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The 7 Very Best Alarm Clocks

Portrait of Jordan McMahon

In this article

  • Best overall
  • Best sunrise
  • Best smart display
  • Best smart speaker
  • Best analog

As convenient as it might be to use your phone as an alarm clock, standalone alarm clocks come with all kinds of features that can make waking up — or even going to sleep — a little less painful. Some have lights that simulate a gentle sunrise, while others can play bedtime stories or relaxing nature sounds to help you drift off. There are models that charge your phone overnight without taking up an extra spot on your power strip and still others with accompanying apps that let you choose from dozens of alarm sounds (just like your phone!) or sync to smart lights. A few even double as Bluetooth speakers .

The best-known newer brands in the space are Hatch and Loftie, with their feature-packed models, but you’ll still find a wide range of options from legacy electronics-makers Sharp and Braun. To find the best alarm clocks, I tested eight models by setting each atop my nightstand and dresser for at least a couple nights, trying each feature and taking notes on how effective each was at waking me up. I also spoke with Strategist writers about their favorites.

What we’re looking for

Alarm clocks can be either digital or analog, meaning they’ll either display the digits of the actual time or they’ll have a clock face with hands indicating the time. Digital clocks may be easier for some people to read at a glance (especially first thing in the morning), but analog clocks may be less distracting for someone trying to fall asleep.

Adjustable brightness

Displays with adjustable brightness allow you to see the time during the day but prevent the light from keeping you up at night when it’s time for bed.

Multiple alarms

Whether you prefer to set several alarms as an insurance measure, or want to share a clock with someone who wakes up at a different time than you, a clock with the ability to set multiple alarms will make things significantly easier.

Extra features

Some clocks have adjustable lights that simulate sunrise to help you wake up, or speakers that can play soothing sounds or guided meditations to help you get ready for bed. Others, like Amazon’s Echo Dot and Google’s Nest Hub, plug into other services to expand their capabilities and let you control other devices and services with your voice.

Sound options

Some people prefer to be roused with gentle tones, while others need a piercing siren to get them out of bed. I made sure to include both types on this list, as well as models with multiple sound options.

Best alarm clock overall

Sharp AccuSet Jumbo Mirror Display Alarm Clock

Clock type: Digital | Adjustable brightness: Yes | Multiple alarms: Yes | Extra features: None | Sound options: None

For a basic alarm clock, Sharp’s AccuSet Jumbo impressed me with its thoughtful design, big display, and low price. You can adjust the brightness to three levels, and even the lowest setting can be seen in a well-lit room, but is still faint enough to not be disruptive at night. You can only set two alarms on this one, but it’s easy to do so, and changing them doesn’t take more than a minute or two.

You won’t be able to change the mildly sharp beeping of the alarm, but the sound works well without sounding too unpleasant first thing in the morning. On the back of this alarm, there’s a USB-A port you can use for charging your phone overnight. In 30 minutes, I was able to charge my iPhone 15 Pro Max from 54 percent up to 72 percent, which isn’t quite as much as you would get with fast charging, but that rate for overnight charging is fine.

You won’t get any of the features (like ambient noise, sunrise light, etc.) that come with smart clocks like the Loftie and Hatch Restore 2, but its simple setup and easy-to-see display make it an affordable and convenient option that had no trouble waking me up during my testing.

Best (less-expensive) alarm clock

DreamSky Compact Digital Alarm Clock

Clock type: Digital | Adjustable brightness: Yes | Multiple alarms: No | Smart features: None | Sound options: One

DreamSky’s barebones model is quick to set up and shows the time in an easy-to-read, large display; it also shows the time of your next scheduled alarm.

Strategist editor Hilary Reid says she bought hers to reduce her overall screen time and that it’s been helpful in that pursuit. She likes that the clock’s numbers are big and easy to read — they’re significantly larger than the numbers on the Sharp AccuSet — but aren’t so vivid that they’ll keep you awake. “The numbers are orange, which I find to be less shockingly bright than red or blue numbers, and they are fully dimmable so I can keep them very low when I sleep and then turn them up to their brightest setting in the morning,” she says.

Unlike the other alarm clocks we recommend, this one uses two AAA batteries to store the time and settings on the clock in case of an outage, though you can’t power the clock on batteries alone. Like the Sharp, there’s a built-in USB-A port you can use to charge your phone overnight.  It only comes with one beeping alarm, while the other clocks we recommend have multiple, so you’ll have to be okay with the beeps it emits. Reid says it’s not horrible, but not particularly pleasant, either.

Best smart alarm clock

Loftie Clock

Clock type: Digital | Adjustable brightness: Yes | Multiple alarms: Yes | Smart features: App-controlled, ambient noise, sunrise light, guided meditations | Sound options: 14

I ended up using the Loftie far longer than the allotted testing time, thanks to how successful it was at waking me up. It combines a classic, understated LCD alarm clock lozenge-shaped design with a subtle light that can simulate a sunrise to ease you into the day. The light glows just enough to grab your attention as you wake up; it’s gentle, and adds a warm touch to the room, both in sunrise mode and when turned on manually from the buttons on the top. Using the app, you can have it light up and play a nice tune to let you know it’s time to wind down and get ready for bed, and another when it’s time to actually get in bed.

The Loftie’s display shows both the current time and, in much smaller, dimmer numerals, the time of the next alarm. It’ll also tell you when Bluetooth (which you can use to stream stuff from your phone or tablet) is enabled. The display is smaller than on other alarm clocks like the Sharp and Hatch, but I still didn’t have any trouble seeing it from across the room while in bed. The top of the Loftie has four buttons: snooze, two arrow buttons for navigating the menu, and the main button for selection or play/pause.

There are 14 alarm sounds to choose from, including jungle animals chirping alongside a flute and gentle, repetitive strikes of a gong. If you have a Loftie+ membership ($5/month, with a trial month for free), you can also play relaxing music to fall asleep to, listen to guided meditations, and get horoscope readings. They’re all nice add-ons, and I did find they helped my anxious mind wind down before dozing off, but the Loftie has plenty to offer without the subscription. You also don’t need to pay the subscription to use the Loftie like a Bluetooth speaker to stream podcasts or playlists from your phone. Unfortunately, the Bluetooth setting disables itself after a period of inactivity, so you’ll have to turn it back on from the device whenever you want to use it.

The accompanying app is surprisingly feature-packed for an alarm-clock app. You can add multiple alarms, each with different sounds from Loftie’s library, and adjust the brightness of the clock’s bottom light via an adjustable slider. You can also choose from 14 alarm sounds, all of which have pleasant tones, though if you need a sharper, more attention-grabbing sound to get you out of bed, these options probably won’t work. The app also supports multiple clocks, so you can control several devices from one phone.

The company also sells a Wi-Fi connected lamp , which is my new favorite lamp after a week of testing. It pairs with the clock to coordinate wakeup routines, like dimming your light before bed or using a soft light to help wake you up. Every time it lit up along with my alarm, I felt like I was waking up in a room pulled straight out of the brightly colored yet softly lit future of Spike Jonze’s Her . At $250, it’s rather expensive, and you can only control it from within Loftie’s app, but the light does look great. Rather than using a bulb, the entire base of the lamp lights up, and you can set it to one of over 30 color options, including solid colors and gradients. All of the color options are relaxing, never too intense, and can work for anything from providing some light for reading or just helping you wake up in the morning.

