Opera has been a player in the desktop browser market since the days of mailed AOL CDs and 56k modems. It would make sense, then, that a developer with this much experience would make quite a splash in the mobile world.
- Smooth scrolling
- Opera Link
- Fewer features
- Lacks true tabbed browsing
- Not a ton of settings
- Single column view
Speed: The Opera Mobile browser blew away the competition in terms of speed. It loaded the mobile CNN site in about 5 seconds and the full site in a paltry 25 seconds. Surfing site-to-site felt great using this browser and it shot around the Internet faster than any other browser in this round up. Sites loaded even faster after they had been visited and stored in the cache. Clearly, Opera spent time optimizing this browser to work fast and it did an outstanding job. Scrolling around pages was silky smooth with nary a jitter in sight, and the zoom seamlessly moved in and out.
Page Display: Opera handled every page visited well, loading it quickly and properly. Embedded flash videos played perfectly a definite plus. One of the products claims is smooth panning for surfing the web in a more intuitive way. It certainly lived up to that claim. We were impressed with the way it automatically zooms to text fields when you tap on them making it easier to see whats being typed, though occasionally it did zoom in after an errant tap on the screen. Opera sports an ability to open pages in a Single Column View, which eliminates the need to scroll side to side. This was a bit of a mixed bag, though, since too many pages appeared cluttered. Like Dolphin HD, Opera Mobile 11.1 offers user the ability to change their user agents to simulate either a mobile or desktop browser making it easy to switch between full sites and their mobile counterparts. The browser did lack a simple button to go to full screen mode. On a mobile display every pixel counts, and diving through a menu to hide the status bar at the top isnt ideal.
Navigation: Using the Opera Mobile browser for navigation is definitely intuitive, we just wish we could say the same for tracking tabs. In short, the lack of true tabbed browsing is a missed opportunity. Opera does track the web pages opened in the toolbar at the bottom of the screen, so a simple tap will launch pages in the thumbnail preview bar. However, it isnt as immediate as tabbed browsing in Dolphin HD browser due to the extra tap. The launch page does offer customizable bookmarks. Speaking of bookmarks we appreciated the Opera Link, a feature that allows users who use the Opera browser on a desktop to sync bookmarks and other information with a home computer.
Extra Features: Opera is a little light on features compared to Dolphin HD or some of the other more customizable browsers. It does have an Opera Turbo mode that compresses the pages information to speed browsing further and save on data use. This could be handy for those people on skimpier data plans. There is a slight decrease in image quality using Opera Turbo, but nothing grievous.
Overall: Opera Mobile 11.1 is for those who want a fast browsing experience thats fairly intuitive to navigate. The browsers smooth scrolling and zoom made viewing full pages a fun rather than frustrating experience. However, the lack of add-ons or deep customization might be a turn-off for some users.