LTE Tablet showdown: Lumia 2520 vs Surface 2; our readers weigh in

Our forums here at Windows Phone Central is the place to hit if you are seeking advice, support, or friendly chat for anything Microsoft related.

This week, within our Microsoft Surface 2 forum, reader, ThoughtHalo, wanted to know if he should keep his Nokia Lumia 2520 or trade it for one of Microsoft’s brand new Surface 2 units with LTE. Let us see if we can help him out.

ThoughtHalo writes, 

“I am in a dilemma. I have got a Lumia 2520 with the power keyboard. I am wondering if there is any advantage of selling my 2520 and getting the surface 2 LTE?” 

Our Editor In Chief, Daniel, recently posted a quick impression post of the latest Surface tablet to come from Microsoft and quickly addressed some of the main differences between the Surface 2 LTE and the Lumia 2520.

The Surface 2 (with or without LTE) has one of the best displays around – we are not just talking about the resolution, we are also talking about the color reproduction, contrast, and viewing angles. Screen sizes also differ between the two devices that might affect portability (but, just by tad); the Surface 2 LTE includes a 10.6-inch display, while the Lumia 2520 includes a 10.1-inch display. While the difference sounds minimal, the Nokia Lumia 2520 does feel a tad smaller to handle in person.

The Surface 2 LTE really scores points when it comes down to ports; the Surface 2 LTE does include USB 3.0, which may be a major factoring depending on what you are doing.

Microsoft and Nokia’s keyboards are also very different beasts. While Microsoft’s Surface Touch, Type, and Power covers provide wonderful typing experiences in a super thin and efficient form factor, Nokia’s 2520 keyboard can feel like a bit of a bulky mess (although it would then provide you with USB ports).

Looking between the two tablets, it can be hard to pick which one you like better. Here at Windows Phone Central, we prefer the Surface 2 LTE to the Nokia Lumia 2520 due to the better screen, attachable keyboards, port array, and the overall better feel (metal vs plastic exterior).

If you want to get extremely technical, then here we go. In terms of hardware, the Lumia 2520 comes in at a height and width of 6.6 inches x 10.5 inches, while the Surface 2 LTE comes in at 6.8 inches x 10.8 inches – both devices are .35 inches thin. The Lumia 2520 weighs in slightly less at 1.35 pounds, while the Surface 2 LTE sits at around 1.5 pounds.

Both units have 1080p screens, but due to the fact that the Surface 2 LTE has a 10.6-inch screen and the Nokia Lumia 2520 has a 10.1-inch screen, the Lumia comes in with a slightly higher PPI of 218 (Surface comes in at 208).

Under the hood, both units perform very well within their Windows RT environments. The Lumia 2520 is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 800 (2.2 GHz), while the Surface 2 LTE is powered by NVidia’s Tegra 4 (1.7 GHz). Both units included 2GB of RAM to work with, so you will not be using these machines as multitasking monsters.

Also worth noting is that Nokia’s Lumia 2520 is available in a 32GB version, while Microsoft’s Surface 2 LTE is available in a 64GB variation.

The Nokia Lumia 2520’s biggest selling point was the fact that it had LTE connectivity, but now that Surface 2 LTE has moved into that segment of the market, it is up to you to decide if Nokia’s tablet is still a worthy competitor. Note: While the Lumia 2520 is available on both Verizon and AT&T, the Surface 2 LTE is only available on AT&T - something to consider if you have a lack of AT&T LTE support in the area.

Be sure to check out our forums here at WPCentral and to join in on the Surface 2 vs. Lumia 2520 by clicking here!

