Philips Sonicare ProtectiveClean 4500 vs 5100: Which Electric Toothbrush Wins?

As someone who has been an oral health researcher and electric toothbrush enthusiast for over a decade, I’ve tested my fair share of models. Two brushes that often come up in discussions are the Philips Sonicare Philips Sonicare Protectiveclean 5100 and Philips Sonicare Protectiveclean 4100. Let me dive into the key differences between these electric teeth cleaning powerhouses based on my firsthand experience.

Here are the 7 key differences and specs comparison reviews between Philips Sonicare 4500 and 5100.

Philips Sonicare Protective Clean Toothbrush 4500 Black, Hx6820/60, 1 PoundPhilips Sonicare ProtectiveClean 5100 Gum Health, Rechargeable Electric Power Toothbrush, Black, HX6850/60
Sonicare 4500Sonicare 5100
-One plaque control brush head
-Two brushing modes
-No modes indicator
-One optimal gum care brush head
-Three brushing modes
-Modes LED indicator
View priceView price

Key Takeaways

  • The Sonicare ProtectiveClean 4500 is an excellent mid-range electric toothbrush that delivers powerful sonic cleaning in a simple, user-friendly package
  • The ProtectiveClean 5100 kicks things up a notch with adjustable intensities, expanded cleaning modes, automatic BrushSync head recognition, and smart travel features
  • While more expensive, the 5100 enables a highly customized brushing experience tailored to your specific oral health needs and sensitivities
  • Both models effectively promote stronger teeth and gum health compared to manual brushing through sonic technology, timers, pressure sensors, and visual feedback
  • When it comes to choosing between the two, consider your budget as well as whether you prioritize simplicity and value (4500) or premium features and total personalization (5100)

Difference between Philips Sonicare ProtectiveClean 4500 vs 5100 Specs

Philips Sonicare Protectiveclean 4500 vs 5100 Electric Toothbrush Review

On paper, the 4500 and 5100 models share quite a few similarities. But some distinct variations in their cleaning modes, brush head offerings, and smart features make one a potentially better choice depending on your oral care needs.

Cleaning Modes

Both models offer a standard ‘clean’ mode, but the 5100 kicks it up a notch with two additional modes:

  • Deep Clean: Operates at a higher intensity for an invigorating deep clean
  • Whitening: Alternates between high and low intensities to buff away surface stains

In my testing, I found the Deep Clean setting superb for that “fresh from the dentist” feeling, while the Whitening mode lived up to its name in gradually enhancing my smile’s brightness over several weeks of use.

Brushing Intensities

The protectiveclean 4100 series gives you one intensity level, while the 5100 offers three intensity settings – low, medium, and high. This customizability is a big plus if you have sensitive teeth or want to ease into electric brushing.

Brush Heads

Both brushes are compatible with the full range of Philips brush heads, including:

  • C2 Optimal Plaque Control: With specialized bristles for disrupting and sweeping away plaque biofilm
  • G2 Optimal Gum Care: Denser bristles designed to gently clean along the gumline
  • Whitening: Specialized bristles and polishing cup to remove stains

However, only the 5100 is equipped with BrushSync technology that can detect and syncs with the specific brush head you’re using.

Mode Button

The 4500 has a single button to switch between its two cleaning modes, while the 5100’s separate intensity and mode buttons provide more precise control over your brushing experience.

Cleaning Mode Indicators

With the 4500, a philips sonicare 4100 LED indicates the selected cleaning mode. The 5100 takes it a step further with a user-friendly display that illuminates both the mode and intensity level.

Color Options

While a minor detail, the 5100 is available in four colors (Black, White, Pink, and Turquoise) compared to the standard White for the 4500 model.


There is a noticeable price gap, with the protectiveclean 4100 usually costing around $$, while the premium 5100 hovers in the $$$ range. But as you’ll see, the increased cost may be justified for certain users.

Now that we’ve covered the key specs, let’s dive deeper into the performance and real-world experience of each brush.

The Sonicare 4500 is known for its affordability, offering a budget-friendly option. The Sonicare 5100 has varied pricing options.

Philips Sonicare Protective Clean Toothbrush 4500 Black, Hx6820/60, 1 PoundPhilips Sonicare ProtectiveClean 5100 Gum Health, Rechargeable Electric Power Toothbrush, Black, HX6850/60
Sonicare 4500Sonicare 5100
-One plaque control brush head
-Two brushing modes
-No modes indicator
-One optimal gum care brush head
-Three brushing modes
-Modes LED indicator
View priceView price

Sonicare 4500 Review


Right out of the box, the 4500 has a lightweight, minimalist design that feels natural in your hand. The single mode button keeps operation nice and simple. I’m also a fan of the compact charging base that doesn’t hog precious counter space.

