After showing off its newest mobile browser version at the Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona, Norwegian firm Opera Software today made good on its promise and submitted "Opera Mini for iPhone" to Apple's iPhone App Store. The browser is reportedly several times faster than mobile Safari, due to the use of server-side compression technology. To prove it, Opera posted a video of its browser going against Apple's on two iPhone 3GS smartphones with no 3G or Wi-Fi enabled. Relying only on 2G (EDGE), Opera Mini loaded no less than 5 pages while Safari loaded only one.
While that seems all nice and good the real question remains whether Apple will allow it in the App Store. Historically, the Cupertino-based company has always rejected applications that have duplicated original functionality on the iPhone, but recently it approved several WebKit-based browsers. Opera is convinced that its browser will be approved by Apple, not only for the improved speeds or for giving users more choice on their browsing experience, but because Opera Mini doesn't directly violate rules laid out in Apple's software development kit (SDK).
Unlike other browsers, Opera Mini is a proxy browser that delivers Web pages through Opera's servers. It isn't a standalone HTML browser that interprets and executes code on its own. This loophole combined with the fact that Apple is allowing WebKit browsers in the App Store should negate the "duplication of functionality" argument.
We'll just have to wait and see what Apple's reaction to Opera Mini for iPhone will be. In the meantime, Opera has posted a counter on its website so everyone can see how long it takes Apple to approve (or reject) its browser.