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Review of Nokia Lumia Icon

Our full review of Verizon's new flagship Windows Phone

On February 20th, Nokia and Verizon are bringing the highly anticipated Lumia Icon to market. The phone has been rumored for months, even going by the previous moniker of Lumia 929. But now it is finally getting the spotlight treatment.

For all intents and purposes, the Lumia Icon is a Lumia 1520 jammed into a smaller, more nimble device. With a more practical 5-inch 1080P display, 32 GB of internal storage, Qi wireless charging and a whopping 20 MP PureView camera, all in a body that is only slightly taller than its predecessor, the Lumia 928, it’s hard to see how this phone could fail.

So, does the $199 device live up to the hype? Is this the ultimate Nokia Lumia? Read our full review for all of the details and watch our video hands on, after the break!


Going way back to September 2013, rumors of a smaller, sister device to the Lumia 1520 – which itself was still a rumor – began circulating. A few months later, the haze cleared and what remained was the Lumia 929, a grown up version of Verizon flagship phone from earlier that year. The Lumia 928 was itself an interesting phone, a device inspired by the Lumia 920 but with an OLED display and a new Xenon flash. So a follow up was highly desirable.

The leaks of the Lumia 929 continued to flow with release dates coming and going. Unfortunately, the Lumia 929, which was later renamed to the Lumia Icon, never appeared in 2013. Well, at least not by Verizon directly. The phone did make its way, albeit briefly, to a Chinese retailer. Indeed, I’ve had the device for weeks now, thoroughly enjoying the phone on Verizon’s rapidly growing LTE network here in New York.

Luckily for Verizon customers, the phone goes on preorder today and will be available next week for $199 on a two-year contract. It’s been a long wait, and many phones have been released since the Icon was first rumored. Is it too late though?

Featuring the same specs as the Lumia 1520, the Lumia Icon is much smaller and easier to handle. It has cutting edge hardware, a great 1080P display and an impressive 20 MP camera. 

The Lumia Icon is only on Verizon, with no chance of going other carriers. The design is a bit uninspired, with only black or white colors available. No Glance screen support.

Many people shied away from the Lumia 1520 due to its massive size. The Lumia Icon from Verizon fixes that, by making it only a hair taller than the Lumia 928. It's packed to the gills with cutting edge hardware, including a 2.2 GHz Quad-Core CPU, making it in many ways, the ideal Windows Phone that many have wanted.


  • Windows Phone 8 Update 3, build 10521
  • Lumia Black firmware
  • 5” full HD 1080p OLED display, ClearBlack, Sunlight readability, Glare-free, Super sensitive touch, Gorilla Glass 3
  • Pixel density: 440 ppi
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 Quad-Core processor, 2.2 GHz
  • Adreno 330 GPU
  • Camera: 20 MP PureView, ZEISS optics, OIS, 2x lossless zoom, oversampling, dual LED flash
  • 2 GB RAM
  • 32 GB internal storage (no micro SD)
  • Bluetooth 4.0 LE
  • 2420 mAh internal battery with Qi wireless charging
  • Dimensions: 5.39 x 2.79 x 0.39 in
  • Weight: 166g /5.86 oz
  • nano SIM
  • Networks: LTE: 700MHz; SVLTE Band 13; Band 4; CDMA: 3G EVDO 850/1900 Rev A with Rx Diversity; Global Ready: GSM (850MHz, 900MHz, 1800MHz, 1900MHz)  UMTS (850MHz, 900MHz, 1900MHz, 2100MHz)

Looking at those specs and you have about 90% overlap with the Lumia 1520. Where they do differ, the Lumia Icon surprisingly comes ahead in some areas, at least compared to the AT&T version of the 1520. For instance, you get that coveted Qi-wireless charging, which has become a go-to feature for many users. While there is no expandable storage, 32 GB of built in adequate for most people. Finally, that CPU is one of the latest and fastest around and it simply makes the Windows Phone OS fly.

I’ve already covered the 20 MP camera on the Lumia 1520. It’s the same here. While it’s not as powerful as the monster shooter in the Lumia 1020, it doesn’t need to be, it’s simply an awesome camera on its own.