The Loftie Clock, showing the time and emitting a yellow light from the bottom, as well as the Loftie Lamp, glowing with a blue-to-yellow gradient, atop the writer's wooden nightstand. There is also an iPhone, face-down, charging in front of the clock.

Best sunrise alarm clock

Hatch Restore 2 Sunrise Alarm Clock

While I like the Loftie’s design, the Hatch Restore 2 is the one I wanted to keep on my nightstand after I tested it. I prefer its more subtle look and I like its sunrise light more — though the Loftie Lamp gives that model an edge if you’re willing to splurge on it. The Restore 2’s light has a softer glow thanks to the fabric surrounding it and compared to the effect created by Loftie’s transparent casing. Unlike the Loftie’s single-color light, the Hatch has 18 possible colors, and they can all be changed from within the app. My room doesn’t get much light in the mornings, and the Hatch’s vibrant but not overbearing light serves as a gentle nudge to help wake me up.

Like the Loftie, the Restore 2 has 14 built-in alarm sounds to choose from; I prefer the soothing chords of “Joyful Morning.” You can even play white noise to fall asleep to. Unlike with the Loftie, some of these ambient tracks are available for free, though others are available only with a subscription ($5/month). That subscription also unlocks guided meditations and fun things like the series “i’ll scroll 4 u,” where a host narrates what they’re doing on their phone in every episode; it’s sort of like a podcast version of someone’s hushed internal monologue. In one episode they comment on the question prompts their Hinge suggestions have on their profiles, and in another the narrator talks us through their hunt for a new couch on Facebook Marketplace. On its own, the Restore 2 offers more than enough to help make sleep a little easier, but I’ll admit, I’ve enjoyed trying out some of Hatch’s subscription content, so it’s worth checking out at least for the free trial.

Atop the Restore 2 are two buttons: one for activating your morning routine, and one for your evening routine. The morning button is convex, while the evening button is concave, making it easy to distinguish them by feel alone. The buttons are easier to differentiate this way than on the Sharp, but the Loftie’s different-size buttons are even easier to tell apart. The front of the clock also has four touch controls, though there are no icons to show where they are: Tapping on the top or bottom of the display toggles the light’s brightness, while tapping the left or right side adjusts the volume of the speaker.

Strategist writer Arielle Avila has been using the Restore 2 for about four months, and says it’s totally replaced her phone as an alarm. “It’s the only thing that can get me fully up when it’s still dark out because of the sunrise option,” she says. “I set mine to gradually brighten 30 minutes prior to my actual alarm, which is a morning bird sound — it’s calming but really effective.”

Avila also notes that only one person can control the Restore 2, so setting multiple alarms for multiple people isn’t convenient. You can also mute the alarm using a switch on the side, but it’s not easy to flip when you’re half-awake, which may disturb your bedmate if they wake up later than you.

The Hatch Restore 2, displaying the time and lit-up in an orange glow, sitting atop the writer's wooden dresser. There is also an iPhone charging in front of the clock, and to the clock's left is a small clay vase.

Best smart display alarm clock

Google Nest Hub (2nd Generation)

Clock type: Digital | Adjustable brightness: Yes | Multiple alarms: Yes | Smart features: App-controlled, ambient noise, third-party app integration, smart home controls | Sound options: 20

I used to watch TV before bed, but since removing mine from my room last year, I’ve started relying on a tablet version of Google’s Nest Hub as a mini-TV , and it works well as an alarm I can control completely hands free. The Nest Hub, which I’ve had in my home for over a year, has a large display — basically a tablet —that can show everything from the weather to whatever playlist you have on its built-in speaker. At night, the display will automatically dim when you’re going to bed. The Hub can run multiple timers, and even show two onscreen at the same time. It also makes a pretty great digital picture frame .

Google Assistant is built right into the Nest Hub, which means that in addition to controlling all your on-device timers, alarms, and Google queries, you can also sync it to third-party smart home gear and services like Spotify or Netflix (I have mine set up to control my home alarm system and robot vacuum ). All that’s done from Google’s Assistant app, but once you’ve done it for one Hub, it’ll be good to go with future devices as well.

Like nearly everything else you can do on the Nest Hub, you can set alarms with your voice, though you’ll have to use the touch screen to change the alarm wakeup sounds. There are 20 sounds to choose from, and they’re broken down into four categories (natural, light, medium, heavy), based on their tone and theme. They’re all nice to hear in the morning — I like the music-based ones — and I like that the options are broken down into their tones, rather than elements like the forest or ocean.

Since it’s meant to play music and videos too, the Nest Hub has a better speaker than the Loftie: It’s louder and clearer. You can sync it with your Spotify, Apple Music, or YouTube Music account to stream your favorite playlists or albums directly from the display, or even have it play a YouTube or Netflix video before bed. It doesn’t work as a Bluetooth speaker like the Loftie, but since the streaming functionality is all built in and doesn’t shut down on its own, it’s far more convenient.

Best smart speaker alarm clock

Amazon Echo Dot with Clock (5th-generation)

Clock type: Digital | Adjustable brightness: No | Multiple alarms: Yes | Smart features: App-controlled, ambient noise, guided meditations, third-party app integration, smart home controls | Sound options: 24

Of Amazon’s Alexa-integrated speakers, Amazon’s Echo Dot is my favorite. It’s small enough to fit on a nightstand without taking up a ton of space, and its smart-speaker capabilities are just as good as those on the Google Nest Hub. It also has an LED ring at the bottom that lights up when an alarm is going off, but the light itself is not as pleasant as the Hatch or Loftie. To turn the alarm off, you can say, “Alexa, stop” or tap the top, which is far easier than having to reach for a specific button, as you would with the Hatch and Loftie.

Like the Nest Hub, there’s a smart assistant built into the Echo Dot, though of course it’s Alexa instead of Google’s Assistant. You can connect it to just as many smart home devices and third-party services. Its display will only show the time (no indicators to tell you whether an alarm is active or not), but the numbers are easy to read. The sound is quite good for the speaker’s size (it’s about the size of a softball), and works for playing music, podcasts, and audiobooks, all without having to use your phone. It doesn’t produce sound with the same clarity as the Nest Hub, but it’s also significantly smaller.

The Echo Dot’s most frustrating issue is found within its alarm settings: There are ads and cross-promotions involved. In addition to standard alarm tones with nature sounds or chimes, there are branded ones like “Sharknado: Tara Reid” and “Blake Shelton: Day’s Work.” If that’s your jam, fine, but I’d imagine a lot of people wouldn’t enjoy waking up to Tara Reid shouting, “Get up now! There’s a Sharknado coming! Stay away from the windows and stick with me if you want to live, this is not my first time.” That said, the alarms that aren’t associated with a brand or celebrity sound pretty good and were on par with the alarms found in my iPhone’s Sleep section (and better than the standard alarms in the Clock app).

Best analog alarm clock

Braun BC22

Clock type: Analog | Adjustable brightness: No | Multiple alarms: No | Smart features: None | Sound options: 1

For those who prefer an analog clock, Braun’s can’t be beat. The BC22 is modeled on the brand’s discontinued AB 2, which was designed in 1984 by Dieter Rams. Rams’ clock designs are considered classics for a reason and have many fans.

Unlike every other clock we recommend, this one’s battery powered, though you’ll probably only have to replace it once per year at most. It only has one alarm and one alarm tone, which increases in volume until you shut it off. The quartz movement should be quiet enough that the ticking won’t keep you from dozing off.

