Opera has released its Opera Mini 7 browser for feature phones making it easier than ever to check Facebook and other sites with a new ‘smart page’ that aggregates updates from social networks and news sources in one place.

Beyond providing a convenient place to catch up with goings-on from Facebook, Twitter and others — which are popular in emerging markets where Opera is strong — the smart page also includes suggested news sites and can be customised to add other feeds.

More than convenient, the feature can optimise usage, since it lessens the need to visit the sites directly. Given that most feature phone owners are pre-pay customers, and are charged for mobile Internet usage by what they consume, the page and Opera’s data compression technology means Opera Mini 7 users can enjoy more time online.

Speaking about the launch, Opera CEO Lars  Boilesen praised the benefits of the simple but effective new feature:

With Smart Page, you just open the browser, and the content is right beside your Speed Dial shortcuts in the start screen for you to skim through — super practical, super time-saving and super smart.

The company says that it is “passionate about breaking down barriers, so everyone can share the power of the internet” and the latest addition boosts its appeal as an alternative to (the often limited) built in Web browsers.

Opera Mini 7 is available for Java-compatible (J2ME), S60 and BlackBerry feature phones, and the company has long catered to emerging markets, as well as smartphone users in the West.

Opera says its browser family — which includes products for mobiles, tablets, computers and smart TVs — are used by more than 250 million people worldwide.  Furthermore, more than 168 million people used the Opera Mini browser in March 2012, during which time a total of 117 billion pages were served.

That reach is one reason why Facebook has taken an interest in the Norwegian firm. The social network is reportedly in discussions to buy the company, although sources informed us that Opera is talking to at least two possible bidders, one of which is Facebook.

➤ Opera Mini 7