There’s really nothing to not like about the Lumia Icon in terms of specs. It can easily go toe to toe with any high end Android on the market today and yes, it’s relatively future-proof. The Snapdragon 805 isn’t due to until the second half of this year and it’s hardly as groundbreaking as the Snapdragon 800 compared to the 600 series.

Plus, the Lumia Icon will get Windows Phone 8.1 later this year, like all current Windows Phone handsets.

Look And Feel

If there was one personal complaint about the Lumia Icon, it’s the same one I had about the Lumia 928: Verizon tends to suck away some of the creative and bold design choices by Nokia, for a more conservative approach. No yellow or red phones here, instead you get either white or black. And while the back of the Lumia Icon is ‘ergonomically curved’ to our liking, the overall design is a bit generic.

But that’s a personal, aesthetic choice. Many people in fact desire a low-profile phone and let me be clear, there’s nothing about the design that is bad in that it hurts the Lumia Icon. It’s just really nice. Not exciting, but really nice. Who am I to tell you that you need a bright yellow phone? Go all matte black or be ‘outrageous’ with white. Either way, you’re getting really good hardware.

Undeniably, the Lumia Icon is in my opinion leaps and bounds better in build quality over the Lumia 928. That device was very ‘plasticy’ and my phone, months later, has some awful creaking. Not so with the Lumia Icon. The reason? Nokia opted for a metal chassis with a polycarbonate back. It was a brilliant decision as the Icon feels much sturdier this time around. It’s cool to the touch on the sides, but the back is a welcome non-glossy design that lends itself to being cradled in your hand.

Yes, Nokia and Verizon have the familiar ‘pillow’ design that we saw with the Lumia 928, it’s just better this time around with a higher quality build.

The display is the familiar curved glass that we’ve seen on other Lumias. It feels great to use, being smooth to the touch. We’ll have more on the display below.

Moving to the sides, we have the volume rockers, power button and camera shutter on the right side with no button the left. The buttons are ceramic, with a chilly metal feel to them. They’re sturdy, easy to discern without looking, and they feel great when depressing them. No complaints.

On the top of the device you have a 3.5 mm headphone jack in the middle and on the opposite end (bottom) you have the familiar micro USB port for charging or connecting to a PC for syncing. Both are accented with grey bars, which is an interesting design choice.

On the front, you have backlit keys for Back, Start key and search keys. They look good and have fairly even lighting. Near the top front you have the earpiece and front-facing camera along with the Verizon and Nokia logos. The keys have a haptic feedback with a short, solid vibration.

The back of the Icon is clean with the 20 MP PureView ZEISS camera, dual LED flash microphones. The metal accent strip of the Lumia 928 is gone, and instead it’s just smooth polycarb on the back.

Speaking of microphones, you have four digital high-dynamic-range mics on the Icon (also known as High amplitude Audio Capture, or HAAC). It’s the same setup as the Lumia 1520 and they allow high quality stereo recording with distortion free audio, perfect for concerts or loud events.

Verizon and Nokia are pushing the Lumia Icon as a media device, perfect for movies and photos. It’s a good sell.

But is it too big?

With the Lumia 1520 review, I focused heavily on the size, since it is a rather enormous device. What about the Lumia Icon?

It’s perfect.

I have no problem recommending this phone’s size to anyone. Comparing it to the Lumia 928, it’s practically the same phone, it’s just the Lumia Icon is a smidgen taller. That’s remarkable when you consider you getting a 1/2 inch larger display that’s higher resolution, a 20 MP camera (versus 8.9 MP) and you get a bigger battery (420 mAh more with the Icon). It goes to show you how moving to the Snapdragon 800 and some newer tech can result in a more powerful phone, without sacrificing size.

And weight? The Lumia Icon is 166 grams, which is just 4 grams more than Lumia 928. That’s essentially nothing and it’s still much lighter than the Lumia 920 (185 grams). While I wouldn’t say the Icon is lite, with its metal frame and quality build, the device feels…balanced.

Using the Lumia Icon one-handed? Check. While those with small hands may struggle, I’d say that moderate sized hands will have no issue using the phone with one paw, being able to stretch across the display to tap a Tile. That’s unlike the Lumia 1520, which requires two hands often to use.

