Opera Mini for Android Review: Pros and Cons
UPDATE: As the 7.5 version has just came out, I have updated the Features section. New features are designated with "NEW"
If you have my previous hub about the cheapest unlimited data plan for smartphones, you will know that I bough the Samsung Galaxy Exhibit. I chose this phone because it was inexpensive (compared to the other choices), ran Gingerbread, and had a good developer community. However, the small price tag meant that the phone had rather old hardware: 512 MB of RAM and a 1 GHz processor. While this is OK for the OS and running one app at a time, that's not how I use my phone. I apply several tweaks, install custom ROMs, and I like to listen to music while browsing the web and having several open applications in the background. Unfortunately, Chrome, which is my favorite Android web browser, requires too much system resources for this to be plausible. This led me on a quest to find the least resource-intensive browser available for Android, and after testing quite a few different browsers Opera Mini came out on top.
What mobile Web browser do you use?
Although Opera Mini is a very small application it still has quite a few features. Here they are:
- NEW: Smart Page. It automatically updates with posts from your social networks, as well as news from the RSS feeds of your most visited sites. it is positioned in a different tab of the new tab page.
- Speed Dial/Start Page: basically the same as the New Tab page in Chrome. It's a page of icons with previews for your most visited/manually added sites.
- Bookmarks: Standard bookmarks list., but with an added bonus of an RSS reader, which I found pretty neat.
- History: Just a list of your most recently visited sites.
- Saved Pages: You can download webpages for offline viewing later.
- Downloads: It has its own separate downloads folder/viewer.
- Share: Allows you to share a webpage, using Android's default sharing mechanism.
- Unlimited tabs: You can have as many tabs open as you'd like, viewable by tapping the tabs icon on the bottom bar which brings up a small sliding box with all of your tabs in it.
- Google search: A box positioned next to the address bar.
- Page compression: Compresses sites so you don't have to load as much, supposedly increasing load times and decreasing data used
- "What did you click" thing: I'm not sure what the real term is, but it's that feature that zooms in when your finger touches multiple links at once and it's unsure which one you meant to go to. In Chrome it makes a small zoomed-in box with the area, in this browser it zooms in and highlights the different links you may have wanted to click.
Page Load Comparisons
- Speed. This is the best and most obvious feature. It is also the reason I chose this browser. Everything is just FAST. Opening the application is instant. Webpages load quick. Zooming in and out reflows quickly. The interface is fluid and responsive. And it works great even in low-RAM environments.
- Page compression. Yes, it really works. Pages load so much faster when I'm in an area with little signal (or while on EDGE) and the built in Data Usage comparison does show 80%+ savings.
- Small file size. The app takes up less then a MB of space, which is GREAT because my phone doesn't have very much internal memory.
- Easily accessible history. This may sound strange, but many browsers, including Chrome, are starting to phase out or hide history. And since I'm very forgetful, viewing my history to go back to a page I visited awhile ago is really useful.
- Easy tab management. With Chrome, you have to tap a button for it to zoom out, and show you an odd (but good-looking) playing card-like tab list. With Opera Mini you just tap a button and a small tray instantly pops up at the bottom with previews of each site.
- No HTML5 or Flash support. This is going to be the biggest drawback for most people. It isn't too bad though because clicking on a YouTube video just loads it in the YouTube app and the browser is only a tap of the back button away.
- Some pages load very scaled-down versions of their websites. This isn't an issue with the browser itself, it loads full Desktop webpages beautifully. It's just that some places, Namely Google, see that you're on an Opera browser from a mobile device, and assume you're using some sort of flip phone from the early 2000s.
Anyway, hope you liked my first review-like Hub and felt it was informative. I'm a bit strained for time right now but I may come back and add more later. I chose a Pros/Cons style because I feel it's easy to get the information you want quickly.