Opera, the “always the bridesmaid” of Internet browsers, was one of the first good mobile browsers. It has since been overtaken by the likes of Dolphin, Chrome and Firefox, but it still has a respectable following, especially on older phones. If you’re on an older Android, the new Opera Mini is optimized for aging hardware and software.
Also, of all the Internet browsers, Opera has always focused on one aspect more than others: data savings. The desktop version’s Turbo Mode crunched data so well, it only made sense to bring it to mobiles. The latest Opera Mini for Android takes it to the next level with two modes: High Compression and Extreme Compression.
Can Opera actually mount a comeback with this new browser? Let’s find out.
Saving You Mobile Data Costs
One of the complaints people had with Opera Mini’s old data compression technique was that it messed with how webpages are supposed to look. You still got the gist of the page, but missing and distorted elements made it an unpleasant experience.
To fix that, Opera Mini now has a new High Compression mode. In this mode, the browser will crunch the webpage at its server and push through a lighter version to your phone.
However, it won’t be too aggressive about the crunching, so as to retain the original page as well as possible. So for example, an image might be compressed, but you will still see the full image.
For the more traditional Opera Mini savings, you’ll need to use the Extreme Compression mode. “This mode is perfect for those of you on expensive data plans or unreliable connections,” Opera says.
It will aggressively crunch the page. You can also customize how much you want to compress in images, feeds (part of the new tab page, where Opera serves up stories you might be interested in), text size, connection type, and more—only the image customization is available in High Compression mode.
How Well Does Compression Work?
To test Opera Mini’s new compression, I tried loading a few MakeUseOf pages on both modes, as well as Chrome’s Reduced Data mode. I went in the same sequence, and cleared the cache before each attempt.
I also ran data monitoring tool Onavo Count to ensure the reported data was matching up with what my device was saying. Here’s what I found:
As you can see, the original size and final size differed wildly. Checking Onavo Count, I found that:
- Extreme Compression mode exaggerated slightly, but was still significantly less than others, clocking in at 1.1 MB
- High Compression mode was perfectly accurate, receiving 5 MB as stated
- Google Chrome also exaggerated slightly, clocking 2.8 MB
How to Choose Compression Modes
Based on this, the new High Compression mode doesn’t make much sense, if you ask me. You are better off using Google Chrome with Reduced Data than that.
However, if you are on a spotty Internet connection or a limited data plan, then the Extreme Compression mode is fantastic. Yes, sometimes the pages aren’t loaded perfectly, but that’s a small price to pay until you get to a Wi-Fi zone. Plus, in emergencies, you can always switch to High Compression.
Opera Mini has made is easier than ever to choose or switch the compression mode.
- At the bottom of your browser, you’ll see an “O” opera icon.
- Tap that and you will see your current “Savings Mode”
- Tap the Savings Mode to be taken to a screen that lets you choose High or Extreme with a tap.
- In this screen, you can also customize the compression options, and check how much data has been saved by Opera Mini so far.
What Else Is Good in the New Opera Mini?
Apart from the compression, the new Opera Mini for Android works with Android 2.3 upwards and has other cool features, as you can see in the video above. You get:
- Speed boost: While it was never a slouch, under-the-hood improvements make Opera Mini a contender for the fastest browser on Android.
- Discover: A built-in feed of the latest news, where you can select the topics you want.
- Exit button: As weird as it sounds, I’m a fan of the simple Exit/Close button on the new Opera Mini. How often have you left several tabs of Chrome open on your mobile browser and had them slowing down everything? In Opera Mini, you can shut down the browser and all its tabs in three taps—it’s glorious.
Do Data Savings Matter to You?
While Opera’s new compression modes are great, the question remains, how important are they? Are you vigilant about your mobile data consumption, and does it matter enough to make you want to switch to Opera Mini?
Explore more about: Opera Mini.