Rumours of an iPhone version of the Opera web browser have been circulating the internet for some time now, and Opera Mini has finally seen the light of day. One of the key advantages of Opera over other browsers has always been the fact that the clever use of compression means that page loading can be sped up even on a slow connection - ideal for 3G web browsing.

The use of compression is noticeable when Opera Mini's performance is compared to Safari, and pages load faster over both wifi and 3G connections. In addition to the standard browser feature of bookmarks, Opera Mini for iPhone also includes SpeedDial which provides easy access to your nine most frequently used sites.

As we have come to expect from web browsers, tabbed browsing is also supported and it is nicely implemented with a small preview window at the bottom of the screen. The double tab or pinching gestures are supported for zooming in and out of web pages - however there are only two zoom levels.

For helping with tracking down particular words on a text heavy page, a Find in Page search facility is available. Other features of note include the saving of web pages for offline browsing, as well as Opera Link which can be used to synchronise bookmarks between different computers running Opera. With password storage, auto-complete and fast browsing, Opera Mini for iPhone is a great alternative to Safari.

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It has been a long time coming, but at last there is a rival to Safari on the iPhone - and it is a very worthy rival.