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Nokia Lumia 2520 Review: In Depth

The Good

  • Great battery life and fast charging

The Bad

  • Weak on-screen keyboard
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Nokia’s first ever tablet running Windows RT; it’s an unknown quantity in an Android-dominated market, atop of which sits Apple iOS-based iPads, so is the Nokia Lumia 2520 a solid alternative or should we simply stick with what we know?

Nokia Lumia 2520 design: Fit and Finnish

When Nokia first unveiled its Lumia line it was founded on two key elements: the distinct look, feel and usability of Windows Phone OS, and simple, elegant, capable hardware. Some two years on and the OS might have changed in the case of the 2520, but both of these elements endure in grand fashion.

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As with its Lumia smartphones, Nokia’s tablet comes in a range of colours, the safest being a soft-touch black that draws all your attention to the display, however, there’s also a vibrant gloss red option available at launch that gives the Lumia 2520 far more personality, helping it become one of the most eye-catching tablets on the market.

The smooth, near-seamless body conceals chromed hardware details including the volume rocker and sleep/wake key, HDMIout and USB ports, as well as a headphone jack, proprietary (unfortunately) charging port and proprietary connector at its base. To add to the elegance, it’s also wonderfully thin at 8.9mm.

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At 615 grams, the 2520 isn’t excessively heavy and one-handed use is possible in either orientation, although prolonged use may result in a little wrist ache or the corners of the tablet digging into your palms a little too much.

Whilst on its own, the 2520 is wholly usable, the addition of the Power Keyboard accessory makes it significantly more capable, adding a full hardware keyboard, a battery boost of five hours more and two full-sized USB 3.0 ports, not to mention it serves as an attractive, protective case. So long as you can hack the additional £100 or so, we’d suggest picking up this essential accessory to really get the best experience from the 2520.

Nokia Lumia 2520 screen: Sharp edges

The 10.1-inch ClearBlack IPS display boasts a razor sharp image at Full HD resolution. Thanks to the colourful tiled interface of the Windows Start screen, the quality of the display is apparent from the off, with punchy colours, great viewing angles and it also proves easily readable in sunlight thanks to 680 nits of brightness.

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The most minor of gripes is that the display is covered in a fingerprint friendly layer of glass, reminiscent of the Nokia Lumia 820, so be ready to buff your screen at least once each time you use it.

Nokia Lumia 2520 OS: Is Windows RT the right decision? 

The limitations of Windows RT have been widely documented and just as with Windows Phone, it’s a lacking app store that’s the OS’s weakest suit, but look passed that and the out-of-box experience is actually very strong.

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RT feels like a diluted version of full Windows 8.1, rather than a purpose built mobile OS, but in some instances this proves beneficial. The desktop version of Internet Explorer offers as slick and as smooth an experience as any full-fledged desktop browser, indistinguishable from using it on say, a Surface Pro 2. The pre-installed Office suite is a great help too and although the on-screen keyboard still needs work; the Nokia Lumia 2520 is a fantastic tablet with regards to its productivity capabilities.

The overall experience isn’t without a few bugs and app crashes, but we’re hoping these minor hiccups are just that, and something that the new Microsoft-led Nokia will have no problem ironing out in the coming weeks.

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Whilst most of our gripes are ultimately with the Microsoft side of things, Nokia has been able to work the same magic that it does on its Windows Phone devices, complementing Windows RT’s base feature set with its unique apps slotting nicely onto your Start screen. Nokia Music makes its debut on Windows, offering up the same free streaming goodness we’ve come to know and love, but formatted for that gorgeous display. HERE Maps also stands out and in the process lends its talents to the exclusive How To Train Your Dragon: Dragons Adventure game’ a fun time sync for passengers on long car journeys.

Nokia Lumia 2520 performance: All guns blazing

Nokia knew that if it was going to enter the tablet market at this late stage in the game, it’d have to come in loud, and it’s fair to say that the finished article is certainly no slouch.

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Windows RT is an indication of the ARM-based processor at the heart of the 2520 and just like its Windows Phone-based cousin, the Lumia 1520, this slate utilises a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 quad-core chip clocked at 2.2GHz, paired to 2GB of RAM. Not only is it one of the best pieces of silicon in the business right now with regards to performance, but it also helps maintain good battery life (we managed three days of general use from the 8120mAh cell) and features an integrated 4G LTE radio.

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Whilst the £399 price tag puts it in line with Apple’s entry-level iPad Air, the most basic Air doesn’t feature 4G connectivity or 32GB of inbuilt storage, for those privileges you need to spend an additional £180, making the Lumia a very compelling tablet proposition for those who want the best for less.

Nokia Lumia 2520 camera: Control freak

For the oddballs out there who favour taking snaps using their tablet over a compact camera or a phone, may we suggest making the Lumia 2520 your weapon of choice?

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The camera itself is a near identical unit to the one found on the Nokia Lumia 720.  A Carl Zeiss-lens toting 6.7-megapixel snapper paired to the company’s fantastic Nokia Camera application (albeit without the Smart shooting modes), meaning that although the camera quality isn’t the best around and there’s no LED flash, you have full manual control over your photos.

In general shooting photos look a little flat, although certain colours pop, the manual shutter speed control helps handle poor light which would otherwise breed heavy noise and grain, provided there are no fast moving subjects, and Full HD video is pretty good too. As tablet cameras go, the latest offerings from Apple, Sony and Samsung take point, but it’s a good starting point and we’ll no doubt see more of Nokia’s famed camera tech making its way into the 2520’s successor. PureView tablet anyone?

Nokia Lumia 2520 verdict: Beginning with a bang

So how does Nokia’s report card look in light of the 2520? Design and hardware undoubtedly get an ‘A’. It’s a strong statement; a bold, powerful slate with character that should serve a myriad of users well. Windows RT will pose a few problems for some, especially as the likes of iOS and Android undoubtedly offer a lot more flexibility and functionality thanks to their respective app stores, but the basic experience should be commended.

It’s also well connected; Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, 4G and the potential for multiple USB peripherals set it apart from similarly specced rivals. What’s more, the reasonable price makes it the ideal choice for those after a capable 4G tablet that won’t break the bank.

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The Nokia Lumia 2520 has a lot of growing to do, but it’s more Microsoft than Nokia who has its work cut out. It feels reassuringly familiar, slotting neatly into the Lumia family with the bright, colourful experience that it offers.

Apple’s iPad Air is an obvious alternative, particularly now that iWork comes as standard, or those after an Android device might want to consider the Asus TF701T, which comes with a keyboard dock, quad-core processor and full-sized USB ports for around £30 more, assuming you’re happy to forgo that snappy 4G though. The Nokia Lumia 2520 might not be the best tablet on the scene, but it’s going to make you think twice before laying down cash for the obvious contenders.

Specification

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