The Philips Norelco OneBlade is truly unlike any other trimmer or electric razor on the market.
While not as robust in settings as the equally priced Philips Norelco BT3210 beard trimmer nor as smooth of a shave as the Braun Series 3 electric shaver, the OneBlade rests squarely somewhere in the middle.
While we will get to the details in just a minute, here’s a quick take on the OneBlade:
While the OneBlade does have a few glaring faults, it’s perfect for men who don’t demand a baby butt smooth shave daily (although it gets close) and instead want to have a bit more stubble to their facial hair. The results are consistent and the performance of the OneBlade nearly rivals corded trimmers – it truly is a remarkable device.
In a word, would we recommend this to our best friend looking for a new beard trimmer?
The full review of the Philips Norelco OneBlade
There are many parts of the OneBlade we could talk about (a quick visit to the Philips Norelco site could make your head spin with information).
However, to make things simple, we decided to break up this guide into a few sections – first we will cover the nuts and bolts of the OneBlade (and factors you might not have considered).
Then we will follow it up by actual results (with pictures) on how the OneBlade performed in our field tests.
Reviewer’s Note: Here’s a couple of quick notes we want our readers to know. First, we paid for this product ourselves.
Secondly, the OneBlade was tested out on sensitive skin with a rather dense stubble (~1 month beard growth) on medium/thick beard hair. Your results may slightly differ depending on skin and hair type.
Philips Norelco OneBlade completely reimagined the electric razor and beard trimmer
While the OneBlade has been around now for over a year, there is no denying its sheer popularity, and largely the reason why we wanted to get our hands on one of these.
First off let’s take a look at the design of both the trimmer itself along with the handle:
OneBlade trimming head is unlike anything else we have ever seen
When looking at the OneBlade, the first thing you will instantly notice is the blade.
Unlike a traditional cartridge razor or beard trimmer, the OneBlade has a razor on both sides of the head:
Why should you care?
In a word, efficiency.
When trimming your face with the OneBlade, this unique design allows you to go back and forth on your face without any worry about going with the grain or against it.
This becomes especially useful when trimming the neck area as you can simply go back and forth and cut the hair with ease.
The 200x per second oscillating (back and forth movement) cutter ensures that the hairs never get stuck or tangled in the head when making the passes.
Therefore, you don’t have to worry about any pulling of the hair that would otherwise be incredibly painful.
But there’s a catch to this design:
As you may have noticed, the OneBlade comes packaged with 3 different sized combs:
- 1mm (5 o’clock shadow)
- 3mm (medium stubble)
- 5mm (rough stubble)
Here is a look at the OneBlade with a comb attached:
While a great selling point of the OneBlade is that the head is designed to cut in both directions, that advantage is lost when a comb is attached – rendering the backside of the blade completely useless…
…but it gets worse…
While the head may seem like it could be reversible when looking at it from the top:
Unfortunately, the blades can’t be flipped around – therefore requiring you to replace the entire head if only one side is dull and the other is not.
A sure sticking point for some men considering the OneBlade.
If you are looking to simply use the blade sans comb or simply for edging you won’t have to deal with this minor setback.
For those men demanding a bit more than three length settings, then we would suggest you check out the OneBlade Pro (more on this in a minute).
The OneBlade does travel well
Based on our research, when the OneBlade initially went on sale, it didn’t include any sort of travel case within the package.
While not complete protection for the entire device, the OneBlade that we received does now include a blade guard that can easily snap onto the head:
So, whether you want to make sure that your kid doesn’t accidentally shave off their head, or you find yourself constantly on the road, the simple snap of the blade guard will be welcomed by all as it not only protects the clippers, but also ensures that the head doesn’t get snapped completely off.
Weight and size of the OneBlade compared to other razors
While the OneBlade does carry some heft (97g / 3.42oz), it is not actually any heavier compared a traditional safety razor:
We tested this against both the Gillette Fusion ProGlide (50g / 1.76oz) and the Merkur 38 ‘Barberpole’ (112g / 3.95oz):
While we expected the OneBlade to be a bit heavier (after all, it includes a battery), we were surprised to see that it still weighed less than our safety razor!
