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Our Norelco 3800 Review: A *Great* Electric Shaver If…

Reviewing the Norelco 3800

Hey there! Here we’ll share our thoughts on the Norelco 3800 Electric Shaver. Do we love it? Do we hate it? Read on to find out. And if you’re in a rush, here’s a summary to start you off.

Norelco 3800 Review

The Norelco 3800—Review Summary: A *very* good option for gentleman looking for a mid-range shaver. We tend to forget that these are machines, and machines can be expensive–and when it comes to electric shavers, they can be VERY expensive. The Philips Norelco Shaver 3800 offers a high-performance device, with plenty of nice features, that delivers a close (and in our experience, pain-free) shave–without verging into that “deluxe” territory that can make them out-of-reach for many. Highly recommended, especially if you’re new to electric shavers and electric razors.

Philips Norelco Exclusive Shaver 3800, Rechargeable Wet & Dry Shaver with Pop-up Trimmer, Charging…Buy on Amazon

Last update on 2023-08-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Alright, let’s get into the nitty-gritty:

Stand-Out Features of the Norelco 3800 Electric Shaver

Here’s what we loved:

The Blades Are Smooth But Sharp

This is the most important feature, really, and it’s one of the features you’re really paying for (the others would be the battery and motor power). The blades on the Norelco 3800 are extremely sharp, and there are 27 of them–all of them cutting hair juuuuuuust above skin level. Not only are they extremely sharp, but they’re engineered to an incredible degree–if you look at the design, they’re all incredible smooth and uniform. That’s exactly what we want to see on an electric shaver.

The other fantastically nice thing about the blades on the Norelco 3800 is that the blades are self-sharpening. On electric razors that aren’t as nice as the 3800, you have sharpen them by hand, and that is a huge pain. And, not only is it a huge pain, but it takes forever, and it’s something we always end up putting off. Having self-sharpening blades on an electric shaver is something of a dream come true.

So, ComfortCut blades: one big thumbs up.

The Rotating Heads Are Flexible and Can Contour to Your Face

The first generation of rotary shavers—that is, shavers that have the round heads, like you see on the 3800—were remarkably stiff. They were stuck in place and didn’t move, and if you couldn’t maneuver the shaver well over your face–or you had odd angles and dips to your face (like most of us do!), they were incredibly difficult to use. Even shavers from a couple of years ago weren’t that accommodating when navigating over the nooks and crannies of your face. They weren’t much better than the foil shavers that have flat heads (although those have come a long way in recent years, too).

The good news is that electric shavers have gotten more and more capable over the years, and many of them can move in multiple directions to glide over your face and shave away all the whiskers beneath them. The Norelco 3800 features 5D Pivot and Flex Heads, which can address the contours of your face and adjust to keep in contact with your skin. That equals a smoother, less-irritating shave—and while the 5D pivot isn’t the best on the market (there are higher-end models that deliver more functionality), it’s very, very good.

It’s Got a Pop-Up Sideburn Shaver, Which is VERY Useful

Norelco is one of our favorite makers of electric razors, and it’s the little features like this that we love. This is a nice addition that a lot of mid-range and higher-end electric shavers have, and it’s great if you like to shape your sideburns and do detail work. It’s a handy little tool that can provide a lot more accuracy than just a razor, and it’s nice that you don’t have to reach for a separate tool to clean things up. Beard trimmers often have a similar feature, and they really do save time and make things easier.

If you’re new to using a pop-up sideburn trimmer, it can take a little getting used to–it can be difficult to use in the mirror, and the distance of the actual blade to the skin on your sideburn is more than you imagine. It can feel like you’re holding the device far from your face, making it difficult to orient to your skin. That passes, though, and it doesn’t take long to get the hang of it.

Norelco 3800 Review

It’s a Wet/Dry Shaver

For those of you who are new to the “wet/dry” feature, it can seem suicidally stupid: getting into the shower and using an electronic device. But–that’s what they’re made for! You can use them with or without shaving cream, and in the shower or out. If you like to get the majority of your grooming done in the shower–or you like to rinse off after using shaving cream on your face, which a lot of guys do–wet/dry electric shavers are a dream.

This is such a dramatic improvement over the electric razors of yester-year, and having those options–with/without cream, in-or-out of the shower–is one of the best things about modern electric shavers.

