Nokia Lumia 2520 full review
Rounding out Nokia's every burgeoning of colourful portable slabs is the Lumia 2520. This takes the range up from the Lumia 520's 4in display through the increasingly large displays of handsets such as the 720, 925 and 1020, to this device: not a Windows Phone 8 handset but a 10.1 tablet running Windows RT 8.1. It's Nokia's first foray into the tablet world, and its first RT device, but don't expect it to be the last. Nokia told us it is committed to the tablet world. See also: What is the What is the best tablet you can buy in 2014.
And that could well be a good thing because there is a lot to like about the Lumia 2520. For a start at £399 and with 4G LTE as standard this is a lot of tablet for the money. And there is something to be said for diversity: Nokia now claims 'double digit' market share for its Lumia smartphones. We're not entirely sure what this means specifically, but it is true that in a world of iPhones and Android clones the colourful Nokia range brings something different, and it has captured some public imagination. John Lewis certainly thinks so as it has plumped for a three-month exclusive on the Lumia 2520, with all the promotion that will bring. See also: Nokia Lumia 1520 review.
So should you be dumping your iPad for this Windows RT tablet? Read our Lumia 2520 review to find out. (See also: Top 9 best Windows 8 tablets: the best Windows 8 tablets you can buy in 2013.)
Lumia 2520: specs and performance
The Lumia 2520 has a pretty powerful spec for a Windows RT device - and it shows. A quad-core Qualcome Snapdragon 800 chip is partnered with 2GB RAM. We've never come across a really slow RT device although the original Surface could be a little sluggish, but the Lumia is noticably snappy. It is a responsive and rapid revice, even when you have it undertaking multiple tasks at the same time.
And as RT devices have always made decent gaming machines, the Lumia 2520 is no different. With the caveat that synthetic benchmarks should only ever be used as a broad brush guide, we present to you the following. In the GLBenchmark Egypt HD 2.5 test in which the Surface 2 managed a respectable score of 33fps (and the iPad Air 48fps) the Lumia 2520 knocked out a score of 50fps. The best I've seen in a tablet.
This is followed up by a similarly impressive score in the harder T-Rex HD 2.7 test of 27fps. And the more general 3DMark 7 test completes the set. In the Ice Storm Unlimited test 3DMark 7 awarded a score of 16215, which translates in human speak to "one of the most powerful devices around". Again, we wouldn't consider this Gospel, but the user experience supports the synthetic numbers.
Windows RT, like Windows Phone 8, is famously kind on hardware, so it should be no surprise that the Lumia 2520's impressive specification leads to superb performance. But it does, quantifiably so.
There's a healthy 8120mAh battery cell, that Nokia says can last for up to 25 days on standby. We gave the Lumia a good hammering over a day or so and it still had plenty of juice left. See all Windows tablet reviews.
Lumia 2520: display
The 10.1in display is also impressive. With a 1920x1080 resolution it works out at a pixel density of 218ppi. This is good for a tablet, and the display is certainly sharp enough. Zoom in on dark text and you will see some pixelation, but it's far from a problem. The 16:9 aspect ratio is good for watching movies, and the movie-watching experience is pretty good anyway with 24-bit colour depth and 16 million colours. It's a good, if not outstanding, display.
It is built to last, too. An IPS display with a covering of Corning Gorilla Glass 2. And we found one aspect of the Lumia 2520's display in particular very impressive. The viewing angle is wide, and the ability to use the screen in a meaningful way under bright light impressive. It's tricky to test use in full sunlight in December in the UK, but under the harsh strip lights of our commuter train we found the Lumia 2520 much less mirror-like than our iPad mini, for example.
Lumia 2520: storage
You get a nominal 32GB of storage on board, with a MicroSDHC card adding up to another 64GB. On our virgin test model with only the two bnchmarking apps installed there was only 17.7GB of 25.5GB available to use. So that 32GB is in fact at most 25.5GB (this is not the worst we've seen by any means).
