If you haven’t heard, two flavours of the world’s best browser for mobile phones came out of beta yesterday, and the one that didn’t used to be free now is. Both share a fantastic new interface that you can master in about five seconds. So what’s the difference between the two? Can you see a difference? I can’t see any difference. The devil, as they say, is in the details. In addition to what’s on the official Opera Mini blog I found a couple of things that might help you decide between the two.
In addition to generally larger rendered text Opera Mini has multi-tap text entry enabled by default — at least for number-pad handsets. You can easily fix this in the settings by going into the advanced options and enabling “Fullscreen edit”. Opera Mobile has support for T9 with no tweaking required. But note that with either browser you can’t move your cursor between text fields without hitting ‘Done’ first.
Where Opera Mobile pulls ahead (at least for me) is the support for Asian characters in a special version of the app. I can think of at least one practical application for this, as you can see above. On the other hand, Opera Mini now has much better support for file downloads. I always had trouble accessing my Nokia’s filesystem with previous versions of OM. Miscellaneous Changes: You can no longer “page-down” by pressing and holding the right side of your d-pad, but in both browsers you can use the ‘8’ and ‘3’ buttons to scroll down and up through screens. Also, there no longer seems to be an option for a 12-hour clock. Final Verdict: Oh, one thing I forgot to mention… If you’re not running S60/Symbian or Windows Mobile/phone on your handset then Opera Mobile is out of the question. Sorry. But you needn’t dismiss Opera Mini, as it now offers an almost identical user experience to its slightly bigger brother. If your handset is compatible with Opera Mobile and you need Asian character support then that’s probably your best bet. Otherwise it pretty much comes down to whether you want Opera’s Presto rendering engine hosted on a remote server (Mini) or installed on your handset (Mobile). In my informal testing speeds end up being virtually the same. There’s a second or two of lag while Opera Mini connects to the server, but after that pages are rendered almost instantly. With Opera Mobile pages start loading immediately, but rendering them takes an extra second or two. I’m keeping both on my N86 for the time being; either one is a worthy upgrade to my favourite mobile browser.