  • I love my surface 2 kickstand but not for $170 more. The 2520 gets my vote and I purchased the Surface 2 WiFi model over the 2520
  • The 2520 is on sale for £300 at John Lewis right now! Be quick though...offer ends at midnight 21st March 2014!!! Black and red only. Surface can't beat that price...and that's the WiFi only version I am referring to!!!
  • Lumia 2520 my choise
  • 2520. Better screen. Better mobile design. IMO better processor. Cheaper with LTE. There's really no advantage. After buying and paying for the touch cover you gonna be ~$800 with tax and ~$900 with power touch keyboard. I believe the spring update will bring you SD saving for apps. That extra money you can get a 128GB SD card and call it a day.
  • But the 2520 only supports cards up to 32gb.
  • Are you sure?
  • That is incorrect. I have a Sandisk 64gb in my 2520, and people have already reported that the new Sandisk 128gb micro SD is working as well. My vote is the 2520 as well. As nice as the Survace 2 is, I do not see it is worth the price difference.
  • It is already proven that the 2520 supports the new 128gb Samsung SD card
  • Surface 2 FTW!
  • Aggree! :)
  • Isnt there suppose to be some apps on the Lumia for Lumia Phones that could also be a nice addition in favor of the 2520? Just thinking loud
  • Got my 2520 with keyboard for $200 from At&t (traded in 2 phones for 100$ each so really was free) when I bought my 1520.
    2520 all the way ;)
  • I did the exact same thing. Also got the free power keyboard. Surface with stand and keyboard is better for typing etc., 2520 is better as a pure tablet.
  • Same here!!!
  • We have a few 2520s where I work. Best choice imo. Just feels great and looks great. Plus the super bright screen works great outdoors.
  • Do any of the Surface keyboards magnetically shut yet? When I first played with them, I was expecting it to do that rather than flop around and detract from the otherwise stellar appeal.
  • Nope, I don't see it as an issue though to be honest.
  • Discovering this was like finding a turd in the sandbox for me.
  • lol yeah, Idk, maybe somewhere down the line they might add that.  It is kind of an inconvenience, but i keep my surface in a case anyway whenever I carry it around, so I dont worry about it flopping.
  • LOL! I ain't never heard that before!
  • My single biggest issue with the surface design. Very poor choice imo.
  • I'm a Surface Pro user and never had an issue with the keyboard not being magnetically shut. Just out of curiosity, why is that such a detractor? I went for the touch cover (actually type better on it than the type cover) and it stays closed nicely even while upright on the stand if I chose to shut it.
  • Give me a 2520 running windows 8 and I would buy it in a second, RT is useless to me.
  • The surface especially is overpriced. Add in taxes and a keyboard and you're in the $800 range which is ridiculous for a device that runs RT.
  • MS price it higher so the OEM devices still sell better therefore preventing OEM's from leaving
  • iPad Air 64GB with LTE (AT&T)
    = $829 Surface 2 64GB with LTE (AT&T)
    = $679 Surface 2 64GB with LTE (AT&T)
    + Extended Warranty + Touch Cover + Padded Sleeve + $25 gift card
    + ($129.99 TypeCover2 - $25 gift card) = $104.99
    = $873.98 I know where my money would go if I didn't already have more Surfii etc. than I already do ;) Just sayin' ;)
  • What ever happened to that rumor of Nokia releasing an 8 inch tablet with a stylus? Posted via the WPC App for Android!
  • I have the Surface Pro 2 and I wonder what the weight difference is between the Surface 2 and the 2520? I love my Pro 2 for the power it has, but if I wanted just tablet functionality would the 2520 weigh that much less than the S2 or SP2?
  • 2520 = 1.3lbs, Surface 2 = 1.5lbs, surface 2 Pro = 2.0 lbs. The Surface 2 Pro is just a little to heavy in my opinion to be used primarily as a tablet. When they get the weight down to 1.5lbs it will be the ultimate convergence device with power and portability. Hopefully that's the goal for the Surface 3 Pro.
  • Thanks. Close to a full pound lighter is significant. Sssooooo....if I wanted just a tablet ala iPad and I didn't need to worry about ports, and as memory is expandable, like the S2, then I would go 2520.
  • I have 3 2520's and now wish I had a surface 2 because holding it is awkward and the material the power keyboard is made from is flimsy and honestly cheap looking. The kickstand, vapor magnesium, and the touch/type covers are superior. If you want quality, then you have to pay for it. Oh, by the way, I would suggest to anyone who is on vzw to get the Lumia icon, its tip notch ( I have it in white). I've carried and/or owned and distributed the 920, 928, 822, & this unit dwarfs them all. It screams quality and in my opinion rivals the iPhone 5s. If Nokia could have given it the exterior paint on the surface prototype at this link: In multiple elegant color, it would sell especially since Verizon currently has a special where they knock off $100; so you can get the icon for $99 right now.
