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Opera Mobile vs. Nokia S60 browser – new browser war?

I guess it all has started from The Register controversial columnist Andrew Orlowski’s review of Nokia E70. The article has been commented on some blogs, including Opera PR Manager Eskil Sivertsen’s blog.

Tero Lehto wrote in his blog in relation to that, that "Pohjoismaiseen kulttuuriin ei ole tavallisesti kuulunut kilpailevan tuotteen avoimella loanheitolla" ("Openly throwing dirt at the competing product does not normally belong to Nordic countries’ culture.")

It is very sad indeed. I know souls behind both browsers, and I know that there are very talented and hardworking people in both teams and they are doing  their best to deliver the perfect mobile browsing experience to the end users.

I’ve decided to compare Opera and Nokia OSS browsers to find out which one is better.

I’d like to mention right away, that this comparison is very subjective. I’ve used Nokia N93 with 10.0.025 firmware for testing. I’ve installed Opera 8.65 EMEA for S60 3rd Edition. I used Elisa 3G network and my home WLAN as connection.

Opera browser I used only in desktop mode. Unfortunately small screen mode arranges information on the page in a way that is considerably different to what you see on the PC, so it is changes the experience. And both browsers I used in landscape mode.

I’ve compared usability of the pages that I visit from mobile most often:

Web site Nokia OSS Opera
www.yle.fi/uutiset OK OK
www.ft.com OK Menu on the left site is impossibly slow. Navigation on the site overall is very slow.
www.gazeta.ru OK OK
www.bloglines.com Runs out of memory if too many posts in blog. Columns are rendered a bit strange – narrower than the page. Runs out of memory  if too many posts in blog.
gmail.com (basic html, not a mobile version) OK OK
www.fmi.fi OK OK
www.ytv.fi OK OK
www.anekdot.ru Text is wider than screen, impossible to read – requires constant horisontal scrolling Text is wider than screen, impossible to read – requires constant horisontal scrolling
www.fontanka.ru OK OK
www.economist.com OK OK
www.kauppalehti.fi OK OK
www.eqonline.fi OK Sometimes part of valuable information is obscured by other page elements
www.morningstar.fi OK OK

So from my experience both browsers render pages almost equally good, but Nokia browser has faster and smoother scrolling. I’ve summarised my other impressions from this experiment below.

What I like in Opera:

- go to page helper (although idea copied from OSS browser, it is developed even further)
- shortcuts are visible in the menu, so it is possible to learn them
- default local page

What I don’t like in Opera:

- scrolling is very slow and jumpy, especially while trying to scroll when images are still being loaded
- no search in bookmarks
- no search in dropdown lists
- inconsistency with S60 UI style guide
- price
- lack of autocomplete feature for input fields

What I like in Nokia OSS Browser

- rendering and scrolling speed
- minimap (I think it is just brilliant, but that is a question of religion)
- "mouse" navigation
- graphical history

What I don’t like in Nokia OSS Browser

- lack of  tips or tutorial – e.g. who knows that ‘1’ activates bookmarks view, ‘2’ activates search, ‘5’ activates window selector, ‘8’ activates full screen mini map, ‘9’ – go to dialog, ‘*’ and ‘#’ – zoom in/out.
- lack of autocomplete feature for input fields

Opera is clearly the best browser for S60 2nd edition and earlier releases. But with new Nokia OSS browser on S60 3rd edition devices it is difficult to find strong arguments for the users to pay for an alternative browser.

Competition is always good for consumers, and it would be really interesting to see how both browsers develop in the future.

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9 Comments

  1. ok

    Friday, September 29, 2006 at 15:01 | Permalink
  2. While I realy like the WBfS60, I’m still a big fan of Opera. (Specificaly on Desk/LapTop world.)

    * Opera’s small screen rendering (ssr) feature does the job when desktop view fails.
    * SSR is faster and uses less memory (I think).
    * Has password save feature. (Can be secured via master password)
    * Has Better file download support.
    * Can browse local directories. Which eases viewing local htmls.
    * Supports changing of shortcuts.

    May be it’s not free but at least you know it will be updated. No need to pray for Nokia to add latest WBfS60 enhancements to next firmware update.


    a desparete e61 user…

    Wednesday, December 6, 2006 at 10:39 | Permalink
  3. you might like this:

    http://www.opera.com/products/mobile/platform/

    not sure its flash enabled or not.

    Tuesday, December 12, 2006 at 14:35 | Permalink
  4. li mika wrote:

    8m downloads of OPERA MINI thus far, the consumers can’t be wrong… :-)

    Wednesday, December 13, 2006 at 1:42 | Permalink
  5. Ivan, it might be very late comments. I just started a polling in my blog about favorite S60’s web browser. It includes, of course, S60 OSS browser and Opera Mobile. I would really appreciate if you could participate in the polling as well. Here is the link, http://www.s60tips.com/2006/12/16/polling-what-is-your-favorite-s60s-web-browser/

    Sunday, December 17, 2006 at 0:52 | Permalink
  6. JYC wrote:

    Hi, Wow, very interesting, I’m just starting to get into blogging with my recently purchased N73ME =)

    Of course, the winner is Nokia’s excellent browser!

    Only one thing left I want from it which it can’t do right now is watch YouTube……

    and another thing I’d love my phone to have is blackberry connect…..

    If I could install Blackberry connect to such a powerful multimedia phone, then I’d be a very happy customer =P

    Hope posting here would help.

    Regards,
    Another Nokia fan…
    Joey

    Friday, January 5, 2007 at 15:12 | Permalink
  7. JYC wrote:

    Oh yah,

    Browser in S60 can do online banking.

    Browser in Opera Mini can’t.

    S60>Opera Mini

    now if only my nokia N73 can even take over my blackberry device……….

    Friday, January 5, 2007 at 15:17 | Permalink
  8. Ben wrote:

    I would be carfull about online banking with your mobile device as most of the browsers seem not to care too much about sercurity at the moment.

    I came across this artical just before reading this blog.

    http://www.osnews.com/story.php/10157/The-Sad-Story-of-Secure-Mobile-Browsing/

    Tuesday, March 27, 2007 at 2:21 | Permalink
  9. mohd abdullah wrote:

    pls send mobile browser 6.0 for e90 nokia

    Saturday, August 2, 2008 at 5:36 | Permalink

2 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Preoccupations on Wednesday, September 6, 2006 at 15:28

    Empowering mobile users

    I’m awaiting delivery of a Nokia E70 (All About Symbian preview here, review here). The new Nokia browser is one of the key lures that drew me towards upgrading. (There’s a comparison of Opera Mobile/Nokia S60 3rd edition browser here

  2. Web Browser for S60 on Tuesday, December 5, 2006 at 14:40

    The browser is really….

    …just an attention-getting device! Here are some places where our browser has recently attracted attention. Nokia World in Amsterdam is over now, but the From the Floor blog is still available. Accessing various Internet resources from mobile phones …

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