After 50 hours of research—including reading hundreds of reviews of 51 bestselling models, interviewing sex researcher Dr. Debra Herbenick and five other experts, crowdsourcing opinions from enthusiasts, and analyzing data from seven testers who tried eight different models—as well as six months of follow-up testing, we concluded that the cordless Magic Wand Rechargeable, an updated version of our previous pick, the Magic Wand Original, is the best vibrator for most people. Many of our testers described the Magic Wand Original as their “go-to” vibrator for clitoral stimulation, a toy that was almost always guaranteed to induce an orgasm when others could not. The Rechargeable is twice as expensive as the Original, but its easy-to-clean silicone head, rechargeable battery, quieter motor, and greater variation in intensity and vibration patterns makes this updated version worth every penny.
The Magic Wand has been a favorite of sex-toy enthusiasts for 40-plus years for good reason. The toy is durable as well as functional: Vibratex offers a one-year warranty, but several testers have reported that their Magic Wands have stood up to years of daily use without breaking. We have not experienced any issues with the Original or Rechargeable models malfunctioning since we conducted our initial tests.
If you can’t get the Magic Wand, Lelo’s Siri 2 is a great pick if you would like a small but strong vibrator designed for both solo and partner play. Justifying the toy’s hefty price tag are its quiet but strong vibrations (not as strong as our Magic Wand pick, but as strong as our previous runner-up, with a more convenient shape), its waterproof functionality, its one-year warranty, and its 10-year quality guarantee. This toy probably won’t replace the Magic Wand as the go-to vibrator for die-hard fans, though, as it distributes vibrations across a smaller surface, concentrating the sensation and potentially causing your hand to feel numb after you hold it for prolonged periods of time.
The California Exotic Novelties Silver Bullet is a great budget option if you’re a beginner or if you want a portable spare vibrator to keep around. The toy is small and impressively powerful for an inexpensive battery-operated unit. While it may not pack the same dramatic punch as the Magic Wand, it is much quieter, and the smaller size is convenient for travel or for use with a partner, at a fraction of the Siri 2’s price.
Silver Bullet fans who are looking to upgrade may like the We-Vibe Tango, a rechargeable thermoplastic lipstick-shaped vibrator that offers some seriously rumbly vibrations at a lower price than other luxury toys. Several of our panelists loved this model’s incredibly powerful vibrations and hard, sleek shape. Magic Wand devotees accustomed to broader, more diffuse vibrations may find the pinpoint shape ineffective, but the WeVibe Tango is a nice choice for travel and partner play.
I’m a full-time writer and sex educator who has tested more than 130 different sex toys in the past 15 years. I began blogging about sex toys in 2011, and I worked as a toy tester and copywriter for the retailer The Stockroom for several years.
I received my Master’s of Public Health degree from Indiana University in 2014, where I assisted research scientist Dr. Debra Herbenick with academic and consumer research related to sex-toy use. While at Indiana University, I worked as a blogger and sex educator at The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction.
We followed up our preliminary research with interviews with the following experts:
Sex toys can be a godsend for people who are unable to reach orgasm easily from manual masturbation, oral sex, or penetrative intercourse alone. But buying sex toys can be an intimidating experience for newbies and experienced users alike, and not just due to the buyer’s shyness. High-quality sex toys are often expensive and nonreturnable, you have hundreds (if not thousands) of sex-toy models to choose from, and the criteria for what makes a sex toy good can be highly subjective. Determining what toy will work best for you based on reviews can be difficult, because every person’s sexual response is different. Nobody wants to spend $100-plus on a toy that turns out to be a dud.
We’ve tried to focus on toys that will work well for most people, including beginners. We’ve also included a budget option for anyone who is looking to test the waters before diving in.
We identified several vibrator features that were most important to our experts, our testers, and a general sample of sex-toy users:
If a toy was rechargeable, versatile, durable, small (most of my sample, though not all, preferred smaller toys), affordable, waterproof, easy to clean, or covered by a solid warranty, we considered those attributes to be bonuses. Many users also desired an aesthetically pleasing toy with multiple color options. Features that we considered overrated included multiple vibration patterns, fancy packaging, or a gimmick such as a remote control, as well as a charging system (if it didn’t work well).