  • I agree the Lumia icon is fantastic, but lets be real, there aren't many phone that dont rival the iPhone.. Bleh
  • They don't out sell the iPhone on any of the big carriers: ATT, T-Mobile, or Verizon. But I believe that with wp8.1 the features gap closes, leaving only two areas for Microsoft to catch up in: truly innovative phone design & the app disparity. The icon is a step in the right direction and if Microsoft were to release a surface phone classy like the prototypes we've seen thus far or better and make elegant commercials showing the beauty of the devices along with features in action, they would truly rival Apple & Android. They should also have an elegantly arranged start screen preloaded on all demo devices with proper category labels because all the one at cell store device look messy and generic.
  • This is the ultimate device to rival any iphone or Andriod if the make it in 4.5" -  5" - 5.3" screen sizes with the phone being thinner with each iteration offered: I also this they should make a 7.5" -  8" surface table like it rumored to be. I honestly think Microsoft should still release the surface phones even if the Nokia deal goes through as people like choice. While Samsung and HTC still offer WP devices, they barely support them and don't make any positive contribution towards getting developers or apps on the platform. We still need device choices that rival the lumia line and thus far dont have that. I think the surface phone would be the device to offer the high-end yet cheap choices people are looking for.
  • Have to go with the Surface 2. Sorry, it just has a way better feel thanks to its metal build, and that 3.0 USB port is awesome.  The only advantage that I can see the Nokia 2520 having is that it feels somewhat better to hold in the hands thanks to its roundedness, but that very same roundedness is why I don't like the design of the 2520 over the Surface 2.
  • My 2520 has 3.0 USB port also. I use it to connect to portable hard drives and transfer music and photos to 64 GB SD card.
  • Just bought a Lumia 2520 from frys today for 2 bills. I'm happy!
  • You guys have a unique frys as the one in southwest Texas doesn't carry Nokia at all.
  • You could have gone with "our forums are" or "our forum is", but not "our forums is". Seriously you guys, hire me as your editor. I'm not expensive.
  • Ha, I agree, they need a copy editor. HIRE US!
  • While I agree somewhat with your point that it is wrong, I can see the merit of "our forums is" in this case.
    "Forums" is the colloquial term for an online (website) forum. It can refer to one site or a group of sites. Therefore, it can be singular or plural.
    Am I wrong here? I know what you mean, but I think there may be some leeway here with regards to internet term "forums" vs. The traditional "forum". You can argue about the use of colloquial terminology in an online news site but I think it's fine in this case. That's more of a personal opinion and I wouldn't mind if you were against it.
  • "Am I wrong here?" Completely.
  • Maybe the use of "Forums" as a name or singular term online is not as prevalent as I thought it was.
    (1) "Our Forums is a good place to discuss..." vs. (2)"Our Forums are a good place to discuss..." vs. (3)Our Forum is a good place to discuss."
    Is #1 necessarily the wrong option here? Keep in mind we are talking about the forums section of a website here, not the traditional use of "forum". So, context should matter.
  • I totally agree with you.
  • Tossing out all rules of grammar, the best choice is the one that does not cause confusion. The best choice is the one that does not impede the understanding of the author's message.either way, you're wrong. #1 is necessarily the wrong choice because it's grammatically incorrect and because it will generate arguments about the correct use of the phrase instead of allowing us to get on with reading.
  • Thanks for the response. However, that's not a very strong argument to me. Grammar is nuanced and there can be multiple correct ways sometimes. Let's go by your method as a thought experiment. I don't think #1 impeded the understanding of the message at all. We still knew what was being talked about. If we go by your method of tossing out the grammar, #1 would not be necessarily wrong. Do you catch my drift?
