Not everyone was happy with Apple’s seemingly lackadaisical approach to last year’s iPhone 4S. Sure, the device sold in the millions, but it largely felt like it didn’t push the handset forward. There was Siri, an improved camera, and faster internals. Otherwise, what else can the iPhone 4S say for itself? Not a whole lot, especially compared to some of the Android devices we’ve seen recently.

That’s why Apple’s iPhone 5 release is such a big deal. In the months since the previous iPhone hit, the Cupertino company has decided it’s time to go bigger. And thinner, and lighter. This is supposed to be the best iPhone Apple has ever built, and by all accounts it lives up to the massive expectations. But the competition out there is more fierce than it’s ever been — and even bigger and better devices are on deck to come out soon.

Refinement has been Apple’s game over the past several years — just look at the iPad — and the iPhone 5 is without a doubt one of the company’s biggest ever product releases. Will the device’s improved specs — A6 chip, bigger screen, unibody build, thinner and lighter frame — be enough to stay atop the smartphone heap? We can’t wait to find out.

Apple iPhone 5 Gallery: