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The latest version of the Opera Mobile Web browser has just been released in testing mode. And hard as it was to tear myself away from my shiny new iPhone 3G, I have to admit Opera’s looking pretty good.

Version 9.5’s biggest improvement lies in how Opera Mobile shows a Web page — it now defaults to showing the full page, then allows you to move around and zoom in as desired. This was already included in the latest version of Opera Mini (the lightweight version of Opera Mobile), and a similar feature helped create the excitement about Apple’s mobile Safari browser when the iPhone launched last year. (If you look at the new layout, pictured above, it’s quite similar to Safari’s.) But the fact that Opera Mobile is getting on board with full-page Web browsing continues the trend toward a “mobile Web” that’s just as good as the Internet you access on your computer. And this feature makes more sense for Opera Mobile, since it works on higher-end mobile devices (namely, Windows PDAs and S60 smartphones) than Opera Mini does.

Oslo, Norway-based Opera Software says Opera Mobile 9.5 is also faster, and more friendly to developers. The Dragonfly developer tool set is now officially cross-platform, making it easier to debug an application on a mobile device.

Since this is a test release, there are still some kinks that need to be worked out. For example, Opera Mobile normally works on both the Windows Mobile and Symbian operating systems, but version 9.5 only supports Windows Mobile. Also, ActiveX is disabled, so Flash plugins and embedded videos won’t work. But presumably all of those problems will be fixed once this version leaves testing mode.

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