Daytime pictures contain about as much detail as you'd expect from a 5-megapixel camera, which is to say that most objects become fuzzy as soon as you start zooming in on them. The white balance, meanwhile, is generally colder than we would've liked, and the colors are often slightly off, too. Low-light shots (taken using auto mode, since we got better results this way) are a mixed bag; thanks to the camera's f/2.4 aperture (same as the Lumia 1520), we were able to see a lot of stuff we normally wouldn't be able to catch, but we got a lot more noise by doing so.
Video capture is actually the most impressive aspect of the imaging experience on the 1320. By default, it records in 1080p at 30 frames per second by default (the Nokia Camera app lets you choose 24 or 25 fps as well) and records at an average bit rate of 20 Mbps, which is much better than we'd expect from a phone of its caliber. We had no problem capturing smooth motion; its continuous-focus feature worked incredibly well; audio was clear; and mics admirably picked up the voices of our subjects without snagging a lot of wind in the process.
Performance and battery life
There's certainly nothing wrong with a dual-core 1.7GHz Snapdragon 400 chipset in a device like this. Windows Phone 8 has a reputation for being smooth, efficient and fast on lower-end devices, which, in part, explains why Nokia has been so successful selling products like the Lumia 520 and 620 at extremely low prices. As it stands, a chip like the one in the 1320 is still a solid performer for midrange smartphones, let alone more expensive ones -- at least for the majority of tasks, anyway. If you take a look at the benchmark table below, you'll notice that the performance of the 1320 actually rests right in between that of the 1020 and the 1520. We were perfectly happy with the 1020, so this is definitely a good sign.
In general, the phone ran as well as we'd expect it to, given the Snapdragon 400, but there was one bug that reared its ugly head on occasion. There were a few times in which we unlocked the phone and found that half of the screen was completely black, and the section that did show up was completely fragmented and had distorted coloration. Usually this issue went away once we turned the screen off and turned it back on again, but it also happened a few times when playing games like Temple Run 2.
||Nokia Lumia 1320
||Nokia Lumia 1520
||Nokia Lumia 1020
|SunSpider 1.0.2 (ms)
|AnTuTu (*GPU test off)
|SunSpider: lower scores are better.
The Lumia 1320 features a 3,400mAh battery, which is the same size as what the 1520 offers. You may recall that our experience with the 1520 battery wasn't as good as we had hoped, but thanks to a lower-res display, two fewer cores to power the device and the use of other low-end components on the 1320, we really weren't as concerned with its performance. Fortunately, our expectations were met: After 12 hours of solid use (which included conference calls, emails, social networking, navigating a route on Nokia Here for 45 minutes and taking a handful of pictures and video) we discovered that we still had 35 percent battery life remaining. In other words, the 1320 will easily get you through a full workday as well as any social activities you might have in the evening. Interestingly, our standard battery rundown test gives the same results as the 1520, but real-life use was more impressive.
Call quality is passable, but not great. Our calls yielded a lot more static than most devices we've reviewed recently, and the other voice often came through slightly muffled. We noticed the same results when using the speakerphone as well. At least we could hear the other caller fairly well, but we still weren't able to enjoy a crystal-clear conversation.
Since its only kin is the flagship Lumia 1520, a 6-inch Windows Phone for the budget-minded buyer actually makes the 1320 a one-of-a-kind device. Of course, that doesn't mean that you only have one option. Let's take a look at a few other handsets that are similar in price and size.
There's a handful of large-screened Android phones geared toward those who don't want to spend a lot of money. BLU Products, a lesser-known name that focuses on producing lower-end Android devices, offers the 5.7-inch Life View for $300; Samsung features the 6.3-inch Galaxy Mega for $480 without a contract (subsidized price varies depending on carrier); and the Huawei Ascend Mate is a 6.1-inch option for just over $450 (its sequel has yet to be priced). There are a few other Android options out there, but we've still yet to find any that rival the pricing of the Lumia 1320 and still offer comparable performance. (However, keep an eye out for the ASUS Zenfone 6, which was announced at CES this month and will cost $200 when it launches.)
Outside of its 6-inch size, battery life and $340 asking price, nothing about the Nokia Lumia 1320 really stands out. Problem is, even though it's significantly cheaper than most large-screened phones out there, it's still in a no man's land where it's not quite affordable enough for emerging markets -- the Lumia 520 and 620 series are a much better deal, if you can stand the smaller screens. At the same time, it's not premium enough to compete against flagships, not even Nokia's own Lumia 1520.
In other words, the Lumia 1320 is very much a niche product. It will have a limited amount of appeal, catering to those who desire a large screen and/or long battery life and are willing to pay more than a normal low-end device to get it. Beyond that, there isn't anything that tempts us: It's a bit too heavy for our liking; there are still some wrinkles in performance that need to be ironed out; and you'll want to get a microSD card to ensure you have enough storage space for everything. Without any standout features, the Lumia 1320 is about as mediocre a smartphone as you can get -- and just about as forgettable, too.
Daniel Orren and Edgar Alvarez contributed to this review.