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Nokia answers the Surface 2 with the Lumia 2520, a beautiful, ultra-mobile Windows RT tablet

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Gallery Photo: Nokia Lumia 2520 hands-on photos
Gallery Photo: Nokia Lumia 2520 hands-on photos

Nokia is building a Windows RT tablet. Its aspirations haven't exactly gone unnoticed, but today in Abu Dhabi the company is officially pulling the wraps off its largest Lumia ever: the $499 Lumia 2520, a slate that combines the company's Windows Phone design language with the best of Microsoft's Surface 2 — keyboard accessory and all. The Lumia 2520 looks particularly like the new 6-inch Lumia 1520, but it's in line with most of Nokia's smartphones over the last couple of years, featuring sleek lines, a unibody design, and an intense color palette including options for cyan, red, white, and black.

The Lumia 2520 matches the Surface 2 spec for spec

Inside, the 2520 matches the new Surface 2 spec for spec. It has a great-looking, 10-inch, 1920 x 1080 display with strong viewing angles and beautiful colors. Its 2.2GHz Snapdragon 800 processor should be at least as capable as the Tegra 4 in the Surface 2 — it seemed to run Windows RT 8.1 quite well, in our few minutes with the device. It comes with 2GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage, and a card slot for adding up to 32GB more.

Nokia is touting the Lumia 2520's credentials as a mobile-focused tablet — it offers built-in LTE connectivity and the screen is said to be highly readable outdoors, with high brightness and low reflectiveness. Nokia wants you to use the 2520 to take pictures on the go, to find maps and directions, and to even do some work with the built-in Office RT suite. The Lumia 2520 will work with a $149 Surface-style attachment called the Power Keyboard, which is far clunkier to attach but does give the tablet two extra USB ports and up to five more hours of battery life — that's in addition to the 11 the device gets by itself.

It's a little odd that the Lumia 2520 exists at all

There's a 6.7-megapixel camera with a f/1.9 Zeiss lens on the back, and the front-facing camera is 2 megapixels; the Lumia 2520 will use the same Nokia Camera app that was just introduced with the Lumia 1520. Nokia's new Storyteller app plots your photos on a map, showing where you were when you took pictures and grouping them accordingly — it's another great reason to have always-on connectivity on your device.

That the Lumia 2520 exists at all is a little odd, given that Microsoft is acquiring Nokia, and the company already makes a tablet very much like it. But more Windows RT devices should be better for the entire ecosystem, as Microsoft and its partners try to woo developers and users to the platform — and as Instagram showed today, developers are starting to buy in. Plus, Nokia told us the 2520 is designed explicitly to be mobile-first, while the Surface is more about replacing your laptop. Whether either idea is enough to light a fire underneath Windows RT 8.1 is hard to say. But the Lumia 2520 is a beautiful tablet, befitting Nokia's remarkable hardware record over the last few years. And it's a big, important bet that mobile really does come first.

Sam Byford contributed to this report

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