Braun just recently updated their Series 3 electric shaver, giving it a sharp new look. The feature packed shaver promises a lot at a price that is almost too good to pass up.
Our detailed review will allow you to make the right decision on whether or not the Braun Series 3 is the right electric shaver for you.
There are three current models of the Braun Series 3 on the American Market. All three models are near identical with the exception of a few features.
3080s – The model in this review. Wet/dry capability and precision mode for shaving tricky areas like under nose.
3040s – Same as the 3080s but without precision mode.
3050cc – No precision mode or wet shaving capability but comes with an automatic cleaning dock but you have to commit to ongoing purchases of cleaning detergent to continue to use it.
It is worth pointing out that all three models shave near identically and the difference in features are only minor. Which model you choose all comes down to preference of these additional features.
Now I say current because towards the end of 2015 Braun quietly gave their series 3 shaver a make over. Below you can see the older model and new model side by side.
By and large the changes between the two models are mostly cosmetic. Shaving half of my face with one and half with the other saw no obvious difference in both result and shaving experience.
This is good news because you can currently pick up the older model of Braun Series 3 for quite cheap since it is no longer the “latest and greatest” model.
Braun Series 3 unboxing
If you were to tear open the box of your new Braun series 3 shaver, this is what you would find inside:
Let’s break it down:
- Braun Series 3 electric shaver
- Travel case
- Charging stand
- Charging cord
- Instruction manual
It is here that you would find the first difference between the three Series 3 shaver models. The 3080s and 3040s will both have identical contents to what you see pictured. The 3050cc includes a cleaning center and one detergent refill in place of the charging stand.
Let’s take a closer look at the star of the box, the electric shaver itself.
Braun Series 3 Electric Shaver
As you would expect from a shaver that just recently got an update, the Braun series 3 is incredibly stylish:
Depending on your model the Series 3 comes in 3 different color schemes:
- 3080s – As pictured, All black with blue upper.
- 3040s – All black with blue rubber grip
- 3050cc – All black
A textured rubber grip runs around the entire perimeter of the shaver, allowing you to get a good hold on the Series 3 even with hands covered in shaving foam.
Front and center on the body of the series 3 is a single black button:
This is the power button and can perform two different functions:
- Reset shaver head replacement timer
The shaver head replacement timer activates the moment you first use the shaver. After 18 months have passed the a little light in the indicator panel will alert you that the time has come to replace your shaver.
Pressing and holding the power button for 5 seconds resets this timer. Personally I would have preferred to see a travel lock included over a shaver timer but since the power button is surprisingly stiff to push I did not have any trouble with the shaver turning on by accident.
Towards the bottom of the handle you have the display panel:
The indicator panel allows you to get a rough idea of how much charge is remaining in the battery. I’ll show you how this works further down the review when I cover charging.
If you can make out that small shaver head icon underneath the Braun logo in the picture above, this is the shaver head replacement indicator I was referring to just before. It lights up a bright orange when you are due to replace the shaver head.
At the base of the Series 3 shaver is a small socket:
If you didn’t want to use the stand (Or cleaning station for the 3050cc) then you can plug the Braun charger straight into the Bottom of the Series 3 Shaver. This makes charging the Series 3 much easier when travelling and is one less item you have to pack in your luggage.
If you flip your Series 3 shaver over you will notice that the entire rear is taken up by a pop up trimmer:
Using your thumb, you press the button in the middle of the rear while sliding your thumb upwards. The trimmer will pop up like a jack-in-the-box.
With the trimmer popped up you can see a whole load of printed specs hiding underneath:
Of particular note is the Water proof symbol – you can dunk the shaver in water up to a depth of 5 meters, as well as the country of origin, in this case China.
If you want a German made Braun shaver you are going to have to jump up to the Braun Series 5. The Series 5 and higher are all manufactured in Germany.
Back to the trimmer, it is probably the best designed trimmer in the entire Braun range of electrical shavers if it wasn’t for one painful flaw that I will get to in a minute.
The cutting head of the trimmer is the widest out of any of the other Braun pop-up trimmers. The larger size makes the trimmer actually useable for trimming your beard hairs short before a shave.
But the larger size does come at the price of precision if you were planning on using the Series 3 trimmer to detail areas like your mustache, sideburns or goatee. A steady hand and a bit of practice can help over come this though.
The trimmer also sticks out further than the shaving head:
This might not seem like a big deal but most of Braun’s shavers with pop-up trimmers sit roughly in line with the shaving head. This makes it difficult to see what you are shaving with your view being partially blocked by the shaving head.
During use the trimmer was surprisingly responsive. If you have a dedicated beard trimmer then the trimmer attached to the Series 3 definitely won’t replace it but as far as pop-up trimmers go I was impressed with it’s ability to cut down loner hairs.
But the trimmer does have one flaw. If you are not careful with how you are holding the handle when you slide the trimmer down it can pinch your skin.
This happened a few times to me during testing which I was unimpressed with to say the least. I won’t use the words I yelled at the time it happened but the shock almost caused me to drop the Series 3.
Because a good review is more important than my wellbeing, here you can see the meaty part of my thumb caught in the trimmer of the Series 3:
I am now particularly careful when I close the trimmer not to have my hand anywhere near the darn thing.
The shaving head itself is made up of three cutting heads:
The center cutter lifts problematic hairs that lay flat against the skin as well as cutting longer hairs that were missed during trimming. The white plastic around the outside of the cutter is actually a tiny comb that helps guide hair into the cutter.
The two outer foils have a pattern of holes designed to trap shorter, cutting them down to the skin.
Each of the three cutting elements can pivot left or right as well as up or down:
The flexibility of the shaving head comes into play when you shave over contoured areas such as your jawline and the curves of your face. As you glide the Series 3 over your skin, the shaving head will bend and flex ensuring the cutting elements remain in contact with your skin at all times.
As an added bonus the amount of give in the heads also helps prevent you from pressing down too hard on your face, an action that can leave you with a nasty case of razor burn.
Just like the higher models of Braun Series shavers, the Series 3 foil pattern is not uniform. Some holes are distinctly smaller than others. While Braun claims that this “layout” is optimal for shaving, I just do not see how this works in in theory. The smaller holes are going to miss hairs that the larger ones catch.
Below is a close up of the foil hole layout on the Series 3 shaver.
I would also like to mention that Braun is the only electric shaver manufacturer to use an irregular pattern. If an irregular pattern shaved better then it is likely Philips and Remington would also use irregular patterns too.
It is difficult to determine just how much of an effect the irregular pattern has on shaving. Since the higher models of Braun Shavers adequately shave with an irregular foil pattern then I believe the Series 3 can too, but more on that when test the shaver further down the review.
Unique to the 3080s model is the addition of a precision mode toggle switch on the body of the Series 3, just under the shaving head:
Precision mode locks the foil head closest to the power button into position, so that it cannot move up and down or pivot left and right.
With the head locked into position, Braun claims that it will be easier for you to shave tighter areas like under your nose without the head moving all over the place.
Now in practice this does not work as well and here is why. Below you can see the Series 3 shaver as you would normally use it, side on:
Toggling the precision mode switch locks the top foil into place like so…
…Causing the foil to lose height! I actually found precision mode to make shaving under the nose harder than if it wasn’t turned on at all, the shorter foil hjust couldn’t get those few hairs tucked right under my nostrils.
It suddenly made sense to me why Braun chose not to include this feature on the more expensive 3050cc model, it just ain’t all that great and likely isn’t missed.
Gripping the shaving head between your forefinger and thumb and pulling upwards detaches it completely from the body of the Series 3.
If you purchase either the 3080s or the 3040s then this will be how you clean your shaver, pulling it apart and rinsing the shaving head and the handle separately under running water.
If you have the 3050cc you can simply use the included cleaning center to automatically clean your Series 3 shaver.
The detachable shaving head will dull with use and at around the year and a half mark you will need to buy a new shaving head. This will keep your Series 3 shaver cutting as good as the day you bought it.
The replacement part number is either the 32S or 32B depending on which model of series 3 you have purchased. Both replacement parts cut the same, they are just different in color.
Charging the Series 3 Shaver
Before you use your Series 3 shaver for the first time you are going to have to charge the battery.
And to do that you are going to enlist the help of your good friend from the Series 3 box, the charging cord.
The Charging cord is identical to that found on the Series 5, 7 and 9 Braun shavers. As a result it shares the same positives and negatives that I have covered in other reviews.
The charger can work on any voltage that falls between 100-240V AC. This simply means that you can charge your Series 3 shaver in any power outlet across the world.
From America to Australia and everywhere in between. All you will need is an travel adapter so that you can plug the charger into the odd shaped power outlets you come across (you can pick them up cheap on eBay). Whether you travel internationally for work or just want to shave while on vacation, you never know when this feature might come in handy.
But there is a negative, and that is the odd choice Braun made to coil the cord of the charger:
The coils make the cord short. Real short. And as a result leaves Braun with the shortest charger cord on the market.
Now for some of you this won’t be a problem, but others will almost certainly have power outlets installed a fair distance from your bathroom counter. And the cord is just too short to reach.
As I touched on earlier in the review, there are two different ways you can charge your Series 3 shaver. The first of which is to plug the cord directly into the base of the electric shaver:
Alternatively you can plug the charging cord into the charging stand (or cleaning center for model 3050cc) included in the box. You can then set up the charging stand permanently on your bathroom counter top.
It is much easier to remove the Series 3 shaver from the charging stand than it is unplugging the stiff cord directly from the body of the shaver. If you shave frequently then do yourself a favor and set the charging stand up in a designated area of your bathroom.
