Nokia Lumia 1320 full review

Lumia 1320 review

Lumia 1320 review: What it is - Windows Phone

Time was when Nokia's Windows Phone 8 devices were the oddballs of the mobile world. iPhone was the best, Android was for those that couldn't afford the best, BlackBerry was for boring business. Whither WP8? See What's the best phone you can buy in 2014?

We live in a much more nuanced world today. As BlackBerry fades from view, the best Androids can challenge iPhone in every respect. Phones come in all shapes and sizes, and at all price points. And – if Nokia and Microsoft are to be believed – Nokia has around 10 percent of the UK smartphone market. See also Windows 8.1 review.

Before you turn up your nose at that stat it is worth remembering that only Samsung and Apple can afford to do so, and most Android handset makers would kill for such market share. Slowly and imperceptibly Nokia and Windows Phone has staked itself a claim. So why would you buy a Windows Phone?

Read: How to download Windows Phone 8.1

Windows Phone is similar to iPhone in the sense that it offers a locked-down, curated and secure experience without the variance of quality you will find in the Android world. If you buy a Nokia Windows Phone, you are guaranteed a certain high level of quality and experience.

Nokia has also skilfully built a portfolio of phones that range in price from around £100 on the street up to £500, and from 4in to 6in display and beyond. This, coupled with the variety of colours in which Nokia Lumia phones can be purchased, offers a semblance of variety. There is now a Lumia at the right price and size for every smartphone user.

Windows Phone lacks the app and media support you will find in both the Android and iOS worlds, but these days most major brands are supported, and in addition Nokia has its own set of media apps and an app store that is well worth your patronage. And like the declining BlackBerry, Windows Phone offers server side support and security for business.

In short, Windows Phones from Nokia now offer a genuine alternative to iPhones and Androids, especially if you are new to smartphones and so not already wedded to one or the other of the bigger platforms.

Into that mix comes the Lumia 1320. It is at the top of the size scale, with a 6in display similar in screen acreage to the top-of-the-line Nokia Lumia 1520. But it is significantly cheaper, at a mid-range £238 if you buy online SIM-free at the time of writing; or £13 a month on contract. As such it is a big phone aimed at the new smartphone user. Offering a full feature set, but second-tier specification. See also Best Windows Phones: What's the best Windows Phone you can buy?

Lumia 1320 review: Build and design

You know what you are getting with a Lumia phone. Nokia has blessed all of this family with a uniform robust build. They aren't as stylish to look at as an iPhone or the HTC One, but they are solid and built to last. The Lumia 1320 certainly doesn't buck this trend.

It is a chunky phone, the front of which is principally made up of the glass screen. This is solid and scratch resistant. At 9.8 mm at its thinnest point, and 220 g on the scales, the Lumia 1320 is not the smallest or sleekest handset around, but for this size of screen, and at this price, it is well-designed and -built.

Around the sides you'll find on/off switch, volume controls and the dedicated camera button. At the top is a 3.5 mm jack, and at the bottom is the Micro-USB port.

The back of the Lumia 1320 is a curved plastic affair, with camera aperture at the top and speaker at the bottom, the uniform colour broken only by a discreet 'Nokia' logo. As with all of the Lumia family you can remove the back cover, in this case allowing you to swap out the battery, change the SIM and add in expandable storage.

Our Lumia 1320 was all black, but you can swap the cover for the more colourful options more typically found on Lumia phones. You either love or hate the stylings of Nokia. These phones tend towards the 'notice-me' cartoonish look that feels younger and fresher, but less 'cool' than do more mainstream Androids and iPhones. Whether you like this look is a question of taste, but you have to give Nokia credit for doing something different. See also: Android vs Windows Phones.

Lumia 1320 review

Lumia 1320 review: Interface and screen

The Lumia 1320 boasts a huge, 6in display. Unlike high-end smartphones this is 'only' a 720p screen, 1280 x 720-pixel to be precise. Compare that with more expensive but similarly sized Lumia 1520 and you start to see where cost savings have been made. The Lumia 1520 has a pixel density of 367 ppi, where this Lumia 1320 tops out at 245 ppi.

These days that's the sharpness of a decent tablet, and it can't compete with the super-sharp displays of top-of-the-range handsets such as the HTC One M8 (441 ppi) or the bargain Nexus 5 (445 ppi). Drop down to the budget Moto G handset and you'll still find a superior pixel density of 326 ppi.