You set the alarm manually on the back of the clock. On the right side of the Braun is a switch to disable the alarm. The clock’s face has a soft orange backlight that allows you to see it at night but won’t keep you awake, and the hands of the clock have illuminated tips for better visibility in the dark. Below the clock, there’s a green light that indicates when an alarm is active, which allows you to confirm at a glance whether you’ve set one or not.

Our experts

  • Arielle Avila , Strategist writer
  • Hilary Reid , Strategist editor

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The 6 Best Travel Alarm Clocks to Give Your Vacation Peace of Mind!

The Best Travel Alarm Clock 2017

Best Alarm Clocks for Travel

I know what you must be thinking – if smartphones have rendered the watch obsolete, why haven’t they done the same with alarm clocks?

I might agree with you on normal alarm clocks, but the best travel alarm clocks always add security and peace of mind to your vacation. I always travel with an alarm clock for two main reasons.

First, you never know how often you’ll be able to charge your phone on vacation. When you’re out and about all day, the life of your phone battery is less reliable, so I always like to have my alarm clock as a back-up option.

Likewise, if my smartphone alarm clock messes up on a normal day, I might be a little late to work or get a late start on my to-do list. The vacation equivalent of being late to work is missing a tour or, worse, missing a flight! For worry-warts like me, you can never play it too safe.

Keep reading for the 6 best travel alarm clocks to give your next vacation peace of mind!


The Best Travel Alarm Clock

The Best Travel Alarm Clocks

Best Travel Alarm clock Homtime Multi function Alarm Clock

1. Homtime Multi-Function Alarm Clock

It’s hard to imagine a travel alarm clock having that many bells and whistles, but the Homtime Multi-Function Alarm Clock seems to have all of them.

It possesses four levels of LCD dimming, has both snooze and gradual wake-up functions, and can be charged via either USB cord or, should there be a power failure, backup support battery (told you the best travel alarm clocks put a premium on peace of mind!).

To top it all off, the Homtime travel alarm clock doubles as a charging port for Apple and Android devices!

Best Multi-Functional Alarm Clock

Available on Amazon

Read more reviews here

Best Travel alarm Clock HITO Atomic Bedside Travel Alarm Clock

2. HITO Bedside Travel Alarm Clock

Using radio-controlled time and date updates, the HITO Atomic Travel Alarm Clock will always make sure you’re keeping time regardless of where your vacation takes you.

Plus, its jumbo digit display , snooze functionality, appealing amber LED backlight and automatic dimming make it both one of the best digital alarm clocks period and one of the best travel alarm clocks!

Best Digital Alarm Clock

Best Travel alarm clock Marathon Travel Alarm Clock

3. Marathon Travel Alarm Clock

The alphabet soup model name on this Marathon product might make you think it’s an Intel core processor or something.

Well, it’s just one of the best alarm clocks but, to be completely frank, it’s probably more technologically impressive than a core processor (sorry, Intel!).

The Marathon’s unique audio engineering makes it a loud alarm clock, perfect for jet lagged travelers!

Plus, the Marathon has a built-in folding stand , can display in 5 different languages and, unlike many travel alarm clocks, comes batteries included – just pack and go!

Marathon Travel Alarm Clock

Best Travel Alarm Clock Travelwey Analog Clock

4. Travelwey Analog Alarm Clock

Ever been just about to start counting your sheep only to realize your clock’s ticking second hand is slowly morphing into a ticking time bomb counting down to your eternal insomnia?

Fortunately, the Travelwey Analog Alarm Clock avoids this crisis with its silently sweeping second hand. Elsewhere, the Travelwey makes its name as among the best travel alarm clocks.

A true traveler’s alarm clock, the Travelwey is loud, made of durable plastic casing, and features a travel lock that prevents it from accidentally turning on and draining the battery!

Best Analog Alarm Clock

usb travel alarm clock

5. Peakeep Ultra Small Travel Alarm Clock

At 2 ounces and with no dimension larger than 2.25 inches, the Peakeep Ultra Small Alarm Clock is supremely convenient, being small enough to fit in your pocket!

Don’t be fooled, though: the Peakeep travel alarm clock packs a punch – its manual backlit illuminated dial is visible from anywhere in the room, and its classic ascending four-beep alarm has just the right volume level.

It’s loud enough that you’ll be jarred awake, but not so loud that you’ll be compelled to throw it straight out your hotel window!

Ultra Small Travel Alarm Clock

Best Travel alarm Clock Casio Travel Alarm Clock

6. Casio Travel Alarm Clock

One of the several ingenious moves the Casio TQ140 Travel Alarm Clock makes is illuminating only the hands and markers, which both saves energy and makes the actual time stand out that much more.

Add in its quartz analog timekeeping system, beep alarm and snooze functionality, battery-included delivery, and unbeatable price, and the Casio is one of the best travel alarm clocks full-stop.

It’s certainly one of the best values!

Best Cheap Travel Alarm Clock

The Best Travel Alarm Clock – Summary Comparison Chart

To summarize, here’s a chart summarizing the best travel alarm clocks with a quick overview of their various features.

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The Best Travel Alarm Clock

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The 10 Best Alarm Clocks With USB Ports

Charge your devices while *you* recharge overnight.

The 10 Best Alarm Clocks With USB Ports

To save space next to your bed, an alarm clock with built-in charging ports is a great multitasking solution. Not only do the best alarm clocks with USB ports charge one or more devices on your nightstand — ranging from a single USB-A port to models with wireless charging surfaces, USB-C ports, and even AC power outlets. The alarm clocks on this list also boast customized alarm and display settings, stylish designs, and unique features to make waking up more fun.

What To Consider When Choosing An Alarm Clock With USB Ports

First, determine the charging capabilities you’d like your alarm clock to have. Some models offer a single USB-A port for charging one device — and if your device has a Lightning or USB-C charging port, its charging cable will likely plug right into your new clock. Other alarm clocks boast multiple USB ports and even wireless charging docks to accommodate two or more devices. For even more charging capability, look for an alarm clock with traditional outlets in addition to USB ports.

You’ll also want to consider extra features and customization settings. Most clocks allow you to dim the brightness, choose an alarm sound, and have a snooze button, but unique features such as gradual sunrise wake-ups, vibrating bed shakers, and glowing nightlights can help enhance your bedtime and morning routines . The design of the alarm clock is essential too, and there are some cool retro, modern, and traditional options available.

Scroll on for the best alarm clocks with USB ports on Amazon to declutter your nightstand.

1. This Best - Selling Alarm Clock That Doubles As A Mirror

These popular alarm clocks with USB ports are best-sellers on Amazon and boast stylish mirror backgr...

This alarm clock with dual USB ports is a best-seller on Amazon for good reason. The modern design boasts a sleek metal finish and a reflective background that looks cool and can be used as a mirror in a pinch. Three brightness settings offer a customized glow, the time can be set to 12 or 24 hours, and the snooze function is adjustable between five and 60 minutes (or you can leave it on the default of two minutes.) If you’d prefer to wall-mount the clock, there’s a hook on the back, and the stand is detachable. A backup battery is included and there are a bunch of colors to choose from. One detail worth noting is that this clock is powered via the included USB cable, but it doesn’t come with a USB wall adapter , so you may need to pick one up separately.

One reviewer wrote: “SO cute, SO sleek, it looks so good in my room. The cord is long, and there’s USB ports to plug your phone into!”

