realme C65 review and price and specs via Revu Philippines

realme C65 review: Smooth operator on a tight budget

In Phones by Ramon LopezLeave a Comment

The realme C65 is now available in the Philippines, arriving as the successor to last year’s realme C55, which the company branded as the segment’s “thinnest smartphone” at the time of its release.

The newly launched C65 is actually thinner than its predecessor, but it’s also more than a one-trick pony, with realme proudly claiming that the device should still feel brand new even after four years of ownership. That’s a bold claim especially in the budget-phone category, where performance degradation is too often a foregone conclusion.

The lone storage variant available in the Philippines packs 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, with a suggested retail price of P9,999 (around $171 converted). But savvy shoppers can get it for as low as P8,299 ($142) online.

Purchases come with a different freebie depending on the platform: a TechLife 65W Power Bank 2 20,000mAh on TikTok Shop; a TechLife Dust Mite Vacuum on Lazada; or a TechLife Wireless Earbud or TechLife 12W Charger on Shopee. These deals are valid until June 21.

realme C65 official unboxing video

Shiny and slim

The design gets a significant overhaul, with realme’s Shining Starlight Design adorning the back in black and purple colorways. The camera module integrates seamlessly, giving off a faint Samsung Galaxy S22 vibe — not a bad look for a budget smartphone. According to realme, the rear panel of the C65 has undergone a special treatment for its shimmering effect, making it appear more expensive than its price tag suggests.

realme C65 review and price and specs via Revu Philippines
realme’s Shining Starlight Design

Coming in at just 7.64mm, the realme C65 remains among the thinnest handsets in its class. But while the profile is undeniably thin, the phone’s width could pose a challenge for those who prefer single-handed operation.

For audio, the C65 keeps things classic with a headphone jack for those who prefer wired listening. The built-in speaker at the bottom gets decently loud, but like most wallet-friendly options on the market, it struggles with distortion at higher volumes. On the charging front, the handset is equipped with a USB-C port with support for fast charging up to 45 watts — a welcome surprise at this price point.

A few steps forward, a couple of steps back

realme has opted for a 6.67-inch HD+ LCD panel to keep costs down. This is a resolution downgrade from the C55’s FHD+ display, but it allows for a smoother 90Hz refresh rate, thanks to the reduced pixel count this model needs to push. Scrolling and animations feels fluid, though text and images might appear not as sharp if you’re used to 1080p or sharper displays.

TÜV Rheinland Low Blue Light certification is a welcome feature for reducing eye strain, and the panel gets bright enough at 625 nits for outdoor use. realme’s Rainwater Smart Touch mode is a neat addition, too, and should improve touch responsiveness when using the phone in wet conditions, like sweaty gym sessions or rainy days. This makes the C65 perfect for countries with a tropical climate like the Philippines.

realme C65 review and price and specs via Revu Philippines
TÜV Rheinland Low Blue Light certification and Rainwater Smart Touch mode are welcome additions

The Mini Capsule, realme’s Dynamic Island-like interface, is back, and offers more interactions on the C65. It still sits on the front camera cutout and displays the device’s charging status, low-battery alerts, step count, and walking distance, among other things.

This time around, the Mini Capsule offers more functionality, including swipe controls for music apps like YouTube Music and Spotify. However, it’s worth noting that the Google Play Store offers a variety of third-party apps that can replicate Dynamic Island features.

realme C65 Mini Capsule compatible with YouTube Music via Revu Philippines.jpg
The Mini Capsule now offers more functionality, including swipe controls for music apps like YouTube Music and Spotify

Software features elevate budget hardware

The realme C65 runs Android 14 with realme UI 5.0 on top. Powering the smartphone is the MediaTek Helio G85 chip, a budget-friendly 4G processor. The single storage option pairs 8GB of RAM with 256GB of storage, expandable via a microSD card up to a whopping 2TB.

