Opera, the browser that’s been around for years but nobody actually seems to use, has a minimalist version for Android phones. It claims to save data, respect your privacy, offer smoother browsing, and even download files more intuitively, but so do all the other mobile browsers. Does Opera Mini truly offer anything new?
The desktop underdog makes an appearance on Android
Smooth browsing with a football focus
Opera Mini is an internet browser for Android phones. It’s a long-standing, but less popular, browser on desktop, so how does it do when using it on the go?
The installation process is fast and simple. The app that opens is also very intuitive and seems more simple than competitors—navigation options appear in the bottom bar here and are fewer than on other browsers. Even the settings appear more basic than other browsers—only a subsection of frequently-used options pop up when you hit the cog icon and you have to go into another menu to see the full variety of options. This keeps the reduced space of the mobile interface clean and clear and is greatly appreciated.
Obviously, you can edit Opera Mini’s settings to make it appear exactly as you want, but the default homescreen is a bit of a mess. There is a default selection of news sources that is presumably selected by an algorithm. You can edit this in settings, but no matter what you choose, the news feed looks cluttered and spammy. News sources are mixed in with ads and it’s hard to tell which is which. Presumably, it’s here that Opera Mini’s football focus appears, but don’t worry—the whole news feed area can be switched off in settings, leaving you with an editable standard selection of your most frequently-used websites.
Opera Mini’s bottom bar offers the standard forward, back, search (you can also use the address bar to search, as normal), tab manager, and minimal settings menu. The tab manager is comfortable to use and, at first glance, seems more intuitive than Chrome, for example, especially when you have multiple tabs open. Likewise, the download manager is also organized and easy to manage and was pleasant to use.
Although the settings menu on Opera Mini is minimalist and clean, it remains to be seen if there are enough options for more demanding users. Compared to Firefox, for example, the number and breadth of the advanced settings offered by Opera Mini seems very limited. For some users, this pared-down approach will be a welcome change, but others will feel bereft without specific control over every aspect of their browser.
Where can you run this program?
Opera Mini runs on Android phones and tablets running Android 4.1+
Is there a better alternative?
If you’ve got a soft spot for Opera, Opera Mini will probably seem like a good option, especially if you want a lighter browser than the “full fat” Opera for Android. For everybody else, however, it doesn’t offer enough differentiating factors to entice people away from the mobile browser big boys, like Chrome and Firefox, especially if you have no interest in football and the homescreen news feed isn’t a draw.
Opera MIni has lots of positives going for it, but there’s just nothing special enough to really let it stand out.
There are a number of features that are especially well developed and, for a small number of users, these will actually provide a strong draw. For everyone else, however, there’s no great speed difference and the organized downloads feature, clean and clear settings, and multi-color options just aren’t enough to encourage anyone to make the jump if their current browser isn’t causing a problem.
Should you download it?
If you’re unhappy with your current browser, give it a whirl. With some tweaks to remove the annoying news feed (a simple process), it’s not a bad option at all. If what you’re using now is fine, then stick with it—Opera Mini’s just not different enough to warrant a change.