5 inches is more manageable than 6

The Lumia Icon opts for an OLED display, the same found in the Lumia 928. But the resolution is bumped to 1080 x 1920 versus 768 x 1280. Windows Phone 8 looked fine at the latter resolution, but with 1080P and a whopping 441 ppi, the OS really shines. Plus, you get that third column of Tiles, which came with Update 3.

The Icon also features Corning Gorilla Glass 3, making it slightly better than the Lumia 1520. It’s smooth, doesn’t leave many fingerprints and it has a 180 degree viewing angle. Combined with the rest of Nokia’s technology like ClearBlack (dual layer polarizer), sunlight readability (super brightness outside) and the vibrant contrast of the Windows Phone OS, the display is nearly perfect.

Sure, some people don’t care for OLED tech over an IPS display, as the former tends to saturate the colors, but Nokia has tossed in their Lumia Color Profile (in Settings) to adjust things to your liking. Make the colors cool or warm, contrasting or neutral. Your choice.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still stuck on the 1520’s 6-inch display—it’s real hard to go back. But the Lumia Icon just feels right at 5 inches. It’s more, dare I say, normal and if you’re coming from 4.5 inches, you’ll barely notice a change, in a good way.

No Glance screen support

But wait. There is one lame thing about the Icon and that is it doesn’t support the Glance screen. For those who aren’t familiar, Glance is a Nokia technology that allows static information to be displayed on the screen when in standby. It shows the time and with Update 3, can optionally show notifications as well. It’s super useful and with the Glance Background app, you can even customize it with your own images.

But yes, Glance is not available on the Lumia Icon out of the box, nor with any system app updates (e.g. Extras + Info, which did not change the situation).

Nokia says this is due to “certain hardware restrictions” and they’re not ruling it out in the future, but as of today, the Lumia Icon will remain a Glance-free device. That’s a bit of a letdown, especially for a flagship Lumia, but if you never used it, then there’s nothing to miss. But if you were looking forward to it, then…


The Lumia Icon, like all Nokia phones, handles calls admirably. While it eschews the big speaker and grill that was featured on the Lumia 928, the Lumia Icon gets a fair rating for a speakerphone. The Lumia 1520, due to its sheer size, still handily wins for best audio quality on pretty much any device I’ve used, including some Androids and iPhones. I suppose Nokia and Verizon had to sacrifice something to get the rest of that tech in there, and the rear speaker was one of those (the other was the Xenon flash).

Phone calls through the earpiece, which is how most people will use the Icon, were above average for smartphones and on par with Nokia’s other Lumias, that is excellent.

Reception was fine, with no dropped calls or issues noted during my testing.

For GPS, the Lumia Icon supports A-GPS and Glonass and they worked very well together, with no problems ascertaining my position quickly.

20 MP PureView Camera

I won’t concentrate too much on the Lumia Icon’s camera, because it’s the exact same one found in the Lumia 1520. Readers of this site know probably know I have pretty much every Lumia made and while I appreciate the Lumia 1020’s massive 41 MP camera, I more often than not find the Lumia 1520’s 20 MP camera with ZEISS optics more than adequate for my everyday needs.

The same is true with the Lumia Icon. But let me delve a little into the specs:

  • Optical Image stabilization
  • f/2.4, wide angle lens
  • Dual-capture: 5 MP oversampled + 19 MP (4:3) or 16 MP (16:9) full resolution images
  • Dual LED flash for Images and Video
  • HD 1080p Video Capture @ 30 fps Video
  • HD front facing camera with 2 MP sensor and 1.2 MP stills and 720p video.

Those are all very admirable specs for a smartphone camera in 2014. Combined with the fact that Nokia actually knows what they are doing in mobile photography and you get outstanding performance from the Icon.

Like the Lumia 1520, the color and white balance were accurate for most shots and with the quad-core processor, the normally sluggish Nokia Camera app is significantly faster than other Lumias. Having said that, some people coming from the iPhone or Android may still find the Icon a dash slower. However, as you can see by the above snow shot, the white balance struggled with the snow, a common issue with digital cameras.

You also get to shoot in RAW (DNG) optionally and get dual-capture, with HD photos at 16 MP and 5 MP photos for sharing via email or social networks. It’s a cool system, resulting in full resolution images for later editing in Photoshop, including RAW images, plus you can still post things to Instagram without a massive upload toll. It’s truly the best of both worlds.