Dealbreakers included poor-quality materials, a short battery life, a tendency to break easily, a lack of power, and a design that was awkward, inconvenient, or painful to use.
In total we considered 51 different models. For the first edition of this guide, we tested five of the most popular toys that met our criteria (which we’ll discuss further in the following sections). For this update, we tested three more recommended toys that had seen release since the original guide’s publication.
Our clitoral-toy testers consisted of seven people with vaginas across two rounds of testing, ranging in age from early 20s to mid-30s,1 a mix of people who identify as queer, heterosexual, and bisexual. All had used vibrators in the past and were reliably able to achieve orgasm through vibrator use, though some were more experienced than others. We instructed our testers to use each toy at least once, preferably twice or more, and to also incorporate these toys into partner play when possible.2
In addition, we independently tested interactions with silicone lubricant (more about this in the Care and maintenance section), evaluated battery life by cycling the devices on and off for 20 minutes until they died, assessed overheating by letting them run for extended periods, and tested the function of waterproof vibrators.
Virtually all of our testers reported that the Magic Wand was the only toy in our test group that could consistently bring testers to an intense climax quickly, intuitively, effectively, and predictably. In an essay published in the book Mothers Who Think, sex expert Susie Bright calls the Magic Wand a “miracle” because its power enables users to have an orgasm within 60 seconds. In fact, multiple academic research studies have found that prescribing the Magic Wand is one of the most effective therapies for women who struggle with chronic anorgasmia, or the inability to reach orgasm.
The new rechargeable battery offers longevity as well as strength, according to sex-toy reviewer Epiphora, who told us: “It runs for 4.5 hours straight on a single charge; I tested it.” (We found that it lasted 3.5 hours at maximum speed, spread out over a series of 20-minute intervals, it may last longer at lower speeds.) If you run out of power, you can connect it to the removable AC cord and continue using it.
Our testers agreed, with comments like “It always makes me orgasm; never a letdown” and “Makes me climax every time.”
The Magic Wand Rechargeable offers four strength settings, two more than the Original. Users who might have previously needed to use the Original through a blanket or pants may find the lower, gentler settings of the Rechargeable model to be more comfortable.
Testers reported that the long handle makes it comfortable to hold for long periods of time without hand cramping or numbness. The switch sits high enough on the handle that users were unlikely to switch it off accidentally during use (which is an issue with some of the smaller rechargeable models).
Some testers complained that they disliked the texture of the Original’s white vinyl head. The Rechargeable features a softer, smoother silicone head, which is much easier to clean and may feel more comfortable against the body. Nonporous (it will not trap bacteria) and less prone to discoloration, the Rechargeable’s silicone head eliminates any previous concerns about phthalates, a plasticizer in the Original’s vinyl head.
Another great aspect of this toy is its versatility: It can stimulate penises and nipples as well as vulvas, and it can convert into a vibrating insertable G-spot/P-spot stimulator or a penile-masturbation sleeve when you purchase and add one of many attachments designed to fit over the head. It also works well as a whole-body massager, and users report that it can help soothe menstrual cramps. In the unlikely event that you buy this toy and hate it as a clitoral vibrator, you can always use it on your back.
In addition, we found that the Rechargeable version was quieter than the Original—it still emits a loud hum, but in our tests it was quiet enough that when we put the toy on a bed and closed the door, it wasn’t audible through the door in the same way that the Original was.
Vibratex offers a one-year warranty for the Magic Wand Rechargeable, but many of our testers reported that the Original can stand up to daily use over the course of many years, unlike budget models such as the Silver Bullet that tend to burn out after a few months of consistent use. Thus far we have not experienced any issues with the Magic Wand Original released in 2013, or the Magic Wand Rechargeable released in 2015.
The primary complaints we received from our testers about the Magic Wand Rechargeable related to its large size (the Rechargeable model is 13 inches long with a nearly 2½-inch-wide head), which can make it difficult to use in certain positions during partnered intercourse.
