Opera Mini on iPhone review

We see how Opera's browser performs on Apple's iPhone. Does it offer a viable alternative to Safari?

Unfortunately, Opera Mini isn't perfect. Yes, it does have the speed to beat Safari on 2G and 3G, but it can't match Apple's patented WebKit for finesse and while this is certainly unfortunate, it's to be expected, as it'll be a cold day in hell before Apple is beaten on quality in this area.

In terms of the overall user experience, the big difference between Safari and Opera is that Safari's scrolling is heuristic and infinitely superior to Opera's rather erratic pinch-and-zoom function, which isn't a patch on Safari's.

Thank goodness, then, for the tap-to-zoom function in Opera Mini. Granted, it's still not perfect, but once you've tried your hand at its pinch-and-zoom, you'll thank your lucky stars it's there.

In addition to this, Opera Mini also lacks the seamless movement that is practically a trademark of Safari. For instance, when you swipe across a web page, it doesn't move smoothly like Safari does, there's noticeable lag and the details of the web page blur.

Overall, Opera Mini does have the edge over Safari in terms of speed on low-end connections and this is an infinitely useful feature to have, especially if you travel a lot with work, as you'll be able to browse web pages relatively fast on the lowest of connections.

However, at the end of the day, Opera Mini simply can't compete with Safari's browsing experience it lags, the pinch-and-zoom function isn't good, and after a while of using Opera, you'll really start to miss the finesse of Safari.

That said, Opera Mini is a welcome addition to the iPhone. It comes with more than enough cool features and quirks to become an essential part of your daily kit and is practically essential when you're in areas with limited network connectivity.

The best aspect of having Opera Mini on your iPhone, however, is this: if you're in an area with little network connectivity, you can boot up Opera and browse as if you were on full 3G. Alternatively, if you're in a high-end network zone, you can sit back and enjoy the finesse of Safari.

Basically, it's good to have a choice, as both browsers do things the other can't and in a busy professional life, this is what really counts.

Verdict

Overall, Opera Mini brings enough to the table to become an essential part of your mobile browsing life, boasting superior speed on low-end networks and an extremely useful home screen portal that will drastically limit the amount of typing you do on a daily basis. That said, it isn’t perfect and, overall, Opera can’t deliver the same seamless end-user experience that Safari can. However, it is early days yet and issues such as lag and the occasional glitch will no doubt be ironed out with updates. Until then, you’ve got Opera Mini for speed on 2G/3G networks and Safari for pleasure – which isn’t really a bad deal at all when you think about it.

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