According to Apple, Nokia and Datawind (with its PocketSurfer 2), the mobile web is the place to be. But if you don't want to splash out on an expensive new handset to see what all the fuss is about, how about enabling your current mobile phone to receive real web pages with one simple download?

That's exactly what you can do with Opera Mini 4 beta, and a new update to the mobile browser has just made it even more appealing to those who are intrigued by the possibility of using their phone to browse the web.

Opera Mini 4 is a small download - point your phone to and you can be up and running in a couple of minutes. It's set apart from Opera Mobile in that it's designed to work on the vast majority of Java-enabled mobiles – Opera Mobile is specifically for smartphones with OSes such as Windows Mobile or Symbian.

Once installed, the browser attempts to fit any page on the internet onto the tiny screen on your mobile. Needless to say, you'll need to do a bit of scrolling and zooming to read any of the text and the necessary compression technology means you're unlikely to have much joy viewing videos or high-resolution images.

But for anyone who fails to see the need to view internet pages on a mobile, it's worth a look. I've been playing with Opera Mini on my Sony Ericsson for the past month or so, during which time I've used it to catch up with news via BBC News online, monitor football scores, check up on the home page and even make changes to PCA online stories via our content management system. Plus, since an update at the start of the month, you can now view web pages in landscape as well as portrait modes.

Is this a realistic competitor to the mobile internet features of Apple's iPhone? Definitely not, but it does give Opera a niche in low-end handsets. And judging by the comments on the PC Advisor forums today, there are as many people happy to stick with outdated phones as there are those desperately waiting for the iPhone's UK release on November 9.