Nokia Lumia 2520 review: First look

GSMArena team, 26 December 2013.

Final words

The Nokia Lumia 2520 is a solid first entry into the tablet realm for the manufacturer, and a logical extension of its smartphone range. The slate is well-equipped, has instantly recognizable design, and, like Nokia's Windows Phone devices, comes with a number of useful, exclusive apps.

Of course, like in the case of the Microsoft Surface 2, we are a bit skeptical about the choice of Windows 8.1 RT in the Nokia Lumia 2520. With Microsoft's own Surface 2 being the only other new product to utilize the OS besides the Lumia 2520, we can't help it but question the Windows RT's prospects as a viable competitor to the ever more tablet-friendly Android and iOS.

Again, much like the Microsoft Surface 2 (analogies are difficult to avoid in this case), the Nokia Lumia 2520 should be judged depending on the user's specific perspective.

The comparison is not in the Nokia Lumia 2520's favor when you face it with the likes of the iPad Air and the high-end Android tablet army. The Apple slate and the latest batch of flagship Android tablets offer more polished and better rounded tablet OS experience, though they cost significantly more when equipped with LTE radio.

The above has nothing to do with hardware anymore, as, the slightly lower screen resolution aside, the Nokia Lumia 2520 is anything but short on specs. The operating system however, falls behind iOS and Android on the developers' priority lists. And as you know, mobile platforms these days are judged first by the number and quality of third-party apps available. In this respect, a Windowd 8 RT tablet such as the Lumia 2520 hardly has any strong point beyond the presence of the full-featured Microsoft Office suite.

The latest proper Windows 8 tablets (the ones with Intel Atom Bay Trail processors) also make a strong case against the Nokia Lumia 2520. LTE connectivity aside, the Atom-based tablets make more sense than Nokia's product by offering the full Windows experience at a lower price point.

Speaking of price, the Nokia Lumia 2520 is priced at $499 without contract for AT&T and Verizon Wireless in the United States. The optional battery keyboard cover will set you back an additional $149. LTE data plans on both carriers costs extra.

As always, we took a look around about what else you can pick up for a similar budget as the Nokia Lumia 2520. Here are some of the most notable findings.

The iPad Air is arguably the best full size tablet available at the moment. It offers higher screen resolution than the Surface 2, as well as superb design and ergonomics. To cap things off, Cupertino's entry offers close to half a million apps optimized for tablet use.

The closest LTE iPad Air to the Nokia Lumia 2520 in terms of pricing would be the 16GB version at $629. If users are willing to skip the 4G connectivity and use their smartphone as a portable hotspot, $650 (the price of a Lumia 2520 with a keyboard cover) will buy them a 32GB Wi-Fi-only iPad Air and a Bluetooth QWERTY keyboard case.

Apple iPad Air
Apple iPad Air

The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014 Edition) and the ASUS Transformer Pad TF701T are Android realm's heavy hitters at the moment. Both slates offer significantly higher-resolution displays when compared to the Surface 2, in addition to a better established tablet OS with a fine integration of Google's many services.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014 Edition) Asus Transformer Pad TF701T
Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014 Edition) Asus Transformer Pad TF701T

A budget of $449 will get you a Wi-Fi-only version of the above two. LTE connectivity bumps up the price of the Note 10.1 significantly. In the case of the ASUS, it is missing as an option altogether.

There is a host of Intel Bay Trail totting tablets, which offer full Windows 8.1 for less than what Nokia is asking for the Lumia 2520. The most notable ones include the ASUS Transformer Book T100 and the HP Omni 10, etc. All of them lack LTE, but cost $399 or less, thus leaving you plenty of spare change to pick up a wireless keyboard.

Finally, considering the multi-faceted nature of the Nokia Lumia 2520, we decided to take a look at the Windows hybrid ultrabook realm even though it's outside of our usual area of interest. A quick search online brought up the MSI S Series ultrabook with 11.6" 1080p display, Inter Core i5 CPU, 8GB of RAM, 128GB SSD, and a sliding keyboard listed for only $620 delivered - less than a Lumia 2520 with a battery cover.

The abovementioned ultrabook has no HSDPA/LTE connectivity, but if processing power in a portable package is what you are after, it literally blows the Nokia Lumia 2520 out of the water.

Intel is expected to release a 22nm Atom chips with integrated LTE next year. They are bound to bring an even greater performance and power efficiency to the table, thus hopefully bringing an end to the Windows RT debacle.

But back to the Lumia 2520. We are afraid that just like the first Nokia Lumia smartphones, the company's first tablet will not shatter any sales records either. But being the finest Windows RT offering and a logical extension to the Lumia range however, it is certain to attract its fair share of followers.

Until this moment arrives, or until Microsoft somehow shatters the wall separating the ARM-based tablets and the Windows Phone devices, the Nokia Lumia 2520 is bound to remain a characterful, but niche product. Like in the case of Windows Phone, it is up to Microsoft to make it a viable mainstream player, as Nokia has already done its job to squeeze the maximum out of the Windows RT platform.