Not quite a beard trimmer, not quite a shaver, the OneBlade is an electric groomer designed for men who wear facial styles and beards. According to Philips, the device has been “specially designed to suit the modern man’s needs”. It can trim, edge, and shave any length of hair to a precision stubble length using one of the three combs that are included. Or, you can use it without a comb for a closer shave.
It’s in this latter use that the OneBlade actually excels. Although Philips says the device is aimed at those who maintain facial hair, I believe the OneBlade will be most appreciated by those who have long-suffered with razor-burn and ingrown hairs when using traditional shavers. The close shave achieved with the OneBlade is very good, and since it isn’t as close as you'd get with a wet razor blade, it means you’ll achieve a clean look with far less skin irritation, if any at all.
So although it doesn’t quite live up to the claim that its blade will cut through any length of hair, for only £34.99, the OneBlade might just become the new regular shaver for those who want an irritation-free close shave.
The green and blue colour scheme doesn’t make for the slickest finish you’ll see on a shaver this year, but it’s not too off-putting when considered alongside the well-designed contoured casing.
The OneBlade is nice and slender, making for an easily manoeuvrable device that makes all the difference when it comes to precision trimming. At 324g, it isn't the lightest shaver you’ll ever hold – the chunkier Panasonic ES-LV95 weighs only 200g – but it certainly didn’t feel heavy in the hand.
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Despite that gaudy green on its rubber edges then, the OneBlade actually manages to retain a certain sleekness. It’s lack of a digital display or adjustable head actually plays to the shaver’s strengths in this regard. The OneBlade has a power button and eject slider to remove the head, and a charging port on the bottom of the handle.
If you're after a more refined shaver then there are also two "Pro" versions in the OneBlade range. Both sport a more sophisticated black design. One of the Pro shavers comes with an adjustable precision comb that has 10 length settings from 0.5-9mm, while the other comes with a digital display and a 14-length precision comb. Note that the standard OneBlade is also available with an extra 2mm comb attachment for £39.99. The one on review here is the £34.99 model.
Although Philips says the OneBlade uses a combination of rotary technology and a trimmer, this is neither a foil or rotary shaver. Basically, the head uses a single blade, which is a refreshing move in an industry that seems to think adding as many blades as possible is the definition of innovation.
This single blade moves incredibly quickly – 200x per second, in fact. It's surrounded by a "dual protection system", meaning it’s guarded by a shield with rounded plastic tips to protect your skin. Quite where the rotary part comes in I remain unsure, but it’s certainly a nice and simple design. Also helpful is the fact the head pivots, offering greater control when tackling the more difficult areas of your face.
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Changing the head takes only seconds using the aforementioned "eject" button to remove the old one. An extra head was provided with my review model; Philips recommends changing heads every four months.
On the whole, the OneBlade is well designed and therefore a pleasure to use. The lack of unnecessary extras is also a benefit; if only Philips had opted for a colour other than that luminous green along the OneBlade's edges.
Those who have been using cheaper electric shavers to trim facial hair will know that the OneBlade will offer a better trim even before using it. On the press of the power button, that fast-cutting blade makes a satisfying hum, unlike the disappointing churn of lesser shavers. It becomes a little noisier when you attach one of the trimming combs, but it’s generally quite nice to know this little device is packing enough of a punch to cut through your facial hair.
Of course, as any seasoned facial hair sculptor will know, what matters most is how the OneBlade performs. Here, Philips has managed to create a lightweight yet robust device that can certainly cut through all lengths of hair – it’s just that if that hair is even remotely thick, as is my magisterial fuzz, it’s going to get jammed more frequently.
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The small but powerful head makes easy work of shorter hair, and – thanks to a dual-sided design – since the blade protrudes from both the bottom and top edge of the head, it can be used to shave and create straight edges from any angle. The trouble comes when you try to use it to shave off a fully formed beard.
I attached the 5mm comb to remove my several months of growth – and the OneBlade simply couldn’t handle it. Every 10 or 20 seconds the blade would stop working as the hair jammed the mechanism.
Be warned: if you don’t go slowly with Philips’ latest trimmer, you could end up pulling chunks of hair out of your face, making for a rather more painful experience than the "efficient, comfortable shave on longer hairs" that Philips promises. I can safely say that in my experience, Philips' "any length hair" claim simply doesn’t stand up.
On the plus side, the OneBlade can be used both wet and dry. If you prefer to have your morning shave in the shower, or using shaving gel, the OneBlade will happily oblige. Plus, cleaning the device is simply a matter of running it under the tap.
The device is also small and streamlined enough that it feels like using a slightly larger version of a traditional razor blade. Unlike bulkier electric razors then, Philips’ device not only feels easier to use but it won’t block too much of your face when you’re trying to edge up your sideburns either.
So what about that close shave? Well, as I mentioned earlier, it’s this that may be the OneBlade's best feature.
Since the OneBlade doesn’t slice your hair too closely, thanks to its polymer shield, it means you can avoid skin irritation while still achieving an impressively close shave. Using the OneBlade regularly to trim shorter hair, the blade didn’t catch even once, making for a far more pleasant experience than my beard-hacking ordeal.
It's also possible to shave against the hair without worrying about razor burn. Since the OneBlade’s form factor is similar to a traditional razor, it feels more easy and natural to shave against the hair, especially on your neck, than it does with a bulkier electric shaver. On occasion, I used it simply to clean up the hair on my neck, and it was the quickest, closest, and easiest neck shave I’ve ever had – at least without using a traditional razor.
In my opinion, Philips would benefit greatly from making a bigger deal of how good it is at achieving a close shave without razor burn.
To keep the blades moving at such a rapid pace, the OneBlade will run through its charge at a ridiculous rate. It requires charging for eight hours just to get 45 minutes of use. Those using it for their morning shave may manage to squeeze five day’s use from it. But for anyone using the OneBlade for its intended purpose of trimming and styling facial hair, it is likely to manage only two shaves before you have to plug it in.
As a result, battery life is the OneBlade’s one big drawback. The Philips Series 9000 rotary shaver, for example, lasts 50 minutes after an hour of charging, and the top-of-the-range, laser-guided beard trimmer 9000 series will give you an hour’s use after an hour’s charge.
Note that you’ll need a shaver socket, or an adapter to turn a regular mains socket into a shaver outlet, in order to charge the device. The charging cable provided will then just plug into the bottom of the OneBlade and be ready to go... in eight hours.
In addition to its decent trimming abilities, the OneBlade could become your new go-to shaver if you favour a close shave. It’s great for sensitive skin, since it doesn’t shave too near the skin, and although you may notice the 5 o’clock shadow creeping in a tad earlier than if you’d gone with a traditional shave, it’s a small price to pay to keep your skin free from irritation.
The OneBlade’s fast-moving blade also means you’ll achieve an even trim when using the shaver for its intended purpose of styling facial hair. If you regularly wear stubble, or need a device to trim up your goatee then the OneBlade is a great, affordable way to keep your fuzz in check. Just don’t use it if you’re going from full beard to close trim.
Philips OneBlade will launch in the UK on 11 May, exclusively at Boots. Price start from £34.99.
At £34.99, Philips’ hybrid styler is a reasonably priced and adaptable shaver that will give you a decent close shave as well as an even facial hair trim. Shame about the battery life, though.