The Best Alarm Clocks

The Best Alarm Clocks

Photo: Rozette Rago


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 its feeling like a technological downgrade. After a phone-free week of testing, we recommend seven clocks (including analog, digital, and smart versions) 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

  • Easy to read

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

  • Pleasant sounds

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

  • Simple to set

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

  • Nice-to-haves

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

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.

Photo: Rozette Rago

Our pick

iTOMA 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).

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 iTOMA 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.

The 213 has a huge, easy-to-read face and a touch-sensitive snooze panel (rather than a traditional button). Photo: Rozette Rago

Some digital alarm clocks we tested—specifically those with lots of extra features and controls, such as the Digital Alarm Clock with USB Charger And Night Light Clock—required a detailed review of manuals to get them up and running. 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 213 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. 


iTOMA™Radio with Bluetooth Sleep Timer Snooze Dimmer Control Night Light Alarm Clock

Photo: Rozette Rago

Our pick

Best for: Anyone looking for a compact digital alarm clock that offers time, day, and weather info at a glance.



We tested analog, digital, and smart alarm clocks. Photo: Rozette Rago

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, 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 iTOMA 209, a back-to-basics dual-alarm clock radio that costs about $ 60. 

If you’re looking for a smart alarm clock with a color screen: Consider the iTOMA 207.


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