- Editor's Rating
Opera Mini is a free downloadable web browser for the iPhone OS (iPhone/iPad/iPod touch). Unlike other browsers, this one relies on the company’s servers to process and compress web pages and then send them to the device rather than having the device process the pages. This functionality is claimed to improve page load times and reduce bandwidth usage.
The app’s home page is called Speed Dial, providing one-touch access for up to nine user-specified websites.
Website navigation is straightforward — tap in the address bar and type. Opera Mini attempts to make things easier by showing a drop-down menu with websites matching typed text.
This software features tabbed browsing much like a desktop web browser; this allows users to have more than one web page open at a time. Tapping the rectangle icon brings up the tabs list (shown above left). Tapping the X next to a tab closes it; touching the “+”will open a new tab. This is well-executed and intuitive; it is easy to see many tabs at once. Apple’s Safari only shows one at a time. My only complaint is that closing tabs is not instant and takes a few seconds.
Opera Mini is snappy — in my testing web page loads are slightly faster than Safari, though the real advantage is going back and forth between pages. Touching the back button in Opera does not cause it to reload the page; it is almost loaded instantly.
Touching and holding a link brings up a menu (shown above right) with options to open it in a new tab or copy the text.
I ran into several issues with Opera. Certain websites did not render correctly; NotebookReview.com is shown above on the left rendered by Opera and on the right by Safari.
Another issue I encountered was with Opera’s zoom feature. Unlike Safari where users can vary the amount they zoom in, Opera Mini for iPhone has only two modes: zoomed out or zoomed in (shown above left and right, respectively). Sometimes the zoomed-out view is too small and the zoomed-in view vice versa.
Additionally, Opera Mini does not anti-alias web page fonts like Safari; the NotebookReview.com forums in the screenshots above are unreadable in Opera’s zoomed-out mode. Shown right is Safari’s rendering of the same page.
Opera Mini for iPhone is worth trying. It is a decent alternative if not a replacement for Safari. The tabbed browsing feature is very slick and page loads are fast.
My main complaint about the product is the zoom feature — Opera Mini only allows zooming all the way in or all the way out, not in-between. Opera also does not anti-alias fonts, making them sometimes impossible to read zoomed out. Furthermore, I experienced some website rendering issues.
Despite the cons, Opera Mini is a free download and anyone that uses and iPhone or iPod touch should try it.
- Slick tabbed browsing
- Fast page loads
- Intuitive interface
- Zoom feature needs work
- No font anti-aliasing
- Some rendering issues