The shaver begins charging the moment you place it down on charge. A green led indicator light will continuously blink while the shaver is charging. The light will stop blinking and shine continuously when the shaver is fully charged.
The NIMH battery takes a an hour to fully charge and off that Braun claims you get 45 minutes worth of shaving. How many shaves this gives you will all depend on just how long you spend shaving. I spend roughly 4 minutes a shave and I found myself consistently getting 11 shaves before I needed to recharge so Braun’s claim appears to be pretty accurate.
The indicator panel has three light up bars, each bar represents roughly a third or 33% of battery charge. When the battery is fully charged all three bars light up when the shaver is switched on. As the battery slowly drains each are bar will turn off until there is just an angry red light warning you that the battery is about to completely die.
If you put the shaver back on charge after each shaving session then you will never get to see the battery low light.
If the battery does die on you then a 5 minute charge is all that is needed to give you 3 minutes worth of shave time. For most of you this will be more than enough to finish shaving the other half of your beard before you rush off to work.
Note: The wet dry models (3080s and 3040s) can not be used while plugged. This is a safety precaution to prevent them from being used in the shower while on charge. Only the 3050cc offers corded shaving..
Testing the Braun Series 3 Electric Shaver
So with the Series 3 fully charged it is now time to take to take the shaver for a test drive. The shaver was tested by myself and four other testers over the course of three months. The following contains summaries of all of our experience with the Series 3 shaver.
The Series 3 fits really nicely into the palm of your hand. Your fingers naturally wrap around the slight curve of the shaver and your thumb naturally rests on top of the rubber pad above the power button, depending on your grip.
Turning the shaver on you are greeted with the usual buzz you would expect from an electric shaver, nowhere near as loud as the thunderous Series 9 (Review here) though.
The shaver glides quite smoothly across the face assuming you have no more than a two day growth on your face. Like most electric shavers, longer hairs are the Series 3’s undoing. Best case it simply misses them. Worst case it gives them a painful tug without cutting them.
If your hair is any longer than a stubble I strongly recommend you trim it down to size with the long hair trimmer on the rear of the shaver.
Once you have your hair shaved to the correct length the shaving head glides smoothly across your face. Cheeks, chin, under the nose and jawline were all shaved fairly effectively.
All testers agreed that the neck was the most problematic, requiring multiple passes to get the job done. One of the testers had sensitive skin and the extra passes required saw him break out in a red rash on the neck however this faded within the hour after shaving.
But there is one type of hair that is the Series 3 shavers undoing. And if you have this type of hair then you will have a difficult time shaving with the Series 3.
Neck hair that not only grows in all different directions but also lays flat against the skin.
This is the shavers undoing. Unless you have the patience to shave at these patches of hair from all different angles the Series 3 will fail to catch them all.
The Series 3 gives a satisfactory shave. It definitely isn’t the shortest shave you will experience with an electric shaver. The much higher priced electric shavers wear that crown. But for it’s price range it stands toe to toe with similarly priced Philips shavers and kicks the ass off the mediocre Remington Smart Edge that sits at a higher price.
Those of you swapping out from wet shaving will likely be unimpressed with the shortness of the shave but those of you trading up from cheaper electric shavers will likely be more than satisfied.
But this is a Wet/Dry model right? So how does it fair when wet?
In the shower the Series 3 shaves near identically to when it is dry. The only difference is that the metal head glides much smoother over your skin. If you have sensitive skin that flairs up at just the thought of an electric shave then this will likely be your go to shaving method.
But if you add shaving foam the Series 3 cuts as well as the pillow you sleep on at night. Not well. Not well at all. All testers reported the same thing. The Series 3 does little more than move shaving foam around your face , especially if the shaving foam is thick. All but the lightest of lathers resulted in the same unfortunate shave.
While it was possible to get a good shave with a really thin (almost paper thin) lather it took so long to do so that we had to wonder if anyone would actually consider it practical. The main appeal of an electrical shaver is that it can cut quicker than a wet shave. If you use shaving foam with the series 3 this definitely isn’t the case. If you are looking for a wet shave at this price point, stick to safety razors.
The Series three sits at that very tempting price point. It promises a lot and for the most part it delivers. While it is not perfect, and far from the performance of the high end shavers, this is the best foil electric shave you will experience for the price.
The difference between the Series 3 and the lower model Series 1 that we also reviewed is phenomenal. Everything from the features to the build quality are a huge step up. The price difference between the Series 1 and the cheapest Series 3 is quite minor. Given a choice between the two, the Series 3 wins every single time.
Braun also offers 60 day satisfaction guarantee. If you are unhappy with the shaver for whatever reason, Braun will refund the cost of the shaver in full as long as it is returned within the 60 days. This same guarantee stands across Braun’s entire shaving line up and is a great safety net for those of you who are unsure about trialing a Braun shaver.