Ditch your smartphone alarm for one of our favourite dedicated alarm clocks
Some might argue that we really don’t need alarm clocks any more. Since the arrival of the smartphone, which has now become everyone’s constant companion, quite a few of us have long since chucked our old-school alarm clock across the bedroom directly into the bin. For anyone who’s ever found themselves let down by their mobile phone, however, or for those who want something a little more high tech, a dedicated alarm clock is a sound investment.
In order to survive the smartphone revolution, alarm clocks have had to evolve. No longer is it good enough for them just to make a loud noise. Some of them are designed to rouse heavy sleepers with the kind of racket that even the most loud-mouthed of smartphones would struggle to imitate, and others even claim to aid us in getting a better night’s rest.
No matter what your sleeping habits are, there’s an alarm clock out there that will do the job for you. And with only one job to do, you can be certain of one thing: these alarm clocks won’t let you sleep in when you need to be up and out.
Best alarm clock: At a glance
How to choose the best alarm clock for you
What kind of alarm clock should I buy?
This is all down to personal preference. Do you want to wake up to your favourite breakfast radio station or would a traditional bell get you out of bed quicker? Some alarm clocks have come into the 21st century with “Humane Waking Systems” – that’s where buzzers start off at a low volume and get louder. Meanwhile, more expensive alarms will illuminate your bedroom with a calming light to simulate the feeling of waking up under canvas at sunrise.
Do I want a mains-powered or battery-powered alarm clock?
An alarm clock’s key power source is definitely something you need to consider. Obviously, if you’re on your travels you will want long-lasting battery models that make it clear when the batteries need changing, while those looking for a clock to put on a bedroom table will prefer ones that run off mains power. It’s also worth bearing in mind that a power outage can disrupt a mains-powered alarm clock, so ones equipped with a battery backup are well worth paying a little extra for.
Can I use my own music to wake me up?
In addition to the standard radio and buzzer options, some alarm clocks allow users to dock a media player such as a smartphone to play content from the device, or connect a USB stick, for a customised way to start the day.
What kind of display do I go for?
You can easily find digital alarm clocks with LCD and LED displays these days, as well as retro designs with the traditional clock face and analogue quartz technology. For those of you who opt for a digital display, you’ll want to look for a display that’s easy on the eyes and has an acceptable brightness level, which will vary from device to device – bear in mind, though, that those with automatic display brightness will stop your alarm clock lighting up your bedroom at night.
Some alarm clocks move beyond standard displays and project the time onto the wall or ceiling for a larger, more easily readable display. If you want to be able to check the time without leaning over the bedside table, these are a great choice.
What about a smart clock?
With smart TV sticks, smart speakers and smart lighting everywhere you look, it’s no surprise that even alarm clocks are getting smart these days. Some manufacturers, such as Amazon and Lenovo, are building smart speakers or displays that double up as alarm clocks, waking you up while giving you all the usual info, music, radio and smart home controls. Of course, you might not be comfortable with Alexa listening to you in the bedroom, let alone catching your early-morning hair with a built-in camera.
READ NEXT: Best mattresses to buy
The best alarm clocks you can buy in 2023
1. Lenovo Smart Clock: Best Google smart clock
Price: £79 | Buy now from Langstane What’s so good about Lenovo’s Smart Clock is the stuff it’s missing: there’s no front-facing camera or photo display mode, and the 4in, 800 x 480 screen isn’t designed for browsing the web or watching video. Instead, it’s focused on telling you the time, checking the weather or viewing calendar events. It has an ambient light sensor that adjusts the brightness according to the light conditions, or you can set a Sunrise Alarm that wakes you up with gradually increasing bright light from the display.
If you’ve got smart home kit plugged into Google Home, you can use the Smart Clock to control it, and the built-in Google Assistant is still streets ahead of Alexa when it comes to delivering solid information. The only niggle is that you can’t have a radio station or playlist as your alarm, just one of Lenovo’s preset tones. At least you can snooze or silence it with a tap. Compact and surprisingly great sounding, it’s arguably the smartest smart clock.
Key specs – Size: 75 x 114 x 80mm; Power supply: Mains; Alarm time: Up to 10mins; Snooze time: Tap to snooze/stop, “Stop!” command
2. Lumie Sunrise Alarm: Best wake-up light for £50
Price: £50 | Buy now from John LewisAt just £50, this wake-up light is an affordable alternative to the Philips alarm clock featured above. It works in much the same way, with a simulated sunrise/sunset effect to gently wake you up in the morning while also easing you to sleep at night. It has a choice of alternative alarm noises, including birdsong, cat purring and even goats. At less than half the price of the Philips alarm, it’s a great choice for those who want to avoid rude awakenings with only a modest outlay.
If you’re taken in by the Sunrise Alarm, it’s also worth checking out Lumie’s Bodyclock range of wake-up lights. These are a bit more sophisticated than the Sunrise Alarm, and also come medically certified for treating symptoms of seasonal affective disorder. We featured the Bodyclock Glow 150 (£80) in our best SAD lamps roundup, as well as a number of other Lumie lights.
Key specs – Size: 18 x 17 x 9cm; Power supply: Mains; Snooze time: 5mins; Alarm sounds: 6
3. Lexon Flip Clock: The easiest alarm clock to turn off when you wake up
Price: £35 | Buy now from AmazonDesigned by British brothers Adrian and Jeremy Wright, this award-winning alarm clock brings an end to having to rummage around with sleepy eyes for the off switch; simply flip the whole thing over to turn it off. And no, the time doesn’t turn upside down with it, as that’s cleverly reversible too. For snooze, you just touch it instead of flipping it.
