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A big-screen Windows Phone for less

Packing a massive 6-inch display and signature Nokia styling, the $339 Lumia 1320 is a Windows Phone steal.

Brian Bennett Former Senior writer
Brian Bennett is a former senior writer for the home and outdoor section at CNET.
Brian Bennett
4 min read

Nokia's Lumia 1320 proves you don't need to splurge to get your hands on an impressive Windows Phone 8 handset with a massive screen. Costing an agreeable $339 (unsubsidized), the 1320 still manages to pack a sizable 6-inch HD display, and nimble dual-core processing.

Additionally, the Lumia 1320 is part of Nokia's trio of fresh mobile devices, the other two being the oversize Lumia 1520 smartphone and Lumia 2520 tablet, all of which run new Microsoft software. In the 1320's case it's the Windows Phone 8 Update 3 operating system.

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The Lumia 1320 and Lumia 1520 represent Nokia's first forays into true phablet country. Samsung invented the category with its Galaxy Note franchise, the Note 3 being the most recent iteration. HTC followed suit with its HTC One Max, a scaled-up version of the HTC One.

I was able to sit down with Nokia execs prior to the company's recent press event in Abu Dhabi to check out all three gadgets. In my mind, overall, the Lumia 1320 represents the best deal of the bunch even if its dialed-down specs can't match the quad-core prowess of its pricier siblings.

Available in the candy colors that Nokia is so fond of, the Lumia 1320 comes in bright orange and yellow models that are sure to get you noticed. Of course, you can also opt for more conservative black or white if you'd rather not stand out from the crowd.

Despite its low cost of entry, the 1320's chassis is sculpted from premium polycarbonates too and has a matte finish that I prefer over the red Lumia 1520's glossier skin (the other colors are also matte). Flatter and thinner than the Lumia 1520, the oval-shaped 1320 seems like it will be easier to cram into tight pockets as well.

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With a screen that spans a vast 6 inches across, the Lumia 1320 has a lot of display room to play with. That said, to meet the 1320's low price, Nokia had to make some sacrifices and screen resolution is one such area. The Lumia 1320 uses a lower 720p HD-resolution LCD as opposed to the full HD (1080p) panel you'll find in the Lumia 1520.

Of course I can't vouch for how much of a difference there is between the two handsets' displays until I see them both side by side. Even so, if the Lumia 1320 offers anything like the visual experience of the Lumia 1520, it's sure to provide one seriously impressive view whether you're watching movies, reading Web sites, or flipping through e-books.

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Core components
Another spot where Nokia looked to cut costs is in the Lumia 1320's primary components. Unlike the Lumia 1520 and Lumia 2520, both of which use quad-core Snapdragon 800 processors, the Lumia 1320 is powered by less muscular dual-core Snapdragon chip.

The 1320 also has a cramped 8GB of internal storage compared with the 1520's roomy 32GB allotment. To add more space to the Lumia 1320, however, the phone does provide a microSD card slot.

Software and interface
The Nokia Lumia 1320 runs Microsoft's latest version of mobile software, Windows Phone 8 Update 3. Understandably, the 1320 doesn't harness Update 3's new native support for quad-core processors. What the handset does benefit from is the WP8's recent move to a three-Live Tile format. It may not sound like a massive shift, but having three rows of square widget-like icons on the Start screen (Microsoft's term for Home) and not just two, means more ways to take advantage of the 1320's massive display.

Just like the Lumia 1520, the Lumia 1320 is closely integrated into Microsoft's ecosystem of Office productivity software and services. Through the device, users will enjoy full access to Excel, PowerPoint, and Word docs either stored locally or living on corporate networks. For a deep dive into all of Windows Phone 8's capabilities be sure to read our full review.

New to all three fresh Lumia devices is an optimized version of the Flipboard news reader application. In fact, the Lumia 1520 and 1320 are the first WP8 products to feature the popular news aggregator.

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As far as its camera goes, the Nokia Lumia 1320 isn't in the same league as its premium Lumia brethren. Equipped with a 5-megapixel image sensor, the 1320's camera is a far cry from the Lumia 1020's sharp 41-megapixel eye. It even pales next to the 20MP imaging system gracing the Lumia 1520.

As a Lumia device though, the 1320 does offer a similar camera experience to Nokia's fancier phone shooters. For instance, the Nokia Pro Cam app lets you tweak settings for flash, exposure, ISO, and focus via sliding menus arranged in a distinctive ring layout.

The phone also comes with the new Refocus lens app that enables Lytro-style depth-of-field tricks.

Creating a capable yet affordable smartphone that comes bearing a vibrant 6-inch screen is no mean feat. Nokia has certainly pulled it off in the $339 Lumia 1320. More importantly, the 1320 runs essentially an identical Windows Phone 8 Update 3 OS to the $740 Lumia 1520 handset. Sure, it may not stroll with the same quad-core Snapdragon 800 CPU swagger, but I'd argue WP8 doesn't really need this level of horsepower -- at least not yet. I do admit getting a screen with half the pixel density, not to mention a low-res camera sensor, certainly stings. Still, if all you want is the productivity power of Windows Phone 8 splayed across a gigantic display, the Lumia 1320's rock-bottom price looks like a sweetheart of a deal.