By the numbers: iPad Air versus Nokia Lumia 2520 and Microsoft's Surface 2

The Surface 2 by Microsoft, Lumia 2520 from Nokia and Apple's iPad Air are the latest tablets to go ahead one another. The first two of the three run Windows RT 8.1, while the iPad Air runs iOS 7. But the question is: which one is best suited for your requirements and needs? Take a gander at the above chart, comparing specifications between the three tablet solutions.

Microsoft provides a handful of goodies that are matched and built around in the Lumia 2520. You not only have Redmond's products and services, but also unique extras from the Finnish manufacturer. The iPad, on the other hands, is a tried and tested product which really kicked off the tablet category. If you haven't already done so, be sure to check out our coverage of all three tablets.

Head over to iMore for the latest on the iPad Air.

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds is Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him over on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.

301 Comments
  • Definitely will buy Lumia 2520
  • +2520
  • dell venue 8 pro
  • Dell V8P has the start button in a very dumb and annoying location. Might be reason enough to consider the Lenovo Miix 2 over the Dell V8P. The stylus and case are also cheaper on the Miix 2.
  • I believe Dell uses active digitizer which is better for handwriting.
  • This bugs me as well. Why is the start button on the side? For me that's enough to give it a pass.
  • I don't get why it's such a big deal. It's in the perfect position when using it in landscape mode and if you're using it in portrait all you have to do is move your hand slightly. Just like you would when using any > 10 inch windows tablet in landscape mode. Either that or just swipe to the right which is what I do 90% of the time when I'm using my Ativ Smart PC. At least it's not a capacitive button you'll hit accidently
  • Not a big deal. I just don't like it.
  • Don't forget, you still have two options to get back to the start. Swipe from the right edge to the left, and press the start button. Or, if you want to close the app itself, swipe it from the top to the bottom. So it isn't the end of the world.
  • Hell, I honestly forget about the Start button on my Surface Pro 2, I only use it to wake the thing up. Otherwise? Nope, always a right swipe. I honestly forget about the capacative Start button unless I'm waking it up.
  • I will buy the beast that is Lenovo Miix 2
  • If it comes in yellow I would snap it up in a heartbeat! No yellow...no fair! So much for matching phone, headphone and tablet!!! All my excitement has been thrown out of the window! :'(
  • No! You can still enjoy the tablet!
  • I was trying to come with a clever "window" joke but I'm empty...
  • lol - I had the exact same response when I read the colours being released - I might have to upgrade to yellow 920 so I can coordinate again
  • lol...I know but I want yellow so bad it hurts! Just so I can show people how un-apple and un-android it is on the outside as well as the inside! My only real option black! My headphones look daft without the correctly coloured hardware, lol!!!
  • Buy the Cyan or red and u can show off with it . i understand ur point because yellow is an amazing color but try cyan seems great
  • Love me some cyan!
  • first world problems
  • Ha ha ha
  • No. This is a girlie-man problem. - Arnold Swarzenegger
  • I don't disagree, lol...I am being girlie about it all...But.I.Want.Yellow!!!
  • So do you walk around in a yellow shirt, yellow pants, and a yellow jacket? It's OK if colors compliment each other, bra. A tablet in any color will look just swell with your yellow gadgetry.
  • Let's not forget color blocking is in...
  • More like hints of yellow in my trainers, shirts and hoodies...I wouldn't want to look like a banana, lol! But I'm leaning towards cyan or white at the momenet. Would still kill for yellow though, lmao!!!
  • I also want yellow for the same reasons; I have a yellow Lumia 1020, will buy a yellow Lumia 1520, I have the Monster Purity Stereo Headphones in yellow, how can my tablet NOT be yellow?  Unthinkable!!  LOL!!
     
    A YELLOW tablet will look REALLY COOL AND SLEEK!!
    !
  • You know I'm also tempted to buy the yellow 1520 too, lol. But it's more 'want' than 'need', lol! I'm torn. And it's not like I'm loaded...I save and save and I have nothing to spend it on...except Nokia and Microsoft products, lol!
  • It's a tech blog my friend, tires comment.
  • Surface has MIMO too
  • The 2520 weight is wrong , it's 1.3pounds
  • that's what i thought
  • I'm sorry, but there are mistakes in the Surface 2 specs. LTE is coming in early 2014 and didn't they say that this WILL include GPS?
  • How is it a mistake if it doesn't currently exist?
  • +2520
  • LTE Iis, but MIMO is as surface had mimo antenna from day one
  • Because its missleading. They could of easily fit "Yes (Available 2014)" or something similar in the list. It makes it appear as if there isnt any option period, when microsoft has already stated otherwise that an LTE version will be available soon in early 2014.
     
