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AT&T sells 700,000 more iPhones in Q3 2011 than rival Verizon, but Big Red gains

Verizon and AT&T, the only two U.S. carriers to sport the iPhone prior to the iPhone 4S (when Sprint joined the party), announced their latest quarterly results on Friday and Thursday, respectively, and the results were interesting.

AT&T

AT&T's quarterly results were announced on Thursday. The carrier said that it activated 2.7 million iPhones in Q3 of 2011. As far as the iPhone 4S, the nation's second largest carrier said it has activated more than 1 million iPhone 4S units since it launched last Friday.

Meanwhile, the company announced that sales of Android devices had more than doubled year-over-year. Along with "other non-iPhone smartphones," those sales are approaching half of all smartphone sales (4.8 million all-told) at the carrier, showing higher consumer interest in non-iOS smartphones.

In addition, AT&T passed 100 million total subscribers, saying it saw an increase of 2.1 million subscribers, with gains in every customer category.

Revenues for AT&T's wireless division were up 2.8 percent to $15.6 billion, with by an 18 percent increase in wireless data revenues, as the the number of customers with data plans increased by 16.5 percent over last year, as smartphone adoption rises. Wireless data revenue totaled $5.6 billion.

In terms of earnings, the company saw $0.61 diluted earnings per share (EPS) compared to $2.07 diluted EPS in the third quarter of 2010 and $0.54 when excluding one-time gains in the year-ago quarter.

Verizon

Remember that Verizon is more than just the nation's No. 1 wireless carrier (which is where the word "consolidated" comes from in its results.

That said, for the three-month span ending in September, Verizon sold a total of two million iPhones. Indeed that fell 700,000 short of AT&T's number, but it's a significant improvement. In July, numbers crunchers would have noted that AT&T activated 1.3 million more iPhones during its June quarter than Verizon.

Unlike AT&T and Sprint, Verizon declined to give early iPhone 4S numbers, which wouldn't be included in the Q3 2011 results, anyway.

In Q3 2011, Verizon's total operating revenues were $27.9 billion on a consolidated basis. This is a year-over-year increase of 5.4 percent compared with Q3 2010. In terms of EPS, Verizon reported $0.49 per share, compared with $0.23 per share in Q3 2010.

Interestingly, "more than half" of its device sales were of Android devices. That could have been at least partially driven by LTE sales, although only about 1.4 million (or 25 percent of its total 5.6 million in smartphone sales) of those were in its LTE device catalog.

It's possible that customers have been noting frequent references to decreased battery life on LTE devices, and are eschewing them until the second generation chipsets show up.

All in all, a good quarter for the nation's No. 1 and No. 2 wireless carriers.

Sprint's Q3 2011 results are set for Oct. 26. We'd actually be more interested in next quarter's Sprint results, when the nation's third largest carrier can include iPhone 4 and 4S results.