Read our guide on shooting in RAW and how to make the most of it on your Lumia Icon.

Let’s talk about the flash. I’m not a flash user, though if I have to use it, I want it to be good. Many will lament the decision to not have a Xenon flash on the Lumia Icon, whereas the Lumia 928 famously did. Xenon flashes are, for the lack of better words, ‘real’ flashes. Where a dual LED is more akin to a torch. Because of this difference, Xenon flashes can do cool stuff like “freeze” people in motion (or even the more dramatic, freeze fan blades in rotation).

While I’m not going to argue that a dual LED flash is as good as a Xenon (it’s not), I will say the result for most instances, is quite impressive. Specifically, the Icon gets the white balance right (the Lumia 928 despite the Xenon sometimes had a yellow hue) and the shadow fill is better, with less light focus in one area.  So yes, for certain instances, Xenon is undoubtedly better, but dual LEDs have significantly improved over the years and I’m fine with it on the Icon.

Everything else, including the front facing camera, is the same as the Lumia 1520. To see this camera system up against the Lumia 1020, make sure you see our photo comparison between the two.

Battery Life

With a 2.2 GHz Quad-Core CPU and a 5-inch 1080P display, you would think that the 2420 mAh battery may not last long. That, despite the fact, that the Lumia Icon has a 400 mAh advantage over the Lumia 928. But the Snapdragon 800 is really good at managing battery life, as any Lumia 1520 owner can attest to, and the Lumia Icon is the same.

While I don’t put an exact hour usage on the Icon, suffice it to say I had no issue making it through the day with moderate usage and battery life should not be a concern.

Toss in the built in Qi wireless charging, and picking up a few re-charges during the day is easier than ever. I happen to have a few Qi chargers laying around, so it’s real easy to plop down the Icon to gain back some juice during the day. Qi is more than just expedient, it’s awesome and I’m glad it’s here on the Icon. Shame on AT&T for removing it from the Lumia 1520.

Windows Phone 8 Update 3, Lumia Black

I’ve written about Update 3 in the past and you can find our overview and comprehensive coverage below. In short, Update 3 (OS build 10521) is the latest release of the Windows Phone 8 operating system. The Icon is running on all cylinders in that regard, coming with that OS preloaded.

Update 3 brings things like support for HD displays and Quad-Core processors. It also offers better Bluetooth functionality, Driving Mode to manage calls and text messages in the car, screen orientation lock, customized alerts for email or text messages, and the ability to close apps running the background. It’s a great update, one of the finishing touches before Windows Phone 8.1, due in a few months. The Lumia Icon will surely get that update, which you can read more about from our 8.1 guide.

Likewise, the Icon comes with Nokia’s latest firmware release, dubbed Lumia Black. That includes some camera enhancements, RAW support and other under the hood fixes for their customized software.

The Verizon Nokia Lumia Icon is basically running the latest of everything from Microsoft and Nokia, as it should.


Nokia has recently teamed up with some third party manufacturers, ensuring that there will be an ample amount of cases and screen protectors for your Icon, should you choose to buy one. That’s a change from the past where ‘custom’ carrier phones like the Lumia 928 were often left without many choices.

Verizon will be stocking a handful of cases on release day for this phone, and while I’m not convinced this phone needs a case – it’s not as susceptible to slippage like the Lumia 920 or Lumia 1520 – should you desire some protecting, you should be able to have a hearty selection on day one.

Offerings from Incipio and Otterbox, to name a few, should be available at your local Verizon store.

Who’s it for?

If you have a Lumia 928 and want a new device, then getting the Lumia Icon is a natural upgrade path. In fact, assuming finances are not an issue, I’d easily recommend anyone with a Lumia 928 to grab this phone. You’re getting a much beefier processor, superior camera and a display that is both larger and higher resolution.  The best part? The thing feels like a 928 in terms of size.

If you’re coming from Android and iOS and you’re eyeing the Lumia Icon as a ‘switcher’ device, then I can also recommend it. The Windows Phone OS sits between iOS and Android for complexity, in fact I’d say it’s almost easier than the iPhone. It’s a solid device, one that you will be able to use for a relatively long period due to the current hardware on board. Basically, you’re getting what I would call a prime Windows Phone experience.

