The Opera browser has been around for over two decades. Though it has always been an underdog, its user base has stayed stable for much of that time, despite massive changes in the browser market. In this Opera review, we’ll lay out how it compares with other browsers to help you decide if it’s worth making the switch.
Opera is a feature-packed browser with strong customization options. Because it’s built on Chromium, it can take advantage of most of Google Chrome’s extension library, including some of our best VPN picks.
Changes in ownership and architecture have led to privacy concerns, though, and the browser is resource-hungry. It’s also slower than competitors such as Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox but not by a huge margin.
Opera has a desktop version for Windows 7 and later, macOS X 10.10 and later and Ubuntu 16.04 and later. On mobile, there are two applications: Touch and Mini. Both are available for iOS 11 and later and Android 5.1 and later. For this review, we tested the browser on a Windows 10 laptop and an iPhone running iOS 12.3.
95% – Excellent
Opera provides a lot of great features while retaining a simple and manageable interface. There’s built-in support for messaging apps, such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, which saves you from using clunky web interfaces or third-party extensions to access them.
Setting up the browser is as straightforward as it gets. If you’re installing it for the first time, Opera automatically detects your default browser and imports your bookmarks, browser history and saved passwords. You can also sync your settings, bookmarks, passwords and history between devices if you sign up for an Opera account.
Plus, you can send encrypted links and content, including articles, videos, images and personal notes, between devices using “my flow.” There’s a button next to the address bar for sending web pages and YouTube videos. Everything else is as easy as selecting the text, link or image, right-clicking and selecting “send to my flow.”
Aside from the functionality that comes baked in with the browser, Opera has a decent library of extensions. More importantly, because it’s based on Chromium, it’s compatible with many Chrome extensions (read our Chrome review). That means you can add almost any feature you can think of to Opera through Chrome’s huge library of third-party functionalities.
Ad blockers are probably the most used type of extension, but that feature is already included with Opera. You just need to turn it on manually in the settings when you set up the browser.
Opera Browser VPN
The built-in VPN is a nice addition, but it’s limited in that it doesn’t let you choose a specific country. Instead, it lets you pick between appearing to be in the Americas, Europe or Asia.
That, combined with the lack of a tunneling protocol or encryption beyond HTTPS, means it’s not particularly useful for privacy or circumventing regional restrictions on services such as Netflix. Check out our geoblocking guide for better alternatives.