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9 best alarm clocks for students that are reliable and affordable

With late nights and early mornings on the agenda, choose a wake-up timer you can count on

With clocks like these, you'll have no excuse for missing your morning lectures ( iStock/The Independent )

Whether digital or analogue, retro or contemporary, you’ll need a reliable alarm clock for uni.

But with a wealth of products on the market, and with prices as diverse as the designs themselves, choosing the right one isn’t easy. 

If you’re an undergrad with a self-diagnosed iPhone dependence, maybe now’s the time to ban your handset from the bedroom and go back to the 20th century with an alarm clock as vintage in look as it is in functionality.

There are some delightfully retro clocks on offer that’ll help with that digital detox. Thankfully, the vintage-style alarm clocks in our roundup boast some surprisingly retro price tags, too.  

If you live, breathe, and sleep tech, however, you won’t mind investing a little more of that student loan on an integrated device that not only wakes you up, but also lights up your college dorm and has a better handle on your seminar schedule than you do: “Alexa, what time is today’s lecture on modernism?” 

We’ve put our top student-friendly alarm clocks to the test, looking for affordability, reliability, durability, and of course, style. With one of these on your bedside table, there’s really no excuse to be late for lectures.  

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers , but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

Gingko edge light alarm clock, rose: £34.95, Prezzybox 

This nifty, contemporary alarm clock doubles as a bedside lamp when you flip it over, freeing up valuable space for books on your nightstand. Unique in design, it’s inspired by a sliced bamboo stick – those sharp angles proving functional as well as aesthetically pleasing. We loved its integrated rechargeable battery, powered up with a simple USB lead (included); its soft dimmable light (ideal for late night reading); and best, its shake to snooze function, which you can certainly work when only half awake.  

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Lumie bodyclock rise 100: £79, Lumie  

The health benefits of waking up gently with daylight have been well documented: it’s known to regulate your body clock, boost your mood, and even help with productivity levels – a no-brainer for stressed-out students. This contemporary egg-shaped digital clock cleverly mimics a 30-minute sunrise ahead of the alarm going off (also gentle in sound), allowing you to wake bright eyed and bushy tailed – and ready to feed your brain with facts. Add to that a fading sunset function, low-level night light option, and easy tap snooze action, and it’ll become your new best friend in no time.  

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Red retro alarm clock: £12.95, Rex London 

If you’re on a student budget that’s too tight to mention, this mid-century style analogue alarm clock not only offers great value for money but it will make you nostalgic for Nana’s house. We loved it for its simplicity, not just in form but in functionality. Its Fifties-look clock face offers instant Mad Men cool, while the vintage red is offset with cream accents. It runs on a single AA battery, so it’s easy to maintain and best is that it boasts a near silent tick – ideal for those who can’t stand the sound. In durable plastic, it is cheap – but chic.   

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Amazon echo show 5: £79.99, Amazon 

When it comes to can’t-live-without tech, this one’s perfect for students’ nightstands – and the alarm clock function is only just the beginning. With Alexa as your reliable new roommate, ask not what this nifty number can do, but rather, what it can’t. The echo show 5 boasts a 5.5in smart display screen, so you can catch up on that box set, stream your favourite playlists, and Skype the parents from the comfort of your bed when you’re feeling homesick. We loved that you can set a photo on the home screen – a bespoke clock display of your much-missed bestie, perhaps?

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Newgate Charlie bell echo alarm clock, aquamarine: £22, Red Candy  

A classic twin bell alarm clock from a brand whose focus is affordable, collectable, iconic products, this bright and cheery timepiece will add immediate vintage charm to your student halls. We loved its retro colourway: eye-catching aquamarine with an off-white face and black and silver accents – the contrast between the black and silver hands makes it easy to read, as does the metal clock’s angled legs, wherever you are in the room. You can’t help but wake up in a good mood to this one, it literally rings in a brand new day.  

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Gingko walnut flip clock: £45, Royal Opera House shop  

This unassuming little wooden brick comes to life when you plug it in and charge it up – a simple USB cable is included. Its LED digital display in fluorescent green makes an appealing contrast to the natural walnut, awarding it immediate style points. But here comes the really clever bit: to turn the alarm off, simply flip the clock over and the bright green digits will magically right themselves. The clock is sound activated, too, meaning it’ll switch off when the room is quiet, saving its energy while you recharge your own batteries at night.  

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Lexon flip+ radio controlled digital alarm clock, khaki: £30, Hurn & Hurn  

This may be a diminutive digital alarm clock but it’s big on design. Another one with clever flip technology, sleepy students can simply turn the clock over to activate, or turn off, its alarm – an attractive typographic “on” and “off” will tell you which way up you have it. Made from rubber, the radio-controlled clock is wonderfully tactile and boasts a clear and fuss-free LCD display. We loved its easy touch control light and snooze functions, too, proving good things do come in small packages.  

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Karlsson petrol alarm clock: £18.95, Rigby & Mac  

This is one chic and stylish contemporary alarm clock from the Danish brand who never fails to deliver design-led timepieces at surprisingly affordable prices. With the metallic trend still in full force this academic year, you can do worse than style your student accommodation with shiny house jewels. We loved the contrast between the petrol blue and bright copper (a perfectly autumnal colourway), together with its understated numberless clock face. At just 10cm in diameter it’s both petite and pretty.  

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Habitat Lester alarm clock, white: £20, Habitat  

Minimalist, with a touch of Seventies glam, this elegant alarm clock will bring a decidedly grown-up look to your bedside table. One of the larger clocks on our list at 15x15cm, the design-led timepiece offers big impact. It’s made from iron, so it’s a strong and sturdy piece, despite its narrow depth – but that only creates space for the growing mountain of books you have to get through. Contemporary and stylish, and just £20 – you really can’t go wrong.  

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The verdict: Alarm clocks for students  

Gingko’s edge light alarm clock was an impressive little number for its shrewd design and dual functionality. We loved that you could go from digital alarm clock to bedside light simply by turning it over. The Lumie bodyclock rise 100 was a revelation, proving that waking up to light, rather than being jolted from our slumber with a noisy alarm, really did have us feeling refreshed – ideal for students who may struggle with mornings. And Amazon’s echo show 5 is a great addition to student digs, not only as an alarm clock, but an all-round smart piece of integrated tech that’ll see you through your uni years.  

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.

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