Opera Mini

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Opera Mini
Red letter "O" viewed from the side at 45 degrees angle
Developer(s) Opera Software
Initial release 10 August 2005; 11 years ago (2005-08-10)
Stable release(s) [±]
Android 26.0.2254.117551 / 1 June 2017; 45 days ago (2017-06-01)[1][2]
iOS 14.0.0 / 16 June 2016; 12 months ago (2016-06-16)[3]
Windows Mobile 10 and Phone 8.1 / 16 June 2016; 12 months ago (2016-06-16)[4]
BlackBerry 8.0.1 / 10 July 2014; 3 years ago (2014-07-10)[5]
Symbian 7.1.32453 / 6 December 2016; 7 months ago (2016-12-06)[6]
Java ME 8.0 / 12 March 2014; 3 years ago (2014-03-12)[7]
Preview release(s) [±]
Development status Active
Written in C++, Java, Pike[8]
Operating system Android, iOS, Tizen, Windows 10 Mobile, Windows Phone 8.1
Included with Nokia X family,[9] Samsung feature phones,[10] devices by Celkon, Karbonn, Lava, Intex, Fly, Zen, HCL ME, and other manufacturers[11][12]
Engine Presto (using server-side rendering),[13] Blink
Available in 50 languages[14]
Type Mobile browser
License Freeware
Website www.opera.com/mobile/mini

Opera Mini is a web browser designed primarily for smartphones and personal digital assistants. Until version 4 it used the Java ME platform, requiring the mobile device to run Java ME applications. From version 5 it is also available as a native application for Android, iOS, Tizen, Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows 10 Mobile. It previously supported Bada, Symbian, Windows Mobile, BlackBerry. Opera Mini is offered free of charge, supported mainly through deals with mobile operators to have Opera Mini pre-installed in phones,[12] and other sources of revenue such as search advertising deals, licensing[15] and paid bookmarks and Speed Dial placement.[16]

Opera Mini was derived from the Opera web browser for personal computers, which has been publicly available since 1996. Opera Mini began as a pilot project in 2004. After limited releases in Europe, it was officially launched worldwide on 24 January 2006.

Opera Software claims that Opera Mini requests web pages through Opera Software's compression proxy, the compression server process and compress requested web pages by up to 90% before sending them to the mobile phone, speeding up transfer by two to three times and dramatically reducing the amount of data transferred, chargeable on many mobile phone data plans. The pre-processing increases compatibility with web pages not designed for mobile phones. However, interactive sites which depend upon the device processing JavaScript do not work properly.

In July 2012, it was reported that Opera Mini had 168.8 million users as of March 2012.[17] In February 2013, Opera reported 300 million unique Opera Mini active users and 150 billion page views served during that month. This represented an increase of 25 million users from September 2012.



Opera Mini was derived from the Opera web browser for personal computers, which has been publicly available since 1996.[18] Opera Mini was originally intended for use on mobile phones not capable of running a conventional Web browser.[19] It was introduced on 10 August 2005, as a pilot project in cooperation with the Norwegian television station TV 2,[20] and only available to TV 2 customers.

A beta version was made available in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Finland on 20 October 2005.[21] After the final version was launched in Germany on 10 November 2005,[22] and quietly released to all countries through the Opera Mini website in December, the browser was officially launched worldwide on 24 January 2006.[23]

On 3 May 2006, Opera Mini 2.0 was released. It included new features such as the ability to download files, new custom skins, more search engine options on the built-in search bar, a speed dial option, new search engines, and improved navigation.[24]

On 1 November 2006, Opera Mini 3 beta introduced secure browsing, RSS feeds, photo uploading and content folding into its list of features and capabilities.[25] Content folding works by folding long lists such as navigation bars into a single line that can be expanded as needed. A second beta was released on 22 November,[26] and on 28 November, the final version of Opera Mini 3 was released.[27]

Opera Mini 4[edit]

