Opera Mini 5 BETA: This is a Java app?!?

by EverythingBlaxx on September 29, 2009

scr000001Opera Mini 5 BETA is the best looking Java app I’ve ever seen

I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve been neglecting Opera Mini for quite sometime. Between 3G and Wi-Fi coming to almost every phone I’ve owned in the past 3 years, advancements made to the S60 browser such as Flash support & kinetic scrolling and the fact that a lot more of my favorite websites offer mobile friendly content, I haven’t had a need for a browser that can display full HTML pages while using substantially less data than the typical native browser. I believe the last time I employed Opera Mini full-time, I was carrying around a Nokia E62. The idea of installing Opera Mini didn’t even enter my mind until I heard that the beta of v5.0 had been released, I just can’t resist a public beta so I hit up http://m.opera.com/next from my N97 to see what was new and if it was possible that Opera Mini could become my everyday browser.

scr000002Jump Page

From the moment you launch Opera Mini 5 BETA, you’re going to realize that this isn’t your daddy’s Opera Mini. In fact, this isn’t even your daddy’s Java app. The visuals have gotten a huge overhaul for this release and the old ‘Sarah, Plain & Tall’ start page has been replaced with a jump page with 9 customizable shortcuts and 2 toolbars at the top and the bottom of the page. The header toolbar is present at the top of every page you navigate to and includes an address bar and Google search bar. The Google search was a very nice touch as 80% of the time that I open my mobile browser, it’s to perform a quick search for something or another. The footer toolbar contains the navigation buttons.

scr000007Settings Menu

The most interesting thing about this toolbar is the ‘New tab’ button which bring up the dialog to open a new tab, close an open tab and as I only discovered at the time of writing this, return to the jump page by opening a new tab (I was all set to trash Opera for not providing a way to return to the homepage too y’know).

scr000008Opening a new tab

The browser handles tabbed browsing reasonably well but don’t expect it to perform miracles. If you open too many tabs at once, the browser will crash…Bank on that and more often than not, it will take your whole phone down with it. Y’know what? I don’t even know if I’d call it tabbed browser, it’s more like opening multiple windows and switching between them (because of the absence of a tab toolbar) but it is definitely a welcome feature on any mobile browser.

scr000009The browser crashed shortly after I took this screenshot

One of the new features that I found very intriguing was the inclusion of an on-screen keyboard for S60v5 devices. Typically, whenever it came to entering text in Opera Mini, selecting a text field would open a text entry screen similar to the Messaging app. When using Opera Mini 4 on an S60v5 device, tapping this text entry screen would open up the standard text entry options you would have for your device (For example, on the 5800 XM you could enter text using the fullscreen QWERTY, mini-QWERTY, T9 or handwriting interfaces). The on-screen keyboard looks and feels amazing (it is actually one of the only features of the browser that responds well to touch input. More on that shortly) and is leaps and bounds better than the native fullscreen QWERTY in a number of ways, not the least of which is that Opera understands that a QWERTY keyboard does not need to take up 85% of the screen real estate. The 4 row on-screen keyboard is equipped with any letter, number, or symbol you could possibly need while only taking up the bottom half of the screen (in landscape orientation). However, I found that there are two major flaws when using the on-screen keyboard on my N97. The first is that you can’t turn off or hide the on-screen keyboard even if you are typing on the N97′s physical keyboard. This is understandable as the N97 is the only S60v5 device with physical keys and it wouldn’t make sense for an owner of a Samsung i8910 HD to turn off the keyboard nor would it be sensible to provide N97 users with their own version of the BETA. Opera Mini 5 has no problem detecting any keystrokes from the physical QWERTY (except the Sym key curiously) but it leaves the on-screen keyboard up there to take up half of the screen space. The second problem is that if you’re typing anything in a text box that’s longer than a sentence, expect the keyboard to obscure most of it. It is impossible to scroll through the text box too so don’t bother trying.

scr000006So much for replying to this post

As I mentioned, the touch support in Opera Mini 5 is still very much a work in progress. It can take several tries tapping on a link before the browser detects it and even when it does, it usually opens the wrong link which happened to be nearby, If you’ve set the text size to Extra Small like myself, you are in for a lot of frustration. For the sake of your own sanity, remember that lipstick-shaped stylus for the N97 that we all laughed at before we threw it back in the box? Go get it and keep it handy if you plan on using this beta extensively.

