Nokia Lumia 2520 Review - Amazing Hardware Spoiled By Windows RT 8.1

3 out of 5 stars

Nokia Lumia 2520 was launched at the end of 2013 but it has suffered from very lackluster marketing and availability. As time passed, it started to slowly make its way into more markets and we recently got our hands on it. We were very curious to test it and see how Windows RT 8.1 fares on it. Also, we really wanted to see if the build quality that we got used to from the Nokia Lumia lineup has translated into this tablet. After testing the Nokia Lumia 2520 for two weeks, we are ready to share our conclusions in this review:

Unboxing The Nokia Lumia 2520

As you can see in the screenshot below, the packaging used for the Nokia Lumia 2520 is very similar to that used for the Lumia smartphones with Windows Phone.

When you open the box, you will immediately see the tablet.

Behind you will find the power cable and the power adapter, the SIM door key, a quick guide to using the tablet, the warranty, and some other leaflets.

Unfortunately, the Nokia Power Keyboard is not included and you need to purchase that separately. Also, there are no headphones included, in case you might expect them from a Nokia branded tablet.

Hardware Specifications

The Nokia Lumia 2520 has a 10.1" IPS LCD display, with 218 ppi pixel density and Full HD resolution. It is protected by Gorilla Glass 2 and it has enhanced outdoor visibility. The processor powering it is a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon CPU running at 2.2 GHz. It comes with 2GB of RAM memory and it has 32GB of total storage space which can be extended using a MicroSD card. The size of the tablet is 168 x 267 x 8.9 mm (Height x Width x Thickness) or 6.6 x 10.5 x 0.3 inches. It weighs a total of 615 grams or 1.36 pounds. The batter has a generous capacity of 8120 mAh, making it last longer than most Windows 8.1 tablets.

The operating system installed is Windows RT 8.1. You don't know what that is? Well, it is the Windows 8.1 version that was created by Microsoft for ARM processors like the one used on this tablet. And what this means is that you can't use any desktop applications on the Lumia 2520 except the Microsoft Office version that's bundled with it. Another thing that sets this tablet apart from others is the rear camera. It has 6.7 megapixels, 4x digital zoom, ZEISS optics and it is capable of recording Full HD videos at 30 frames per second. This makes it one of the best cameras that you can find on tablets. Its only downside is that it doesn't have flash. The front-facing camera is an average 1.2 megapixel camera that works for quick video chats on Skype. Unlike many Windows 8.1 tablets, this one has 3G and 4G connectivity. You can insert a SIM card and use it to connect to the Internet. In terms of wireless connectivity, Lumia 2520 supports the 802.11 a/b/g/n standards but it doesn't support 802.11ac. Also, it doesn't detect wireless networks on the 5 GHz frequency. Only those on the 2.4 GHz frequency.

We enjoyed the fact that it also includes a GPS chip which allows you to use navigation apps like Here Maps which is bundled with the Lumia 2520. You can find the full hardware specifications of this device here: Detailed specifications for the Nokia Lumia 2520.

Using The Nokia Lumia 2520

In terms of design and build quality, the Nokia Lumia 2520 is simply excellent. Nokia took everything that we love about Lumia smartphones and translated that into this tablet. Lumia 2520 looks good, feels good to hold in your hands, it is easy to hold and carry around. Plus, it is very sturdy.

The screen is great. We love the ClearBlack technology, the great viewing angles, and the color reproduction. Unlike many Windows tablets, the Lumia 2520 can be easily used outdoors. The screen's visibility in sunlight is much better than that of other tablets that we have tested.

After the initial set up, we immediately ran Windows Update. Unfortunately, updating Lumia 2520 to the latest version of Windows RT 8.1 and the latest updates takes a very long time. You should set aside a couple of hours just for this task. Also, while Windows gets updated, the tablet is not as responsive as it is in normal conditions and the user experience is a bit lackluster during this time. We did not enjoy the fact that Windows Update was very slow to find, display and install updates. Earlier in this review we mentioned that Nokia Lumia 2520 has 32GB of storage space. After making all our Windows updates, we were left with approximately 12 GB of storage space for our own files and apps. That's not a lot if you plan to use OneDrive heavily, sync many files on this tablet and install many games on it. If that's the case for you, you should consider extending the storage space with a MicroSD card. After all our Windows updates were done, which included some firmware updates as well, the Lumia 2520 rocked in terms of performance. Everything ran smoothly, apps started fast, we could easily multi-task and use several apps at once. We were very pleased with its performance. There was simply no lag. When it comes to autonomy, Nokia Lumia 2520 doesn't have any issues in lasting you for a day. From this perspective, it is the best Windows tablet that we have tested so far. The sound quality is also good for a tablet. You will enjoy listening to music with MixRadio and watching movies using the Video app or VLC Player which is now available also for Windows RT 8.1. Nokia Lumia 2520 has a microHDMI port and a micro USB 3.0 port are on the right side. Even though they are both very useful, you need to purchase separate cables that work with these ports, which increase the cost of owning this tablet.

This tablet features Bluetooth connectivity and you can easily connect to it Bluetooth mice, keyboards, and other devices. However, since it is using Windows RT 8.1, you can never turn the Lumia 2520 into a true productivity device because you don't have access to desktop applications. Yes, the bundled copy of Office 2013 is useful but you can't use anything more than that on the Desktop. Also, we wish we had access to the Nokia Power Keyboard but this accessory is hard to find nowadays.

Overall, Nokia Lumia 2510 is a great device hardware wise, which is spoiled by a rather weak operating system: Windows RT 8.1, which limits its usefulness.

Performance In Benchmarks

We ran several tests and measurements on the Nokia Lumia 2520 and decided to compare it with two other similar devices that we have tested in the past: Toshiba Encore 2 and Prestigio MultiPad Visconte 3. First, we measured the time it takes for Nokia Lumia 2520 to start. Since it is using Windows RT 8.1, we could not install the Bootracer application that we generally use, so we used a stopwatch and measured things manually. The Lumia 2520 booted, on average in 29 seconds, which is a very good result.

Then, we ran the 3DMark app from the Windows Store to measure gaming performance. In the Ice Storm Unlimited test (the most detailed test available), Nokia Lumia 2520 obtained a great score - 17051 points, which is 18% higher than that of the Toshiba Encore 2.

You can also see how many frames per second were obtained in each test run. As these graphs show, the performance offered by Nokia Lumia 2520 in casual gaming scenarios is impressive and it beats that of many other Windows 8.1 tablets.

To evaluate the battery time we used the Peacekeeper benchmark which tells us how much the battery lasts while browsing the web. As you can see in the graph below, the Nokia Lumia 2520 lasted 8 hours and 40 minutes which is downright impressive.

Also, the charging time was really fast. The Nokia Lumia 2520 charged fully in 1.5 - 2 hours, depending on whether it was fully discharged and whether we kept it turned on or off while it was charged.

As you can see from our limited testing, the Nokia Lumia 2520 delivers stellar performance, great battery time and very quick charges.

Apps That Are Bundled With The Nokia Lumia 2520

Nokia Lumia 2520 has several apps bundled with it but it is surprisingly crapware free. Here's what you will find on it:

  • Dreamworks Dragons Adventure - A cute casual game that is based on the movie How to Train Your Dragon 2. Your children will enjoy playing it.
  • Here Maps - The Windows 8.1 version of the Here Maps app allows you to download offline maps to your tablet and use them when you are on the go.
  • Lumia Camera - The great app from Windows Phone was also adapted for Windows RT 8.1. The app works great and it is a lot more advanced than the Camera app offered by Windows. You will definitely enjoy using it.
  • Lumia Storyteller - This app automatically groups all your photos and videos into individual events called stories. You can browse and modify your stories, then view and share them with friends as story videos or interactive web pages. An interesting app that was also migrated from Windows Phone.
  • MixRadio - Even though MixRadio was sold by Microsoft to Line, the app still works and you can stream music for free, from anywhere in the world. It's a great app that will be loved by many users.
  • My Nokia - This app offers tutorials about using the Lumia 2520, links to Nokia support and the possibility to provide feedback about your device to Nokia/Microsoft.
  • Nokia Video Director - With this app you can create custom videos using your own videos as a starting point. You can merge different clips, add music, text, etc.
  • Operator Notifications - You can use this app to receive notifications for your mobile operator if you have a SIM card plugged into your Lumia 2520. Unfortunately, it doesn't work with all mobile operators so this app won't be useful to all users.
  • Microsoft Office 2013 - It includes Excel, OneNote, Outlook, PowerPoint, and Word.

We very much enjoyed the apps that are bundled with the Nokia Lumia 2520. They do not decrease the performance of this device and they offer additional value to users. We wish more vendors of Windows devices would copy this strategy.

Product Rated


Nokia Lumia 2520 offers amazing hardware, great build quality and great performance. Hardware wise it is one of the best tablets that you can get your hands on. However, it has one important drawback: the operating system and its ecosystem of apps. Windows RT 8.1 doesn't have many apps and those that exist are not of the same quality like those found on Android and iOS. This makes the platform less useful and, because of it, Lumia 2520 cannot be used as a productivity device, only as a media consumption device. We this being said, we do recommend Nokia Lumia 2520 to users that want a tablet that they will use for simple tasks like: browsing the web, checking Facebook, Skype, YouTube, casual games and other media consumption activities. The build quality and the hardware of this device are simply excellent.