The 6 best radio alarm clocks

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by Rachel Dunkel

According to a study published in 2019, it can take the brain 30 minutes to transition from a state of sleeping to awake — which is all the more reason to use a reliable alarm clock so you don’t oversleep. The best radio alarm clock for you will depend on how many bells and whistles you’d like your clock to have — in some cases, literally — and most will also have a backup battery feature so they’ll wake you up even if the power goes out. And since the alarm clock will be out on your bedside table for a while to come, make sure the size, shape, and color are what you’re looking for when shopping.

First, consider how you’d prefer the radio on your alarm clock to function. If you’re mostly interested in using it as an alarm sound, any of the clocks on this list will fit the bill, as they all have that feature. But if you’d like to use the radio for everyday listening, you might want to look for one with more station presets and AM as well as FM radio.

Also, consider whether you’d like to use your alarm clock to charge your phone or other devices as you sleep. If so, look for ones with USB ports or even wireless charging pads. Other modern improvements include Bluetooth speakers, auxiliary cord hookups, and lighting elements which can be used as a nightlight, lamp, or even to help wake you up.

Finally, each of the clocks below plugs into a wall outlet, but most options also have a battery backup feature that’ll help ensure your alarm clock will still go off at the correct time, even if you unexpectedly lose power during the night. Some clocks come with button-cell battery backups while others use alkaline batteries that are often sold separately.

Below are some of the best radio alarm clocks, some equipped with the bare necessities and others with lots of special features.

1. A best-selling compact alarm clock

For a multifunctional radio alarm clock that won’t take up too much space, consider this compact one. It has a dimmable digital display, a nightlight function with seven brightness-adjustable color settings, and a USB port for charging your devices. What’s more, its alarm sounds include traditional beeping, birds chirping, or FM radio, and whichever you choose, the sound will start soft and gradually increase in volume to avoid startling you first thing in the morning. The dual alarm clock also has a snooze function and a single-button nap timer that sets an alarm for 10 to 120 minutes, and it can store 30 radio presets. It’s available in black and white, and you have the option of using three AAA backup batteries (not included).

One reviewer wrote: “I love this alarm clock. I have trouble sleeping and waking up so I’ve been through so many different alarm clocks and sleep machines. I’ve spent so much money on other machines and wasn’t impressed. This alarm clock is my favorite and considering the price, I’m really glad! Quality is great, it’s easy to use and the brightness doesn’t bother me at night since I can turn it down. I would absolutely recommend this alarm clock!”

2. This alarm clock with a Bluetooth speaker & wireless charging

This three-in-one radio alarm clock, wireless phone charger, and Bluetooth speaker is perfect for anyone looking to combine devices and declutter their bedside table. Its alarm settings allow you to awaken to a traditional buzzer or FM radio, which can be set for weekdays only, weekends only, or every day, and it has a snooze function. Its FM radio can also be programmed with 20 preset stations. The dimmable digital display has four brightness settings. While the alarm clock has an auxiliary input so you can plug in a device to play music, it can also connect and play music via Bluetooth. The top of the clock also serves as a Qi wireless charger for compatible devices, allowing you to easily charge them overnight without pesky cords. It also has a USB charging port.

Plus, the clock will automatically set the correct date and time after a power interruption and it includes a button-cell backup battery. If you’d like faster charging, there’s an upgraded larger model.

One reviewer wrote: “It's has everything I wanted and needed. Weekday/Weekend set up for the alarm, wireless charging, wake up to radio station, aux in, bluetooth, usb charger for when I want to charge something on my nightstand and not have to dig for the outlet in the wall... It's the complete package.”

3. A basic AM/FM radio alarm clock with a battery backup

If you’re in search of a more basic radio alarm clock, this budget-friendly one could be for you. Its alarm can be set with a traditional buzzer or AM/FM radio — and it’s the only option on the list with both radio signals. Plus, you can preset the days of the week you want the alarm to automatically go off. It has a dimmable digital display, snooze function, a sleep-to-music timer that will play the radio for a set amount of time as you drift off, and can program 10 radio presets. The alarm clock automatically sets the current date and time in the event of a power outage, and a button-cell battery backup is included.

One reviewer wrote: “What a great little clock for the money. The greatest feature is that it is self-setting! The dimming feature is easy to use. I like that the numbers are very visible but not huge in width. They are more "delicate" than the current norm. Setting the radio is a little more complex, and the reception and quality of the sound could be better, but the radio was a secondary feature for me. For the price, you can't beat this clock.”

4. This top-rated sunrise alarm clock

For a gentle alarm that involves both sound and light, consider this sunrise wake-up light and radio alarm clock, which gently increases volume and brightness over time to wake you up as naturally as possible. You can set dual alarms to your choice of five soothing sounds — including bird song, seaside, and gentle piano music — or FM radio. The clock also has a tap-to-snooze feature, and it can simulate the sunset to help you wind down at night. Plus, it doubles as a bedside lamp with 10 brightness settings. The alarm clock comes in one color and does not have a backup battery feature.

One reviewer wrote: “The main advantage of this over other alarms is in how you wake up. I wake up w/ more energy & feeling more relaxed than the typical silent then blaring alarm. I'm fairly sure this is because it helps people wake up slower. The light hue is very similar to a sunrise from dim to bright. The radio is clear and the reception is good. It doesn't have very much bass but that's to be expected in a radio this size.”

5. A faux wood radio alarm clock with wireless charging

This faux wood radio alarm clock can wake you up with your choice of traditional beeping or FM radio, and it has a large digital display with five brightness settings. Its top helpfully serves as a Qi wireless charging station so it can power up your compatible devices as you sleep. It also has a 10-to-120–minute sleep timer so you can nap with an alarm without messing with your morning settings. There’s also a snooze function, a 3.5-millimeter headphone jack, and a USB port for additional charging. The clock comes in four woodgrain colors, and you can use two AAA batteries (not included) as a backup.

One reviewer wrote: “I'm really impressed with this clock radio. While the dimmest setting is too dim to see easily during the day, it's perfect for night because it's not too bright. And I love that when the alarm time comes in the morning and the radio comes on, it fades in -- quickly, but still nice to have the fade up rather than just all the sudden have the radio on. I hope it lasts a while because I'm really pleased with it so far.”

6. A radio alarm clock that can project the time onto your ceiling

This radio alarm clock features a large, curved digital display and a small angle-adjustable projector that will display the time on your wall or ceiling, so when you want to check the time in the middle of the night, you don’t have to roll over and crane your neck at your clock. You can set dual alarms with five different sounds — including FM radio — and there are 30 radio presets. You can also snooze, set a sleep timer for up to 90 minutes of radio play, and charge your devices via a USB port. The clock has a built-in battery backup and is available in one color.

One reviewer wrote: “When we began looking for a new clock for our bedroom, I needed one where I could tell at a glance what the time was. I cannot see to the other side of the bed, so, I needed one that had a ceiling projection. It wasn’t long before I found this sleek looking model with just the basics - plus ceiling projection. We absolutely love it!”

Study referenced:

Vallat, R., Meunier, D., Nicolas, A., & Ruby, P. (2019). Hard to wake up? The cerebral correlates of sleep inertia assessed using combined behavioral, EEG and fMRI measures. Neuroimage, 184, 266-278.

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