  • If #1 doesn't create confusion, they why all of these comments regarding it? If it didn't, there would be no discussion on it at all, right?
  • There was no confusion regarding the meaning of the statement. Purely questions and remarks about the grammar of it. We know what the sentence means, just wondering if it was correctly written.
  • I would go with the Surface 2. I I've my S2 Wifi and would choose it over the 2520. The 2520 just did overall impress me for what I use it for.
  • Same here mine impresses me for what I use it for surfing the web games ext. I have a desktop plus 4 laptops for my heavy work like my computer business.
  • Just bought 3 surface 2's a month ago with just WiFi very happy with it.
  • Let me have one
  • As much as I like Nokia hardware, I have to give it to the surface. It just feels and looks premium to me.
  • From the image above , it shows that the Lumia has a superior screen .. for me that is very important. 
  • lol its probably just the angle the photo was taken in, the Lumia 2520 is leaning on the Surface 2.  But yeah, technically it does have a "superior" pixel densisty since it's slightly smaller, but side by side its hard to tell the difference apparently.
  • Got the 2520 for my wife for the price, she had a Surface Pro but never left the "metro" environment so I sold it and got the 2520 with keyboard for her, she loves it and the battery life, sometimes she'll just use her Lumia 1520 instead of breaking out the tablet.. I still prefer my Surface Pro 2 tethered to my Lumia 1020 (the auto tether in GDR3 and Windows 8.1 makes this quite simple).
  • I'm pretty happy with my 2520. I have no doubt that the Surface 2 is great as well though.
  • I got my 2520 through AT&T on sale for $299.99... But $100 credits for both activating a new line and buying it with a 1020, it really only cost me $99.99. For that price, I really can't see going for something that at best is slightly better...
  • My girlfriend bought the Surface 2, and we just couldn't imagine ever choosing a tablet at 10" without a kickstand the next time. Or ever! All tablets should have a kickstand, that's it. Sometimes it's even nicer to hold it with the kickstand out, letting the tablet just hang on the fingers. Mmmm...kickstand:)
  • I bought the Surface 2 a few months ago. There should be more tablets with a kickstand, not only to actually put it on a surface (not the tablet obviously). But like Rockartisten, just to hold the device with the kickstand out, holding it up, resting on your fingers. 
  • i say forget about both of them, and choose the Dell Venue 11 Pro with LTE.. it has LTE available for Sprint, AT&T, AND VZW.... plus the best selling point, it has full Windows 8..second selling point, its Intel Inside, with choice of ATOM or core i processors... one of the best accessories is the mobile Keyboard dock, that turns it into a little laptop and doubles the battery life.
  • LTE for sprint? can you expand on that? i just went on the Dell site and did not see that.
  • I got the Lumia 2520 because I'm on Verizon and I needed an LTE device since I wanted to use it on the bus during commutes. For me, back in November, that pretty much sold me on the tablet over the Surface 2. However, now that the Surface 2 has LTE, I think the extra cash would have been worth it. The major inconvenience I've found with my 2520 is the lack of a kick stand, and no USB ports. The Power Keyboard is something I'm going to need to make this device as functional as I want it to be, and that will be an extra $150 and makes the tablet significantly bulkier. Overall the Surface 2 has a better design, and that to me would be worth paying more
  • I have a Surface 2 (no LTE) and the Lumia 2520. My son has inherited the Surface 2 and loves it but I struggled with using it as a laptop when traveling. I originally purchased the Lumia because of the built in LTE, but discovered that I really prefer the power keyboard to the touch and type keyboards on the Surface 2. I never felt comfortable using the Surface on my lap but I use the Lumia this way all the time without any concern. In tablet mode, while I loved the look and feel of the Surface 2, I actually feel more comfortable holding the Lumia because of the slightly smaller size and lower weight. I'm a tall guy with big hands and the Lumia is actually fairly comfortable for me to hold one handed in portrait mode. I know that doesn't apply to everyone but for me it makes a difference. If the Surface 2 had an LTE model when I bought it I probably never would have tried the Lumia, but I'm glad I made the switch. My son is as well. :)