But those are just numbers. And with the exception of the Lumia 1520 those displays are smaller than that of the Lumia 1320. In fact, because of bold colours and solid-looking tiles of Windows Phone 8 the Lumia 1320's display is fit for purpose. If you haven't used Windows Phone before you will be in for a surprise. But its cascading live tiles present information in a smart and intuitive way, and the Lumia 1320's screen does a decent job of showing them off.

It is a 6in IPS display. Colours are crisp and bright. Viewing angles are good. The only real down sides to that lack of true HD are apparent when viewing text documents, in which smaller letters start to look a little furry. This is a shame as the size of display and Windows Phone's Office credentials make the 1320 a good potential office workhorse.

View images and movies and it is obvious that the Lumia 1320 isn't up there with the best displays you can find in the smartphone world, but it is certainly not bad. As with the Lumia 1320's price, the display isn't at the top of the market, but it does the job and represents value for money.

Lumia 1320 review Lumia 1320 review: Calling people

Guess what? This smartphone is, well, a phone. And you'll enjoy using the Lumia 1320 as such. Windows Phone's phone app is a big bold phone icon on the home screen. Tap it and you can make a call by hitting one of your recent calls, bringing up the keypad or calling a contact.

The Contacts app in Windows Phone 8 is called People. Contacts stored on your SIM will appear here. Sign in with a webmail account and your contacts should be imported from there too (although our Gmail contacts were conspicous by their absence). People will also pull in contacts from Facebook and Twitter, and generally does a good job of matching them up.

Contacts integrate well with the phone app. And in our tests over the Three network in central London calls sounded clear at both ends.

We've gone beyond the point in which using a massive phone feels silly. Frankly, if people are willing to walk around apparently speaking to themselves using hands-free kits then we reserve the right to hold up a big slab to our right ear. The Lumia 1320 is a good phone to use as a phone. See also: How to add a number to a contact list on Windows Phone 8: add number to contact list on Nokia.

Lumia 1320 review: Messaging and email

It's also a good messaging device. The Mail app places all of your emails from multiple accounts including Gmail, Yahoo!, into one single app. If you have an email account, you'll be able to set it up. If it is a webmail account such as the ones mentioned above, it will simply be a case of putting in your email address and password.

We synched up our Gmail account, and then popped in the details for our work 'PCAdvisor' email. The latter is more complex, requiring knowledge of the IMAP server. But that is standard, and the complexity is on the side of my employer rather than Windows Phone 8.

By default your mail appears in separate folders for each account. But a simple setting called 'link inboxes' allows you to see all your mail in one display.

Messages are handily grouped in conversations, as in Gmail. If you've never experienced this it may sound odd, but once you have seen email grouped in this way you'll never want to go back. It's not a problem if you do, just change the settings!

HTML email comes through as intended, attachments are viewable in the email body and can be saved to the phone proper. The Windows Phone 8 Mail app is as solid as that of any competitor, and the Lumia 1320 is a decent emailer – small onscreen keyboard notwithstanding.

The Messaging app defaults to showing SMS and MMS messages via your cellular character. If you use IM (or want to use IM) you can set up an account that displays messages in here. This will of course save you money by sending text messages over your Wi-Fi connection rather than using up paid-for texts.

Sending a message is simple – just hit the plus symbol at the bottom of the page. The microphone symbol allows you to add a voice message, the paperclip to add a file or take a photo. It's pretty simple to use.

If you use another messaging client you will have mixed fortunes with the Lumia 1320. There is now a good Skype app, as well as WhatsApp and Viber.

Lumia 1320 review: Web browser

As a Windows Phone the Lumia 1320 uses Microsoft Internet Explorer. This is arguably the best of the native Windows mobile web browsers, which is just as well given that outside of the major apps, the Windows App store remains a little bare compared to Android or iOS.

Internet Explorer 10 has all the features you would expect in a mobile web browser: tabs, favourites and built-in webpage sharing are present and correct. Setting Favourites and using and erasing your web history is straightforward too.

Bing is the default search engine, but don't let that put you off. It works well these days. And we found surfing the web a fast and rich experience on the Lumia 1320. Of course the principal determiner of speed is the web connection, but IE10 has plenty of tricks that help make the web-browsing experience close to that of a desktop web browser.

A Sunspider Javascript benchmark of 690 ms was impressively quick. And in line with our browsing experience.

It's an HTML5-compatible browser, and IE10 supports web app essentials such as the Application Cache API for creating offline apps and IndexedDB for storing data. There's also support for Web Workers, WebSockets and several of the new HTML5 form elements. This means that web developers can recreate the desktop and app experiences on mobile websites.

