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.
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.