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realme C65 Review: Championing the Essentials

realme C65 Review Header

Despite changes in recent years, realme’s C Series often nailed the essentials. It’s no surprise to me why realme continues to bring Number Series features to its budget offerings. With that in mind, the brand released a new C Series phone bringing new features to complement the essentials. But at P9,999 with 8GB RAM and 256GB storage, is the realme C65 worth your hard-earned money? Find out in my full review.

Disclaimer: realme Philippines sent over a realme C65 review unit in Starlight Purple. It arrived on May 28 and I’ve been using the phone for about 2 weeks.

Design and Build

realme C65 Review - Design and Build

I’ve been saying this for a while now, but realme has always been good in phone designs. While there might be “inspiration” behind the camera module, this Shining Starlight Design continues to showcase realme’s design prowess. While this phone has a glossy back, the Starlight Purple color barely shows fingerprints.

realme C65 Review - Shining Starlight Design

The flat sides are nice to see for better grip. Its 3.5mm headphone jack for wired audio and microSD card slot for expandable storage are always good to see. realme also touts the TÜV SÜD 48-Month Fluency Rating to make sure that this phone performs at its peak performance even after 48 months. There’s also IP54 dust and water resistance for times when you can rely on the phone to work even when there’s slight rain.

realme made me used to seeing polished designs in the budget segment. The C65 continues that tradition in spades.

Display and Speakers

realme C65 Review - Display

While the design and build took a good step forward, I feel the C65 took a step back with its display. It’s a 6.67-inch HD+ IPS LCD with a 90Hz refresh rate and a resolution of 1604 x 720. realme claims better eye protection with the C65’s display thanks to two things. One is its Customized Lowest Brightness setting where you can set the lowest possible brightness of the display. The other is TÜV Rheinland Low Blue Light Certification where the phone can reduce the amount of harmful blue light emitted through software.

While both features are great, it would have been nice to get a 1080p-class display for a more enjoyable viewing experience. (Last year’s realme C55 had a 1080p-class display.) While I think stereo speakers are essential in a phone, realme doesn’t seem to agree. The C65 only has a single speaker with 200% UltraBoom volume support. The speaker gets loud, but covering the speaker while playing games makes it not ideal for mobile gaming.

Performance and Software

realme C65 Review - Performance and Software

The realme C65 uses a MediaTek Helio G85 processor with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. It runs realme UI 5.0 based on Android 14. There’s not much to say in the performance department since realme doesn’t promote this as a gaming phone. Yes, there are phones out there that perform 2 or 3 times better in benchmarks Here are some benchmark results if you care about that:

Are These “real Essentials” Actually Essential?

One thing I do want to touch on with this phone is its real Essentials suite of software features. realme touts features that can enhance the user experience like AI Boost, Air Gestures, and Dynamic Button. My question going into reviewing the C65: are these “real Essentials” actually essential? Let’s find out.

realme C65 Review - real Essentials

Two useful features in the suite for me are Dynamic Button and Mini Capsule 2.0. The former adds two actions to the power button that allows shortcuts to apps and other actions: a double tap and a double press. While I think the double tap can be too sensitive, the double press action works well for me. Mini Capsule 2.0 builds on what realme started last year with the C55 and has additional notifications for music playback and weather.

Air Gestures provide quick ways to interact with your phone using your hands. You can do that for calls and in certain supported apps (Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube). This feature sounds nice in theory, but I find this feature too gimmicky. The call gestures work slightly better, but the in-app gestures feel too limiting for me. Hand detection is fine, but you need to do specific hand motions for it to register properly. I think realme should put in a better front camera and implement better hand tracking if they want to continue doing this.

Battery Experience

The realme C65 has a 5000 mAh battery with 45W SUPERVOOC Charge support. This charging speed is higher than its big brother, the realme C67. I can charge the C65 using the included charger from 20% to 100% in around 45 minutes. Thanks to the combination of a 720p display and the Helio G85 processor, I got the following result after the PCMark Work 3.0 battery life test:

While this result isn’t the best in a budget or midrange phone, this battery life is good for most scenarios. I typically get a day of real-world use (that’s a mix of social media, YouTube videos, and light gaming) with the C65. On a lighter day, I can probably reach two days.

Cameras

realme C65 Review - Cameras

The realme C65 has a 50MP main rear camera and an 8MP front camera. Both cameras support up to 1080p / 30 fps video recording. While the main camera is a downgrade megapixels-wise from the 64MP main camera of the C55, realme has continued to improve its image processing. Are the photos any good? Let’s see.

Click on the photos for full-resolution versions!

The 50MP main camera of the C65 does a good job of retaining detail. realme’s image processing has steadily improved over the years, and it’s more apparent when using older image sensors. You shouldn’t zoom in more than 2x though, as the detail falls apart.

If you give the main camera enough light, you can do some product photography with the C65 as a backup. The separation between subject and background is good here, and you can get good enough detail even at 2x zoom.

The nicest thing about realme’s image processing on the C65 is how it does HDR. For a scenario like the photo above, the bright parts actually looked too bright before I took the photo. Not everything about it works though. The darker parts of the photo can look slightly worse when accounting for HDR at times.

Front Camera

The realme C65’s 8MP front camera produces decent selfies in bright light, but I wouldn’t trust it in low-light scenarios.

The cameras on the realme C65 are good enough for sharing with family and posting on social media. While the quality of the photos won’t shock you, they won’t disappoint you either.

Should You Buy the realme C65?

realme C65 Review - Conclusion

The realme C65 is an all-around smartphone that champions the essentials. Standout features for me are its battery experience, 50MP main camera, and general operation with realme UI 5.0. While it can do what most people look for, don’t expect it to be a “gaming powerhouse” or a “portrait master”. I can find better phones in certain aspects at P9,999 (or even lower if you go for the early bird offers). But if I’m looking for a reliable phone that can last long, the realme C65 is one I can point to.

Pros

  • A unique finish on this Shining Starlight Design (shout out to the Starlight Purple color)
  • The presence of a microSD card slot and a 3.5mm headphone jack
  • IP54 dust and water resistance
  • Good amount of RAM and storage (8GB RAM + 256GB storage)
  • realme UI 5.0 still feels fairly smooth
  • Many “real Essentials” features are useful (Dynamic Button, Mini Capsule 2.0, Rainwater Smart Touch, AI Boost)
  • Good battery life thanks to 5000 mAh battery + 45W SUPERVOOC Charge
  • A surprisingly capable 50MP main camera
  • Decent 8MP selfie camera

Cons

  • That camera module design isn’t as unique
  • Single speaker
  • 720p display for a P10,000 phone in 2024 feels lacking
  • Processor choice (MediaTek Helio G85) also feels lacking for a P10,000 phone in 2024
  • No ultrawide camera
  • The highlighted Air Gestures feature is too limited in terms of app support and hand motion

The realme C65 retails for P9,999 with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. You can buy one at realme concept stores and authorized retailers nationwide. This phone is also available online via e-commerce partners TikTok Shop, Shopee, and Lazada.

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