Apr 10 AT 5:30 PM Guest Blogger 15 Comments

Opera Mini 5 Beta: A Browser Worth Singing About

Opera Mini has been available for Android for quite some time now, but with the beta release of Opera Mini 5 came some significant improvements. The Opera Mini browser works on almost all mobile platforms, providing fast page renderings and requiring less CPU processing compared to a native web browser. Opera Mini does this by transcoding the page you requested on its servers, independent from your phone. Upon entering a URL, the request is first processed on Opera’s servers and the page is converted to a more “lightweight” version. The page is then sent to the handset via the Opera Mini browser. This results in faster load times, as much of the work has already been done, but some websites may not be rendered correctly.

Some improvements made to Opera Mini in this release are an enhanced UI and the ability to remember passwords. New features include a very sleek tabbed browsing interface, a “visual dial” homepage which arranges bookmarks in a 3×3 grid of icons, a download manager which allows you to pause and resume, and the ability to synchronize bookmarks via Opera Link.

Upon a web page loading completely, you’ll notice that it is completely zoomed out so that the entire width of the page fits within the screen. Although at this point the font size is infinitesimal, the viewer can quickly navigate by swiping to a general area and double-tapping to zoom in. The address bar and Google search bar stay at the top of the page, unless you hit the Menu key. I prefer choosing “Fullscreen Mode,” in which the address bar and bottom controls stay hidden until you press Menu.


  • Most pages load up very quickly, even on 2G networks.
  • The “Speed Dial” is a great home page for keeping your favorite websites one click away.

Needs improvement:

  • Many complex websites are not transcoded correctly by Opera’s servers, and therefore are not rendered correctly during page loading.
  • Several mobile sites I tested did not load correctly either. Problems ranged from awkward page renderings to content not appearing at all.
  • Some sites will not let you view the mobile site, and some mobile sites will not let you view the regular. Opera seems to be in control of deciding which version of the site it will render for you.

Final Verdict

With the best user interface I’ve seen yet in a free Android browser, a clean, intuitive menu, and fast page load times, Opera Mini 5 beta is a keeper. But most users will have to switch back and forth between browsers because of page rendering errors, which can be a nuisance. If Opera can give the user more control over which sites are transcoded and which aren’t, Opera could have all the features one needs in a mobile browser.

Note: App tested on T-Mobile MyTouch3G

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Note: This review was submitted by Shane Manning as part of our app review contest.

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  • http://www.mattdemers.com Matt Demers

    I’m going to have to disagree with you, vehemently.

    Speed and UI do nothing for a browser when the pages look like crap. The fact that “basic” sites like Youtube and Facebook look like complete crap turns me off of this browser instantly.

    • http://clarklab.net Clark Wimberly

      Agreed. Tried Opera Mini 5 for just a few minutes before I saw how terrible it rendered soooo many sites and uninstalled it forever. I loved the UI and browser features but if it can’t render a page it’s pretty worthless to me.

      • http://www.mattdemers.com Matt Demers

        That’s why I’m excited for Fennec.

      • http://Website sen

        Firefox will begin showing up on mobile devices at the end of this year. I got the chance to test a beta version of Firefox on a pre-release mobile device. The browser, code-named Fennec, is the closest thing yet to a real, desktop-class browser for mobiles. Android Fennec Release date

      • http://Website kohle

        Firefox will begin showing up on mobile devices at the end of this year. I got the chance to test a beta version of Firefox on a pre-release mobile device. The browser, code-named Fennec, is the closest thing yet to a real, desktop-class browser for mobiles. Android Fennec Release date

  • http://twitter.com/dininginhell Bolly

    I did a review on this browser as well. I guess your’s must have been better because I don’t see mine up anywhere.

  • http://Website Andrew

    No multi-touch, and it kills non mobile sites. Very dissapointing browser. I’m going to stick with stock

    • Killa

      You should try xScope browser. Someone just recently did a review on it on this site. Its faster than stock and has some pretty neat features. There is a lite version and full version for 99¢.

      In my opinion its overall the best browser right now.

      • http://www.socialidentities.com Hugh Briss

        Thanks for the tip. I just downloaded xScope on my Droid and wow, this is a great browser. Unlike Opera, it renders all the pages I checked perfectly and I love the zoom options. Pinch to zoom, double tap and their own proprietary zoom method that works great with one finger.

  • http://Website cviniciusm

    I think it’s alpha. It’s too weak.

  • http://jeffgrubb.com Jeff Grubb

    I think Facebook looks fine on Opera.

    My problem with the browser has been that there doesn’t seem to be a way to make it the default browser and it doesn’t interact with other apps. If you click on a youtube link it doesn’t open the Youtube app.

    Also, it doesn’t allow for streaming video — only saved videos, which is a huge pain. I am still going to use Opera as my main app for browsing, but I’m going to hope that all these issues get ironed out very soon.

  • http://osirisdevelopment.com Chris Thompson

    I use Opera 5 exclusively for web browsing on my myTouch. It’s at least 10x faster than the standard browser at loading pages and the speed dial is awesome for the news sites I frequently visits.

    For those that are complaining out how it renders, go to Settings, then toggle “Mobile View”. Some pages render better with it on or off. The Off setting causes the page layout to be changed so that text can be read without scrolling right or left.

    To me, the worst thing about it is that you cannot use it as the default browser and if you exit to the home screen, it reloads when you go back and doesn’t keep the page you were last viewing.

    • http://Website Daniel

      Its lack of state saving is a glaring problem IMO, that should be mentioned in a review. If you switch apps enough for Opera Mini to be discarded from memory, all your tabs are gone, which is really, really bad.

  • http://Website kohm
  • http://Website Bobba

    I could tell after only a few minutes of using Opera Mini 5 that it had lots of problems. Rendering is just terrible on way too many sites. Sure it’s fast…really fast, but I don’t want speed at the cost of accurate rendering.

    xScope is a far better option with great features, speed and accurate rendering.