The last time I really used opera was when I used Opera 3, 4 and 5. After that I started using firefox and never looked back. I have always had opera on my system, even today I have Opera 9 on my system but I rarely use it. The only reason I use Opera is for WAP sites.
Comming back to the point I have tried to surf the net using a mobile but in more senses it sucks. It is just too slow for comfort. I have Opera 7.x on my mobile and though for surfing once in a while its okay but using it for more than 10 minutes is a real torture.
That is where opera mini comes up. Just to clarify a little "Opera Mini" is not "Opera Mobile". Both of them are very different products. The opera mobile edition that comes with your mobile phone is nothing like Opera Mini. Opera mini really feels responsive and the best part is its free to download. Opera Mini is something like Google Web Accelerator. But unlike Web Accelerator it acts both like a browser as well as a proxy server.
Okay actually the free part is not the best part but it does'nt really hurt that its free. Google is built into the homepage and that explains why its free. Got to love google for that. But all I can say is that if you use a mobile to surf you really need to give Opera Mini a try. You won't regret it. And for once I have started using my mobile to really surf the net. And in a way its faster to surf using mini than surfing on a desktop machine. Most of the websites open and render up fine. Since the actual processing is done by the opera proxy servers the pages load up really fast. Its almost like using a 256KBps line on your mobile.
With Opera Mini, finally opera has a winner on its hands. And as more people start using it, they are bound to get loyal customers who won't mind being charged for a service like this as there is nothing like this so far.
To sum it up in simple words Opera Mini is a service while Opera Mobile is a product.