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Opera Mobile 9.5 Beta review

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Opera Mobile 9.5 Beta
  • Opera Mobile 9.5 Beta
  • Opera Mobile 9.5 Beta
  • Opera Mobile 9.5 Beta
  • Opera Mobile 9.5 Beta
  • Opera Mobile 9.5 Beta

Summary

Our Score:

8

For a long time I viewed browsing the web on a mobile phone with scepticism. I couldn't see how you could get even close on a 240 x 320 or smaller screen to a laptop or desktop experience. All of my experiences over the years, first with the ill-fated WAP, then with the walled gardens of the early Mobile Web on 3, and more recently with website developers producing alternative, mobile versions of their websites.

Then the Apple iPhone came along and changed everything. The developers at Apple not only produced a desirable piece of hardware with a great touch-driven interface, but also - at the same time - the first ever usable, fully functioning web browser. Hallelujah! It could be done and it put to shame the woeful browsers - I'm thinking Pocket Internet Explorer here specifically - we'd been putting up with on our smartphones all this time.

What about the rest of us? Amazingly, Microsoft has yet to kick out the next version of its browser for Windows, and Nokia's browser, though competent, can't match the touch-driven loveliness of Mobile Safari. Surely someone would pick up the baton and produce a usable alternative for Windows Mobile and Symbian OS. Well it's taken a year but we have a challenger in Opera 9.5 Mobile, which finally arrived a couple of weeks ago.

It's not the first time we've seen the browser, of course. It first appeared on the HTC Touch Diamond and if you read that review you'll find that it's the best thing about the handset. Back then it was exclusive to the Diamond - now, anyone visiting www.opera.com/mobile can download it and install it on their mobile phone.

Even though the browser is technically still in beta (and only supports Windows Mobile devices at the moment), it's well worth installing, because Opera Mobile 9.5 is a quantum leap ahead of anything other than Mobile Safari.

One of the things that make it so good is that it matches Safari's excellent overview and zoom capabilities. When you first fire up a website, such as the BBC homepage, you get a full overview of the page, fitted to the width of your screen. Double tap the screen and the view swoops right in, rendering text, graphics and photos as crisply as you'd expect to see them on a standard desktop browser. On the two phones I tested the browser on, an HTC TyTN II and a Glofiish M800, this process was both quick and responsive.

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ChaosDefinesOrder

August 11, 2008, 12:47 pm

Page 3 you mention that you can't save images with Opera Mini - this is incorrect, you just need to hover the cursor over the picture and press 1 on the keypad, then select "open image" on the pop-up menu, then "save". I've done it loads of times! Granted it's probably a lot more convoluted than Mobile 9.5, but still possible!

JellyUK

August 11, 2008, 3:46 pm

You also mention that you cannot save images in mobilesafari. While you can't save files (without a jailbreak anyway), you can save images normally, just hold down your finger on the image then press "save image". It will be downloaded to your pictures app.





(Note, on 2.0 firmware only)

helicon2

August 11, 2008, 3:50 pm

You state that there is no way to have an intermediate zoom facility built in to Opera 9.5. Well, I don't know if there is with other handsets but for the HTC Diamond, you can rotate around the 'action' button to zoom in at different levels. Admittedly, this isn't as slick as the iphone method.

Andy Vandervell

August 11, 2008, 4:16 pm

@helicon2: That is covered in the review - "But, as with the Touch Diamond, there's clearly some way of working with Opera's API to add this sort of feature through hardware controls." - comments always welcome mind. ;)

Oliver Levett

August 12, 2008, 1:22 pm

I've been using this since the very first builds leaked from Diamond devices, which came out a long time ago! Very little has changed, and the Official beta builds appear to get the "Out of Memory" error far more frequently than older (Diamond) builds.





One of your "issues" with Opera Mobile 9.5 appears to be the lack of zoom, but pinching motions do not work on WM as there is no OS support (although WM7 may have multi-touch support).





Was speed on the VGA screen any slower than on a QVGA screen?

Hans Gruber

August 12, 2008, 8:15 pm

It is available for Symbian S60 users, though it's free only as a 30 day trial. You can buy it they say. I'm using it on a Nokia phone and it's a lot more responsive and versatile than Opera Mini. I can watch web-embedded video content from the Beeb now though it downloads for playback with Realplayer.





The BBC Iplayer site reports Javascript error, saying it needs to be enabled (which it is). With Opera Mini it just says either the browser or user's region is incompatible with the content (ie - user not based in UK).





Need to explore the Java issue. It'd be great to get Iplayer content working I think. Even if the screen size makes it impractical to watch properly, it'd be fun to tinker.

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