Weekly App Review #1: Opera Browser for Android | HOOKD.in

Weekly App Review #1: Opera Browser for Android (In-depth)

It appears I’ve been blinded by ignorance when it comes to web browsers for my Android phone. Somehow last week, can’t really remember how, I stumbled upon an app called Opera. Upon first glance, I almost scrolled right past it thinking the “O” stood for Oprah, or that the non-stylized red character represented the Overstock shopping app – that’s just the vibe I got from the icon. But, as it turns out, this is actually a popular (50 million downloads popular) alternate browser that I’ve come to realize may likely become my new daily driver. Here’s why.

1. It’s Clean

The first hesitation I had when downloading the first alternative to my go-to browser, Chrome, was that there would be a learning curve that frankly, I just don’t have time for. But, it was the exact opposite here. Opera has a very clean interface that after using for a few minutes, I feel like I’ve been using for years. In case you face this hesitation too, Opera offers a simple tutorial when launching the app for the first time. Like most apps these days, Opera for Android has adopted a flat UI design with only a thin URL bar at the top of the screen and a simple navigation bar at the bottom.

Compared to Chrome: 

Yes, Chrome may technically be considered “cleaner” with all of it’s settings and functions tucked away in one menu, but I found it easier to access and call up certain features inside of Opera. For example, Opera’s quick menu (that’s what I’m calling it) in the bottom right hand side of the screen offers easy access to your downloads, settings, history and more. The way it presents these tools is less of a list, and more visual, making it easier to find the button you need to hit. I find my self scrolling through the Chrome menu for a few seconds longer when trying to find the same feature or tool.

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2. It’s Intuitive.

Building off of #1, Opera seems to be a more intuitive interface. If you need to access other tabs, you have a dedicated button for that constantly available. Switching between tabs is made easy with a side-scrolling interface which rarely ever lags. From the same menu, you can easily access previously closed tabs, open new tabs, or close all tabs with one touch. Another dedicated button in the Nav menu takes you directly to a feature called Speed Dial. Really, this is just a bookmarks page, but since it is so easy to access and use, I’ve already found this to become one of my favorite features. Another great feature is that the Nav menu itself changes depending on what page of the app you are on (web tab, Speed Dial, tab view, etc.) so that you have instant access to the features you need, when you need them.

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Compared to Chrome: 

Recently, the Chrome browser app updated to now show browser tabs as separate windows when you use the recent apps button in Lollipop. I’m not sure how I feel about this. Maybe it’s just because I’ve only had to use this for a couple of days, but it doesn’t feel intuitive to me to have to open all of my recent apps with the Lollipop UI button in order to access my other Chrome tabs. I also find that this makes it really easy to accidentally dismiss a browser tab when really you were just trying to close some of your other open apps.

3. It’s fast.

In general, Opera’s UI is very quick. Like I mentioned previously, the tab functionality is far better in my opinion than Chrome and it works incredibly quickly and smoothly. Additionally, the menus inside the app open fluidly and without stutter, including when bringing up a list of downloads or entering and exiting the settings page. Now, on to the page load tests.

When running multiple tests loading a post page on HOOKD.in in Opera, here are the times I found (in order of the three tests).

00:04:03 – 00:03:44 – 00:03:56

Not too bad.

I also decided to test it on a site that was a little more heavy, Tested.com – one of my favorite tech sites. Their homepage has a lot more going on including embedded YouTube videos, photos, links and more. Loading this page and measuring in the same manner, the time I clocked with Opera is below.

19:25

(Keep in mind this is not the time to a usable state of the page, this is the time to load the page in its entirety.) 

Compared to Chrome: 

I handled the page load tests the same way with Chrome, clocking the time from when I selected the tab with the website I was testing (a post page on HOOKD.in) to the time the loading bar reached its end. The load times are below.

00:04:03 – 00:04:94 – 00:03:40

When running the same test for Tested.com, the time I clocked is below.

00:15:92

(Keep in mind this is not the time to a usable state of the page, this is the time to load the page in its entirety.) 

So, as you can see, the two are quite comparable. Chrome did, in fact, clock the fastest load time at 00:03:40, but only a mere 4 milliseconds faster than Opera. With the heavier page, Chrome seems to handle the weight better, resulting in a faster load time. However, the fact that Opera runs that close, and in some cases faster, to Chrome says a lot to me. Chrome is (or should be) optimized for Android considering it is from the same Google lineage, but Opera, a lesser-know, lesser-used browser keeps its pace with ease.

As it turns out, I’m not the only one who got the same results here. In a blog post from Laptopmag.com, Opera was tested alongside Chrome, Dolphin and Firefox. Laptopmag.com declared Chrome and Opera a tie when it came to speed. It is worth mentioning that Opera won their overall comparison when that blog was published in 2014.

To sum it all up, I’m very pleased with Opera on Android. I’d highly recommend that you give it a try if you aren’t one of the 50 Million people already using it. The features, speed and design make it a clear runner compared to the big boy, Chrome, and in some cases, put it a step ahead. For now, I’ll continue to use the two for different situations until I can make a clear decision of which is my favorite.

Do you use Chrome or Opera? Tell me what you think of the two in the comments below or connect on Twitter – @HOOKDin!

– A.J.

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One thought on “Weekly App Review #1: Opera Browser for Android (In-depth)

  1. Pingback: Weekly App Review #2: Flynx | HOOKD.in

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