It's been a busy couple of weeks for Apple and its fans. Last week, the iconic US tech firm launched its latest handset, the iPhone 5, with the initial apprehension surrounding the slightly pedestrian 12 September launch slowing evolving into generally positive reviews in the course of the last nine days.
Of course, today was the day we were all really waiting for, and this morning the iPhone 5 hit shelves more or less as planned – except in Osaka, Japan, where thieves are reported to have relieved several Apple outlets of their new-gen smartphone booty overnight, scuppering the hopes and dreams of myriad fanboys in the land of the rising sun.
In the UK, eager consumers in London have been camping out for the last week to ensure they get the most recent iPhone in their trouser pouch at the first available opportunity, and all signs point to a similar level of frenzy across the globe. Having said that, it's also probable that some people just aren't as turned on by Apple's newest handset as they thought they would be - Android fans in particular are unlikely to see anything defection-worthy in the latest offering from Messrs Cook, Schiller, and Ive.
With many mobile enthusiasts indicating that they have been waiting to examine the iPhone 5 before deciding on their next mobile purchase, there's scarcely been a more prudent time to spare a thought for the other excellent smartphones on the market circa 2012
And there are many legitimate reasons not to be totally in awe of the new iPhone. It could be the fact that the new native Maps app on iOS 6 just plain sucks. Perhaps it's the apparent lack of a quad-core processor. Or maybe it's the failure to build-in NFC technology to the device. Whatever your reason for contemplating spurning the iPhone 5, fear not, honest punter: we've summarised the top five iPhone 5 alternatives to make your decision process as pain-free as possible.
HTC Windows Phone 8X
Kicking things off, the just-revealed HTC Windows Phone 8X has the potential to move closer to the top of many people's iPhone 5 alternatives list very, very quickly. Like Apple's new handset, the 8X's screen isn't at the extreme end of the mobile spectrum, measuring a seemingly well-considered 4.3in. But overall, its display should best Apple's famed Retina offering, boasting an iPhone-beating 1280 x 720 pixel resolution with a density of 342 PPI - potentially making for the sharpest picture quality on the market.
In the engine room, the 8X sports a dual-core Qualcomm chipset that clocks at 1.5GHz, and should make for speedy performance and a top-notch gaming experience. Camera-wise, it's positioned as a genuine rival to the Lumia 920, featuring a super-fast f/2.0 aperture as well as a 2.1-megapixel front-facing camera that seemingly top of its class.
It's not an undisputed world beater, however, with the biggest concern at this stage being whether or not it will feature on the UK's new super-fast 4G LTE spectrum when it is rolled out by EE in the coming weeks and months. Consumers hungry for a bumper amount of internal storage may also want to look elsewhere: the 8X is only slated to come in a 16GB iteration and, with no microSD slot, that's all you're going to be able to fit on it.
That said, its a pretty appealing overall proposition given its top-notch photography features and stellar display - not to mention the ridiculously humble £399 pre-order price tag it has been anointed with. Windows Phone 8 might still be seen as a bit of a gamble with regards to software, but for us, the HTC Windows Phone 8X is a calculated risk worth taking.
Galaxy Note 2
The Galaxy Note 2 emerged as the wild card of our iPhone 5 alternative brainstorming session. At 5.5in, Samsung's flagship "phablet" is a love it or hate it affair. In our opinion, you can gain an impressive amount in the way of spec and functionality with the larger form factor Note 2, but only if you can cope with pegging such a gargantuan device to your cranium every time you want to make a call.
Its quadcore processor clocks in at an impressive 1.6GHz, while its battery is a ludicirous (for the smartphone market, at least) 3100 mAh, so an average user won't really have to worry about battery life on a day-to-day basis, provided they have access to charging facilities every night.
Moreover, RAM on the Note 2 stands at 2GB where most high-end smartphones only offer 1GB, and yes, it comes 4G LTE and NFC-ready as well.
With an Android 4.1 Jelly Bean pre-load to boot, there's no doubt it's an impressive gadget - it's just a shame you can't really fit it into your pocket. Unfortunately, it's also one of the few devices on our list to go toe-to-toe with Apple's new iPhone on monetary terms, with a speculative pre-order asking price of £545. Still, if a device with the best possible capabilities is what you're after, then this particular hybrid love child from Samsung may well be the device for you.
