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Opera Mini 5 for Blackberry Review

Blackberries have been plagued with an antiquated browser that chokes on Javascript and most modern pages. It’s slow, it doesn’t fit text properly and has possibly the weakest browser of the major smartphones. RIM has realized this and are developing a webkit based browser but there’s been no estimated date of release.

Now if you can’t wait, there’s a really great alternative available now which comes in the form of Opera Mini 5.

The test device used was a Bold 9700 running on OS5.0.0.593 but should be more or less the same on other Blackberries.

The start screen is great for mobile devices and it  condenses all your favorite pages in an eye-catching format allowing quick access.

Now Opera can open most links throughout the Blackberry through a link in the menu but I haven’t found a way to make Opera your default browser.

Pressing the Menu button on your Blackberry doesn’t open your familiar text menus but opens a toolbar which gives you access to Bookmarks, History, Saved Pages, Downloads (woohoo!) and settings. Sleek, a bit of a departure from your familiar UI but still easy to use.

Most importantly, unlike the Bolt Browser’s font which is ugly and the inability to zoom (split screen is pretty lame to be honest), pages display in its entirety as how you would expect them to appear on your desktop and then zooming is very simple (and accurate in fitting the text to your zoom!). You can also do tabbed browsing via the + button on the top end. You can also cut and paste by holding the select button over text and it will allow to cut and paste text (a feature that I had to find!). The numbers 2, 4, 6 and 8 can be also used as a directional pad to zoom about quickly through the page without the need to scroll.

If I had to gripe, there are some really small issues. One of it is that it takes a short while to start up so you must keep Opera open all the time should you wish to have a speedy browsing experience. There also seems to be a bug where sometimes Opera uses your TCP connection despite BIS being available. This can be very annoying since using a TCP connection kills your BIS connection and you have to close the browser to re-establish BIS access. However I found this was a problem only with certain phones (I’m using Celcom) where the APN settings were set inside the TCP/IP section under Advanced Configuration. Once I disabled my APN configuration, Opera used BIS once again and everything was smooth and I could keep Opera open. Re-entering my APN settings also kept Opera using BIS so it was only a one-time fix. Remember if you’re using BIS, you most likely have to change your settings in opera to use HTTP mode instead of socket mode.

Boleh: Fast browser, displays pages accurately, tabbed browsing, zooming works great, solid browsing experience.

Tak Boleh: Takes a while to get used to the UI, May default to TCP mode without you knowing it, no direct Blackberry integration beyond the Open in Opera Mini, no integrated video viewing (Bolt does this!)

Verdict: It’s free, it works great and it’s the best browser available for the Blackberry right now. No reason not to get it while waiting for RIM’s webkit browser. Grab it at http://mini.opera.com

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