IE10 on mobile has all the new CSS features found in the Windows 8 version as well, including CSS layout features such as CSS Regions and Grid layout.

If web browsing on the move is your thing, you could do a lot worse than the Lumia 1320. It's certainly no let down at this price.

Lumia 1320 review: Main camera

The camera, alas, is. If only because we have grown accustomed to Nokia Lumia handsets coming with exceptionally good cameras, we're sorry to report that the Lumia 1320 has only a bog-standard 5 Mp camera with none of the high-end 'PureView' features more readily associated with Nokia snappers.

It's not that it is bad – just unspectacular. There's a dedicated camera shutter key that acts as a shortcut to the camera, so you won't miss that all important shot.

Images shot with the Lumia 1320 are solid rather than spectacular, but they are by no means terrible. Framing and focusing shots is simple, and general detail levels are good. We occasionally found some images flat and washed out, however.

By default you use Microsoft's standard Windows Phone camera app rather than the superior Nokia Camera interface. You can tweak basic settings such as ISO, white balance, and exposure value, but don't look for high-end tweaking features. To be fair, they really aren't necessary with this level of hardware.

You get what you pay for here. The Lumia 1320 offers a good enough camera, but it is not the snapper for hobbyist photographers.

A secondary camera around the front captures 640 x 480-pixel images, and offers video recording, still image capture and video calling.

Lumia 1320 review: Main camera Test image 1

Lumia 1320 review: Main camera Test image 2

Also see: Best phone camera: smartphone camera photos and videos tested.

Lumia 1320 review: Video

The Nokia Lumia 1320 can capture 1080p video at 30 fps. It's a more-than-decent smartphone video camera. Audio and visual capture is good, and we found the levels of shake decently low for a phone at this price.  Just don't expect high-end features such as slow-motion capture.

Lumia 1320 review: Performance

A look at the spec-sheet might lead you to think that the Lumia 1320 is a slow dog of a phone. It runs a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 at 1.7 GHz, which looks decidedly mid-range against quad-core competition. This is paired with 1 GB memory.

In fact the mid-range Nokia runs Windows Phone 8 in a fast and responsive manner – as do all Windows Phone 8 handsets we've tested. We experienced no lag when using the Lumia 1320, and this despite the flashy transitions with which Windows Phone 8 is filled. Apps launched quickly, too.

Lumia 1320 review: Storage

One area in which the Lumia 1320 must do better is storage. It comes with just 8 GB of onboard storage, and by the time we got hold of our new Lumia 1320 we had only 4.54 GB to play with. That's not going to go far when you start shooting video or even just storing and playing music.

You'll need expandable storage and the Lumia 1320 provides, with an SD card slot that allows for up to 64 GB of additional space. Invest in a large SD card if you want to use this phone.

Lumia 1320 review: Battery life

Here the Lumia 1320 shines. It shares with its big brother 1520 a 12.9 Wh lithium battery. This combined with the relatively low-grade chip and comparatively low-res display probably helped the Nokia Lumia 1320 to show decent battery life. There are some benefits to a lower spec.

We found that we could get two full days of general use out of the Lumia 1320, without having to charge. And that is without engaging power-saving mode. This is a great and unusual result, and clear reason to consider a Lumia 1320.

Lumia 1320 review: Connectivity

The Lumia 1320 takes a Micro SIM, and connects and charges via Micro-USB (USB 2.0). You can expand storage via an SD card. For your headphones there is a 3.5 mm audio connector and Bluetooth 4.0. Wireless internet is taken care of with 802.11 b/g/n connectivity. And then we get to data. Nokia quotes LTE network bands: 3, 7, 20 and GSM network: 850 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 1900 MHz. The Lumia 1320 can also connect via WCDMA network at 850 MHz, 900 MHz, 2100 MHz.


Nokia Lumia 1320: Specs

  • 6in (1280 x 720) multitouch display, TrueColor (24-bit/16 M colours), 16:9, 245 ppi, ClearBlack, IPS LCD
  • 1.7 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 (dual-core ARM)
  • 1 GB RAM
  • 8 GB onboard flash storage, microSDXC card slot
  • Windows Phone 8
  • ambient light sensor, accelerometer, proximity sensor, magnetometer
  • micro-SIM
  • Micro-USB (USB 2.0)
  • 3.5 mm audio connector
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • 802.11 b/g/n
  • 5 Mp main camera with 1080p video capture, front-facing webcam
  • 12.9 Wh (3.8 V/3400 mAh) fixed lithium-ion battery
  • 164 x 86 x 9.8 mm
  • 220 g