HTC One X
The HTC One X is a standardly attractive iPhone 5 rival, which - if marginally less eye popping at first glance than the Lumia 920 or Galaxy S3 - is a serious option that matches the new Apple handset in most respects and betters it in some. Its 4.7in display boasts an iPhone-bettering resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels, while its quad-core Nvidia Tegra processor clocks at 1.5GHz, making it a market front runner in terms of speed.
It's also got the benefit of coming NFC-ready, and also looks impressive from a photography angle, posting a Lumia 920-rivalling f/2.0 aperture speed to pimp its now standard issue 8MP primary snapper.
With regards to operating systems, it's a straight up Android/iOS battle, coming pre-loaded with version 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich of Google's mobile OS where the new iPhone runs the latest Apple software, iOS 6.
A lack of 4G LTE support is an obvious negative at this stage, but a Jelly Bean update is pegged for October for the One X, making the slimline HTC handset arguably superior in software terms, even if it does lack the iPhone 5's new-gen network connectivity.
Indeed, if prices of iPhone 5 rivals continue to drop in a bid to nick sales off of Apple as is widely expected – the best SIM-free One X pricing right now looks to be somewhere near the £379.99 tag (including nearly £40 worth of accessories) being flouted by Expansys at the moment, and we wouldn't be a bit surprised to see it offered for considerably less in the near future.
Nokia Lumia 920
Is the Nokia Lumia 920 a slightly contentious pick as the second best iPhone 5 alternative? Given the fact that the quad-core handset hasn't even been given a release date yet, we'd understand if you thought so.
That said, if the Lumia 920 isn't one of the best smartphones we've ever seen when it's released later in the year, we'll happily eat our ultrabook.
It more than matches up to the iPhone 5, featuring an Apple-eating resolution of 1280 x 768 pixels at a lipsmackingly rich 332 PPI, and while its 4.5in display isn't quite as radically expansive as that of the Samsung Galaxy S3 - wonder where that handset might be ranked, don't you? - there's still a fair bit more screen space to play with than on the 4in offering from the iconic Cupertino-based firm.
Yet it is camera features that look like really setting the Lumia 920 apart from the competition, with photography capabilities rapidly emerging as Nokia's super-effective ambush attack in the smartphone war.
Indeed, the Lumia 920 will feature arguably the most impressive image capturing package on the market, rocking an 8.7-megapixel snapper compared to the 8-megapixel primary camera offered on the iPhone 5 and virtually every other high-end smartphone on the market today. What's more, the Lumia 920 comes with a Carl Zeiss lens, f/2.0 aperture speed, and über-attractive optical image stabilisation - still a real rarity in the smartphone camera sphere these days.
Sure, it's a bit on the chunky side, but then so is an iPhone 5 once you've slapped a Mophie juice pack on it to help it last beyond the morning commute. The Lumia 920, on the other hand, has a 2000 mAh battery, or two hours more claimed 3G talk time than Apple's new mobile.
4G LTE, NFC, wireless charging? It's all there. As with the HTC Windows Phone 8X, if you are happy getting your head around Microsoft's new mobile OS, then the Nokia Lumia 920 might not just be the second or third best mobile phone on the market – it may well be the best.
Samsung Galaxy S3
You'd have to be a modern day Luddite not to know that Samsung's flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S3, is the iPhone 5's main rival. Both devices offer a high level of smart functionality, but the quad-core Galaxy S3 boasts a number of extra features that the iPhone 5 doesn't offer.
These include a microSD slot for easy and affordable memory expansion, and NFC technology to power the latest in contactless payment. Then there's the S3's vastly superior battery life, which bests the new iPhone by some four hours, according to the 3G talk time claimed by the respective manufacturers. It's not quite as svelte as the iPhone 5, of course, but it's still a super-slim handset at 8.6mm and many people love it's ultra-expansive 4.8in display.
Given that iOS 6 is striking some people as a bit of a flop, the fact that the S3 comes pre-loaded with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and is expected to update to Jelly Bean in the immediate future is another massive selling point.
In addition to boasting superb specs and top-notch software, the Galaxy S3 is also the world's pre-eminent iPhone 5 rival for one final reason: it's cheaper. What once retailed SIM-free for £499.99 is now closing in on a breach of the £400 mark, with MobiCity UK offering Samsung's flagship mobile for £409.95.
The arrival of the iPhone 5 is set to see the Galaxy S3's price tumble even further, and the iPhone 5 is aggressively priced to say the least, maxing out at £699 for the 64GB model. It's no small wonder that up until 21 September, 2012 has been the Galaxy S3's year. For many people, it always will be.