Good battery life, a nice design and a smartphone app that on the whole works well.
The Pirates game is fantastic for kids and I can completely see how it can be engaging for them, heck even I enjoyed it!
Sadly for the price there are a few weaknesses in the overall package which make this hard to justify as a better purchase than the competition.
- 1 cleaning mode
- Built-in timer
- 2 week battery life
- Bluetooth connectivity for pairing to smartphone app for tracking
- Box contents
- No pressure sensor to alert you when brushing to hard
- Better value options exist (see other choices)
|Kolibree Ara||£71.01||View on Amazon|
The 3 BIG questions about the Kolibree Ara
If you are short of time, the answers to the following 3 questions should let you know all you need to about the Kolibree Ara connected toothbrush. If I have missed something, let me know in the comments.
If you want more detail, you can read our full Kolibree Ara review further down the page.
1. Is there anything drastically wrong with this toothbrush?
No there is nothing ‘drastically’ wrong with the Ara, but it suffers from not really being as good as it could be. In fact, it loses multi-user profiles, which makes the Kolibree V1 — which the Ara reaplaces — more appealing.
The brush does what it needs to, it cleans the teeth well, it looks smart and has an intelligent app, but in the family environment in which it is pitched it potentially is not as great as it first seems, when you consider the price.
2. Which other brushes should I consider?
There are an increasing number of toothbrushes now that have Bluetooth connectivity, so what the Kolibree Ara offers is less unique than it once was, but does have a better appeal for children.
With any of the alternatives you get better box contents and the benefit of being manufactured by major, more household brand names.
For a more detailed comparison of buying options, see this guide on buying a new electric toothbrush.
Why should you listen to us?
Electric Teeth is an independent organisation with a mission to simplify dental health.
Our team is a mixture of consumers and dental professionals.
We strive to create honest, informative content, telling you the facts, good or bad.
We are not sponsored by big brands or healthcare companies. Our site is funded by affiliate revenue and ads, but we only recommend products that we have tested and truly believe to be worth your money.
Why not watch this short video to find out all about us?
And now for a bit more detail….
The Ara claims to be the first electric toothbrush with Artificial Intelligence (AI).
But what does this really mean?
Well a Google definition for Artificial Intelligence (AI) is: “The theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.”
So, in real terms this means that because the toothbrush communicates with a smartphone app by transmitting data it logs during a clean, it is then interpreted by the app into meaningful information; from this suggestions are made to help you better clean your teeth.
The principle is, it is like having a dentist watch you clean your teeth and provide feedback on how well you did without actually having that dentist there.
Designed by parents and dentists, to be used by parents and kids, the Ara is not supposed to be your typical electric toothbrush.
The concept is brilliant, in practice, it’s not quite that simple.
What’s in the box?
- Kolibree Ara rechargeable toothbrush
- 1 x brush head
- Travel cap
- Charging station
- Proprietary AI technology in the toothbrush
- 3-D motion sensors, accelerometer, gyroscope and magnetometer
- Offline data capture, date, time, duration and zones brushed
- Bluetooth 4.0 (Bluetooth Low Energy) for easy connection and synchronisation
- Gentle vibrations and rounded bristles to protect teeth and gums
- Less than 70g in weight
- 2 week battery life
Pro & Cons
Here are what I consider to be the pros and cons of the Ara.
- 1 cleaning mode – Simple and uncomplicated a single cleaning mode for just getting the job done.
- Battery life – 2 weeks of battery life is available from the fully charged Lithium-Ion battery and it is simple and easy to charge.
- Design – The slim, lightweight and stylish profile make this a nice looking brush and fairly comfortable to hold.
- Interactivity – The interactive game for kids is particularly good and makes fantastic use of the brush sensors. Even had me hooked!
- Sensors – The built-in sensors are very precise and can really tell where the brush is.
- Box contents – A bit sparse, for the price extra brush heads and a travel case would be nice additions. Some form of stand for your smartphone would be a nice touch too.
- Bluetooth/app – Although stated a lot of the marketing would let you believe that the Ara can track the clean of children and adults alike when reality is only 1 user (child or adult) can be tracked.
