Editors' Note: The "Download Now" link takes you to Opera's download page for Mini 5, where you can access specific download files for your Android smartphone. You can also download Opera Mini 5 beta from the Android Market.
We don't usually review beta products, but we'll make an exception for the quite stable Opera Mini 5 beta, a browser alternative for Android phones. Almost identical to the final version of Opera Mini 5 for Java phones, this beta browser combines an eye-catching design with speedy browsing and useful features like Speed Dial: shortcut icons on the home page that open favorite sites. There's also Opera Link, which syncs bookmarks and history with your other Opera browsers, for instance if you use Opera on the desktop.
Although the browsing experience is satisfying, with tabbed browsing, searching text in a page, downloads, sharing, copying text, and so on, there is one catch that makes us pause. Opera Mini 5 beta is a proxy browser that delivers Web pages by way of Opera's server, not a standalone HTML Web browser that Android phones are capable of wielding. Casual users won't notice a difference most of the time, unless they need to accept the terms of a Wi-Fi network before they're allowed to browse. In our experience, we had to open the native browser to accept terms and then return to Opera Mini 5 beta for browsing.
Opera Mini allows you access to the full Internet on your Android smartphone. You can surf any Web site such as Google, Yahoo, Amazon, and eBay on your phone just like you would on a desktop computer. Instead of requiring the phone to process Web pages, Opera Mini uses a remote server to pre-process the page before sending it to the phone.