Philips 1250x vs 1280x vs 1290x

Philips’ electric shaver line has generally gone from triumph to triumph. That’s nowhere better illustrated than the Norelco SensoTouch 3D line, including the 1250, 1280, and 1290 models. However, if you include sub-model numbers like the 1250X/40, 1250X/42, 1280X/42, and the 1290X/40 for example – choosing one can get pretty confusing.

No need. All the SensoTouch 3D models share the same basic shaving technology and differ just in finish and features or add-ons, sometimes in just minor ways. Let’s try to unravel some of that.

1250x/40
1250x/46
1250x/42
1250xcc
1250x/47
1280x/42
1280xcc
1280x/47
1290x/40
1290x/46
Type Rotary Rotary Rotary Rotary
Dry Shaving
Wet Shaving
Trimmer
Waterproof
Automatic Cleaning System
Cleaning Programs 1 3
Cleaning Indicator
Cleaning Solution Jet Clean Jet Clean
Rechargeable Battery
Battery Level Indicator
Charging Time 1 hr 1 hr 1 hr 1 hr
Cordless Shaving up to 50 min up to 50 min up to 60 min up to 60 min
Quick Charge 5 min 5 min 5 min 5 min
Shaving With Cord
Replace Shaving Head Indicator
Shaving Head Replacement RQ12 RQ12 RQ12 RQ12
Travel Pouch
Travel Lock
Power Save Mode
Finish Black Black Black / Chrome Black / Metal
Review 1280x/42
Where to Buy? Best Price Best Price Best Price Best Price

Basic Design

All the Norelco SensoTouch 3D electric shavers get the 3D name from that head atop the robot-appearance head, which tilts in all three dimensions. Whether “3D” is an appropriate description is debatable, but there’s no doubt about the function. It definitely provides a very flexible motion to get into every nook and cranny of your face. The company’s literature often includes the buzzword “Gyroflex” before the “3D,” which might give you a better idea.

The multi-part blade and cover design works in conjunction with that movement. It consists first of a pair of rotating, stay-sharp blade elements in each head. One set lifts the hair while the other comes along right behind to cut, similar to the way a manual dual-blade razor works.

Yet, that blade design doesn’t do all the work. The head covers are equally important. Each houses channels to whack off the longer hairs, slots to take care of the medium-length growth, and holes to trim stubble close to the skin.

The whole assembly is well sealed so you can use it in the shower without fear. That also makes shaving smoother for many guys who prefer wet shaving. That technique lowers friction, especially when combined with a gel or electric shave solution. As a nice side benefit, it makes cleaning the shaver easier. You can rinse off all three heads and hair chambers by just popping off the foil/cover.

x/42 vs x/40 – To Jet Clean or Not to Jet Clean

Speaking of cleaning, how you do that is one of the differentiators of the different models.

The 1280X/42, for example, comes with Philips’ Jet Clean system while, perhaps oddly, the higher-numbered model 1290X/40 does not. In this case, it’s the second number (40 versus 42) that tells you whether a model comes with the cleaning unit or not. The number 42 signals inclusion of the cleaning system. And to make things even more confusing, depending on where you look you may see the models with Jet Clean system also listed with xcc as suffix such as 1280xcc or 1250xcc.

The 1280X/42 cleaning system offers three cleaning programs versus just one for the 1250X/42 sub-model. The three cleaning programs are: eco, auto, and intensive. The ‘eco’ setting offers a shorter drying time (one hour versus two), which means a tiny savings of electricity. The ‘intensive’ setting lengthens the normal 4-6 minute cleaning cycle to a full 35 minutes.

Does the cleaning system justify the higher price? Hard to say. Water-rinsing is good but that Jet Clean system does come in handy occasionally. It deep-cleans and helps preserve the heads in a way that simple rinsing won’t and it’s certainly easier than scrubbing.

Whether that justifies the added cost is no doubt a personal choice. There’s no way to quantify the coolness factor of inserting the shaver head down and watching the Jet Clean system work. Still, there’s no doubt it is easy to use, convenient, and hygienic.

Battery and Shaving Time

The internal battery – or at least the way it works – is another differentiator for the various SensoTouch 3D models. To some buyers those differences will be insignificant; others might see them as decisive.

The 1250X/40 and 1250X/42, for example, both offer a rated shaving time per charge of 50 minutes or 17 days. By comparison, the 1280X/42 and 1290X/40 both offer a full 60 minutes or 20 days. Note, the “days” figure only means that Philips is assuming an average time to shave of about three minutes. If you can shave that fast, great. On average, I would assume at least twice that shaving time but maybe I’m a bit slow.

