Where Opera Mini Fails

Apr 14, 2010

Mobile browsing is easily my top tool while on the go. When I first heard about the release of the new Opera Mini browser for the iPhone, my first reaction was of positive surprise. With reports circulating regarding Apple’s strict guidelines approving 3rd party apps to specifically not compete with their own core set of applications (Mobile Safari), I didn’t think any other browser would ever be approved for release.

I downloaded the Opera Mini app to my iPhone and decided to use the browser as my primary app for the past two days. I quickly found out that the only good piece of news about a new browser being available is simply just that, having another option. This at least brings some level of competition to the iPhone browsing platform. My actual interaction experience with Opera Mini however, has not been a good one so far. I’ll let the following screen captures show what was wrong from the start.

Opera to Safari comparison

I wanted to like it, but the browser appears to be clunky with its own set of rendering issues. The “pinching” motion to zoom-in and zoom-out doesn’t feel natural at all, definitely not providing that smooth iPhone “feel” that I’m accustomed to. There are only two levels of zoom available for Opera Mini, you’re either zoomed in way too far or zoomed too far back as shown above, providing a very non-legible experience. Navigating through site pages doesn’t feel any better since dragging the screen to move from one section to another feels like the browser is snapping everything in place for you, even if that wasn’t how you intended to navigate. As for the fonts, well they all look pretty bad. Why would a basic typeface like Georgia italic not render properly in Opera?

I’ll give kudos to Opera for taking the first step though, they did provide a quicker browser with its caching technology, text search within the browser and the ability to save webpages for offline browsing; all things lacking in Safari. They threw all the great tools at us, but I still want my mobile browsing experience to be easy and pleasant. Now I only wonder if this opens the door for the other companies to release their own mobile browsers to the iPhone, I’ll specifically be waiting for the mobile versions of Firefox or Chrome. For now, I can only recommend staying away from this app.


Dennis Eusebio

Man, that’s a huge difference. Maybe because it’s a v1.

Ryan M

Interesting comparison. Maybe they will catch on to any problems and get it fixed asap.