- Pressure sensor – No pressure sensor included. A great tool for new electric toothbrush users to avoid doing too much damage to their teeth and gums, particularly children.
- Price – The brush is relatively expensive for what you get given the alternatives available.
Design, usability, clean & general use
When you look at the Kolibree Ara it looks quite smart. Minimalistic is a word that comes to mind.
The handle is a striking Blue colour with a White brush head. The 2 tone colour scheme is complemented with the Kolibree and Ara logo appearing on the blue section of the handle but in White.
A slimmer and lighter profile in hand than most Oral-B and Sonicare models, the physical shape of the handle is square with rounded edges. This works to help grip the brush better.
You can get a nice grip on the handle, but the almost matte finish is not as grippy as other leading brands, but it does look smart.
This grip v’s style is something that is a challenge for all brands. I think personally I would prefer more grip than the style, but your opinion may well be different.
On the upper front of the Kolibree handle is a single button, with the word Ara on it, that powers the brush on and off when pressed. You need only a fairly light press. There is limited feedback in the press.
Once pressed, this activates the 1 standard cleaning mode. Press again to put the brush into standby or for 8 seconds to turn it off completely.
Just below that is the charging/LED status light that is tapered and fits in with the minimal design.
The colours change.
- Green: the battery is charged.
- Yellow: the battery’s charge level is between 50% and 10%.
- Red: the battery’s charge level is low (below 10%).
- Flashing blue: the toothbrush is connecting via Bluetooth.
Whilst with most other brands you simply pull the brush heads straight off, the Ara requires that the head is twisted almost 90 degrees to the right, to essentially unlock it, before it can then be pulled off.
When replacing the head it needs to be twisted to the right, to then be turned to the left 90 degrees to lock it in place.
At the very top of the Blue brush handle are 2 markers that align with a slightly raised nodule on the bottom of the brush head to show when the head is locked or unlocked.
On the base of the brush is a recess into which the prong on the provided charging stand sits to charge the brush.
There is a battery inside the handle that cannot be removed. It does offer 14 days use.
There is only one style of brush head available.
Whether this is better or worse than the additional options you get from Oral-B and Sonicare, I will leave you to decide. My personal feeling is that it does not complicate the buying and use of the brush like multiple styles of brush heads can.
It is marginally larger than an Oral-B brush head, but smaller than the standard Sonicare head, meaning it is nicely sized for use by adults and children alike.
You get one in the box when you buy the brush, but can purchase additional/replacement packs of 3.
Each head in the pack does have different coloured bristles, this is to help identify which is your brush head, if sharing in a family environment.
Brush heads should be replaced every 3 months. Sadly the bristles on the Ara head do not fade like many others do to give a visual clue of when it is time to replace the head.
The way in which the brush cleans your teeth and the feeling encountered, as a result, is going to be different for everyone.
Studies have shown that the oscillating rotating heads found on Oral-B models are most effective at removing plaque and improving oral health, but there is still a strong argument for any electric toothbrush over a manual one.
Oral-B tends to have what feels like a more powerful and aggressive clean, but I like this, it always leaves my mouth with a punchy clean feeling.
Kolibree is in my mind weaker. The clean is ok, there is a strong vibration from the brush, but the bristles feel like they are moving very delicately on the teeth.
However, power is a false illusion as it’s not all about power and the feeling of being clean. The motion of the bristles and the flow of toothpaste on and around the teeth all have an impact.
Working much more like a Sonicare brush from Philips, the brush head on the Ara is smaller than the standard brush heads from Sonicare, but was not round like Oral-B.
The softer motion of the bristles may well be suitable if you have more sensitive teeth and gums and don’t like anything too powerful, that said the brush has not been specifically designed for this so you may find it too powerful if not used to an electric toothbrush.
You are unable to adjust the power of the Ara like you can with some other electric toothbrushes. There are no intensity settings.
Ara is a bit different to your normal electric toothbrushes, it is designed to be smart.
