Not to be confused with the impossibly expensive OneBlade wet razor, also from Philips, the Philips Norelco OneBlade FACE style & Shave is like no other beard trimmer on the market.
Philips has completely re-imagined the electric shaver and beard trimmer; fusing them into one neat product, the Philips Norelco OneBlade.
But is it any good? What about the newest upgrade to this model called the OneBlade Pro? What’s been changed or updated?
We answer these important questions in our detailed review of the Philips Norelco OneBlade.
Philips Norelco OneBlade (USA model)
Unboxing the Philips Norelco OneBlade
You may notice that our review model has a silver front. We had extreme difficulty purchasing the American model (QP2520) directly from Philips America. So in order to test this for a few months and get our review out earlier; we purchased an international model from overseas (QP2530).
The international model is near identical to the American model with the exception of an extra comb (0.2mm) and the silver front which is all black on the American model.
If you open up the box of your brand new Philips Norelco OneBlade, this is what you will find inside:
Let’s break it down:
- Philips Norelco OneBlade handle
- Oneblade Replaceable Blade
- 3/64 in. Stubble Comb
- 1/8 in. Stubble Comb
- 3/16 in. Stubble Comb
- Battery charger adapter
- Instruction manual
The contents of the box are similar to that of a traditional beard trimmer. So let’s take a closer look at what makes the Philips Norelco unique.
Examining the Philips Norelco OneBlade
The Philips Norelco OneBlade really is an unusual looking trimmer.
At first glance, it looks like someone took your regular wet shaver and made it electric.
While the lime green highlights won’t appeal to everyone, the Norelco OneBlade sports a sleek and modern design.
Located on the very front of the shaver is the power button:
Press the button once to turn the OneBlade on and press it a second time to turn it off. Simple.
The power button is almost seamlessly incorporated into the body of the OneBlade handle and yields with a satisfying click. The slight recessed edge to the button helped prevent turning the OneBlade on by mistake.
We also liked that the power button was a respectable size. It was as easy to turn on for those with big and small thumbs as it was for those with big thick and meaty thumbs.
The remainder of the front is made up of a glossy dark colored plastic:
The plastic showed up fingerprints and watermarks a little easier than we would have liked but these were only noticeable if we examined the handle closely.
Towards the base of the OneBlade, you may be able to make out a small oval shape. This is the indicator light and it will flash when the battery is running low or the OneBlade is charging.
At the very bottom of the OneBlade, you will find the charging socket
This is the connection point where you plug the charger into handle of the OneBlade to charge the battery.
We will cover this in more detail further down the review, in our charging section.
Running around the entire shaver is a lime green rubber grip:
The grip lines up perfectly with where your fingers fall as you wrap them around the OneBlade handle.
The “tire track” pattern was surprisingly grippy, and allowed us to confidently hold the OneBlade handle even if our hands were covered in shaving foam.
We were impressed that the grip even held up well in the shower. Oh yeah, the OneBlade is completely water resistant allowing you to rinse it under the tap or use it in shower.
Things get less exciting when you flip the OneBlade handle over:
Besides some basic specifications such as the model number and where the OneBlade is made (in Indonesia, for those of you wondering) there really isn’t a whole lot to see.
But this is hardly an issue since this part of the OneBlade handle will spend most of it’s time covered by your hand during use.
Now it’s time to take a closer look at the star of the show, the blade.
A closer look at the Philips Norelco OneBlade Blade
The Blade that gives the Philips Norelco OneBlade it’s name is something of a work of art. We really mean it when say that you have never seen anything like this before:
Roughly the size of a Gillete wet shaver head, the blade head is small and looks almost comical sitting atop the comparatively large handle:
Do not be fooled by it’s small size, the OneBlade is actually a masterfully designed hair cutting machine.
Looking closer at the blade reveals what a clever feat of engineering it actually is:
Along the top and bottom of the blades, you will notice small green tipped teeth. This called the comb. The comb protects your skin from the sharp blades hiding behind.
As you move the trimmer head along your face, the hairs will fall between the teeth of the comb and get cut by the rapidly oscillating blades. The green tips are a protective coating that appears to help prevent irritation that is normally caused by a metal comb being dragged along your skin.
Because the comb and blade are found on both edges of the trimmer head, the OneBlade is able to cut hairs in both a back and forth motion, something unheard of when it comes to electric beard trimmers.
