Nokia Lumia 1320 Australian Review: Budget Goes Big

When the Lumia 1320 was announced at Nokia World, we were left scratching our heads. On one hand, there was the premium Lumia 1520 and on the other was the confusing Lumia 1320. What was this lower-end phone for and would it be any good? Turns out it’s great, but that all depends on how you look at it.

What Is It?

The Lumia 1320 is a mid-market phone with a planet-sized screen (provided you have a 6-inch planet handy). It comfortably fits the definition of a phablet (eugh), in line with the size of a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 or a Sony Xperia Z Ultra.

Instead of thinking of the Lumia 1320 as a budget Lumia 1520 which has a superior processor, Pureview camera and 1080p screen, you instead need to think of it as a super-sized Lumia 625: a big phone on a smaller budget.

The Lumia 625 is packing a 4.7-inch (800x480) screen 1.2GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 Pro backed by just 512MB of RAM, 8GB of storage plus a microSD card, a rear 5MP snapper with Nokia’s Smart Camera, a VGA front-facing chat cam, plus your usual Bluetooth 4.0 LE, Wi-Fi, GPS and even LTE (but no NFC).

With the Lumia 1320, you’re getting a giant 6-inch (1280x720) screen, a faster, 1.7GHz Snapdragon S4 dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM, the same storage and expandable option and the same camera and connectivity options.

All that extra power and screen real estate won’t break the bank either, coming in at $449 from major retailers. You can also pick it up on contract from Telstra, Vodafone and Harvey Norman. That’s only an extra $100 on the Lumia 625, and it’s more broadly available.

What’s Good?

You get a whole lot of good gear included with the Lumia 1320. It’s a mid-market phone with a massive screen and all the benefits of a higher-end device.

Windows Phone 8 GDR 3 with Lumia Black is the pre-loaded operating system, which means you get all the benefits that some higher-end devices are still waiting for right out of the box. The Nokia Storyteller app is included as well as updates to the Here navigation apps and other Lumia-exclusive apps like Nokia Camera.

You also get a full-suite of Microsoft Office applications which you can practically use thanks to the larger screen real estate.

The screen is only a 720p panel compared to the 1080p panel on the Lumia 1520, but unless you’re a serious resolution junkie, this won’t bother you. It’s as handsome and bright as ever.

As a result of the smaller screen and lower specs, the battery draw on the massive 3400mAh cell is smaller than you’d think. We’ve managed to get almost 2.5 days of heavy use out of the phone before charging it.

It has a removable, replacable cover which comes in orange, yellow, black and white similar to the Lumia 625, but the battery is integrated so you can’t switch out the cell when you run low on juice.

It’s also great to see microSD compatibility make its way to new Lumia devices. It has been a notable omission in previous models, especially the Lumia 1020.

Overall, it’s the perfect mid-market phone, but that low price does produce limitations.

What’s Bad?

When you hold the Lumia 1320, one thing is clear: this isn’t the premium offering we’re used to seeing from phones with big screens. The low-budget aspects of this device are very apparent.

When we went hands-on with the Lumia 625 we were incredibly impressed. It was a high-end phone at a mid-market price point. When we went hands-on with the Lumia 1320, the build quality feels cheap and average.

The camera is only a 5-megapixel shooter, meaning that all photos taken on the device look decidedly average on the larger screen. It’s certainly not a PureView product.

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Not the worst photos in the world, but certainly not something you'd want to flash around.

It’s actually really disappointing to see Nokia move away from its camera-centric knitting with this phone. We hope it doesn’t become a trend on the mid-level range in future.

The Lumia 1320 is also weirdly heavy for an all-plastic product with relatively few high-end specifications.

Should You Buy It?

We’ve said before that the Lumia range is a little confusing, and I’d still stick to that given the fact that we initially thought the 1320 was a lower end 1520, rather than a higher end 625.

If you need a big screen for a small price, however, the Lumia 1320 is the phone for you.

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