Ports: 2 USB-A | Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.55 x 3.1 inches (width x depth x height) | Colors: 12

2. An Alarm Clock That Lets You Know What It’s Like Outside

If you're looking for alarm clocks with USB ports, consider this one that doubles as a weather stati...

This multi-tasking alarm clock serves double duty as a weather station to provide you with real-time information on the temperature, humidity, projected forecast, and more — helpful for deciding what to wear each morning. It uses a wireless sensor (placed inside or outside) to transmit weather data to your station up to 200 feet away and displays it all beautifully on the 7.5-inch color screen. A USB-A port on the side of the unit is handy for charging your phone or tablet, two AA batteries (not included) provide power backup, and the four brightness modes let you customize the glow. The clock displays 12-hour time and while the listing doesn’t indicate whether or not there’s a manual snooze function, there is an automatic snooze function that’ll snooze the alarm for 10 minutes if not turned off.

One reviewer wrote: “Love this weather station! It has a 7.5" large-screen display that allows one to clearly read the indoor/outdoor temperature and humidity information from different areas of the room. I have this set up in the Living Room and can view this clearly from the kitchen.[...] I love the built-in USB port on the side that allows me to charge the mobile phone quickly.”

Ports: 1 USB-A | Dimensions: 8.86 x 2.91 x 6.02 inches (width x depth x height) | Colors: 1

3. This Wooden Alarm Clock With A Wireless Charging Pad

These wooden alarm clocks with USB ports have a wireless charging dock on top for your smartphone.

As one of the more rustic options on the list, this wooden alarm clock features a wireless charging pad on top and a USB-A port in the back for simultaneously charging two devices. The charging pad has a nonslip base and is capable of fast-charging iPhones 8 and later, as well as a wide variety of Samsung models and other devices. This alarm clock has five brightness settings, the option to wake up to a buzzer or FM radio, and an impressive speaker in the back for quality sound. You can choose between a 12- and 24-hour time format, hit the snooze button for an extra nine minutes of sleep, and two AAA batteries (not included) provide power backup if needed.

One reviewer wrote: “Perfect alarm clock! Easy to set up. USB plug in in back, wireless charger on top, both work great! Radio sounds great. Love that I can set alarm to radio. Set volume however loud you want, but it starts out quiet and gradually gets to the preset volume you set. [...] Love love the dim set. My old alarm was so bright at night I had to turn it facing away. This one can be set to 4 settings.”

Ports: 1 USB-A, 1 wireless charging dock | Dimensions: 6.4 x 4 x 3.2 inches (width x depth x height) | Colors: 4

4. This Clock That Gradually Wakes You Up

If you're looking for alarm clocks with USB ports, consider this sunrise alarm clock that uses light...

For a pleasant and gradual wake-up, consider this sunrise alarm clock that uses soft nature sounds and warm glowing light to pull you out of your slumber. The light can be set to one of seven colors and gradually begins to increase in brightness before your alarm is set to go off. Once it’s finally time to wake up, FM radio, standard alarm beeping, or a selection of nature sounds — including birdsong, ocean wave, and soft music — can be set to play. It features a USB-A port in the back for charging your devices, is bright enough to be used as a bedside lamp, and has a backup battery included. Other helpful features include a dual alarm function, a snooze button for nine extra minutes of sleep (up to five times), and the option to set the clock to either 12- or 24-hour time according to reviewers.

One reviewer wrote: “I eyed this clock as my last hope for waking up on time. I am thrilled with the results. I wake up to gentle, natural light and I don't even need to use the snooze button. It's bright enough that I don't fall asleep again, and the assortment of sounds and colors provide wonderful variety. My favorite feature is the slow sunrise, which is perfect to wake me up naturally and keep me awake. The USB charger is fantastic, and I treasure the dual alarms. The instructions were easy to understand, and the clock is simple to use.”

Ports: 1 USB-A | Dimensions: 7.2 x 3.5 x 7.2 inches (width x depth x height) | Colors: 2

5. An Alarm Clock For Those Who Have A Hard Time Waking Up

These extra loud alarm clocks with USB ports have a vibrating bed shaker that helps to wake the deep...

If mornings are just not your thing and you’ve been known to sleep through an alarm or two, consider this extra-loud alarm clock with a vibrating bed shaker. The dual alarms have three sounds to choose from (music, buzzing, or birds) and have seven volume settings of up to 110 decibels — as loud as a chainsaw three feet away — to wake even the deepest sleeper. Fans of this clock love the bed shaker that you can place under your pillow or beside you at night, and it has three vibration settings to choose from. The retro design adds a touch of vintage flair to your decor but don’t let the bells on top fool you — they are actually knobs and buttons used to set the alarm and snooze. The back of the clock has a USB port and dimming options and houses two AAA batteries for backup (not included), and you can choose between a 12- or 24-hour time format, according to the brand.

One reviewer wrote: “I'm a heavy sleeper & the bed shaker is a great idea. It vibrates enough to make sure I will wake up & not be late for any important event. [...] I also really love having the built-in USB charger on the clock. I can charge my phone at night and one less cord to have to plug into the wall.”

Ports: 1 USB-A | Dimensions: 4.27 x 4.12 inches (width x height) | Colors: 4

6. A Clock With An Extra-Large Snooze Button

If you're looking for alarm clocks with USB ports, consider this clock with a large snooze button.

If you want to sleep in as long as possible, check out this alarm clock with an ample snooze button that makes it easier to tap (or smack) without even lifting your head. In addition to the two conveniently placed USB-A ports in the front, reviewers also love the zero to 100% display dimmer, with one reviewer writing, “I like to have a room completely dark at night and this clock makes it really easy to control the amount of light it emits.” This alarm clock gives you the option to set separate alarms for weekends and weekdays, has an inside temperature display, and when it’s time to wake, choose from either FM radio or six sounds including birds, piano music, and beeping. Choose from a 12- or 24-hour time display, and don’t forget to grab the three AAA batteries needed for backup.

One reviewer wrote: “This thing has everything – dual alarms with days of the week and weekend settings, FM Radio with an adjustable sleep timer, headphone outlet, room temperature, infinitely adjustable display brightness, 2 USB-A outlets and battery backup! Way more than I was expecting to be able to find, especially at the sub $30 price. I like that the important settings are able to be adjusted via the top-mounted buttons and the wheel.”

Ports: 2 USB-A | Dimensions: 4.25 x 3.27 x 2.56 inches (width x depth x height) | Colors: 5

7. This Pod Alarm Clock With A Halo Glow

If you're looking for alarm clocks with USB ports that also have a nightlight, consider this clock t...

Create a cool glow in your room with this little alarm clock that features a glowing ring light on the top, which can be set to one of seven different color options. A dimmer with five brightness options lets you customize the glow (which can also be turned off completely) and a USB port in the back is available for charging your device. This clock has dual alarms that can play FM radio, beeping, or birds chirping at the desired time, has a handy nap button that sets the alarm for 10 to 120 minutes without having to reset your regular alarms, and uses three AAA batteries for backup (not included). Plus, there’s a convenient timer for both the night-light and radio and you can choose from either a 12- or 24-hour time display according to a reviewer.

