Opera Mini review: A handy alternative to Safari

opera mini review phoneTime for something tech-related with this Opera Mini review. It is my new favorite browser for iOS. It has a really nice design with quite a lot of handy features. I recently switched from my previous Japanese cell phone provider to a cheaper MVNO. This is great for wallet, but I do have data caps when I am not using Wi-fi. One solution to this is using the Opera Mini browser. 

Getting started with Opera Mini!

There are three modes for rendering web sites. First you have the normal way, which is basically the same as using Safari.

The second option, which is the default, is Opera Mini mode. If your network is slow or you have limited data, this mode will run the site first through Opera’s servers and compress images and other things before delivering the content to you. This results in usually a 40% reduction in data usage as well as faster page loads.

opera mini review dataThe third option is called “Opera Turbo” I believe this option does more compression and more reducing to get the websites you visit smaller and faster. This is probably the most extreme option and I don’t use this one very often. I should add that there is a “video boost” feature that can save you bandwidth and prevent videos from slowing down by buffering.

QR code reader

opera mini review QR codeOpera has a built in QR code reader! You can throw away your QR code app because it’s integrated right in the software keyboard when you go to type in a search or address. Just tap the button and you can scan a QR code and immediately visit the site. I think this is a pretty neat idea.

Night mode

opera mini review night modeThis is a killer feature that I haven’t heard anyone talk about yet. Most apps that are made for “night viewing” usually turn white pages black or turn down the brightness a bit more. Opera Mini goes a step further and changes the tone of the screen from blue to a tan/orange color.

This is very similar to the Flux software, which helps people use their desktop and laptop computers at night or in the early morning. By changing the screen color tone, our eyes will not be awakened by blue light which signals our bodies to stay awake. If you do a lot of browsing the web at night, try using night mode and I think you’ll really take to it. This is a killer feature and one of the main reasons why I decided to do this review of Opera Mini.

Improvements that should be made:

Opera Mini is not perfect. There are a few nit-picks that I need to throw out there before I would consider it a true main browser.

Search options

I don’t like Google being the only search engine used in Opera. I would like to be able to choose DuckDuckGo or another search engine that respects privacy.

Syncing Bookmarks

opera mini review tabsOpera has a way to sync bookmarks if you make a free Opera account and use their desktop browser. However, I don’t think many people use the desktop browser.

Stop trying to make Desktop Opera happen because it’s not going to happen. The development team should instead come up with an add-on for Chrome/Firefox/Safari that syncs bookmarks to an Opera account so you can bring your bookmarks from your main browser on your desktop with you when you are on a mobile device.

Ad blocking

Now that Safari supports content blockers that can prevent ads from showing on web sites, Opera needs to introduce ad blocking in its mobile browser if it wants to have any chance at gaining a user base for people looking to venture outside the walls of Safari.

A popular third party browser on mobile “Dolphin” has a built in ad block feature that can be turned on. I think Opera should copy this.

Opera Mini -Final Thoughts

For those that are looking for an alternative to their usual web browser on their mobile devices, Opera is pretty decent. If you have a bad connection or worry about data, then this is the total browser for you.

I’m curious what others use besides the defaults on their Android/iOS devices. Let me know in the comments what you prefer and why!

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