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iPad Reviews
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iPad Air vs Lumia 2520 tablet comparison review: does Lumia 2520 make Windows RT an iPad rival?

Wi-Fi: £399 (16GB), £479 (32GB), £559 (64GB) and £639 (128GB). Cellular: £499 (16GB), £579 (32GB), £659 (64GB) and £739 (128GB)

Manufacturer: Apple

We look at the specs and features of the Lumia 2520 and the iPad Air. Is the Lumia 2520 the tablet to take Windows RT into the mainstream? Find out in our iPad Air vs Lumia 2520 comparison review as we pit together the newcomer and the acknowledged master.

Lumia 2520 vs iPad Air

Of all the days to pick to launch a flagship tablet, Nokia only went and did it on the same day the world was gurgling like a newborn at Apple's latest iPad iteration. It makes for an obvious comparison between the Lumia 2520 and the iPad Air, but they are very different devices in some ways, as we explore below. For further detail, see our pieces iPad Air 5th generation release date, specs and new features and iPad Air and iPad mini 2 price in the UK, and Nokia Lumia 2520 release date, price and specs in the UK and Nokia Lumia 2520 vs Microsoft's Surface 2: Spec showdown.)

Nokia Lumia 2520 vs iPad Air: What they are, what they are for

Both the iPad Air and the Lumia 2520 are ARM-based tablets that fall into the 10in tablet category. They are internet connected devices for the consumption of books, movies and music, for web browsing and app use, and for productivity tasks. Running ARM processors means they should last all day in use without being charged up. They are big smartphones rather than small laptops.

But for all that they are very different beasts. The original iPad re-invented tablets as beautiful consumption devices. It is locked to Apple's iOS operating system and the iTunes and App Store content worlds. As such the iPad is familiar and works well. The Lumia 2520 offers a familiar interface on to a brave new world. It runs Windows RT 8.1. (See also: New Nexus 10 2 (2013) vs iPad Air specs comparison review.)

Windows RT is the ARM-enabled version of Windows. As such it allows you to use 'Windows' on an iPad-like device, which is potentially great. In its first iteration, at least, some users were frustrated by RT, however. That's because although it has a 'Desktop', you can't install and run x86 Windows software on Windows RT. It is Windows 8, but without third-party software other than apps. And despite the flame I will get for saying this: the Windows app store is rubbish.

However, Windows RT 8.1 is new, so we shouldn't pre-judge. More to the point RT has one advantage over all other tablets: you can get Microsoft Office in app form. More to the point, you get Office free with every RT device. And there are additional benefits. Windows RT plays nicely with other Windows products on the server side, so if Microsoft ever gets RT right it could be a killer app for business. See also: The 9 best 10in tablets: the best 10 inch tablets you can buy in 2013.

Nokia Lumia 2520 vs iPad Air: Storage and connectivity

Other factors could be storage - the iPad offers more options but at the basic level the Lumia has more storage and an expansion slot - and connectivity. You can get Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity on both, but again the Lumia comes in only one flavour that has cellular connectivity. This may or may not be important to you.

Lumia 2520

Nokia Lumia 2520 vs iPad Air: Display

Despite being, broadly, 10in touchscreen tablets, the Nokia Lumia 2520 and iPad Air have very different displays. The Lumia 2520 has the bigger display, at 10.1in to 9.7in. But that doesn't make it better. Those extra inches of screen real estate don't offer extra pixels. In fact, quite the opposite.

Because although the Lumia 2520 has a perfectly acceptable HD resolution of 1920 × 1080, that gives it a pixel density of 218ppi. The slightly smaller iPad trumps this with a resolution of 2048 x 1536, which means that every inch has 264 pixels. In reality you will have to look to notice the difference, but the iPad should have the sharper display.

Sharpness isn't everything of course, and we recommend spending a little time with both devices if choice of display is going to infuence your choice of device. See also: The top 10 best tablets: What's the best tablet you can buy in 2013?

Nokia Lumia 2520 vs iPad Air: Cameras

Both the Lumia 2520 and the iPad Air have front- and rear-facing cameras. In the Nokia's case this is a 6.7 Mp Auto Focus Zeiss optics with f1.9 aperture on the back, and a 2Mp HD wide-angle camera for video calls and selfies.

The iPad Air has a rear-facing 5Mp iSight camera, with f2.4 aperture. On the front is a 1.2Mp HD webcam. Although the Nokia's specs look better, and Nokia has a good track record in this area, but again we'd want to test both cameras before making a recommendation.

Nokia Lumia 2520 vs iPad Air: Size and weight

iPad AirSomething we can quantify! The iPad Air measures 169.5 x 240 x 7.5 mm, and weighs 469 g. By contrast the Lumia 2520 is a relatively massive 267 x 168 x 8.9* mm, and 615 g. That makes it taller, thicker and much heavier than the iPad, which in most people's eyes will be a bad thing. The iPad Air is an exceptional example of tablet design in this respect.

