So, you’re hunting for a new Philips Norelco electric shaver and you’ve narrowed it down to the 4000 series. But how do you figure out the difference between the 4100, 4200, and 4500?
You’re not alone.
Buying a Philips Norelco is a good choice. They’re the leading brand of rotatory shavers and have decades of happy customers to speak to the quality of their products.
I’ve been reviewing electric shavers for years and couldn’t tell the difference between the three models either.
To help you choose the right product for your needs, I compared all three to find out once and for all why Philips Norelco made three models of 4000 shaver.
In my Philips Norelco 4100 vs 4200 vs 4500 comparison, I give you detailed reviews of each product. Then I compare them side by side to discover what if anything differs between them.
Which one will come out as the best? And is there even a difference between them? Let’s find out below.
Table Of Contents
Philips Norelco 4000 Series Comparison Table
Head-To-Head: Philips Norelco 4100 vs 4200 vs 4500 Reviews
The Philips Norelco 4100 is perfect for the man who thrives when given of options. It’s an affordable package that lets you decide between a wet or dry shave.
Thanks to Philips’s patented Aquatec technology the shaver is waterproof up to five meters. That means you can take it in the shower with you in the morning or with shaving foam at the sink.
The DualPrecision blades have slots for both long and short hairs. All three rotary blades work together to cut more hair per pass than comparative brands.
Inside each rotary housing you’ll find two machine-cut blades that spin around a track. They’re self sharpening and will last you about 18 months.
The Flex and Float head design is easy to use and provides an ergonomic shave. Each blade tilts independently and the entire head can bend inwards on a fixed pivot point.
Shaving with the 4100 remains an effortless experience. Much of Philips Norelco’s improvements to their higher end shavers all originate on the foundation of the 4000 series.
The fully washable body is easy to clean. A latch on the side of the shaver releases the top and allows you to clean out the basin in your sink or shower.
Unlike many brands that throw in a NiMh battery in their budget tier electric shavers, the 4100 comes with a lithium ion battery. It’s capable of 50 minutes of use and doesn’t struggle when it reaches its lower third.
While you can’t charge and use the shaver at the same time, charging it from nil to full only takes an hour. If you’re really in a rush and find yourself with an empty battery, the 4100 provides a 3-minute quick charge option.
Thankfully, you’ll know when the battery is near dead thanks to the LED indicator. A two-tone light on the front of the device signals you when the battery is full and when it’s low.
Another feature worth mentioning is the pop-up trimmer. For edging, shaping, and trimming just press the button on the back of the shaver and you can clean up your sideburns and neckline after a refreshing shave.
The Philips Norelco 4100 package rounds out with a few included items. First, a razor head cap to protect the blades and rotary foils from damage. And you also get a charging cord and handy travel brush to wipe off the product post-shave.
The Philips Norelco 4200 rotary shaver stands out among the 4000 series because of its sporty, fire-red shell.
And that may be the only reason it stands out because the shaver looks identical to the 4100. But to know for sure I’ll take it through my entire review process. First, let’s look at the ergonomics.
Like the previous 4000 model, the 4200 shares the goose-neck design renown in the Philips shavers. The rotary heads curve outwards, away from your hands, for a singular shaving experience.
Philips Norelco made the well-balanced chassis out of quality plastic. The rubber front facing grip keeps the device secure in my hand. I like that the power button is well within my thumb’s reach. I don’t have to over-extend to turn the power on or off.
In fact, I don’t have to struggle to do anything with the 4200. I can hit every button and feature with my thumb without moving my hand, including the head-latch and pop up trimmer. It’s well-thought out shaver design.
As with the 4100 model, the 4200 is waterproof. Shower shaving, or wet shaving on the sink is not only possible but recommended. The Aquatec seal lasts, too. I’ve read customers reviews of using this device in the shower for over four years.
Included in the 4200 is the four directional contouring system that’s known as Pivot, Flex, and Float. The head design allows independent motion of each rotary blade. This is perfect for continuous shaving. You don’t have to reposition the shaver.
I like the DualPrecison blade system on the 4200, just as I did with the 4100. They’re self sharpening and should cut just as well the first day as they cut months later. Philips Norelco calls it a dual blade because each rotary ring houses two curved blades per head.
The 4200 is a reliable, fast shaving experience. It’s no different from the 4100, literally. I noticed no difference in power, wet shaving capability, or performance.
When you’re finished shaving, cleaning the 4200 takes less than a minute. The device washes well under the sink. And by touching a button the side with your thumb, you can rinse the inner basin out.
Detailed maintenance and blade replacement won’t take long either. Every 18 months you must replace the blades. A few twists of some o-rings and the blades pop out of the head.
