Those enough who either don’t want a higher end smartphone or simply can’t afford one know that on your mid to lower-end devices web browsing is a chore. Pages render like crap, it takes forever to open a simple link, etc. Many phones as of late are capable of running some form or another of the Opera browser whether it be the free, almost universal Opera Mini to the more desktop-like Opera Mobile variant. Either way, Opera while not quite the reckoning force it would like to be in the desktop arena is certainly a large force in the mobile sphere.

The iPhone already has an amazing browser with Mobile Safari. But does that mean someone else couldn’t come along and do better? Without a doubt, no. If you haven’t gathered yet, I’m leading to a potential release of Opera on the iPhone platform — if Apple loosens the restrictions that is. Jon von Tetzchner, Opera’s CEO has come forward and announced that his company has already developed a fully working iPhone version of Opera. What isn’t immediately clear however is how this browser works. Is it more like a server side browser which pre-renders and crunches pages like Opera Mini? Or is it a more robust offering akin to the higher-end Opera Mobile? An Opera Mini-esque version would speed up iPhone browsing even more while greatly reducing load on the carriers’ networks. (AT&T turns and takes notice). Meanwhile, a version based off of Opera Mobile would I assume bring many enhancements and functionality that currently lacks in Mobile Safari. I wouldn’t rule out a touched up UI either. So how soon can we expect this?

Don’t get too excited yet folks. Apple’s SDK strictly prohibits any apps from duplicating the functionality of native iPhone apps which means any full, third party browser hasn’t the slightest chance of making it through the ban hammer that is the App Store approval process. When questioned as to if Opera has reached out to Apple, Mr. Tetzchner said that “at the time” (eluding to earlier this past year) the company had not attempted to contact Apple. Have they contacted Apple or even attempted to in the last few weeks or months? That’s anybodies guess. For now, the Opera team is sitting on this fully capable and most likely awesome browser that sadly won’t see the light of day anytime soon — if ever. Still, if Apple does ever open up in that sense, Opera will be right there ready and waiting.

Electric Pig > The Register