Lumia 2520: design and build
The Lumia 2520 is certainly a well built device, and in its shocking red form at least makes a striking design statement of the kind the Lumia phones do (one now being copied/paid tribute to buy Android makers and, yes, Apple). Unfortunately our test 2520 is a plain black slate, but the pictures of the red one look nice... (As do those of the blue, and the white options.)
No matter. The Lumia 2520 we have in our hands is a smooth and slick slate. The front is virtually edge-to-edge black, and the rear has a smooth rubbery plastic finish. The back is slightly curved so that although we measured the edges at around 9mm the centre of the Lumia is a little thicker. That's not a criticism, the Lumia 2520 feels slim and light, and running your hands over it finds only smooth edges.
At 615g it is a genuinely thin and light device, and the design means the 168x267x9mm dimensions we measured feel smaller than perhaps they are. The overall feeling is of a premium tablet.
Lumia 2520: keyboard case
As with the red model Lumia 2520, we are guessing about the keyboard case because Nokia didn't have one for us to test. When it comes it will be a keyboard case and stand, that - apparently - offers an additional 5 hours battery life via a built-in battery cell. We'll test it as soon as we can get it.
Lumia 2520: cameras
The main camera is a 6.7Mp 1/3.4 inch sensor with Zeiss optics, autofocus and a worthless 4x digital zoom. You get f/1.9 aperture, but no flash. Up from there is a secondary 1.2Mp web cam for video calling and selfies. Both cameras capture video at 30fps, 1080p. Test video and photos from the primary camera are included below (click them to see at full size):
Lumia 2520: software
In the past we've been snippy about Windows RT, and the same caveats apply. This is not Windows, it's Windows RT. It's an OS for the consumption and display of media, rather than a productivity OS like Windows 8. You can't install x86 Windows software as you can on your laptop or PC.
But, possibly because this tablet feels like an extension of the Lumia phone range rather than a competitor to Windows 8 tablets or laptops, Windows RT bothered us far less than it has previously. It's also possible that the outstanding performance helps here.
Here are good things about Windows RT, as it works on the Lumia 2520 at least. If you are a Windows 8 user of any description, logging in to your existing Windows account means your Lumia tablet becomes an extension of your main PC. And that's useful. More important is the fact that the Windows App Store is starting to become - if not good, at least not a joke. Microsoft claims there are 190,000 apps in there. How many are optimised for this size of display is a point for debate, but there is now - say - Skype, Vine and Instagram so things are moving in the right direction.
More importantly, on the Lumia you get Nokia's own apps. And these are worth having - especially if you already use a Nokia phone.
Given a straight choice we'd still choose iOS or Android over Windows RT for a consumption device, but there is one big plus point for RT, and that's the inclusion of a version of Microsoft Office. Combined with the HDMI-out port that the Lumia 2520 boasts, the ability to load up and edit, then present, PowerPoint presentations gives Lumia 2520 a potentially unique calling card.
Lumia 2520: connectivity
The Lumia 2520 comes as standard with 4G LTE connectivity. Buy it from John Lewis and they will give you a free Micro-SIM with 200MB of connectivity for you to burn through in seconds. Sensors include Ambient Light Sensor, Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Proximity Sensor, and Magnetometer. There's a 2.5 mm Charging Connector included in the box, as well as a 3.5 mm audio connector and the afforementioned HDMI-D (micro) connector. You get USB 3.0, Bluetooth 4.0 and WLAN IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, as well as NFC sharing and pairing. See also: the 14 best tablets of 2013
Nokia Lumia 2520: Specs
- 10.1in 1920 x 1080 16:9 IPS LCD, Multipoint-Touch
- Ambient Light Sensor, Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Proximity Sensor, Magnetometer
- Micro SIM
- 2.5 mm Charging Connector
- 3.5 mm audio connector, HDMI-D (micro)
- USB 3.0
- Bluetooth 4.0
- WLAN IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n
- 4G LTE
- 8120 mAh battery
- Qualcomm Snapdragon Quad-core 2.2 GHz
- 2GB RAM