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Third Party Mobile Browsers – part 2: Opera Mobile

This is the second in a series of posts on interesting third party browsers for the mobile Web. Read part 1: Opera Mini.

Last time I discussed Opera’s primary mobile offering when I talked about their Opera Mini product. Today I will be focusing on Opera’s second offering, the Opera Mobile browser. But first I will mention that Opera Mini 6 has been released for iOS since the time of my last writing. Opera Mini 6 was already available for the Android platform.

Opera Mobile

Opera Mobile is the Opera Mini product taken to the next level. It is a version of the desktop Web browser that has been shrunk down for smartphones. It does not cater to the low power crowd. While it does offer compression the page level compression (Opera Turbo) that was mentioned in the previous option, this is not the default. The default setting is to run a Web page in a native browser. This means your page looks better. It has better support for JavaScript. It really does behave just like you would expect out of a mobile browser. What’s interesting is that turning on Opera Turbo does NOT change the rendering to match up what you would see on Opera Mini (or at least it did not in my case).

Opera Mobile has support for some HTML5 features, and can even run Adobe Flash on the Android platform. Opera Mobile is available for Android, Symbian/S60, Windows Mobile, Meego, and Maemo. Unfortunately, because it is a full fledged Web browser and not just a viewer like Opera Mini, the Opera Mobile browser is against Apple’s Terms of Service and will not be available for iOS.

Because it is more powerful than Opera Mini, the support to drawback list from last time is a bit more in favor of the ‘support’ column.

Support:

  • The aforementioned compressed page using Opera Turbo so users get pages faster and uses less data (saving users time and money)
  • Quick access to your favorite bookmarks with Opera Speed Dial
  • Save pages for offline viewing
  • A cursor (if your device comes with something that can be used as such, like the D-pad on the Motorola Droid)
  • SSL encryption with Server Name Identification (making it more secure than the browser on all Android based devices currently on the market)
  • Support for CSS media queries allowing you to style the page in both portrait and landscape mode (still not perfect, but much better than on Opera Mini — though this may just be my device)
  • Much better CSS support, including italic text, rounded corners (border-radius), drop shadows (box-shadow), and CSS transitions
  • Decent JavaScript support, including touch events (not available in Opera Mini)
  • HTML5 video (depends upon the phone — H.264 on all, and WebM for Android 2.3+)

Drawbacks:

  • Higher power usage compared to the Opera Mini browser, but not necessarily more than the device’s default browser
  • No ability to install plug-ins, with the exception of Flash on Android devices
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About

Brian is the Director of Development and Social Media for Brand Builder Websites where he oversees the development, strategy, and goals for our software development. He is also a huge fan of Android.
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