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The Best Alarm Clocks

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Tired of the same boring smartphone alarm every morning? These stylish, creative alarm clocks will make you fall in love with waking up

In order to survive the smartphone revolution, alarm clocks have had to evolve. No longer is it good enough for them to just make a loud noise. Some of them are designed to rouse heavy sleepers with the kind of racket which 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, though, there’s an alarm clock out there that’ll 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.

The best alarm clocks to buy

1. Sonic Bomb SBB500SS Loud Alarm Clock with Bed Shaker

If you’re a heavy sleeper and think you can snooze through anything, 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, 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 issue 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: 1-59 minutes; Snooze time: 1-30 minutes; 113dB alarm

2. Amazon Echo Show 5

The Echo Show 5 is cheap, has a bright 5.5in touchscreen and boasts all the features you’d expect from an Amazon smart display. You can watch TV and movies from Amazon Prime Video, play games and even make video calls with the built-in 2MP 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. 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 59 minutes; Snooze time: tap to snooze/stop, set via command "Alexa, snooze for X minutes"

3. Philips Wake-Up Light Alarm Clock HF3520/01 Coloured Sunrise Simulation

If you like the idea of waking up to the sunrise, but need that wake-up call to come at 7am every morning throughout the entire year, this is the alarm for you. Philips’ Wake-Up Light uses a gentle glow to simulate the rising sun, waking you gently and naturally. You can choose from five different calming sounds to pair with the gradual light for an all-round sensory experience – so it’s like waking under tent canvas, without the cold and insect bites.

It has an LED bulb, which although not easily replaceable, is manufactured to last around 10,000 hours and has a low power use. It also looks great on your bedside table. However, there’s no USB port for you to wake to your own music, which for an alarm of this price is a disappointment. And although Philips calls this a "coloured sunrise" in fact the "colours" are white – just at different levels of intensity.

Key specsSize: 19.2 x 19.9 x 14.6cm; Power supply: 240V adapter; 20-40 minute adjustable sunrise simulator; Snooze time: 9 minutes

4. Newgate Charlie Bell Alarm Clock

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 specsSize: 14.5 x 9.7x 5.5cm; Power supply: 1 x AAA battery

How to buy 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 like an iPod 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, are building smart speakers or displays that look and 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.

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