Despite being the obvious choice for WinMo browsing, Opera Mobile 9.5 is far from perfect. That said, the next release, due in a few months, might even put the likes of Mobile Safari to shame.

How's that, exactly? For one, Flash Lite will be supported, opening up a plethora of previously inaccessible streaming video sites. Google Gears will provide offline Google web apps and better performance, competing with the upcoming Offline Gmail feature bound for WebKit-based browsers. OpenGL ES hardware acceleration will add a missing fluidity to movements, assuming your phone has 3D hardware and drivers (like most HTC handsets). Most importantly, 9.7 will have the option to connect to Opera Turbo, the content compression service used in Opera Mini, which does a lot to knock down loading times for a small sacrifice in image quality.

Fans of Skyfire might notice that these features—excluding Gears—are all available on their browser already. True! But one thing isn't: proper VGA and WVGA support, which prevents it from being usable on every desirable Windows Mobile phone, period. So basically, this is very good news. [Opera Mobile via Information Week]