Apple has approved an iPhone version of Opera Mini and the free browser is now available for download from the App Store.

In February Opera announced that it was completing work on a version of its browser for the iPhone and that it planned to submit it to Apple for approval and distribution. The move was widely seen as risky, since Apple has, in the past, been non-committal on whether browsers that aren't built on Mobile Safari's underlying technology would be allowed on its iPhone OS platform.

However, Opera Mini had several things going for it: for example, it's not a fully-fledged client-side app, relying instead on Opera's own server-side functionality to handle much of the content rendering and manipulation tasks, including interpreting and executing JavaScript code, which would otherwise be against App Store policies.

Opera's announcement that it has submitted the browser to Apple for approval on March 23 was, unsurprisingly, met with a fair amount of scepticism; in a bit of App Store mockery, the company even set up a web page to keep track of the amount of time during which the app had been in the approval process. The final tally: a little less than three weeks.

A free download, Opera Mini works on all iPhone OS devices running version 2.2.1 of the operating system or higher. In our initial tests, we found Opera Mini faster than the Apple Safari browser that comes preinstalled on the iPhone. Loading up the full version of our website, complete with graphics, took 6.65 seconds, compared with 19.75 seconds using Safari.

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Opera Mini browser for iPhone

Opera Mini browser for iPhone