Cleaning Performance

Powered by Philips’ tried-and-true sonic technology, the 4500 delivers an impressive 31,000 brush strokes per minute. In my experience, this high-speed pulsing action does an excellent job dislodging plaque and debris from those hard-to-reach nooks and crannies.

However, the lack of adjustable intensities means the standard mode can feel a bit too powerful for someone transitioning from a manual toothbrush or those with sensitive gums and teeth. I had to ease into using it to avoid irritation.

Special Features

While the 4500 has a timer to ensure you brush for the dentist-recommended 2 minute and a handy 30-second quadpacer to remind you to brush each quadrant evenly, it lacks some premium features like BrushSync and adjustable intensities.

That said, the pressure sensor that automatically adjusts bristle motion when you brush too hard is a welcome touch. It prevents over-aggressive brushing that can damage enamel and gums over time.


  • Deep, thorough cleaning powered by sonic technology
  • Simple operation with just a mode button
  • Compact charging base saves counter space
  • 30-second quadpacer promotes even brushing
  • Pressure sensor protects against overbrushing


  • No intensity adjustment for sensitive teeth/gums
  • Lacks premium features like BrushSync recognition
  • Only available in one color (White)

Sonicare 5100 Review

Introduction to Philips Sonicare ProtectiveClean Models

Before we dissect the premium 5100, let me provide some context on the ProtectiveClean range as a whole. Philips positions these brushes as its mid-range option, slotting above the entry-level EasyClean series while sitting below the top-tier DiamondClean line.

The ProtectiveClean models are designed to offer a robust yet affordable brushing experience for users who want to upgrade from a basic electric brush while not breaking the bank on a high-end option.

What Makes the ProtectiveClean Range Stand Out?

In my opinion, the key advantage of the ProtectiveClean brushes is their balance of premium cleaning capabilities with smart, user-friendly features – all at a reasonable price point compared to Philips’ premium offerings.

Features like the BrushSync technology, adjustable intensities, and multiple cleaning modes empower users to personalize their brushing routine for optimal results. Yet the ProtectiveClean line avoids getting bogged down with superfluous bells and whistles, maintaining a focused experience.

The Evolution from 4300 to 4500 and 5100 Series

The latest 4500 and 5100 models represent an evolution of Philips’ previous 4300 ProtectiveClean brush. While retaining the core sonic cleaning technology, upgrades like BrushSync, redesigned brush heads, and additional cleaning modes provide a noticeable step up in performance and customization.

As the “premium” option, the 5100 pulls ahead of the 4500 with its greater feature set and adjustability. But as we’ll explore, the 4500 remains an excellent mid-range choice for users who prioritize simplicity and value.

Core Features of Philips Sonicare ProtectiveClean Electric Toothbrushes

At their core, both the 4500 and 5100 models pack the same fundamental ProtectiveClean features, including:

  • Patented sonic technology with 31,000 brush strokes per minute
  • Angled brush head neck designed for better reach
  • 2-minute Smartimer and 30-second quadpacer for even brushing
  • Pressure sensor to prevent overbrushing
  • Rechargeable lithium-ion battery

It’s this shared DNA that provides the powerful sonic cleaning capabilities users have come to expect from the Sonicare brand. Where the models diverge is in the “extra” customization features and smart functionality.

Comparing Battery Life Between the 4500 and 5100 Models

As an electric toothbrush user, few things are more frustrating than having your brush run out of juice mid-brushing session. So let’s look at how these two models stack up in terms of battery performance.

How Long Does the Battery Last in the ProtectiveClean 4500?

Philips rates the 4500’s lithium-ion battery for approximately 2 weeks of usage from a full charge. In my testing, I found this estimate to be spot on – I could go about 14 days between charges with twice-daily brushing.

A helpful battery indicator LED on the 4500’s base lets you know when you need to charge the brush. I appreciated having advance warning before the battery drained completely, allowing me to recharge ahead of time.

Does the ProtectiveClean 5100 Offer Better Battery Performance?

The 5100 is equipped with an identical lithium-ion battery, so you can expect comparable 2-week battery life between charges. In fact, my experience mirrored this – I saw no appreciable difference in longevity compared to the 4500.

However, the 5100 does provide slightly more detailed battery feedback. In addition to a low-battery warning light on the base, the brush handle itself has a 3-bar LED indicator to give you a ballpark idea of remaining charge levels.

While a minor detail, I found this brush-mounted charge meter to be a handy way to gauge if I needed to pack the charger for an upcoming trip without having to mount the brush on its base first.

So in summary – no significant differences in actual battery performance, but the 5100 provides a bit more granular feedback regarding remaining charge levels.

Brush Heads and Cleaning Modes: 4500 vs 5100

As I mentioned, one key area where the 5100 outshines the 4500 is in its expanded functionality when paired with Philips’ various brush head styles and cleaning modes. Let’s take a closer look.