On 7 November 2007, Opera Mini 4 was released. According to Johan Schön, technical lead of Opera Mini development, the entire code was rewritten.[28] Opera Mini 4 includes the ability to view web pages similarly to a desktop based browser by introducing Overview and Zoom functions, and a landscape view setting. In Overview mode, the user can scroll a zoomed-out version of certain web pages.[29] Using a built-in pointer, the user can zoom into a portion of the page to provide a clearer view; this is similar to the functionality of Opera's Nintendo-based web browsers. This version also includes the ability to synchronise with Opera on a personal computer.[30][31]

Prior to Opera Mini 4, the browser was offered in two editions: Opera Mini Advanced for high-memory MIDP 2 phones, and Opera Mini Basic for low-memory MIDP 1 phones.[32] Opera Mini 4 replaced Opera Mini Advanced.[33] The older Opera Mini 3 Basic was still available for low-memory phones as of 2012.[34]

Originally, Google was the default search engine on Opera Mini.[35] On 8 January 2007, Opera Software and Yahoo! announced a partnership to make Yahoo! search the default instead.[36] On 27 February 2008, Opera Software announced that Google would henceforth be the default search engine for Opera Mini and Opera Mobile.

A version for the Android operating system was announced on 10 April 2008. Rather than port the code to Android, a wrapper was created to translate Java ME API calls to Android API calls.[37]

Later versions[edit]

On 16 August 2009, Opera Software released Opera Mini 5.0 beta, which included tabbed browsing, a password manager, improved touch screen support, and a new interface, with a visual Speed Dial similar to the one introduced by Opera Software in their desktop browser.[38]

The browser's use of compression and encrypted proxy-based technology to reduce traffic and speed page display has the side effect of allowing it to circumvent several approaches to Internet censorship. Since 20 November 2009, there have been reports from Chinese users that when they use Opera Mini, they are redirected to an error page leading them to download Opera Mini China version. This is almost certainly due to the Chinese government being concerned that users are using Opera Mini to bypass the Great Firewall of China. Opera agreed to route all of their traffic through government servers.[39][40]

In 2009–10: A press release announcing that Indonesia's Smart Telecom had chosen Opera Mini for their devices said that Opera Mini was the world's most popular mobile browser, and that Russia and Indonesia were the largest users.[41]

An iPhone version was approved for distribution by the Apple App Store on 13 April 2010.[42][43]

Most Opera Mini versions use only the Mini server-based compression method, with maximal compression but some issues with interactive applications. Non-Mini versions of Opera for phones and computers originally operated in uncompressed mode; from v10 a selectable server-based Turbo mode (called "off-road" in some versions) was added, similar to Mini mode, but bypassing compression for interactive functionality, at the expense of less extreme data compression. Opera Mini 8 for iPhone, released in 2014, can operate in Mini, Turbo, and uncompressed modes, effectively combining the functionality of the Mobile and Mini versions.[44] Turbo and Mini modes reduce the amount of data transferred, which reduces cost on some phone contracts and increases speed on the slower connections typical of mobile phone networks; with a high-speed connection uncompressed mode, without delays due to diverting through the Opera server, compressing by the server, and expansion by the device, may work faster. A test in 2015 found that for some typical Web content, Opera Mini reduced the amount of data transmitted by about 90% in Extreme Mode; in High mode it reduced amount by about 30% but affected page appearance less, similar to Google Chrome's Reduced Data mode.[45]

On 3 September 2014, Opera started taking registrations for the beta version of Opera Mini for Windows Phone.[46] Opera Mini was released for Windows Phone six days later, on 9 September 2014, as a public beta.[47] This marked Opera's return to Microsoft's mobile platform since the demise of Windows Mobile.