The center of the OneBlade head is made up of a crosshatch pattern. But this empty piece of metal is there for more than just looks. Whatever Philips Norelco has coated the metal with makes it impossibly smooth.
The result is a trimmer head that glides smoothly across the skin without catching.
But the ingenuity doesn’t end there.
Because the blade is somewhat disposable in nature, costs had to be kept low and to do this Philips has come up with an innovative way allow the OneBlade head to smoothly flex using little more than plastic:
The flexibility of the OneBlade allows the trimmer head to remain in contact with the skin even when passing over contoured areas like the jawline.
Now as we touched on earlier, the OneBlade head is disposable. Each blade is designed to last four months, shaving twice a week. Failing to swap out the blades after this time will result in worse and worse performance.
Philips has essentially created the first beard trimmer that locks you into buying regular replacement blades.
Some of you will instantly be annoyed by the thought of this.
Normally many beard trimmers and electric shaver come with blades that last up to two years before needing to be replaced, why would you lock yourself into paying for replacement OneBlade heads four times a year?
While we do partially agree with this logic; if you find yourself asking this question then the OneBlade likely isn’t for you.
The OneBlade targets those that not only love the new and innovative but are prepared to pay for it; offering a shaving experience the world has never seen before.
There are other positives like the ability to cut on both back and forth strokes and that blade on hand that is constantly sharp and hygienic.
But for those of you looking at this from a purely financial perspective, the OneBlade just doesn’t make sense. A single replacement blade will set you back $15 while a pack of two costs you $25.
Let’s put that into perspective. For the price of a OneBlade and the replacement blades over a year; you could buy the top model Panasonic, Braun or Philips beard trimmers and still walk away with change.
Cheap it ain’t.
So how do you replace the blades?
You eject the OneBlade head using the green button found on the neck of the OneBlade handle:
The trimmer head release is perhaps our least favorite part of the Philips Norelco OneBlade. While everything else about the OneBlade feels well designed, the release button feels like it had the least thought put into it.
Not only does it feel cheap and flimsy, but if you hold the OneBlade handle in any direction but vertically it will shoot the OneBlade head across the room like a nerf gun.
However, keeping your free hand on the OneBlade head while sliding the release will prevent this problem.
With the old head removed you are now free to insert your brand new OneBlade trimmer head.
Charging The Philips Norelco OneBlade
We did not need a travel adapter for our international model OneBlade since it uses the exact same charger that found on the Philips Norelco Electric Shavers
The As you might have guessed this means the Philips Norelco OneBlade is multi-voltage (100-240V). What this means is that you can travel anywhere in the world and still be able to charge your OneBlade.
To charge the OneBlade you simply take the charger included in the box and plug it into the base of the OneBlade handle like so:
The NiMH battery of the OneBlade takes a whopping 8 hours to charge the battery. This will provide you with enough juice for 45 minutes of beard trimming.
We recommend putting the charging the OneBlade overnight prior to shaving to ensure the battery is fully charged.
Testing the Philips Norelco OneBlade
With the battery fully charged it is now time to take the Philips Norelco OneBlade for a test drive.
We brought in 10 different people to help us test the Philips Norelco OneBlade. The following review contains summaries of their experience.
If you have ever used a traditional wet shaver then you will find the OneBlade feels familiar and comfortable when held in the hand:
Pressing the power button will see the OneBlade burst into life. The OneBlade sounds similar to any other beard trimmer, a somewhat loud buzzing sound.
As we learned, the OneBlade is a surprisingly versatile tool. It was capable of performing all the following:
- Shave hairs down to skin level
- Trimming and maintaining beard length with included comb attachments
- Edge and style sideburns, goatees and mustaches
So let’s cover how it performed at each task.
1. Shaving with the OneBlade
We were impressed at just how short the OneBlade could cut hairs. It even was comparable to some of the lower end electric shavers that we tested.
But let’s make one thing clear: the one blade cannot shave as close as a good quality electric shaver. The OneBlade is designed to leave a little length. While this will see the 5 o’clock shadow appear earlier, it also results in more comfortable shave since the blades shouldn’t scrape against the skin.
The Oneblade performed best on fine to medium hair that stood upright. Users with this type of hair praised the OneBlade for the effortless and smooth shave it provided.
Those that had flat laying beard hair or hair that grows in every direction required more passes from different directions to get the same result.
