Home Opera Takes a Back Seat to Safari on the iPhone

Opera Takes a Back Seat to Safari on the iPhone

Last night, Opera announced that its mobile browser, Opera Mini, had been accepted into the iTunes AppStore after being submitted just under three weeks ago. So, now that the iPhone finally has a browser alternative, how does it fare in comparison? Is it worth running out and getting or should we just stick with the safe old Safari and move on with our day?

If you’ve used Opera Mini for other mobile platforms, such as Blackberry or Android, then its pretty much the same. But, for those of you like myself that haven’t, here’s what we have to say about it.

Opera Mini is a full-featured browser that brings some things to the table but falls short on others. While we enjoy the tabbed browsing in comparison to Safari, the zoom feature is not our favorite. We’re not quite sure if you actually have to do the pinch gesture to zoom or if a double finger tab does it – the mechanics of it are a bit off. And if, like myself, you have some stubby nubs for fingers then the inability to zoom in as much as you want can be a problem for tightly packed UIs.

A main hitch in using Opera on the iPhone, however, is the inability to set it as your default browser. Opening up links in your Twitter client will still bring you back to Safari, as will opening up PDF files in Opera. You’re constantly reminded that Opera is number two in line and, even if you place it in the dock at the bottom of your screen, Safari is never far behind.

We asked Opera if the iPhone version would be able to take advantage of HTML5 and Javascript and were told that, while Javascript works “surprisingly well”, a spokesperson could not say that Opera Mini “takes full advantage of HTML5”. Opera also told us that the iPhone version will generally work with bookmarklets for services like InstaPaper and ReadItLater.

In all, Opera seems like a viable alternative to Safari on the iPhone, but we’re not sure that it can take over the number one spot. It has some bells and whistles, like the frequently-visited page startup page, but without being able to set it as the default browser, it will likely remain a second class citizen.

What do you think? Will you be switching over to Opera for the iPhone, to whatever extent that you can?

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