Everyone’s always talking about Chrome, and sometimes about Firefox, but there’s not a lot of love given to that unsung hero of major Android browsers, Opera Mini. The lightweight, zippy browser is actually more popular right now than Firefox, but not talked about as much. So why are so many people using it? What does it offer that the others don’t? Here’s everything you need to know about the quietly brilliant browser, which should convince you to give it a try.
It’s Faster than Chrome
There’s no denying that Chrome is packed with tons of handy features, and it’s great when it comes to syncing things for Google account holders. It can, however, be a cumbersome browser, prone to lagging and not loading websites as quickly as you’d like.
According to Opera’s own research, on extreme-savings mode Opera Mini is 72% faster than Chrome. Obviously, Opera’s own research would say it’s the best thing since the microwave, but my personal experience with the browser also gives it the edge (even when I’m not using extreme-savings mode).
More powerful phones with consistent access to 4G may be less affected by Opera’s improvements, making it particularly handy for people with entry-level to mid-range devices.
It Has an Ad Blocker Enabled by Default
If there’s anything worse than an ad clogging up your screen on your desktop browser, it’s when it clogs up your screen on a mobile browser, when it’s often much less clear where you’re supposed to tap to get rid of it. While most major Android browsers have a pop-up blocker enabled, Opera goes a step further by having a full-on ad blocker active by default.
Having tested this on several websites and compared it to Chrome, I found that Opera was much more rigorous in its ad-blocking, hiding ads on pages where Chrome would leave them in. If for whatever reason you want to turn off the ad blocker, tap the Opera icon at the bottom right, then tap “Ad blocking” so it says “Disabled.”
It Has a Built-in Night Mode
If you’re running LineageOS, then there’s a good chance you’re basking in the warm, amber glow of LiveDisplay in the evenings, which decreases the color temperature of your screen in the evenings to make it easier on the eyes.
If you don’t have LiveDisplay, Twilight, or the equivalent, then you should try Opera Mini’s built-in Night Mode. Go to Settings in Opera (“O” icon at the bottom right, then cog icon), then scroll down to Night Mode and adjust the settings until they’re comfortable to you.
It Uses Less Data than Other Browsers
One of the big (or perhaps small, depending on how you look at it) features of Opera Mini is that it automatically compresses every website that you visit, not only making it faster but essentially meaning that it functions by default in a similar way to how Chrome’s “Data Saver” feature works.
You can tweak the data-saving options, too. Tap the “O” Opera icon at the bottom-right of Opera Mini, then tap the Settings cog icon and scroll down to “Data savings.” Here you’ll see detailed information on how much data you’re saving compared to what you would on an uncompressed browser. You can also change image quality, as well as change the general data-saving settings between Automatic, Extreme, High or Off. In extreme mode you’re looking at data savings of around 60-80%. Impressive stuff!
It Has Most of the Features of Rival Browsers
So Opera Mini has all the aforementioned fancy features, but that wouldn’t amount to much if it didn’t get the basics right. Thankfully, it does, and includes such Bells and Whistles as the option to save pages for offline reading, a homepage that allows you to save your favorite sites for “Speed Dial,” and a customizable news feed on the home screen, as well as a dedicated Reader Mode. If you fancy a change from Chrome, then give Opera Mini (or its uncompressed sibling, Opera Browser) a try.