Last year, Oral-B launched the iO Series 9 – a top-end electric toothbrush with a super quiet motor, sleek design, and real-time brushing feedback either on the brush handle or in the smartphone app. It cleaned well, was a pleasure to use, and earned a place at the top of our guide to the best electric toothbrushes. The only downside was its cost – with a launch price of $300 / £500 / AU$400, it was one of the most expensive brushes around.
Now, there's an alternative: the Oral-B iO Series 6, which gives you the best features of the iO Series 9, for a substantially lower price tag. Oral-B hasn't cut any significant corners to achieve this; the iO9 Series 6 is fundamentally the same as its more expensive counterpart, and the overall experience is just as good.
You get the same low-friction magnetic motor, simple controls, crisp LCD display, and Bluetooth connectivity. The differences are in the accessories, with a simple plastic case that simply keeps the brush clean, but doesn't charge it, and a standard charging base rather than a sleek magnetic puck for your bathroom.
Whether those differences matter will be entirely a matter of personal choice. If you're a frequent traveller then the superb charging case of the iO Series 9 may justify the extra expense, but for everyone else, the iO Series 6 is an excellent compromise. Its cleaning performance is just as good, its pressure sensor is equally accurate, and its real-time location tracking is just as effective at helping you cover each segment of your mouth.
Price and release date
The Oral-B iO Series 6 was released in July 2021, and costs $149.99 / £300. For comparison, the iO Series 9 cost $300 / £500 / AU$400 at launch – though it was soon available more cheaply at third-party retailers.
The iO Series 6 uses the same brush heads as the Series 9, which cost around $35 / £30 / AU$35 for a set of two, but can sometimes be found more cheaply on Amazon. It's not compatible with heads from older Oral-B toothbrushes.
The Oral-B iO Series 9 and 6 are very similar; in fact the handles are nearly identical. Both are modern-looking electric toothbrushes with a bright LCD display to show the current brushing mode, plus post-brushing feedback. It has a super-quiet motor, a color-changing pressure sensor, and comes in three colors: black, gray, and pink.
There are just two buttons to control the brush (one for cycling through menus, and another to control the power or select the current menu option), which keeps things refreshingly uncomplicated.
The key differences are in the accessories. While the iO Series 9 has a rechargeable case that keeps the brush powered up while you're away from home, the Series 6 has something much simpler. It's a very basic white plastic case that keeps your brush handle and two heads protected from dirt and damage, but that's all.
The two brushes also have different chargers. The iO Series 9 has a smart magnetic charging puck that keeps your brush in place, while the iO Series 6 has a more traditional charger, with a peg that fits into a recess in the bottom of the brush handle.
It's not quite as sleek, and means you have to be careful to avoid toothpaste and water residue building up inside the bottom of the handle, but does mean you're not going to accidentally knock the brush from its base with a clumsy swipe of your hand (a problem we've sometimes had with magnetic bases).
We were enormously impressed by the performance of the Oral-B iO Series 9, and the Series 6 is basically identical, from first impressions to final testing.
The iO Series 6 has Oral-B's latest motor, which is extremely quiet and allows the brush to glide smoothly across your teeth. The handle has a smooth finish and, although not the lightest around, is evenly weighted and comfortable in the hand.
It takes Oral-B's iO Gentle Care and Ultimate Clean brush heads, which have densely packed bristles that fit around the curvature of each tooth. The Oral-B app lets you track how long you've been using your current brush head, and will remind you to re-order when it's coming towards the end of its life (a useful touch).
The Oral-B iO Series 6 offers Bluetooth connectivity so you can receive real-time feedback on your brushing through the Oral-B app (available for Android or iOS), but it's a pleasure to use even without this.
The first time you use the brush, you'll be prompted to select a color for the illuminated band around the bottom of the brush head. This light also indicates whether you're applying enough pressure while brushing – green means good pressure, red means too high, and if it returns to your chosen color, you're pressing too lightly or not at all.
Once that's done, cycle through the various brushing modes with the button below the display, select one with the button above it, and you're ready to begin. By default the brush runs for two minutes, vibrating every 30 seconds to indicate when you should move to a different quadrant of your mouth. Once that time is up, the brush will vibrate several times in quick succession, and when you switch it off, you'll be presented with a smiley, neutral, or frowning face on the display reflecting how well you cleaned your whole mouth.
This is based on time taken, and whether you applied excessive pressure (and if so, how much). It may seem a little childish, but earning praise form your toothbrush is surprisingly motivating, and if you've been warned that heavy brushing is putting your gums and tooth enamel at risk, it could be just the nudge you need to alter your habits.
For more detailed guidance on your brushing, install the Oral-B app, register for an account (a quick process that asks for a bare minimum of personal data), and turn on the brush so it can be discovered via Bluetooth.
The app is extremely simple to use; just begin brushing, and a graphic on-screen will show which section of your mouth you're currently cleaning using data from the location sensor in the brush's handle. The teeth in the image will gradually change from blue to white as you work your way around, showing when you've cleaned each part of your mouth thoroughly
Once you're done, turn off the brush and you'll be given a rating for your efforts. It doesn't matter if you end up taking longer than the typical two minutes to complete a thorough clean, but you'll lose points for not completing every part of your mouth, rushing, or applying excessive pressure. It's an impressive system, and will help you get a better idea of how good brushing should feel so you can adapt your habits on days when you choose not to use the app.
It's straightforward enough for kids too, and if they brush well, they'll receive virtual awards that are gathered in a 'piggy bank' for extra motivation.
Over time, the app will build up a picture of your brushing habits and start to suggest tips accordingly to help improve your oral hygiene. It's a small touch, but a thoughtful one that's more meaningful than generic advice.
If you want to take things a step further, there's also a set of programs to help with specific concerns, such as bad breath or whitening. These will suggest specific brushing routines, and give you feedback based on how well you follow them. Unlike some brushes we've tested, the selection of programs is quite small, and carefully curated to avoid confusion.
It's fundamentally the same experience you'd get with Oral-B's top-end iO toothbrush, but for a vastly reduced price. If you don't mind making a few sacrifices when it comes to the accessories, the iO Series 6 is extremely easy to recommend.
Buy it if
You want to improve your technique
Whether you use the smartphone app or not, the Oral-B iO Series 6 will give you valuable feedback that you can use to develop better cleaning habits that will serve you well in the long run.
The iO Series 9 is just too expensive
The Oral-B iO Series 9 is a superb brush, but its price might be off-putting. The iO Series 6 is a great alternative that doesn't compromise on the things that really matter.
Don't buy it if
You're a frequent traveller
Oral-B has kept costs down by providing only a basic travel case for the iO Series 6. It's fine for occasional use, but if you're going to be off-grid and want to keep your brush charged for long periods, the iO Series 9 will suit you better.
Money is particularly tight
Although the Oral-B iO Series 6 is cheaper than the iO Series 9, it's still not exactly cheap. If you're looking for a good quality electric toothbrush on a budget, the Ordo Sonic+ is a solid choice that comes highly recommended.
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