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Which clock radio is best?

If you hate waking up to a shrill alarm, you might prefer using a clock radio. Set it to your favorite station and wake up listening to music or talk radio rather than an annoying beeping sound. 

But which is the best clock radio and how do you pick the right model for you? Below you’ll find some important features of clock radios, plus recommendations to help you on your way. A popular model is the Philips Wake-Up Light Alarm Clock, which wakes you up gently. 

What to know before you buy a clock radio


Check whether your chosen clock radio offers FM stations, AM stations, or both. You’ll rarely find an AM-only clock radio but you will spot some FM-only offerings out there. AM frequencies can travel longer distances but FM stations offer significantly better audio quality, which is why many radio-listeners prefer FM. Still, if your favorite radio station is an AM station, you should make sure your chosen clock radio will be able to pick it up. 

Other alarm sounds

Although most people buy clock radios to use the radio as an alarm, some buyers want the option to listen to radio in bed but prefer a different alarm sound. Others might think they want to wake up to the radio but find that they sleep through it and need a more traditional alarm. As such, many clock radios have other alarm sounds built-in. These can be traditional beeping alarm sounds that you find on most digital alarm clocks or gentler sounds, such as birdsong or rainfall. 

Backup power

Clock radios almost always give you the option to plug them into a conventional power outlet, but some can also be battery powered. For the most part, these batteries are designed as a backup power source so that if you suffer a power outage, your alarm will still go off and you won’t end up running late. However, you can find a handful of alarm clock radios that are battery powered only. 

What to look for in a quality clock radio

Phone charging capabilities

If you don’t have many power outlets by your bed, you might want a clock radio with phone charging capabilities. Some models have a USB port into which you can plug a phone charging cable, while others are capable of charging compatible phones wirelessly. Either way, if your future clock radio will be taking up one of your limited bedside outlets, this is something to seriously consider.

Sunrise simulation

Clock radios with sunrise simulation have a built-in light that turns on around 30 minutes before your set alarm time. It starts out dim and gets gradually brighter over the course of half an hour, simulating the rising of the sun. Many people find this helps them wake up more alert and ready for the day.

Dual alarm

Do you regularly sleep through your alarm or accidentally switch it off when you mean to hit snooze? If so, you may find a dual alarm system helpful. This allows you to set two alarms at intervals of your choosing, so if you miss the first one, the second one should wake you. 

How much you can expect to spend on a clock radio

You can find some cheap clock radios for less than $10, but expect to pay anywhere between $20-$100 for those with more advanced features, such as a wake-up light or wireless charging capabilities. 

Clock radio FAQ

Q. Why should I use a clock radio when I could just use my phone as an alarm? 

A. Clock radios — and alarm clocks in general — have become less popular as cell phones have become more popular. Now that almost everybody owns a cell phone that can double as an alarm clock, why use a clock radio? First off, the main draw of a clock radio is that you can set your favorite radio station as an alarm. You might also want an alternative to a smartphone as an alarm if you have trouble sleeping. Many people sleep better if their phone is switched off or left in a different room as they aren’t tempted to browse before bed. 

Q. Is a clock radio the same as a radio clock? 

A. Confusingly, a clock radio and a radio clock are two different things. A clock radio is a clock with a built-in radio that gives you the option to set a radio station as an alarm tone so that you’re woken by the sound of the radio. A radio clock is a clock that receives a radio time code connected to an atomic clock or other time standard. It automatically adjusts itself according to this time standard so it should always be correct. 

What’s the best clock radio to buy?

Top clock radio

Philips Wake-Up Light Alarm Clock

Philips Wake-Up Light Alarm Clock

Our take: The perfect clock radio for anyone who struggles to wake up in the morning, featuring sunrise simulation to ease you into consciousness. 

What we like: Features FM radio plus a range of alternative gentle alarm tones. Doubles as a reading light that can gradually dim to lull you to sleep. 

What we dislike: No AM option.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top clock radio for the money

Magnasonic Projection Alarm Clock

Magnasonic Projection Alarm Clock

Our take: Offering great value for your money, this is the ideal model for someone who wants lots of features without breaking the bank. 

What we like: Projector displays time on the wall or ceiling. Dual alarm option. Features both AM and FM radio. Battery backup. Reads and displays temperature. 

What we dislike: Sound quality isn’t great.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Sony ICFC1PJ Alarm Clock Radio

Sony ICFC1PJ Alarm Clock Radio

Our take: An overall excellent alarm clock, although a minority of buyers seem to have received faulty models. 

What we like: Features AM/FM radio with 10 presets. Nature sound alarm option. Projector displays time on the wall or ceiling and features a handy focus button to keep the projected time looking sharp and in-focus.

What we dislike: Some users find it hard to set up.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Lauren Corona writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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