Nokia Lumia 1320 review

Slick, sizeable and super-affordable, is the Nokia Lumia 1320 the phablet for you?

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Fast performance

  • +

    Great battery life

  • +

    Snappy design

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Camera below Nokia excellence

  • -

    Average screen

  • -

    Too big for some

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This is Nokia's second big-screened phone, but this is its budget version. Is it worth your cash? Read our Nokia Lumia 1320 review to find out

Smartphones with big, big screens are phone-tablet hybrids (or phablets, if we really must). They are useful if you want a phone with a screen big enough to watch video, or don't want to buy a separate tablet.

The Samsung Galaxy Note kicked off the category. That's now in its third generation and proving increasingly popular. Mind you, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 only has a 5.7-inch display. There are phablets with bigger screens, like this one at 6 inches.

Nokia Lumia 1320: Size and build

Pick it up and the first thing you notice is the size. It's very slightly bigger in every direction than the company's premium phablet, the Nokia Lumia 1520. There's not much in it, and it's hardly surprising that a cheaper phone is a bit chunkier, but this is not a small phone and tiddlier digits may well struggle.

It measures 164.2 x 85.9 x 9.8 mm and weighs 220g, which is 11g heavier than the pricier 1520. More significantly, it's over 50g heavier than the Samsung Galaxy Note 3.

It's not that this is a surprise - one glance at the phone and you wouldn't expect something this big to be feather-light - but it's worth checking it out in your hand before you buy.

The phone feels good in the hand, if your mitts are big enough, though the removable back is evident: you can feel the edge between back and screen where other Nokias like the Lumia 1520 and Nokia Lumia 1020 are smooth enough to roll through your hands satisfyingly.

As always with Nokia, there are colour choices: white, black, yellow and red. All look good, though the matte black is the least eye catching, which may be a good or bad thing. Your call.

Nokia Lumia 1320: Features

Windows Phone 8 looks particularly good on a display this size. Where Android phones mostly enlarge widgets so they look more impressive, Windows takes a different route by adding an extra row of widgets. Since Windows Phone lets you resize these, it means you can have between two and six live tiles in a row, so the home screen ribbon can be very lively.

Nokia specialities are in evidence as usual, including the excellent Here Maps. You can download maps in advance, for free. Then, when you're abroad you can use the app with no recourse to those blindingly expensive data roaming costs that other map apps need.

Nokia Mix Radio is a free music program that streams mixes to your phone. You can pick a particular playlist (choose from Most played rock, Indie folk, 90s indie and more), but not individual songs. Still, if there's a track you don't care for you can skip to the next, though you only have six skips an hour.

You can even download a mix to your phone for use when you're not connected to the internet. It's a simple and effective app which, though it doesn't compete with the likes of Spotify, has an unbeatable price tag.

And there's a feature that has been incorporated from Nokia's Asha phones, where you double-tap the phone to illuminate the lock screen. Not to mention display brightness settings, which can be adjusted to improve readability in brightly lit situations including direct sunlight - where many smartphone screens are illegible.

More impressively, since this is an affordable handset, it includes Nokia's sensitive screen speciality, which allows you to use the touchscreen even with gloves on.

Nokia Lumia 1320: Display

The Nokia Lumia 1320's display is bright and colourful, though it's no match for the highest-resolution displays found elsewhere. The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 manages 386 pixels per inch (ppi) while Nokia's own Lumia 1520, the pricier six-inch phablet in the range, manages 367ppi.

Both of these are way more than the Apple iPhone 5s with its Retina display. But this screen is much lower - just 245ppi. It's not that it looks blocky or low-rent at all, but compare it to the Nokia Lumia 1520 and the difference is noticeable. Where the Nokia Lumia 1320 is sharp and lively, the higher-priced model is visibly richer and more pristine. With nothing to compare it to, though, this display is more than fine.

Nokia Lumia 1320: Camera

It's hard to beat a Nokia camera. True, there are good snappers on other handsets, like the 8MP iPhone 5s model, which is sublimely easy to use and delivers outstanding results. But Nokia has arguably the best cameraphone on the market, the Lumia 1020 with its 41MP sensor. The Nokia Lumia 1520 has a great 20MP model.

Here, things are less impressive, with a sensor of just 5MP with LED flash. But it's not bad - Nokia's knowhow makes the best of the average resolution. And there are the usual Nokia extras such as Creative Studio and Cinemagraph, which add neat features to blur the background, switch to black and white, but for one colour, or mix still and moving images in one.

The camera is very responsive, with shutter lag almost non-existent in moderate lighting situations. Video recording is at full 1080p resolution - better than might be expected at this price point.

Nokia Lumia 1320: Performance

The camera's performance is found in the rest of the handset's operations. It's fast and effective, and in most usage there's little slowdown or sluggishness. The built-in storage isn't huge, just 8GB, but there's room for more thanks to a microSD card slot that can add up to another 64GB.

The processor is a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 model, which is a dual-core 1.7GHz chip. That's not as fast as some, but is more than adequate and Windows Phone spins along quickly. It's very responsive. Unlike some budget phones, this one hasn't skimped on connectivity - it's even a 4G handset.

Nokia Lumia 1320: Battery

The good thing about a big phone, if your mitts can handle it, is there's room for a big battery. As such, it lasts a long time, easily gliding through a full day with plenty of juice left.

Daily recharges are, as usual, recommended, not least because they're easier to remember, but this battery goes on and on. Nokia claims standby of 672 hours, but in our tests it ran dry before that. Even so, it has impressive battery life.

Nokia Lumia 1320: Verdict

If you like a big phone, but don't want to spend too much money, this is a highly attractive handset. Screen resolution is not tip top, but more than adequate and the Nokia benefits of easy readability in bright sunshine or being usable through gloves means the phone is good to use in summer and winter.

Nokia's usual app extras that handle mapping and music are as impressive as ever, and the camera effects are neat and enjoyable. The camera may only be 5MP resolution, but it takes good photos. The Windows Phone app store is still much weaker than Apple and Android rivals, but it's catching up fast in terms of key titles. Still, if you have a particular favourite it's worth checking if it or something similar is available.

This is a hefty handset, sure, but it's more attractive than its price would suggest and more than capable at all the tasks it takes on. Windows Phone continues to grow more effective and Nokia's take on the operating system remains outstanding. The Nokia Lumia 1320 offers strong performance, lots of features and 4G connectivity at a great price.

Nokia Lumia 1320 release date: Out now

Nokia Lumia 1320 price: £200 sim-free