Thursday, September 17, 2009

Opera Mini 5.0 Beta

Opera Mini 5.0 is simply the best Opera Mini yet. I've used it for half a day now and it has only crashed once so far - which is impressive considering this is merely a beta version.

The installer is quite a bit bigger than previous Opera versions (and it will download more during installation), but with data cost cheap these days - and the fact that most phones comes with WiFi - this isn't a huge issue as it was a couple of years ago. The increase in size (almost double) can be attributed to the new and slick UI.

Desktop Opera 10 users will immediately recognise the new Speed Dial. Instead of a list as in previous version of Opera Mini, you will be greeted with a thumbnail grid. Here you can assign your favourite websites as shortcuts. Like the desktop version, Opera Mini 5 will capture a snapshot of the site (well a part of it anyway).

On the top you will find the address bar and search bar. Underneath it is the navigational toolbar including access to the settings and Speed Dial. The top right plus icon is the 'new tab' button. Yes, Opera Mini 5 allows users to create tabs. Stability is fine even on my now aging Nokia E51. I tend to open more than five tabs at any one time with no sign of slowness or RAM leakage.

Press down on a link until a pop up appears. This gives you the option of opening the link on a new tab. Very useful. As you can see from the screenshot, copy and paste functionality also makes a debut. Selected text can be copied and then pasted onto the Opera's search field. You can also paste the copied text outside the browser, but doing so requires you to use a trick that forces the standard Series 60 text entry field to pop up (as documented here).

Plenty of settings are available for advance users, including the usual (image quality, font size, landscape mode) and nifty new additions such as the password manager. (Edit: turn off inline editing to gain access to your phone's standard text entry field - essential to get T9 working)

Rendering was never a problem with Opera Mini, so the results here are pretty standard to seasoned Opera Mini users. Still they are fast to load. I expect Opera to have beefed up their server too in anticipation to the beta release. Fonts are smoother due to the use of some form of Clear Type technology as well. Anyway you will have no problem browsing the web even with a small QVGA display. Here are a couple of examples on how websites such as this look like (high quality image, smallest font setting):

One downside I found is it has its own text entry system, overiding the standard Series 60 text entry field pop-up. For example with their system, I have to cycle through a bunch of symbols manually to get the appropriate symbol I want (@ for example), but with the old Opera Mini, I can press the * key and select the symbol I want quickly. Predictive text does not work here either, again due to the lack of access to the phone's standard text entry field. (Edit: Ok, turning off inline editing in the settings allows you to enter the S60 text entry field - phew!!!)

It's early days for the Opera Mini 5.0, but judging by the quality of the beta version here and the amount of new functionalities, Opera has yet another winner on their hands. Despite being only a beta software I am so impressed by the stability on my E51, so impressed in fact that I have already uninstalled Opera Mini 4!

Access the beta by steering your mobile phone's standard browser to

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