On February 7, 2017, Opera released a new version of its browser with instant page loading and Profile Guided Optimization (PGO) on board. PGO is instant page loading mechanism that allows Opera browser to predict the website users are typing and start to load the website in the background to improve the loading speed.[48]


The functionality of Opera Mini Extreme data savings mode is somewhat different from that of a conventional Web browser, with the amount of data which has to be transferred much reduced, but with some loss to functionality. Most versions of Opera Mini only work in this mode; however, the Opera Mini 8 program for iOS, but not the BlackBerry/J2ME version, was completely redesigned and can switch between Mini, Turbo, and uncompressed modes, gaining functionality at the cost of lower compression in non-Mini modes.[44]

Unlike straightforward web browsers, Opera Mini fetches all content through a proxy server and reformats web pages into a format more suitable for small screens.[49] A page is compressed, then delivered to the phone in a markup language called OBML (Opera Binary Markup Language), which Opera Mini can interpret.[50] The data compression makes transfer time about two to three times faster,[29] and the pre-processing improves the display of web pages not designed for small screens.[51]

When a user browses the web using Opera Mini, the request is sent via the General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) to one of the Opera Software company's proxy servers, which retrieves the web page, processes and compresses it, and sends it back to the client (user's mobile phone).

By default, Opera Mini opens one connection to the proxy servers, which it keeps open and re-uses as required. This improves transfer speed and enables the servers to quickly synchronize changes to bookmarks stored in Opera Link.[52][53]

The Opera Software company maintains over 100 proxy servers to handle Opera Mini traffic. They run Linux and "are massively parallel and massively redundant."[54]

Small-Screen Rendering[edit]

For devices with screens 128 pixels wide or smaller, the default rendering mode is Small-Screen Rendering (SSR). In this mode, the page is reformatted into a single vertical column so that it need only be scrolled vertically.[29] Long lists and navigation bars are automatically collapsed (hiding most of the list or bar) by a feature known as "content folding". A plus (+) sign is displayed next to the collapsed content; when clicked, it toggles content folding.[55]

Web developers can turn on SSR on the desktop edition of Opera to see how their websites will be displayed on mobile editions of Opera.[56]

In SSR mode images are scaled down to no more than 70% of the screen size in either direction.[57]

Complex script rendering[edit]

Opera Mini can send content in bitmap image form if a font required is not available on the device, which is useful for indic scripts. Hindi and a few other non-Latin character sets are supported.

JavaScript support[edit]

When browsing the Web in Opera Mini mode, JavaScript is processed by the proxy server, and is merely rendered on the device. This limits interactivity. Scripts cannot be run in the background on the device. If a script is paused (on the server), the browser must communicate with the server to unpause it. JavaScript will only run for a couple of seconds on the Mini server before pausing, due to resource constraints.[58]

According to the documentation for Opera Mini 4, before the page is sent to the mobile device, its onLoad events are fired and all scripts are allowed a maximum of two seconds to execute. The setInterval and setTimeout functions are disabled, so scripts designed to wait a certain amount of time before executing will not execute at all.[59] After the scripts have finished or the timeout is reached, all scripts are stopped and the page is compressed and sent to the mobile device. Once on the device, only a handful of events are allowed to trigger scripts:[59]

  • onUnload: Fires when the user navigates away from a page[60]
  • onSubmit: Fires when a form is submitted[60]
  • onChange: Fires when the value of an input control is changed[60]
  • onClick: Fires when an element is clicked[60]

When one of these events is triggered, sends a request to the proxy server to process the event. The proxy server then executes the JavaScript and returns the revised page to the mobile device.[59]

Pop-ups, if not blocked by the JavaScript restrictions, replace the web page being viewed.[61]

Opera has published Web content authoring guidelines to assist authors.[62]

Opera Mini 8 for iOS can run in Turbo and uncompressed modes, in addition to Mini mode. In Turbo mode, the amount of data transferred is still much reduced by compression, but, unlike Mini mode, JavaScript is not intercepted by the server and works properly.[44]


Scrolling is carried out by using the device's arrow keys, its number keys, or a stylus.[29][63]

The display may be toggled between portrait and landscape mode by keystrokes, or will switch automatically on phones with orientation sensors. The default orientation can be changed.[29]

The image quality may be set to "Low", "Medium", or "High".[64] Page load times are affected by the chosen image quality setting.[65]

Opera Mini supports only one font,[57] which can be set to "Small", "Medium", "Large", or "Extra large" size.[64] If a web page uses Courier or a generic monospaced font, the one font is still used, but the characters are spaced out so that each character takes up the same amount of space.[57]

Browsing tools[edit]

Opera Mini has a search bar capable of using several pre-configured search engines;[66] the user can add more search engines.[64] The default search engines are Google and Wikipedia.

