POCO C65 Review: Budget elegance for the masses; not suited to power users

POCO C65 Review: Budget elegance for the masses; not suited to power users
Digit Rating 5.9
Build and Design
6.3
Features and Specifications
6.6
Performance
4.8
Value for Money
5.7
PROS:
  • Stylish and lightweight
  • Up to 256 GB storage
  • Smooth 90 Hz refresh rate
CONS:
  • Underwhelming performance
  • No 5G connectivity
  • Inadequate battery life
VERDICT:

So far, I’ve come across several budget POCO smartphones that get the blend of features, performance, and affordability right but the POCO C65, sadly, isn’t a smash hit. Yes, we are treated to a few improvements such as the 90 Hz display, faster charging, and sleeker body, but the misses are disappointing in the competitive Indian smartphone market. The lack of 5G, when other competitors offer it, is monumental in 2023. I am certain several phones will begin offering 5G starting next year, and the C65 was a great opportunity for POCO to gain a leg up in the game, which they missed out on. At ₹8,499 for the base 4 GB + 128 GB variant, it is a decent option for users who want a basic phone for simple tasks, but that’s about it. However, for power users, this is not the play. A great alternative at this price is the Lava Blaze 2 5G. It has similar features with a faster 5G processor.


The budget smartphone segment in India necessitates an aggressive approach owing to the overwhelming number of options available. POCO, undeterred by the mere 10-month interval since introducing the budget-friendly POCO C55 in India, has swiftly returned to the fray with yet another economical C-series offering in the market – the POCO C65. This successor to the C55 boasts some notable upgrades including a slimmer body, improved display refresh rate, upgraded storage, and faster charging. Would I prefer it if POCO had added 5G to the mix by ditching some of these features? Yes, but we can’t have it all. Let’s see what POCO’s latest budget smartphone offers and how it stacks up against its competitors.

POCO C65 Review: Build and Design

The POCO C65 is chic and simplistically designed. At just 8.1 mm thick, the phone has shed a solid 0.7 mm in comparison to its predecessor, giving it a streamlined appearance. The weight stays the same though, at 192 g. The unassuming rear panel has a mix of matte and glossy finishes. It is not a design that will immediately grab eyeballs, but once you notice the subtle nuances, you will appreciate the simplicity and class for the price.

POCO C65 Build and Design Review

The matte texture on the bottom of the rear panel doesn’t attract fingerprints, however, the top area with the camera module is chock-full of fingerprints and smudges. There’s a sizable POCO logo on the right side of the camera module while the left side features large circular rings that house the trifecta of cameras. 

POCO C65 Build and Design Review

Once again, the frame has a matte finish and it does look super clean. Sadly, the ergonomics aren’t the best because the sharp, flat frame digs into your palm. I was disappointed by the quality of the buttons as well; the tactile response is quite subpar. There’s a capacitive fingerprint sensor on the power button, and it worked decently well during my testing. Overall, the POCO C65 has a classy design, but a few tweaks to improve the ergonomics could take it to the next level.

POCO C65 Build and Design Review

POCO C65 Review: Display

The POCO C65 has a rather basic display with one notable improvement. The 6.74-inch IPS LCD display is marginally larger than its predecessor and now boasts 90 Hz refresh rate. The POCO C55 was limited to 60 Hz, so the faster refresh rate makes the phone feel noticeably smoother in operation. The display has an HD+ resolution, so things don’t look super sharp. 

POCO C65 Display Review

Colours also look a tad faded and the viewing angles are mediocre. There’s a teardrop-shaped notch as well that mars immersiveness. The brightness is pretty decent in indoor settings – we got a tested maximum brightness of 353 nits, which is acceptable for the price. Display usability will take a hit under harsh sunlight though. There’s Widevine L1 support for HD viewing of OTT content, but no HDR support.

POCO C65 Display Review

The display is protected by Gorilla Glass 3 which should help safeguard the screen against accidental drops and scratches. The display also gets the TUV Rheinland Low Blue Light certification and Flicker Free certification, which is nice to see at this price.

How does it perform?

