I never understood why most people stick with their stock mobile web browsers, especially when there are some truly inspired third-party browsers available. On the iPad and iPhone, iCab Mobile didn’t just beat Safari in offering real tabs, but it allows a slew of other features, like Evernote and Pinterest plugins, full-screen browsing and more.

For Android, the most compelling reason to switch may have just arrived a few weeks ago: Opera claims its new Opera Mini 7 can save up to 90 percent of data bandwidth. This is great news for penny pinchers nervously eyeing their caps.

Notably, Opera intercepts and compresses the heck out of web data and images before delivering them to mobiles. It might seem like a roundabout way to do things, and some people won’t like the thought of having their browsing content shuttled around like this. But others won’t care. It appears seamless, thanks in part to OM 7’s nifty new hardware acceleration, which delivers a speedy experience for things like rendering, zooming and scrolling pages. I haven’t conducted the performance tests myself, but anecdotally, it seems like this browser might even be faster than the native Android browser. That it can do this while saving so much in mobile broadband, well that’s simply incredible. And it’s a looker, too. Opera Mini 7 has the same UI as big brother Opera Mobile, with tabbed browsing, Speed Dial for favorite sites, offline pages, pinch-to-zoom and kinetic scrolling.

There’s a lot to love about this. But it’s worth noting that Adobe Flash isn’t supported, so if you tend to view a lot of Flash content, you’ll have to go running back to the stock browser for it. And, as mentioned, you’d have to be okay with your web content being funneled through Opera servers. But if you’re fine with that, then there’s a lot of potential for a fast, lightweight app that can help ease the load for frequent internet users.

Do you use a third-party app, or do you prefer your native browser? Tell us about your preferred way to wander the mobile webs in the comments.

[via GigaOm, source Opera Mini 7 on Google Play]