It's been a long wait but Opera Software today released the first Beta of Opera Mobile 10 for Symbian. Supporting Symbian S30 3rd and 5th edition devices, Opera Mobile 10 is available free of charge at opera.com/mobile/next/.
I've downloaded the new Beta onto my trusty Nokia N95-3, which is the North America Market version of the original N95, and I am impressed. The first thing I did was run the Acid 3 Test where Opera Mobile scored 100 out of 100 points. On all the real world sites I tried rendering was beautiful and images looked amazingly. Compatibility with difficult sites seems high too. I was able to load the iPhone/Android versions of both iGoogle and Google Reader using Opera Mobile 10. Both displayed and worked perfectly. That's a good thing as neither of these sites works properly in Opera Mini. The Symbian Webkit based browser also has problems with the iPhone iGoogle, although does great with Reader.
One thing that bothered me was that I'm starting to see reports by users on Twitter complaining of out of memory errors running Opera Mobile 10. And then GoMo News published a piece provocatively titled "Memory problem dogs new Opera Mobile" which reports that even with nothing else running, Opera Mobile 10 on an N95 was unable to open the GoMo News home page or the BBC front page without getting an error.
My own experiences with Opera Mobile 10 on an N95 where completely different. Not only was I able to load both the 2.5 MB (why so big?) GoMo News and the 465 KB BBC homepages without error, I could even load them both at once in separate tabs. And then I loaded Wikipedia's gigantic 1.5 MB "USA" article in a third tab, still with no errors. With all three large pages loaded, the browser didn't even slow down and was completely usable! Why such completely different results from two N95s?
I'm pretty sure the difference is that GoMo News is using the original European N95 which shipped with 64 of RAM, of which about 20 MB are free at start up. My US model N95 has much more RAM, 120 MB total, with 93 MB available to the user at start up. That's over four times the available RAM compared with the European model.
To confirm my suspicions I run a little test to see how much memory Opera Mobile uses and how that usage compares with the N95's built-in Webkit based browser and Opera Mini 5. The methodology was to power cycle the phone, load one of the browsers, clear the browser cache and check free RAM, then load each page into a separate tab, keeping all the tabs open and checking RAM after each page loaded. Results are summarized below. The first number in each cell is the free RAM in MB's after loading each page, the second is a running total of how much total RAM each browser is using. To check RAM usage, I used Phonetinfo, a lightweight free utility that tells you everything about your S60 3rd or 5th edition phone.
|Opera Mobile 10||Opera Mobile 10 Turbo||Opera Mini 5||Nokia Browser|
* The Nokia Browser was unable to display the BBC homepage, only showing the top header.
It's pretty obvious why GoMoNews can't load their own homepage in Opera Mobile. 37 MBs are required with only 20 available. It looks like the built in browser would have run out of memory on that page too. I think the GoMo piece should really have been titled "Memory problem dogs old Nokia N95-1" which is not exactly news. The bottom line is that the new generation of advanced mobile browsers require lots of memory, particularly when loading 2.5 MB desktop pages. If your Symbian phone doesn't have at least 40 MB of free RAM at startup, you will likely get memory errors running the Opera Mobile 10 Beta. 3-Lib has a table showing the free RAM for virtually every Symbian phone. Lots of early S60 3rd edition phones like the N95-1, E65 and N77 are pretty bad with 20 MB or less. Fortunately most recent Symbian phones do have enough RAM for Opera Mobile, though some like the N97 with only 46 MB free, barely do. If your phone doesn't have enough memory to run Opera Mobile, may I recomend Opera Mini 5. It has the same user interface and nearly as good rendering as Opera Mobile and it loads pages even faster and uses hardly any RAM.