Hardware and display
We've seen pebble-shaped smartphones before, but the shape seems even more pronounced on a larger-screened device. The 1320 has a mostly flat back with gently curved slopes near each edge, where it finally droops down sharply and tapers inward to meet the front of the phone. On top of that, the corners are rounded, and the plastic back and sides have a completely smooth, matte finish, which means you won't have friction in your favor when you hold onto it. And in case you're already worried about the device slipping out of your hand, we'll warn you right now that the sides are rounded and quite pointy, which means it's going to be hard to establish a good grip when you want to use the phone one-handed.
Much like other smartphones this size, the 1320 is quite heavy. In this case, though, it's heavy even by large-phone standards, weighing in at 7.76 ounces (220g). This is a bit heavier than the 7.37-ounce Lumia 1520, 7.65-ounce HTC One Max and 7.02-ounce Samsung Galaxy Mega, although the difference between them is fairly subtle. It's also 164.2 x 85.9 x 9.8 mm (6.46 x 3.38 x 0.39 in.), which makes its overall size pretty typical for a 6-inch device. That is to say: It's big, but not significantly more so than other devices in the category.
In true Nokia tradition, you can get the 1320 in multiple colors. Our review unit was red (which, at first glance, actually looks more like orange), but you'll also be able to grab one in white, black and yellow. Additionally, it has a removable back cover, which means you can switch things up a bit by swapping backs.
The cover itself is pretty plain. From top to bottom, you'll see the 3.5mm headphone jack, followed by an LED flash and camera module hump, which has been raised by the slightest of hairs. In fact, you can barely even tell that it's there unless you're specifically looking for it. Below the camera is the Nokia logo and speaker grille, which is flanked by two nubs that clear enough space underneath the phone (when laying face-up) to prevent sound from getting muffled. Pry open the cover to reveal a non-removable 3,400mAh battery and slots for micro-SIM and microSD cards.
Eventually, the 1320 will be offered in three different versions: two LTE models for different parts of the globe and one 3G-only option (for emerging markets). Shoppers in the US will be happy to know Nokia has announced a model with AT&T and T-Mobile HSPA+ and LTE bands, but we're still not sure when it will actually show up or if either carrier will sell it. Our particular unit was the RM-994, which promises quad-band GSM/EDGE, tri-band (850/900/2100) DC-HSPA+ and tri-band (800/1800/2600) LTE Cat 3. As for other connectivity options, you also get WiFi 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0+LE and GPS/GLONASS support.
One of the 1320's biggest shortcomings is its lack of internal storage, which is limited to 8GB. The platform itself takes up around 2GB, which doesn't leave you with much to use. In fact, we already found ourselves running out of available space after downloading just a few games and apps. If you choose to buy the 1320, do not get one without a microSD card to go along with it -- we have a strong feeling you're going to need it, even if you don't think you use that much space.
The 720p ClearBlack LCD screen manages to excel in mediocrity, which is actually not as bad as it sounds -- considering this is a budget device, it makes sense that the display isn't exactly a stunner. In fact, given its price point and intended market, we find ourselves with little to complain about. If you want to get really technical, the blacks are more like a really dark gray; the text is a tad fuzzy; and the colors are just slightly inaccurate. On the positive side, the whites are brighter than the 1520's display when we compare them side by side. Overall, the display is hardly a dealbreaker, and it feels appropriate for a less-expensive device like this.
There isn't much to discuss in terms of the Lumia 1320's software. It offers the latest update to Windows Phone 8, which Nokia bundles in with its own suite of new features and is calling "Black." This is the same firmware on the Lumia 1520, which we've already discussed in detail. In addition to the standard features that come with the platform's third update -- such as screen-rotation lock, custom ringtones for specific types of notifications and the ability to close running apps in the app switcher more easily -- it also introduces Bluetooth 4.0 LE support, a new and improved Glance screen with Night Mode and better battery monitoring. Most importantly, it lets the 1320 even exist, since this most recent update adds support for larger screens by throwing in an extra column of Live Tiles.
Other than that, the benefit of using Windows Phone on such a big screen is still up for debate. You'll have a great experience using the Start menu, now that almost all of your most important content can actually fit above the fold; the keyboard's also larger and more spacious, which improves your typing experience. Beyond that, however, we're hard-pressed to find any extra value in a 6-inch screen. The app switcher and application list are two primary examples of areas on the phone that just don't take advantage of the extra space, and therefore it just makes the screen feel almost too large.
As with any other Nokia device, you'll want to prepare yourself for a long list of pre-loaded apps. This includes Zinio, Nokia Beamer, Cinemagraph, Creative Studio, Here Maps, Here Drive, App Social, Glam Me and more, but you'll want to download Storyteller and Nokia Camera since neither one is loaded on the device at first. There are several other Nokia-sponsored options available in the store for you to peruse, and given the lack of internal storage, you'll want to be picky about which apps you actually download.
As time goes by, it gets more and more difficult to complain about the lack of depth in the Windows Phone Store. Sure, fans of Google's wide range of services won't have a very enjoyable experience, but otherwise nearly all of the critical apps are now on Windows Phone in some form. Instagram, every critic's favorite litmus test for App Store awesomeness, is now available as a beta; beyond that, there are very few major apps still missing, although we'd love to see a wider variety of well-known game titles.
A 5-megapixel camera is almost obligatory on low-end devices at this point, which just goes to show how far smartphone capabilities have progressed over the last few years; this was actually a top-notch spec not that long ago. But times, they have changed, and most budget phone cameras are now at least tolerable, if not even enjoyable. Indeed, the Lumia 1320's 5-megapixel shooter is a solid image-taker, and ultimately manages to hold its own -- even if it doesn't come anywhere close to the 1020's 41MP masterpiece or the 1520's 20MP shooter.
When you first use the device, you'll notice that Nokia has chosen to use the stock Windows Phone camera UI as the default option, which means you won't be able to make many manual adjustments. As soon as you head into the Nokia-sponsored section of the Store, however, the Nokia Camera will be waiting for your download. This app is the same one that the PureView devices use, complete with the ability to tweak manual settings to your heart's content -- shutter speed, ISO, white balance, focus mode and exposure can be changed using this app. Several months after we first played with it, it's still our favorite camera app on any mobile platform; adding the Smart camera to it was a very wise move that makes the app even more appealing. It's great that Nokia offers the same app on the 1320, but does it give photographers the same amount of value as it does on the 1020 and 1520? Not really; in many cases, we were able to take better pictures when we let the algorithms do the heavy lifting for us.