The 5 best alarm clocks in 2021

  • Although waking up early for work or school might never be a joy, a good alarm clock makes it easier.
  • We checked out dozens of alarm clocks; the Magnasonic Projection Alarm Clock will wake you up firmly but gently. 

Let’s face it: The ring, blare, buzz, or chirp of your alarm clock is probably never going to be your favorite sound. But then again, the angry rumble of your boss when you show up late after oversleeping, is even worse.

A good alarm clock can make mornings a little easier so you wake up feeling refreshed. That’s why we’ve researched and tested top alarm clocks ourselves to find the six best options for every type of person.

And if you’re outfitting your home or apartment, check out more of our buying guides like the best mattresses and best mattress toppers.

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Here are the best alarm clocks in 2021

  • Best alarm clock overall: Magnasonic Projection Alarm Clock
  • Best alarm clock for deep sleepers: Sonic Alert Sonic Bomb Alarm Clock
  • Best smart alarm clock: Lenovo Smart Clock with Google Assistant
  • Best analog alarm clock: Marathon Analog Desk Alarm Clock
  • Best alarm clock for kids: OK to Wake! children’s alarm clock

Updated on 03/19/21: We’re in the process of testing our top picks and new models for an update later this spring. In the meantime, we stand by our picks here and recently tested and recommended several sunrise alarm clocks worth checking out. 

The best overall

The Magnasonic Projection Alarm Clock goes way beyond just waking you up: it also projects the time onto the ceiling, gives you the temperature, automatically sets itself, and much more. 

Pros: Projected time, large display, ability to stream music, dual alarms, low price

Cons: Display is too bright for some

Waking up might be a little bit more pleasant when you can choose between a buzzer, the radio, or your favorite songs streaming from your smartphone or MP3 player to nudge you out of dreamland.

Add to that the fun of seeing the time of day (or night) projected in large, red numerals onto your ceiling  — you don’t even have to turn your head to figure out how much more sleep you’ll get if you could just fall back into slumber  — and the large LCD display on the clock’s face, and you have just some of the features that make the Magnasonic Projection Alarm Clock our top pick.

The versatile clock also shows you the indoor temperature, automatically adjusts itself to daylight savings time changes, resets itself after a power outage with a built-in lithium battery, and has dual alarms, so both you and your partner can use the same clock to set different wake-up times. The ability to set one alarm time for Monday through Friday and a separate time for the weekend is another popular feature.

The brightness of the blue LCD display can be adjusted; for some owners, the clock’s light is just a little too intense. 

The best for deep sleepers

Even if you sleep like the dead, you’ll spring back to life at the first blast of the crazy-loud alarm, vibrations, flashing lights, and bright red display of the Sonic Alert Sonic Bomb Alarm Clock.

Pros: Multiple features to wake up the heaviest sleeper, good for those with hearing impairments, available in several different colors

Cons: A bit cheesy looking, overkill if you’re not a deep sleeper

If you’re the type who sleeps through anything — thunderstorms, loud neighbors, earthquakes, the zombie apocalypse — you’ve finally met your match. Sonic Alert’s Sonic Bomb Alarm Clock doesn’t just rely on its 113-decibel alarm to pry eyelids open (for comparison, that’s about the same decibel level as a car horn or snow blower going off in your ear), it also has a shaker device that slips underneath your mattress or pillow to jiggle you awake, and red flashing lights that trigger with the alarm.

You don’t have to use all of those features, however. You can set them in a variety of combinations, or even turn all of them off except for the flashing red lights. You can also set the length of the alarm’s ring from one to 60 minutes, and choose a snooze option from one to 30 minutes. Plus, the clock has dual alarms, so both you and your partner can have different wake-up times.

The best smart alarm

With the ability to pull content from the internet and control your home, Lenovo’s Smart Clock with Google Assistant changes the way an alarm clock wakes you up. 

Pros: A variety of wake-up options, display mimics a light therapy clock, supports most Google services and Google Assistant, play from Spotify, Pandora, podcasts, and other online services, control your smart home devices, compact size, elegant design, easy to set up, affordable, USB port for charging

Cons: Can’t make calls, play videos or photos, can’t stream music from phone, audio quality could be better, Google Home platform required, phone is needed for set-up

The Lenovo Smart Clock is more of a bedside assistant than simply an alarm clock. Yes, it will show you the time on the 4-inch touch-capable display, and you can set multiple alarms. But because it’s connected to the internet, you can use this gadget to check weather and traffic before you start the commute; catch up on info like news, sports, and stocks; play music from Spotify, podcasts, or NPR; check your Google Calendar; and, with support for Google Home and Google Assistant, you can control the smart home devices in your home, from Philips Hue lights to Nest Thermostat — all by using your voice.

As an alarm clock, the device doesn’t simply blare at you with a buzzer (although that’s available too). The screen slowly brightens — like a light therapy clock — and you can customize the sound for each alarm, or wake up to music or news. Even smarter (hence its name), you can automate a specific wake-up routine that turns on lights, sets the temperature, and regulates whatever else is connected to your smart home setup. At night, the screen goes dark to help you sleep, while the USB port lets you connect a phone for charging.

