Nokia Pledges Allegiance To Windows RT With The $499 Lumia 2520 Tablet

Microsoft is dead-set on keeping Windows RT with devices like the Surface 2, but now that it’s committed to shelling out $7.2 billion for Nokia’s devices business, the folks in Redmond have yet another source of hardware know-how to tap. Perhaps the earliest fruit of that reinforced partnership is the $499 Lumia 2520, Nokia’s newest tablet and its first to run Windows RT.

As a slew of leaks have already suggested, the 2520 doesn’t stray too far from the existing Lumia smartphone formula. The trademark polycarbonate Lumia body has been carried over, and with it comes much of the same design language — think gently curving midsections and tapered edges. Meanwhile, the whole shebang is powered by the same 2.2 GHz Snapdragon 800 we saw in the Lumia 1520.

But of course, there’s one thing you’ll probably notice before all of that. Nokia has outfitted the Lumia 2520 with a 10.1-inch IPS LCD panel that runs at 1080p and is swathed in Corning’s Gorilla Glass 2. Some of Nokia’s mobile DNA has carried over into this tablet too: unlike what other companies have done, all Lumia 2520s will ship with LTE radios for mobile connectivity… whether or not their owners choose to fire up them is another question entirely.

But RT? Really? The platform has been critically derided, and at this point nearly every OEM of note save for Microsoft itself has publicly moved away from it. Considering its tight (and now tighter) relationship with Microsoft, it’s perhaps no surprise that Nokia is finally getting roped into building RT hardware. Thankfully, in typical Nokia fashion, the resulting device is as consumer-friendly a Windows RT tablet as I’ve ever seen.

I got the chance to play with the Lumia 2520 in New York while Ifi Majid (Nokia’s head of North American marketing) looked on, and one thing is for sure — the Lumia formula feels just right when applied to tablets. The Surface’s angular design and metallic chassis seemed tailor-made to evoke feelings of mechanical awe, but the 2520 is its friendlier, more colorful counterpart.

The 2520 is impressive on a technical level, too. The display is plenty crisp, and it’s capable of showing off Windows RT’s myriad colors without getting too lurid and in-your-face — its great viewing angles were only icing on the cake. And swiping through the start screen and firing up apps was as snappy as you’d expect considering the chipset running the show. If you’re an RT devotee (there’s bound to be a few of them, right?), make it a point to play with one. I suspect you’ll find a lot to like.

But can this be the sort of crossover device that Nokia and Microsoft really need? Nokia’s unveiling comes hours before Apple is set to show off some new iPads, and at this point there’s little question which device people will flock to more. With the Lumia 2520 though, Nokia seems intent on fighting Windows RT’s perception problem — Majid noted to me that if RT was originally positioned as a strong competitor to the iOS than as a me-too kid sibling of Windows 8, things may have turned out very differently.

Maybe the Lumia 2520 will be the device to finally turn things around for RT. Maybe it won’t. Either way, it seems clear that RT isn’t dead just yet.

This is a developing story, please refresh for updates.