    Lastly, the 2520 technically "doesn't exist" yet, as far as availability is concerned, so by that argument the 2520 shouldn't even be up there.
  • That's one of the worst arguments I've ever seen put forward. 
  • Yeesh.... you could be a bit nicer. all im saying is the 2520 doesnt "exist" either yet its being compared, ergo, the LTE surface variant, which was announced as coming early 2014, should be there too. Both have been announced, yet are currently unreleased nor "existent" as far as a consumer is concerned.
  • What else do u know about that lte device? Screen? Storage? Battery?anything?
  • +8X
  • The iPad Air isn't out yet either.
  • So? The Lumia 920 was compared when the iPhone 5 was announced, along with the "BlackBerry phone" (name at the time), and some Android phones in the same type of chart.
  • There are mistakes in the Surface 2 specs
     
    Storage - should include the ability to upgrade an additional 64GB via microSD; and if you want to get technical, that full-sized USB port allows you to add an unlimited amount of storage to Surface 2. I've purchased a low-profile, 32GB flashdrive to go in mine - so let's see 64GB on the Surface 2, another 64GB on the microSD, and another 32GB on the USB port, makes 160GB of storage . . . that ain't bad
    WiFi - should have mentioned that EVERY Surface comes with dual 2x2 MIMO
    LTE - the lack of LTE is not a mistake, Surface 2 does not have LTE. Some other Surface in the future may, but Surface 2 does not.  That said, whomever in this day and age prefers to have a second mobile bill with these bloodthirsty, evil carriers here in the States, instead of WiFi tethering their first line to their tablet for a small fee . . . my goodness, some people are made of money. 
  • In my experience tethering is never fast enough to be productive. The LTE option is great and only cost $10 monthly on AT&T.
  • @ dustin, the iPad air "doesn't exist" yet either. The difference is all of these charts show what the initial configuration will be. The fact that surface has a vague early 2014 release date doesn't matter. It could be January, it could be April, it could even never happen.
  • Tethering on 920 is plenty fine though not for extended periods of time or data. I played a few MMOs over tether for a few weeks while I pondered leaving cable for uverse, etc, and it played quite well much to my surprise.
  • you're right.... and also u forgot to mention that it comes with free 200GB skydrive :)
  • im an idiot ignore my posts - i should use google before posting dumb questions.
    edit 2: i mean i should use bing.
  • An idiot doesn't recognize when they made a mistake. Dont be so hard on yourself.
  • "An error doesn't become a mistake until you refuse to correct it"
  • Surface 2 for life
  • Same here bro got the RT now I have the surface 2. I will never get a data plan from either at&t or Verizon and ever where that I use my surface I have WiFi.
  • I have a touch screen laptop. Windows ftw
  • Only a Nokia would have the build quality to last a lifetime. :P
  • Surface 2 has better materials
  • Lets not be harsh on 2520 vs Surface 2. They are both windows devices, and that's all that matters, and that it isn't apple or google.
  • You should add screen brightness info to the Surface 2 and iPad Air specs, and there should be a mention of the aspect ratio differences, not just diagonal measure/pixels.
  • Not to mention that the Surface's amount of pixels wasn't shown.
  • Same as the 2520...
  • 2520 is 10.1, surface is 10.6. Apple and Microsoft likely don't publish brightness, whereas Nokia did because it was a special point. And apple and Nokia gave the ppi whereas Microsoft probably didn't.
  • Also, the biggest thing imo about the 2520 screen is low reflectance.
  • Well now I'm curious what exactly MIMO is.
  • Multiple Input Multiple Output antenna array.
  • Well while we're at it, what is TBD and can you please explain to me how to compare the A7 chip to other processors. Thank you.
  • TBD , to be determined
  • Thank you
  • TBD = To Be Determined
    It's not known yet, so it will be announced later.
     
  • You can go to anandtech for some benchmarks. THe A7 is the fastest in most categories, but the other 2 processors are plenty fast as well. Bottom line is that no matter which tablet you choose, you won't see an app that will give it problems for a few years.
  • Thanks that is all I wanted to know.
  • Oh that must be nice. I'm guessing we'll be seeing a lot more of it in the next year or two?
  • MIMO..... the new title for a porno :)
  • You are very Drty. See what I did there? Drty, dirty? Nevermind...
  • MIMO antenna provides for high throughput Wi-Fi. Microsoft introduced this on the Surface last year and Surface two has the same 2x2 MIMO antenna. It just basically means higher throughput for Wifi signal. Which is ironic cause the original surface had Wifi issues for some time lol wonder if it was hardware or software
  • I really want the 2520 only because if the cyan color and NFC...but I already have a cyan touch cover from my gen1 surface so I might get that instead...
  • Love the Nokia but it can't beat the Iphone XL in terms or resolution. But that's ok the Nokia is still better in other ways, at least for me.
  • Nobody needs that kind of resolution on a tablet just to play another round of Candy Crush.
  • That resolution makes Asphalt 8 and Real Racing 3 look amazing on my iPad 4....
     