One reviewer wrote: “This Housbay Glow is leap years ahead of my old alarm clock! This clock has superior features including: FM radio, dual alarm, usb charger, nap mode, dimmer, soft button controls, 3 alarm sounds, and a 7 color night light. My favorite feature is the night light. It's priceless in my opinion because it sets an incredible ambiance for my bedroom. I can change it to any color I want on any day. Also this clock has a realistic bird alarm which sounds way better than other bird alarms I've heard.”

Ports: 1 USB-A | Dimensions: 4.8 x 2.44 x 2.44 inches (width x depth x height) | Colors: 3

8. A Clock That Projects The Time Onto Your Ceiling

Some of the best alarm clocks with USB ports have projectors that display the time on your ceiling.

Some reviewers note that this projection clock has helped them get a better night's sleep; one shopper wrote, “I wake often at night and I can never resist the temptation to look at the clock so I put on my glasses and look, by then I'm wide awake. Now I just glance at the ceiling and fall right back asleep.” The 350-degree projector can clearly display the time up to 9.8 feet away, while the 12- or 24-hour clock features five brightness levels for your ideal glow. A USB port on the back helps charge your device and dual alarms with five volume settings (and a snooze option) can be set to wake you up. Two AAA batteries are required for backup (not included).

One reviewer wrote: “I have really enjoyed this clock! I have it set to show the time on my wall and it is totally working out great for me!!! And the added USB port is a great addition for what I need!!”

Ports: 1 USB-A | Dimensions: 7.87 x 1.18 x 3.15 (width x depth x height) | Colors: 2

9. This Alarm Clock USB-C & USB-A Ports, 2 AC Outlets, & Bluetooth Speakers

If you're looking for alarm clocks with USB ports, consider this one that has a USB-C port and two o...

Discovered by many while staying in hotels and resorts, this alarm clock is a fan favorite. One reviewer wrote, “I saw it at my hotel room and it was love at first sight.” It has everything you need to charge a wide variety of devices and even comes with a coveted USB-C port, USB-A port, and two traditional power outlets. The snooze button on top provides nine extra minutes of rest (according to reviewers), the clock light is dimmable to your preference, and a Bluetooth speaker lets you easily play music from your phone or laptop. According to the brand website , you can set the clock to either 12- or 24-hour time and the two AAA batteries needed for backup are included.

One reviewer wrote: “The alarm / charging station is perfect for placement in bedrooms. The alarm works perfectly and the multiple charging ports are great. It is perfect in quest bedrooms. Visitors can just plug in their devices to charge without locating a plug behind a dresser or nightstand.”

Ports: 1 USB-A, 1 USB-C, 2 tamper-resistant power outlets | Dimensions: 4.5 x 4.5 x 4.5 inches (width x depth x height) | Colors: 1

10. A Charging Station With A Built-In Alarm Clock

This charging station is one of the most versatile alarm clocks with USB ports because it can wirele...

For an alarm clock that can charge a bunch of devices at once, consider this charging station/alarm clock combo . It has wireless charging docks for your phone, Apple Watch, and AirPods, plus a USB-A port on the side. There’s also a dimmable light and an alarm clock with a five-minute snooze function. The wireless charging is compatible with iPhones 8 and up, as well as a variety of Samsung models and other Qi-enabled devices, and the unit features over-current, over-voltage, and over-temperature protection. You’ll get everything you need, including a USB-C cable, two USB-A to USB-C adapters, an adapter to plug into the wall, and a mobile charging case cover. Choose from four colors.

One reviewer wrote: “Literally the most functional 3 in 1 charger I’ve ever used! The phone charger charges my phone pretty quickly, and the airpod and watch charger can become portable which is an added bonus for me. I love the alarm clock and light features so much too. All in all this is the best multi use charger I’ve ever owned and it looks super cute in my room!”

Ports: 1 USB-A, 3 wireless charging docks for a phone, earbuds, and Apple watch | Dimensions: 6.8 x 6.3 x 7.8 inches (width x depth x height) | Colors: 4

usb travel alarm clock


The Best Alarm Clocks

Five of the best alarm clocks, all powered on and showing a time of 12:40.

By Gregory Han

If you use your phone in the bedroom at night, it’s probably messing with your sleep , even if you mute and dim it. An alarm clock can be a healthy upgrade to a distraction-free bedroom, despite it feeling like a technological downgrade.

After a phone-free week of testing, we recommend six clocks for a more peaceful bedroom. They aren’t too bright at night and will dependably wake you up in the morning. And they’ll look nice on your nightstand to boot.

How we picked

Whether it has hands or a digital display, a clock should be legible at a glance.

The ideal alarm will wake you up without a jarring effect. We favored models that had pleasant tones (or the option to change them).

Accessing alarm settings or adjusting features like snooze, brightness, and alarm volume shouldn’t require a YouTube tutorial.

Radio, USB ports, Bluetooth and internet connectivity, alarm sound and tone options—these are all welcome features (but they’re not necessary).

The research

Why you should trust us, a budget digital alarm with a large face: dreamsky compact digital alarm clock, a just “smart enough” clock: lenovo smart clock essential, an unalarming bedside companion: loftie alarm clock, a unique and informative digital alarm clock: oct17 wooden alarm clock, best sunlight alarm clock: philips smartsleep wake-up light hf3520, a classic wooden alarm clock: lemnos riki alarm clock, how we picked and tested, other good alarm clocks, the competition.

I’m a writer at Design Milk , and since 2006 I’ve been writing about home design for a multitude of design-focused outlets, including Apartment Therapy, Lonny, Metropolis, and Design Sponge. I’ve also written several guides here at Wirecutter, including on bedside lamps, floor lamps, bed frames, and patio furniture.

Previously, as an industrial designer, I designed children’s toys and furniture, and this allowed me to learn the ins and outs of mass-market product design—from conception to manufacturing. I have an uncanny ability to wake approximately one minute before any alarm, but I’m still paranoid enough to set one as a backup.

Our pick for best budget digital alarm clock with a large face, the DreamSky Compact Digital Alarm Clock.

DreamSky Compact Digital Alarm Clock

An affordable, easy-to-see alarm clock.

This budget digital alarm clock does so much for so little. It has the largest numerical display of the clocks we tested, two USB ports, and easy-to-use tactile controls (which take the guesswork out of changing settings).

Buying Options

(limited colors)

Best for: Those who desire a large digital display, want to charge devices overnight via USB, and don’t mind a plug-in model.

Why it’s great: If you’re looking for an alarm clock that does a lot on the cheap, the DreamSky Compact Digital Alarm Clock is both an alarm clock and a USB charging station. Something that really stood out with this model, versus other clocks we tested: The DreamSky has an enormous digital display (each number is 2 inches tall) that stretches across the entire front of the clock. Although I’m nearsighted, with basically mole-like eyesight, I could read this clock clearly from a distance—without wearing glasses or contacts.

View of the top of the DreamSky Compact Digital Alarm Clock, showing its sleek black outside and large snooze panel.

Some digital alarm clocks we tested—specifically those with lots of extra features and controls, such as the Philips Wake-Up Light —required a detailed review of manuals to get them up and running. The DreamSky, on the other hand, was plug and play: The clock was easy and intuitive to set and adjust, with clearly labeled buttons for time and alarm and two physical dials for volume control and display brightness. The DreamSky was the only clock we tested that had such a wide range of customization options—it’s simple to literally dial in your personal preferences. The snooze button isn’t a physical button, but there’s a touch-sensitive surface that shushes the alarm in nine-minute increments.

If you’re picky about colors, you’ll like that this DreamSky model offers seven color variations, with different finishes and display hues to choose from.

