Opera has claimed that its browser for the iPhone runs six times faster than the handset's native Safari browser over 3G.
The company has been demonstrating Opera Mini on a developer iPhone at Mobile World Congress. As Apple does not currently accept rival browsers onto the platform, Opera has not yet submitted theirs to the App Store — but it intends to do so at some point, founder Jon von Tetzchner told ZDNet UK during a demonstration.
"It will be submitted, but we haven't decided when," he said on Tuesday. "We want to tune the product a little bit more. We wouldn't be making it if it wasn't our intention [to submit it]."
Von Tetzchner said Opera Mini runs six times faster than Safari on the iPhone when using 3G networks, and runs at least as many times faster over GPRS.
The demonstration showed the familiar Opera Mini, with its speed dial, tabs and bookmark sync, performing a trick that you don't usually see on the iPhone. Apple's handset doesn't allow more than one app to run at a time, so one would expect a closed browser session to result in a fresh start for the app when it's restarted — in fact, von Tetzchner showed the browser restarting with the same session open.
Von Tetzchner denied that the demonstration was a protest against Apple's policies. "We expect Apple to allow Opera Mini and we see no reason why they shouldn't," he said, adding that the browser should not fall foul of Apple's SDK licence rules as it is a client-server system — Opera Mobile would have to run natively (bad, in Apple's eyes), but Opera Mini does not (good).
"Opera Mini would give [Apple's] users a much better browsing experience, especially in slower networks," he said.
Opera wouldn't allow us to film or photograph Opera Mini on the iPhone, apparently because it hasn't been submitted yet, but we were able to film Opera Mobile, which has a similar UI, running on a Nexus One Android phone. That's another product that's yet to come out, so keep an eye out for that video on our site very soon.