Get those fingers ready, Opera fans: the biggest thing to happen to your favorite mobile browser in years has arrived. Opera Software announced a new and retooled version of their browser in February, and demonstrated it during Mobile World Congress. The Opera browser beta (no Mini or Mobile here, it's the "full" version a la Chrome) is live in the Play Store. It's a free download for just about any Android device, so get to it.

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The biggest draw in this new release is the WebKit rendering engine, the same one used by both Chrome and the AOSP Android browser. While opinions vary, it's generally regarded as the fastest option around, routinely beating competitors like Mozilla's Gecko and Opera's former engine, Presto.

The user interface has also been redesigned from the ground up, with a focus on gestures over buttons and a surprisingly clean navigation layout. Opera's distinctive Speed Dial landing page remains, with a fresh coat of paint, and your most-visited bookmarks are centered in a grid. Users can drag and drop the icons to customize the layout.

To be honest, there's clearly an iOS influence across the UI, though there are Holo elements in the formatting - here's hoping that Opera sees fit to expand this before the final Android release.

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Off-Road Mode is the new moniker for the bandwidth-saving server caching that Opera Mini utilized, but it's now user-selectable via the primary menu. The Discover tab is a dynamic news reader that updates automatically, but can be manually configured. Its layout is reminiscent of Flipboard.

Other beloved features from the heavy desktop version, like pop-up blocking, a built-in download manager, and Opera Link for bookmark and settings sync are present as well, though the latter didn't work for us just yet.

Let us know what you think in the comments - can the old dog learn a few new tricks?

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Jeremiah Rice
Jeremiah is a US-based blogger who bought a Nexus One the day it came out and never looked back. In his spare time he watches Star Trek, cooks eggs, and completely fails to write novels.
  • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

    It is glorious. A serious contender for best Android browser.

    • gtg465x

      Agreed. Switched from Chrome. This is my favorite Android browser now.

  • Jayson Escano

    why it's not compatible with my tab 7.7 on ics?

    • Yan wei

      same with me i use gt p6810

  • EraserXIV

    I'm impressed.

  • http://www.twitter.com/andrewpalozzo Andrew Palozzo

    Someone needs to upload some benchmarks and side by side speed test :P

    • SetiroN

      ...or not. Same rendering&javascript engines => same performance.

    • silaslenz

      Not that I care but I got 1416.2ms in sunspider on nexus 4. This thing is pretty fast, especially for scrolling. Comparable to chrome beta
      But it's also buggy

    • yahyoh

      chrome with the new update ( or the beta ) still faster and smoother

      on my note2 in sunspider i get 860ms with chrome 980ms with opera beta + chrome better because of the syncing with desktop

  • SetiroN

    It's everything I was expecting it to be and more. Too bad opera link isn't working yet.
    Opera+webkit is going to take every platform by storm.

  • nsnsmj

    It looks like Chrome, but with an Opera logo.

    • digi_owl

      No surprise there, it is reskinned Chromium.

      • Thorfeil

        Not sure why you would claim it's a reskinned Chromium since the article states:

        "The user interface has also been redesigned from the ground up"

        • Ryuuie

          Because it pretty much IS Chrome with an Opera logo. It also uses the same rendering and JavsScript engines as Chrome.

          Don't just read the article, use the app and check it out for yourself.

          • Thorfeil

            But it isn't Chrome with an Opera logo. The UI was built from the ground up. It's a whole new UI. It's using a native UI now, so obviously it's going to look like a native Android app.

            The engine is not relevant here, as that doesn't define the UI.

          • gtg465x

            Wrong. They both use WebKit, but the high level rendering code and javascript engines are different. It uses the same as the Android AOSP browser, not Chrome.

  • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

    Off-Road looks pretty great here. I'm going to keep it on and see how much faster things get.

    • firethorn

      That's a very minimalist website design. ;)

  • woj_tek

    oh lord...
    >[WebKit rendering engine] While opinions vary, it's generally regarded as the fastest option around, routinely beating competitors like Mozilla's Gecko and Opera's former engine, Trident.

    uhm, well... in what benchmarks... you mean those synthetic that doesn't really test browser performance in real world but just run some JS which we could live happily without? Try heavy-using any webkit browser on desktop... it eats memory like a baby milk...

    >Opera's former engine, Trident.
    and please, get your facts stright... Opera and Trident has only anti-trust claim in common :p (trident - IE's engine, Opera has Presto for rendering and Caracan for JS)

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      I'm not sure why Jeremiah said Trident. We even spoke earlier and talked about Presto. I blame the late night.

      • woj_tek

        moaaar coffeezzzz, moar zzzzz ;-)

  • raazman

    This is what Chrome should have been!

    • gtg465x


  • theineffablebob

    It's pretty smooth. About as smooth as Chrome.

    • gtg465x

      Smoother IMO

  • caviar

    haven't tried it, I hope it still able to open .mht files, just like Opera Mobile.

  • Kcls

    Needs tab swiping like chrome. One of my favorite features.