Video and photography buff? The Lumia Icon is literally being marketed to you by Verizon. This phone has a 20 MP PureView camera with ZEISS optics and some of the best optical image stabilization (OIS) around, making videos of your kids or concerts a primary selling point.

Coming in at $199 on-contract, the Lumia Icon is not exactly a steal, but it falls in line with Verizon’s flagship offerings. The fact is, nothing is cheap on Verizon.

What about new Windows Phone 8.1 devices? Good question. As I’ve said, the Lumia Icon will be able to get the 8.1 upgrade, but there’s no telling if Microsoft’s next update will take advantage of new hardware. Sure, in 8.1 on-screen keys will replace physical keys on some hardware releases (it’s up to the OEM) but besides that, it’s a question mark. I can say that Verizon is not known to churn out too many Windows Phones per year, so I don’t expect a new flagship 8.1 device till at least the end of 2014, making the Icon a safe bet for now. That is, unless you were considering changing carriers.

All in all though, I think those on AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint will be eying the Icon with envy. It hits the specs right down the middle.

What happens if I put an AT&T or T-Mobile SIM into it?

The Lumia Icon comes SIM unlocked, so yes, you can toss in a nano SIM card for any network and the phone will work. You should also pick up Nokia Access Point to ensure appropriate network and MMS settings. That app will install to Settings.

However, depending on your carrier’s LTE setup, your data connections will vary:

Networks: LTE: 700MHz; SVLTE Band 13; Band 4; CDMA: 3G EVDO 850/1900 Rev A with Rx Diversity; Global Ready: GSM (850MHz, 900MHz, 1800MHz, 1900MHz)  UMTS (850MHz, 900MHz, 1900MHz, 2100MHz)

For T-Mobile, you can get HSPA (3G) connections, and it will fall back to the super-slow 2G Edge otherwise. It does not support T-Mobile LTE and I was often stuck on Edge, meaning the Lumia Icon will technically work but it’s far from ideal.

For AT&T, things are only slightly better with HSPA+ in certain locations and of course there is no issue with phone calls. However, I was not able to get LTE data either.

In other words, the Lumia Icon can work on other US networks, but you’ll be most likely sacrificing LTE network speeds to do so. Probably not the wisest bargain if you’re considering purchasing it off-contract.

Final Thoughts

The Lumia Icon for Verizon is in many ways, the most ideal Windows Phone made so far. While many consumers coveted the specs of the Lumia 1520, just as many were put off by the sheer size. Or AT&T’s gimping of the massive phone. The Lumia Icon pretty much solves this problem by knocking the display down from six inches to a more evenhanded five, and in doing so, they have nailed the ultimate Lumia.

In fact, I can only come up with three weakness of the Lumia Icon, and those are all mild criticisms:

  1. It’s only on Verizon
  2. The design is timid
  3. Glance screen doesn’t work

The Glance screen omission is really the only nit of this device, and even that doesn’t rise to the level of outrage against AT&T for removing Qi from the Lumia 1520 or hobbling it at 16 GB of internal storage. It’s disappointing, but hardly a deal killer and there’s not even a guarantee that it won’t happen at some point.

The Lumia Icon being only available on Verizon is also minor. The fact is, if you’re on Verizon or are considering switching to Verizon, you don’t care. For those on AT&T, T-Mobile or Sprint, you’re probably rightly jealous, but that is kind of the point. Mission accomplished.

I don’t see this phone having a ‘global variant’ as many like to say. It’s a Verizon device through and through and it will stay that way, just like we never saw the Lumia 928 go to any other carrier. That doesn’t mean there won’t be a new flagship Lumia for the Windows Phone 8.1 launch in mid-2014 fitting this range, but it won’t be this phone.

The fact is, Verizon ordered up this phone from Nokia, so to the victor go the spoils. Kudos to Verizon and Nokia for giving the Lumia that many people have desired. Now make it in red.

Likewise, complaining about the design being ‘unexciting’ is also inconsequential. It’s simply my personal opinion, one that you may not share. The design elements do not detract in any way from device functionality and in the end that is all that matters.

All in all, Nokia and Verizon have delivered a well-made, cutting edge Lumia. The size is perfect, the specs are impressive, and it’s a real blast to use. You have everything that is great about the Lumia 1520 tucked away in a more agile body, which is something many of you have asked for. Well, this is it.

