Nokia has an interesting approach to making smartphones. First, it releases its flagship — a phone with a killer feature. It then follows up with a cheaper version — keeping key parts of the phone the same, i.e.: size and shape, but stripping out the killer feature.
The Lumia 1320 is one of these cheaper versions. Like the more expensive Lumia 1520, the 1320 has a 6-inch touchscreen and runs on Windows Phone 8, and while the experience of using these phone is very similar, every other part of the 1320 is a minor downgrade. Not that many will notice.
Physically, the Lumia 1320 is like a giant Lumia 625. It has a stiff plastic chassis with a matte finish, which some may see as cheap, but it does’t bother us aesthetically at all. The feel of the phone is nice, the curves are comfortable and it looks good in photos — pretty much all you can ask from a phone these days.
It is a huge phone, though. Its 6-inch screen dominates the front of the smartphone, and defines the height and width of the over all unit. It is a phone that makes the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 look small, which is no mean feat.
It is also a little heavier than you might expect. The phone does house an enormous battery, which we love, but expect it to be even heftier than it looks.
Otherwise, the Lumia 1320 meets all our expectations. It has a combo micro-SD and micro-SIM slot under the plastic cover, which you might need to take advantage of thanks to there being only 8GB of internal storage, and there is a micro-USB port at the base of the handset. There is a single strip of buttons down the right-hand side: volume, power and a dedicated camera key.
Before we describe the 6-inch LCD panel, it’s a good time to talk about the price. Quite a bit of the remaining review will refer to (or imply) that the hardware in the 1320 is good, but not as good as the more expensive models. But you also have to keep the staggering price difference in mind as well. The ‘more expensive’ Lumia 1520 retails for around $800, while the cheaper Lumia 1320 is about $450.
So, when we say that the LCD screen in the 1320 is good, feel free to add “but it is exceptional for the price”.
Because it is good, but lower resolutions are certainly more noticeable across larger screens. This is basically the same 1280x800 pixel screen we saw in the 4.7-inch Lumia 625, except it is blown up to 6-inches here.
The colour is still vibrant, and the viewing angles are solid, but there is a softness in elements of the display that you don’t get from a higher, 1080p screen.
All this said; this is a phone reviewer’s quibble, and not the sort of thing that should bother anyone who is sitting down enjoying their new phone.
Nokia is building (or rebuilding, to be more accurate) an excellent reputation around mobile photography, with phones like the Lumia 1020 and 1520 offering outstanding cameras. Unfortunately, the Lumia 1320, with its 5-megapixel shooter, is not part of this photography range. The quality of the photos taken by the the 1320 is passable, especially at this price, but it is definitely not a stand-out feature of this phone.
It’s not helped by the 6-inch display, either. Usually you’ll find that even poor photos look good on a small screen, with thanks to the high pixel density afforded by small screens. But with the 6-inch display on this model, you can see the blemishes in the images when you zoom in a few steps.
If you’re comparing the 1320 to its big brother, the Lumia 1520, you’ll have noticed in the breakdowns that the 1320 has a dual-core processor, while the 1520 has a quad-core processor. In the real-world, the distinction is far harder to perceive. The Lumia 1320 delivers great everyday performance, much like all Windows Phones tend to. It switches tasks as quickly as other phones on the platform, it plays games, videos and music, and we didn’t noticed any pauses or delays when typing messages or making phone calls.
But where the Lumia 1320 excels is in how long it can run on a single battery charge. In short, we were astounded when we still had battery on the fourth day between charges. Most other smartphones manage between one day and two, and while your usage patterns may differ from ours, we still think you can expect to have power to this phone for twice as long as any other phone you might be considering.
This is the real advantage of a larger phone. You might find it difficult to use the Lumia 1320 with only one-hand, but behind the enormous screen is an enormous battery, and for some people, this will be the ultimate trade-off.
Nokia has made an attractive proposition for your smartphone dollars in the Lumia 1320, but it relies on you choosing one key element over another. The core smartphone functionality is as good as you will find on any Windows smartphone. You get the same apps, the same connectivity to cloud services and comparable performance.
The price is very attractive, and you definitely get a lot of phone for your money — but some will say this is too much phone. Nokia isn’t known for making slim, lightweight devices, and when you slip a 6-inch screen into one of it models, you end up with one of the larger phone available. The extra bulk is also the reason why browsing the web and playing games is so great on this phone, and why you will likely see three to four days between charging the battery.
The camera is a disappointment though, and if you’re considering a Nokia because you know the company has a great reputation for photography, then know you are looking at the wrong model — the Lumia 1020 is the phone you’re after.
Ultimately, these seem like easy sacrifices to make, for a phone that does the basics so well, and lasts between charges for so long.