Braun Series 1 Smart Control (190s-1) Electric Shaver Review

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The Braun Series 1 is the most basic of Braun’s Series shaver range. It promises a close shave at a very tempting price point.

But is the Series 1 just piggybacking off of Braun’s dominant name or can it hold it’s own in the shaving world? We answer that and more in our detailed review of the Series 1 Shaver.

The Braun Series 1 Shaver

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So with the introduction out of the way, let’s examine the Braun Series 1 from every angle, starting with the packaging:

What’s in the box

If you have just run out and bought a brand new Smart Control shaver then this is the box you will hold in your hot little hands:

Braun Smart Control 190s-1 electric shaver box

So other than the obvious electric shaver, what other accessories are included in the box of the 190s-1?

Quite a bit actually:

Braun Smart Control 190s-1 Electric shaver and accessories included in the box

If you are having trouble making out what’s what from that picture then don’t worry. I am about to break down the whole kit piece by piece.

Starting with the instruction manual

Braun Smart Control 190s-1 electric shaver instruction manual

If you are at all familiar with modern Braun shavers then you will know just how terrible the instruction manuals can be. The SmartControl stays true to this pattern.

Not only is the instruction manual very light on details, but it is awfully set out, making you constantly refer to a diagram at the front of the manual.

If you are one of those people that love to figure out products without reading the manual then this won’t be an issue for you.

Next up:

Braun Smart Control 190s-1 electric shaver side photo

The star of the box.

I will look at the shaver in much more detail further down the review. But first, let’s take a closer look at the other goodies in the box.

To keep your shaver safe, Braun has included a clear plastic guard:

Braun Smart Control 190s-1 electric shaver plastic foil guard protector

This clips over the foil guard of the 190s-1. The guard keeps the foil protected when not in use.

It appears that Braun has skipped including a travel-case in favor of the plastic guard. Since this is an under $50 shaver, I am okay with this. Costs had to be cut somewhere to get the price down.

If this is going to be your go-to shaver then you are going to have to maintain it:

Braun Smart Control 190s-1 electric shaver oil bottle

To this end, Braun has included a small bottle of oil to keep the razor blades lubricated and humming along.

Still on the maintenance theme, the cleaning brush.

Braun Smart Control 190s-1 electric shaver cleaning brush

Barely larger than your thumb, the cleaning brush definitely beats using your fingers to brush hairs off the sharp razor blades.

Last but not least is the electric charger:

Braun Smart Control 190s-1 electric shaver charging cord and adapter plug

Because without it, your Smart Control Shaver is a useless brick.

There are also a couple of discount coupons included from Braun’s parent company; Proctor and Gamble.

Don’t get too excited, here are the measly savings you can make with the included discount coupons:

  • Shaving foam – A whole dollar off of a single can.
  • Deodorant – $2.00 off a single stick.
  • Gillett Fusion Proglide – $2.00 off
  • Replacement electric shaver heads – $5.00 off

Proctor and Gamble is a multi-billion dollar company and that is all they offer off their already overpriced toiletry products? Cheapskates!!

Okay, so with the unboxing out of the way it’s time to take a closer look at the shaver:

The Shaver

The top of the shaver looks pretty simple:

Braun Smart Control 190s-1 electric shaver top photo

a small indicator at the base lights up green when the shaver is charging.

Moving up the spine of the shaver you will notice a large ribbed piece of black plastic, with “190s-1” printed in the center.

Looking like small mountains; the ribs actually line up nicely with your fingers when you are holding the shaver, providing some much-needed grip.  After all, there is nothing worse than dropping your shaver when you are in the middle of giving your beard a good beat down.

If you put your thumb on the black plastic you will reveal:

Braun Smart Control 190s-1 electric shaver pop-up beard trimmer

A pop-up trimmer!

Funnily enough, the trimmer is actually better designed than the one on the Brauns flagship electric shaver, the Series 9 9095cc and 9090cc models

This is largely due to the fact that the trimmer sticks out past the shaving head, giving you a good view of what you are trimming, whether you are detailing your sideburns or trimming your whole beard.