The Verizon Lumia Icon is now the definitive Windows Phone.

The Nokia Lumia Icon will be exclusively available on Verizon starting Thursday, February 20 for $199 on contract. Preorders start today, including Microsoft Stores for just $25 down. More info can be found from Nokia at

Have questions? Want to talk about the Lumia Icon? Head to our discussion and help forums dedicated to this phone: WPCentral Forums – Lumia Icon

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Owning Nokia Lumia 920 Since It’s Launched? Share Your Experience!

Nokia Lumia 920

The Nokia Lumia 920 released at the begining of November this year. That’s more than a year ago. The telephone was heralded because the flagship phone to showcase Home windows Phone 8, which released plus the Lumia 920. It’s an incredible phone and laid the building blocks for products such as the Lumia 925, Lumia 928 and Lumia 1020. Let’s discuss the Lumia 920 and find out how it’s supporting.

The device        

The Lumia 920 would be a pretty groundbreaking device. Not only for Home windows Phone or Nokia, as well as the smartphone space in general. It had been a smartphone that actually assisted elevate mobile photography. Sure, the apple iphone 4 assisted mobile photography gain a bit more credibility, but that’s mostly due to what application designers had the ability related to individuals photos.

The Lumia 920 made most of us think seriously about mobile photography. It was not scared of low-light situations. Actually, it had been just the opposite. The Lumia 920 carried out excellent (but still does) when there aren’t lots of photons around because of the optical-image stabilization found within the camera module. You’ll also locate an 8.7 Mega pixel BSI sensor with f/2. Carl Zeiss optics.

Outdoors of photography the Lumia 920 had another impressive specs for any smartphone. It had been among the first mobile phones to embrace wireless charging using its support for that Qi standard. I was also large fans from the NFC support, Super Sensitive Touch, display and make quality. At that time it had been certainly the top of Nokia engineering.

Since launch

A great deal has happened because the Lumia 920 released. Surprisingly, I wasn’t yet with Home windows Phone Central when Home windows Phone 8 or even the Lumia 920 were launched. Actually, it had been at Build 2012 at Microsoft where I met Daniel. The relaxation, as the saying goes, is history.

A great deal has happened with Home windows Phone because the Lumia 920 released.

First was Update 1, also called either GDR1 or Portico which was a small update that arrived December 2012. It gave us more effective Bluetooth connections as well as an choice for Wi-Fi to remain on even if the screen was off. Next was Update 2 (GDR2) that addressed another storage bug, introduced Radio back, Driving Mode was introduced, bug fixes for Xbox 360 Music, and much more. Update 3 was the newest change for Home windows Phone and introduced 1080p support, an additional column of Live tiles, Snapdragon 800 support, rotation lock and much more.

We’ve also seen numerous Home windows Phone mobile phone models launched. Most were buddies towards the Lumia 920 and never direct substitutes. You've seen eleven new Home windows Phone mobile phone models from Nokia and 6 using their company OEMs because the launch from the Lumia 920.

Applications! 2013 was the greatest year ever for that Home windows Phone Store. A lot of top quality applications from both indie designers and enormous posting houses found Home windows Phone. We acquired Instagram,, Electronically Imported, Wells Fargo, and much more. The application situation in your Lumia 920 is way better today of computer was when you initially selected up.

Lumia 920 Camera

Lengthy story short. A great deal has happened because the Lumia 920 was launched. So you want to know your Lumia 920 is supporting? Still snappy? Still loving it? Upgraded to another thing? Tell us below within the comments the way the Lumia 920 has treated you since launch. 

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Nokia Lumia 1320 review: an oversized phone that struggles to stand out

It's not too often we can legitimately say a device is in a league of its own, yet that's the only way we can describe Nokia's new low-end smartphone, the Lumia 1320. With a 6-inch screen, it arrives at the same time as more expensive Lumia 1520, which shares the same screen size and battery, but is exponentially better in every other category. There's nothing else quite like the 1320 on the market at the moment; we've seen plenty of large-screened Android phones already, but few of them have price tags as low as the $340 that the 1320 commands. Not only that, this is also the very first low-end Windows Phone with copious amounts of screen space.

