Calling the Panasonic Arc6 a piece of art might be hyperbole. But, there’s a reason it comes bearing a price tag that’s higher than some models of laptop. This is an elegant piece of personal grooming kit, which has been thoughtfully designed so that not only is it straightforward to use, but also delivers the kind of shave that will see you dismiss the competition.
That said, not everyone will be drawn to such an expensive tool. After all, you’d be buying disposable razors for years before you’d cover the cost of the Arc6. Even when comparing this model to the previous flagship, the Panasonic Arc5, you’ll be spending twice as much. Of course, you get six blades instead of five as well as a self-cleaning station – which, in our opinion, sets the Arc6 above.
As we dig deeper into how the Arc6 performs, hopefully the reasons that it carries such a hefty price tag will become clear, not least the inclusion of that self-cleaning charging station. Besides, this is an investment piece, the kind of device that should last you through years of use, somewhat offsetting that high initial outlay. If you’re willing to pay the price, you might want to consider skipping even the best beard trimmers and electric razors for the Panasonic Arc6.
Panasonic Arc6 price & availability
- List price: $499
- Only available in the US
There have been two bundles of the Panasonic Arc6 available since it first launched in June of 2022. The cheaper one, the ES-LS8A-K, comprises just the shaver itself and is still pretty pricey at $399.
The ES-LS9A-K, on review here, costs more at $499 / £499; but includes a self-cleaning charging station. If you were already budgeting around $400 / £400 on your shaving solution, then we suggest spending a little extra for that charging and cleaning convenience.
Of course, justifying that price may prove difficult. After all, you can buy a razer for a couple dollars / quid, with some decent electric shaver options also coming in for a tenth of the price. We do believe the Arc6 is worth the money; but the price of entry means it isn’t a great value proposition.
Value: 3.5 / 5
Panasonic Arc6 design
- Comes with a self-cleaning charging station that’s worth the extra cost
- The Arc6 is big but ergonomic
- Comes with six blades for shaving duties
Here are the specifications for the Panasonic Arc6:
Recommended uses: Wet
Battery life: 50 minutes
Battery type: Rechargeable
Accessories: Self-cleaning charging station, travel case, lubricating oil, brush, detergent packet
Weight: 0.5lbs (0.23kg)
As previously mentioned, the ES-LS9A-K configuration of the Arc6 is essentially a bundle. So, on opening the box, we were pleasantly surprised to find the Arc6 shaver accompanied by a self-cleaning charging station, a charging cable, one packet of special detergent for the cleaning station, a small bottle of lubricating oil, plus a small brush for cleaning away excess debris. The shaver also arrives in a nice, leather carrying case.
Regarding the charging station, it’s a bit bulky – but sturdy and light. There are four LEDs across the top: Status, Low, Clean and Dry. A select button next to them allows you to turn on the cleaning and/or drying function.
A button on the side of the station allows the chassis of the station to pop up, revealing a compartment in which you can insert the detergent with some water to use the self-cleaning function. We particularly liked this station; along with making charging easy, since it’s also a dock from which to charge the Arc6, the extra spend is warranted to upgrade what is already an expensive shaver to a more functional setup.
Our only real complaint is that Panasonic only includes one packet of that special detergent. While it does last six months, you’ll have to order more when you need a refill from a third party retailer from Amazon. A single packet starts at around $15 / £11 is you’re to buy direct from Amazon.
The Arc6 shaver itself is a fine bit of kit, even without the charging station. It’s pretty big at 6.77 inches long (17.2cm) but its grip is ergonomically shaped to fit comfortably in the hand. Three sides of the handle are covered in a textured rubber that helps it feel secure in the hand, while the front of its handle is home to the power button as well as an LED display. This panel displays battery life remaining as a percentage, as well as some “check engine” type symbols to let you know if the device requires charging or cleaning, whether it’s locked into place, and if the blades need checking.
The Arc6’s head – which comes with a guard to keep out random debris – is free-moving with a decent amount of tilt and swivel. Behind the head, you’ll find an attached trimmer with a sliding button below it. When you move that button up one setting, it locks the head into place. Move it once more and the trimmer will pop out – perfect for anyone who waits three weeks before shaving.
Probably the most important feature here, however, is the six-blade system that’s meant to deliver a smooth, clean shave. Of the six blades, made of hypoallergenic steel, two are finish blades, two are lift blades, and two are thick-stubble blades. It may be tough to distinguish what each blade is doing, but they’re tough without being rough on the skin. In addition, having so many blades contributes to how quickly the Arc6 gives a clean shave.
Design: 5 / 5
Panasonic Arc6 performance
- Wet shaving delivers a smooth and clean cut
- Dry shave performance isn’t the best
- The Arc6 is super-easy to clean
Panasonic advertises the Arc6 as delivering “84,000 cross-cutting actions per minute” and that the head moves in “22 independent directions.” While we can’t count that fast, it does shave down to a babyface fairly quickly. On regular stubble and even a few days of growth, using the Panasonic with some shaving gel or cream achieved great results very quickly.
As we do have somewhat thicker stubble, even using the Arc6 for a wet shave but without any shaving gel resulted in a good, quick shave – but it wasn’t as close; there remained a little bit of a five o’clock shadow.
Now, Panasonic also advertises this as a wet/dry shaver. While we had no trouble using the trimmer on a dry beard to get short enough to shave – we wouldn’t recommend using the trimmer to shape a beard; we found that we had to move very slowly with a dry shave, so that hairs wouldn’t catch. In fact, it was slightly painful trying to shave this way. Again, we do have somewhat thicker stubble; but we’d primarily recommend using the Arc6 as a wet shaver.
When it comes to cleaning the Arc6, there are two ways to do this. Using the charging station is incredibly easy: simply dock the shaver and press a button. Of course, it’s pretty loud for the 10 minutes it’s cleaning, but this switches to a low hum for the following 50 minutes of drying time. But at least it’s a set-it-and-forget-it solution.
However, for those occasions you’re on the road with the Arc6, without the self-cleaning station (or you opted for the shaver unit-only), it remains easy to clean. You can use regular hand soap directly on the blades; hold down the power button for a couple seconds, then remove the outer foil that houses all the blades for rinsing, alongside the inner part of the Arc6’s head. All in all, Panasonic has made everything simple and straightforward.
Performance: 4.5 / 5
Panasonic Arc6 battery
The Arc6 arrived without any charge. Having set up the charging / self-cleaning station and putting the Arc6 in its cradle, the shaver took a little under an hour to reach a full charge.
Since you can view the shaver’s charge level on its LED display, it’s easy to keep tabs on the battery. A regular shave – going from a couple days’ growth to a clean, smooth face – will use around 15% of the Arc6’s battery. Our first use brought the battery life down to about 65%, as we had to use the trimmer first to get the beard to a reasonable length for shaving. We also tried shaving dry, then wet, and then wet with shaving gel – in all instances, the Arc6’s battery drain of similar level was reasonable. And, once back in its charging station, it was back to 100% in about 10 minutes.
Panasonic Arc6 score card
|Price and availability||The Panasonic Arc6 can do a lot – but it comes at a high price. This is a premium option, not a value one.||3.5 / 5|
|Design||The Arc6 isn’t only well designed; it comes with a decent number of features including a very useful charging and cleaning station.||5 / 5|
|Performance||While the Arc6 is okay for dry shaving, it delivers the best results when used with water and gel/cream. It’s easy to clean, too.||4.5 / 5|
|Battery||It powers up quickly and holds more than enough battery life to get you feeling smooth as butter.||5 / 5|
Should I buy?
Buy it if…
Don’t buy it if…
- First reviewed: October 2022