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Opera Mini browser on SE Z1010

I am currently trying out Telmore's 3G service with a Sony Ericsson Z1010. One of the things about the Z1010, which immediately annoyed me is the (absent) capabilities of the phone's built-in browser. I mean, what is the point of pretty fast transfer rates, if there is not that much to transfer?

The browser on the Z1010 is WAP 1.2.1/WAP 2.0 XHTML compliant and yet I am unable to get it to load Google's Gmail Mobile (http://m.gmail.com). I think there might be a limitation to the size of pages the browser will/can load? I could access Gmail using the phone's email client, but Gmail Mobile include some of the handy features of "plain" Gmail: Search through messages, rendering of attached images, Word documents and .pdf's.

I therefore decided to take the Opera Mini browser for a little spin…

Opera Mini is a Java J2ME/MIDP version of the Opera browser - made specifically for mobile phones. Opera Mini uses the same Small Screen Rendering technology which I have come to enjoy when using the Opera Mobile browser on my P910i. When a page is requested from the Opera Mini browser, it is preprocessed on a remote Opera server before it is sent to the phone. The preprocessing scales down images, compresses the page and - if necessary - transforms HTML/XHTML/CSS/JavaScript.

OperaMIni_3.jpg

Opera Mini can either be downloaded from the Opera Mini website and transferred to your phone by BT, IR, cable or such, or you can download it directly to the phone. Opera maintain a WAP site at mini.opera.com, which provides OTA (Over The Air) download of Opera Mini to the phone. The site will attempt to identify the make and model of the phone and provide the most suitable version (Opera Mini comes in both a 100 kB "hi-memory" and a 63 kB "low-memory" version). I attempted to download Opera Mini from mini.opera.com but all though the Z1010 was correctly identified and the application downloaded ok, it failed to install. I am not sure why - it may have something to do with an incompatibility between the Z1010 and the manifest file of the application .jar archive.

Instead, I turned to getjar.com, which offer a pretty decent download selection of Java applications for mobile phones and PDA's. Including Opera Mini. The Opera Mini version available at getjar.com (v1.1.2292) is slightly older than the one available at mini.opera.com (v1.1.2421). It is possible to download OTA from getjar.com, but I downloaded Opera Mini to my laptop and transferred it to the Z1010 via BlueTooth. It installed without any problems.

To use Opera Mini, your phone must be able to get a network connection via an Internet or WAP access point. When Opera Mini is launched for the first time, it will test if your phone is properly configured and Opera also provides a connectivity test app, MNT- MIDP Network Tester. MNT is a small Java program, which runs a simple test to see if your phone can get a working network connection. If you have trouble using network connections with Opera Mini (or another program), I suggest to use MNT when you play around with settings on your phone.

Opera-MNT

Opera Mini does a nice job of rendering pages for the small screen of the Z1010 and it generally runs pretty smoothly. I do experience fluctuations in the time it takes to fetch requested pages, but I am not sure if the cause is:

  • Different complexity of requested pages
  • The load on the remote preprocessing server
  • Constraints in the Z1010 (I installed Opera Mini on my P910i to take the screenshots for this post and it appears to run faster on the P910i)

Maybe a combination of all of the above?

In sum, Opera Mini is a most welcome offering to all those non high-end, but Java-capable handsets. This article estimates that 60 % of handsets sold in 2005 support Java and that around 500 million Java-capable handsets exist in the world today. The majority of these are most likely to be low-end handsets, which do have connectivity and Java support, but only rudimentary builtin browsing capability (i.e. WAP), if any. In my experience, this ubiquitous Java capability is currently mostly used for small games and such, but by offering a nicely working and useable browser, Opera Mini now provides an option to "revive" these handsets.1

OperaMini_1.jpg  OperaMini_2.jpg


  1. The screenshots were taken using Anthony Pranata's ScreenShot for Symbian OS. [back]

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