Realme C55 review: “basic” mid-range with good battery life

Realme usually stands out in the market with its top-of-the-line models, equipped with the most powerful components on the market, special editions and the most powerful charging systems in the smartphone area. But the truth is that most people who choose Realme do so because it offers many affordable, well-equipped models for their price ranges. One such model is the Realme C55, a mid-range device without much pretense, which also has the “guts” to tease Apple a bit with one of its features.

The Realme C55 looks like it’s a little more “expensive” than it actually is

The Realme C55 could be called a sort of plastic “iPhone”, as it has a design reminiscent of Apple’s models of the last 3 years. We have a phone with very straight edges, complete with a completely flat screen, along with a textured plastic cover on the back that mimics metal. For an inexpensive device, the attention to detail in the build is quite high, including the camera lenses being decorated with chrome rings.

Realme C55 back handheld 2

This is one of the few devices on the market still shipping with a headphone jack alongside the USB-C port, and also one of the phones that hasn’t made the switch to an in-display fingerprint sensor, using one integrated into the power button. Frankly, I prefer this position and would like to see more premium phones with such sensors, not just on foldable models.

In the box, the Realme C55 also ships with a 35W SuperVOOC fast charger, along with a silicone sleeve that provides basic protection. Compared to other covers of its kind, this one covers even the glass edges of the screen a little, especially at the corners, perhaps “saving” the screen from an easier drop. Ideally, however, you should look for a sturdier cover if you know you are prone to such accidents. The screen is, however, protected by a plastic film to avoid scratches on the glass surface.

Realme C55 accessories

The LCD screen is large and fluid

In the price range that the Realme C55 falls into, which is just under 1,000 lei in the base version, you can’t expect extremely high-performance screens. I was expecting to see an LCD panel, and I wasn’t “disappointed”. It comes with all the drawbacks of an IPS, such as lack of perfect black shades, low contrast and a slower response time. The C55 is not a phone for gaming, or HDR movies, that’s for sure.

With a 6.72″ diagonal, it does, however, offer a pretty good, or even “immersive”, as they say, online or gaming video viewing experience. The Full HD+ resolution is on par with other models in this price range, and the 90Hz refresh rate will ensure a smoother experience than 60Hz models, but not by much. Gamers with pretensions won’t find a device here that will help them win matches more easily online in PUBG or CoD Mobile.

Realme C55 screen bottom

On the other hand, similar screens were used until recently on significantly more expensive phones, and were sufficient at the time. As long as you don’t come with high expectations, you probably won’t be disappointed.

Realme C55’s performance doesn’t exceed expectations

Performance-wise, the Realme C55 doesn’t impress, as it uses a not-so-new chipset. The manufacturer chose a MediaTek Helio G88, a model built on 12nm, which is a bit outdated in all respects. And for the early testing period that’s pretty much how it seemed to me. The phone didn’t offer a very smooth experience when navigating through menus, but a lot of the issues were fixed following a software update. Apparently Realme offers quick updates even for devices in the cheaper ranges, and now if you pick up the phone in store you’ll be able to install a new software package out of the box.

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Realme C55 front handheld

On the raw performance level though, in performance tests, the results are in line with expectations. You won’t be running games on “High” nor will you be doing much video editing on this model, for that matter. Shooting is limited to 1080p anyway, and without serious light, there’s not much you can do in this department with the C55’s camera system. We’re not dealing with a phone for taking pictures, nor a “gaming” phone. But most games should run decently even on this configuration, with settings on minimum or average.

Benchmarks

  • AnTuTu – 255.370
  • GeekBench – Single-Core: 425 / Multi-Core: 1,400
  • 3DMark Wild Life – 741
  • 3DMark Wild Life Stress Test – Best Loop: 753 / Lowest Loop: 739 / Stability: 98.1%
  • PCMark – 8.548

Autonomy is a major advantage of this model

One thing I often forget when testing smartphones is that those in the cheap ranges end up offering significantly better battery life than the top of the range. Because a high-end phone has a powerful, and “thirsty” processor, it consumes a lot of power, even for less complex tasks. The Realme C55, however, is one of those phones that, when sitting “idle” in standby, consumes extremely little power, and in use doesn’t need much power to put the 5,000 mAh battery to the test. Those who don’t play on their phone too much could get into their third day with this model after a single charge.

Realme C55 charger

And charging is very fast, even faster than what Apple offers on the latest iPhones, for example. We have charging at 33W, which charges the battery to 50% in just half an hour. Apple still offers power at a maximum of 25W in comparison on smaller batteries.

