Which new smartphone will be summer's first big hit?

Samsung's Galaxy S III, the HTC One X, a new iPhone, or perhaps a sleeper smartphone could wind up being the gadgets we talk about in the months to come.

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Summer smartphone season kicks off this month with CTIA in New Orleans, but the big phone makers have already started revealing the touch-screen goodies they hope will become your latest addiction. I sifted through the recently announced devices and a few that we're still expecting to try and picked the ones most likely to be remembered four months from now -- either as a mega-success, or the tech punch line of summer 2012.

We already know of three blockbuster phones that will be available before most schools are out this month -- Verizon's Droid Incredible 4G LTE from HTC is official; a quad-core Samsung Galaxy S III has been unveiled in Europe and already booked its summer trip to the States we hear, and HTC's flagship Android phone is also here in the form of the HTC One X . Those are the three leading contenders for sweet summer phone of the year, but there's always room for surprises and surprising sleepers.

As always, summer here in North America will get started with Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference, leaving room for an early iPhone 5 debut . There could also be some sort of Nexus bonus at Google I/O later in June.

Finally, there's the possibility that some of the more quirky concept phones out there might break on through to the mainstream. While the Nokia 808 PureView with its 41-megapixel camera isn't slated to be released in North America, perhaps there's an until-now silent majority of cameraphone fanatics craving hard core specs that will clamor for it.

And what about that Asus Padfone we've been hearing about for months that converts into a tablet and then into a laptop with the right docking equipment? Summer's a great time to take a convertible for a spin, after all.

Flip through the slideshow below for my quick takes on the early contenders for top phone of the season.

 

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