To compensate for the modest internals, realme throws in a bunch of software features to optimize the user experience. These include hands-free Air Gestures controls; a Dynamic Button that can be programmed for quick access to your favorite functions; an interactive Mini Capsule 2.0 notification system; Smart Code Scan, which quickly launches the camera app for a code scan by tapping the back of your phone; Riding mode, an easy-to-use UI interface while on the go; and AI Boost for performance.

realme C65 software feature screenshots via Revu Philippines
Some of the software features that are tailor-made to maximize the realme C65’s capabilities

The latter combines Smooth Boost and Game Boost to optimize the device for everyday use and gaming. The goal is to reduce lag and deliver a smoother overall experience.

realme C65 AI Boost feature via Revu Philippines
AI Boost combines Smooth Boost and Game Boost to optimize the device for everyday use and gaming

The Helio G85 consists of two Cortex-A75 cores clocked at up to 2GHz and six Cortex-A55 cores at 1.8GHz. This chipset prioritizes power efficiency over raw power, but it lacks 5G connectivity.

You can play Genshin Impact and other demanding games on this unit, but be prepared to set the graphics to the lowest preset to avoid stuttering. That aside, our experience so far suggests that navigating the phone is mostly smooth with the 90Hz refresh rate enabled, outside of some occasional sluggishness under heavy loads.

realme C65 benchmark scores via Revu Philippines

Obviously, the jury’s still out on that TÜV Rheinland certification for a 48-month Fluency Rating, but the promise is that the realme C65 should feel brand-new even after four years of use. To support this ambitious claim, the handset has undergone a battery of tests to assess its peak capabilities and ensure it maintains performance over time. Hopefully, with proper care, the C65 could stay smooth for at least a couple of years, even as newer models tempt your wallet.

Battery life is great, lasting around 40 hours on a single charge. The charging speeds are even more impressive, with the built-in 5,000mAh cell needing just 75 minutes to reach a full charge from zero, or 30 minutes when charging to 50%, based on our tests. To our delight, the bundled power brick is quite small and supports a 10-watt output for safely charging slower devices.

While the realme C65 won’t win any performance records, the brand’s hardware and software features aim to elevate the user experience beyond its price tag. These features cater to various needs and might even make the smartphone a surprisingly capable daily driver depending on your needs.

Decent for photos and videos

The realme C65 sports a triple-camera setup on the back, with a 50-megapixel main image sensor as the star of the show. It’s joined by an AI sensor for portrait shots, but there’s no ultrawide lens, which is a notable omission. The front-facing camera for selfies comes in at 8 megapixels.

In good lighting, the rear camera captures decent photos with ample detail and sharpness. The front camera gets the job done, but some softness can creep in, especially in Portrait mode.

For video recording, the realme C65 is capped at 1080p at 30 fps for both the rear and front cameras. While electronic image stabilization or EIS is missing, footage from the main camera looks surprisingly good when shooting outdoors. The video offers plenty of detail, with good dynamic range, contrast, and saturated colors. The processing might add some sharpening, but it appears subtle on the phone’s display.

realme C65 camera sample picture in review by Revu Philippines
realme C65 camera sample picture in review by Revu Philippines
realme C65 camera sample picture in review by Revu Philippines
realme C65 camera sample picture in review by Revu Philippines

Sample shots

Final thoughts

The realme C65 carves a niche for itself in the competitive budget category with a focus on longevity and user experience. While the hardware might not be top-of-the-line, the device’s combination of attractive aesthetics, smooth 90Hz display, and generous 5,000mAh battery with faster-than-average charging makes the C65 a compelling option for those on a tight budget.

Additionally, its deep software features, headlined by AI Boost and Mini Capsule, add a layer of polish that elevates the user experience beyond its price point. Whether realme’s ambitious claims of four-year fluency hold true remains to be seen, but for now, the C65 offers a compelling package for budget-conscious users who prioritize a smooth user experience.

realme C65 specs

  • 6.67-inch LCD display, HD+ resolution, 90Hz refresh rate, 625 nits peak brightness
  • 12nm MediaTek Helio G85 processor
  • Mali-G52 MC2 GPU
  • 128GB/256GB storage, expandable by up to 2TB via a microSD Card
  • Dual 50-megapixel main, depth rear cameras
  • 8-megapixel front camera with Mini Capsule
  • Side fingerprint reader
  • 5,000mAh battery with 45-watt fast wired charging
  • Realme UI 5.0 based on Android 14
  • Color: Starlight Purple, Starlight Black

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Ramon Lopez

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Reviews editor: Ramon "Monch" Lopez has 16 years of professional experience creating and editing content for print and digital publications such as Yahoo. He headed the gadgets-merchandising division of one of the Philippines’ largest retail operators somewhere in between.