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Sponsored App Review: Opera Mini

April 27, 2015 - Written By Tom Dawson

Opera Mini has been around for some time now, with the browser celebrating its tenth birthday this year! Recently, it’s been updated in a big way. Now the little browser that saves you money, speeds things up and helps you enjoy the web like no other has only gotten better. Opera Mini has become known as the browser that compresses web sites in order to save you data, this makes the small data allowance we enjoy these days go further and it also speeds things up as well. In this latest update, Opera has been updated with a more modern look and feel, it now offers news stories from around the web from the main menu and it handles downloads and searches more efficiently. If your 3G signal isn’t so good, or you’re just looking for a way to stretch your data allowance, then Opera Mini could be the browser for you. Let’s take a closer look at this latest update of the popular, lightweight web browser for Android.

Just like any other Android app, you’ll need to download Opera Mini from the Play Store. Upon first launching it, you’ll see the main menu of the app.

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This main menu is full of neat features for users, like the ability to take a look at popular news stories from all over the web, organize their favorite websites in the well-known “Speed Dial” layout and more. Browsing the web is made super-simple by quick and common searches from one bar. Using the dropdown menu, you can choose whether or not you want to search Google, Amazon, Wikipedia and so on. It’s definitely a timesaver.

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Browsing the web with Opera Mini is pretty snappy indeed, almost immediate if you’re using a fast WiFi or 3G connection. On Android Headlines, the website loaded quickly, and while our site isn’t heavy it’s a substantial page and this was much quicker than Google Chrome that’s for sure.

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In the pursuit to save data through compression however, some websites don’t look quite as they should. This rarely happens and only affects websites with lots of images and video. For instance, here’s a look at Lifehacker, one of my favorite haunts and something clearly isn’t right here:

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Over time, you will start to see how much data Opera Mini has saved you, and over the course of a month this could be a considerable amount. After all, Opera Mini can compress sites to just 10% of the amount of data used by a browser like Chrome for instance.

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Managing tabs with Opera Mini is intuitive and in this latest update looks better than ever.

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Downloads are handled easily in Opera Mini and you can easily pause and resume them from the same screen.

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There’s a lot on offer here in Opera Mini 8, like that main menu which practically has a news reader app built in, with lots of different categories to choose from.

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If you were worried that using Opera would stop you from syncing content across devices, then there’s no need. You can – for free – use an Opera account to keep content synced between devices. I use the full-size Opera browser on my Nexus 9 and have been enjoying it a lot recently, so with this feature I can keep everything synced together.

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Opera has been around for a long, long time now – even longer than Google Chrome. I have fond memories of using Opera years ago when I was using Linux full time and being wowed by the Speed Dial feature. Now, both Opera Mini and the full-size browser have come a long, long way on Android. Opera Mini version 8, the latest version we’re reviewing here has really impressed me. It’s not just the speed of the rendering engine either, but the speed of the app itself. It opens and closes super-fast and navigating between tabs and using the discovery feature for news articles is scarily fast. Compressing webpages does at times pose problems, but for the most part it works excellently, and in emerging countries where data allowances are paltry and 3G networks are hard to find, compression is more than just about shaving a few seconds off the loading time. What’s impressive here is that even though Opera Mini is designed to be as lightweight as possible, there are some advanced features on offer like Speed Dial, easy download management and the discovery feature to come across news stories from all over the web.

Ratings

  • Speed (5/5) – If you care about a fast web experience as well as a speedy, lightweight Android app, then Opera Mini is the only one out there for you.
  • Theme (4/5) – This modern theme in Opera 8 looks the part, and while it won’t be to everyone’s tastes it has a professional, polished look and feel to it.
  • Features (5/5) – Lightweight or not, Opera Mini is packed full of features to make browsing the web easier, quicker and in some cases more affordable.
  • Overall (5/5) – Opera Mini has come a long way since it was first released, and this new version speeds things up even further and adds some pretty advanced features to the mix as well.

Pros

  • Speed Dial is just as good as it ever was, and is now even easier to add custom sites to, making it nice and easy to get to your favorite sites in seconds.
  • Discover section makes finding news stories from all over the world quick and easy, without needing to trawl through Google searches.
  • Webpage compression helps deliver a quicker, smoother and in some cases more affordable web browsing experience.
  • The app itself is very lightweight and super-snappy, even when you’re not browsing the web.

Cons

  • Webpage compression can sometimes change the intended look of a site.
  • Doesn’t always choose the intended font for certain webpages.

Opera Mini 8.0 is one hell of an update, and those looking for a lightweight web browser on Android might have just found their new favorite. It’s packed with more features than most regular browsers, offering a more fully-featured browsing experience than say Google Chrome or Firefox on Android and it can help save you data on your data allowance and make the most of a poor wireless connection. 4G isn’t everywhere, free WiFi isn’t always free and often when we want to browse the web, there’s nothing but a poor connection awaiting us. For those times, and when you just want a speedy experience no matter how quick your connection is, Opera Mini is here and it’s well worth taking a look at if you haven’t already been using it.

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