|App Download Version||0.9.0.5|
|App by||James Thornton|
|Category||Free Browser Apps|
How can you load web pages faster on a Windows Phone device? Simple: install Opera Mini. Although by no means the finished article, this beta version of the popular mobile browser compresses web pages to give you load times you could only dream of with Internet Explorer.
The legacy continues
Opera Mini has been around for years in different guises. Immensely popular on Symbian and Java feature phones, the pint-sized browser has now arrived on Windows Phone in this beta release. It's not as advanced as the Android version of Opera Mini but it uses the same server-side page rendering technology to deliver web sites at high speeds.
Features of Opera Mini
Most of the browsing features you'd expect from this veteran of mobile browsers are packed into Opera Mini. You get the famous Speed Dial, where you can pin your favorite web sites to give you one-click access whenever you launch the browser. It's a handy tool, and there's space to add lots of shortcuts to web pages.
Like many Windows Phone browsers, Opera Mini supports tabbed browsing. The tabs panel displays thumbnail previews of each page you have open, and you can switch very easily between each. Usefully, there's an option to open pages in a new background tab by long-pressing a link on a page you're reading, so you can carry on reading then go check out the link when you're done.
Other tools include bookmarks, history, a 'find in page' feature, a download manager (albeit a primative one), and the ability to quickly share any web content with others via Facebook, messaging, email, etc. There's also the ability to save web pages for viewing offline.
The web search bar in the Opera Mini Beta for Windows Phone still needs a lot of work. At the time of writing, entering a search term into the Google search bar throws up a critical parsing error before you can access the results. Also, it's not possible to set Bing as the default search engine in the Opera Mini search bar, which is pretty lame.
Delve into Opera Mini's settings and you'll find some customization options, such as the ability to tweak image quality to ramp up load speeds even more, or even to disable images. You can also toggle text wrapping and single-column view.
Privacy options in Opera Mini are nothing out of the ordinary. You can clear history, passwords and cookies very easily, although there's no private browsing mode in Opera Mini, so you must always remember to clean up yourself.
Back to the old school
The design of the Opera Mini user interface looks a bit dated, and doesn't differ much to the look and feel of previous version of the app for other operating systems. It's neat and compact enough but the black tool bar and menu icons look ugly now.
Still, Opera Mini is easy to navigate. Besides the quick pull-out toolbar there are in-page options available by long-pressing. You can pinch to zoom, or manually set a zoom level for pages.
Being a beta release, there are a few quirks and glitches still to be sorted out in Opera Mini for Windows Phone. For instance, the app does crash on occasions and the menu bar doesn't seem to be accessible when you flip to landscape mode. Also, it's missing some useful features, like the ability to auto-load the desktop version of web sites or a night mode with brightness controls.
A work in progress
I'd class this app as more like a dress rehearsal to the final Opera Mini. If you've got a poor mobile data connection it's great, since it reduces the size of web pages without a noticeable drop in quality. However, the browser is still buggy and could do with an injection of some killer features.
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Opera Mini 0.9.0.5 xap requires following permissions on your windowsphone device.
Fast page load times
Easy to use
Lets you save pages for offline viewing
User interface looks outdated