Keep in mind, however, that these are averages and optimal ones at that. For sure, you’ll typically get that full amount with a new shaver and for some time after that. Over time, it will almost certainly go down. Eventually, there’s no doubt it will; all rechargeable batteries fade to some degree as they’re recharged many times.

What that means in practice is that the 10 minute difference will probably mean nothing to anyone after you own your shaver for a while. Judge any price differences accordingly.

One final note in this section, about the battery level indicators. The 1290X/40 and the 1280X/42 have a five-level LED indicator while the two 1250X models have ‘only’ a three-level. There’s also a numeric battery level indicator on both the first two that the latter pair lack.

The numeric indicator might be just a techno-geek eye pleaser or it might actually help those who really want to get the absolute most out of the system. Without long-term testing by multiple users it’s hard to say. That feature isn’t worth much to me, despite being a certified techno-geek, but your view may reasonably differ.

Other Minor Differences

Some other differences between the various shaver models such as finish and a travel lock function are probably less important to most buyers.

The 1290X/40 has a zinc finish while the 1280X/42 features chrome. The 1250X models are black plastic. Personally, I really like a piece of gear that looks and feels high-tech but I wouldn’t pay a big premium for it. I might pay for a functional difference. If that aspect matters to you, fine. If not, not. There’s no disputing taste.

One difference that might matter to a few (or many?) buyers is the travel lock. I never have trouble with my electric shaver turning on by accident in my suitcase. Some, I suppose, might. Maybe it’s the way I pack or just sheer luck.

In any case, the 1290X has no actual travel lock to prevent that. What appears to some buyers like a travel lock on the 1290X is really just a power saver feature that activates automatically after being shaken for a few minutes. That simulates movement of your suitcase, one has to assume.

The other models require only a 3-second press and you’re fully secure; similarly a 3-second push unlocks it. Incidentally, it automatically unlocks when placed in the charging stand or Jet Clean system.

Summary

The bottom line is that all the Philips Norelco SensoTouch 3D electric shavers house essentially the same shaving technology. Those basic components are just as good on, say, the less-expensive 1250X/42 version as on the high-end 1280X/42 and both have Jet Clean systems. You might wonder, then, why anyone would spend more. The answer, of course, is in the detailed differences. Only you can decide how much those are worth to you.

Comments

  1. Jeff Long says:

    Very helpful review. And the comparison table really lays it all out clearly. I searched around Amazon and found other sub-models, labeled x/46 and x/47. They seem pretty similar. How do those compare with these? Thanks for the great review. Finding a good shaver without spending more than necessary is tough!

    • Chris Schuepfer says:

      Thanks for the nice comments :) I admit that all these model numbers are very confusing! The /46 and /47 labels are referring to the type of packaging. In this case: Frustration-Free Packaging. Click here to learn more about Amazon’s Frustration-Free Packaging.

      So basically…

      - the /46 model = /40 model in Frustration-Free Packaging
      - the /47 model = /42 model in Frustration-Free Packaging

      The 1250x/46 for example is the same as the 1250x/40 but the product is shipped in Frustration-Free Packaging. I updated the comparison table with the alternative model names.

  2. I am tossing between the 1280x/42 sensotouch 3d vs. Braun 790cc series 7. The one thing missing from the Norelco is charging flexibility. For travel, this is a major missing component. If charging was available with just a plug in cord, my decision would be simpler.

    • Chris Schuepfer says:

      In both cases there’s no need to pack the bulky clean and charge station for a trip. The charging cord can be plugged directly into the Braun 790cc shaver. The 1280x/42 comes with a separate charging stand in addition to Philips’ Jet Clean system. You just need the cord and stand on a trip.

  3. Chirag Chaudhari says:

    Great review. This is exactly what I have been looking for a long time. You made it really really easy what those confusing model numbers actually means. And great comparison table. They all use RQ12. So its only the matter of your preference and how much you really want to spend.

  4. Great thorough review. I’ve had many Norelcos and Brauns (even the occasional Panasonic) over the years and the SensoTouch is certainly at the head of the list. Currently I own the Braun 790cc and am very hesitant about buying yet another shaver since it delivers the goods. But I am obsessed with good design and the SensoTouch is all that and more. Would love to have two on my counter top but then that would not make any sense whatsoever. Ah… the curse of indecision. Thanks.

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