The fact that this is the first of its kind doesn't make the 1320 an instant hit, though. While the cost is lower than most phones its size, it's still a high asking price for many people in emerging markets. A 6-inch size worked for the Lumia 1520, but does it make sense to come out with a stripped-down version for half the price?

Nokia Lumia 1320 review

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59 Photos

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.

Nokia Lumia 1320
Dimensions 164.2 x 85.9 x 9.8mm (6.46 x 3.38 x 0.39 in.)
Weight 7.76 ounces (220g)
Screen size 6.0 inches
Screen resolution 1,280 x 720 (245 ppi)
Battery 3,400mAh(non-removable)
Internal storage 8GB
External storage microSD up to 64GB
Rear camera 5MP, f/2.4
Front-facing cam VGA
Video capture 1080p
Bluetooth v4.0+LE
SoC Qualcomm Snapdragon 400
CPU 1.7GHz dual-core
GPU Adreno 305
WiFi 802.11b/g/n
Wireless Charging No
Operating system Windows Phone 8 (Nokia Black)


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 "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.

Nokia Lumia 1320 camera samples

See all photos

35 Photos

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
WPBench 300 466 223
Battery rundown 3:28 3:30 2:12
SunSpider 1.0.2 (ms) 701 546 906.2
AnTuTu (*GPU test off) 14,406 (13,836*) 25,148 (22,275*) 11,084 (9,874*)
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.

The competition

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.




  • Long battery life
  • Reasonable price for a phone this big
  • Expandable memory
  • Good video capture quality


  • Heavy
  • Limited internal storage
  • Call quality could be better

The Lumia 1320 is a decent large-screened phone with a long-lasting battery, but it fits a very specific niche that applies to very few people. 


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Review on Mugen Power Battery Case of Nokia Lumia 920

Mugen Power Battery Case for Lumia 920 review

A few months back I reviewed the Brando Power Jacket case for the Nokia Lumia 920. A case with a built-in battery, it could potentially double the battery life of the Lumia 920 – a dream for gamers. But the Brando case didn’t perform all that well as a charger, limiting its usefulness.

Enter Mugen Power, makers of many external batteries and cases. At long last, Mugen now offers an extended battery case for the Nokia’s original flagship Windows Phone 8 handset. The Mugen Power Battery Case for Lumia 920 comes in black or white, as well as two different battery capacities: 3000 mAh and 4700 mAh. The 4700mAh model offers 2.35x extra power on top of the 920’s built in battery. I’ve spent the last few weeks using that version as my case in order to bring you this detailed review.

Mighty Mugen Power Ranges

Mugen Power Battery Case for Lumia 920 review

The Lumia 920’s built in, non-replaceable battery holds 2000 mAh of power. The Mugen Battery Case comes in both 3000 mAh and 4700 mAh sizes. The price difference between the two is only ten dollars, making the choice between models come down mostly to size and weight. The larger capacity case is a few millimeters thicker than the smaller one, and presumably heavier too.

Even the 3000 mAh case will provide more power than the Brando Power Jacket, which has a capacity of 2200 mAh. At 3000 mAh, you’re looking at 150 percent extra power on top of the 920’s internal battery – more than doubling the available power, in other words. The 4700 mAh case I’ve been using exceeds the phone’s standard battery by 235 percent, basically tripling the power it has to work with.

How well does one of these cases extend the 920’s battery life in practical terms? An unenhanced Lumia 920 will likely get 2-3 hours of playtime from a graphically intensive game. After that, you’d better plug in or you’re going to miss some calls.

With Mugen’s 4700 mAh case, I played Temple Run 2 for five hours (yar, a tad boring) without fully draining the case. The phone itself showed some battery drain; these cases can’t eliminate the fact that 920s sometimes use power faster than they can charge. But the case certainly helps!

Retraction action

Mugen Power Battery Case for Lumia 920 review

The Mugen Battery Case connects to the Lumia 920 in a most unusual way. Unlike the Brando Power Jacket, this case doesn’t cover the bottom of the 920 where the phone’s micro-USB port calls its home. The bottom of the phone remains largely exposed while inside the case. The bottom-left side of the case houses a retractable micro-USB plug that provides power to the phone.

