Opera Mobile 10.1 beta for Google Android wasn’t supposed to be available until tomorrow, but it looks like the download link went live for a while today. I can’t find it at the moment, but the folks at Android Life snagged the installer and posted it online.

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Update: Opera Mobile beta is now available as a free download from the Android Market.

The browser has a number of features that set it apart from the default Android browser, including:

  • Quick switching between browser tabs without switching to a separate window
  • Speed Dial feature which lets you customize a thumbnail list of favorite sites
  • Opera Turbo mode feature which uses remote web servers to compress pages by up to 70%
  • Opera Link for synchronizing bookmarks and other data between mobile and desktop versions of Opera

Opera Mobile 10.1 beta actually looks a lot like Opera Mini, which has been available for Android for months. The difference is that Opera Mini relies primarily on server-side compression while Opera Mobile uses your phone’s hardware to render web pages.

The new browser also supports pinch-to-zoom with hardware acceleration, which means you can zoom in and out with precision, while Opera Mini only has two zoom levels: in and out. Like Firefox Mobile though, Opera Mini seems to take a second to adjust to the new zoom level. Text tends to look fuzzy for a moment after you zoom before it clears up. Overall the browser loads pages much more quickly than Firefox at this point — especially with Turbo enabled. But both browsers are still in beta.

Overall Opera Mobile looks like a decent alternative for the default Android browser for existing Opera users or anyone looking for something a little different. It’s still clearly a work in progress though. When I tapped the browser button on my home screen, Opera didn’t show up as an option. There’s no support for Adobe Flash. And the app takes up quite a bit of storage space — about 20MB out of the box, and about 13 after “moving” the app to the SD card.

Brad Linder

Brad Linder is editor of Liliputing and Mobiputing. He's been tinkering with mobile tech for decades and writing about it since...

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