The POCO C65 is not meant to be a power user’s dream. The processor remains unchanged, it is equipped with the same MediaTek Helio G85 SoC that was present on its predecessor. The Helio G85 is a 4G processor, which raises the question – why wouldn’t users just pay around ₹1-1.5K more and get themselves a perfectly capable 5G phone? The Lava Blaze 2 5G is one great option which gives you all the benefits of 5G under ₹10,000. Since the POCO C65 is situated in this price range, the lack of 5G is a huge con, for me. 

POCO C65 Performance Review

The MediaTek Helio G85 is also not the most powerful processor in this price segment. It is bested by the Lava Blaze 2 5G’s Dimensity 6020 SoC in every single synthetic benchmark of note including AnTuTu, GeekBench, PCMark, and 3D Mark.

The real-world performance mimics this disparity in performance – the phone feels dated and sluggish, apps take forever to load, and the booting-up process is laboriously slow. Gaming is choppy and laggy as well, especially after 20-30 minutes of gameplay in BGMI or COD: Mobile.

As for the software, you get Android 13 with MIUI 14 out of the box. It is rife with bloatware; I’m talking about 9-10 preinstalled games alongside a bunch of random third-party apps. You get two years of software updates and three years of security updates, which is decent at the price. Sadly, the performance is not decent – in fact, it is painfully subpar in 2023.  

POCO C65 Review: Cameras

POCO has advertised its new C65 as a triple-camera phone, however, there’s only really one rear camera that’s of any use. The 2 MP macro camera and the 0.08 MP auxiliary camera are just there to boost the numbers. The 50 MP primary camera has an f/1.8 aperture.

POCO C65 Camera Review

It captures decent daylight pictures with acceptable dynamic range and a tad bit of oversharpening. Highlights look good, but the shadow areas can get crushed severely. I won’t even bother mentioning the low-light picture quality because it is extremely poor.

Indoor photos have quite a bit of grain even with ample lighting and portrait images have subpar edge detection and colour reproduction. The 8 MP selfie camera is passable, but the HDR blooming is intense when there’s harsh backlight.

How good is the battery life?

The POCO C65 houses a 5,000 mAh battery with support for 18 W fast charging. The charging speeds have been boosted this time around, but not by much. The phone still took a lengthy 2 hours and 31 minutes to charge from empty to full.

POCO C65 Battery Review

The battery life is nothing to write home about as well. The phone lasted close to 8 hours in our 4K video loop test, which is not a great result. It also depleted its battery percentage quicker than competitors when running Google Maps, streaming Netflix, and playing Call of Duty: Mobile. The Lava Blaze 2 5G lasted longer in all of our battery tests. If you’re a light user, the POCO C65 may pull through until the end of the day. But if you’re not, you’re pretty much going to have to charge it around the 4-5 PM mark.

POCO C65 Review: Verdict

So far, I’ve come across several budget POCO smartphones that get the blend of features, performance, and affordability right but the POCO C65, sadly, isn’t a smash hit. Yes, we are treated to a few improvements such as the 90 Hz display, faster charging, and sleeker body, but the misses are disappointing in the competitive Indian smartphone market. The lack of 5G, when other competitors offer it, is monumental in 2023. I am certain several phones will begin offering 5G starting next year, and the C65 was a great opportunity for POCO to gain a leg up in the game, which they missed out on. At ₹8,499 for the base 4 GB + 128 GB variant, it is a decent option for users who want a basic phone for simple tasks, but that’s about it. However, for power users, this is not the play. A great alternative at this price is the Lava Blaze 2 5G. It has similar features with a faster 5G processor.

POCO C65 Key Specs, Price and Launch Date

Rs. 7,499
Rs. 11,999
in stock
as of 24-Jun-2024 20:19
Amazon.in
Release Date: 18 Nov, 2023
Market Status: Launched

Key Specifications

  • Specs

    Storage

    128 GB

  • Specs

    Battery capacity (mAh)

    5000

  • Specs

    Rear Camera Megapixel

    50 + 2

  • Specs

    Screen size (in inches)

    6.74

Dhriti Datta

Dhriti Datta

Perpetually sporting a death stare, this one can be seen tinkering around with her smartphone which she holds more dear than life itself and stuffing her face with copious amounts of bacon. View Full Profile

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