Big phones don't have to be expensive. Nokia's Lumia 1320 Windows 8 phone joins the ranks of midrange, affordable supersize "phablets" that have been slowly spreading into the market, both on-contract and off.
Like the 6.3-inch Samsung Galaxy Mega this 6-inch dual-core device treads the line between features and cost, delivering a polished package for only AU$449 outright (available from Telstra, Vodafone, Harvey Norman and "leading retailers").
The LTE-capable Lumia 1320 certainly doesn't have the features-kapow of the higher-end Lumia 1520, but at almost half the price, the 1320 is a good choice for someone on the hunt for a large-screen Windows smartphone experience.
Design and build
The matte Lumia 1320 is most striking in vibrant orange or yellow, but even in black or white, the size of the beast will also turn heads. Rounded corners help trim down the look, but there's no denying that all 164.2 x 85.9 x 9.8mm is going to be a lot to pocket.
The smooth, very slightly rounded backing makes for a palm-friendly handhold that can be slippery at times. Of course, the size and stretch of your hands are the main measurement of comfort here. At 220g, the Lumia 1320 is a hefty hunk of hardware, though the phone does spread its weight evenly through the length and breadth of its polycarbonate body, so it doesn't feel like an anchor in your hand or purse. While the phone was cosy enough at the ear, I found that if it didn't sit just right, my caller sounded quieter and farther away.
(Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET)
A unibody design means the 1320's battery doesn't pop out, but you can remove the back cover to access the SIM and microSD card slots buddied up beneath the surface.
As with other phones in the Lumia line, the exterior controls map out like this: the power button, volume rocker, and dedicated shutter button along the right spine, the Micro-USB charging jack on the bottom, and the headset jack along the top. Flip the phone over for the 5-megapixel camera and LED flash; a VGA camera rests above the screen.
Speaking of that 6-inch LCD display, Nokia has given its budget-friendly supersize phone a 720p HD screen rather than the high-res 1080p HD display you see on higher-end phones with 5-inch screens or above. The question is, does your eye really notice the lower resolution? The answer is that it depends.
The Windows Phone 8 OS can certainly handle itself on the 1320's 245ppi resolution; in fact, unless you've got it under a microscope, it looks just as bright and crisp as on higher-res screens. Certain games scale great as well, with Temple Run 2's graphics looking as lush as ever.
For the most part, Web sites and social-networking services also render well enough, though they aren't as crystal-clear as images on 1080p HD screens. You'll notice the biggest difference when looking at content that isn't HD-optimised, or that wasn't scaled for a larger display.
OS and features
Running the latest Windows Phone 8 build with Lumia Black, the Lumia 1320 does all the stuff you'd expect. It has the Xbox games store and Microsoft Office, the Bing music-identifier, improved multitasking, and resizeable dynamic live tiles.
Nokia's software package throws in a ton of options, including Here maps, and a whole slew of camera apps for framing and editing your photos.
Features-wise, you'll get Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, and DLNA to go with the typical Wi-Fi and GPS, plus a sensitive screen you can crank up further to use with gloves during blustery days.
Camera and video
A 5-megapixel camera doesn't sound like such a grand promise, though I found the 1320's image quality was passable and the camera steps it up to record 1080p HD video. Plus, continuous autofocus worked well.
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, colours looked strong, and the microphone adequately picked up voices within range.
(Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET)
Performance: Speed, processor, battery
We tried the 1320 on Telstra's 4G network and found no surprises — speeds around 30Mbps were the average and coverage was good across the Sydney CBD.
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 they could be on some feebler Android phones with lower-capacity chipsets. Nokia's more budget-conscious big 1320 has 1GB RAM.
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 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.
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 ultra-large phone, I'd also urge buyers to check out Android alternatives.