    I would like to have that resolution on a Nokia device and while I am at it, I really wish Nokia would have made a Windows 8.1 tablet. I am not saying anything negative towards RT but my next tablet will but a Windows 8.1 device to meet my needs and it would have been nice to give Nokia my money after years of supporting their efforts.
  • Dude the display on the Nokia device is still amazing, did you see the demo?
  • Yes, the display on the 2520 is amazing just as they are on my Lumia's and my 808 Pureview. We were specifically speaking about resolution and not display quality. I would take the quality of Nokia's displays over ANY display on any device. My 808 Pureview with its lowly 640x360 resolution has amazing contrast with CBD and all the other Nokia Sceen tech (minus PureMotion+ and Super Sensitive Touch). The screen punches well above its resolution.
    Higher resolution with Nokia's screen tech is a win win.
  • Well isn't the resolution limited by the content? Exactly how would a game at 1080p look any different on either device?
  • You guys make it seem like the resolution on the iPod jumbo is miles ahead. Sure its better, but not that much better
  • Thank you for the balanced opinion regarding RT vs Pro. So sick of people unjustly putting RT down just because it doesn't suit their more niche-like needs. But comments like yours are very refreshing :)
  • I really doubt that any 3D game is rendered at iPad 4 resolution, making it useless for that purpose. Screen quality is about way more than just PPI, like color reproduction (Android devices have the most variance here) and just plain visibility (being able to see the content no matter the lighting conditions around you, meaning low reflectance and high brightness), are some that come to mind.
  • Damn, that air resolution
  • 1080p is good enough for a tablet...
  • 2520 needs 64Gb storage, expandable to 128Gb... 32Gb/64GB is a let down, esp. with the OS taking up, what, 14Gb?
  • You can put all your documents, music and pictures and even apps (with some tinkering) all on an SD card and rarely use your tablet hard drive though. Its a tablet, so I'm not sure what type of programs you plan on loading and keeping on it that will surpass a 64GB SD card and the device storage as well as SkyDrive.
  • 64Gb SD card, um it only takes up to a 32Gb...  SkyDrive you gotta stream and pay for the data.  How much is the incremental cost up front for manufacturer to actually put in a decent amount of storage!
  • It has USB 3.0 so you can buy an external hard drive to use with it.
    ;)
  • Weird that they didnt mention that the Surface has SD card expanidability as well
  • Agreed. Then again, I guess most people are just fine with 16GB on the iPads.
  • And, Windows devices have USB hosting, with a desktop environment that enables makes file management a lot easier and better. I hate that this is always neglected. Even though RT isn't utilizing a "full" desktop, having USB hosting with a desktop environment is so important.
  • The desktop can be removed as far as I'm concerned from Windows RT.
  • Yeah, mostly. But once you want to grab some files, or organize your crap, it is pretty great to go back to something so familiar and robust.
  • Or use Office or any advanced system management or use desktop IE.
  • Desktop is great when I remote into my PC or when I plug in KVM
  • What about certain video file formats for video like mkv? No point in having usb if I can't view the files on it!!!
  • Why can't you watch MKV's on Windows RT?  I have been doing it for 9 months or more.
  • Unless you have been converting them prior, then no you have not (unless I have missed something, in which I would really like to know!)
    VLC needs to come sooner.
  • You have missed something.  There is an app that plays MKV's.  I will check what the name is when I get home.
    Edit: found it on the website by searching for MKV.
    http://apps.microsoft.com/windows/en-us/app/8441f98d-c8e7-4ee1-9c1a-6f08f46e51f3
  • I await with anticipation :)
  • Search mkv in the store, there are a bunch of options.
  • I never said you couldn't, lol...I should've worded it all better. I suppose my question is this...does it play pretty much all video files that a standard PC does?
  • Yes, it plays all videos that are available out of the box on Windows 8.1. Not all the ones available with VLC though. MKV is just a container format. Windows doesn't understand it, but it usually understands the audio and video streams inside (eg H264 video and AAC audio). There are apps in the Store that preprocess this a little by splitting the MKV into its parts and keeping them in sync while playing them both at the same time. It's invisible to the user (except for a bit of preprocessing) and the results are quite good.
  • The iPad doesn't seem to fair very well.
  • Your joking right?
  • *You're
  • Not at all. Of the three, it looks like the Nokia is a best choice, Surface a second choice and the iPad a third choice. The difference in OS alone dings the iPad a few points.
  • Outside of resolution what does the ipad have over either of these 2 devices other than being a lot more expensive?