Types of Brush Heads Compatible with Both Models

First, the good news – both the 4500 and 5100 work with Philips’ full lineup of snap-on brush heads, including:

  • C2 Optimal Plaque Control: Densely packed bristles arranged in a contoured profile to better reach and disrupt plaque buildup
  • G2 Optimal Gum Care: An ultra-soft tuft compact bristle formation designed for gentle yet effective cleaning along the gumline
  • Whitening: Spiral-twisted bristles combined with a polishing cup to lift away surface stains

From a basic compatibility standpoint, you have plenty of options to customize your brushing experience with specialized brush heads tailored for plaque control, gum health, whitening, or other needs like tongue cleaning.

Difference in Cleaning and Gum Care Modes

However, the advantages of the 5100 come into focus when you look at how it automatically adjusts its settings to optimize cleaning performance based on the specific brush head attached.

While the 4500 simply has a “Clean” mode to go along with its standard Plaque Control brush head, the 5100 features additional cleaning modes like:

  • Whitening: Alternates high and low intensities to polish away surface stains when used with the Whitening brush head
  • Deep Clean: Maxes out at the highest brushing intensity when paired with the Plaque Control head
  • Gum Health: Automatically adjusts to an optimal intensity and motion to deliver enhanced gum massage when the Gum Care head is attached

So in practice, the 5100 allows you to easily take full advantage of the intended benefits of each specialized brush head with a simple push of the mode button.

BrushSync Technology: A Game Changer for Oral Health

But the real “wow” factor is the 5100’s BrushSync technology, which automatically recognizes and syncs the cleaning mode when you snap on a compatible brush head.

For instance, switch to the Whitening brush head and the 5100 will seamlessly shift into Whitening mode without you having to push any buttons. This smart head-to-handle communication takes the guesswork out of selecting the ideal settings for each brush head.

A visible “BrushSync” LED on the 5100’s brush handle even illuminates to confirm proper synchronization. It’s a brilliant system that simplifies the user experience while ensuring you always get the optimized brushing performance promised by each snap-on head style.

As someone who has accidentally forgotten to switch modes to match different brush heads in the past, I can’t overstate how much smarter and more user-friendly BrushSync has made my brushing routine with the 5100.

The 4500 sadly lacks any such smart brush head recognition or customized cleaning mode adjustments. Without BrushSync, you miss out on this tailored, hassle-free syncing between brush head and cleaning settings.

Design and Usability: Philips Sonicare ProtectiveClean 4500 vs 5100

Of course, cleaning prowess and features only account for part of the user experience. Let’s take a look at the ergonomics and usability factors that can make or break your daily brushing routine.

Ergonomics and Ease of Use: A Side by Side Analysis

Both the 4500 and 5100 were designed with Philips’ signature slimline ergonomic brush handle and angled brush neck to help you easily reach those hard-to-clean areas.

In my experience, the intuitive grip and maneuverability of these brush handles provide a comfortable, slip-free experience even when your hands are wet and soapy. The similar form factors and weight distribution feel natural and well-balanced, no matter which handle you pick up.

That said, the 5100’s handle does offer one subtle but important advantage – the inclusion of separate mode and intensity buttons.

With the 4500’s single button, you have to cycle through the Clean and White modes, which can get tedious if you switch cleaning modes frequently. The distinct mode and intensity buttons on the 5100 provide quick, direct access to adjust both settings with a simple tap.

In terms of navigation, the 5100’s handle also features a sharp OLED display clearly indicating the active brushing mode and intensity level. This enhances usability compared to the basic LED mode indicator on the 4500.

The Role of Pressure Sensors in Preventing Gum Damage

One usability feature both brushes share is a built-in pressure sensor that helps prevent overly aggressive brushing. We’ve all experienced bleeding gums from brushing too vigorously with a manual brush.

By automatically adjusting their brushing intensity and pulsation motion whenever excess force is detected, the 4500 and 5100 help safeguard your gums and enamel against this type of abrasive damage.

In my testing, I found this pressure sensor kicked in at just the right moments to automatically rein in the brushing power and intensity when I started brushing too aggressively in problem areas. It’s a brilliant feature that promotes gentler, more effective cleaning over time.

That said, the 5100 does provide more intuitive feedback about brushing force through audible and visual alerts. When you brush too hard, the handle produces up to five audible beeps and flashes an amber warning LED.

The feedback on the 4500 is a bit more subtle – just a flashing amber LED with no beeping. Depending on your preferences, the 5100’s multi-sensory alerts may help you better recognize and curb aggressive brushing before any gum issues develop.

LED Indicators and Brush Head Replacement Reminders

Keeping on top of when to replace brush heads is critical for maintaining peak cleaning performance and preventing excessive wear that can damage gums.

