Recently I told you that Opera had released a Beta of it’s mobile phone browser and that I would try it out for a week and not touch the IE browser at all, then report back here. I installed the browser on my Cingular 2125 (made by HTC) using Tao Intent Java Midlet Manager.
The good news:
This browser is sexy and has the potential to stand heads and shoulders above the default browser on my phone (IE).
Basic Browsing Experience – Browsing web sites is fun compared to the stodgy old browser I’ve been using for the past 2+ years on various smartphones. For instance, Yahoo mail menu animations make the experience of navigating through the menu system intuitive and interesting, while viewing the same menus on IE rendered as static lists with bullets.
Quickzoom – The quickzoom is a must-have for me now, I’m in love this feature. You can view this demo here to see for yourself how the browser receives the full web page reduced to fit the mobile’s screen, but you can quickly navigate that page and zoom in on text or graphics of interest in order to read and click links. This ability to crunch the entire page into the viewable real estate and zoom in on the sections of interest is just very very cool.
Install – The installation across the web via my mobile was a no-brainer and had no issues. I will need to figure out how to create a shortcut to the browser so I can launch it from the main menu because right now it’s a pain in the ass to have to click 7 times through the menu system to get to the Midlet Manager and start the browser. (Not knowing how to do the shortcuts is probably just me being lazy until now since IE was always readily available in 2 clicks).
Cursor Navigation – Unlike IE, you actually have a cursor to navigate around the screen and click on things to interact with the page in a fashion almost identical to what you do on your PC’s browser. Big plus here in my opinion as the IE method of having to cycle through all the links to get to the one of interest is a pain at times.
The bad news:
Fonts – Fonts render ok, but Opera really needs to do something about the small font. It’s too big! And then there’s the inability to render italic fonts altogether.
Crashes – Oy vey! On my Cingular 2125 Smartphone with factory install of Tao Intent Midlet Manager I was lucky to get 10 minutes without the browser crashing, returning me back to the homescreen. A lot of times it would happen in a minute or two. From reading the forums at the Opera site, it appears it’s not just me and it’s not just Tao’s Midlet Manager.
Opera has done well so far, I’m looking forward to trying out a more stable version, that alone is enough to make me switch browsers in a heartbeat. The new features they’ve added are great, the ability to navigate whole pages may not be to the same level as the iPhone’s capabilities, but its absolutely a step in the right direction given the screen real estate we have to deal with on small smartphones.
I’m really looking forward to the next release and I highly recommend you take some time to install this version even if it’s just to familiarize yourself with some of the features because if the final version is stable, you will want to move to this browser.