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In Pictures: Smartphones of summer - the 12 hottest handhelds

CIO.com's Al Sacco rounds up the 12 best high-end smartphones available this (northern hemisphere) summer season, from handset makers Samsung, Motorola, Apple, HTC, Nokia and more.

  • There's no shortage of great smartphones available this summer season. Whether you're an iOS fan, Android lover, Windows Phone loyalist, or just looking to give another platform a try, you've got endless options. But the 12 smartphones spotlighted here are the cream of the crop; you can't go wrong with a single one of them.

  • Samsung Galaxy S III Why it's Hot: Samsung owns the Android market, the Galaxy S III is its latest and greatest. With a large, high-res Super AMOLED display, speedy 1.5GHz dual-core processor, Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich OS and tons of unique social sharing features, the Galaxy S III may be THE smartphone to own in summer 2012.

  • Nokia Lumia 900 Why it's Hot: The Lumia 900 is Nokia's top-of-the-line LTE Windows Phone (WP 7.5 Mango), running on AT&T's LTE network. The device is built like a tank, but it's still slim and light. It has 16GB of built-in storage, a 4.3-inch ClearBlack AMOLED display and an 8MP camera with a Carl Zeiss lens. (Note: Windows Phone 8 is expected soon, so if you're in the market for a Windows smartphone, you may want to wait for that new OS.)

  • HTC One X Why it's Hot: HTC's One X smartphone is fast and powerful; it runs on AT&T's LTE network, and it packs a 1.5GHz dual-core processor. The One X runs Android v4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, and it has a 4.7-inch Super LCD 2 display (720p), 16GB of built-in storage and an 8MP digital camera. The device also uses Universal Beats Audio technology for high-quality sound when used with compatible headphones.

  • Motorola DROID RAZR MAXX Why It's Hot: Motorola's DROID RAZR MAXX is all about battery life. You'll have no problem making it through a full day on one charge. The device runs on Verizon's LTE network, it has Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich software, and the RAZR MAXX packs a dual-core 1.2GHz processor and a 4.3-inch Super AMOLED display. It also has a mini HDMI-out port so you can mirror your device on a compatible TV or monitor.

  • Apple iPhone 4S Why It's Hot: Apple's iPhone 4S is one of the most popular smartphones on the planet for a reason. The iOS software is great-looking and functional, and iOS apps are plentiful. The iPhone's HD Retina display is glorious. And the voice-activated "personal assistant" Siri can make your life easier. Unfortunately, the iPhone doesn't run on LTE networks, but that's expected to change this fall, so you may want to hold off on an iPurchase until that new device is unveiled.

  • Motorola Atrix HD Why it's Hot: Motorola's Atrix HD smartphone runs on AT&T's LTE network, and it has a 4.5-inch HD ColorBoost Display, a 1.5GHz dual-core processor and an 8MP digital camera. The Atrix HD runs Android v4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, and the device's surface is coated with Kevlar for added durability.

  • HTC Titan II Why it's Hot: The HTC Titan II is a high-end Windows Phone device (WP 7.5 Mango), and it packs a 16MP digital camera. The Titan II has a 4.7-inch WVGA (480x800) display, 16GB of internal storage and it runs on AT&T's LTE network. (Note: Windows Phone 8 is expected to be announced in the not-too-distant future, so if you're in the market for a Windows smartphone, you may want to wait for that new OS.)

  • Samsung Galaxy Nexus Why it's Hot: Samsung's Galaxy Nexus device is the first smartphone to run Google's Android v4.1 Jelly Bean. (Jelly Bean isn't available on all models yet, though. Check out a full list of new features in Jelly Bean here.) The Galaxy Nexus also has a curved HD Contour 4.65-inch Super AMOLED display and a 5MP digital camera.

  • HTC EVO 4G LTE Why it's Hot: The HTC EVO 4G LTE runs on Sprint's speedy LTE network, it has a large 4.7-inch (1280x720) HD display, and it runs Android v4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. It also packs a large, 2000mAh battery, an 8MP digital camera and a 1.5GHz dual-core processor.

  • Sony Xperia Ion Why it's Hot: The Xperia Ion is the first and only LTE smartphone from Sony. The device packs a 1.5GHz dual-core processor and has a large, 4.6-inch HD "Reality Display" powered by Sony's Bravia Engine technology. The Ion has a 12MP digital camera, and the price is right at just $50 (via Sony's online store) with a new service contract. Unfortunately, the device's software can't really match its hardware specs; The Ion still runs Android v2.3 Gingerbread, not v4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich or v4.1 Jelly Bean.

  • HTC DROID INCREDIBLE 4G LTE Why it's Hot: In a world of oversize Android handhelds, the HTC DROID INCREDIBLE stands apart from the pack due to its relatively compact design. Its 4-inch, qHD (960x540) screen isn't too small, though, and it runs Android v4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. The DROID INCREDIBLE 4G LTE also runs on Verizon's 4G network, and it has a 1.2 GHz dual-core processor and an 8MP digital camera.

  • BlackBerry TK 3.0 Discovery Why it's Hot: Okay, so this device is not a real BlackBerry; it's a BlackBerry 10 concept device from Guy Bridges of DigitalHomeBoy.ca. I wanted to include an actual RIM device in this roundup, but unfortunately, the company delayed the release of its next generation BlackBerry 10 OS until early 2012, and none of RIM's in-market BlackBerrys are particularly "hot." Still, if RIM's first BlackBerry 10 handheld looks anything like this, the delayed launch may prove to be a nonissue.

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