Ever since Nokia disrupted the Windows Phone world with its best-selling Lumia handsets, we've wondered: Will the company ever make a Windows tablet? As it turns out, yes. This week, Nokia ships its first tablet, the Windows RT 8.1-based Lumia 2520. And if you're a fan of Nokia's phones, this device should prove most interesting as well.
I've only had a loaner Lumia 2520 for a few days, so my review will need to wait. In the meantime, I can tell you that in evaluating this device, I'll be paying particular attention to how it matches up with the Surface 2.
Here's what I can say so far.
Styling. Yep, the 2520 does indeed feature the stylish Lumia look and feel, in my case in glossy red. It's a gorgeous device, and stands in sharp contrast to the dull light gray Surface 2. It's also thinner and more curved than the mechanical-looking Surface 2. My quickie reaction is that this is the more attractive device.
Lumia 2520 on top of the slightly bigger Surface 2
Screen. The 2520 is a bit smaller than the Surface 2 overall, and so is its screen: The 2520 sports a 10.1 screen where Surface 2 sits at 10.6 inches. Both run at 1080p, or 1920 x 1080, and both are gorgeous. This one is kind of a toss-up. (Nokia reports that its screen is a ClearBlack IPS LCD display, which I believe is the same type of screen used in the Lumia 1520.)
RAM and storage. As with the base version of the Surface 2, the 2520 features 2 GB of RAM and 32 GB of onboard storage. However, there is no 64 GB version, as with Surface 2. But you can expand the storage via micro-SD. (This is listed as being compatible with 32 GB cards only; I will test that.)
Thickness and weight. This is one light tablet. According to the specs, the 2520 weighs 1.35 pounds, compared to 1.49 pounds for Surface 2. In the hand, however, the 2520 seems even lighter. If you hold them both in your hands, the weight is about the same, of course. But the Lumia achieves some kind of interesting perception that it's lighter. But here's the real kicker: While both devices are rated at the exact same thickness, .35 inches, the 2520 also seems thinner, most likely because of its curved, tapered edges. It's a neat effect.
Lumia 2520 (top) and Surface 2 (bottom)
USB 3.0. This one is a bit odd. The 2520 includes a USB 3.0 port, but it's not a normal USB 3.0 port. Instead, it's an unusual Micro-B USB 3.0 port, which I'd previously only seen on portable hard drives. I assume that Nokia uses this port because of its thinner profile, but it means that you'll need an adapter to use any USB device, something that's not required on Surface 2. And no, that adapter is not included.
Lumia 2520 (top) and Surface 2 (bottom)
HDMI. The Lumia 2520 includes a micro-HDMI port for video-out. This was the right choice.
Wireless. No surprises here: The 2520 includes both Bluetooth 4.0 and Wi-Fi a/b/g/n (but not ac). The device comes in versions for both GSM (AT&T in the US) and CDMA (Verizon in the US) LTE broadband wireless as well. (Using a standard micro-SIM.)
NFC. Unlike Surface 2, the 2520 includes NFC.
Camera. While Nokia's cameras are generally very good to excellent, the 2520 seems to feature a pretty middle-of-the-road 6.7 megapixel unit with no flash. There's also a front-facing 2 megapixel camera for Skype chatting.
Nokia Camera app is basic, takes grainy shots
Nokia apps. Aside from the design, one of the biggest selling points of this tablet is that it comes with Nokia apps. In this case, I see Nokia HERE Maps, Nokia Storyteller, Nokia Camera, Nokia Music (previously available on Windows 8/RT), My Nokia, and Nokia Video Director, plus a third party game called Dreamworks Dragon Adventure. (There are also some Verizon-specific apps on my loaner unit.) I'll be looking at these apps very closely before the review, but so far they seem to look/work as expected for the most part. The Nokia Camera app, however, looks quite bare-boned compared to the Windows Phone version.
Nokia HERE Maps
Performance. Where the Surface 2 is based on the TEGRA 4 chipset, Nokia went with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800. In just a few side-by-side app launching tests, I didn't see any meaningful difference, but I'll be looking at this more, of course. My gut feeling is that there won't be a huge difference. But this is a snappy machine.
Extras. There's precious little in the way of extras in the box. Nokia provides a proprietary power cable and SIM door key, plus a few tiny pamphlets. My loaner unit did not include the keyboard power case, which honestly seriously undermines the desirability of this device. I've inquired about its status, but it's not clear whether this accessory is actually available now and, if not, when it might be.
What's missing? Unlike the Surface 2, the Lumia 2520 lacks a kickstand of any kind, and it's sorely missed. This is a feature, like Qi wireless charging, that you don't realize you need until you've experienced it, and then you notice it missing everywhere else. Such is the case with the 2520, and while I do of course have a number of tablet stands on hand, this is something else you'll probably want to purchase. Also, as noted previously, the promised keyboard/power cover is nowhere to be seen.
Obviously, there's a lot more to be said about the Lumia 2520, but I'll actually use the device for a while and then report back. In the meantime, here are some more photos...