Unlike some of the other toys we tested, the Rechargeable is not waterproof. This makes it a bit harder to clean, as you cannot submerge it, but you can easily wipe off the silicone cap with a soapy washcloth or tissues and toy-cleaner spray.
While the Original also tended to heat up with prolonged use during our motor test, we ran the Rechargeable at full speed for 20 minutes and found that it was not significantly warm. Unfortunately the Rechargeable has an automatic shutoff function at the 20-minute mark, which can be distressing if you don’t expect it (one of our testers thought the toy had run out of battery life when this happened). The manufacturer recommends letting the toy cool off after 20 minutes to prolong the motor’s life, but you can continue to use it at this point by simply turning it back on again. Given how intense the vibrations are, many people will not want to use it for more than 20 minutes straight regardless.
The Magic Wand Rechargeable’s control panel is slightly less intuitive and easy to use compared with the dual switch of the Original model, but nevertheless it’s fairly straightforward. The first button turns the vibrator on, the second button cycles through speeds ranging from relatively gentle to face-meltingly intense, and the third button cycles through four vibration patterns: a long-short pulse pattern, a long slow pulse pattern, a short fast pulse pattern, and a low-to-high “wave” pattern. The console lights up with blue bars to indicate the strength of the vibration. You could accidentally hit the wrong button during play, but switching back to the correct mode is easy enough.
And of course, you have aesthetics to consider. A beautiful, elegant toy this is not, but it gets the job done. One tester put it best: “No [it”s not attractive], but as a sexual health academic, I know that this is the ‘OG’ of vibrators, and I respect it for keeping its original, functional design.” The Rechargeable, while a little sleeker, has basically the same appearance as the Original model.
While testers complained that the original Siri lacked power (believe it or not, the vibrator predates the iOS virtual assistant of the same name), the 2015 Lelo Siri 2 reboot offers what Lelo claims is the “strongest vibrations ever for a handheld massager” in the company’s product line. The trade-off is that the price is significantly higher than that of the first-generation Siri.
The strength of its vibrations rivals the second level of vibrations on the Magic Wand Rechargeable, or the low setting on the Magic Wand Original. Unlike the Magic Wands, the Siri 2 is waterproof, so you can fully submerge it in soapy water for cleaning or use it for playing in the shower or bathtub. It is much quieter than the Magic Wand, and its relatively small size (4 inches long by 2 inches wide) makes it easier to incorporate into partner play or to pack in an overnight bag.
Unlike the Jimmyjane Form 2, last year’s two-pronged runner-up, the Siri 2 has a simpler interface and a more intuitive shape but offers powerful vibrations. Its rounded silicone tip fits comfortably against the vulva, and the small, sleek shape is ideal for use during partnered intercourse. The power console on the top of the toy’s white-plastic handle is relatively uncomplicated: The right arrow turns the toy on and increases intensity, the left arrow decreases intensity until the device turns off entirely, and the up and down arrows cycle through patterns. You can turn the toy off by either holding down the left arrow or pressing the left and right arrows simultaneously, a design that helps to prevent your accidentally turning the toy off during play. Holding the left and right buttons simultaneously for three seconds “locks” the toy for travel mode (you unlock it the same way), a handy function if you don’t want your toy turning on in your bag or suitcase.
The battery life of the Siri 2 is not as long as that of the Rechargeable—we found that it kept buzzing at maximum speed for two hours (spread over 20-minute intervals), though it would probably last longer at lower speeds. If you care about appearances, the Siri 2 is also aesthetically pleasing and available in three color options; the monochromatic black and white model is particularly elegant next to the sheer bulk of the Magic Wand Rechargeable. Like the Magic Wand, the Siri 2 comes with a one-year warranty, as well as a 10-year guarantee that gets you a coupon for 50 percent off your next Lelo purchase if your toy breaks within 10 years (this policy of course assumes that you’ve held on to the receipt for a decade).
Vibration patterns tend to be a love-’em-or-hate-’em type of feature, but this toy offers eight of them, ranging from the standard wave and pulse patterns to some that we can best describe as “erratic.”