What I Thought of the Norelco 3800 After Using It

It’s Got a Reasonably Strong Motor and Battery

We mentioned this earlier, but one of the most important aspects of an electric shaver is the effectiveness of the rotating razor heads, and the other two are the strength of the motor and the strength of the battery. The Norelco 3800 punches above its weight here, and can last a full hour when properly charged (with takes about one hour). That’s very good, and it equals about… let’s say, 12 shaves before you need to recharge it, if it takes you 5 minutes to shave your face. The marketing material says that you can get 20 shaves out of a single charge–which would equal a 3-minute shave–but we have never, ever been able to pull that off.

Either way, lasting 60 minutes on a full charge is great, and if you don’t have a full hour to charge it, you can charge the device for 5 minutes, and that should be enough for a quick shave. That’s very good–especially if you’re the type to forget to charge your shaver before you need it!

How to Charge Norelco 3800 (and how long it lasts on a charge)

Next up in our Norelco 3800 review? Our complaints!

Features of Norelco 3800 Electric Shaver That Could Use a Little Help

Here’s what we found lacking:

The Pouch Is a Little Meh

This is one of those features that separates the really high-end electric shavers from the mid-range electric shavers: the pouch, or carrying case. The pouch on the Norelco 3800 is… okay.

It’s not terrible–it’s relatively sturdy, it’s got a nice zipper, and it’s got an attractive blue-and-black design–but it’s not that great. Some “deluxe” shavers have a carrying case that you can travel the world with, and be certain that your device will be kept safe and sound. This basically just covers the machine–it’s pretty basic.

So, if you’re a jet-setting traveler who goes all over, you may want to choose something else, because the shaver itself can get dinged up if you’re not careful with it. If you’re going to use the shaver at home (or just take it to a hotel / night-out here and there), it should be fine.

Norelco 3800 Case

It Can Sometimes Take Multiple Passes

While blades are above-average–and we had a great experience with them–they’re not the best, top-of-the-line, shave-like-butter blades you’ll find on deluxe models. For some, the blades work OK, but aren’t strong enough to really eat through facial hair. That can mean you’ll need to take multiple passes, or settle for skin that’s not as smooth as you’d like it to be.

If you’ve got tremendously thick hair growth, or only get the chance to shave once a week (or less often!), it may make sense to opt for a more powerful electric shaver, or even explore safety razors, which cut through thick facial hair like it’s nothing.

It May Not Be a Great Option for Older Guys

The Norelco 3800 is a rotary shaver, and as a general rule of thumb, rotary shavers aren’t great for older guys or guys with sensitive skin. The way that the head blades of a rotary move over the skin can be uncomfortable for men with delicate skin, and can result in itchiness, blotchiness, rashes, etc.

So, obviously, we can’t recommend the 3800 for guys with sensitive skin or older gentleman.

But—we’ve got you covered! You can read our post on electric razors for guys with sensitive skin, and/or our post on electric razors for older fellas. We spent a lot of time researching those two articles, and we’ve gotten a lot of great feedback on them.

Alright, That’s All We Got

Are there better electric shavers out there? Yep! And some of them get really, REALLY expensive.

Is this a good mid-range electric shaver, that is (in our opinion) a great option for the vast majority of men out there? Also yes. It’s a high-quality product that can deliver a very close shave, and it’s got a range of fantastic features and characteristics (like the flex heads, the wet/dry capability, and the battery power) that make it punch above its weight.

So… thumbs up! We hope there’s something here that helps you–if you have any questions, please let us know, and happy shaving to you!


Philips Norelco Exclusive Shaver 3800, Rechargeable Wet & Dry Shaver with Pop-up Trimmer, Charging Stand and Storage Pouch, S3311/85

Philips Norelco Exclusive Shaver 3800, Rechargeable Wet & Dry Shaver with Pop-up Trimmer, Charging Stand and Storage Pouch, S3311/85*

  • Enjoy a clean shave that follows your face’s contours with 5-directional pivot, flex and floating movements. The head reaches your face at the ideal angle and adjusts to the curves of your face and neck, creating smooth contact with your skin.
  • Get a convenient dry shave or a refreshing wet shave with gel or foam, even in the shower.
  • With ComfortCut blades, you get a clean shave that’s comfortable on your skin. Rounded caps shield 27 self-sharpening blades to gently cut hair just above skin level and help the shaver glide smoothly over your skin.
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Michael Morris is the head writer here at Rough and Tumble Gentleman. He's got a ducktail beard and loves Brazilian jiu-jitsu. He's married to the woman of his dreams and lives in Brooklyn, NY.

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