I did a brief hands-on of the new Opera Browser Beta recently. That’s the Webkit version of the famous Opera Mini and/or Mobile. I am not sure yet whether this new browser is going to be an amalgamation of both into one single Opera browser across various mobile platforms, or the two will continue to be developed in parallel as before.

I have been using this exclusively as the browser on my smartphone for a week, and it is interesting to see that in so doing, I have not exhausted the basic 200MB data plan that I subscribed to at the beginning of the experiment. How? By turning on Off-Road Mode. To be sure, I also refused to carry out any app updates on the Android smartphone that I am reviewing. However, I had my mails and social media apps all running as always.

But there is no question that where a web browser lets you save as much as 86% data in regular use, that is some significant input in keeping data consumption low. Consider that where I would have used up 54.8MB of data, Opera Browser Beta cut it down to a decent 7.7MB and that tells a big story:

Saving Data With Off-Road Mode

Subscribing to a 100MB or 200MB plan and running a browser like Opera Browser Beta means that in all probability that small data allocation can last a full month.

Opera. Nokia and Google Too

It is then no wonder that other manufacturers and developers are exploring thee data compression browser market. Not too long ago, Nokia launched their Xpress Browser which has data compression enabled for both Asha and Lumia devices. Even more recently we saw a beta version of Android’s Chrome browser with the same feature built-in.

Who stands to benefit? Everyone! Networks will experience less pressure on their already stressed capacity and facilities. Users will save on both data/cost and page loading time. Yes; they will lose some advanced functionality, but the good thing is that the feature can be implemented with an option to turn it on and off as needed (as is done on Opera Browser Beta). Manufacturers will sell, as users with need for data and cost savings will adopt their platforms and devices. Make no mistake about it, the money at the bottom of the pyramid is huge and these brands are going after them.

Nokia Xpress Browser

For now, it is clear that web browser data compression is coming to Android. While it already exists via a third party browser like Opera’s, when implemented in the built-in Chrome browser, uptake will increase. Data compression also already exists on Asha’s default browser and on Lumia (Windows Phone) as a third party. It is also interesting that it is at a time that other brands are embracing data compression that BlackBerry has dropped it.

Opera Browser Beta has been a very good companion to me in the last one week. Everyone looking to save web browsing costs ought to give it or any of the other alternatives a try.


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