Pressing the up and down arrows simultaneously takes the toy into music-vibrator mode, the toy’s main gimmick, with patterns supposedly inspired by musical genres such as “Folk – Low to High Escalation then 3 Quick Pulses” (what?) and “Jazz – Variation of Low and High Pulses and Escalations.” The Siri 2 also contains a built-in microphone that lets the toy vibrate in response to music, talking, or ambient noise. However, for this feature to work, you must position the toy properly, and the music must be loud, making the feature more of a gimmick than anything. Epiphora dismissed this musical feature as a “colossal flop,” but one of our testers in a long-distance relationship with a fellow music enthusiast really enjoyed having her boyfriend send her songs to masturbate to.
The primary drawback of this toy is the steep price tag, which may be out of reach for some people; the original Siri cost a lot less.
Due to its size and power, holding the Siri 2 for long periods of time can feel uncomfortable, as it will also vibrate your hand. Convenient button placement is an inevitable issue with small toys, too, and some users might find the power console confusing or accidentally hit the wrong button during play due to the controls’ placement on the top of the toy.
The Magic Wand Rechargeable has remained the go-to vibrator for many of our testers. One of the best aspects of this toy is that if it runs out of juice, it can still work while it is plugged in and recharging. However, one tester complained that the four settings aren’t identical to the two settings of the corded original model, and that she wishes it had something in between the second and third setting.
Lelo, the maker of our runner-up pick, the Siri 2, generated a great deal of controversy recently by hiring Charlie Sheen as a spokesperson for its condoms, and currently a number of sex toy bloggers, sex educators, and retailers are boycotting.
California Exotic Novelties’ Silver Bullet is a steal at its price and a great entry-level vibrator. It offers surprisingly powerful variable-speed vibrations for a small, battery-operated toy, and it’s relatively quiet. This toy could run at maximum power for 30 minutes on fresh AA batteries without losing steam, though in our tests it did heat up a bit.
The Silver Bullet is highly portable, but you should remove the batteries before packing it for travel. It’s also good for use during partnered intercourse, since it’s small enough to slip between bodies.
The main drawback of this toy is the corded battery pack, which felt cumbersome and annoying to some of our testers. A user for whom this toy was her go-to for more than a decade complained that the device has a tendency to wear out and break after a few months of daily use. In the long run, if you use your vibrator on a daily basis, buying a rechargeable model with a good warranty might be more cost-effective (and eco-friendly), but this model works well as a backup or travel vibrator.
Several experts, including Dr. Debra Herbenick and Mr. Will of the blog Mr. Will’s House of Thrills, recommended the We-Vibe Tango to us. We can almost describe it as a hybrid between the Magic Wand and the Silver Bullet, rolled into a small, rechargeable package.
The thermoplastic We-Vibe Tango offers ultrapowerful vibrations that rival the lower setting on the Magic Wand, but the stimulation is intensely concentrated over a small surface area. As a result, the Tango proved to be the most polarizing of all the vibrators we tested: On a scale of one (hated it) to 10 (best ever), it received both twos and 10s.
The testers who gave the Tango high scores said they loved the size, shape, and powerful vibrations it offered. Fans said this toy worked especially well for clitoral stimulation during intercourse because of its small, narrow size and its smooth, sleek shape. It’s a good step up from the traditional silver-bullet vibrator, and it can work for many of the same applications.
This hard-plastic lipstick-shaped vibrator is completely waterproof, and you can charge it using a magnetic USB cable. We found that the toy became slightly warm with prolonged use, but it sustained its power at full strength for 45 minutes and survived four 30-minute sessions (with breaks in between) at full power, about two hours, before it stopped vibrating.
The Tango was one of the most intuitive vibrators we tried. One simple button on the base, when pressed, takes the user through four strengths of regular vibrations, followed by a pulse, a wave, a cha-cha (yes, really), and an erratic “tease” pattern. Unfortunately you do have to click through all eight modes to turn it off again, and you can’t independently control the intensity of each pattern mode.
Several users who normally aren’t big fans of vibration patterns said this toy was the exception to the rule: The pinpointed ultrastrong vibrations felt a bit more diffuse and pleasing when broken into patterns, and the cha-cha and tease patterns were likable, unusual offerings.
