Apple has once again executed its perfect strategy: an underwhelming phone that will still sell in record numbers. But is it failing its fans?

The immediate response to the iPhone 5 has been one we've seen time and again: is that it? Scream the naysayers, only to see it sell in record numbers.

And I've no doubt we'll see the same thing here, millions upon millions of iPhone sold and Cook proclaiming that this is 'the most successful smartphone of all time'.

iPhone 5 review

And sure, there are reasons it deserves the accolade. It's the thinnest out there. It's well-designed and packs the most well-stocked app store on the planet.

The game has changed

But we're not sitting here in 2008, witnessing the launch of the game-changing iPhone 3G with no real competition. We're in 2012, where there are at least three other phones on the market that match the iPhone 5 for specs and at a much lower cost.

Take the Samsung Galaxy S3 – quad core power, larger screen and £130 cheaper to buy. Or the Nokia Lumia 920, with a screen that's as high-res as the iPhone 5 but comes with more advanced camera technology and a fresh interface through Windows Phone 8.

There will be those that sniff at such options, stating that the iOS ecosystem is perfectly good enough for them and the iPhone 5 is the best device to show off that platform yet.

And they're right – this is the best iPhone yet without a shadow of a doubt. But what's so special about it beyond a slightly larger screen and a two tone back? The processor is a bit more efficient and snappy and it will work on the 4G networks when they emerge later this year, but it's still running the same tired OS we've seen time and again – iOS 6 is essentially the same as it was in 2007 with a few more bells and whistles.

iPhone 5 review

I've got nothing against what Apple is up to in the smartphone game – I'd have to be pretty arrogant/foolish to claim to be smarter than the world's most valuable company – but if Samsung or HTC brought out a phone that was the same shape as the predecessor and then followed it up with the same thing but a bit longer and with new headphones, it would be dismissed as an also-ran before the handset hit the shelves.

We all know Apple can convince the world that the same is good when it needs to, and that slight upgrades are all that's needed. But if it doesn't bring out something as impressive as the iPhone 4 soon – which genuinely married up the best technology with superior design – then Apple could start having a problem convincing the world that it knows best when it comes to telling iFans which phone they should be craving.

Our hands on: iPhone 5 review stated: "But, in truth, Apple will be well aware that it doesn't need to reinvent the wheel to succeed"... it would be nice if it tried once in a while though.