The Colgate Pulse Series 2 smart toothbrush is an attractively priced electric toothbrush if you fancy gamifying your daily dental routines.
|App challenges you to brush better||Looks like it does wireless charging – but it doesn’t|
|Lit base makes it easy to track your progress||Power button is slightly oddly placed|
|Comparatively affordable||Smile rewards aren’t particularly generous|
Reviewing an electric toothbrush is a deeply weird thing. I don’t say that because I have deeply weird teeth – though they do have their quirks – but mostly because it’s a very personal and intimate product to test, and one person’s sensitivities or preferences can absolutely make or break the value of a given model.
That’s especially tricky for higher-priced smart electric toothbrushes. If all you want is a basic vibrating motor, that can be yours for a relatively modest sum, though like razors you’ll also have to factor in the cost of replacement heads over time.
At around $120 or so, the Colgate Pulse Series 2 doesn’t sit in the absolute top end of this space by a wide margin. I’ve previously tested models that cost way more than that elsewhere:
While it’s nowhere as fancy as those models, the Colgate Pulse Series 2 does the job it’s meant to quite effectively, adding a few smart features that do raise it above the rest of the pack.
The Colgate Pulse Series 2 ships in either all black or all red finishes, though the heads appear to be only available in a black colour. Having previously tested black toothbrushes, I’m all too well aware of how quickly they can get gunged up with toothpaste residue, so I was relatively thankful that Colgate sent me the red model. It’s certainly eye-catching, though there’s not much here to suggest that this is anything but a “dumb” toothbrush, rather than a smart one.
As with every electric toothbrush you can buy, the actual toothbrush head slots onto the top of the toothbrush. There’s a slot at the back of the brush head that means you cannot possibly put it on the “wrong” way. Below the brush head sits a rotating switch that lets you manually flick between gentle, daily and deep cleaning modes.
There’s a small groove on the front face of the toothbrush with a smile logo at the base that lights up. It’s a cute touch, but it’s also one that I found ever so slightly irksome.
Why? Because the power button sits just below that, and when I’m brushing my teeth in the morning and I’m only half-awake, I’d rather slide my finger down that groove and actually hit the button. That’s a muscle memory issue and not a deal-breaker, but maybe something Colgate could consider for the Colgate Pulse Series 3 at some point.
In the retail box for the Colgate Pulse Series 2 you’ll find two heads, though this appears to differ depending on which model you buy. The red version Colgate sent me has the Whitening & Deep Clean brush heads, while the black model would appear to ship with the Sensitive & Deep Clean heads. A four pack of replacement heads – all the same type – will run you about $30.
You also get a simple travel case, as well as the charging base for the toothbrush. One important point here is that you don’t get an actual wall charger with the Colgate Pulse Series 2, just a USB charging base. As such, you’ll need a spare phone charger or similar to actually top its power up. Toothbrushes don’t need much power, it must be said, so even a much older one should be fine, as long as it’s still electrically sound.
The Colgate Pulse Series 2 is a smart toothbrush, and that naturally means that it has a companion app, available for iOS or Android platforms. Connection to the toothbrush is via Bluetooth, and I had no issues at all getting it set up via the app.
You may be wondering why a toothbrush needs to be “smart” at all, and there’s a few to answers to that. It allows you to track and quantify your tooth brushing in that style that most of us are familiar with via activity trackers. It’s just that in this case, you’re tracking how often you brush your teeth rather than how often you go for a jog.
It also allows for a level of estimated coverage, with a neat map of your teeth to show where you might not be providing enough coverage. That’s not a unique idea just for the Colgate Pulse Series 2, and like most estimates it’s a best-guess kind of scenario.
I’ve definitely had the Colgate app tell me that an area was missed when it wasn’t, but then the core idea here is really much more to get you to brush more and think about brushing more. That’s good for dental health in general, basically.
You can either opt for an app-led brushing experience if you’re happy to have your smartphone in your bathroom, or sync brushing sessions over Bluetooth if you don’t.
Colgate also tries to gamify the tooth brushing experience with what it calls “Smile Points”, which you largely earn for brushing your teeth. Smile Points are only earned for full completed two minute sessions, with a maximum of three sessions per day counting towards your total.
There are other activities that can earn points, such as testing your brushing speed or style as well as a pirate game for younger owners of teeth. It’s… like most of those “edutainment” games, not exactly thrilling stuff, but maybe worth a punt if little Timmy just won’t brush his teeth otherwise.
Before you start contemplating whether you want to be the next Smile Points King or Queen, it’s worth noting what you can use those smile points for. Colgate states that Smile Points can be redeemed for discounts, with 100 smile points being worth a $1 discount… on Colgate products.
Herein lies the rub, because what that means in practical terms if you’re brushing offline twice a day (and you should be) is that in a single 365 day calendar year you can generate a grand total of $7.30 worth of discounts. If you did brush three times a day in the approved manner, you’d still only generate $10.95 worth of discounts. It’s more if you use the guided app approach, and there are other ways to earn points, but it’s still not exactly a super-generous scheme.
Discounts are great when they’re discounts, but the app only seems to sell (at the time of writing) $5 Amazon Colgate Store cards. So for a twice-a-day-offline-brusher it’s really just $5 a year discount on products that may be selling cheaper elsewhere regardless. Annoyingly, they also expire on 31 December of the following year from when you earn them, so you’re never going to save big bucks this way.
In terms of charging, the base on the Colgate Pulse Series 2 might seem to suggest that it’s using Qi wireless charging, but this is not the case. It’s using tiny pogo-pin style charging, which means it’s very much tied to the specific base and cable that you get with the toothbrush. As far as I can see, there’s no capability to buy a base separately, so if you lose it on your travels or it breaks, you’re plumb out of luck.
The actual brushing experience is quite decent, I will say. I’ve been using the whitening brush for a couple of weeks now, and it’s very comfortable to use mainly on the daily setting. Colgate’s claim here is for 50% better plaque removal, but that’s compared to a manual toothbrush.
In any case, I don’t have a spare head and set of teeth that I can use as a control sample, so, like many claims made by its competitors, I’ll take that one with a grain of salt. Like a lot of electric toothbrushes there can be a learning curve to most effective and most comfortable use, so be ready for that.
I do like the very simple lights at the base of the toothbrush, not so much when they light up red to tell me that I’m pushing too hard (though that’s useful) but because they light up in a four quadrant sequence as I go through brushing my teeth. It’s a simple thing that keeps me on track, and I appreciate it.
The Colgate Pulse Series 2 is rated for up to two weeks of battery life, and honestly at this stage I’ve not had it outside my bathroom, so I can’t yet comment on that aspect of its performance. Stay tuned for further updates once I’ve had the chance to travel with it.
Colgate Pulse Series 2: Alex’s Verdict
The Colgate Pulse Series 2 isn’t a super-fancy, very high-end smart toothbrush. If you want a wider choice of modes, or more in-depth specific cleaning, you’re probably still on the hook for a pricier toothbrush.
But it is fairly priced, I think for a toothbrush with these specific smart features. There’s definitely something to gamifying boring daily activities, whether that’s making sure you take enough steps, or get away from your desk every few hours.
Putting brushing your teeth, which has wider implications for your general health beyond just the quality of your gnashers into that gamifying basket makes a lot of sense. I also appreciate that unlike some premium-priced smart toothbrushes, the replacement brush heads aren’t insanely expensive.
Colgate Pulse Series 2: Pricing and availability
The Colgate Pulse Series 2 sells in Australia for around $120, with replacement four packs of brush heads running at around $30.Buy On Amazon