The testers who didn’t love this toy reported that it felt either too strong or too weak. In both cases, the effect may be related to the very small surface area of the toy’s tip. Several testers said that the vibrations felt too concentrated and intense even at lower settings, and that the small, hard toy had a tendency to make their hands feel numb with prolonged use. Other minor complaints concerned the pointy shape of the device and issues with the smooth plastic material’s becoming slippery and difficult to grip when used with lubricant.
This blog post from the Kinsey Institute’s blog gives a helpful overview, but in a nutshell, body-safe toys are:
Materials considered to be body safe include 100 percent silicone (some toys that manufacturers bill as silicone are sometimes made from a blend of silicone and other materials, so you should make sure that the toy is actually 100 percent silicone), all types of glass, metals such as stainless steel and aluminum, certain types of treated wood, ceramics, and hard, nonporous plastics such as ABS, lucite, and acrylic.
The presence of possibly toxic chemicals in sex toys has been a source of significant concern in the sex-toy aficionado community. Sex toys are still not well researched (beyond this study by the Danish counterpart to the EPA) or regulated by any consumer-safety agencies. The researchers behind the Danish report name six hazardous substances that they found in the studied sex toys, and they conclude that “normal” usage of the tested toys (which they define as 15 minutes once a week) is safe, provided the user is not pregnant or breastfeeding. However, the anus and rectum are delicate mucous membranes that are highly absorptive and prone to irritation, and many people use their toys more frequently than 15 minutes per week. For this reason, we decided to err on the side of caution and choose toys made from high-quality, nonporous materials for this guide.
Keeping sex toys clean is extremely important for preventing bacterial and yeast infections, especially if you share your toys with partners. We recommend that you cover your toys with a condom when sharing them with partners, especially if it’s someone with whom you are not fluid-bonded (that is, you typically use barriers for other types of sexual activity).
If you’re using a toy with a condom, make sure that the condom covers the entire surface that comes in contact with your genitals. The condom should be thin enough for you to see, feel, and press the buttons through the barrier. Do not use oil-based lubricants with condoms, and make sure to remove and dispose of the condom directly after use. Do not reuse condoms with toys, as that practice is unsanitary and a sure way to encourage the condom to break.
Waterproof toys made from nonporous materials such as silicone and stainless steel can tolerate washing with soap and warm water. If you have non-waterproof toys, carefully wipe them clean with a solution of soap and warm water. Spray-on toy cleanser can be useful for toys that you cannot submerge. Tool Shed Toys offers a great in-depth guide to caring for a variety of toy materials, as does Dangerous Lilly.
Generally you don’t need to disinfect toys that only one person uses or that stay covered with condoms. Some nonporous, nonmotorized toys can go into the dishwasher without soap for steam-sanitizing. Alternatively, you can boil most nonmotorized, nonporous toys in hot water. You can soak waterproof toys of all stripes in 10 percent bleach solution for 10 minutes to disinfect them, and thoroughly wash them with soap and water afterward.
We recommend storing toys in boxes or pouches to keep them dust-free and putting them in a cool, dark place where they will not have exposure to direct sunlight. Many high-end manufacturers include free cloth pouches or attractive storage boxes with a toy.
If you wish to use a lubricant with your toy, we recommend water-based lube because it is safe to use with all types of toys. Oil-based lubricants are not only unsafe for use with condoms, but they can also interact badly with toys made of soft plastic or rubber, causing the devices to disintegrate or leach chemicals. Silicone lubricants are great for anal play, but unfortunately they interact negatively with silicone toys.
Several prominent sex educators have recently claimed that the interactions between silicone lube and toys are overstated, so we decided to conduct our own test. We applied a quarter-sized amount of überlube silicone lubricant to a patch toward the base of nine different toys, rubbed it into the surface of each toy for one minute to simulate friction, and then left the toys to sit for an hour.
At the end of this experiment, we discovered that the lube had an effect on every single toy. In the best instances, the patch exposed to lube appeared slightly raised; in the worst cases, the lube completely removed the finish from the toy, causing it to become gummy, sticky, and blistered. The staff at Early to Bed replicated our test and found similar results.