You should know that this alarm clock is not fully battery-operated—two backup AAA batteries are responsible only for keeping time and alarm settings, in case of a power outage. There are two USB ports in the back—one to charge most mobile devices with 5 V output and the other to power the clock via USB (or you can plug directly into the wall).

Flaws but not dealbreakers: The DreamSky logo emblazoned at the top (underneath the snooze button) is downright ugly. The plastic case and buttons feel every bit like what you’d expect from a $20 device. The batteries protect only time and alarm settings, in case of a power outage; for a full display, you have to plug in the clock or keep it connected via USB cable.

Materials: plastic Finishes/colors: black case available with green, orange, red, white, or blue digits; white case available with white or blue digits Dimensions: 5.8 by 2.9 by 2.7 inches Power: plug adapter

The Lenovo Smart Clock Essential, the best smart alarm clock for small spaces.

Lenovo Smart Clock Essential

A slightly smarter alarm clock.

The Lenovo is an affordable smart alarm clock that won’t take up much space. And with its built-in Google Assistant, it can be operated completely hands-free.

May be out of stock

Best for: Anyone looking for a compact digital alarm clock that offers time, day, and weather info at a glance, and those who prefer using voice controls over physical buttons.

Why it’s great: Lenovo offers two Smart Clocks, the Lenovo Smart Clock and its cheaper sibling, the Lenovo Smart Clock Essential . We liked the smaller and more affordable of the two because its options are true to its name—Essential—with time, weather, and day easily viewed at a glance across its 4.5-inch auto-brightness-adjusting LED display.

Most everything this alarm clock can do is hidden, accessed using its built-in Google Assistant voice controls or with the Google Home app. Even though the clock is outfitted with four evenly distributed buttons—for volume, turning on music, and the alarm settings—they are obscured from view due to the angled wedge design. Unless you’re looking at them from above, the buttons are discernible only by touch, and I often fumbled at night or in the early morning while trying to turn on music or adjust the volume. There’s also a tap at the top to enable the snooze feature, but it sometimes required another touch to register. To set the alarm, adjust the volume, or turn on the night-light, it was always much easier to summon help with a “hey, Google …” instead. Fortunately, the clock’s two microphones (one in the front, the other in the back) are very sensitive and able to discern commands, even when we used a hushed volume at night. And though the clock’s single-speaker output can be a bit tinny for playing music, it can get surprisingly loud and is just fine for alarm tones and answering Google Assistant prompts.

Our smart alarm clock pick for small spaces, shown face down, exposing the ports on the back of the clock.

The clock’s compact size is ideal for anyone with limited space. Even so, Lenovo included a USB 2.0 Type-A port in the back for charging devices (albeit at a slow rate, which is best for overnight charging). There’s also an oval-shaped night-light in the back. But the output is fairly dim, even at the brightest setting, so it’s best used as an ambient light to help you find your way in the dark.

Flaws but not dealbreakers: The clock’s physical buttons make a satisfying click when pressed. But because of their angled pitch, they’re small and hard to discern. The tap-to-snooze feature can be finicky.

Materials: polycarbonate and cloth cover Finishes/colors: gray Dimensions: 2.51 by 3.26 by 4.51 inches Power: Plug-in

The Loftie Alarm Clock, the best alarm clock with smart features and numerous features.

An unalarming and smarter bedside companion

This was one of the least sleep-disruptive digital alarm clocks we tested. Whether it’s the night-light, the snooze button, or the sound of the alarm tones, every detail feels like it’s been refined to reinforce a state of calm.

Best for: Those who believe in the minimalist ethos of “less, but better,” and people who enjoy falling asleep or waking up to ambient music and nature sounds.

Why it’s great: The Loftie can fool you into thinking you’re waking up of your own accord every morning, rather than being forcibly annoyed out of bed. Of all the alarm clocks we tested, the clock’s selection of five ambient compositions best induced the sensation of arising alongside the natural cues of the morning—sounds of birds, ambient tones, morning temple bells. After nine minutes, the Loftie follows up the first alarm with an ever-so-slightly more-insistent “get up” chime. (After first using the Loftie, I wrote down that “I felt like I had arisen to a morning directed by Terrence Malick , all contemplative mood and relaxing stillness.”) There’s the option to set different alarms scheduled for different days of the week, as well as a multitude of alarms you could set as reminders throughout the day—to get up occasionally, exercise, or walk the dog, among other everyday tasks.

An iPhone open to the Loftie mobile app, shown next to the Loftie alarm clock.

The Loftie is also designed to help owners relax and fall asleep. It includes a variety of background-noise generators (white, brown, pink, and so forth), meditation/breathwork soundscapes, and even a podcast called Snoozecast . Any sound can be programmed to be activated or turned off with the press of a button, and this made the Loftie easy to use when the heavy blanket of unconsciousness began to take over at night.

Of clocks we’ve tested, this one’s display isn’t the largest or the brightest. But it’s clear, and it automatically sets the time once connected to a Wi-Fi network. We also liked the clock’s all-black exterior (it comes in a white and black option, too), which is free of distracting lights or branding. There’s an adjustable night-light hidden at the base that’s easily turned on and off, using the large button on top of the clock (it also works as the snooze button). You won’t be able to read using the light, but it’s bright enough for when you’re fumbling for your glasses or going to the bathroom in the middle of the night. The two other buttons are for setting the alarm, accessing brightness and volume settings, setting the duration of the sleep timer, and choosing alarm tones. The Loftie isn’t “smart” like other smart alarm clocks, in that you won’t be served the news or the weather with the aid of a voice assistant. But on a regular basis this clock can get additional features delivered via Wi-Fi updates. For instance, we discovered one night that there were a few more soothing classical compositions to wake up to than we’d had the day before and that alarm-scheduling options had been expanded. The developers recently added Bluetooth speaker functionality and are promising Spotify connectivity and additional sounds as features that are “coming soon.” We’ll update this guide when—and if—these features appear.

Flaws but not dealbreakers: The Loftie was $165 when we first tested it, but the price has dropped to $150. We still think it’s a pretty penny to pay for any device, let alone an alarm clock with a purposely edited selection of features. The numerical display is legible up close, but it’s slightly dimmer when viewed off-center. And, for nearsighted sleepers like us, we wish there were an option to increase the display size.

Materials: polycarbonate Finishes/colors: black (with an option for black or white accent colors) Dimensions: 2.75 by 6.5 by 2.75 inches Power: plug-in (USB-C adapter)

The Oct17 Wooden Alarm Clock, which is shaped like a triangular block with the numbers displaying directly on the wood.

Oct17 Wooden Alarm Clock

A clock you can control with a clap or a tap.

This alarm clock has a unique tip-proof, triangular design, and you can set the display to turn off automatically after 10 seconds (just tap the clock’s face to wake it up again).

Best for: Those who prefer the look of wood over plastic and who value unfussy contemporary design—as well as those who want an alarm clock that displays the time, date, temperature, and humidity at a glance.

Why it’s great: The Oct17 ’s triangular-shaped wood body looks much nicer than one might expect from a budget clock. In fact, it’s more attractive than many pricier clock options we considered. (It’s also the only clock we found that’s virtually impossible to tip over.) This model is very affordable, and yet compared with the cheap feel of the DreamSky and Capello alarm clocks, the Oct17 seems upscale. The clock’s wood-grain finish has a great feel, and its cool “now you see me, now you don’t” LED display shines from beneath its veneer.