I noticed something a bit strange about the way that Opera Mini 5 BETA interacts with a few websites as well. In the past, pretty much the only website that would detect Opera Mini as a mobile browser was HowardForums but now it’s hit or miss. Facebook detects it as a mobile browser, however ESPN.com does not. Not a big deal since Opera Mini still compresses everything before it hits your device, just weird and worth noting.

scr000010It’s really about time you visited my blog :)

The last feature I want to highlight is one that I know a lot of users have been pining for but I could really care less about – the ability to copy/paste text from a web page. It’s more of a ‘nice to have’ feature rather than a ‘make or break’ feature of a mobile browser and the way Opera has made something so simple into an unnecessarily frustrating chore, it’s not even worth having. I don’t see why I have to go into a text selection mode then have to fight with the awful touch response to select the desired text. I’m not even going to tell you how long or how many tries it took me to get this screenshot but needless to say, I gave up on selecting text right after I got it. Perhaps it would have been easier if I had used a larger font size but alas.

scr000012Copy and paste gets an additional step

scr000013Finally able to highlight the whole first paragraph

Now while there are a couple flaws that I’ve gone over, keep in mind that this is beta software and far from the finished product. It’s a good thing too because Opera Mini 5 is certainly not ready for primetime yet. If you have any questions, concerns or what to share your own experiences with Opera Mini 5, please feel free to do so below in the Comments section.

Download

Visit opera.com/mini/next/ to learn more or m.opera.com/next from your N97 browser to download.

Related Articles:




  • MajorDouble7

    Thanks for writing about this, Blaxx…

    I just installed Beta 5 yesterday and have been tinkering around with it ever since. I've noticed some of the problems that you've mentioned above, but like you said, this in only a beta. Which is good because I think Opera Mini 5 is going to become my browser of choice.

    I love the ability to open the multiple tabs (and browse through them) and the option to keep my address bar shown (along with the handy google search bar). Many things about this browser make it well worth a 'try-out.' By the way, I've yet to experience a crash from opening too many tabs…not sure where the difference lies, but perhaps I'm not running as many background apps on my phone…again, not sure.

    Can't wait for the official release of Opera Mini 5.

    MD 7

  • http://twitter.com/EverythingBlaxx EverythingBlaxx

    Thanks for the comment MD7. That screenshot when I mentioned the browser crash, I had all 9 pages from my Jump Page open and the crash didn't occur until I tried navigating Symbian-Guru.com so maybe it's Ricky Cadden's fault :P

  • MajorDouble7

    Haha…maybe you should lodge a formal complaint.

    By the way, I didn't notice any trouble with the Sym button either…perhaps I need to play around with it some more…

    MD 7

  • Turk

    anybody get the problame with loading
    IT TAKES SOOOOOOOOOOOO LONG
    can some one help

  • http://www.n97fanatics.com Mike Macias

    Damn good review. I'm also shocked this is a java app. It blows away some .sis apps that I've tried, including Skyfire. If Skyfire didn't have flash Opera Mini would be king.

    Personally I still use the default browser for quick lookups with mobile sites and Opera Mini for longer browsing sessions and heavy websites.

    Hopefully they fix the kinetic scrolling in the next release. It needs to be a little more smooth and stay straight instead of moving left to right so much.

  • zenguppy34

    question… see if anyone knows the answer…

    for the default browser i often have to go delete the cache and dmgr folders after my browsing session to save space on my phone memory.

    Is this the same case for Opera? If so where are the appropriate cache folders?

    Thank you.

  • http://twitter.com/EverythingBlaxx EverythingBlaxx

    Damn! I forgot to touch on the kinetic scrolling (or the lack thereof). I'll save it for the review of the final version I suppose

  • http://twitter.com/EverythingBlaxx EverythingBlaxx

    I would like to imagine that it uses the same cache but you never know

  • MajorDouble7

    I believe you can delete all personal information via the browser under the 'Settings' menu. Don't think you have to delete the actual folders that they are kept in on the system.

    MD 7

  • http://phoneomenon.com/ Timi

    Cool write up Blaxx! Im loving this browser, although Ill have to play with it a bit more to see if itll be a keeper. Amazing work from Opera Team.

  • richardhula

    Been using this app since it came out a few weeks ago & very pleased with it. Agree with one comment I've seen that it looks/feels better than PC version. Particularly like the password saver option which is even simpler than PC version.

