down the best way to give you the closest shave possible.

It is relaxing, a great way to exfoliate but it takes time.

At least 10 mins and if you’re doing a 3 pass shave, it could even be longer.

Philips Norelco 8900 (S8950/90) with SmartClean Review

What if you’re in a hurry?

There has to be a tool that will give you a decently close shave without having to spend all that time.

This is where the electric shaver comes in.

The battle of foil and rotary shavers continues. And this time it’s Philips that comes out swinging.

Let’s have a look at the Norelco 8900, specifically the wet and dry edition with model code S8950/91.

Related: If you’re looking for a razor, you can check this article I wrote about the best razor deals right now for products like the safety razor, cartridge razor and much more. Get the best deals for yourself or buy it as a gift.

They call this the most advanced shaver yet and claim it cuts up to 20% more hair in a single pass, 30% closer to the skin.

These are pretty lofty claims from perhaps the world leader in rotary shavers.

Let’s have a look at the features and see if these claims will hold up with the hundreds of consumers who’ve tried this.

At first glance, it looks good – this shaver does perform according to the men who’ve tried this and women too have used this for shaving their legs!

Features at a glance:

  • Has both wet and dry shaving functionality
  • The three shaving heads move independently in 8 different directions that help it give you a closer shave – up to 20% closer
  • Bolt-on trimmer will sculp the sideburns and mustache
  • Beard trimmer has 5 length settings plus rounded corners to prevent irritation
  • LED battery status display tells you when it’s time to recharge
  • 50 minute run time
  • 1 hour charging time
  • 2 year warranty
  • Charging base: yes

Pros

  • You have the option to buy one with the cleaning/charging base or without it – thanks for the options Philips
  • Lightweight (only 1.1 pounds) – a great travel buddy
  • Long run time
  • Separate trimmer attachment allows you to focus on trimming your beard minus the added bulk of the shaver head
  • Easy to clean even without the cleaning station

Cons

  • Easy to misplace the trimmer
  • Short life expectancy of the head (only 12 months – even with the cleaning base)

What to Expect from the Philips Norelco 8900?

In my previous review with the Norelco 5500, I mentioned that the rotary blades move in 5 directions and will adapt to the contours of your face.

More flexible head

Guess how many directions the Norelco 8900 has? Kidding! I’m just testing if you’re paying attention to the intro.

8900’s cutting elements pivots in 8 different directions. This gives it flexibility to adapt to any contour.

Precision Blades

Philips says that the V-track precision blades inside the 8900 will shave up to 30% compared to earlier generation Norelcos.

They also said that these blades self-sharpen but remember that you will need to replace this head at least once a year and if take good care of this (this means cleaning after every use) this will last for years.

Wet and dry shaving

Wet and dry shaving

Again, not all men’s preferences are alike. Some like to use a gel to wet shave, others like good old fashioned shaving cream and others prefer to dry shave without anything on their face to save on time.

Philips knows this and made this capable of shaving wet or dry. It’s fully waterproof so you can use this inside the shower.

I would not recommend this because the shaver may slip off your hands.

If you dare you can even shave underwater!

Separate Beard Trimmer

Beard TrimmerMost new Norelco electric shaver designed their products where the beard trimmer is a separate tool that you can put in place of the shaving head.

This has its pros and cons. The biggest positive is that with the bulky head out of the way. It gives you more freedom to sculpt the beard or trim sideburns.

The downside is you can misplace this because you don’t have any place to store this on the shaver.

Hopefully Philips will address this in their newer products down the road.

Charging and Cleaning Station (Optional)

Cleaning BaseThis also comes with an optional charging station that also doubles as a cleaning station. The purpose of the cleaning station is two-fold.

First, it cleans the shaving head for you using a mixture of alcohol and water through a cartridge.

Second purpose is lubricating the blades that they claim will help it last longer.

Regardless though, you will still need to replace the cleaning heads every year. And if you buy this, you will also have to purchase cleaning cartridges.

What I like though is when you buy the cleaning station, it also comes with a travel pouch – for your travel needs.

LED Indicator

A five-level LED battery indicator is located on the handle.

Run time

A full charge will give you about 50 minutes of shaving. Depending on how long it takes you to shave, this can be a week or two of shaving without having to plug in.

Charge time

It will only take 1 hour to fully charge this.

Product Specification

ModelNorelco 8900
BatteryLithium Ion
Run time50 minutes
TypeRotary
Mustache / Sideburn TrimmerYes
Wet ShavingYes
Dry ShavingYes
Water proofYes
Charging/cleaning standOptional
Travel pouchNo
Width3.3 inches
Length9.1 inches
Weight1.1 lbs.
Warranty2 years

Consumer Reviews

You have to remember that the choice between a foil and rotary shaver will depend on your beard. This rotary shaver will not work for all types of beard so you will have to test it out and find out if it is a keeper.

I’d like to stress this point out over and over, your mileage may vary so test out the razor for a week or so and if it works then good for you but if it does not try to return it and get a refund and then try another razor.

The good and bad

Now let’s get into reviews. Consumers say that this razor gave them a pretty close shave, pretty close to a cartridge.

But expect initial discomfort if you’re using this for the first time. Adjustment period can last for up to a month.

Also make sure to use the right technique – this is a rotary shaver so it would be best if you use circular patterns when shaving.

New head not as good as old cutting heads

Some complained that the new head isn’t as good as the older cutting heads – it does not shave as close.

As for the cleaning station, it was also mixed. Some liked the idea of having something that does not require them to do the cleaning themselves. The refills are pretty cheap – around $10 per and $20 for a set of 3 according to one review.

Not as noisy as a foil type

According to some consumers, they noticed that this razor isn’t as noisy as a foil shaver like the Norelco. Now remember that this can be subjective and you have to take it with a grain of salt.

Overall this shaver got a lot of positive reviews some said it gave them a close shave while others said it did not. I would attribute the negative review to the hair type that this razor may not be suitable for.

Again I’d stress that you test this product immediately should you decide to buy and see how it performs.

Where can I buy this?

This particular variant is available in Amazon where it sells for just less than $180. There are two options – with or without the cleaning station. Obviously the option with the cleaning station would be more expensive.

The reason why I like buying in Amazon would be the 2-day free shipping if you enroll in Prime. And there’s an optional extended warranty for that extra peace of mind.

To Wrap Up

This razor is a step up from the Norelco 5500 with the 8 direction flex heads that gives you an even more close shave because it has more room to adapt to your facial features.

Philips gives you the option to purchase this with or without the cleaning base.

In my opinion, you can do as good a job cleaning the head minus the cleaning station. Just make sure to rinse it immediately after using it so dead skin and whiskers don’t pile up.

But if you’re willing to pay the additional $70 or so for the extra convenience then by all means.

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