The Oct17 displays more information at a glance than any other clock we recommend, showing the time and date (alternating) alongside the temperature and humidity level—all without requiring an internet connection. If you’re bothered by ambient light glowing from your clock, the Oct17 has three brightness settings. And it’s the only display we found that you can set to turn off completely after 10 seconds. But when you need to know the time again, a clap of the hands or a tap on the front face will reawaken the clock for 10 seconds.

If you don’t wake at the same time each day, this is the digital alarm clock for you: It has three separate alarms, including one you can set to skip on weekends (to allow for sleeping in).

Flaws but not dealbreakers: Navigating the clock’s mode settings and feature adjustments proved unintuitive, requiring more button presses than a Street Fighter move combination.

Materials: MDF and wood veneer Finishes/colors: brown, black, bamboo, and white finishes Dimensions: 3.1 by 3.1 by 5.9 inches Power: USB cable (included), four AAA batteries (not included) for emergency power backup

Our pick for the best sunrise alarm clock, the Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light HF3520.

Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light HF3520

Best sunrise alarm clock.

A serene alternative to loud alarms, this clock induced a gentler wake-up (a simulated sunrise accompanied by birdsong) than any other clock we tried. But it’s pricey, and it’s harder to navigate than the other clocks we tested.

Best for: Anyone who hates being jolted awake each morning with a wailing alarm, and those who prefer easing into consciousness with increasing luminosity.

Why it’s great: A top pick in our guide to sunrise alarm clocks, the Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light HF3520 is still our favorite sunrise alarm clock for anyone who hates being woken abruptly. Over the span of 30 minutes, the luminous LED orb produces a convincing simulation of dawn or dusk. It provides a kinder, gentler wake-up than any other alarm we recommend, and it’s the only clock we tested that can help lull you to sleep at night. The Wake-Up Light also includes more alarm options than most clocks we tried, with five nature-themed tones, along with a built-in FM tuner and a backup alarm. (However, navigating the clock’s touch surface and icon-based menu system isn’t very intuitive, and not always responsive.) Our favorite setting was a combination of the simulated sunlight paired with the convincing sounds of cheerful chirping birds.

We also found the clock’s light sufficiently bright enough to work as a decent reading lamp, making the Wake-Up the only clock we recommend that can do so. At 8 inches wide, this model takes up a lot more room on the nightstand than other clocks we tested. But when you think of the Wake-Up as a combination alarm clock and bedside lamp, it presents a pretty efficient use of space.

Close view of the buttons on the side of the lit face of the the Philips Wake-up Light HF3520.

Flaws but not dealbreakers: Despite the Wake-Up Light’s overall size, its numerical digital display is less than an inch tall and so not as easy to read as those of the other clocks we tried (especially with its light at full brightness). The secondary set of tactile buttons across the unit’s top are more intuitive to use than the icons on the clock’s display, but they’re small and all the same size, so it’s easy to press the wrong button. The FM radio is a plus, but considering that the clock is our second-most-expensive pick, the silver-dollar-sized rear-facing speaker is tinny and disappointing. The LED bulb is rated to last seven years with regular use. But it cannot be replaced, so over time the clock could lose its most distinguishing feature.

Materials: polycarbonate Finishes/colors: white Dimensions: 8 by 3 by 3 inches Power: DC power plug with eight-hour power backup

Our pick for the best classic wooden alarm clock, the Lemnos Riki Alarm Clock.

Lemnos Riki Alarm Clock

A handsome, classic clock.

The Riki is an analog clock that’s easy to read and to set (with one of the most pleasant alarms that will still wake you up). It’s ideal for light sleepers who want to banish electronic distractions from the bedroom.

Best for: Design enthusiasts, or anyone looking to ditch their smartphone for an uncomplicated, completely silent, easy-to-use classic alarm clock.

Why it’s great: If you want a dependable alarm clock with a timeless analog design that’s dead silent and easy to use, the Lemnos Riki checks all of those boxes. The only alarm clock among our picks with a design-award pedigree , the sedate beechwood Riki was designed by Japanese modernist Riki Watanabe, whose work was known for being simple yet functional. The Riki’s prominent face has half-inch-tall numerals and large hour and minute arms, so it’s easy to read—even in dim light and from a distance. The clock’s sole button consolidates the light and snooze functions (doling out extra sleep in four-minute increments), and we found it effortless to use, even with our eyes closed. When you press the button, the clock illuminates just enough to make the face legible (a big plus for those of us who like to peek at the time before we have any real intention of waking up). The brightness level seemed more akin to candlelight than to the intrusive modern glare produced by the LED- or LCD-backlit displays on other clocks we tested. Even the next-dimmest night-light (on the Marathon Analog Desk Alarm Clock with Auto-Night Light ) seemed much too bright after we’d acclimated to the Riki’s tranquil illumination.

Although it looks perfectly round, the clock actually has a subtle indentation on its base that keeps it from rolling away—and from moving when brushed or bumped. And because this clock is battery-operated (it needs only a single AA battery), there are no cords to worry about. In addition to its snooze button, the straightforward Riki has just three controls: an on/off switch for the alarm and two dial knobs to set the time and the alarm.

Close up of the bottom of the Lemnos Riki Alarm Clock, one of our picks for best alarm clock.

If the tick-tock of some clocks’ mechanical movement tends to keep you awake, rest assured that this clock is completely silent—something we can’t say about the percussive passing of time produced by the Alessi Optic 02 B or the faint bzzzz emanating from the Marathon Analog Desk Alarm Clock with Auto-Night Light . The only sound the Riki makes comes from its alarm, which is loud enough to wake you without being annoying.

Close view of the snooze button on top of the Lemnos Riki Alarm Clock, one of our picks for best alarm clock.

Flaws but not dealbreakers: The Riki isn’t cheap, and it’s gone up a bit in price since we first tested it. Even though this clock is still available on Amazon and at various other retailers, the Lemnos site currently lists the Riki as “archived ,” so we’re investigating whether it may have been discontinued permanently. We will update this guide as soon as we know more.

Setting the Riki’s alarm to a specific hour is fairly simple to do, but setting it to an exact minute is more of an estimate, due to the clock’s dial face. The ABS resin snooze-and-light button matches the color of the beechwood clock case, but it isn’t made of wood.

Materials: beechwood, ABS resin, glass Finishes/colors: natural, brown, white, gray Dimensions: 4.3 by 4.5 by 2.2 inches Power: one AA battery

Five different alarm clocks we tested to find the best alarm clock, in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and colors.

Alarm clocks may seem a bit old-fashioned, since everyone and their grandmother now uses a phone as an alarm. A search for “alarm clock” on Amazon returns a paltry seven pages of models to choose from, many only minutely different from the next (and most so ugly that the thought of sleeping near them is enough to induce mild insomnia).

But there are still some great options available today, and here are the features we looked for in an ideal alarm clock:

  • Easy to read: Whether it has hands or a digital display, a clock should be legible at a glance, even without contacts or eyeglasses.
  • Produces a pleasant alarm tone: The ideal alarm will wake you up without creating a jarring effect. We favored models with pleasant tones and the option to change them based on personal preference.
  • Dimmable: A persistent, noticeable bright light can be a detriment to falling asleep. We highly recommend a clock with the option of manually or automatically dimming the display.
  • Compact and stable: A good alarm clock has a low center of gravity and sufficient weight to counter the clumsy hands of the half-awake.
  • Simple to set: Accessing alarm on/off settings or adjusting features like snooze, brightness, and alarm volume shouldn’t require a PhD or a YouTube tutorial.
  • Unobtrusive: An alarm clock should not be the first thing you notice in a bedroom—perhaps it should even be the last. Leave the statement pieces to the living room.
  • Extra features: Radio, USB ports, Bluetooth and internet connectivity, multiple alarms, alarm sound and tone options, and a backup battery are all welcome (but not necessary).