In some cases you can scrub off the stickiness, but we do not recommend using silicone lubricants with silicone toys because we don’t really know how the lubricants will affect the porosity and integrity of the toys over time.
Many high-end sex-toy companies offer limited warranties or guarantees in the event that your toy breaks within a certain amount of time (typically one to three years). In order to redeem your warranty, you will need to purchase the toy from a licensed retailer (due to problems with counterfeit toys being sold on Amazon and eBay) and save the receipt.
We plan to test the following models (among others) for our next update.
Reviews of Lelo’s Nea and Lily vibrators (which are virtually the same apart from texture) indicated that they were not powerful enough for some people. Since then, the company has released more powerful, waterproof versions of these two toys that are smaller in size and less expensive than our runner-up, the Siri 2. The Lily 2 also adds fruity and floral scents, a peculiar gimmick that may not appeal to everyone.
One of our testers recommended the Crave Flex Duet as having some of the best qualities of the Jimmyjane Form 2 at a lower price, offering dual vibrating tips with a flatter, more flexible, less cumbersome shape.
A number of intriguing new vibrators have emerged on the market since this guide was first published, including the Womanizer and the Satisfyer Pro 2, which use clitoral suction as well as vibration, and the powerful and ergonomic Tantus Rumble. Autostraddle described the blinged-out Womanizer as “the most innovative new sex toy this year with the stupidest name and aesthetic.” The Womanizer uses clitoral suction in addition to vibration to create intense sensations that caused Autostraddle’s reviewer to “come in under a minute on the lowest setting. Five times in a row.” We’re intrigued to see if this toy can live up to its hefty price tag.
The Magic Wand Original was our top pick for the first version of this guide, and it remains available as an excellent budget alternative to the Magic Wand Rechargeable. It still gets the job done well at a reasonable price.
We also looked at some smaller, battery-operated, or rechargeable alternatives to the Magic Wand, including the Lelo Smart Wands, the Mystic Wand, the Doxy Massager, and the Palm Power Massager. None seemed able to replace the Magic Wand in terms of both time-tested power and value.
Jimmyjane’s Form vibrators, particularly the membrane-like Form 3 and bowling-pin-shaped Form 4, had their fans, but overall the Form 2 seemed to be the most popular of the series, and that model was our runner-up pick in the first version of this guide. The Jimmyjane Form 2 is less intuitive and easy to use than the Siri 2. While some of our testers loved the Form 2’s dual-prong design, others found it frustrating or confusing.
Reviewers preferred We-Vibe’s Tango model, which we included for testing, over the We-Vibe Touch 2.0.
The vibrations of Je Joue’s Mimi felt jerky and choppy at the lower speeds and caused the motor to make wheezing noises. This toy works best when you use it at its maximum setting, provided that the maximum setting is not too strong or weak for your personal tastes.
The futuristic-looking Eroscillator offers stimulation through oscillation rather than vibration, but reviews indicate that it can be hit or miss for people, and the price seems a bit too high.
Dame’s Eva vibrator was appealing in concept as a ”hands-free, strap-free, non-intrusive couples’ vibrator.” Unfortunately, neither of our testers found that it stayed in place well: “The only issue with the thing is its strapless design, which means that during PIV [penis-in-vagina intercourse] the thing just falls right off unless you’re flat on your back and trying your best not to move too much. Too much focusing on keeping the toy in place takes attention away from the act itself.” Others found it too weak and “buzzy” to be satisfying.
The Wahl All-Body Massage is a popular budget alternative to the Magic Wand, featuring intense power concentrated in a smaller head, but users report that it breaks more easily.
Reviews say that the Fun Factory Layaspot vibrator isn’t quite powerful enough, and it can seem a bit pricey for a battery-operated toy when decent rechargeable models are available for as little as $60.
We considered Doc Johnson’s Pocket Rocket as an alternative to the Silver Bullet. However, the Silver Bullet’s smooth curved shape seems to be better for clitoral stimulation than the Rocket’s flat, studded head, and the Silver Bullet offers stronger, more variable stimulation. (The Pocket Rocket does have the advantage of being totally cordless with no external battery pack and the need for only one battery, however.)
Originally published: February 1, 2016