Realme C55’s software promised an alternative to “Dynamic Island,” but it doesn’t deliver it

The software experience on the Realme C55 is not significantly different from other devices with Realme UI. We’re talking about a slightly modified version of Oppo’s Color OS, with minor color and UI quirks. Overall, this is a “clean” and well-organized interface.

However, because we’re talking about a cheap phone, Realme doesn’t really spare this model and kinda fills it with bloatware, thus being able to charge some extra money from app makers. So in addition to Google and Realme apps, we also have Facebook, Amazon, TikTok, Spotify, LinkedIn, Booking, Joom or Bolt already installed from the factory, along with a few games like Royal Match, Lords Mobile, ThiefPuzzle and Sneaker Art. The apps can be uninstalled, but it would have been better not to find them directly in the menu on first setup.

Realme C55 software

Mini Capsule, the iPhone’s “Dynamic Island” knockoff, the feature that basically put the Realme C55 “on the map”, is almost non-existent, however. The Realme UI doesn’t use a Dynamic Island like on the iPhone, it just puts a notification there for charging stages. When you plug in a fast charger the message SuperVOOC 33W appears, and when the phone is fully charged, you’re alerted by a message in that area. Otherwise, notifications appear as normal, like on any Android phone, and other apps can’t be integrated into the Mini Capsule. Incidentally, there’s no settings menu for this feature either, and you’ll probably forget it exists after a few minutes of using the phone.

For such cheap phones, software support is usually on the order of two years of security updates and about one system update. Given that I received an update during testing, it’s possible that Realme even handles this model more than other manufacturers do in this device category.

Realme C55 mini capsule

The fingerprint sensor located in the button is in a comfortable position, but requires a little more precision when using it due to the smaller surface area. There is some adjustment time, but over time it becomes a reflex to get the finger right every time. I encountered several missed unlocks because of this, but towards the end of testing only very rarely does this happen again.

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The mono sound system, however, is… a basic one. Good for alerts, notifications and alarms for waking up in the morning, but not for listening to music. A pair of headphones is recommended to be able to listen to music in decent quality, and the headphone jack will ensure you don’t have to spend too much to get quality sound.

Camera exceeds some expectations, but only partially

When I took such a cheap phone for a test drive, I didn’t expect “miracles” in the photo capture department. The truth is that the Realme C55 exceeded my expectations a bit, but only in one area. With only one camera actually taking pictures and the other one just for “depth”, I can say I’m surprised it produces decent results in some situations.

Realme C55 camera 2

The Realme C55 offers access to three perspectives, despite the fact that we’re only dealing with one “functional” camera: the main wide perspective and, 2 or 5X zoom. Of course, zooming is done digitally on this camera, but at 2X it’s still decent. Don’t try to take photos at 5X though, as they can’t possibly come out well in any scenario. 1X is however extremely surprising for such a cheap phone. We’re dealing with well-exposed shots in daylight, detail even in shadows, and a generally pleasing look thanks to the HDR effect applied. The 2X zoom is just OK, decent in most situations, but only to be used in emergencies when you need a little more close-up and can’t do it standing up.

Photo day

At night though, this phone is on the edge. I’d say it’s unusable, but there are a few shots on 1X perspective that look decent. The zoom at any level is full of noise and motion. The reason is the lack of optical stabilization. I noticed that the exposure time is not calculated by frame, each capture is set “standard” at 3 seconds. With optical stabilization present, the Realme C55 could have captured a few more decent frames at night as well. That way though, it’s just a “day” phone.

Night photo

Portrait mode isn’t very good either. Cropping of subjects is incorrect most of the time. Thus, I wonder what the depth camera on the back actually does, and why it still exists. The same cropping problems in portrait mode I encountered on the front and rear camera. It’s clearly a cropping done just from software, and that camera is only put there to smooth out a dual camera system.

Conclusions

The Realme C55 is a decent phone for those who mainly need a phone with good battery life. The “clone” of Dynamic Island turned out to be just a message that the phone charges, and the main camera is fine, as long as you don’t want to take pictures at night. Still, for a price of under €200, you get a phone that doesn’t offer a particularly bad user experience, while the design looks like we’re dealing with a more “expensive” phone.

For a user without too many expectations, or for a child, the Realme C55 is a more than decent device. The phone is available in specialty stores at a special introductory price, starting at 950 lei for the base variant with 6 GB RAM and 128 GB storage.

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