    Haven't had any significant problems with touch selection or copy & paste providing I use the scribe. Did have some issues with flip out keyboard. Sometimes difficult to get certain keys in lower case. In any case the virtual keyboard seems bullet-proof.

    One shortfall over previous v4 is lack of bookmark update through Opera Unite from your PC installation. Setting one of your Speed Dial options to my.opera.com/yourusername allows online bookmark list though through Unite though.

    Richard

  • glen

    do you guys having a pixelated icon for this?

  • sitati

    Nice writeup (and I did visit Blaxx's blog :) ). I've been using Opera Mini 5 beta as my primary browser since it came out, and I am very impressed with it.

    My biggest complaint is the extremely minimal support of Javascript – I only rarely need flash support on my phone and am comfortable switching to the built-in browser when I want to watch a youtube video, but one of my most-visited sites is Google Reader's iPhone-optimised page, which works beautifully in the built-in browser, but is unusable in Opera.

    I read elsewhere that the rendering engine in this beta is the same one from Opera 4 and might be overhauled before the final version comes out – let's hope that's true.

    Oh, and as a Java developer, I hope this is finally the app that will finally shut up everyone who calls Java apps clunky and ugly!

  • http://twitter.com/EverythingBlaxx EverythingBlaxx

    Yup. Unfortunately, I don't think any of the S60 Java apps have reformatted their icons for the 640×360 resolution

  • http://twitter.com/EverythingBlaxx EverythingBlaxx

    Don't get it twisted, most Java apps are clunky and ugly but between Opera Mini 5 and eBuddy, they are coming along nicely

  • LessThanDoug

    Very nice looking application. If I could design a web browser, it would be set up in the same way, Still can't be used as my primary web browser though. The lack of double tap zooming, or even a manual zoom at all totally ruins my experience. The keyboard constantly showing up is annoying, but I can ignore it. Saving pictures from the browser is also something I can't figure out how to do. What I love is the ability to get to your bookmarks in one click, the tabbed browsing, the classic opera speed dial, and how once I tap on the web page itself, the menu and address bar disappear. If they would just give you zooming options, be a little more stable, and allow me to save images, I'm all in.

  • DCH

    Anyone know how to get this to work with wifi?

  • http://twitter.com/EverythingBlaxx EverythingBlaxx

    Goto Settings -> Application mgr. -> Installed apps., find Opera Mini 5 beta in the list and click on it once to highlight it. Click Options -> Suite Settings. The first option there is Access point. Change it to your desired WLAN AP.

  • yitwave

    This is a great app, note you can turn OFF the onscreen keyboard (having the onscreen keyboard somehow totally misconfigures my physical keyboard) and you can select where to save the cache on E: (i.e different from standard S60 browser)

    Opera Mini 5 Beta is my default browser, agree with many of the above comments.

  • richardhula

    How do you make it default browser?

  • http://twitter.com/EverythingBlaxx EverythingBlaxx

    He mis-spoke there. You can't change the default browser on an S60 phone but what he's trying to say is that it is his primary browser.

  • ricardo

    hi
    how to reset customizable shortcuts I cant figure it out

    syrec

  • http://twitter.com/EverythingBlaxx EverythingBlaxx

    Long press the shortcut you want to change and a menu will popup. There you can select Edit or Clear

  • http://www.r4cards.co.nz/ nintendo ds r4 card

    The Opera rendering engine is fantastic, mainly in that it’s the “standards nazi” of rendering engines. The rendering engine itself is not stored on the mobile device, however: all URL requests are sent to a remote Opera server, which formats the remote URL using the Opera engine into a compressed format which is passed along to the device for interpretation and display.

  • mcpeter1990

    I tried to install Opera mini 5 but it always doesnt complete the installation. Could someone please help?

  • Rose_St

    Hi guys,

    What about opera mini 10? should we use that on our n97s?

  • Rose_St

    Does opera slow down you guys' phone as well? Opera takes up much more rams than the nokia browser does, correct?

  • Rose_St

    Does opera slow down you guys' phone as well? Opera takes up much more rams than the nokia browser does, correct?

  • paulpurday

    I have the latest Opera Mini on my Nokia N97 Mini. At first there was a virtual qwerty keyboard showing. Now only the usual predictive text keyboard shows when typing. Any ideas why?

  • http://www.hamcityheadquarters.com MajorDouble7

    I believe there are settings for the keyboard…I wish I could offer more, but I haven't used this app for a while now.

    MD 7

Previous post:

Next post: