Nokia Lumia 1320 review: A supersize smartphone that fits your budget

Image quality was better outdoors than in, and the camera tends to cast the scene in blue, leaving people and scenes a little colder and more muted than in real life. Still, photos were good enough to share online with family and friends. I'd personally forget about using the 0.3-megapixel VGA front-facing camera almost entirely, unless you like grainy, indistinct images, and just ask someone to frame your photo for you.

On a more positive note, video capture and playback were smooth, colors looked strong, and the microphone adequately picked up voices within range.

Some Nokia phones preinstall the company's own camera apps by default. Not so with the 1320, which sticks with Microsoft's basic native app. You can still add all the lenses that you want to the phone, for editing, creating funky moods, and taking in a panorama. Otherwise, you'll see flash onscreen controls and the camera toggle. Settings open up scenes like night mode and portrait, some ISO settings, and presets for exposure, aspect ratio, and the focus assist light, which helps out while taking low-light shots.

Click over to our photo gallery to compare the standard studio shot with those of other phones.

These flowers look vivid and defined, but take on a bluish cast. Click to enlarge. Jessica Dolcourt/CNET
You'll find a few artifacts in the full-resolution image, but overall, the 1320 captured the plaza on a gloomy day. Click to enlarge. Jessica Dolcourt/CNET
The writing on the side of the truck looks a bit jagged around the edges. Click to enlarge. Jessica Dolcourt/CNET
Flash casts a shadow behind Lynn La's ladylike visage, but doesn't wash her out. Click to enlarge. Jessica Dolcourt/CNET
CNET's standard studio shot. Click to enlarge. Josh Miller/CNET

Performance: Speed, processor, battery
Gauging performance is always a bit tricky when evaluating an unlocked phone that's intended for another market. There's the LTE connectivity, for instance, which works with 800, 1,800, and 2,600MHz, or bands 20, 3, and 7.

HSPA speeds were the fastest I got on AT&T's network. I could still do pretty much all the data work I wanted, but it did require a bit more patience on my end. You may not have the same results.

Screenshot by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

And how about the other kind of speed, the one attached to the application processor? Well, you get a 1.7GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 chipset in the Lumia 1320, rather than the quad-core processor that debuted with the 1520. Windows Phone champions have always said that the lighter demands of the operating system mean the phones can do more with less horsepower.

I certainly didn't notice any lagginess while playing casual games or navigating around, so I wouldn't consider the processor specs to be a setback the way that the same specs can be on some feebler Android phones with lower-capacity chipsets. Nokia's more budget-conscious big 1320 has 1GB RAM.

Nokia Lumia 1320 AT&T
Install Endomondo (3MB) 25.4 seconds
Load up Endomondo mobile app 3 seconds
CNET mobile site load 4.5 seconds
CNET desktop site load 18.5 seconds
Boot time to lock screen 30.5 seconds
Camera boot time 2 seconds
Camera, shot-to-shot time 2.5 seconds with autofocus, no flash

One concession Nokia did make was with onboard storage. The 8GB you get isn't going to last photo and video fiends long, but you are helped with 7GB of free SkyDrive storage and an additional microSD card slot that takes up to 64GB in external storage.

The 3,400mAh battery on the other hand lasted me plenty long, more than a day with moderate use. It's rated for 25 hours of talk time and 28 days of standby time. During our battery drain test for talk time, the battery lasted a whopping 43 hours and 10 minutes, which is an impressive feat.

Call quality
A GSM phone, the quad-band 1320 supports 850, 900, 1800, and 1900MHz bands. I tested it on AT&T's network, where I got some inconsistent results over the course of a couple of calls.

In fact, call quality was changeable during the same call. At times, my chief test partner sounded like he was divided into two layers, a robotic voice floating over a human backbone. Other times his voice came across muted and distant. So long as my ear hit the microphone target area at the top, volume was excellent, with plenty of room to amplify the sound in noisier environments. Even when the separated voice did seem to glue itself back together, it sounded a little hollow and robotic around the edges.

On his end, my partner said audio sounded a lot better to his ears. I was loud enough, and only slightly muffled with momentary scratchiness.

Nokia Lumia 1320 call quality sample Listen now:

Speakerphone quality slid to the poorer side when I held the phone at hip level. Volume was lower on my end, which would make it harder to hear in noisier environments. While there wasn't any background fuzz, my calling partner again sounded distant, removed, and hard to hear. Fortunately, speakerphone sounded a little better to him. He encountered some strange feedback and distortion, plus a slight echo, but overall heard me just fine.

Final thoughts
Taken as a whole, the Nokia Lumia 1320 is a sturdy, nice-looking supersize smartphone that does a good job for the price. Its camera resolution is perhaps its weakest point, but this LTE smartphone takes snaps from its main camera well enough to use and enjoy. While I would recommend it for the Windows Phone fan looking for a more affordable ultralarge phone, I'd also urge buyers to check out the Samsung Galaxy Mega and ZTE Iconic/Boost Max, both Android smartphones.

ZTE's phablet is especially compelling because of its 8-megapixel rear camera and $300 price tag, on the US' Boost Mobile at least. A slightly smaller phone, the Max has a screen resolution that might make some images look a bit sharper. Samsung's Galaxy Mega has an even lower resolution and costs $100 more than the 1320, but its Android version is also much more up-to-date than ZTE's 4.1 OS.

What you'll pay

Pricing is currently unavailable.

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Where to Buy

Nokia Lumia 1320

Part Number: 1320 Released: Dec 27, 2013

MSRP: $339.00

See manufacturer website for availability.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Dec 27, 2013
  • Weight 7.76 oz
  • Diagonal Size 6 in
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