Opera Mini provides an interesting alternative to Safari on your iPhone or iPad. Not only is it a faster browser, but it makes accessing and managing pages very easy.
Lightning fast navigation
The great thing about Opera Mini is the technology it uses to render pages. Opera has its own servers, which are used to compress page data by up to 90% before sending it to your iPhone. You may not notice much of a difference in terms of the time it takes to actually fetch a page but once the page has been served everything displays instantaneously, where Safari often takes time to load all the various page elements.
Opera Mini makes navigating the Web easy. For instance, there's a speed dial-style Start Page that lets you program nine of your favorite sites that can be launched with a single tap. Opera Mini boasts an easy-to-use tabbed browsing tool for switching between pages.
There are lots of other time-saving features within Opera Mini for iPhone. The app includes address auto-complete, a Find in Page tool, and it can remember passwords. It also comes with support for Opera Link, which lets you synchronize your bookmarks with your desktop version of Opera, and a Share button for quickly sending links via email, Facebook, Twitter or Google+.
Getting around with Opera Mini
Navigating web pages with Opera Mini is a joyous process, especially since the latest version corrected the horrid zoom of past releases. Zooming and panning is much smoother now, and is just about on a par with Safari now.
Tap the Tabs icon and you'll get a dock with thumbnails of each page you have open. You can simply swipe through to the one you want to show then tap to open it. Unlike Safari, Opera Mini doesn't reload an open page every time you go back to it. Opera Mini has the ability to open links as tabs in the background.
Opera Mini boasts long-click menus that allow you to quickly perform actions such as opening a link in a new tab, editing the Start Page and selecting text, just by holding your finger down on the screen.
Another issue with Opera Mini is that it doesn't integrate well enough the iOS operating system, where Safari has a distinct advantage. It doesn't support geolocation or the native Mail client, for example.
What's new in Opera Mini 9
If you watch a lot of videos online through your iPhone you should definitely update Opera Mini to the latest version. Opera Mini 9.0 adds a new Video Boost feature, which is designed to let you watch videos without putting a dent in your data plan. With Video Boost turned on (done through the data-savings menu), you can reduce the amount of data videos use, which has the knock-on effect of eliminating buffering and stalling.
No match for Safari
Opera Mini offers fast page loading times and lots of useful web browsing tools. The problem is, some web sites target their design solely at Safari and Chrome, so they may not render properly on Opera Mini.
It's not a good replacement for Safari, but it is useful to have Opera Mini installed as a second browser if speed and data usage is an issue for you.