updated 12:30 pm EST, Thu March 11, 2010
Opera Mini 5 Android gives Speed Dial, tabs
Opera recommitted to Android in significant fashion today by launching Opera Mini 5 in beta. The new version brings Speed Dial over from the desktop and lets users visually jump to one of nine favorite sites from the home screen. Tabbed browsing is similarly new and uses a relatively uncommon approach that shows tabs visually without disrupting the main page.
More features carry over from full-size releases, such as a password manager and a bookmark sync feature known as Opera Link that can share pages between desktop and mobile versions of the browser. Opera Mini is free to use and should work on most any Android phone released so far.
Electronista has given the new Android browser a test. So far, we're fairly impressed by the browser's interface most of all. Although it lacks multi-touch in the current version (for those phones that support it), all its features are easy to use; we especially liked tabbed browsing, since it provides an easy point of reference both for the existing page and for those opened in tabs. Speed Dial is no longer a special feature for browsers as a whole, but it's convenient for sites you visit almost constantly.
The browser loads content very quickly due to Opera's signature compression feature, which squeezes sites through a proxy server before they reach the phone. It may be this, however, that poses the problem. We noticed some rendering inaccuracies around the text on some parts of our own pages. Also, Opera doesn't always behave well when the phone isn't directly connected to the cellular network: page loads would often stall out on Wi-Fi but work properly the moment we dropped Wi-Fi and switched to 3G.
Still, the app is currently in a beta that could fix such issues, and those who regularly juggle multiple pages or who simply need to conserve bandwidth on a limited data plan will want to consider even the pre-release version of Opera as an alternative.