Opera releases Opera Mobile 9.7 beta, revs up engine with Turbo

08 June, 2009

Opera released the first beta of the next generation of their highly popular web browser Opera Mobile 9.7. The browser boasts a new rendering engine as well as support for widgets. The recent Opera Turbo technology is included as well.

Opera Mobile is one of the most popular browsers, fighting for the top spot with Apples' Mobile Safari, so it's always interesting to see what changes a new version brings.

The new engine is optimized to render pages up to 25% faster and is also the one that will be integrated into the future Opera 10. It scores a perfect 100 out of 100 in the Acid3 test, which tests a browser's compliance with the HTML standard. It still doesn’t guarantee you perfect rendering, but that’s as good as it gets on the browser-side of things.

Opera Mobile 9.7 will come with widgets much like its 9.5 predecessor. Widgets are a powerful feature – add-ons are one of greatest strengths of some of the most popular desktop browsers like Opera and Firefox. The preinstalled widgets on Opera Mobile 9.7 include GeoQuiz, Twitter, Bubbles, MyStatus and Google Translate.

Additionally you can visit Opera Widgets official site to download stuff such as Google Toolbar, VideoDownloader and some less useful, but still fun ones, like 3D Tetris (did you know that June 6th was Tetris 25 year birthday?) or a virtual aquarium.

Since the browser off-loads most of the rendering to Opera's servers the browser will run pretty fast even on low-end phones. The other half of the equation is the server-side compression, which Opera claim can reduce the data that needs to be downloaded up to 80%.

This is obviously a best case scenario, but the compression does help to speed up downloads and better yet – reduce data charges. To demonstrate the technology Opera have "humbly" posted a demo video of Opera Turbo pitting it against Internet Explorer Mobile.

The test was done on three Sony Ericsson XPERIA X1s with Internet over EDGE and results were… well, see for yourself: 9 seconds for Opera Mobile with Turbo enabled, 30 without Turbo and 3 minutes and a half for IE Mobile. Opera's CEO says that it makes EDGE go like 3G and it seems he has a point there.

Update: Having already taken the new Opera Mobile 9.7 beta for a spin we are glad to confirm that its speed is really impressive. The Turbo technology dramatically increases page loading speeds but results in really low-quality images (due to the high-compression) being displayed. And since there is no quality setting in the menu the user cannot alter that at all.

We also noticed that the Opera Mobile 9.7 fails to utilize the Back key and the touch-sensitive zoom wheel on the HTC Touch Diamond. This suggests that it will most probably have some issues with the zoom bars on HTC Touch Diamond2 and Touch Pro2 as well. Of course, those things may still be subject to tuning.

We also did an impromptu speed test much like the one in the video, we told you above, but we ran the browser on HTC Touch Diamond. We measured the load time of each browser three times and this is the average results we got. The cache was cleared before each test so the results should be a perfectly good reference for what you might expect.

Loading GSMArena.com over EDGE:

  • 11s - Opera Mobile 9.7 with Turbo enabled
  • 35s - Opera Mobile 9.7 with Turbo disabled
  • 50s - Internet Explorer Mobile(desktop mode)
    With Opera Turbo enabled we get three times faster speeds over EDGE than without it

Loading GSMArena.com over Wi-Fi:

  • 8s - Opera Mobile 9.7 with Turbo enabled
  • 10s - Opera Mobile 9.7 with Turbo disabled
    Over Wi-Fi however the difference is not the big at all

Loading Amazon.com over EDGE:

  • Opera Mobile 9.7 with Turbo enabled 10s
  • Opera Mobile 9.7 with Turbo disabled 28s
  • Internet Explorer Mobile(desktop mode) 80s
    Again, over EDGE, Opera Mobile with Turbo is three times faster than without it

Two thing become pretty evident from this test. Firstly, Opera are slightly exaggerating the advantage their product has over Internet Explorer but its results remain pretty impressive nonetheless.

On the other hand when a faster data connection (HSDPA or Wi-Fi) is available, enabling Turbo mode becomes pretty much meaningless. You get much worse quality of the images in the pages, while the speed advantage is subjectively nowhere to be seen.

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Reader comments

  • WT

The picture quality is bad .

  • ravi

it really work fast while downloading...much convenient for using with a fast speed...but picture quality is quite poor..

  • D1

does anyone know how to get a browser that i can open email with pictures on a windows mobile phone