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Opera Mobile 11.10 brings the mobile browser wars

Kat tries out the mobile browser that gives HTML5 support to almost any smartphone

Opera dominated the mobile browser market until smartphones took over with their own integrated web browsers. It’s only recently that there’s been much reason to switch to an alternative mobile browser, but now the browser wars are taking off for devices on the go.

Earlier this month Mozilla revealed that the new beta version of its Firefox browser for Android has most of the features of its desktop equivalent. Unfortunately, it’s also too power-hungry to run on the majority of Android devices.


Opera has taken a different tack. Product Manager Arnstein Teigene told us that Opera’s focus is on “delivering the browser on as many different devices as possible”. Impressively, our tests bore out his claim. Although it can be installed on almost any smartphone or tablet, Opera Mobile 11.10 has the same features as Opera 11.01 for desktop systems, including tabs that can be opened in the background, a handy search bar, Flash and reasonably complete HTML5 support. We were able to access various HTML5 sites and were pleased to find that HTML5 videos played correctly within the browser. You can also sync your bookmarks between all your copies of Opera, no matter what system they’re installed on.

Opera range

Opera Mobile 11.10’s user experience is excellent. Pages rendered quickly on our HTC Legend running Android 2.2 and we were able to use all the usual smartphone navigation gestures like pinching to zoom. We particularly liked the way text re-wrapped itself when we zoomed in, so we didn’t have to scroll around the page to follow it. We were also impressed by the revised tab management interface, which allows you to easily flick between tabs that can be displayed by pressing a button at the bottom of the screen.

Meanwhile, Android tablet users will find a different interface layout, with a navigation bar at the top of the screen that closely resembles that of desktop versions of Opera. Another of the company’s current catchphrases is the claim that they’re “closing the gap between mobile and desktop”. Unlike many popular tech claims and buzzwords, this one appears to actually have some truth in it, as you can see from the screenshot below.

Opera tablet

For most Android users, Opera is certainly more practical than the latest version of Firefox Mobile. The much-vaunted bells and whistles of the latter are meaningless if you can’t even get it installed on your phone. We also preferred Opera Mobile’s layout over our previous mobile browser of choice, Dolphin, which places tabs at the top of the screen.

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