We knew that Opera Mobile 9.7 beta was on its way (in fact, we expected it in May,) but the build released to Windows Mobile consumers on Monday morning isn't exactly what we had anticipated given certain hints in the business build that support for Flash video was on its way. We should say, the inclusion of Opera Turbo was dead on. What we hadn't expected was a separate widget gallery to replace the one built into Opera Mobile 9.5 beta, the previous version.
More on Turbo and widgets in just one moment, but first the answer to what we think you really want to know--should you upgrade? Based on our tests of the preview build Opera let us test the Friday before the release, here's our take: While it won't slow you down if you do upgrade to Opera 9.7 beta from Opera 9.5 beta, and while it may even help you in a pinch, those with reliable fast coverage who don't plan on using more than Opera Mobile's core browsing features won't have much cause to reinstall.
Turbo-charged Opera Mobile 9.7
Now back to your regularly scheduled review. Opera Turbo is the by now much-touted compression and proxy engine used in Opera 10 beta (review), the desktop browser version released the first week of June. On Windows Mobile phones, Turbo also makes browsing faster for data connections below 3G speeds--in other words, EV-DO, EDGE, and other 2.5G connections. When Turbo's revved on the phone, it sends the page data to Opera's servers for proxy rendering. The servers then send a lighter version of the page back to the phone. While that makes Turbo much faster on data- and image-rich Web pages over slow connections, it also predictably slashes image quality.
Turbo's implementation in Opera Mobile 9.7 beta is (disappointingly) unchanged since we got a demo at CTIA in early April. Though automatic detection is enabled in Opera's version 10 beta desktop browser, beta testers will need to manually switch it on and off each time. It's easy enough to do in the Advanced portion of Opera Mobile's settings menu, but there is a detriment to letting Turbo slave away. If you're on Wi-Fi or 3G, you could experience more lag time while Turbo sends your data to Opera's servers and back. Also, your image quality will suffer. This will be the singlemost challenge for 9.7 beta testers.… Read more