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Friday, October 23, 2009

Opera Mini 5 is the king of mobile browsing, proof inside

In a discussion with @james_cooper and @iramo on twitter we came to argue about the performance of some mobile browsers.

Now, if you are anything like me you hate propaganda as well as deceptive advertising.

I raved on twitter about Opera Mini 5 (which I think is the best mobile browser out there, bar none!) and @james_cooper made a comment that stopped short of making my blood boil.


I'm as much of a fanboy as anyone else, @james_cooper will testify to that, but when I rave about a product I do it for a reason.

So I took @james_cooper's challenge head on and went on to do an extensive performance test with a couple of web-sites that I visit often to prove that @james_cooper and all other Apple fanboys are just wrong and that we (the Opera Mini fanboys) are right! :)

So. First the result: I hereby crown Opera Mini 5 as the best, fastest and most responsive mobile browser of our times! And I have the data to prove it (not just fanboy-ism).

Test Method

I loaded the main page of the list of web-sites below on Thursday October 23rd around 21:00 EET. Each page was loaded at least 5 times. Some pages were loaded 6 times to account for the first load time being too long (due to the overhead of creating a connection).

All browsers were in devices that had wifi connection except for the S60 v3.2 browser because the device I had did not have wifi.

The times measured were from the moment the user presses "go" (or "go to") to the moment that the browser stops downloading and rendering. All browsers in the test included very clear visual queues that let the user know that the page is fully ready for browsing, so this was easy to measure.

Also, in the devices that allow for multitasking, all other applications were closed in order to allow for a fair comparison with the iPod Touch 2nd generation that I used which itself does not allow any other application to run at the same time as the browser.


Devices in test

  • Nokia N97 with Opera Mini 5 Browser
  • Nokia N97 with native browser
  • Nokia 6730c with native browser
  • Apple iPod Touch 2nd generation with OS 2.1.1 and later with OS 3.2.1

Sites visited for the test

  • www.techmeme.com
  • www.nytimes.com (not tested with all browsers because there was no way to make the server return the full desktop-version of the site)
  • www.hs.fi
  • www.engadget.com
  • www.natgeo.com (not tested with all browsers because there was not way to make the server return the full desktop-version of the site)

Most of the sites included some scripting and flash adverts.

Test Results Overview

There was one thing clear from all of these tests. Opera Mini 5 is much, much faster than any of the other browsers. Opera uses what they call "proxy" which basically means that the browser will connect to specific servers that Opera manages and those servers will compress the data to be transferred to the browser making the amount of data to be transferred considerably smaller than the full HTML+FLASH that other browsers have to download. This makes Opera much faster on the download, but Opera still needs to render the same content and here Opera excels again.

Opera clearly blows all other mobile browser options tested out of the water. Here are some examples (times in seconds, error margin +-1 second)


www.techmeme.com
www.nytimes.com
www.hs.fi          
www.engadget.com
www.natgeo.com
N97 with Opera Mini 5
best: 7 sec
worst: 8 sec
best: 9 sec
worst: 12 sec
best: 11 sec
worst: 23 sec*
best: 7 sec
worst: 9 sec
best: 6 sec
worst: 9 sec
Nokia 6730c with Native Browser (over 3G)
best: 19 sec
worst: 19 sec
only mobile site available
N/A
best: 13 sec
worst: 16 sec
best: 10 sec
worst: 13 sec
iPod Touch 2nd Gen with 2.1.1
best: 24 sec
worst: 24 sec
best: 27 sec
worst: 28 sec
best: 34 sec
worst: 36 sec
best: 20 sec
worst: 21 sec
only mobile site available
iPod Touch 2nd Gen with 3.2.1 (test not completed)
best 38 sec
worst: 47 sec
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N97 with Native Browserbest: 36 sec
worst: 47 sec
only mobile site availableN/Abest: 16 sec
worst: 27 sec
N/A
* includes time to create a connection as the device had no active connection to the network at that time
N/A: either the device did not render completely the site or the test was not done for the specified site
Only mobile site available: There was no obvious way to request the full-website from the server through the mobile-site interface. Test could not be carried out.

Conclusion

If you actively use your mobile device to browse the internet, there's only one conclusion to take from this test: get yourself the Opera mini 5 Beta and stop worrying about the native browser. Opera has consistently beaten all others to the punch and even though the test was not on the features, it is clear that the Opera Mini 5 Beta is a feature-rich browser that puts all of the native browsers to shame.
I have, just like all of you have, heard how cool mobile safari is and how it has this crazy good WebKit engine... Well, Opera Mini 5 is Java (yes!) based and is still miles ahead of the competition!

All I can say is that I hope that the mobile browser wars does not end like the PC browser war ended with one crappy browser built-in into every OS/device.

Here's the
link to the Opera Mini 5 site. Go there and start enjoying a proper desktop-like browser on your mobile device!


at 10:50
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5 Comments:

  • I see James really got under your skin Vasco ;) But, yeah I use opera mini 5 and it is indeed awesome. Nice to have some scientific evidence to back myself up now.

    Tim

    By Blogger Sang, at October 23, 2009 11:55 AM  

  • Opera mini 5 is pretty cool indeed. However, it has deficiences as well. I have two big problems with it and one small problem.
    Big 1. Mini 5 isn't very reliable when it comes to javascript activated forms and menus. Try examining some category in verkokauppa.com, repeatedly opening details of items and going back
    Big 2. You know it already, Vasco. Single click browsing (press right for page down) is a big time saver for my browsing habits and mini 5 lost it (mini 4.2 used to have it)
    Small 1. I am not fond of mini 5 kinetic scrolling on N97. Not very natural to my taste - a bit too slow I think

    So what do I use? Opera mini 5 AND Opera mini 4.2 for different sites and conditions. So choice anyway lies between the fast operas :)

    P.S.
    I hope quite much that my main issues are resolved when mini 5 goes out of beta. Other than that mini 5 is nearly perfect

    P.P.S.
    Writing this comment in Opera mini 4.2 running on Nokia N97

    By Anonymous Artem Marchenko, at October 24, 2009 12:12 AM  

  • Vasco, I think you dismissed one of the big contenders for the mobile browser market: Safari on iPhone.

    It would be very nice to hear more details on why Safari fared so miserably in your test that you could not even evaluate it. I tried all the sites you marked "N/A" with Safari on iPhone and I had no problems.

    Was it because some sites like www.natgeo.com refuse to show the desktop website to iPhone? Or that www.nytimes.com has flash content on the main page and because iPhone does not support flash, it is not even worth considering?

    (Personally I think it is great there is no flash support on iPhone. I don't play browser-based games, so I only encounter flash in ads that make pages load slowly and disturb the reader.)

    By Blogger sti, at October 29, 2009 10:53 PM  

  • @Sti Safari on iPhone = Safari on iPod Touch (which was tested).

    N/A just means that the test was either not carried out or the site did not have a desktop version available for that platform.

    By Blogger Vasco Duarte, at November 03, 2009 10:18 AM  

  • Does that browser support proper css yet? like simple height? border-radius? gradients? It even makes m.youtube.com look like shit to me.
    Might be fast, but best? Far from it.

    By Anonymous Marcel, at September 14, 2012 1:11 PM  

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