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Which Opera Mobile 9 build for Windows Mobile is the best?

After reviewing some browsers recently, i came across the Opera Mobile page a few times coincidently while surfing the net. My review of Opera Mobile 9.5 was based on an older extracted cab-file from a rom, so i thought that there must have some enhancements taken place in the meantime. Hoping that the build Opera is providing on their homepage is the best and most stable one, i decided to give the official beta version a try.

But sadly this is not the case. There are some BIG differences between the builds, and not all of them are for the good.

Opera Mobile 9.5 beta startscreen
Opera Mobile 9.5 beta startscreen

First off all the official beta build seems to be slower than my extracted version. Loading up pages takes more time, and there will be much more reloading when scrolling in the zoomed out view. I don’t know what the reason for this is, since the app is as ram hungry as ever. I repeatedly got the message that the devices RAM is running low, and i should close a tab. The funny thing is, there was only one tab open. On my other Opera version, i only got slowdowns and stutter after opening three tabs with heavy html pages. So it seems like the 128MB RAM (from which there were about 50MB free for usage) of my xda orbit2 are not enough for the newest build.

Opera Mobile 9.5 beta page loading
Opera Mobile 9.5 beta page loading

I also encountered the problem that the regular HTC touch keyboard will now result in wrong letters to be shown. So if i try to start a search on google, i will only see numbers and special signs when trying to input a regular word.

But for me the biggest problem is the missing zoom bar. Well it’s not completely missing, but you need to tap and hold the screen to access the zoom bar via submenu. Why on earth did opera change the old concept? The left magnifier soft button on the older builds was perfect. It didn’t take any space, and it was very easy to quickly zoom pages manually as you can see on the following screenshot.

Opera mobile 95 build with magnifier soft button
Opera mobile 95 build with magnifier soft button

Even after opening the zoom bar via sub-menu, the official opera mobile 9.51 beta still isn’t as good as the previous builds, since the button you need to drag isn’t reacting to input as fast as before. The zooming isn’t really as fluid as before either.

Opera Mobile 9.5 beta zoombar
Opera Mobile 9.5 beta zoombar

The only interesting new feature to me is the widget support. Im pretty sure there is a way to use the widgets with the older builds too, but since i installed the official beta i took the widget plugin too. I checked out some widgets like facebook, twitter and so on but none of them were really good. In all cases the available native applications are much better. The widgets don’t even support fingerscrolling, and are generally very slow. Opera has still a long way to go here.

So i want to make clear that while opera is still the best browser out there, it does make sense to check out some different builds in order to find the best one for your device. The outcome will be different, depending on the device you are using.

Based on my xda orbit II running on WM6.1, i’m going to give the official Opera Mobile 9.5 beta a slightly worse rating than my older build.

Opera Mobile 9.51 official beta (build 15894)

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Opera Mobile 9.5 (build 2392)

Rating: ★★★★½