A hole at the bottom of the case holds the plug snugly when not in use. Pull the plug out of the hole and you’ll find a thin, coiled wire about three centimeters in length. The wire is built into both the micro-USB plug and the inside of the case itself. It allows just more than enough room to connect the case to the phone’s power jack.

After plugging the Mugen Battery Case’s male connector into the power jack, the case automatically starts charging the phone. No pressing a button to switch to charging mode here; connecting the case while it holds a charge is just like plugging in a charger. No getting into situations where the case is charging itself but not the phone (both can charge simultaneously), unlike the Brando Power Jacket which often stopped charging the phone.

Mugen Power Battery Case for Lumia 920 review

However, the retractable plug betrays some significant design flaws. The cord itself is quite thin and can’t be replaced if it breaks on either end. Cut or tug too hard on it and your hundred dollar case drops to a value of zero. The charging plug itself is too fragile as well. It sticks out from the phone, completely unguarded. If the plug is bumped too hard or the phone gets dropped and lands on it, and the plug will bend or break.

That fragility of charging plug and cable means you probably won’t want to leave the case charging your phone all the time, as nice as the constant power supply is. When you’re walking around with the phone in-hand or in-pocket, you’ll probably feel a lot safer with the plug retracted inside of the case. Not a tradeoff we should have to make. At least Mugen Power offers a one year warranty, but those don’t usually cover damage from dropping and other accidents.

Big is beautiful

Mugen Power Battery Case for Lumia 920 review

Power connector issues aside, the Mugen Battery Case is mostly a good case. It adds a significant depth to the phone and a noticeable amount of weight. The extra size doesn’t make the phone too hard to pocket or anything, though it’s certainly hard to miss when looking at the phone.

The extra weight could be a concern for some users, but not this guy. As a gamer, I’m used to holding controllers that weigh just as much as a 920 with the 4700 mAh case on. I find it perfectly comfortable; it doesn’t fatigue me a bit.

The Battery Case has cut-outs for all of the buttons along the right-side of the phone: volume, power, and camera. A little behind the volume buttons, you’ll find the micro-USB port used to charge the case itself. A tiny red light next to the port indicates the case is charging. The phone and case can charge simultaneously, by the way.

On the rear of the case, a conical cutout allows the camera and flash to work unimpeded. Four LEDs and a button occupy the bottom rear of the case, just below the Mugen Power logo. Pressing the button will light up the LEDs and indicate the case’s remaining charge. I like that the lights only come on when checked instead of wasting power on them all the time.

Not the full wraparound

Mugen Power Battery Case for Lumia 920 review

If the Mugen Battery Case has one more flaw, it’s how much of the phone it actually covers. The case does not cover the top or bottom of the phone, although it does extend about a millimeter beyond the phone’s borders. This provides some minimal protection to those sides of the phone, but not much. More egregiously, the case does not cover the front of the phone and the screen at all. The 920’s most fragile side - the one that most needs protection – is the only side that gets none.

Overall Impression

The lack of protection to the front of the phone belies the Mugen Power Battery Case’s strange design ethic. The number one reason anybody buys a vase is to protect their phone. This case offers more protection than no case at all, but not to the all-important screen. I dropped my phone and got several new scratches that wouldn’t have happened had I kept using the Brando Power Jacket. The fragility of this case’s charging cable and plug is also worrying, especially given the high cost of the case.

On the other hand, the Mugen Power Battery Case for Nokia Lumia 920 is one hell of an external battery in either power capacity. I absolutely adore how much extra playtime and usage I get from my 920 with this thing attached. When I’m not gaming, I can go an extra day or two without plugging into a wall. And when I do game, I can play for as long as I want without being tethered to a charger.

For me, the benefits of the case’s voluminous power supply just outweigh the protection I give up from other cases. But I might feel differently if my Lumia 920 was at the beginning of its life instead of the tail end. If you’re looking to extend your 920’s day-to-day gaming life and you don’t have trouble keeping your phones free of bruises, give Mugen Power’s solution a look.

  • Mugen Power Battery Case for Nokia Lumia 920 – 3000 mAh – $89.99 – Amazon Store Link (Black 3000 mAh only, Prime eligible)
  • Mugen Power Battery Case for Nokia Lumia 920 – 4700 mAh – $99.50 – Mugen Power Store Link (all varieties)
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