Now when looking at the length of these three devices, the OneBlade, as expected, was the longest, but not by much:
Lastly, the head width of the OneBlade was a ¼” shorter than our cartridge razor measuring at a total length of 1.25”:
Lastly, the head of the OneBlade can pivot rather nicely and matches the market leading cartridge razors in this category:
As you can see in our comparison, the pivot will allow you to shave seamlessly around the contours of your face – making for great results (especially around the nose and chin areas):
Can you (and should you) use the OneBlade in the shower?
The OneBlade is rated to be water resistant as indicated on the handle of the device:
Should you decide to buy the OneBlade, we strongly recommend that you do use it in the shower.
Not only will it make for a much more efficient shave process, but you don’t have to worry about the cleanup.
Just be sure that you get a proper fogless shaving mirror for best results.
Furthermore, the head of the OneBlade can be rinsed underwater.
This allows for an always fresh cut that is free of dead skin or clipping remnants.
Secondly, if you plan on using the OneBlade with shave cream (i.e. wet shave) for additional comfort, this razor will work seamlessly.
Now some readers may smartly be wondering how slick the OneBlade will get when using it in the shower coupled with shaving cream…
…and that’s a very valid concern!
After all who wants this thing dropping on your toe!
As its distinctly apparent in the design, the yellow wrapping of the OneBlade features almost a gummy like grip:
This makes it a pretty darn good texture when using the OneBlade with your shaving cream. As evident in the picture below, we were able to get a firm handle on the OneBlade when we copiously covered it with shaving cream:
Charging and battery power the OneBlade left a lot to be desired
The biggest fault of the OneBlade will undoubtedly be around the battery of the device.
Relying on an Nickel-metal hydride battery (NimH), the OneBlade will take up to 8 hours to fully charge!
In the world of smartphones rapidly charging 75% of their battery within 15 minutes, the 8 hours required of the OneBlade is an outlier in battery performance.
Here’s where it gets worse:
After 8 hours of charging, you will only get a total of 45 minutes of battery power.
While the blade case we mentioned above was travel friendly, the lacking performance of the battery will require you to pack the charging cable when on the road (unlike the OneBlade Pro, there is not a travel mode option that prevents the power button from being pressed).
Another design flaw around the battery is a charging indicator (or lack thereof):
Yes, it was plugged into the wall, but you would never know looking at the OneBlade
Unlike the OneBlade Pro, the OneBlade doesn’t feature a front panel LED display allowing you to see what % of the battery is charged, or simply if it’s even being charged at all. A simple $.02 lightbulb component could have helped to prevent this glaringly obvious design flaw.
Lastly, while marketed as a safety feature so you don’t kill yourself while in the shower, the OneBlade does not operate when plugged in (this is to prevent men from taking this into the shower if connected to the power).
While great to make sure that you don’t accidentally hurt yourself, should the short battery die while you are shaving (which happened once during our testing), you must wait a few minutes to ensure you get enough juice into the battery while it charges to finish the job.
OneBlade performance when shaving
While the OneBlade has nearly all the right parts from the onset, the most important factor when considering it will of course be the performance of the device itself.
Whether you decide to use one of the combs that come with the OneBlade or use the blade itself, we found that this device is really one of the best battery powered trimmers.
Sure, it can’t meet the high-powered ability of the corded Wahl Peanut, but as a cordless device, the OneBlade cuts through the hairs effortlessly.
Even when going at a slightly quicker pace, we found that the OneBlade never snagged or pulled a hair (a common issue found in lower priced alternatives).
As demonstrated in the pictures below, with no more than two strokes we were able to get a nearly hair free shave:
Even when cutting in an upward direction on the neck, normally a motion that would leave me with severe skin irritation, the OneBlade left no trace on my skin:
Overall, I was pretty happy with the results. When only making a few passes I was largely able to remove about 99% of the hair on my face:
Right side of face
Right side of face – alternate angle
Left side of face
You may notice if you look closely in the pictures (I didn’t realize this until after the post was written), there were a few hairs that were laying flat on my skin that the OneBlade appeared to miss. This can (and was) easily remedied by taking a closer look when shaving the next time while also going against the grain – we attribute this solely to user error.
As we touched on briefly above, the clippings of the OneBlade, like virtually any other beard trimmer, is pretty messy.
A look on our desk after shaving only half of our face left a pretty wide radius when it came to clipping debris:
This is why we stress to use the OneBlade in the shower rather your sink – it can save your marriage!
OneBlade long term cost of ownership with replacement blades
Now one of the sticking points of the OneBlade will be around the replacement blades.
