If you don’t want smart features, the iO3 is the iO brush to get. It delivers great brushing performance and can be shared by all the family. However, you’ll only get a couple of weeks from its battery life (and that’s if only one person is using it) and it has a long charging time – but this won’t be a problem if you’re happy to keep it on the stand.
Oral-B’s iO series of brushes are a completely new design, with a new brush head, new features and crucially, an upgraded brushing performance that combines oscillations with micro vibrations to powerful effect. They are an upgrade on previous Oral-B brushes in every respect – except perhaps the charging time and battery life on the less expensive models.
There are now seven models in Oral-B’s iO line – which runs from the affordable iO3 to the luxury iO10 – each with a different feature set and price point. Most have smart features, which increase in quality and depth as the price point rises. The pricier models (from the iO7 upwards) have fast charging and from the iO8 up they have a full colour OLED screen for feedback and settings.
If you want to compare brush features and prices as well as pros and cons, have a look at our round-up of the best Oral-B brushes. Each entry links to an in-depth review of the model.
In this review, we’re looking at the iO Series 3, the most recently released – and the most budget-friendly – of the series.
In some respects, this is the brush we’ve been waiting for. It’s the cheapest and simplest iO yet. If you want all the brilliant brushing performance of the iO line and its key features, but you’re not worried about missing out on connected technology, this could be the iO model for you.
Design and build
Three brushing modes
UK shaver plug/ US standard two-pin
No USB charging
The iO3, like all iO brushes, is built by Braun. It comes in black, pink or blue – and a white model is also available in the US. Bear in mind that as iO brush heads only come in black or white, if you go for pink or blue, you’ll have a two-colour brush.
Incidentally, iO brush heads don’t come with the coloured, plastic rings you use to differentiate your brush head from your partner’s. Instead, there are symbols on the neck like a plus, umbrella or wavy lines that let you identify yours.
It’s not as easy to share the smart-enabled iO models with other family members, as one of their main benefits is to track your brushing performance. If more than one of you is using the same brush, you’ll get mixed-up data. But the iO3 is a great brush for sharing – except that you’ll need to charge it regularly.
The iO brush design is different from the older Oral-B models. The brush head is thicker at the base, so it flows into the brush handle more organically than the older, slim brush heads. It weighs 135g, so it’s about 10g heavier than the older style Oral-B Pro 3, which shouldn’t be noticeable. It has the same build as other iO models.
Emma Rowley / Foundry
It has a smooth (but not shiny) handle. Some people have expressed a preference for the older, grippy style but I didn’t find it slippery to hold when brushing.
At the front of the brush handle, where the OLED screen is situated on the pricier models, is a rubber panel with two buttons for operation.
The first switches the brush on and off and the second lets you cycle between cleaning modes.
At the top of the brush handle is the light ring. There’s no way to personalise the colour on this model, which is something you can do in the Oral-B app or the brush handle on other iO models. Instead, it glows white when you switch it on – but its other colours are used for different functions on the brush.
All brushes come with a charger. In the UK, it has a shaver plug. In the US it has a standard two-pin plug. You may also get a travel case included with your brush, depending on which pack you pick up. It’s basic moulded plastic but there’s space inside for two brush heads.
The real reason to buy the iO3 is its brushing power. It’s much more effective than older Oral-B models – and better than the competition as well – leaving teeth feeling smooth and clean. Having tested a number of electric toothbrushes, the iO series are the ones I always return to. My teeth never feel as clean using other brushes.
The iO3 has three brushing modes: daily clean, whitening and sensitive. The only difficulty is knowing which is which. You’ll need to tell them apart using the change in vibration when you switch to each setting – something I didn’t find particularly easy at first.
If you’re buying an electric toothbrush, there are a couple of features that we think are indispensable – and the iO3 has them.
The first is an easy to read pressure sensor. If you brush too hard, the light ring around the neck of the iO will glow bright red. But what sets the iO models apart from rivals is the extra pressure sensor setting: if you get the brushing pressure just right, the light ring will glow green.
The iO3 will also time your brushing. Every 30 seconds, there’s a stutter in the vibration, to let you know to move on to brushing the next quadrant of your mouth. After the dentist-approved two-minute brushing time has elapsed, a longer interruption will let you know that you’ve brushed enough.
The brush won’t switch off automatically but if you turn it off after two minutes, the light ring will cycle through its colours in a mini-celebration of brushing done well.
The iO also has a battery light indicator. When it needs to charge, the on/off switch will blink red. But if you can’t plug it in right away, you’ll still get another brushing session or two before it gives up entirely. This is an improvement on earlier Oral-B models, where the battery light came on just before it conked out.
The battery life and charging are about the only things I don’t love about this brush. It should last around 18 days (for twice a day, two minutes of brushing) but in our testing period, I tended to get around 10-14 days at best.
You’ll only be able to eke out the battery life for longer if you never brush more than twice a day and never for over four minutes per day. If you’re sharing with a partner, you’ll only get a week, or a week and a half at most, before you need to recharge.
As for charging, Oral-B says that it can take up to 16 hours for a full charge. This is less than ideal if you don’t tend to leave it on the stand to charge between brushing, as it can’t complete a full charge between a morning and an evening brush.
Price and availability
In the US, the iO3 is generally priced between $75 and $79.99. At the time of writing, Walmart is selling it for $79.97 and Target $79.99, but the best prices are on Amazon where it’s around $75.
Things are a little different in the UK, where Oral-B is showing a wild RRP of £160, although it has ‘cut the price’ to £75 – which is what this toothbrush is worth. You can also buy it from Boots and Amazon for £75. That’s what you should pay, and not a penny more.
But should you really pay $75/ £75 for a toothbrush? Prices for electric toothbrushes are high – and rising. You can buy a good quality electric toothbrush for less, although the decent ones still tend to cost around $50/£50, so the difference isn’t huge.
We have options in our round-up of the best cheap electric toothbrushes. But, one way or another, most of us will end up paying to take care of our teeth and an investment in an excellent brush could save you in the long run.
As far as I’m concerned, when it comes to brushing performance and brushing features, Oral-B has the competition beat. iO brushes are the best around and the iO3 has everything you need to keep your teeth in excellent condition.
However, there are much better options when it comes to battery life, charging time and charging methods (we wish there was a USB charging option). If you’re happy to keep your iO3 on its charging stand, there’s no reason not to buy – but it won’t suit people who travel a lot or want fast charging.
iO brushes from series 7 upwards have fast charging. You can see how all the models compare in our Oral-B brush round-up. If you’re not set on an Oral-B brush, check out our round up of all the best electric toothbrushes we’ve tested.