The Opera browser for Android is designed to help you do more online while using less data. Its minimalist user interface is easy to use and the technology behind the Opera browser makes loading pages on your phone much faster.
Opera already has two Android browsers, Opera Mobile and Opera Mini, which are exactly the same - except Mini reroutes traffic through Opera servers to compress data.
In with the new...
This newer Opera browser app is a completely redesigned version. While it retains many of the features of Opera Mobile and Opera Mini, the Opera browser looks more modern and adds some new features.
Like Opera Mini, Opera browser offers a Speed Dial feature, which appears when you launch the app. Here you can place shortcuts to your favorite sites for one-click access. Unfortunately, this is the only way to save favorites in Opera browser, and you can't add bookmarks by starring pages like you can with the older Opera browsers.
Slide across to the right from the Speed Dial and you'll access the Discover section. This offers a selection of latest web content from a variety of sources. You can customize this content based on what country you're in and what subjects you're interested in (food, health, sports, technology, etc.)
One of the most important features of the Opera browser is its Off-Road mode. When this is turned on it all of the sites you visit will be compressed to make them faster to load (using the same technology as Opera Mini). This is great if you're using 2G networks or if you want to save on your data plan.
Even more features
Other features of Opera Browser Beta for Android include tabbed browsing, 'Find in Page', a download manager, and the ability to download web pages for offline browsing. The app includes an omnibar which supports search and address entry with auto-complete.
Opera Sync is another feature that has been recently added to the app. Opera Sync allows you to the sync bookmarks that you have on your desktop Opera browser to your Android app (and vice versa).
Navigating with Opera Browser
Using the Speed Dial in Opera browser feels very much like the iOS experience. Shortcuts take the form of icons, which you can pick up and drag around. Like iOS you can create folders out of different web page links by dragging icons on top of each other.
Accessing your browser history with the Opera browser is simpler than it is in most other Android browsers. Slide to the left from the Speed Dial on the front page and you'll see all your recently visited sites listed in a very clear way.
The Android Opera browser allows you to bring up a context menu simply by long-clicking on an item. If it's a link it will give you options for how you want to open it, and if it's an image you'll get the option to save it to your device.
The tabbed browsing experience in the Opera browser is slicker and easier than it is in Opera Mini and Opera Mobile. The panel is larger, meaning you can see more of each page in the preview thumbnail and swiping through the open tabs is smoother. There's a handy drop-down menu next to the tabs for opening a private tab or closing all tabs.
Loading pages using the Opera browser can be very quick, especially in Off Road mode. Although you shouldn't be waiting for pages to load for too long, the inclusion of a progress bar would've been nice for cases where lots of data needs to be downloaded first.
Opera browser users the same WebKit rendering engine used by Safari on iOS and by Google Chrome. It supports web standards very well and during our tests we experienced no problems with pages not displaying properly.
It's a shame that Opera browser doesn't support Flash, or at the very least, Flash Video. If you're a big fan of Flash content you'd be better off with a browser such as Dolphin Browser or Puffin Browser. Check out our post about how to play Flash on Android devices for more.
A smart choice
Opera browser is a smart, user friendly browser that can load web content quickly. It's in beta release and is missing a few features, but we like it.
What's new in the latest version of Opera?
The latest version of the Opera Browser for Android adds a bunch of new features designed to improve your browsing experience. Among the changes are: a new bookmark feature, swipe up to search feature, speed dial + button, and the possibility to edit Speed Dial entries.
Clicking the Download link will take you to a page on the Google Play store, from where you can download and install the app