Help & Support
Best Alarm Clocks
What Can an Alarm Clock Do That a Smartphone Can’t?
We tested 10 alarm clocks that cost less than $60 to find out how durable they are and which ones have the best features. After pressing each clock’s snooze button hundreds of times, simulating falls off a nightstand and playing around with features, we believe the iHome iBT29 is the best option out there for most people because it has the most impressive feature set. However, it was the least durable model we tested.
The Electrohome Projection EAAC601 and Phillips AJT4400B/37 are missing some of the alarm options and convenience features our top pick has, but they are both more durable. If you foresee yourself accidentally knocking your alarm clock off your nightstand, you may want to consider erring on the side of durability rather than convenience to protect your investment.
If you have a hard time waking up to the sound of a traditional buzzer or radio station, you may want to consider the Sonic Alert Sonic Bomb SBB500ss. It’s missing most of the features we look for, but it is sure to wake you if the app on your phone cannot. Not only is it the loudest alarm clock we tested, but it also has a vibrating button you can place under your pillow. In addition, it is $20 cheaper than the best alarm clocks.
Alarm Clocks: What We Tested, What We Found
We performed several tests to evaluate each clock’s durability, ease of use and customization options. Manufacturers list specifications that detail their alarm clocks’ features – we tested those features and evaluated how accurate and effective each alarm is.
To test durability, we pressed each clock’s snooze button hundreds of times. After that, we pushed the clock off a nightstand in our lab onto different flooring surfaces. We designed our durability tests to mimic real-world scenarios – in the first moments of consciousness after a night’s rest, our minds and bodies are slower and can move more awkwardly than when we are fully conscious and alert. That means there is a good chance you will clumsily press your alarm clock’s buttons hard and potentially knock it off your bedside table multiple times throughout its lifespan.
None of the alarm clocks sustained internal or cosmetic damage when they fell onto the varying thicknesses of carpet we used in our lab. However, hardwood flooring and tile surfaces proved to be problematic for about half of the clocks we tested. For example, the iHome alarm clock broke in half the first time we pushed it onto the hardwood floor, but it was still functional. When it hit the tile floor though, the screen cracked and it wouldn’t turn on. The other clocks we tested showed no signs of functional damage, but they were susceptible to scuffing on the harder surfaces.
During its life, an alarm clock’s snooze button will be pressed thousands of times with varying amounts of force. As such, we tested how durable the buttons are on all the models we reviewed. A few of the clocks’ snooze buttons broke after we pressed them fewer than 200 times. For example, the La Crosse Projection Alarm Clock’s button got stuck and stopped snoozing the alarm after we pressed it roughly 100 times. If the snooze button stops working, this La Crosse model will be nothing more than a phone charger and bedside radio.
You don’t want to struggle to turn off your alarm when it goes off in the morning. Because of this, it’s important you purchase a clock that is easy to use. We found that certain features make alarm clocks more user-friendly.
We tested each alarm’s volume at its loudest setting. Some of the clocks allow you to adjust the alarm volume so they wake you up at a pitch that’s just annoying enough to disrupt your sleep. Some clocks even have progressive alarms that start out quiet and gradually get louder.
In addition, we noted which alarm clocks have large snooze buttons located in easy-to-find places. Models with backlights are easy to read, and some allow you to adjust the screen brightness so the light doesn’t disrupt your sleep.
Alarm clocks with advanced features that require little maintenance on your part are convenient to use. For example, models with atomic or auto sync time set themselves to the correct time – you just have to plug them in. Some clocks also automatically adjust for daylight saving time, so you don’t have to remember to make the adjustment twice a year. These features are key differentiators between the best alarm clocks and the rest of the bunch.
We found that customizable alarm clocks are more convenient to use. Some clocks allow you to set your alarm for only weekdays or weekends, so you don’t have to remember to turn off your alarm every Friday night and then back on every Sunday. With the best models, you only have to set your alarm once, and the clock will remember your wake up time from then on out. Some alarm clocks even let you adjust the snooze time to fit your own sleeping and waking patterns.
What Else Is Important?
While durability, usability and customization are the most important considerations when purchasing an alarm clock, there are other features that can make it more versatile and useful than the app on your phone. Whether you like waking up gently to soft noise or need your entire bed to shake before you wake up, finding an alarm clock that works with your habits is important. Most of the models we tested have at least two alarm sounds and a volume button. We also looked for helpful features like a calendar, temperature and date information, charging ports, and music playback.
When choosing an alarm clock, the sound the alarm makes and the volume it projects at are equally important. Whether you need a jolting sound or a progressive alarm, you should buy a clock that gets you up the way that works best for you. The models we reviewed let you change the alarm to fit your style. However, most only offer buzzer or radio alarm options. We also reviewed a few clocks that can wake you up with music from a Bluetooth-connected device, soothing light or vibration.
Date, Temperature & Projection
Alarm clock designs have become progressively smarter over the years. Now you can buy one that not only shows the time and wakes you up, but also includes wireless and wired music playback, calendars, and temperature readouts. Alarm clocks that combine all these features are more versatile and alert you to everything you need to know before you begin your day. Some alarm clocks even have built-in projectors that display the time on your wall or ceiling, making it easy to track time at night without rolling over.
Why Should I Use an Alarm Clock Instead of a Phone App?
The dizzying amount of information available on smartphones makes them a distraction when you try to wind down at night or get out of bed in the morning. The last thing your brain needs before you lay down and close your eyes is to be inundated with work emails, social media content or breaking news alerts. Similarly, when you wake up, all that information can be a hindrance to getting out of bed and starting your day. Using an alarm clock to wake up means you don’t need your phone within arm’s reach, and removing the distraction may help you fall asleep and wake up on the right side of the bed.
Basic alarm clocks are pretty straightforward, with standard features like a snooze button, volume controls and a button to adjust display brightness. The newest clocks focus on accuracy and come with a variety of helpful and customizable features. With a radio alarm, you can set a station you want to wake up to. You can also find alarm clocks with dual alarms, which wake up two people at different times, or progressive alarms that increasingly get louder. Some have USB connections to charge devices and Bluetooth so you can wake up to your favorite song or podcast.
While there are alarm clocks with unique, and sometimes annoying, features – like those that roll away from your bed on wheels or require you to stand on them to turn off the alarm or snooze – we focused on more mainstream models that cost between $12 to $60. Our reviews of the best alarm clocks can help you find the right product to integrate into your daily routine.