It is worth mentioning that unlike the shaver head, the trimmer cannot be replaced. When the blades finally blunt, you will have to upgrade the entire shaver. For this reason, I would recommend using the trimmer for detailing alone.

Braun Smart Control 190s-1 electric shaver shaving head and beard trimmer

The trimmer itself performed rather well if a little noisily.

While it won’t replace your everyday beard trimmer, it will do the job satisfactorily if you are away from home or just using it for detailing.

The underside of the Smart Control is much less exciting:

Braun Smart Control 190s-1 electric shaver bottom photo

A large rubber grip dominates the surface. The grip can only be described as sticky. While this is a good characteristic of a grip, it also attracts pieces of dust like a magnet.

Fortunately, a quick rinse is all it takes to remove the dust.

Sitting just above the rubber grip is the on/off button. If you are holding the shaver as intended your thumb will naturally rest right on top of the power button.

The button is responsive and is not so easy to push that you will turn it on or off by mistake.

Curiously absent from the Series 1 is a travel lock. If you are traveling and you have this shaver at the bottom of your bag it can turn on, resulting in not only an annoying humming noise, but a flat battery.

The lack of a travel lock is a huge oversight by Braun and is a feature that me and many of you will dearly miss.

Sitting atop the shaver is the shaving head. And shining like a crown is the foil guard:

Braun Smart Control 190s-1 electric shaver foil guard

The foil guard is the part that you run across your face while shaving. Any hairs that poke through the foil guard are promptly sliced away by the blades hiding behind it.

You may have noticed that the holes in the foil guard pattern are much larger than what you would normally find on a similar type of electric shaver.

Braun claims the unusual foil pattern:

Smoothly captures hairs growing in different directions

I will test just how well this works in practice further down the review.

If you place your thumb and pointer either side of the foil guard and pull upwards, the whole shaving head will pop off, revealing a row of razor blades underneath:

Braun Smart Control 190s-1 electric shaver foil guard removed from shaver body revealing razor blades

This is largely how you will be cleaning your Smart Control shaver, swiping away hairs from the razor blade with the include cleaning brush.

If you take a closer look at the razor blades you will see that they are actually a series of sharpened metal circles, laid out in a row.

Braun Series 1 Smart Control 190s-1 electric shaver foil guard removed from shaver body revealing razor blades

Now here is the thing. I can comfortably drag my bare finger back and forth across the naked blade. So much so that I was confident enough to repeat it applying pressure.

The blades just don’t seem to be that sharp, which is a little worrying. I am not confident that they will hold up cutting thicker, coarser hairs.

Now it is worth mentioning that the foil guard is a really thin piece of metal. If it is not protected and you bump it or drop it then there is a good chance it will break.

Here you can see me applying light pressure, bending the foil with my finger:

Braun Series 1 Smart Control 190s-1 electric shaver foil guard being pressed by finger

The delicate foil is why Braun has chosen to include a plastic protective cap to keep your Series 1 shaver safe from harm when traveling.

The cap simply clips over the shaver, providing some much-needed protection:

Braun Series 1 Smart Control 190s-1 electric shaver with protective plastic clip-on lid

A nice touch is that the protective cap has holes, allowing the shaver to dry while being protected after cleaning.

The Series 1 Smart Control is surprisingly comfortable to hold in the hand:

Braun Series 1 Smart Control 190s-1 electric shaver being held in right hand

This is partly due to the shavers slight curve. It fits nicely into your hand like a banana. And we all know how easy those are to hold.

The only thing I would have liked to see is a little more grip where your fingers sit. The hard plastic ribs do not do the best job at stopping your fingers from slipping.

Okay, I think I have covered everything about the Series 1 shaver itself. It’s now time to plug this thing in and take it for a whirl.

The charging socket is located at the very base of the shaver. Plugging the charging cord in causes the light on the face of the shaver to shine green.

