Every iPhone alarm, ranked

January 26, 2017

Sweet, sweet sleep – it’s hard to beat. Stretching out after a long, luscious lie-in is one of life’s greatest and rarest pleasures.

But it seems we’re getting less sleep than ever since the start of lockdown. In fact, a recent survey found that 50% of the UK population felt their sleep was more disturbed than usual.

Free iPhone apps like Sleep Cycle can help. By measuring the quality of your sleep using sensitive sound sensors, it gives insights on what could be affecting your sleep. It can also act as an alarm, waking you up at the best point in your sleep cycle. And that helps you to wake feeling well rested.

For Apple Watch users, watchOS 7 saw the arrival of the new Sleep app. Using it can help you get into a better bedtime routine and it tracks your sleep trends every night, too.

Speaking of alarms – they’re important too. You obviously want them to pull out of your sleepy state, but you don’t want them to stress you out. That’s no way to start your day.

You can use any song from your Music Library as an alarm but be warned – don’t use your favourite song. Having it as an alarm will ruin it – yes, we’re speaking from experience.

If you don’t want to sacrifice your favourite song, stick to the standard iPhone alarms instead.  Not sure which one to pick? We’ve reviewed all them based on comfort and ‘wakeability’ to help you out.

Before we dive head-first into those iPhone alarms – have a look at the iPhone in your hand. Is it looking a bit tired? Is it maybe time for an upgrade? Register your interest today and be the first to know about new phones on Three.


The default alarm for iPhone 6 and beyond. It feels like it should be a reassuring submarine noise but, it actually sounds like tiny beeping bullets reverberating in your brain. In a familiar kind of way. If that’s possible.

Comfort: For familiarity 6/10

Wakeability: 6/10


Imagine a synth bouncing off mirrors indefinitely. Enough to propel you into an existential crisis, but you’ll definitely wake up.

Comfort: 4/10

Wakeability: 7/10


The word ‘beacon’ connotes lighthouses, safety, leadership. This, however, doesn’t sound like a lighthouse, it sounds like a robot trying to blow a raspberry. Which is actually pretty cute, but not strong enough to contend with what’s going on in our dreams.

Comfort: 6/10

Wakeability: 3/10


This one’s like multiple phones going off at once. It’s got a useful mild panic about it but still manages to be quite understated and respectful.  Good if you’re a light sleeper.

Comfort: 7/10

Wakeability: 4/10

By The Seaside

If Southend was a ringtone, this would be it. Imagine someone eating candy floss next to a deck chair, watching a Punch and Judy show, covered in fish and chips. Hilarious to wake up to. One of the best.

Comfort: 9/10 – loses a point for being a bit sinister.

Wakeability: 7/10


Let’s set the scene: it’s 3pm and you stretch out from a long nap. You’re in Morocco. A sliver of pale-yellow light streams in through a gap in the heavy curtains. It’s hot. The hustle and bustle from the street below fills your consciousness, as does the soft tinkle of chimes. Not great for an emergency early morning alarm. Perfect as a nap interrupter.

Comfort: 10

Wakeability:  2


This one really does go round and round in circles. It’s relentless, and very fast. Might whoosh you into action though, if you’ve got a need for speed.

Comfort: 2

Wakeability: 7


This feels like the beginning of an Ellie Goulding song. Or a bit like the music in Stranger Things when something whimsical and magical is happening. Not sure it would wake anyone up though, it’s far too dreamy.

Comfort: 9

Wakeability: 2


Like tiny space bugs popping. 99% sure this was designed as a notification noise.

Comfort: 10

Wakeability: 0


Against the odds, this one works quite well. It’s like audio lace but is interesting and structureless enough to cut through the fog of sleep. A solid option if you want to be avant-garde with your alarm choices.

Comfort: 6

Wakeability: 7


Imagine an ant drilling the foundations for a microscopic house. Probably another notification sound.

Comfort: 2

Wakeability: 2


As the name suggests, if a torch could have a noise, it would be this. Not sure it has enough personality to warrant any feeling, sadly. Best kept as a text tone, or maybe the sound you make as you send an email instead of that whooshing noise.

Comfort: 1

Wakeability: 1

Night Owl

A hooting night owl singing along to some kind of techno. Think: nocturnal animal meets Four Tet in East London. Use if you want to feel pumped, or if you’re planning to wake up from a nap at 4am.

Comfort: 5

Wakeability: 7


This is the ringtone song. Use this if the only thing that could rouse you from your sleep is the thought that someone’s actually calling you.

Comfort: 10

Wakeability: 10


We’re not entirely sure why the aptly named Playtime ringtone would be used as an alarm. It quite genuinely sounds like filler music between CBBC programs, but for that reason, is strangely comforting.

Comfort: 7

Wakeability: 4


If old-school traditional alarm clocks that actually ring and vibrate off the table are your thing, this is the one for you.

Comfort: 4

Wakeability: 9


More dreamy space noises, this time sounding a bit like an 80s synth solo. Yes, it’s a little bit amazing, and a total curve ball. We’d hazard a guess that most people don’t know about this one.

Comfort: 9

Wakeability: 9


Imagine sitting in a tranquil garden in Kyoto, watching the cherry blossoms fall into a lake. It’s lovely. Not likely to wake you up though.

Comfort: 10

Wakeability: 0


For some reason, this sounds a bit like retro Playstation games – Crash Bandicoot era. It makes us think of scoring points and beating personal bests. But in a tropical festival kind of way. Pretty rousing. Strong contender.

Comfort: 8

Wakeability: 8


Like an electronic whisper or a tiny mewing kitten. Not what we look for in an alarm. Assign it to text or forget it.

Comfort: 0

Wakeability: 0


This one’s catchy, but will the novelty wear off over time? Possibly. Maybe use it as a special iPhone alarm.

Comfort: 6

Wakeability: 5

Slow Rise

This little ditty feels instantly familiar – is it a remake of an old iPhone ringtone? Who knows? It’s gentle, respectful, resistant. For the person who wants an alarm that isn’t invasive, this could be the one.

Comfort: 10

Wakeability: 5


This one is so short that the repetitiveness of the bleeping arpeggio would get you out of bed due to pure anger.

Comfort: 0

Wakeability: 9


The generic electro 90s refrain here has a unique twist, melodic birds. There’s something weirdly charming and funny about hearing birds chirp along to a ringtone. The bizarreness makes it a winner.

Comfort: 10

Wakeability: 7


Is this Mariah Carey? Is it Christmas? Maybe not, but every day will have a festive feeling. We have a feeling this is a bit of a marmite choice.

Comfort: 1 or 10, depending on your personality

Wakeability: 5


The name here suggests that you’re meant to feel cheerful when you hear this song. We kinda get it. It’s got an ‘everything’s going to be ok, even though you forgot to send that PowerPoint to your boss’ vibe. Win.

Comfort: 10

Wakeability: 7


Thing about waves is that they’re relentless. They just keep going. That’s what you need in an alarm – a refusal to give up. Like a good friend that you’re angry with for doing the right thing.

Comfort: 5

Wakeability: 9

Honorary mentions from the ‘Classic’ collection:

Alarm: Oh, that honking fog horn. There’s nothing quite like this as your emergency 8.55am GET UP NOW OR GET FIRED alarm.

Bark: The alarm choice of people who can only be roused by genuine fear of being attacked by a wild animal. An iPhone classic.

Bell Tower: Does it make anyone else feel like they’re getting married that day? That’s a good reason to jump out of bed, surely. Disappointing when you realise it’s not true, though.

Main image credit: Via Pexels