While the iPhone certainly shook up handset hardware, its full page rendering Safari web browser has also 'inspired' software developers...
Microsoft with its Deepfish browser for Windows Mobile is the best example so far and after several months of testing I have to admit I like it very much. On the other hand 'Opera Mini 4 beta' is now here and it could be the software to spread these benefits far and wide...
Like both (iPhone) Safari and Deepfish the Opera Mini 4 beta renders full web pages and also enables zooming and scrolling around the page. Unlike the other two however it works on a virtually any make of handset from Alcatel to Sony Ericsson, Blackberry to T-Mobile and therefore catapults a genuinely usable mobile browser into the mainstream market.
Furthermore for those with no 3G or expensive data charges Opera Mini 4 beta compresses fully rendered pages by up to 10x (Opera says when in comparison with Nokia's bundled browser) and this also means they load far faster too... On the downside, as a beta, there are some notable features still absent (tabs, an integrated search like Deepfish, a full screen mode and Java and RSS feed support being the main ones) but Opera promises to expand the functionality in future betas right up to its final release.
Sadly, an official release timeframe is unknown (and Opera is notoriously slow in pushing out new versions of its mobile broswers) but Opera Mini 4 beta is free and on general release unlike the invite-only Deepfish and you-need-to-buy-an-iPhone-Safari. So what's not to love...?
Opera Mini 4 beta Product Page