Opera Mini, a Web browser designed specifically for small-screened Java-enabled devices was officially released Tuesday, aiming to make mobile Internet browsing faster for low-end phones through to high-end 3G handsets.
Although Microsoft's Internet Explorer is by far the most dominant Web browser in the PC world, Oslo-based Opera Software may have a chance to undercut the incumbent behemoth this year in the mobile space with the global release of Opera Mini, which is available for free in 10 different languages.
Since beta testing began in the Nordic countries and Germany mid-2005, Opera now claims it has a user base of over 1 million people.
According to its makers, the lure of Opera Mini is that its small screen rendering technology reformats Web sites through Opera's server before it reaches your phone. As this reduces the overall file size of HTML pages, it aims to considerably speed up (what is generally infuriatingly slow) Internet browsing on mobile phones and reduce associated GPRS data costs by shrinking images to fit on small displays.
Although Opera Mini is free software, users still need to be aware of their current data plan and associated costs, which vary considerably between telcos.
Downloading the 107KB Java application took slightly under a minute on a second-generation Motorola RAZR V3, after which the phone guided us through a painless installation. The browser loaded relatively quickly, but unfortunately we weren't able to fully test it due to GPRS connection issues that we still need to iron out.
However, here are screenshots of the browser after rendering a variety of sites.
If you'd like to try Opera Mini, it can be downloaded by pointing your mobile's WAP browser to http://mini.opera.com or visiting the company's Web site to find the Australian SMS download service instructions. But be warned, the premium text message service costs AU$5!
If you've given Opera Mini a go or would like to let us know about other mobile browsers you admire, we'd love to hear your thoughts. Have your say below!