Opera Mini 4.2 Review – new features, criticisms and free web work around

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opera_mini_blackberry

Table of Contents

Background information

Internet data consumption through mobile devices is growing at an incredible rate globally. BlackBerry devices and smartphones in general are at the forefront of this growth, and consumers are constantly on the hunt for the perfect browser. Opera Mini is a leading 3rd party mobile browser and I’ve taken the time to put together a review of the browser, as well as include a tip on how to use Opera Mini to get Internet access, without purchasing an Internet data plan.

What you’ll find in this update

Opera Mini is known for offering users the ability to have a full web browsing experience on their mobile phones. The new Opera Mini 4.2 is not much different from the beta version that was realized earlier this year, but it does features new upgrades for personalization and has increased the productivity with faster performance.

Performance enhancements

The main and most raved about update is the performance. Opera Mini’s software switched on a new US based Server Park in effort to deliver faster loading times – they promise a 30% speed increase for their US and Asian Pacific Users. The performance increase not only saves time but money too, with low res images and compressing pages up to 90%. Anyone who goes from using the BlackBerry browser to Opera Mini 4.2 will immediately notice how significantly faster web pages load.

Customization

The browser it self can now be personalized with new colour schemes of skins. If you remember, this was also offered in Opera Mini 3 but was later removed. Although it may look cute to have a pink or green title bar, you’ll find it more convenient to view pages in full screen mode without the title bar even showing.

Shortcuts

Opera Mini finds use for the keypad that makes web browsing conveniently easier. The number pad is used for quick scrolling and zooming, and a hotkey (#1) launches a menu allowing users to alter between mobile and web view.

Opera Link

Another big improvement to the Opera browsing experience comes with Opera Link, which can now sync your notes from your computer to Opera Mini. The bookmarks are easily accessed through a ‘Speed Dial’ which eliminates the need to go to the main page. Another great feature is how secure and safe Opera Mini is. It’s always nice to be able to do mobile banking and online shopping on the go without a worry.

Dual viewing modes

One of my favorite features of Opera Mini is the fact that it offers two different viewing modes. The one I use most often is the Desktop View, which emulates the desktop browsing experience. The other view, called the Mobile View, will resize images and offer the content in a single column. I use this view to read my favorite blogs and access pages with a lot of text.

Criticisms

While the above makes Opera Mini a fantastic browser, no application is without its downsides. One criticism I have for Opera Mini is when you open the application there is always a warning message asking if it has permission to access the Internet. I don’t believe this has anything to do with Opera, and is likely a requirement of RIM, but it still hurts the experience. Also, when making changes in your settings you have to manually select save through the menu, rather then be propped to save when you switch pages. These are just minor annoyances.

Another issue I have come across while using Opera Mini is in filling out forms. When filling out fields, such as a username and password, Opera Mini will open a new blank screen in which to enter the information. I believe this causes unnecessary navigation and impedes the browsing experience.

While using Opera Mini I have found a few bugs as well. Some pages tend to load awkwardly. Also, when I’m accessing larger sites, I sometimes get missing images. I’ve tried fixing this problem in the settings menu, but even with the image and visual options minimized, I still get this problem. It could also be an issue on the site’s end.

Pros and Cons

To summarize, I believe that Opera Mini features the following positive and negative features:

Pros

• Full, desktop-style web browsing experience.
• 30% speed increase for their US and Asian Pacific Users.
• Personalize the browser with new colour schemes of skins.
• Hotkeys make for a fast and easy browsing experience.
• Sync your desktop and Opera Mini using Opera Link.
• Two viewing modes including Desktop and Mobile.

Cons

• Requires permission to access the Internet.
• Settings menu requires manual saves.
• Filling out forms is tedious and time consuming.
• Some pages load awkwardly.
• Larger pages tend to have missing images.

Conclusion

Opera Mini 4.2 is definitely worth downloading, the performance increase out ways the downsides and I’m sure with future updates the browser will continue to improve.

Opera Mini and my free web experience

Opera Mini and my free web experience

Before Opera Mini 4, I had been using Opera Mini 3 regularly on my BlackBerry Curve 8310. I had no data plan, but I found a way to be able to browse the Internet using the Opera Mini browser with only an email plan, and my provider never catching on to charge me.

For this to work, all you need is an unlimited email data plan. This plan blocks any other type of data use, and is fairly inexpensive. The work around is to download a 3rd party Internet browser, specifically Opera Mini, to your computer and upload it to your BlackBerry through desktop manager.

Once Opera Mini is installed on the phone, change the TCP settings.

Options -> Advance Options -> TCP

My provider is Rogers so my settings are,
APN: internet.com
Username for APN:
Password for APN:
(Other service providers’ TCP settings differ)

Once the settings are changed, Opera Mini allows full browser access. This is an incredible advantage over the native BlackBerry browser, which blocks you from any browser use and encourages you to buy a data plan to unlock your phone’s Internet features.

I believe the work around is possible because the unlimited email plan fools your service provider into allowing you to browse the Internet for free. When you receive your bill from the carrier, it shows how much data you’ve used, but to the provider this data is only from the use of emails. According to the carrier, this is because with only an email plan you “can’t access the Internet.”

It’s nice to be able to have free browser access but I needed to upgrade data plans to suit some other needs, but Opera Mini continues to be my main browser.

  • wut

    @Keith L.: “I thought I would give Opera another try after reading this and think I’ll just stick with Bolt. After the download I attempted to go somewhere simple like facebook. It takes you to the mobile site just fine when you log in.”

    Exactly.

    This is FACEBOOK’S fault, not Opera’s. It isn’t Opera’s fault that it is sent to the mobile site.

    BTW, logging in at the regular site works just fine on my phone.