In 2018, after reading through customer reviews on Amazon and other retailers—and focusing particularly on the qualities listed above—we called in the 10 most promising alarm clocks. We used each clock for a few days and nights. In 2021, we again scoured retailers and called in four more alarm clocks to test. We tested each model in our bedrooms, with the alarm set half an hour earlier than our usual wake-up time, to ensure the clock’s alarm tone was responsible for breaking our usual sleep cycle as well as to allow us to use each clock’s snooze function while still groggy. We also kept an eye out for cosmetic defects, and we inspected the durability of materials and construction, imagining the litany of abuse an alarm clock may have to endure over its lifetime. Aside from the largest clock (the Philips Wake-Up Light), our picks are small; they should fit on most nightstands and won’t slide or knock over easily.

If you’re just looking for a basic and affordable AM/FM radio clock: Consider the Sangean RCR-5 , a back-to-basics dual-alarm clock radio that costs less than $50. The Sangean scores solidly online with owners, but we found the clock’s cheap, glossy plastic finish and overly conspicuous logo distracting and reminiscent of models found on drugstore electronics shelves. It made us appreciate the similarly priced Lenovo Smart Clock Essential ’s tasteful simplicity that much more.

If you’re looking for a smart alarm clock with a color screen: Consider the Lenovo Smart Clock , which is just barely larger than its more affordable, monochromatic, non-touch Essential counterpart but combines a punchy, full-color touchscreen display with the same Google Assistant hatful of tricks. The introduction of another bright color screen in the bedroom isn’t a great idea , though, and the few other extras the Smart Clock adds—a selection of user-customizable faces and more alarm options than in the Essential —do not really justify its price.

If you want a cheap and basic alarm clock (and you can find it in stock):  The RCA RCD30 is an affordable digital alarm clock with a bright display, an easy-to-use button layout, and an alarm loud enough to wake heavy sleepers. It’s also the least expensive model we tested, making it a good choice when you need something cheap and dependable, like for a guest room or a vacation rental. The RCD30 also comes with the option for backup via a 9-volt battery, so you won’t lose your settings if the power goes out at 2 a.m. Stock has been inconsistent though and it looks like it may be getting discontinued.

Amazon Echo Spot : Amazon discontinued the Echo Spot, so we can no longer recommend it. Although it was the most expensive clock we tested, we loved how small and simple it was to set up. It also offered more features than any other clock in our tests. Amazon has folded features from the Echo Spot into its smart displays, like the Echo Show 8 and the cheaper Echo Show 5 (which you can read more about in our guide to smart displays ). We also recommend the Echo Dot in our guide to Alexa speakers , one of which comes in a version with an LED clock display .

Marathon Analog Desk Alarm Clock with Auto-Night Light : The Marathon has many great features. In addition to its compact design (the clock measures 3.5 inches wide by 1.5 inches deep), the Marathon features a sensor night-light, dead-quiet movement, a clearly marked alarm and snooze buttons, and a low-glow light that’s similar to (but not quite as good as) the one on the Riki . Its one and only shortcoming was legibility: The clock’s printed numerals were small and hard to read at a glance. We’d still recommend it if you want a battery-operated alarm clock that’s easy to throw in your luggage.

Lexon Flip On/Off Alarm Clock : (Of note: This clock has now been replaced by the Lexon Flip Plus ; the size hasn’t changed, however.) The Lexon Flip is fun to use and has a novel design that works well: To turn the alarm on or off, you flip the entire clock over, instead of pressing a button or a switch. Each side is clearly marked, with “on” written across the clock’s rubber coating on one side and “off” written across the other side. The Flip (which is nearly impossible to tip over) takes up little space, but its small size also means it isn’t as legible as we’d like for an everyday alarm clock. Its LCD display is hard to see in standby mode, and it’s easy to read only with the backlight on. Also, its high-pitched digital tone is effective yet annoying.

MoMA Alume Cube Clock : We liked the Alume for its compact, 2.75-inch minimalist silver-cube design. It should fit on any surface with plenty of room to spare, displaying the time, date, and temperature with a snap of the fingers or a tap on its top. Where the clock comes up short: the absence of snooze or dimming options (the display turns completely off between snaps or taps) with an LED display that glows a bit too cold and bright for tired or still-waking eyes. If you do like this design, there are several knockoffs—with similar features—for a lot less.

Capello Round Time Table Clock : The Capello is a small and lightweight plug-in alarm clock with an easy-to-read LED display and a stylish gray-fabric front. A USB port in the back works great for overnight charging, but the listed “option to plug in your phone so you can listen to music” didn’t really work for us (with an iPhone). And the clock’s lightweight plastic construction made it easy to knock over. The snooze button isn’t a real button—touches or light taps won’t register. Snoozing the alarm requires a firm, palm-down press across the entire clock. If you’re sensitive to light, you should note that even at the dimmest of this clock’s three settings, the LED display was distracting. We eventually had to turn it face-down.

Alessi Optic 02 B Alarm Clock : This now-discontinued model from Alessi was an example of high design being hampered by low-quality features. This clock was too audible to be a peaceful bedside companion, producing a tick-tock sound so loud that it bothered us even when we were in the next room. No doubt, the Italian space-age design is eye-catching, but having this clock near the bed made the passing of time a torturous, second-by-second affair. And we found its plastic construction flimsy, with tiny and difficult-to-set dial controls that had more in common with a cheap, drugstore alarm clock than something sold for many times the price.

This article was edited by Daniela Gorny and Christine Ryan.

Meet your guide

usb travel alarm clock

Gregory Han

Gregory Han is a design, travel, and lifestyle writer, and the co-author of Creative Spaces: People, Homes, and Studios to Inspire . His work can be found at Design Milk, Dwell, Domino, Apartment Therapy, and Airbnb.

Further reading

our six sunrise alarm test models lined up in a row side-by-side

The Best Sunrise Alarm Clock

by Joanne Chen and Annie Chou

We’ve tested over a dozen sunrise alarm clocks to find those with bright lights, soothing dawn and dusk simulations, and sleek designs.

Two Echo Dots with clock and weather displays, shown in the middle of an illustrated picture frame.

I Cheated on My Clock Radio With an Echo Dot. I’m Never Going Back.

by Jon Chase

A balky clock radio was killing our morning wake-up mojo. An Echo Dot with a clock was the replacement that solved our woes.

A nightstand with a smart light on it.

I Hate Alarm Clocks. But I Love Waking Up With Smart Bulbs.

by Eve O'Neill

A personal essay about why, for some people, smart bulbs might work better than an alarm clock.

Illustration with a photograph of a Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light HF3520.

I’ve Slept Through Fire Alarms and Bumpy Car Rides. This Calming Sunrise Alarm Clock Always Wakes Me Up.

by Phillip Zminda

The Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light HF3520 ’s gradual rays of red-tinted light and tranquil sounds have woken me up for nearly three years.

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International Edition


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