Opera Mobile 12.1 supports ARM, MIPS, x86 and comes with built-in fraud protection

by: Gary SimsOctober 10, 2012

When it comes to browsers there are a multitude available for PCs, Macs and Android. On the PC, the leaders are of course IE, Chrome and Firefox. Behind the big three comes Safari (from Apple) and Opera (with about 2% of the market share). However for mobile devices it is a different story. Opera enjoys around 21% market share across all the different mobile platforms that it supports. That makes it a serious contender, and with the release of version 12.1 it has every chance of growing.

The Opera browser offers some key features that make it so popular. First there is its Turbo mode. This is similar to the Silk browser technology found on the Amazon Kindle Fire range of tablets. When a web page is opened the request goes via Opera’s servers. These servers download the page and compress the data before sending to the mobile device. According to Opera this means that pages can load five times faster than other browsers. In my testing I found that Turbo mode actually made pages load slower, but this may be due to my geographic location. However the advantage of compressed data is beneficial when using a 3G network, regardless of where you are and especially when roaming.

New in version 12.1 is the built-in fraud detection system that notifies you if a webpage you are visiting has been marked as suspicious. If you see the warning, it is a best to stay well away from the site. 12.1 also supports SPDY, the web protocol developed by Google to speed up page downloads. SPDY complements HTTP and using it allows HTTP requests to be compressed and prioritized.

In terms of raw processing power I ran the popular SunSpider JavaScript benchmark with Opera and with Chrome. There wasn’t much difference, but Opera did win by a fraction. After several runs I can say that it is about 1.5% faster than Chrome! Opera Mobile 12.1 also has various CSS and HTML5 improvements. I ran the standard Acid3 CSS tests on Opera and Chrome and both browsers scored 100 out of 100.

The architecture support for Opera Mobile 12.1 is impressive: it will basically run on any Android device including older ARM 6 powered devices as well as MIPS and Intel devices. What’s best is that your device will only download binaries for its platform, which reduces overhead and download size.

At the end of the day people can be very fickle about their web browsers, and switching isn’t really very hard (I know, since in my time I have used Firefox, Safari and now Chrome on my PC). The best thing to do is to give Opera a try and see what you think! You can download Opera Mobile 12.1 for from the Google Play store.

  • MasterMuffin

    I have used over 20 different web browsers :) opera is really slow when the compressing is on!

    • 20! That has got to be some kind of world record! :-)

      But yes, the Turbo mode was slow for me… I wonder if it is because of the geographic location of Opera’s servers… Maybe the data had to go twice around the world just to get back to my phone!


      • MasterMuffin

        Yea, I have used every android browser I found for few days at least for each. Also about 10 browsers for pc :)

        Wheredo you live, I live in finland and it’s slow so…

        • Yeah I also live in Europe… It would be interesting to hear from someone in the USA or Canada…

          • MasterMuffin

            Yep, going to keep using chrome!

          • But I must say that when Turbo mode was off I was getting the same download speeds as Chrome…

          • MasterMuffin

            Well true, but I like chrome more because of the synchronozation of bookmarks and it looks better :)

        • jangeloracoma

          Do you get the same experience with Opera Mini?

          • MasterMuffin

            Almost, but (in my sgs3) the normal loads pages faster, so I only recommend mini if you have a low end device or little memory left :)

  • Tomasz Sterna

    If you are on fat connection, enabling Turbo mode makes no sense.
    But it makes huge difference on slow and laggy connection like GPRS or dial-up (yes, people around the world still use these technologies).

  • Did you see Firefox update? I think speed is improved slightly :)