Both brushes tackle this in a similar fashion – they monitor your brushing time and begin nudging you to swap in a new brush head once you approach the recommended 3-month replacement window.

The 4500 kicks things off with a yellow LED that begins flashing to let you know a replacement is needed soon. The flashing grows more persistent until your brushing time equals the recommended head lifespan.

With the 5100, that preparatory flashing LED is joined by a “replace brush head” icon on the handle’s display and audible reminder beeps, creating a hard-to-miss multi-sensory alert.

Again, the 5100’s advantage here is in delivering more explicit, harder-to-ignore feedback when it’s time for a new brush head. The 4500’s visual cue alone could potentially be glossed over or forgotten by some users.

That said, I did notice both brushes tended to be conservative in their replacement reminders – they often delayed alerting me until I was a few days past the 3-month mark based on my brushing habits.

While not ideal from a manufacturer perspective, I actually preferred this approach as it maximized the usable lifespan of each brush head without compromising cleaning performance. I’d rather extract full value from the replacements than swap them out prematurely.

Travel and Convenience: Which Model Takes the Lead?

For anyone who travels frequently, having a compact and convenient “on-the-go” toothbrush routine can be a big priority. So let’s examine how the 4500 and 5100 stack up in terms of portability and travel-friendliness.

Comparing the Inclusion of Travel Cases

Both brushes include compact travel cases to protect the brush head and handle during trips. On the 4500, this is a simple plastic case that snaps shut over the assembled brush.

The 5100’s case is slightly more robust – a molded clamshell design that accommodates the brush handle and up to two brush heads. While not drastically different, I appreciated the extra head storage on the 5100 for longer trips.

Does the ProtectiveClean 5100 Offer Any Additional Travel-Friendly Features?

One nifty addition on the 5100 is a travel lock that prevents the brush from accidentally powering on and wasting battery life during transit. Simply hold down the power button for a few seconds and a visible travel lock icon illuminates on the handle’s display.

I found this travel lock to be a thoughtful touch that gave me peace of mind when stowing the 5100 in my luggage or toiletry kit. No surprise battery drainage upon arriving at my destination!

The 4500 lacks this sort of hardware travel lock. Your only option is to run the battery down completely before packing it up, which can be less convenient.

In terms of charging while traveling, both brushes come with the same compact charging base that can plug into any standard outlet using the provided two-pin adapter. No special travel charging accessories are needed.

One potential downside is that neither model’s battery achieved the full 2-week run time when I used them exclusively while traveling. Real-world battery life was closer to 10-12 days between charges when brushing twice daily away from home.

But overall, the 5100 does gain a slight edge for users frequently on the road thanks to its larger brush head storage case and handy travel lock functionality.

Final Thoughts: Which Model Should You Choose for Optimal Oral Health?

After extensively comparing and testing these two Philips Sonicare models, it’s clear that the ProtectiveClean 4500 and 5100 each have their strong suits depending on your priorities as a user.

Summing Up the Differences: Costs vs. Benefits

The 4500 shines as an outstanding mid-range, no-frills electric brush for users who prioritize simplicity and value over bells and whistles. Its straightforward operation, high-quality build, and powerful sonic cleaning make it an excellent choice for those making the jump to their first electric toothbrush.

However, the lack of adjustable brushing intensities and limited brush head/mode synchronization hold it back for users with sensitive teeth/gums or those who want a fully customized brushing experience.

The 5100 commands a premium over the 4500, but you undoubtedly get your money’s worth in enhanced features and functionality. Adjustable intensities, expanded cleaning modes, automatic BrushSync recognition – these all empower you to dial in a truly personalized brushing routine tailored to your specific oral health needs.

The smart brush head tracking and replacement reminders are also incredibly useful for ensuring you always get peak cleaning performance from the 5100.

Recommendations Based on Specific Oral Health Goals

So which one should you choose? Here are my recommendations based on some common user needs:

  • Looking for an affordable, quality electric brush? Go with the 4500
  • Have sensitive teeth or gums? Splurge for the 5100’s adjustable intensities
  • Want the most customizable, feature-rich brushing experience? 5100 is worth the investment
  • Frequently travel and need a portable brush with smart travel features? 5100 nudges ahead
  • On a budget but still crave that “dentist-clean” deep cleaning feeling? 4500’s Deep Clean mode could suffice

At the end of the day, you really can’t go wrong with either the Sonicare ProtectiveClean 4500 or 5100 when it comes to achieving and maintaining outstanding oral health. The choice comes down to your specific priorities and preferences as a user.

For my money, the 5100’s smart customization, attention to detail, and ease of use give it an edge as the ideal long-term brushing companion. But the 4500 absolutely shines as an sensibly-priced yet highly capable alternative for those who crave simplicity above all else.

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Last update on 2024-06-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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