  • I respect you opinion, but I've found that the power cover for the 2520 is bulkier, constructed with cheap material, its awkward docking the tablet into the power keyboard unlike surface keyboards and the angle is way worse than the angle included on the original surface. Sorry, but I currently own 3 2520’s and have to give it to surface this round!
  • I hear you on the way the keyboard connects and bulkiness. I would love to have one without the battery to reduce the weight and bulk, but having a solid base makes the power keyboard more usable for me. While the angle could be better with the viewing angles on the screen it doesn't really bother me.
  • I like that wallpaper. Where can I find that? If you have a link that would be awesome
  • I think that's the built in 'Wallpaper' aka windows theme.
  • I'm in a quandary myself, as to which tablet to choose. Right now I'm leaning towards the surface 2 with LTE, I was hoping for the 2520 to be released in white but that has not materialised in retailers and right now i don't think it will as it was missing as a colour choice on Nokia's global website. As the LTE connectivity was THE selling point that pulled me towards the 2520 and mix radio was a bonus. Right now i have decided to wait and see what happens to the mix radio service and at what price the LTE variant of the surface 2 is released at in the UK.
  • Just checked the global site. White is one of the color options, along with black, cyan, and red.
  • Daniel...what happened to the Lenovo Thinkpad 8 LTE??
  • Not to be so mean, but this article is useless, and we know all the information you have covered here, the thing that we want to know is about: first, the battery life of both devices (as which can last longer), second, the lte of the Surface (does it work on any carrier, anywhere?). Thanks.
  • I love Nokia (I own two [broken] Lumia 900s, a 520 and a1020), but I think I'd have to chose to Surface 2 LTE. That's mostly because I already have a Surface Pro 2, so switching between the two would be more convenient and natural. That said: if you prefer the Lumia 2520, then by all means, take that instead. Chose what works best for you and your lifestyle. :) Of course, I don't plan on buying any new tech toys for awhile, so I suppose my preference is somewhat moot... Haha!
  • Lumia design is sooooo beautiful!!! You might lose in some things, but you will always feel good, and don't get tired of it.
  • +2520
  • When i compared them side by side in the store, I really preferred the display colors on the Lumia. The surface 2 seemed dull in comparison. I felt the surface 1 had the same problem.
  • Never seen a 2520 so I can't rule on it but Surface 2 rocks! I can sit in my armchair and type on the screen both hands, I have a full USB 3.0 port, blue type cover and a premium metal feel. And Samsung claim it's a laptop, peh!
  • I use my Nokia 2520 with keyboard to do coding, gaming, etc. One thing not mentioned is how absolutely superior the Nokia is in its form factor. Its curved edges are just far more comfortable. Also, it has an SD card slot I didn't see mentioned. The power keyboard is great, though the mouse pad flap is awkward at first, but it settles down quickly. I love this tablet and really see no reason to pay more for the Surface 2.
  • The Surface 2 also has an SD slot.
  • Can you please advise me of any tools for web dev on RT? I am still struggling to make my Surface RT more useful now that I have more paying customer for my web dev services.
  • Code writer?
  • Agree, Code Writer app is phenomenal. Not perfect, but very versatile. On my desktop at work, I often take code out of Visual Studio and work with it in Code Writer instead. Posted via the WPC App for Android!
  • Anyone here also mention that the 2520 has GPS? That definitely might matter to some. NFC is also a go with the 2520.
  • I think the 2520 is prettier and more tablet-like, in my opinion.
  • Until someone offers one unlicked and able to run on any network, I say no to LTE tablets.
  • There's a 3.0 USB slot a SD slot and LTE on the 2520 I picked up from the MS I INSTALLED the 64 gig SD as suggested here on the forum so I'm satisfied. Waiting to see what the sw upgrade brings. Some feature are sorely missing but it appears at the moment the software is holding back the hardware I want GPS navigation apps and the removal of the desktop then we can talk
  • Sonho de consumo!
  • The Surface 2 has a better screen than the 2520?! I didn't know that. I love my Surface 2 (I have the WiFi only model) but the LTE version is too expensive; I would get the 2520 over the Surface 2 w/LTE.
  • Other than the price tag...nothing beats Surface 2. Not even iPad. Sometimes I think people don't give Microsoft enough kudos for this sexy piece of hardware.
