SLIDESHOW

2011's Most Intriguing Summer Smartphones

Take a look at the eight of the most interesting devices on the smartphone summer blockbuster list.

Summer Smartphones – What Are This Year's Potential Hits?

It's summertime, when the living is easy for everyone except nervous device manufacturers who are pushing their high-end smartphones to market and praying they score a hit. This year's most interesting contenders include new offerings from smartphone up-and-comers Sony Ericsson, HP and LG, as well as new devices from the smartphone industry's big guns such as Apple, HTC, Motorola and Nokia. In this slideshow we'll take you through which of this year's devices are most likely to be hits and which ones, despite being interesting, are most likely to flop.

HTC Sensation 4G

Carrier: T-Mobile
Operating system: Android 2.3 ("Gingerbread")

Why it's relevant: Purely from a specifications perspective, the Sensation 4G is the most impressive phone T-Mobile has ever supported. How impressive, you ask? Start with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 1.2GHz processor, add in a 4.3-inch screen with a resolution of 540x960 pixels, an 8 megapixel camera and 1080p HD video capture and you've got one of the strongest overall devices on the smartphone market. PC World's Ginny Mies best summed up the virtues of the Sensation 4G by dubbing it a "beautiful, dual-core beast."

Nokia N9

Carrier: None yet
Operating system: MeeGo

Why it's relevant: At the very least, this device could become a high-end collector's item. That's because it is the first - and likely the last - Nokia phone to run on the MeeGo platform. Nokia is in a period of transition between releasing phones based on the Symbian operating system and devices based on Microsoft's Windows Phone. The MeeGo-based N9 is an impressive in-between device that may provide some clues about what Nokia Windows phones will look like in the near future. The device has seemingly incorporated some of the better features of Palm's webOS and RIM's BlackBerry PlayBook operating system, as it has no home button and instead relies on a swipe-based system to switch between apps and return to the home screen.

Sony Ericsson Xperia Active

Carrier: None yet
Operating system: Android 2.3 ("Gingerbread")

Why it's relevant: This phone wasn't designed for geeky shut-ins - instead, it was designed for geeky workout warriors! Sony is selling this Android-based smartphone with several accessories, including headphones, a wrist strap and an arm case to help you stay attached to the phone while you're working out. Most intriguingly, the phone is apparently designed to withstand getting hit with gobs of sweat, as Sony says it "can be kept under 1m of water for 30 minutes" without breaking! The device's other specs, including a 3-inch screen with a 320x480-pixel resolution and a 5 megapixel camera, are fine but not along the lines of today's top-end phones.

HTC EVO 3D

Carrier: Sprint
Operating system: Android 2.3 ("Gingerbread")

What it's relevant: The original EVO 4G, released by Sprint last year, was the first WiMAX-based phone in the U.S. and became a solid hit for the carrier. Sprint is trying to replicate that success this year with the EVO 3D model. The HTC Evo 3G smartphone's major appeal, as you might have guessed, is its ability to take three-dimensional pictures and videos that can be easily shared over the Web. The device accomplishes this feat by coming loaded with two 5.0 megapixel cameras that film at the same time and render images and videos in 3D on your touchscreen. In addition to the dual 5.0 megapixel cameras, the phone's other specs are equally impressive: a 1.2GHz Snapdragon dual-core processor, a 4.3-inch QHD screen and WiMAX connectivity.

LG Thrill 4G

Carrier: AT&T
Operating system: Android 2.3 ("Gingerbread")

Why it's relevant: Oh, look! It's another Android-based phone with dual 5 megapixel cameras capable of shooting in 3D! The main differences between the Thrill and the Evo 3D is that the Thrill is made by LG (and thus has LG's own version of the Android interface), it runs on AT&T's network and it has slightly less processing power (a 1GHz dual-core processor). Other than that, the Thrill 4G and the Evo 3D feature many of the same bells and whistles.

Motorola Photon

Carrier: Sprint
Operating system: Android 2.3 ("Gingerbread")

Why it's relevant: Sprint and Motorola are showcasing this device as the two companies' symbol of renewed devotion to working together, as it is one of 10 Motorola devices scheduled to come out on Sprint this year. The Photon 4G is essentially a new-and-improved version of the Motorola Atrix 4G that debuted on AT&T earlier this year. Like the Atrix, the Photon 4G has a dual-core NVDIA Tegra 2 dual-core 1GHz processor and comes packaged with the Motorola webtop application that gives the phone the ability to plug into a laptop dock and display its screen on a computer monitor, as well as the ability to interact with a full keyboard.

HP Veer

Carrier: AT&T
Operating system: webOS

Why it's relevant: OK, so at first this smartphone may not seem like much - its display screen is only 2.6 inches with a 320x400-pixel resolution, its processor only clocks in at 800MHz and it only features a 5 megapixel camera. But the Veer 4G is only a preview of what's to come from HP smartphones, as the HP crew has been busy making improvements on Palm's webOS operating system including improved multitasking and support for Adobe Flash. You may not be blown away by the HP Veer at first, but it could be worth playing around with to see if you like the changes to webOS.

The iPhone 5

Carrier: AT&T, Verizon and maybe more
Operating system: iOS

Why it's relevant: It's the iPhone. What else do you need to know? The latest version of the ever-popular smartphone champion will apparently drop in September, it will be "teardrop"-shaped (i.e., it will be thick at the top and thin out toward the bottom), and it may be available on more than just Verizon and AT&T. As usual, Network World's own John Cox can keep you abreast on all the rumors. There is one certainty about the new iPhone, however: Lots and lots and lots and lots (and lots and lots) of people will buy it.

We Want To Hear From You

Do you have a favorite new summer smartphone? Or do you only have eyes for the iPhone? Let us know in the comments!

Top 15 Android Apps For Smartphone Shutterbugs

Smartphone OS shootout: Android vs. iOS vs. Windows Phone

A brief history of smartphones