We think it ticks lots of boxes – it looks good, is fun, well made and does what it promises. Plus, it comes in several colour options. Be warned: it’s small – not much bigger than a bank card – and it isn’t all that loud.
Key specs – Size: 10.5 x 3 x 6.5cm Power supply: 2 x AAA batteries
4. Newgate Charlie Bell Alarm Clock: Best twin alarm bell clock
Price: £25 | Buy now from John Lewis
This battery-powered alarm clock marries old and new beautifully, so you get the conventional round clock face topped with twin alarm bells, but with a modern aesthetic that feels very much on trend. Available in a range of stylish colours – brass, copper, grey or black, each with a different colour of clock face – it doesn’t take up much space, so there’ll be plenty of room on your nightstand remaining for your books, water and so on.
It feels well-made and the alarm is loud; there’s no snooze button, however.
Key specs – Size: 14.5 x 9.7x 5.5cm; Power supply: 1 x AAA battery
5. Newgate Wideboy analogue alarm clock: Best stylish alarm clock
Price: £45 | Buy now from John Lewis Newgate offers a range of traditional and modern clocks for any setting, and this retro alarm clock is one of our favourites. It’s elevated on plinth feet and – as the name suggests – it’s rather wide (20.5cm), so it’s worth checking how much space you’ve got on your bedside table.
Silent-sweep movement ensures that there’s no ticking noise to keep you awake at night, while the alarm itself is a simple digital beep. The clock is built with a plastic casing, which might disappoint those hoping for a more traditional wooden construction. But on the whole, it looks good and represents decent value for money.
Key features – Size: 6 x 20.5 x 12cm; Weight: 250g; Power supply: 1 x AA battery
6. Sonic Bomb SBB500SS Loud Alarm Clock with Bed Shaker: Best for the seriously heavy sleeper
Price: £45 | Buy now from AmazonIf you’re a super-heavy sleeper and think you can sleep through anything, then how about a 113-decibel buzzer to get you going in the morning? Warning: this is seriously loud. And if the sheer noise alone isn’t enough to wake you from the land of nod, then this alarm clock also flashes multiple, bright LEDs and comes with a vibrating pad that slips under your mattress to literally shake you out of your stupor.
You can set the alarm to sound only or vibrate only – with both you might suffer a sensory overload – and it also comes with a 9V battery backup if the electricity cuts out in the middle of the night. Overall, this is a great, easy-to-set-up alarm clock, with the only slight niggle being that we wish there was a bigger Alarm Off button.
Key specs – Size: 14 x 14 x 7cm; Power supply: 230V adapter (included) or battery (optional); Alarm time: 1-59mins; Snooze time: 1-30mins; 113dB alarm
7. Amazon Echo Show 5 2nd Gen (2021): Best Alexa smart clock
Price: £75 | Buy now from John Lewis
Amazon no longer makes the round Echo Spot, but the Echo Show 5 is a great replacement. It’s cheap, has a bright 5.5in touchscreen and boasts all the features you’d expect from an Amazon Smart Display. This means it will do more than the Lenovo Smart Clock; you can watch TV and movies from Amazon Prime Video, play games and even make video calls with the built-in webcam. Don’t worry – this one has a privacy shield built in, and there’s a button to turn off both the camera and mic.
Like the Lenovo, the Echo Show 5 has a “Sunrise Effect” that uses the screen to gently light up your bedroom before the alarm goes off. The backlight adjusts automatically according to the ambient light, and you can wake up to your favourite tracks or internet radio station, with impressively full-bodied sound.
Key specs – Size: 73 x 148 x 86mm; Power supply: Mains; Alarm time: Up to 59mins; Snooze time: Tap to snooze/stop, set via command “Alexa, snooze for X minutes”
8. Clocky – The Runaway Alarm Clock: Best for forcing you out of bed
Price: £34 | Buy now from AmazonIf you need a little extra incentive to get you out of bed in the morning, then we may have the alarm for you. Clocky is the alarm that aims to get you up and out of breath before breakfast time. After the first time you hit snooze, the alarm starts moving away, creating enough distance to quite literally force you out of bed. It should be said, though, that Clocky is unbelievably annoying.
Unlike other alarms, it doesn’t just play a loop of music or emit a regular series of beeps that soon become synonymous with your mornings and can often be ignored. Instead, it plays a garbled, arrhythmical set of beeps, buzzes and pings that are simply too awful to ignore. However, if you’re a regular snooze hitter and don’t want to splash out mega money, Clocky may be the early-morning drill sergeant you’ve been looking for.
Key specs – Size: 13.3 x 8.9x 8.9cm; Power supply: 4 x AAA batteries; Alarm time: Up to 59mins; Snooze time: 9mins
9. QlockTwo: Best luxury alarm clock
Price: £555 | Buy now from GoldsmithsThere are finite ways to display the time, yet these guys have come up with something completely novel. This uber-modern-looking clock cleverly displays the time by lighting up the relevant letters, which change at five-minute intervals and with four dots to represent the minutes in between.
There are different finishes available; if you wind up regretting your initial pick, exchangeable new front covers are available in five colourways, which attach via magnets. There’s an automatic dimmer and night touch mode if you prefer no light at all, with a quick tap of the clock telling you the time. The downside? It costs a pretty packet.
Key specs – Size: 13.5 x 13.5cm; Power supply: Mains