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Opera Mini comes to Symbian

The Symbian mobile operating systems might have been taking a few knocks lately, but it got a feather in its cap today: Norway’s Opera software has announced that its mobile Web browser Opera Mini 5.1 is now available for Symbian phones. The browser improves open the Java version of Opera Mini that was previously available for S60 handsets, and features support for a wide range of Symbian devices—including a variety of older phones—along with fast performance.

“It is Opera’s objective to provide its users with the best possible web-surfing experience on any device,” said Opera Software’s chief development officer Christen Krogh, in a statement. “Porting Opera Mini to the Symbian programming language provides the largest user base in the smartphone world with the best mobile browsing experience.”

Opera’s market share might still be in the single digits amongst desktop Web browsers, but the company has had remarkable success getting its software into devices like the Nintendo Wii, and the company claims Opera Mini is the most popular mobile browser on the market, with over 71 million monthly users. Opera Mini operates using a unique methodology: instead of connecting directly to a remote Web site (and downloading the same glut of data a desktop user would see) connections are managed through a proxy system run by Opera Software that compress the data sent to phones by up to 90 percent. The result is that pages load faster in Opera in part because it has to cope with less information, and using Opera also uses less mobile bandwidth—important for folks facing limits and monthly caps.

Opera Mini 5.1 for Symbian improves on the Java version by improving startup time, page-loading, and scrolling performance, offering full support for device text input methods, along with enhanced fonts and device integration for copy-and-paste and built-in email clients.

Opera Mini for Symbian is free: to download the application, users just need to point their mobile browser to m.opera.com.

The arrival of Opera Mini for Symbian comes after the now open-source mobile OS has suffered some blows: partners like Samsung, Sony Ericsson, and LG have dropped support for Symbian in order to focus on other mobile OS’s like Android, and Symbian Foundation’s head stepped down unexpectedly earlier this month.