Opera may be just another browser in a long list of browsers to choose from, but in the mobile arena, Opera has been faring extremely well with just a little competition from native browsers. Very recently they officially launched their full versions of Opera Mini 5 and Opera Mobile 10 browsers for mobile handsets. Here’s a closer look.

But before I get into the details just in case you’re wondering what the difference is between these two browsers, allow me to clue you in.

Opera Mini is a simpler application browser than can be downloaded to run on virtually any operating system. In fact quite a few of the Java-based ultra budget mobiles come with a preloaded Opera Mini browser which works out so much better than native. The browser engine called Presto is actually located on a server so it downloads less content and requires less CPU to render pages making it a bit faster than Opera Mobile. On the downside, it doesn’t render pages as well as Opera Mobile.
Opera Mobile on the other hand is usually preloaded onto handsets as an alternative browser. It’s designed to work with Windows Mobile and Symbian Series 60 enabled handsets. This browser will provide you with near desktop like viewing of all web pages. Web pages are fetched directly from the Web server to your handset.

The common factors between the two browsers is that they both use Opera’s Presto browser engine which is the same used for their desktop browsers and both have the same cross-platform UI and offer a similar browsing experience.

Mobile 10 on a Windows Mobile Touchscreen
Forget about the speed that Opera’s system uses to open pages, it’s the rendering that I found impressive. Mobile 10 offers quite a bit of functionality to the mobile user. Pages with all kinds of content are well laid out. The entire UI is designed with a certain flair that’s not only user friendly and easy to use but it’s also quite visually appealing. From adding bookmarks to recent History, to saving pages, it’s all very simple and extremely easy to follow. There’s even a ‘Find’ option that allows you to look for specific words or phrases on an open page. Opera Mobile 10 allows you to open multiple pages. A very convenient pop up display can be opened at the bottom of the screen and showcases a thumbnail view of all open pages allowing you to seamlessly switch between the tabs or close tabs from the same place.

Mobile 10 on a Symbian S60 Non Touchscreen
The UI on a Symbian S60 touchscreen device is quite similar if not identical to that of Touchscreen Windows Mobile handset. However on a handset like the E63 which does not have touchscreen navigation obviously wasn’t as simple. However, Opera has taken it all into account and the UI created for non touchscreen devices is still very user friendly. Although it may take you a little while longer using a nav-pad, the UI is still designed well enough to make it easy to access all functions. Speed was still the center focus when it came to accessing sites.

Opera Mini
On the lower end handsets Opera Mini worked out just fine. The functionality of the browser is slightly different but they’ve still managed to retain the look and feel of Opera Mobile to quite an extent. If you’re transitioning from a touchscreen Opera Mobile 10 enabled handset you’ll have absolutely no issue adjusting to Mini 5.

I’d seriously recommend using Opera as your primary browser irrespective of what OS you’re using. However, Android's native browser may not be as colorful as Opera but it’s quite versatile on its own. It works well on an Android device although I initially had a bit of an issue downloading the set up from the Android Market Place app but when I finally got it, it worked without a hitch.

For fast browsing in a slick user interface that’s really user friendly Opera Mini 5 and Opera Mobile 10 is you best bet.

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