Unlike virtually every other beard trimmer on the market, the OneBlade is recommended to have the blades switched out once every four months, which can be a deal breaker for some men…
…and understandably so.
One of the great benefits of the beard trimmer is to simply trim when you need to, and never worry about ordering new blades.
While some men claim planned obsolescence on Philips Norelco’s part, we feel that this might be a bit blown out of proportion.
First of all, the OneBlade works a bit differently than your standard beard trimmer. While not achieving a razor close shave, it does get pretty close (almost qualifying it as an electric razor).
When taking a look at replacement parts for other shave system, the OneBlade is actually not that overpriced:
As you can see, when compared to both the nearly equally priced Philips Norelco 3100 or Braun Series 3, the OneBlade measures in at a substantially lower price per replacement blade.
Note: Personal usage and manufacturer recommendations of blade rotation can vary wildly from one razor to the next.
What you can and can’t shave with the OneBlade
Inevitably men are going to wonder if you can shave below the belt with the OneBlade. While we didn’t put our dignity on the line for the sake of this review, based on our research of reading first-hand accounts, we wouldn’t recommend the OneBlade as a body groomer…
…but don’t worry there is an option for you!
While the OneBlade marketed by Philips Norelco as being able to remove chest hair, when it comes to your groin, the skin just simply has too many contours, folds, and is generally a bit more pliable to say the least.
There was, on more than one occasion, where we saw men state that they accidentally cut themselves when trimming the hair downstairs…
…but not all is lost!
This is largely all in relation to using the OneBlade itself without any additional guard. If you are looking to pull double duty with the OneBlade, then we would recommend picking up the OneBlade Face + Body kit.
While the above kit contains a replacement blade, it also adds in a skin guard (i.e. for your groin) and body comb (chest, pits, back, etc.).
There is a slight price increase (about $15 at time of writing) but given you get a replacement blade that you would have to purchase a few months down the road regardless, you are only paying a few extra bucks for the body and skin guard.
OneBlade vs. OneBlade Pro: should you make the upgrade?
The most important factor when comparing these two system is that the blades are the exact same.
While we focused on the OneBlade for our review, all the great shave performance will carry over to the OneBlade Pro.
Where the OneBlade Pro really shines is that it takes care of all the major faults that come with the OneBlade – namely the battery.
Instead of relying on a NimH battery, the OneBlade Pro has an upgraded Lithium Ion battery (same type used in your smartphone).
This not only means that it can charge incredibly fast (about 1 hour), but the shave time is also much improved (a total of 90 minutes).
That means you not only save 7 hours on charging when compared to the OneBlade, but get a whopping 45 more minutes of shaving time with the OneBlade Pro!
This not only makes the OneBlade Pro perfect for road warriors, but it also is great for most men who don’t always plug in their trimmer once they are done using it.
Oh, and did we mention the OneBlade Pro has a travel lock feature as well? This will ensure you don’t have a dead device when traveling.
While the battery is the biggest performance difference, the biggest visual difference of the OneBlade Pro will be its large LED display.
There you will be able to clearly see how much juice is in the device before it dies. This will ensure you aren’t stuck in a scenario like us where you are left waiting for the battery to recharge while you are in the middle of shaving.
For extra bells and whistles, the OneBlade Pro does have 14 length settings (0.4mm to 10mm) and also comes with a travel pouch and charging stand.
Where does this leave us when comparing the OneBlade to the OneBlade Pro?
If you have the extra $45, go with the OneBlade Pro.
All the major drawbacks of the OneBlade are gone when you go with this razor.
Now if you can resolve the drawbacks of the OneBlade, know that you are getting just as good of a cut as the pricier OneBlade Pro.
For a clearer comparison, here is a helpful chart:
Final thoughts in our Philips Norelco OneBlade review
Overall the OneBlade is an amazing little trimmer for the price.
Not only can it make quick work of even the thickest of stubbles, but its ability to work within the shower will allow it to instantly upgrade your morning routine.
While the biggest drawbacks exist around charging the device itself, if you can get over those hurdles, you will be happy with the results.
Shawn Burns is the founder and senior editor of Tools of Men. He started this site with the goal of teaching men proper grooming habits and sensible style. Shawn’s expertise includes in-depth product reviews and how-to articles. Shawn was recently featured in the Wall Street Journal for his expertise.