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Opera Mini next
The Opera Mini Next is a futuristic version of Opera’s extremely popular browser for handsets and tablets, Opera Mini. In some ways, you could call it a beta version of sorts. It is available for feature phones, Symbian S60, Android and BlackBerry devices.¬†

What makes it special?
While most features in Opera Mini Next work like earlier versions of the Opera Mini, it is when you use it on a feature phone (a phone that is not a smartphone) that you get hit by what it offers. For, instead of starting with its traditional Speed Dial, which contains icons that are shortcuts to your favourite websites, Opera Mini Next also gives users the latest from their Facebook and Twitter accounts. Opera calls this the Smart Page concept and we must confess that it worked pretty well on our ancient Sony Ericsson W995 handset.

Those on feature phones will love the Smart Page, as it allows them to access social networks without having to go to the browser and enter the URL or using the social networking apps — often little more than poorly-disguised bookmarks — that come bundled with these phones.

Another change is the fact that the number of speed dial buttons now are no longer limited to nine. You literally can put as many websites as you want on it, so when you start your browser, all you need to do is tap on an icon to go to the site — no typing necessary.

Where it stumbles
As Opera themselves have pointed out, this is not the final version of Opera Mini, but just an interim one, showing what the next version will have. So it is prone to the odd crash and we would not really recommend you doing too many online transactions using it. We also could not figure out why the smartphone version of Opera Mini Next does not have the Smart Page — smartphone users too need to find out what is happening on their Facebook and Twitter pages without running apps.

Do you need it?
Well, if you have a smartphone, we would say that the answer is a resounding “no,” as the current browser (Opera Mini 6.5) is much more stable. However, if you have what they call a feature phone, then this is well worth trying out. And of course, this being Opera Mini, pages will get compressed before they are sent on to your cellphone, cutting data costs, even while serving up brisk browsing.

Opera Mobile 12
The latest avatar of Opera’s full-fledged browser for Android and Symbian handsets, Opera Mobile 12 runs totally off your phone, unlike Opera Mini, where pages are processed using a data compression technology on a server. You also have the option to shrink pages using Opera Turbo, if you wish — giving you the complete Web experience on your handset.

What makes it special
The latest version of Opera Mobile claims to come with better support for better graphics and Web apps. While we did not see any startling change in the graphics, we did see a significant improvement in the manner in which our Android phone was running web applications like Google Docs. We actually were able to use Google Docs on a handset’s browser with comfort. Speed Dial — the service to access your favourite websites by just hitting an icon representing them on the browser’s start page — has been revamped, allowing you to add as many pages as you want, provided you are ready to put up with a bit of scrolling. To round things off, you can also access the camera through the browser.

Where it stumbles
Some might find the sheer weight of Opera Mobile — it tips the scales at a very healthy 13.95 MB — cumbersome compared to the less than 1 MB size of other browsers, such as Opera’s own Opera Mini. Also, one really does not know whether one needs better use of Web apps through a browser, given the plethora of apps that Android, in particular, already has. We also found the camera go missing far too many times.

Who needs it
Anyone who wants a very good Web browsing experience on their handsets. Opera Mobile 12 might not look too different from its predecessors but it renders pages at a brisk clip, even when you opt not to compress them. No, it does not do Flash as well as other browsers, but if all you are looking for is a browsing experience on your phone, this is perhaps one app you absolutely must have.

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Price: Free 

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