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Can the Colgate’s E1 smart toothbrush help you brush up on your cleaning technique?

·6-min read
Clever sensors tell you which teeth were improperly brushed, so you can improve your performance next time around (iStock/The Independent )
Clever sensors tell you which teeth were improperly brushed, so you can improve your performance next time around (iStock/The Independent )

Colgate has long been a brand name that has had prominence in our bathrooms.

However, the company has been looking to build on this familiarity and follow the likes of Philips and Oral-B into the smart toothbrush market, which it has done with the Colgate smart E1.

It’s a sonic brush, so we were comparing it in our testing with products from the Philips Sonicare range, and spent several weeks brushing up on our technique using the downloadable app.

When the brush launched, it was exclusively available in the Apple store, but now that retail relationship has ended the E1 is available for £159.99, so its closest rival is the Philips 9000 diamondclean (£149.99, Philips.co.uk), which you can pick up for £149.99.

So, what can the E1 do to improve your oral hygiene?

Read more:

Colgate connect E1 smart toothbrush

Buy now £159.99, Onbuy.com

  • Cleaning technology? Sonic

  • 30-second pacer? Yes

  • 2-minute timer? Yes

  • Pressure sensor? No

  • Travel case? No

  • Waterproof? Yes

  • Brushing modes? 1

  • Weight? 71g

  • Charging time? 13 hours

  • Usage? 15 days

  • Rating: 7/10

The brush

On first impressions and compared to some of the more eye-catching and sleek designs on the market the E1 looks a little, well, dull. However, don’t let that put you off purchasing it because it’s nice and lightweight with a slightly squared brush handle, which felt ergonomically suited for family brushing, as it was comfortable for both adult and junior hands.

The smooth plastic handle was a little slippy, however, so if you do have some grip issues you might struggle a little. Some extra grip could be a welcome addition, although this might just add to the weight, which is one of the advantages of the design.

The small brush head (smaller than Sonicares’) could be easily manoeuvred around the mouth, whilst it also felt like there was good coverage. The bristle pattern, soft on the outside and more robust towards the centre, didn’t feel stiff enough to give a deep down clean and so we tended to spend longer on the teeth to make up for this. Having said that, the bristles did feel like they were getting between the teeth to stop any embarrassing post-lunch “spinach smile incidents” and it’s certainly more effective than a manual.

Read more: Is the Oral-B teen the perfect entry-level electric toothbrush?

There is just one cleaning mode, which was perhaps a little less powerful than the modes that we had experienced with Philips Sonicare brushes, but if you suffer from sensitive gums this might not be such a bad thing.

Many users will also like the one-mode, back to basics approach rather than the endless cycling through many different modes to try and find the one that suits their dental regime the best.

One thing we would like to see in future incarnations is some indication that the brush head needs changing – the E1 has no fading indicator bristles or LED warning, like you will find on Sonicare brushes.

The app

Of course, what takes the brush into “smart” territory is the accompanying Colgate Connect app, available on Android and iOS. For adults, this means you will get real-time feedback on your brushing and how complete your coverage is within the mouth. It does this by using the usual segmented approach, dividing the teeth up into sectors and leaving you to impress the AI by showing it how well you brush the surfaces of your teeth.

Read more: Is the Philips Sonicare 5100 toothbrush worth the hype?

The sensors in the brush analyse the brush’s location in the mouth and the angle that it’s at, so that at the end of your session you will get a result down to the exact number of teeth that were improperly brushed and where they were, so that you can improve your performance next time.

Colgate clearly understands that many people don’t take their smartphone into the bathroom when they brush though. Instead the E1 stores the data and automatically uploads it the next time it is synced with the app, which is a very practical application of the technology.

We really liked the fact that with the E1, the handle can be shared between different family members, using different user profiles, so parents and children can all take advantage of the app. For younger family members there is interactive game content aimed at increasing how thoroughly they brush, their motivation to do so and their overall technique, so precious time in front of the mirror isn’t wasted.

The game Go Pirate is a 3D running game, in the vein of Subway Surfer or Temple Run, which sees our junior brusher take on the avatar hunting through various island scenarios for Great Black Beard’s treasure was a particular favourite. There are 16 levels to the game itself, you start out as a lowly cabin boy, which aims to motivate the brusher to keep coming back to the game (and therefore the toothbrush) brushing their teeth in order to collect gold coins, which means they can buy boats and sail between the islands to find the treasure.

Read more: 9 best kids’ electric and manual toothbrushes they’ll want to use

We’ve seen a lot of these levelling up motivation games that are geared towards forming good brushing habits in children, but Go Pirate is definitely one of the best. The game shows off the accuracy of the sensors hidden in the brush – as you move the E1 to each side of the mouth, the pirate moves with it, and it’s this movement to collect the coins that ensures whoever is playing the game is also thoroughly brushing the four quadrants of the mouth.

And, because of the different user profiles option you can take advantage of the fact that if your child does have their own smartphone or tablet, they won’t have to borrow your tech in order to engage with the game. They simply select their profile from the downloaded app on their device, while you can check their progress on yours.

A lot of E1 users have had some issues with connectivity, and we experienced the “Oops! Connection lost” alert a couple of times, where the app lost connection and couldn’t find the brush again. However, we always got it again on a second attempt and so we would say this was only a minor niggle.

Buy now £159.99, Onbuy.com

The verdict: Colgate connect E1 smart toothbrush

The E1 is all about the app, which is intuitive, accurate, presents good feedback very clearly and is one of the best we’ve tested amongst the huge array of smart brushes. The sensors on the E1 were also extremely effective, and as such, if you know for a fact that you or your family members will benefit from app-enabled brushing then you should be willing to overlook some of the inadequacies in brush performance, as the tech will almost certainly make up for it.

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