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The Oral-B Genius X is more affordable than ever, but how good is the high-tech toothbrush?

When it launched in 2019, the smart brush created a lot of buzz – but is it still a good bet for your bathroom?

Jon Axworthy
Thursday 08 April 2021 18:48
<p>AI technology allows for a more specialised and targeted clean </p>

AI technology allows for a more specialised and targeted clean

Oral-B’s Genius X was the first brush that the company branded with their Artificial Intelligence sell (later, would come the iO range) and it was the first to use an algorithm.

The company extracted this algorithm from studying how thousands of people brushed their teeth, to help improve brushing technique and coverage.

Replacing the Genius 9000, the main takeaway of the brush was that no two people brush the same way and so the company developed the Genius X as a way of coaching users.

Via a connected app, real time feedback is offered on the areas of the mouth, which they might have been neglecting.

This model made it into our latest line up of the best electric toothbrushes based on its thorough clean and the fact that the app identified the exact same area of neglect that a dentist had pointed out to us weeks earlier.

Read more:

Since then, the brush has been reduced further and further on price and with it now retailing at around £100, we test whether now is a good time to pick up the high-tech toothbrush and whether the position detection feature actually works.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

Oral B Genius X

Buy now £100, Boots.com

Cleaning action? Oscillating/ rotating/ pulsating

Pressure sensor? Yes

Cleaning modes: Six

Two-minute timer? Yes

30-second pacer? Yes 

Travel case? Yes

Operating time (full to empty): Three weeks

Charging time: One hour

First impressions

The fact that you don’t have to manually brush with an electric model means that all a manufacturer has to do is make the brush feel comfortable and well balanced, while the brush head goes to work.

By the time Oral-B brought the Genius X to market it was well practiced at this. The rubber-gripped Genius X is ergonomic and handles well with a silicone on/off button that’s easy to operate at the start and end of a brushing session.

Below this, lies the silicone cleaning mode button, five backlit icons that light up to show which mode the brush is currently in and towards the base of the brush is the three bar battery indicator. The brush only has corresponding icons for five out of the six available cleaning modes, with the two minute daily clean not featuring, which could lead to some confusion when you first start using the brush.

Read more: Oral-B iO7 vs Oral-B iO9: Which smart electric toothbrush is best?

In terms of colours you can choose between rose gold, black or blush pink, which relate to the colour of the elongated oval face plate on the handle. The black brush is all black, while the other two are a combination of their signature colour and white, so you probably have just enough choice without the headache of having to decide between any number of colour combinations.

As with most current Oral-B models there is the usual raised ridge at the very bottom that will stop the brush from rolling off your sink if you lay it flat.

The LED light ring at the very top of the handle can be customised (through the app) to glow with your choice of 12 colours and it will stay lit as you brush, acting as a pressure sensor (flashing when you’re pressing too hard), quad pacer (flashing when you’ve been brushing for 30 seconds) and also flashing when your cleaning time is up. It’s easy to see throughout brushing. The whole unit isn’t as sleek looking as some of the later incarnations from both Oral B and Sonicare, but it’s hardly an eyesore.

User experience

As with all premium electric brushes, one of your first tasks is to choose the brushing mode that suits you (and your teeth) best. The Genius X has six to choose from: daily clean (which lasts for two minutes), pro clean (three minutes), sensitive (more gentle cleaning for two minutes), as well as whitening, gum care and tongue care.

You can only select or change modes when the toothbrush is on, which isn’t particularly user-friendly, especially if you’ve already got toothpaste on the brush head.

However, whatever mode you end your brushing cycle with the brush will default to when it starts up again, so this could be a workaround. Also, the brush won’t turn off automatically, so once your mode’s time is up you’ll need to find the on/off button to power down.

We liked the fact that if you do have to turn the brush off briefly when you’re in the middle of brushing (30 seconds or less), the Genius X will memorise the elapsed time and operate accordingly when you switch the brush on again.

Read more: Is the Philips Sonicare 5100 toothbrush worth the hype?

The in-built pressure sensor is also well thought out as not only does it warn you by turning the LED smart ring red in colour, but also the action of the brush pulsations will slow, as will the movements per minute.

We also liked the fact that the travel case doubles as a phone cradle, so you don’t have to balance your phone precariously in a room where water flows freely. This shows some real joined up thinking on the part of Oral-B.

The app

Let’s talk about “position detection” because that’s what all the electronics packed into the handle are there for with a gyroscope, accelerometer and six axis sensors, all feeding data back to the Oral-B app to tell it where the brush head is in the mouth. The AI can then interpret the info to feedback how well you have covered all the surfaces of your teeth in a single session.

It can do this as you’re cleaning, with teeth turning from blue to white as the AI deems that they have been covered in real time, as well as allowing you to see how successful a clean has been once it’s over, rating coverage, brushing time and pressure applied.

One look at reviews sections of the Genius X on various sites and you will get an overwhelming sense that a major issue has been that the app simply isn’t accurate enough and the AI isn’t worth the programme it’s coded on.

This was borne out when we first started using the app, with the real-time feedback from the app having a tough time differentiating from different surfaces of the tooth and sometimes the lag was quite significant, which could have been down to bad Bluetooth performance.

Read more: 9 best kids’ electric and manual toothbrushes

However, performance did improve over time, like the AI was learning how we brush our teeth and adapting how it presented that on the coverage, which is the whole point of AI, surely? Within a week of use, the Genius X began to morph into a truly spatially aware toothbrush and was updating the in-app, on-screen graphic in real time, flashing white where the brush was at work and then turning solid white when it deemed that we had brushed enough.

Cleaning

Of course, none of the AI is worth anything if the performance of the brush head, in combination with the efficiency of the motor, doesn’t combine to produce an all around clean, that’s powerful without being harsh.

Oral-B’s signature round brush heads with the oscillating-rotating action tend to feel more robust on teeth and gums, compared to brushes that rely on sonic pulses, and the X’s head isn’t angled, but we had no trouble getting into the deeper recesses of the mouth.

We found that the default daily clean mode left us with a satisfyingly clean feel and the more thorough pro clean, which lasts for three minutes, was the mode that helped us regularly get 100 per cent coverage of all the teeth surfaces, according to the app.

However, we can see that for someone suffering from gum disease, even with the soft bristles of the provided sensi ultrathin brush head, the pro clean could cause excessive bleeding and so the gum care mode might be a better option. The brush head itself has soft, gentle bristles, some of which are coloured blue and lose their colour over time, so that you know when to change the brush head.

Battery life

Oral-B claims “over two weeks” of battery life, and this is pretty accurate. We managed just over two weeks, brushing twice a day, which was ample if you’re lucky enough to be off on holiday somewhere.

On the more sapping pro clean mode that battery life reduced to just under two weeks. However, the travel case comes with a charging port and its own power cable, so you can charge on the go. Remember, this is quite a feature packed brush andit’s not just the motor that the battery is powering.

The verdict: Oral B genius X

The Genius X may not be as modern looking as some brushes released in the past 12 months (which might account for its plummeting price point), but this will work in your favour if you’re not so bothered about looks and just want a smart electric brush with premium cleaning ability.

It’s still packed with features and the position detection technology actually works very well. The app aims to be your personal brushing coach, whether this is something you want in the morning depends on how leisurely your bathroom visits are – especially before work.

From Oral B to Philips, here all the best electric toothbrushes for pearly teeth and healthy gums

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