- Great built-in features
- Compatible with Chrome extensions
- Built-in adblocker
- Personal news feed
- High RAM usage
- Privacy concerns
Having been around for over two decades, Opera is not a new name in the browser industry. During these years, Opera has had time to evolve and become what it is today – a fast and reliable browser with a tremendous number of built-in features for you to explore as well as different versions of the software built for specific niches, such as the gaming browser, Opera GX. When it comes to privacy, Opera is also a step ahead of its competitors since it offers both an ad blocker and a built-in VPN. Unsurprisingly, Opera is available on all desktop operating systems as well as iOS and Android. It seems to be too good to be true, and it might be. Does this browser deserve a standing ovation or a ‘booing' from its audience? Let's find out.
Features & Extensions
With the number of built-in features Opera offers, there is not much it cannot do. From reading the news to speaking with your friends through direct messaging, Opera ensures that you can do most of your online activities without needing to leave the browser.
Surf and Chat at the Same Time
It's true that you can chat through Facebook and WhatsApp while browsing the internet without Opera's help. However, you will have to go back and forward between Facebook's website (or your mobile phone) and whatever you are doing with your browser. With Opera, you have the messages tab on the left of the browser where you can access Facebook Messenger, VK, and WhatsApp while surfing the web. By using this feature, you will save a lot of clicks, time, and be able to multitask like a pro.
Start the Day with a Personal News Feed
Do you like to start your day with a cup of coffee while browsing your favorite websites looking for the latest news? With Opera, you can create your personal news feed as the start page. You can either add your favorite sources or choose the ones you want from Opera's own categories and then arrange the entries in a timeline view or a magazine-like format.
Additionally, you’re able to do a web search without leaving the site you’re on by pressing Alt + Space. Opera also lets you take snapshots as well as edit them on the browser, and features built-in converters for currency, unit, and time zone.
Privacy & Security
Opera is one of the few browsers that comes with a built-in VPN, completely free of charge. Better yet, it's unlimited, meaning it doesn’t have a bandwidth cap and it doesn’t require a subscription either. There is no information about the number of servers, but you can choose between a European, American, or Asian IP. It does sound marvelous but, as our full review discovered, the VPN is not that great. The main problem is that the Opera VPN is not a real VPN since it does not offer a tunneling protocol. Nevertheless, you can still use it as a proxy, and it's a nice addition to have built-in to the browser.
Contrary to its VPN sibling, Opera’s built-in adblocker does its job well and, although it does not have as much configuration as Brave's adblocker, it blocked all the advertisements during our testing. Be careful though, as it may break some websites; if it does you can add the site to the exception list, which will make the adblocker stop working while visiting that domain. Talking about exceptions, you may want to go over the list to delete Facebook and Google since they come as exceptions by default.
Although both features are a great addition that will save you the need of installing a few extensions, it's essential to bear in mind that a group of Chinese companies and investors purchased Opera in 2016. As you may know, the Chinese government is known for forcing tech companies to provide backdoors into their software to spy on its users, making Opera not as trustworthy as it was before the venture.
Opera is available both on desktop, Windows (7 or later), macOS (Yosemite 10.10 onwards), and Linux (64-bit Ubuntu or later) – as well as on mobile with iOS and Android. Although Opera is Chromium-based, the interface is different from other popular browsers like Google Chrome. On the right, you have a thin sidebar where you can access Facebook and WhatsApp messages, instant search, My Flow, speed dial, bookmarks, personal news, and history.
You can do a quick setup through the button on the top left where you can change between light and dark themes, as well as enable some features such as the adblocker and My Flow, among other configurations. Nevertheless, you still have the regular settings menu that you can find by clicking at the Opera logo on the top left. Despite the large number of features, Opera is still able to offer a clean interface while keeping everything easy to find.
Two decades in the browsing battlefield gives you time to create not only various built-in add-ons but also different versions of your own browser. Desktop users can choose between the main software and the browser focused on gaming, GX. Mobile users, on the other hand, can choose between three Opera browsers.
Opera Mini and Touch
Things get more complicated when it comes to mobile browsers. If you search for Opera in the Play Store you’ll see that there are three different versions available: Opera, Opera Mini, and Opera Touch.
Opera is the standard mobile version of the desktop browser, with the full set of features. Opera Mini is a lighter version, perfect for users who have access to inferior network infrastructures or have slower devices, and although it doesn’t have Opera’s VPN it still includes the adblocker. Opera Touch is a different story – it has a different layout, and it's designed to be used with only one hand. In other words, Opera created several options to have one that matches your lifestyle and mobile habits the best.
Depending on the mobile app you are using, the way you share data from your computer to your smartphone will differ. While with Opera you can sync bookmarks, tabs, speed dial entries, and history, with Opera Mini, you will be able to sync everything you need to except bookmarks. Opera Touch brings sharing between devices to another level with the desktop feature My Flow. Scanning a QR code opens a window where you can write notes, send links, videos, files, etc. and everything will appear on your mobile, as well as the most recently closed tabs on your computer. The downside is that Opera Touch doesn't actually sync any information, so you’ll have to use My Flow to share things between different versions of the browser.
Though the number of features is impressive and the interface looks neat, it's important to know that Opera consumes a considerable amount of RAM and is slightly slower compared to other popular browsers such as Firefox or Google Chrome.
Opera provides customer support through a variety of channels. First and foremost, you should visit the FAQ when you have a problem. Opera's FAQ is easy to browse since it has help pages directed for each version of the browser.
If you can't find the solution you need, then it's time to jump into Opera's community forum. Like the FAQ, the forum is straightforward as well since it’s split into categories and subcategories. For example, if you are having a problem with the browser on your Windows, you’ll be able to find “Opera for Windows”, and from there you’ll find innumerous entries for Windows-specific problems. Of course, you can search for specific keywords as well. On top of that, you can get in touch with Opera's team through email, Facebook, and Twitter.
On the surface, Opera does seem to be an exceptional browser. When you look closely though, it leaves you with a bittersweet taste. Opera does have a great variety of built-in features that will step up your browsing game. However, it's slower compared to other popular browsers and consumes a considerable amount of RAM; something that can be troublesome for older machines. Though a nice addition, the built-in VPN ends up being useless since it does not have a tunneling protocol and will only work as a proxy. Nevertheless, if you are a multitasker and want to do the majority of your work within your browser without having to install many extensions, Opera may be the perfect browser for you. It doesn’t get a standing ovation from us, but we still clap for all the effort Opera has put in so far and how versatile the browser is.