The wait for the iPhone 5 is finally over as the latest Apple smartphone hits the shops.

Despite there being rumours of its imminent release since 2011, the iPhone 5 has been launched to pre-order numbers that have left Apple “completely blown away”. Over two million devices were pre-ordered in the first 24 hours.

So is it everything we have been waiting for, or just another gimmicky gadget?

Aesthetically, the iPhone 5 is obviously different from its predecessors, and with a depth of 7.3mm, and now carries the title of the “world’s thinnest smartphone”. Despite boasting a 4 inch screen with 1136 x 640 resolution (326ppi) and 44% colour saturation to allow for richer screen colours, it’s 20% lighter than the iPhone 4 at 112g.

Having a larger screen means access to more apps, including five rows on the home screen, and updated versions of all the built-in apps. Apple is also particularly proud that this model is made entirely of aluminium and glass, saying that it is “unlike anything we, or anyone in the industry, has made before.”

One of the most innovative updates of the iPhone 5 is the inclusion of the new 4G chip which allows access to superfast broadband via the EE networks.

The advance from 3G to 4G technology is expected to be comparable to that of the advance from dial-up to wireless internet connections. The Apple A6 chip being used to achieve this is both more energy efficient (useful when designers are promising an “incredible” battery life of up to 225 standby hours) and 22% smaller than the chips in the earlier models.

However, the one big criticism that Apple now faces is that of the lack of NFC (near field communication) compatibility in the iPhone 5.

NFC allows the phone user to pay for goods and public transport “on the go”, and considering some of the biggest high street banks have spent millions advertising this possible new phone feature, Apple may have missed a trick.

Overall, the iPhone lives up to the incredible hype that surrounds any new Apple release, and more than makes up for the anti-climax that was the rather unimpressive 4s.