Smartphones of summer: The 12 hottest handhelds

CIO.com's Al Sacco rounds up the 12 best high-end smartphones available this summer from Samsung, Motorola, Apple, HTC, and Nokia

smartphones
The cream of the crop

There's no shortage of great smartphones available this summer season. Whether you're an iOS fan, Android lover, or Windows Phone loyalist, or if you're 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.

Check out how the top business-oriented smartphones compare, as well as the top business-oriented tablets at InfoWorld.com.

Samsung Galaxy S III
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.

U.S. availability and pricing: The Galaxy S III is available through all major U.S. wireless carriers. Pricing varies, but most carriers offer the 16GB device for $200 with new, two-year contract. (T-Mobile's charges $280.) A 32GB model is available at select carriers.

Find more information on Samsung's website, or read "Samsung Galaxy S III: 8 key features and facts" or InfoWorld's review.

Nokia Lumia 900
Nokia Lumia 900

Why it's hot: The Lumia 900 is Nokia's top-of-the-line Windows Phone running 7.5 "Mango" on AT&T's LTE network. It's built like a tank but is still slim and light. It has 16GB of 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 you may want to wait for that new OS, which will not run on current Windows Phones.)

U.S. availability and pricing: The Lumia 900 is an AT&T exclusive and costs $50 with new, two-year contract.

Find more information on Nokia's website, or read "Lumia 900: Why it's the best Windows Phone" or InfoWorld's review.

HTC One X
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 4.0 "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.

U.S. availability and pricing: The HTC One X is an AT&T exclusive and costs $200 with a new, two-year contract.

Find more information on HTC's website or at ATT.com.

Motorola Droid Razr Maxx
Motorola Droid Razr Maxx

Why it's hot: Motorola Mobility'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" OS, and it packs a dual-core 1.2GHz processor and a 4.3-inch Super AMOLED display. It also has a mini-HDMI port so you can mirror your device to a compatible TV or monitor.

U.S. availability and pricing: The Droid Razr Maxx is a Verizon Wireless exclusive and costs $300 with a new, two-year contract.

Find more information on Verizon's website, or read "Why Motorola's Droid Razr Maxx is the Best Android" or InfoWorld's review.

Apple iPhone 4S
Apple iPhone 4S

Why it's hot: Apple's iPhone 4S is one of the most popular smartphones on the planet for a reason. iOS is great-looking and functional, and apps are plentiful. The iPhone's high-def Retina display is glorious. And the voice-activated 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 delay an iPhone purchase until that new device is unveiled.

U.S. availability and pricing: The iPhone 4S is available through AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon Wireless, and it comes in 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB versions for $199, $299, and $399, respectively, with a new, two-year contract.

Find more information at Apple.com or read InfoWorld's review.

Motorola Atrix HD
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 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich," and the device's surface is coated with Kevlar for added durability.

U.S. availability and pricing: The Motorola Atrix HD is an AT&T exclusive and costs $100 with a new, two-year contract.

Find more information on Motorola's website or at ATT.com.

HTC Titan II
HTC Titan II

Why it's hot: The HTC Titan II is a high-end Windows Phone 7.5 "Mango" device that packs a 16MP digital camera. The Titan II has a 4.7-inch WVGA (480x800) display and 16GB of internal storage, and it runs on AT&T's LTE network. (Note: Windows Phone 8 is expected to ship this fall, so if you're in the market for a Windows smartphone, you may want to wait for that new OS, which will not run on current Windows Phones.)

U.S. availability and pricing: The HTC Titan II is an AT&T exclusive and costs $200 with a new, two-year contract.

Find more information on HTC's website or at ATT.com.

Samsung Galaxy Nexus
Samsung Galaxy Nexus

Why it's hot: Samsung's Galaxy Nexus device is the first smartphone to run Google's Android 4.1 "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.

U.S. availability and pricing: An unlocked HSPA+ Galaxy Nexus (16GB), which is compatible with the AT&T and T-Mobile networks, is available through Google for $350. The LTE Galaxy Nexus (32GB) costs $100 through Sprint and $150 through Verizon, both with new two-year contracts.

Find more information on Google's website, Sprint.com, or VerizonWireless.com, or read InfoWorld's review.

HTC Evo 4G LTE
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 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich." It also packs a large, 2000mAh battery, an 8MP digital camera, and a 1.5GHz dual-core processor.

U.S. availability and pricing: The HTC Evo 4G LTE is a Sprint exclusive and costs $200 with a new, two-year contract.

Find more information on HTC's website or at Sprint.com.

Sony Xperia Ion
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 high-df "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 contract. Unfortunately, the device's software can't really match its hardware specs; The Ion still runs Android 2.3 "Gingerbread," not 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich" or 4.1 "Jelly Bean."

U.S. availability and pricing: Sony's Xperia Ion is available through Sony for $50 and from AT&T for $100 with a new, two-year contract.

Find more information on Sony's website or on ATT.com.

HTC DROID INCREDIBLE 4G LTE
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 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich." The Droid Incredible 4G LTE also runs on Verizon's 4G network, and it has a 1.2GHz dual-core processor and an 8MP digital camera.

U.S. availability and pricing: The HTC Droid Incredible 4G LTE is a Verizon Wireless; the 8GB version costs $150 with a new, two-year contract.

Find more information on HTC's website and VerizonWireless.com.

BlackBerry TK 3.0 Discovery
BlackBerry Discovery concept

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 2013, and none of RIM's current 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.

U.S. availability and pricing: Never. This is just a concept rendering of a really cool-looking smartphone.

Find more information at DigitalHomeBoy.ca. Read InfoWorld's review of the current BlackBerry Bold 9900.