Will summer 2010 be viewed as the timeframe with the most intense battle in the ongoing smartphone wars? Maybe. All four major U.S. wireless carriers are digging in with the newest and coolest smartphones, and an all out battle is on.

There’s good reason for a fight. Smartphone growth is explosive. Smartphone sales represented 17% of all cell phone sales globally in 1Q10, according to Gartner. Within the U.S. market, that number is even higher – 29% of all cell phone sales in the past six months (as of March 2010) were smartphones. That share is expected to rise significantly, with Nielsen predicting that by the end of 2011, one out of every two cell phones sold in the U.S. will be of the smartphone variety.

So what’s the latest line up? We’re all aware of the iPhone craze, and today marks the launch of the iPhone 4, the latest iteration of Apple and AT&T’s smartphone juggernaut. Verizon made news yesterday with their latest contender – the Droid X by Motorola – which is an Android powered smartphone. Sprint made news earlier this month with the launch of the first WiMAX handset – the HTC EVO. And the latest contender is yet to be announced, but T-Mobile is in the midst of a marketing campaign  called T-mobile Clue, which many believe will reveal their latest smartphone entry – the Samsung Vibrant. We’ve provided links below that offer more detail for each of the 2010 summer smartphone war contenders:

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Apple iPhone 4 (AT&T) Motorola Droid X (Verizon) HTC EVO (Sprint) Samsung Vibrant (T-Mobile rumor, specs are for similar Samsung Galaxy device)

So that’s the line-up for the large nationwide carriers. What about smaller regional and rural carriers? Unfortunately for them, the line-up is smaller and less exclusive. Android smartphones probably represent the best smartphone option – at least among the new, cool set – for smaller carriers. The tried and proven BlackBerry platform is also an option for many.

Even some smaller rural carriers are doing their best to keep up with the smartphone trend. Mosaic Mobile, a rural Wisconsin carrier offers the Google Nexus One. Mosaic Mobile CEO Rick Vergin tells me, for Mosaic, “… it’s actually easier for us to get smartphones than it is for us to get more basic phones.” Mosaic is a unique circumstance, thanks to their AWS wireless network, which basically follows whatever T-Mobile is doing and their access to the Android powered Nexus One opens doors for other AWS based carriers.

It should be an interesting battle to watch unfold.

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