Android: Opera Mini 5 Beta released [Verdict: It's actually not that good]

Opera Mini 5 Beta, one of my favorite mobile applications of all time, has come out for Google’s Android operating system. Usually I’d be thrilled about this, but after installing it this morning and having a go with it, I’m really disappointed. The font rendering is terrible compared to the default browser on my Nexus One, and I can’t really feel the speed difference since I have a multimegabit connection here in Finland over HSPA. That and the 1 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon inside my smartphone makes rendering web pages with the native browser an extremely snappy experience.

I still understand that this application will probably prove useful once I’m roaming, or in some forest that doesn’t have 3G, but whereas Opera Mini was my default browser on my Nokia E71, I’m going to have to say no thank you to Opera Mini 5 Beta on my Android device. I don’t understand why the Android version is so inferior to what I saw at Mobile World Congress on the iPhone. When the Opera folks were demoing Mini on the iPhone, and they loaded up The New York Times, their signature Times New Roman font rendered properly and looked crisp and beautiful. I can’t say the same thing for this application.

Have you tried it? What are your thoughts?

Update: Oh and in case you can’t figure out how to grab this app, just search for Opera in the App Market.

  • Chris Hoffman

    I would disagree. I think it is terrific…much better than the default. Happened upon this page searching how to make it the default browser, in fact. I tried the previous Opera that was available for Android, but did not care for it. However, I think they have a winner here until Firefox mobile comes out (it will likely be preferred because of the extension support and all the extensions).

  • Matt Jansen

    I’ve used this a couple of times so far on my HTC Hero with Sprint and the speed difference is quite notable between using it and the default Android browser. I imagine that’s because my hardware isn’t nearly as powerful as the Nexus One. The mouse pointer appearing when using the trackball seems pretty intuitive too and reminds me of Blackberry devices.

  • MOut

    I don’t get it. What font problems are you seeing?

    How is the Android version inferior to the iPhone version? Just the font?

    • Stefan Constantinescu

      I may sound anal when I talk about the fonts, but when you spend hours reading off a screen like I do, typography is very, VERY, important.

      • MOut

        So what font problem specifically? I really can’t spot any problems.

        Do you have a screenshot for comparison (good vs. bad)?

  • PlasmaShark

    Are you joking? This browser is amazing! I think your just trying to cause a fire because there is no other browser on Android that is this fast, clean, functional, etc.

  • Mark

    Loving it… sure a native app would have better, but this pretty neat, and compliments the inbuilt browser.

  • abc123

    I have exactly the opposite experience with Stefan. I’ve been a long time Opera Mini user since the WM Days and I feel that the Android version is just as good.

    the speed of opera mini is nothing short of amazing. I’m using a 3g connection and pages load within seconds. The same page using the default android browser would have me waiting for around half a minute… which is painful and unacceptable. I’ve speed tested this browser with my friends inbuilt browsers (iphone, android, PIE) and there hasn’t been one browser that has beaten it in terms of speed. The only one that comes close is Skyfire… They all give me the excuse that the reason is because it’s not a real browser and that it needs a backend server to do the rendering. My answer, as always, is WHO CARES? It looks the same, operates the same so what difference does it make? They all run opera mini now (except my iphone friends… they are SOL).

    One thing I have noticed is that the slower the phone, the bigger the difference in perceived performance between the inbuilt browser and Opera Mini. So if you have the latest and greatest phone with a 1ghz processor, then maybe the performance difference isn’t so noticeable.

  • Robin

    Havingg tried it, I have to agree – Opera 5 on Android is not a good experience. Yes, it is faster on my G1 than the default browser,, but at the expense of really poor rendering. At least it is usable though (Opera 4 was not)

  • NerdyDragon

    Really bad rendering on the G1? im using the G1 and it looks just as clean? (hmmm) Not that i spend much time doing high res picture editing (this is pure sarcasm i work with 500+mb tiffs on my 23″dual Planar LCDs) but it seems every bit as sharp as the default browser.

    Pros
    Download directly to SD card (def g1 browser wont download files it doesnt support, exe, rar, etc, IE fixing downloading a network driver for a freshly re-installed box)

    a back, forward, and stop button on the main screen (have to hit menu on def browser)

    Dramatically faster page loads (as quick as my netbook on some pages)

    seleting text is actually usuable (def browser its easier to just retype than it is to get the right text selected)

    Single click to zoom (for those of us too lazy to root and multi-touch our g1′s. i will get around to it eventually)
    Much better than zooming on g1 def browser (not to mention the time ive saved not accidentally clicking the zoom button going for a link near it)

    CONS
    Cant set as default browser on G1 (at least not as far as i can tell, im aware of the apps>clear defaults, mine is grayed and i still get no “open with” dialogue)

    loads a little slower than default (program load not page load)

    Stupid tiny little check boxes (but it has the pointer so this is pretty negligible, well see how i feel about it when the track ball inevitably breaks – i work outside in the dust so they tend not to last very long)

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