The Lithium Ion battery lasts for 50 minutes per charge. The 4200 comes with a quick charge option that gives you enough juice for one shave in 3 minutes. A full charge takes about an hour.
Included with the 4200 you’ll find a charging cable, cleaning brush, and protective plastic cap.
If the numbers are to be believed, The Philips Norelco 4500 should be the obvious top shaver in this head-to-head. But is it?
Slipping off the packaging and holding the 4500 for the first time I wondered what I had gotten myself into. The shaver seemed identical on first blush. Like deja vu, I felt I was in a time warp, reviewing the same product for the third time.
With the shaver turned on I heard the same classic Norelco 4000 series sound. The stable buzzing of three self sharpening, DualPrecision blades.
The 4500 ships with the same extras as the 4100 and 4200. You get a charging cable. You get a plastic cap. And yes, you also get a little brush to wipe out the inside of the blades and plastic basin.
Inspecting the 4500 closer I noticed the LED indicators aren’t the same. The 4500 is a newer model, dating back to 2015. Philips Norelco must’ve changed the front facing lights.
On the 4500, you’ll find separate lights for full battery and low battery. The low battery indicator doubles as charging notification, too.
Excited by the unique feature, I quickly set up my bathroom for a wet shave. Using foam and water, I turned on the rotary electric razor and shaved.
The same great Pivot, Flex, and Float contouring system hugged my face. Using concentric circle motions, I felt the DualPrecision blades munch on my whiskers with no irritation.
The 4500 comes installed with Philips Norelco’s Aquatec seal. I had no issues with the shaver chugging on shaving foam or a reduction of performance. I didn’t have to stop halfway to rinse out the shaver either. It lasted the entire shave.
It seemed like the 4500 performed better than the other two shavers. But I could be mistaken. It took about the same time to shave. It’s possible because the shaver is a few years newer that the motor technology had been improved.
On paper, the specs of the shavers are the same. So, it could be my imagination.
The 4500 is a well-made, affordable shaver. The gray design doesn’t stand out as much as the 4100 or the 4200, but that’s not really a negative.
The included lithium ion battery will last you 50 minutes per charge, which is about a week of shaving. Like the other 4000 models, it includes a quick-charge feature and takes about an hour to charge completely.
What’s the Same Between the Three 4000 Philips Norelco Rotary Shavers?
Comparing the three products side by side, it’s clear they’re near identical. Below, I explain the key ways in which these Philips Norelco shavers are the same.
The Philips Norelco Aquatec technology is renown in the shaving industry. Its well-designed seals keep water away from all electrical components.
The convenience of a wet/dry shaver cannot be understated. The option to shave with gel or foam promises refreshing opportunities when you face is dry, or you need help to lift hard to cut hair off your skin.
Plus, shower shaving cuts time in your daily routine. When you have a crammed morning with things to do before work, shaving in the shower can give you more time for breakfast or talking to your spouse.
No matter which shaver you choose, when the time comes, you’ll be purchasing the same replacement heads for all three shavers. Thankfully, replacement DualPrecision Heads are easy to find and relatively inexpensive. The install process can be done within five minutes and is completely safe.
You should replace the heads every 18 months, possibly less depending on how often you shave. All three shavers operate on the same chassis and motor, so expect no difference in performance with the cutting heads.
The plastic body used for the shavers is identical. I think that’s a good thing. It’s come to be known as the classic Philips Norelco design.
Holding any of these shavers is a pleasant experience. The rubberized neck and back keep it secure in my hand while shaving in the shower.
I think the 4000 series body remains the easiest to clean, too. You can reach side button with your thumb. Once disengaged, a quick rinse under the tap is all it takes to remove shaving gel and clipping build up.
Pivot, Flex, and Float System
The 4000 series comes with a unique contouring system known as Pivot, Flex, and Float. Each rotating head sits in a floating harness which allows it to pivot from side to side.
Philips Norelco then molds the heads into a flexing cap that pushes inward, allowing the heads to bend towards your skin as you angle the shaver around your face.
Combining all three elements enables the Philips Norelco 4000 to hug your difficult to reach spots, like below the chin and your jaw line.
I refuse to own a shaver without a pop-up trimmer. Even though I own separate trimmers, the convenience of a quick-release attachment saves me time.
The 4000 series comes with a horizontal pop-up trimmer. Sliding the plastic cover with your thumb releases the trimmer on the back of the device. You can use it in the shower or at the sink to clean up your sideburns, neckline, or to trim the hair around your ears and nose.
Lithium Ion Battery
Recent battery technology and new manufacturing methods have made NiMH batteries a stone-age feature. Thankfully, all three 4000 options come with a lithium ion battery.
Lithium ion batteries do not suffer the memory loss problems found in NiMH counterparts. That means you can throw the shaver on a charger no matter the amount of battery left in the device.