Opera Mini supports shortcut keys,[67] skins,[68] and a web feed aggregator.[69] It can save bookmarks,[70] download files,[71] save web pages for offline reading, and it remembers the user's browsing history.[72]

Since the launch of Opera Mobile Store in March 2011[73] Speed Dial of Opera Mini displays a shortcut to Opera's own mobile applications store.

Privacy and security[edit]

Opera Mini, since 3.0 Advanced, encrypts the connection between the mobile device and the proxy server for privacy and security. The encryption key is obtained on the first start by requesting that the user press random keys a certain number of times.[74] Opera Mini 3.0 Basic does not support encryption. Opera Mini has been criticised because it does not offer true, end-to-end security when visiting encrypted sites such as paypal.com:[75] when visiting an encrypted web page, the Opera Software company's servers decrypt the page, then re-encrypt it themselves, breaking end-to-end security.[76]

This reduces security, and is relevant to applications such as Internet banking.

Standards support[edit]

As of March 16th, 2015, Opera Mini uses an upgraded version of the Presto layout engine that is included in Opera 12.[77] Consequently, Opera Mini supports most of the web standards supported in Opera 12. Presto's development has continued for Opera Mini and further support was added for HTML5 input types, CSS Flexbox model, CSS rem units and ECMAScript 5.[77] However, unlike the desktop edition of Opera, frames are flattened because of client limitations, and dotted or dashed borders are displayed as solid borders due to bandwidth and memory issues.[57] As Opera Mini reformats web pages, it does not pass the Acid2 standards compliance test.[78][79]

Opera Mini supports bi-directional text, meaning that it can correctly display right-to-left scripts such as Arabic and Hebrew in addition to languages written left-to-right. However, it will not display right-to-left text if the font size is set to small or very small.[28] Indic and Chinese scripts are supported only if an appropriate font is installed on the device as the default system font.

Low-memory device support[edit]

For MIDP 1, low-memory devices, the older Opera Mini 3 Basic is still available.[34] Its features include an option to increase the text size, as the default text size is too small for some web sites.[80] Opera Mini 3 Basic uses less advanced compression, does not support full page view, does not include support for favicons, does not scroll as smoothly, does not feature a built-in clock, and does not support encryption.[32] When browsing an encrypted web page with Opera Mini 3 Basic, the page is decrypted before being sent to the mobile phone.[76]

Opera Link[edit]

Bookmarks, Speed Dials, and search engines could be backed-up to My Opera until it closed on 3 March 2014,[81] and kept synchronized between different phones or with the Opera browser on computers, using the Opera Link service.[29]

Data centers[edit]

Total data consumed by Opera Mini users worldwide from 2006 to mid-2008 in TB

Opera Mini relies on data centers processing the Web page before sending it back to the phone in a compressed binary form. Opera Software operates data centers in China, Korea, Norway, United States, Poland and Iceland.[82][83]

Market adoption[edit]

The overall share of the Opera family in the mobile Web browser market was about 3.92% in January 2017.[84] Figures for Opera Mini within this were not available. Most users come from India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Ukraine, South Africa, Nigeria and Pakistan.[85]

Network operators[edit]

Several mobile network companies pre-install Opera Mini on their mobile phones, including Telenor, AT&T, Vodafone, T-Mobile, KDDI, Omnitel, Pannon GSM, Telefónica Móviles de España and TMN.


The following devices came pre-installed with Opera Mini as of August 2007. Some listed devices only included Opera Mini when bought from certain network operators.[86]

While not officially supported on Chrome OS, Vlad Filippov published a guide how to run Opera Mini inside Chromium browser.[89]

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]