Braun series 1 190s-1 electric shaver charging cord plugged in with green indicator

The charger works on any voltage from 100-240V. What this means is that you can charge the shaver anywhere in the world, the only thing you need is a travel plug so that the charger will fit into any unusual power outlets you come across.

A minor annoyance is that the only clue that the shaver has finished charging is when the green indicator light turns off.

One hour of charging provides 30 minutes of cordless shaving. Worst case scenario you can use this shaver with the cord plugged in.

The shave

So how well does the Series 1 Smart Control shave?

After testing it out for 2 weeks I can say that it shaves incredibly poorly.

Allow me to explain:

There are three types of hairs that this shaver struggles with:

  1. Thick, coarse hairs.
  2. Hairs that lay flat against the skin.
  3. Hairs longer than 2-day growth.

I’ll say straight up that if your beard contains any types of these hairs then this simply isn’t the shaver for you.

The questionable sharpness of the blades I pointed to earlier have trouble shaving through thicker hairs. Rather than shave through them, the razor blades seem to plant delicate little kisses on each individual hair before passing them by.

And forget about hairs that lay flat against the skin, these do not even get picked up by the foil guard. Unless you physically lift the hair off your skin, this shaver is going to miss it.

Lastly, longer hairs. This shaver won’t touch them, especially the ones that are starting to curl over.

Also, after using (or attempting to use) this shaver for two weeks, the blades were noticeably duller. Just from trying to get it to cut my darn hairs.

This is absolutely unacceptable. A shaver that cannot do its basic job (shave) has no point existing. I mean I would understand if I was attempting to cut plastic with it, but these are your run of the mill beard hairs.

You may be asking:

Who is this shaver suitable for then?

You pretty much have to have a perfect beard to use this shaver effectively:

  • Beard hairs that stand upright
  • A low-medium beard density
  • Thin to medium beard hairs
  • Shave every day to keep the hairs short

The shaver gave clues that it could adequately trim this kind of hair as that is the exact hair found on my cheeks. But chin and neck? Forget it.

So if you have this very specific beard then you may find yourself satisfied with this shaver.

But even then you would have to be cautious that the blades blunt quickly. After researching way too many consumer reviews a common complaint is that the performance noticeably worsens after a few months of continued use.

It’s odd that this is marketed as an everyday electric shaver. If I had to describe its target market I would say it’s for those wanting to do a touch-up at work. The smaller size makes the shaver much less bulky to carry around than the higher models of Braun shavers.

I say this because the foil guard and razor are near identical to the Braun M90, a shaver with more features for a quarter of the price that worked best at touch ups.

If you have your heart set on the Braun name then you are better off jumping up to the Braun Series 3. Oddly enough the Series 3 isn’t actually that much more expensive and performed well in our review.

Braun should know better than releasing this hunk of junk on the unsuspecting masses.

Cleaning

Braun series 1 190s-1 electric shaver rinsed under running water

The Series 1 is very easy to clean. Although I have a suspicion that this is largely due to the fact that it doesn’t cut many hairs. After all, less cut hairs mean less to clean.

Simply disconnect the electric shaver from the charger and wash the head with running water. I found that adding hand soap made the whole job a lot easier.

When done, leave to dry. You will have to lubricate the blades every now and again using the included oil bottle.

Conclusion

We do not often give “do not buy” warnings in our reviews. Our approach is to list all the pros and cons of a product and let you decide whether or not suits your needs.

Unfortunately every now and then we come across a product that simply cannot perform its basic job. And that’s when we feel we have to step in and warn you to seek out alternate products.

In all honesty, it saddens us to do this. But unfortunately, there are some manufacturers who insist on pushing a bad product.

The Braun Series 1 190s is one of these products.

If Braun decided to advertise this as a touch-up shaver for the 5’oclock shadow then this review might have been more forgiving. But it is advertised as a dedicated shaver. And if you treat it like one then you will be very disappointed.

We feel it is in your best interests to avoid this product. It is overpriced and under-performs. A terrible combination.

If you have read through this review and still want to give this shaver a go, you can buy it from Amazon.