They also output more power than NiMH, so you shave with at least 30% more juice. This saves you time and the possibility of irritation as more time shaving means more chances to develop rashes and burns.
What’s Different Between the Three 4000 Series Philips Norelco Shavers?
While the key features of the 4100, 4200, and 4500 are the same, there are a few minor differences. To better help you discern what separates them, I’ve collected the differences into one place. They are as follows:
The 4100 vs 4200 indicators remain the same. The two devices ship with a single light with two-tone capability. When the battery charges you will see a green light and when it requires charging, you’ll see a red light.
The 4500, on the other hand, ships with a different indicator. There are separate lights for charging and low battery. You’ll also find a symbol for charging and for low battery.
Although the lights may be different between the Norelco 4100 vs 4500, the actual charging capacity, duration, and battery performance are identical.
Although obvious, it’s worth mentioning that the model numbers and manufacturing dates are unique to the three shavers.
The 4100 and 4200 are older models, dating back to 2012. The 4500 is newer, starting its manufacturing run in 2015. The model numbers likely correspond to these dates. Also, the 4200 was originally a special offer with Target. This also explains the red color which matches Target’s branding.
That offer has long since faded, and the model has since been available for purchase on Amazon the same as the 4100 and 4500.
The Travel Case
The 4500 and 4100 have package options that include a travel case. While all the models ship with a protective cap, if you travel frequently, consider the travel case.
A travel case adds an extra layer of protection and peace of mind when on the road. It’s especially helpful on flights when there’s a chance airport staff will manhandle your baggage.
Because the 4000 models were made at separate stages in the Norelco product life-cycle, they have different packaging. For example, the 4100 ships a fairly straightforward recyclable brown box.
The 4500 ships in frustration free plastic packaging. That’s just another way of saying it doesn’t require scissors or knives to split open the plastic shell.
Ultimately, packaging is a personal preference. Some enjoy knowing their packaging is recyclable and not landfill-bound plastic. Others just want something that opens easily.
No matter which model you choose, your new shaver will ship in a box that won’t damage or chip your device.
It’s possible to purchase the 4100 with an optional charge dock. I’ve seen 4500s that also have a charge dock option.
The charge dock plugs into your wall outlet. You set the shaver on it when you’re done your shave and it’ll automatically recharge your shaver.
I like the dock because it charges your shaver while keeping it standing upright. This lets the blades dry faster. Plus, water won’t pool in the basin inside the shaver.
If you can find the charge dock option, it’s worth the extra price. But I wouldn’t go out of my way to buy it.
Which One Should You Buy? Philips Norelco 4100 vs 4200
Holding the 4100 and 4200 in my hands, I can safely say they weigh the same. The rubber grips and ergonomics are also identical.
Staring at both products all I can tell you is that the color is different. They are the same height, clocking in at 6 inches. I think they’re the same product, only repackaged. But I left my final judgements up to the shaving test.
Turning the shavers on requires a thumb press on the neck of the shaver. Both shavers start up with the same sound. As rotary shavers, I find them less noisy than your average foil shaver.0
The shaving experience with either shaver was good. They’re Aquatec seal meant I could use shaving gel. Using small circular motions, I shaved one half of my face with the 4100 and the other side with the 4200.
I noticed no differences in performance nor a change in the outcome. Both sides of my face were equally smooth and hair-free.
Comparing the Philips Norelco 4100 vs 4500
You’d think comparing the lower end 4000 series to the higher end would make it easier to spot the differences. That’s not the case.
Unlike the last comparison, I noticed a minor difference between the 4100 and 4500 right away. The 4500’s LED indicator comprises two separate lights, one for charging and one to signal when the battery is low.
The 4100 has a single LED with two-tone capability. It has a stable green light when fully charged and a red light while charging or when it requires a charge.
Shaving with the two razors turned out to be identical. The 4500 sounds slightly higher pitched. Both shavers left my face smooth and irritation free. They each took three minutes to shave.
The extra bits can change depending on the package you purchase. The 4500 can come with a travel case and I’ve seen the 4100 packaged with spare razor heads. Both come with the basic charging cable and protective cap.
Having scrutinized every detail, performance, and feature I can finally say the shavers are the same product.
I think any notable difference I found in their performance came down to my heightened awareness of trying to find a difference. All three models operate with the same shaving heads, motor, and chassis.
When deciding between the 4000 series options you’re mostly looking at color choice. So, my final pick is the 4100 because I prefer the ice blue to 4200’s red and 4500’s gray.
Whichever one you choose, know that you’re buying a great shaver. It’s dependable, can be used wet or dry thanks to Aquatec. Plus, the rotary blades chop down a thick 3-day beard in less than five minutes.
Now you can decide with no hesitations and move on to comparing other seemingly similar products like Coke and Pepsi.