Nokia Lumia 2520 vs iPad Air: Release date

Like the Lumia 1520 smartpone, the Lumia 2520 tablet will launch 'this quarter'. Once Nokia or retailers announce a more specific release date, we'll let you know but at least we can tell you that the tablet will arrive sometime this year.

We can be more specific with the iPad. The iPad Air will be available online and in Apple stores on 1 November starting with a price of £399 as usual. You can't pre-order the device as yet but we'll let you know if and when this is an option.

Nokia Lumia 2520 vs iPad Air: Price

The iPad Air starts at £399 inc VAT, as we said above. That gets you the 16GB Wi-Fi only version. Jump up to 32GB and you will have to shell out £479. A Wi-Fi-only 64GB iPad Air will cost £559, and the 128GB flavour costs £639 inc VAT.

Step up to Wi-Fi and cellular and you are looking at £499 for the 16GB model. The prices then step up to £579 for 32GB, £659 for 64GB and £739 for 128GB.

We don't yet know the Lumia 2520 price. Nokia has said the Lumia 2520 tablet will cost $499 excluding tax and subsidies. We'll update this with the UK price once it has been announced. It's likely to come in at an iPad Air-like £399, albeit with one model that offers cellular connectivity and 32GB storage.

The Nokia Power Keyboard will be available alongside the Lumia 2520 at the recommended price of $149. We expect this to cost £99 in the UK. See also: Top 8 best Windows 8 tablets: the best Windows 8 tablets you can buy in 2013.

Nokia Lumia 2520 vs iPad Air: Specifications

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Here are the full specifications for the iPad Air:

  • Operating System: iOS 7.
  • Dimensions: 169.5 x 240 x 7.5 mm, 469 g.
  • Storage: 16, 32, 64, 126 GB.
  • Display: 9.7 in Retina display (2048 x 1536, 264 ppi).
  • Processor: A7 64-bit chip and M7 motion coprocessor.
  • Cameras: 5 Mp iSight rear camera, FaceTime HD front camera.
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n); dual channel (2.4GHz and 5GHz) and MIMO, Bluetooth 4.0; optional cellular data: UMTS/HSPA/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz); GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz), CDMA EV-DO Rev. A and Rev. B (800, 1900 MHz), LTE (Bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 13, 17, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26)
  • Memory: as yet unknown because Apple doesn't say, but iPad 4 and the iPhone 5S - another A7 device - both have 1GB RAM.
  • Battery: 32.4-watt-hour rechargeable lithium-polymer battery

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Here are the full specifications for the Nokia Lumia 2520:

  • Operating System: Windows RT 8.1
  • Dimensions: 267 x 168 x 8.9* mm, 615 g.
  • Storage: 32 GB internal memory, microSD card support up to 32GB, SkyDrive
    cloud storage.
  • Display: 10.1 in Full HD (1920×1080) AHIPSCapacitive Multi-Touch Display, Gorilla Glass 2.
  • Processor: 2.2 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800.
  • Connectivity: NFC, A-GPS+GLONASS, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, microUSB 3.0, Bluetooth 4.0 LE, 3.5mm audio connector GSM: 850, 900, 1800, 1900MHz; WCDMA: 850, 900, 1800, 1900, 2100MHz; LTE: 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 13, 17, 20; LTE: 150 Mbps DL / 50 Mbps UL.
  • Memory: 2GB RAM
  • Battery: 8000 mAh
Apple iPad Air Expert Verdict »
Apple iPad Air WiFi 16GB Scores 9.2 out of 10 based on 534 reviews
1.39 GHz Apple A7 processor (ARMv8-A, dual-core) with 64-bit architecture and M7 motion coprocessor
PowerVR G6430 graphics
9.7in (2048 x 1536-pixel) LED-backlit Multi-Touch IPS display, 264ppi
iOS 7
16/32/64/128 GB flash storage
dual-band 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi with 2x2 MIMO
Bluetooth 4.0
optional 4G LTE modem and Nano-SIM card slot, with A-GPS
1.2 Mp FaceTime HD front camera, 720p video
5 Mp f2.4 iSight rear camera, 1080p video
dual microphones
stereo speakers
Lightning dock connector
three-axis gyro, accelerometer, ambient light sensor, digital compass
32.4 Wh fixed lithium-polymer battery
USB power adaptor
240 x 170 x 7.5 mm
469g (Wi-Fi only model) or 478g (Wi-Fi plus cellular model)

Different devices for different things, it remains to be seen which will be best. Honestly, on specs and reputation alone most consumers should go for the iPad - if they can afford it. But Windows RT and Nokia offer some unique possibilities, partcularly for businesses.

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