Opera has released a beta of its Opera Mini 5 browser for Google’s Android OS. Mini’s signature feature is the way it caches and compresses Web pages on the server side so they’re relatively snappy on a phone even via a sluggish wireless connection. As its name suggests, Mini started out as a pretty basic browser, but version 5 is full-featured for a phone browsser: It’s got tabs, a password manager, and Opera’s Speed Dial feature that provides one-click access to favorite sites.
In my brief time with Mini 5 so far on a Verizon Droid, it felt fast but not strikingly faster than the standard Android browser (an experience which PCMag.com’s Sean Ludwig also encountered). Formatting is never as faithful as in the stock browser, and some of the sites I visited with the beta looked just plain wonky. But on the plus side, Mini let me get into one Web site–the back-end part of WordPress.com I use to update Technologizer–which I haven’t been able to access with the bundled Android browser.
Worth a look if you’re a browser buff with an Android phone (and I’m glad that Android users have the option of choosing Mini–here’s hoping that iPhone owners get to choose, too).