  • I am liking my 2520 but I get quite a few sleep issues with it.  I don't really use the LTE even though att forces me to have it on my account (my dumb ass was so eager I got it with the next plan).  I thnk I may go ahead and pay it off and drop the lte, and add tethering to my unlimited plan would be a better choice.  But the device is nice if Nokia didn't tramp out its HERE items it would be a no brainer imho.
  • IMO, the main advantage with the 2520 over the Surface 2, or even Pro, is built in GPS support!  That combind with Nokia Here maps makes the 2520 much more useful and functional over the Surface models.  I really like the Surface products, and will probably purchase a Pro 2, but every tablet should include GPS!    
  • Firstly, Surface 2 LTE has GPS and Nokia Here is available for all W8/RT tablets now. Not just Nokias. I like Nokia and the 2520 design is great except for one thing. I can't get over that hideous power cover and single position stand. Using a touch or type cover is uniquely convenient as I can fold under the stand to let it rest on my stomach and then there's the two angle options. There is no amount of savings that could make me choose a tablet without a stand like Surface 2.  
  • Wish the surface had NFC and GPS in all versions
  • Thanks a lot to the  WPCentral editors and the amazing community members for coming forward with their suggestions and this article. i ended up getting the Surface 2 LTE and am giving it a try to see if it will replace my 2520. i am loving the touch keybord 2 with the backlit keys, build quality and the beer screen of the Surface 2 LTE BTW i am typing this repsonse in the passenger seat of a car driving on I 90 in upper New York state on the Surface 2 LTE with the touch keyboard 2 and loving it :) Will keep everybody posted what tablet i end up keeping or whether i end up with both ;) 
  • I would like to get 2520 but Surface 2 is 200€ cheaper than 2520 in Finland, so I'm going to buy Surface 2 with Touch or Type Cover.
    Damn Euro prizes....
  • What is the brightness of the Surface 2 display? Lumia's luminance is 650 nits, which is very bright.
  • I purchased a Nokia 2520 from AT&T for $199.00 ($399.00 contract - 200 discount) recently when I realized the Surface LTE was so darn expensive. I love this thing! The screen is bright and gorgeous! Watching movies/videos is a treat. I use the GPS (here maps are awesome!) and NFC (when pairing with my purity headphones on the fly) and just appreciate the solid hardware and design. Nokia for the win!  
  • I like the display on the 2520, as the display on the surface is not nearly as crisp. Probably been said already, but the reviewer is incorrect, the 2520 has a USB3.0 port. Also, the keyboard/battery dock makes it feel more like a laptop. Much easier to type on than the Surface keyboard cover. To each his own though, as they as both heads and tails above the other tablets. I also have a 4th gen iPad, and a Nexus 7 2013 model, so I'm not a brand fanboy.
  • Nokia 2520 has gps and nfc, neither of which the Surface 2 has ( unless the new Surface LTE version includes them). Both have USB 3.0 Both are nice tablets. I'd use the Surface for corporate/business use, and the Nokia more for personal use.
  • If there was a 2520 Pro or a Surface Pro 2 LTE you would have the perfect tablet. But since both are RT It's shit! Surface Pro 2 has come so close to be great. But I guess we'll be better off waiting for Surface Pro 3
  • Does the surface have a-gps now? If not... I would go for the nokia 
  • "the built-in Windows Explorer web browser". The what Do you mean Internet Explorer instead?
  • Ok, I am now convinced that the commenting section of wpcentral is utter crap. I had my suspicions, but now I'm sure. I have no idea how my previous comment ended up here. I wrote it after I hit the "register or login to comment" (or something like that) link at the bottom of a different article ( ).  
  • Can i play real time Facebook games online like candy crush on nokia lumia 2520 ?????????????????
  • ew did you guys look at the back shot of the 2520? im shaking my head at it right now. looks so cheap and samsung'y.   
  • You guys claim that surface 2 has better display than the Lumia 2520, i wonder if this claim is based on some objective testing, or? The way you worded this sentence "Here at Windows Phone Central, we prefer the Surface 2 LTE to the Nokia Lumia 2520 due to the better screen ..." you make it seem as a fact that Surface 2 has better display, where in reality it is subjective opinion ... I'm not sure if you have seen this report from some "display experts" which say that Lumia 2520 has better display. 
  • Does the Surface 2 LTE use the Tegra 4 or 4i Processor?