There are a few things that the Smart Clock can’t do. It can’t play videos, nor can it make calls. Even though the Smart Clock has Bluetooth, you can’t use it to play music from your phone, but you can use Google Chromecast to stream audio to another connected speaker or TV. If you desire some of these other “smarter” functions, you may want to look at larger smart displays, like the Google Nest Hub.

As an alarm clock, we like the design, lower price, and tight integration into Google’s services of the Smart Clock over Amazon’s Echo Spot. If the price was even lower, we wouldn’t hesitate to call this our best overall, because, for the first time, you can actually do more with an alarm clock than just wake you up. — Les Shu

The best analog clock

If you prefer the old-school simplicity of an analog alarm clock, you can’t go wrong with the travel-friendly Marathon Analog Desk Alarm Clock. 

Pros: Silent performance, several color choices, easy to use

Cons: Batteries will eventually require changing

Perfect for those who prefer a small and simple bedside clock, or need something easy to slip into a suitcase, the Marathon Analog Alarm Clock comes in several colors, is completely silent, has an auto-on soft nightlight that triggers in low light, and a big, spring-loaded button on top to simplify setting or turn off the alarm. It reminds us of the beautiful and iconic Braun Classic Analog Quartz Alarm Clock, but has a few more useful features.

If you wake up in the middle of the night and want to see the time, a simple push of the snooze button on top of the clock gives you just enough light to easily read the large numbers. The clock’s nonslip bottom is another handy feature. 

At roughly 4 inches by 4 inches, the clock is just large enough for easy visibility, won’t take up much room on your nightstand, and is small enough for travel. It runs on two AA batteries, which are included.

The best for kids

With OK to Wake! Alarm Clock on the nightstand, your toddler will know when it’s time to get up, and when it’s time to stay in bed. 

Pros: A great way to help young children learn to use a clock and determine when it’s okay to get out of bed

Cons: Wears out batteries quickly, does not include electrical plug, best for kids that are kindergarten-age and younger

This cute alarm clock shows the time like a regular clock, and can also function as a nightlight for up to two hours. It has a regular beeping alarm, which can be set for any time you would like, and a nap alarm, which functions as a timer to gently wake your child after your desired nap length.

But where OK to Wake! really shines (pun intended) is in its unique feature that parents love: the clock will glow green and show a cute face when it’s an acceptable time for your little one to get out of bed. That means even very young children can learn when it’s okay to go looking for mommy or daddy with no need to be able to actually read the time. As your child grows, you can stop using the glow feature and simply use the device as a regular, albeit cuter than average, alarm clock.

It’s not perfect, however. The clock runs through AA batteries very quickly if you don’t have it plugged in (USB adapter sold separately). Still, if you have a youngster who wakes up before dawn, this may be your solution.

OK to Wake! comes with two faces: a purple flower and a green bug. It’s easy for kids to use; they simply touch one foot to silence the alarm, the other foot to turn the nightlight on and off. The controls for changing the time and setting the alarm are concealed in the back so your toddler’s little fingers can’t reset them accidentally.

Why you should use an actual alarm clock, not your smartphone alarm

You might be wondering, “Why bother with an alarm clock when I have a phone?” It’s A fair question and many people do wake up to their cell phone’s prompting. The problem with this, however, is it makes it far more difficult to put some space between your technology and your sleep, and those are two areas of your life best kept separate.

If the last thing you do before closing your eyes for the night is pick up your cell phone to set the alarm, how likely is it that you’re just going to do that one thing, then set the phone down on the nightstand? Admit it, you’re probably going to check Instagram, send a text or two, play just one more round of your favorite game, or surf the web. 

By the time that phone hits the nightstand, you’ve lost precious sleep time and tricked your brain into thinking it’s wake-up time instead of dream time because the glow of the blue light emitted by your phone reduces your body’s release of melatonin, the hormone that regulates your sleep cycle.

Instead of relaxing, you’ve stimulated your mind. All of that adds up to poor quality sleep followed by a groggy, foggy, “I don’t know why I’m so tired,” kind of morning.

Check out more of our bedroom guides

The best bed frames

Buying a bed frame may seem simple — just match frame size with mattress size — but there are more buying options than you might realize, which can make the shopping process seem overwhelming. That’s why we’ve compiled this guide to the best bed frames.

The best mattresses 

A high-quality mattress will last for more than a decade, provide the right balance of comfort and support for your body type and sleeping style, and offer superb motion transfer isolation. Our guide features beds that performed well in our tests, have long trial periods, and are designed to suit a broad range of sleepers. Here are the best mattresses.

The best wake-up light alarm clocks

Wake-up light alarm clocks can be seriously helpful in ensuring you wake up in the best way possible, so you can be productive from minute one. Here are the best wake-up light alarm clocks.

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