Few people are going to find value paying $750 for the Oral-B iO.
- Easy to use
- App connectivity
- Good battery
- The AI is buggy
- Toothpaste gets everywhere
The Oral-B iO9 gets a lot of things right (see below), and it represents progress in electric toothbrush technology. The use of AI, triple-pressure sensors, and multiple oscillation modes/angles are all very technologically impressive.
But the real-world value of these advancements doesn’t match the RRP when you’re stood bleary-eyed in front of your bathroom every morning and evening.
And that, ultimately, is the problem: the iO9 is just a gadget that combines a battery and a small motor to scrape food off your teeth really quickly.
That said, let me take you through what it’s like using the $750 toothbrush, and you can decide if I’m being too harsh or not.
Brushing your teeth with AI
The use of AI (to help people brush their teeth) was the feature I wanted to test the most. It was a big letdown, though. The iO’s marketing promises, “3D teeth tracking with AI to monitor your brushing across the front, top and back surfaces of your teeth; guiding you to the most thorough possible clean.”
And while this is technically true, it’s an underwhelming experience. Once you’ve connected your iO9 to your smartphone, you can watch a 3D set of teeth slowly turn white as you brush each of the 12 sections of your teeth.
That’s the theory, anyway. The reality is different. The device is frustratingly-slow at correctly recognising which section of your teeth you are brushing, making the whole exercise counterproductive. I often found that I was brushing a completely different section of my teeth to what was being shown on-screen. Which led me to brush sections of my teeth for longer just to please the app.
The bigger problem here is the effect that has on the reliability of the feedback the app offers me, when I’m brushing normally. How can I trust the app’s data – that says I’m neglecting my left lower-outer teeth when I’ve seen how inaccurate the app is at correctly identifying where I’m brushing.
AI rant over.
What the Oral-B iO9 gets right
There’s a lot of things the iO9 gets right. Top of that list is how quiet the device is – imagine the difference between sitting in a prop plane and a jet plane, and you’ll get a rough idea of what the experience is like. The iO9 is smoother, quieter and (as a result) more enjoyable than your average toothbrush.
There are a few more enjoyable little touches.
The very first thing I learned, thanks to the red LED and triple-pressure sensor- was that I was brushing too hard.
I also learned that I’m a sucker for emotional blackmail – the smiley face that pops up on-screen when you’ve hit your two-minute target (and the frown for anything less) is an effective motivator to keep brushing.
The magnetic charging dock is a joy too. And the battery lasts for about a week – the rechargeable travel case is a confusing one. It’s “rechargeable” in that you can plug it in and charge the brush inside the case; it’s not “rechargeable” like an AirPods case (as I thought), though.
What it gets wrong
Brushing with the iO9 is a messy experience. I confess that I’ve never been the tidiest toothbrusher, but this is next-level – prompting more than the one comment from my partner, “are you doing that properly?”
But there’s no escaping that price tag. The Oral-B iO9 is a lot of toothbrush, that offers a technologically-advanced (and quiet) way to brush food off your teeth and gums. The AI technology and ability to see feedback on your brush via your smartphone isn’t reliable enough to warrant the extreme price tag either.
Ultimately, the Oral-B iO9 is not 28 times better than the standard electric toothbrush you can pick up in Countdown for $25 – which makes this $769 toothbrush hard to recommend.