I suspect that xda-developers have something to do with this, but Pocketables Forum member Tosser directed me to the ad-riddled iPmart forum to check out the four Windows Mobile CAB files of the unreleased and much anticipated Opera Mobile 9.5 (build 1126).
I downloaded the VGA version immediately and installed it on my HTC Advantage, all the while wondering whether it would work on my SnapVUE-liberated HTC Shift. I assumed it would, as the liberation turns SnapVUE into full-blown Windows Mobile 6, but since Opera 8.65 doesn’t function as it should (no idea why, as it performs beautifully on the Advantage), I had my doubts.
But as you can see below, my doubts were unwarranted.
Opera Mobile 9.5 looks great and runs pretty well on the Shift’s Windows Mobile component. Its less powerful processor means that performance isn’t as good as it is on the Advantage, which you can see in Matt Miller’s video demo, but it’s better than 8.65, Internet Explorer Mobile, Skyfire, and any other WM browser out there.
Kinetic scrolling is smooth and fast, refocusing after zooming is handled relatively quickly, and rendering is true to the desktop. The browser also supports AJAX (loading the full version of Google Reader requires patience), Flash Lite 3, tabbed browsing, and widgets.
The limited amount of memory in SnapVUE occasionally causes the browser to crash (a soft reset on Vista’s side is required to regain functionality), but allowing a page to load completely, without interruption, usually prevents any problems.
Having a browser this capable and enjoyable to use in SnapVUE greatly extends the Shift’s battery life because firing up Vista just to launch a desktop browser becomes less necessary.