Opera Mobile for Android: Slimmer, safer and faster than Chrome

Android(s goog) device owners looking for a zippy browsing experience have a few good reasons to download Opera Mobile from Google Play. The company released version 12 1 of its browser on Tuesday; it takes up less storage space and adds helpful anti-fraud detection and support for additional HTML 5 standards. A quick first test shows Opera Mobile to be at least as fast, if not faster, than Google’s own Chrome browser in some cases.

Opera appears to have different installation files in the Google Play store but you don’t have to pick the right one. According to the company, you’ll get the correct version:

Despite being tailor made for four different chipsets, ARM v5 and v7, MIPS and X86, the Opera Mobile 12.1 browser remains sleek and slender since you only get the version suited for the chipset in your Android mobile or tablet.

I doubt this saves much space, but having run out of room on my 16 GB Nexus 7 tablet — which doesn’t have any storage expansion capabilities — every byte can count. The new browser version also includes warnings for potentially suspicious sites or those used for illicit activity. And developers of web pages and apps can now take advantage of additional HTML 5 standard support. Opera specifically calls out support for SPDY — a protocol designed to reduce page load times — WebSockets, CSS Animations and HTML 5 drag and drop capabilities to name a few.

Along with the new features are the old ones that have always impressed me in Opera Mobile. Of particular note is the Opera Turbo feature to speed up the web experience on mobile devices while also reducing the amount of mobile broadband data use: Opera’s compression technology has long been a key differentiator in the mobile space.

While the compression tech has impressed me in the past, the pure speed of Opera is impressing me now. I took the new version for a quick spin on my Galaxy Note 2 and the experience feels as fast as Chrome, my default browser. I ran a SunSpider benchmark, which gives an idea of JavaScript performance in a browser, and found that Opera Mobile was even faster than Chrome. In the SunSpider test, where a lower number is better, Opera Mobile scored 1094.4 milliseconds while Chrome followed in 1192.1 milliseconds.