Web Exclusive: Shopping for smartphone data plans

(CNN) - With smartphones and tablets topping many holiday wish lists, consumers will be shopping for data plans and service providers to go with them. A new survey ranks the best performers for a variety of tech needs. 

Retailers estimate about 1 in 3 holiday shoppers will buy electronics this year. And 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 smartphone users about their service providers.  The top overall pick for smartphones among the major carriers: 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, U.S. Cellular is on top in this category.  According to the survey, the average American household spent more than 1500 hundred dollars on their smartphones and smartphone service in 2012.

Some users, twice as much.  With unlimited data plans a thing of the past for most carriers, smartphone users can get in the habit of trimming data usage and their bills by using wi-fi.


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