Below you can see a photo of a users neck with problematic hairs that grow in all directions:
As you can see the OneBlade was eventually able to shave these hairs but it took a total of six strokes (three up and three down) to get it to this level.
Flat laying hairs were a no go. The OneBlade simply could not cut them short enough, even when shaved from every different angle. Attempting to press slightly harder resulted in the OneBlade tearing the face to shreds, as one of our testers found out:
Look at that; the OneBlade managed to cut the skin and still left too much length on the hairs!
Where the OneBlade completely failed as a shaver was on black males. The wiry inward curling beard hairs proved to be it’s undoing. Too many passes were required to adequately remove facial hair and when it comes to shaving, the more passes that are required, the more irritation that occurs.
So whether or not the OneBlade will give you a fantastic shave is entirely dependent on the hairs that make up your beard. Thin to medium and standing upright, you are in the clear. But those of you with coarse or flat laying hairs may find the OneBlade more effort than it’s worth.
2. Trimming with the OneBlade
Included in the box of the OneBlade are three combs with the following lengths:
- 3/64 in.
- 1/8 in.
- 3/16 in.
Attaching any of the combs to the head of the OneBlade will allow you to trim your beard to the desired length.
It is worth mentioning that the comb takes away the main advantage the OneBlade has over a traditional beard trimmer, the dual edge.
Depending on how you place the comb on the blade, either the top or bottom edge will be covered, preventing it from being used during trimming.
Truth be told we found the trimming experience of the OneBlade to be a little underwhelming.
While it worked okay for fine to medium hairs (noticing a pattern?) thicker coarser hairs just didn’t seem to be effectively trimmed.
This is likely because the hairs not only have to navigate the teeth of the comb attachment but also the teeth of the OneBlade head itself. Whatever the reason, the results of our thicker haired testers were the same, unimpressive.
The teeth of the combs also made it difficult to trim hairs that sit right beneath your nose. The comb would bump the nose before the cutting blade could reach these hairs.
Last but not least is the fact that the combs get easily clogged when trimming long and bushy hairs (such as a thick bushy beard or pubic hair that you have let go for just that little bit too long). Not only did bushy hair require way too many passes but having to remove hair clippings from the comb every couple of swipes soon got tiresome.
3. Edging and Detailing with the OneBlade
The Oneblade performed better again when it came to edging and detailing facial hair. Being able to edge with both the top and bottom blades gave the testers more control over how they could touch up their facial hair.
Compared to a conventional trimmer, testers commented that the head and slimmer handle made it easier to deliver a precise edge. Whether it was sideburns, a goatee or mustache, the results were the same.
Sorry bushy blokes, once again the OneBlade is better suited for fine to medium hair. Those with coarse thick hair found that the OneBlade fell short when styling.
What About the OneBlade Pro?
The OneBlade Pro is Philips Norelco’s latest variation of this popular model. What’s so different? Well, enough to warrant an update (and a price increase of course!). It comes with an upgraded power supply in the form of a Lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery instead of the original nickel–metal hydride (NiMH). The upgraded Li-ion batteries are lighter, can be charged more quickly, and (most importantly) they do not have much of a memory effect. The memory effect happens when you charge a NiMH battery before it is fully discharged, and it starts to “learn” to not last so long after each charge. In this case, the battery will also last longer in the sense that the useful life of the battery (measured in years) will be longer with the Li-ion.
In addition to the battery upgrade, the Pro version comes with a whole slew of length adjustment settings (see chart), a 14-length comb, plus a charging stand a few other tidbits not included with the original OneBlade. My opinion is that the added battery life (both short-term and long-term) along with the settings adjustments is worth the extra cost. The price of either of these shavers is so much lower than any of the really high-end shavers, that in my opinion, it only makes sense to get the better of the two. Although the Pro is twice the price, we’re still talking about barely $100.
While the OneBlade is an exciting new way to shave your hair, it definitely isn’t for everyone.
The recurring cost of replacement blade will put you frugal-minded folks right off the OneBlade.
Likewise, the OneBlade is unsuitable for those of you with thick, coarse and flat laying beard hairs.
But if neither of those last two points applies to you then the OneBlade is a well designed and innovative product that genuinely makes us excited for the future of shavers; proving that it is possible to have a single tool for both trimming and shaving.
Definitely worth checking out!