  • coversnails

    The new beta doesn't have the brilliant text reflow capabilities that Opera Mobile does, such a great feature so many phone browsers seem to ignore.

    • gtg465x

      But it has smart text sizing capabilities (text size is intelligently increased without breaking formatting so you don't have to zoom in as much) and it zooms intelligently to fit the text you double tap on. I much prefer those two features to text reflow. On the AOSP Browser and Opera Mobile, text is so damn tiny on desktop pages that you HAVE to zoom in. And then when you zoom in it doesn't fit the text block so it HAS to be reflowed.

    • Wam31

      Neither does it seam to have bookmarks anymore !?!? That's weird...
      Maybe in the final release ?

  • Laurence

    What iOS design influences? If anything, it looks like it was inspired by Chrome. (And that's a good thing!)

    • TK

      Speed dial has iOS-like icons and folders. Tabs have the iOS circular X button. If you don't see the influence, you're not looking at it right.

  • ty

    I will rather stick to AOSP browser for its quick controls... Is there any other browser with a similar control method?

  • pooja

    Tried it...overall it's good...but it takes time to exit...keeps opening the sites that one has visited even after clearing the history....would this browser only if has an exit button...or a fix for the above problem...

  • Felix Klein

    Looks quite nice, however I will stay with Chrome (Beta), thanks to it's excellent sync with my desktop :D

  • despot

    Webkit - I understand why they had to change. But the bar on the bottom, easily reachable for my thumb - why did they have to move it to the top? Ease of one handed navigation between tabs was one of my favorite features of this browser. Now the tabs button is on top, just like in chrome. Oh boy :(

    • gtg465x

      Don't buy a phone with a near 5 inch screen. Or grow larger hands.

  • Jack

    Still not allowing Flash to run. Why?? Its still totally stable on all other browsers that allow it. Why are Opera not allowing its users to have a full internet experience? Boat & Naked Browser are the only rational choices when Opera continue to block Flash from their browser.

  • RealityCheck2013

    That 'Speed Dial landing page' looks well cool, i like that :P

  • http://twitter.com/Gehim Rehan Ahmed

    pity this new version does not support tablets yet... :(

  • manxtanx

    Dude doies indeed seem to know what he is talking about.


  • barak

    Well, this one is not for older devices and under 1 gig data plans, it's ridiculously slow the Sony Ericsson mini pro I'm using right now and the off-road mode doesn't seem to be working. Also, is it just me or is there no way to tell it not to use predictive search?

  • rap

    I probably won't try it until they get text reflow working. That is the main reason I use opera. I do like the idea of having the off-road option included in app instead of having 2 different apps.

    • tony

      The old mode was called Turbo mode, and it's in both Opera Android browsers.

  • GreatNews

    So far we cant sync from one browser to the new like port in the old bookmarks and speed dials and also there is no bookmarks tab, but overall its a great new way of browsing!!!

  • http://twitter.com/Bazar6 B Azar

    No tablet version :( and not available for Gingerbrea devices (my Xoom and OG Droid aren't compatible)... only for my 422 GNex

  • http://twitter.com/s99nj S. Ali

    Serious, can one browser put the damn URL bar at the bottom. This is something Windows Phone does right. It is a no brainer considering all the 4.5"+ screens

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      That would actually be a great option.

    • didibus

      What advantages would this have, except just a user preference thing?

      • didibus

        Nevermind, I figured it out. I'd have to say my most common error in Chrome, is clicking on the android task switcher instead of the chrome tab switcher.

  • thedarkknight80

    Sunspider : 939.7 ms

    Browsermark 2.0 : 2569

    html5 score : 450

    blazing fast for me, firing it on an unrooted galaxy note 2 international version.

    Switched to it just now from dolphin.

    Looking forward for the updates.

  • Karthik Kumar

    Great browser... Not that the earlier Opera 11 was a laggard, but this is a whole new level of awesome.

    And best of all, it works fluidly on single-core phones as well. Something that can hardly be said for Chrome.

  • http://twitter.com/Atyp3 David Steven

    Little hesitant about off road mode. What exactly is it? Does it use more data?

    • http://my.opera.com/rafaelluik Rafael

      No, it connects your Opera browser to a server that compresses the pages before sending to your phone, so the download size is much reduced using much less data. You can even reduce the quality of the images in the settings too. (But the experience in this mode isn't very rich.)

      • http://twitter.com/Atyp3 David Steven

        Ah, I see thanks.

  • Matthew Fry

    Hopefully when this is released officially, they will get rid of Opera Mini, Opera Mobile, Opera for Phones, Opera Mini Mobile Phone, Opera Mobile Mobile Mini Phone Mobile Phone Mini.

  • Alexandre Khodjaiants

    Why wasting their time, developing browser without flash player. It is useless and stupid. Samsung stock browser is still the best.

  • http://j.mp/briancalderon Brian A. Calderon

    How about an option for Off-Road mode to automatically activate when on mobile data (or no wifi connection is active)?

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      That's a pretty great idea.

  • http://natecohen.me/ Nate

    Freezes at the introductory screen on XPERIA PLAY. :(