Using your cell phone as your morning alarm is like using your cell phone as your daily timepiece: it works, but it’s bush league. Do yourself a favor and invest in both a decent watch to wear during the day and a dedicated alarm clock that, by not tempting you with Candy Crush or messing with your circadian rhythm, can help you wake up more-rested to start it. But shopping for an alarm clock isn’t as simple as it seems; it involves a bunch of small decisions on price, features, and design that can be overwhelming.
That’s why our picks run the gamut from no-frills mechanical clocks to Bluetooth-enabled charging centers. They’re all high-quality models available at a range of price points, and they reflect the best of the different kinds of clocks available for purchase. And remember, no matter which one you ultimately park on your nightstand, you’ll be upgrading your evening and morning routines from one centered around your phone.
RCA Digital Alarm Clock
This model is a basic, no-frills alarm clock. It has a large, 1.4-inch red LCD risplay with simple dots that indicate when a time is PM and when an alarm is set. It’s also dimmable, so you can adjust it to be bright enough to read in the dark without blinding you or bathing your bedroom in a creepy red glow. There’s a battery backup, so if the power goes out in the middle of the night you won’t be late for work the next morning or reset the time from a blinking 12:00. The snooze button, arguably the most important feature on any alarm clock, is also a beaut, spanning the middle two-thirds of the six-inch wide unit. The whole thing looks like it was designed decades ago. And we mean that in the best way.
Brandstand CubieBlue Charging Alarm Clock with Bluetooth Speaker
In the 21st century, waking up ready to go to work means waking up with all of your digital devices fully charged. So if your work and/or personal life depend on having a phone, laptop, tablet, and/or headphones ready to go in the morning this alarm clock is an excellent choice. It comes with two USB ports and two standard power outlets built-in and easily accessible on the top of the device; they even feature surge protection so you won’t accidentally fry your phone if there’s a power surge. The Bluetooth speaker won’t help you sleep or wake you up, but it’s a nice thing to have in your bedroom for mood music, white noise, or non-bed-related music or podcasts. Its LCD display shows the current time, the scheduled alarm, and Bluetooth status. We’re also big fans of the knob, which makes it easier to adjust the time and set an alarm than either holding or furiously tapping a standard button.
Philips Wake-Up Light HF3520
The idea behind wake-up lights is pretty simple: using light to wake people up is more natural and less jarring than a blaring electronic sound. Philips says that its devices are scientifically proven to improve the wake-up experience over a standard sound-based alarm, so if you find yourself waking up panicked and/or groggy, it’s worth giving a wake-up light a shot. The company is a leader in this sector, and this model is its bestseller.
The orange- and yellow-toned lights on the HF3520 are designed to more accurately simulate sunrise and sunset that other lights which use simple white bulbs. It cycles through 20 different color and intensity combinations, ranging from dull orange to bright yellow, to gradually transform your room from pitch-black cave to pleasantly lit bedroom. There are also five different natural sounds and an FM radio if you want to add some audio to your wake-up routine. And just like the sun, if your power goes out the light can still gently rustle you out of sleep thanks to an 8-hour battery backup.
Westclox Big Ben Twin-Bell Alarm Clock
The Big Ben has the look of the quintessential alarm clock with bells and analog face has hour, minute, and second hands. But it has a few nifty feature: Press the top and the face will illuminate, allowing you to check the time in the middle of the night before you (hopefully) fall back to sleep. There’s also a mechanical alarm function, the classic vibrating hammer and dual bell mechanism just above the 12 position. The face has a diameter of just five inches and it weighs less than a pound, so its name isn’t particularly accurate. It’s available in shiny gold or matte brushed nickel finishes, and it’s a solid choice if your tastes lean analog and your decor classic.
Peakeep Ultra Small Travel Alarm Clock
Even if you don’t use it every day, this model from Peakeep is nice to have when you travel, particularly if, like us, you find that you forget to bring a phone charger far too often. It’s designed to take on the road. It’s longest side is just two and a quarter inches, and it weights just a couple of ounces. It runs on one AA battery and features easy to use controls: a button that activates the backlight and snooze functions, a simple alarm on/off switch, and two knobs that make it easy to set the time and alarm, respectively.
Oct17 Wooden Clock
This alarm clock is technically made of medium density fiberboard. But thanks to the magic of technology, it looks and feels like wood in black, brown, white, and a light, natural finish. It has a power-saving function that switches off the display when idle for 10 seconds. Make a noise like a hand clap and it turns back on at one of three luminance levels, adjustable to suit the light in your bedroom. It also features battery backup and three alarms, but the real attraction here is the look of wood. It looks more like a scrap of wood than an alarm clock, and chances are that, no matter how rustic or how modern your decor, this clock will look great on your nightstand.