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By Jim Donovan

By Jim Donovan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — With smartphones and tablets topping many holiday wish lists, consumers will be shopping for data plans and service providers to go with them. 3 On Your Side Consumer Reporter Jim Donovan tells us about a new survey that ranks the best performers for a variety of tech needs.

Retailers estimate about one-in-three holiday shoppers will buy electronics this year. While it’s not as exciting as tearing the wrapping paper off a new gadget, consumers need to research service providers and data plans for those devices too.

Consumer Reports recently surveyed more than 63,000 smart phone users about their service providers. The top overall pick for smartphones among the major carriers was Verizon, followed by Sprint and T-Mobile.

For devices with 4G capability, however, users seemed to fare best with AT&T.

If the whole family is getting a smartphone or tablet this holiday season, consider a shared plan. In the Consumer Reports survey, US Cellular is on top in this category.

According to the survey, the average American household spent more than $1,500 on their smartphones and smartphone service in 2012. For some users, it was twice as much.

With unlimited data plans a thing of the past for most carriers, smartphone users can get into the habit of trimming data usage and their bills by using Wi-Fi for video streams, video calls, video uploads, music streams and online games.

For more information, visit: www.consumerreports.org/cro/cell-phones-services/buying-guide.htm

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