Until now Microsoft’s Edge browser was the only option for Windows Mobile users and whilst its a big step over Internet Explorer for Windows Phone there are still some missing features that won’t be resolved until the anniversary update arrives for Windows 10.
Enter Opera Mini, almost unheralded. The new Windows 10 version of the mobile web browser integrates both Opera’s famous data saving technologies and an ad blocker – the things to have in the mobile market right now.
In use Opera turns out to be quite resource intensive. On my Lumia 640XL it ran at a crawl, proving to be all but unusable. On the significantly more powerful Lumia 930 it was a little sluggish, but usable. Compared to the fluid performance of Edge on mobile though this is a definite downside. I did see a rise in operating temperatures of both phones when Opera Mini was running, suggesting it was working processors hard.
The usual Opera features are present – speed dial and a slick bookmarks interface, although for some reason there’s no option to connect your Opera user account so that these sync with other versions of the program you use.
Ad blocking works as advertised, no ads and no ad blocking detection either. Presumably a function of the way that Opera Mini assembles pages at Opera’s servers.
Data reduction is pretty impressive too, if you believe the figures the browser reports. During testing I saw a pretty regular 55-60% reduction in data transfers, which could be a real boon for users on limited or paid for data plans.
All in I’d say that Opera Mini is a good first run at a Windows 10 Mobile browser, but needs some optimisation. I’ll be keeping it on my phone for those times when I’m trying to eek the last few days of my data plan over the line.
Otherwise though, Edge remains the superior tool and I’d certainly be prepared to put up with ads in order to continue using it.