Kolibree was developed by parents and dentists to be a brush that parents and kids could use.
The idea being that the brush and the app work hand in hand to help learn good dental habits via a playful experience.
Interactive game content is supposed to increase the brushing time and make teeth cleaning fun and enjoyable whilst aiding them to brush areas they may neglect.
It’s about, monitoring, educating and improving oral hygiene through fun games.
It uses the Bluetooth enabled Kolibree Ara and an iOS or Android smartphone to achieve this.
Install the app on the smartphone and via Bluetooth the brush communicates with the app to enable the game and coaching to commence.
Go Pirate is the game that the kids play. A pirate treasure hunt, which guides them from island to island, in search of the Great Black Beard’s treasure, there are some 16 levels to the game.
The toothbrush interacts with the game like a joystick, with the full intention of playing the game whilst brushing their teeth.
During their brushing, children collect gold coins, which allows them to acquire boats and to access different islands.
Move the brush to the right side of the mouth and the pirate moves to the right, move the brush to the left and the pirate moves to the left. The movement and coin collection work hand in hand with the area of the mouth that should be brushed. It works well and the sensors in the brush really can tell the position.
During the game, the Kolibree Smart Guide shows the areas to brush in real-time. When children brush properly and regularly, they earn more coins which allows to progress in the game.
Initial game levels has the Smart Guide divide the mouth in 8 zones, while later in the game young players are introduced to 16 key areas.
The game is designed to last for at least 3 months, with two brushings per day for two minutes minimum each.
Even at 29 years old, the game had me interacting with it!
Kolibree have conducted their own pilot study, which revealed the brush could improve plaque removal between 55-85%. From playing, I can see how.
This was a pilot study however conducted on just 18 participants, all of which were children.
“Our research indicates that plaque removal is almost twice as efficient for children using Kolibree than for those using a regular electric toothbrush. Kolibree is simply the best Bluetooth connected toothbrush available today” – Dentist Holly Hasegawa, DDS, MS
Of course, if any brush can improve the oral health of it’s users then that is fantastic, but it is interesting the Kolibree have conducted research only into children’s brushing habits at this time compared to adults.
The following promotional for the original Kolibree toothbrush, gives an insight into how interactive using the brush with kids is:
Although I do not have kids to test the Ara with, my testing would suggest the Ara could be very useful.
I have a personal concern over the use of an app and screen to educate a child. For sure it will work for some, but is it necessary? This will depend on your view as a parent.
There may well be some value in the argument that the brighter brushes shown in our article, the best kids toothbrushes, would be more appealing in the first instance to a child rather than the Ara; albeit long term the Ara may be the better option due to the story and achievements unlocked.
Oh and here is something else to bear in mind. Smartphones, kids, water and bathrooms. Typically not a recipe for success.
To play the game, the app/smartphone needs to be in front of the child, which logically might be on the side of the sink or a worktop in your bathroom. Unless you have oodles of space this might not be so easy or your child may not be able to see it properly and need to hold the phone or be positioned in a way to see it.
The point I am making is that as great as the technology is, you might not want your child brushing their teeth whilst playing a game on your Apple iPhone or Samsung Galaxy whilst right by the sink. There is too much chance of the phone getting wet or damaged.
A small stand or holder may go some way to resolve such an issue but sadly no such thing is included in the box.
With that covered let me now explain something that is a little confusing.
The brush connects via Bluetooth to a compatible smartphone.
There are essentially 2 modes to the app. The more grown up coaching/logging suitable for adults and the game for kids.
Now, the brush does not have to be used with the app all the time, as data is stored within the brush handle and sync’d next time the two connect.
However, for children you are most likely going to want to use the smartphone at the same time as they can’t play the game otherwise.
But here is the big problem in my mind.
Kolibree and a lot of the literature gives the impression (although not expressly implied) that you can have the app working for you logging your cleans and performance via the coaching section and then also have it working for your child too. In theory 2 data sets, one for you and one for a child.
However, it does not work like this. The brush/app can’t distinguish between users. So whilst it is possible for your kid to play the game and improve their brushing, their brushing data gets logged in your profile. Not so smart!
The only way round this is for you to have a brush each or for one of you to sacrifice the connectivity option really.
This is currently common amongst all brushes that have Bluetooth connectivity and is something that needs to be addressed in the future, but it is something that is not immediately obvious.
In fact, like rubbing salt into a wound, the Kolibree V1, which the Ara replaces could support multiple users, but was not technically as capable from the logging and monitoring side. So with progress comes change.
I wish not to be too hard on Kolibree here, but it’s not immediately obvious. It is mentioned that it is a ‘mono-user’ brush but you may overlook this.
The app is on the whole well thought out and looks smart and works well.
It gives a good graphical representation of your clean, provides clear and informative steps on how to improve as well as monitoring and commenting on your current technique before advising on the technique it feels is most suitable.
Nice touches too are the warnings that appear if you brush more than 3 times in a day, as doing so can do more damage.
It was not without its problems. In fact, this review has been delayed by over 8 weeks because the app had a lot of problems and was particularly buggy connecting and syncing. I have given it time for these issues to be fixed and all seems to be ok now, so kudos to Kolibree here.
In many respects, the app is not as capable as Oral-B or Sonicare options, but it is also simpler and more effective.
A particularly neat feature is that it reports the battery life of the brush as a percentage (%) something the competition does not do.
The competition do have some better features such as reminders for brush head changes. Such is an improvement that will likely come in time.
Another slightly odd, if not different thing I have found with Kolibree is that the app has you move sections of the mouth every 10 seconds, breaking the mouth up into some 16 sections rather than the more conventional 4 quadrants. This is likely the influence of being designed in part for children.
If used without the app in what Kolibree call the ‘Offline Mode’, at 30 second intervals you get a notification, via a pause in the motor which halts the bristle movement and changes the sound momentarily so you know to change quadrant of the mouth. You then get 3 consecutive pauses at 2 minutes to signal the end of the clean. This is more common amongst toothbrushes.
Is it strange that the timings are different with and without the app!?
Also, if using the app, the brush automatically powers off at the end of the clean, but if without the app it continues to be powered….
What is also missing in my mind from this brush is a pressure sensor. Something that alerts you when too much pressure is being applied. Such a feature is more prevalent on Oral-B models, but it would be nice to see. You can tell by a change in the brush motor sound, but a child would not know.
A feature Colgate and Sonicare offer is an automatic power off at the end of the 2 minute cleaning cycle, this is not something Kolibree offers. Such saves battery life but also acts as a good indicator the clean is over.
There is too no travel case to help transport the brush and there is only a 1 year warranty.
Summary of design, usability, clean & general use
- Smart and minimalist design
- Slim and lightweight
- Lacks some grips
- Built-in battery that is not user removable
- 1 type of brush head
- Cleans the teeth ok, but lacks the more intense motion that gives you the feeling of clean
- Lacks fading bristles to act as a reminder for a brush head change
- Bluetooth connectivity and app on the whole works well
- Tracks your cleaning
- Educational & motivational pirate game for children
- Bluetooth connectivity works for only one user
- Built-in quad pacer and timer tells you when to change quadrant and finish brushing
- Brush powers off automatically at end of clean when connected to app, but continues when not connected
- Lacks a smartphone stand
- Lacks a pressure sensor
- Lacks a travel case
- 1 year warranty
Anything less than 2 weeks battery life does not really cut it in today’s electric toothbrush world.
Thankfully the Ara has thick box checked with 2 weeks of battery life expected from the brush, based on one user brushing their teeth for 2 minutes, twice a day.
In minutes this is some 56 minutes of usage time.
Really at this price point it is only Sonicare who have Kolibree beaten here.
Colgate perhaps have equal battery life in slightly slimmer profiled brushes but all told the Ara is on par here.
The battery is built into the brush and is not user replaceable.
It can be charged via the included charging stand, which connects to a 2 pin socket found in many bathrooms. If you do not have a 2 pin socket, you can purchase an adapter so it can be connected to the 3 pin UK mains power supply.
White in colour the stand works on 100-240v which is great as it allow and is suitable for international travel, no voltage converters necessary
The stand itself is not huge, but has a much larger footprint than rivals.
The charging dock itself has a small prong on the top which aligns with a recess in the bottom of the brush handle and will charge the brush fully in about 8-12 hours.
To be able to gauge the battery life, you can look in the app, where it gives a percentage (%) reading, or you can look at the LED light on the front of the brush handle for a more vague steer on the remaining power.
If it is Green, the battery is charged. If it is Yellow, the battery’s charge level is between 50% and 10% and if Red, the charge level is low (below 10%).
I tend to leave it on charge overnight. It is also perfectly safe to leave the brush on charge during the day to or simply when the brush is not in use. However, if you opt to do this, for optimum battery performance, every 6 months or so, do try and run the battery down a bit.
Summary of battery life
- 56 minutes of usage time or 14 days usage based on 2 cleans a day
- Fixed internally, not user removable
- 2 pin charger
- Works on 100- 240 volts
- Charging stand is larger than rivals
- Can be left on the charger
- Takes about 8-12 hours to charge fully
- App shows the battery status as a %
- Green LED means battery is charged
- Yellow LED means the battery is between 50-10%
- Red LED means the battery is below 10% charge
Price & where to buy
The Kolibree Ara smart electric toothbrush has a suggested retail price of €129 which is roughly £110-120 (subject to the exchange rate).
I purchased this at a discounted price of €79 which is roughly £69. This price was a special promotional launch price that was available if you placed an order before the brush became available.
If you are already a Kolibree brush owner, you can purchase at the same discounted rate by logging into your account. However, if you are a new Kolibree customer, the price is now set at the official RRP of €129.
Whilst there is innovation within this brush, I find it very hard to justify the £110/€129 price point.
In some respects, this is comparable, if not cheaper the competition, but Oral-B’s Genius range is approximately £10-30 (subject to price at time of purchase) more expensive, but for this you get a premium travel case, extra cleaning modes, a smartphone stand, a brush head storage unit and extra brush heads. In fact, it has been as low as £99.99!
Philips Sonicare FlexCare Platinum connected brush is roughly the same price as the Ara but you get a UV Sanitiser included as well as extra cleaning modes.
There is a price to be paid to help support a new company and there is something refreshing about not being a brush from one of the dominant big brands, I do believe Kolibree are more passionate about the results you get. But it can be a difficult pill to swallow when the others offer more value.
Even a set of replacement brush heads at €19/£17 is on the steep side, given Kolibree do not have the same infrastructure costs; but this could be affected by their ability not to buy in the volumes the competitors do. Although in fairness, Sonicare heads are just as, if not more expensive.
At the pre-order price I paid, then this is clearly much better value.
Price and what you pay is, of course, personal in that what one feels is good value another may not.
The €129/£110 does buy a solid, functional, stylish and innovative brush. Pay what you are happy to.
At Electric Teeth we work out the cost over a 3 year period as we believe from our research that this is roughly speaking the average time people will keep a brush for. Keep it for longer and you get only better value.
You don’t need me to tell you that every 3 months you need to replace the brush heads, so over 3 years we need to factor in the cost 12 brush heads.
1 comes supplied in the box and a pack of 3 cost €19/£17 or £5.66 each.
The cost of purchase of this brush becomes £172.26 (£110 + (11 x £5.66)).
Over 3 years this works out at a daily cost of 16p.
Manage to pick it up at a bargain price of £69 like I did and the price drops to 12p per day.
This price does exclude the cost of water, toothpaste and electric to charge it, but you get a rough idea.
When it comes to making the purchase, if this is the brush for you, be sure to shop around and pay the price you are comfortable with and from a retailer you trust.
Please note that all prices quoted are approximates and will vary based on location, supplier and time of purchase. These figures were correct at the time of writing and should not be relied upon as hard fact, but used as a guide during your decision process.
Summary of price & where to buy
- Recommended retail price of €129/£110-120
- Brush heads are €19/£17 for a pack of 3
- Compared to the competition the price is hard to justify
- Works out at around 16p per day over 3 years
Reliability & long term use
The Ara smart toothbrush comes with a 12 month warranty, which is explained in full on Kolibree’s website.
When you are spending in excess of €100/£100 for a toothbrush, it would be nice if the warranty was a more typical 2 years/24 months.
The sealed form factor of this brush and the lack of external parts limits the Ara from going wrong.
When reviewing any products here at Electric Teeth we try to test them properly.
We do not have fancy stress testing equipment, but we give them a good look over, really analysing for weak points and potential failures, taking into consideration what we have seen on other brushes.
The few weeks over which we review the brush is not really long enough to say how well it will stand the test of time, but so far the Ara seems to be holding its own and showing no obvious signs of weakness.
My bigger fear is app updates and support. If this continues then that is great, but it is not clear how frequently or for how long these will come.
As more brushes come with Bluetooth and as Kolibree develop it would be fair to assume the app development will continue.
Had the V1 brush been a complete failure the Ara would not be here so there is added peace of mind in that Kolibree appear to be more than a 1 trick pony as it were, giving you and me extra confidence, even if they are still new in the scheme of known toothbrush brands.
Every bit of me wants to back the underdog that is Kolibree.
The design and style of the Ara is very good.
The battery life is solid and the app on the whole works really well.
A less confusing range and only 1 style of brush head makes things an awful lot simpler than the rival.
The Pirates game is fantastic for kids and I can completely see how it can be engaging for them, heck even I enjoyed it!
Sadly for the price there are a few weaknesses in the overall package which make this hard to justify as a better purchase than the competition.
It has it’s pro’s for sure, but when you can get similar or more for about the same money the Oral-B Samrt 5 5000 is a very attractive option.
- Height (without head) – 15.5cm
- Height (with head) – 23cm
- Width – 2.5cm
- Thickness – 2.5cm
- Weight (without head) – 58g
- Weight (with head) – 63g
All are approximates
- Is the Ara an oscillating brush?
- No, it is not.
- How many brushing modes does the Kolibree Ara have?
- This brush offers 1 cleaning mode, which is the standard ‘Clean’. Press the power button to switch the brush on, then again to be taken to switch it off.
- What brush head does it come with and what alternative ones can be used?
- The Ara comes with the standard Kolibree brush head. There is only one style of brush head and only official Kolibree heads are suitable for the brush. There are not different brush heads like there are for some other brands.
- Does the Ara have a pressure sensor?
- No, it does not.
- Does the Ara have Bluetooth?
- Yes, it does.
- Does the Ara come with a warranty & how long is it?
- Yes, it does. The warranty is 1 year.
- Does the Ara connected toothbrush have a built-in timer?
- Yes. It has a 30 second quadpacer and 2 minute timer, when not connected to the app.
- At 30 second intervals a slight pause in the brushing mode to tell you to change quadrant. There are 4 quadrants to the mouth. At the end of the 120 seconds 3 consecutive quick pauses will signal the end of the clean.
- How long does the battery last?
- The battery lasts up to 56 minutes, which is equivalent to 2 weeks or 14 days of usage based on 2 x 2 minute cleans per day.
- Does it come with a charger?
- Yes, a charging station is included.
- The charger is 2 pin, how can I use it?
- The charger is a 2 pin/prong charger designed to be used on voltages of 100-240 volts. It is a 2 pin charger suitable for connecting to shaver sockets found in many bathrooms in the UK & Europe. If you do not have a shaver socket, you can purchase an adapter that will allow the charger to be connected to a standard 3 pin UK mains socket.
- Can this be fixed to a wall?
- The charging station has not been designed to be fixed to a wall.
- Can I use the Ara in the shower?
- The brush is water resistant and designed to withstand exposure to water but the prolonged exposure to water in a shower is not ideal for the brush and is strongly advised against.
- Does it come with a travel case?
Do you own or have you used the KolibreeAra?
Are there certain features that you really like or dislike?
Let us know what you think about this brush and let others who may well be considering purchasing one know your opinions before they do.