Sprint(s S) sold 1.8 million iPhones(s AAPL) in the last three months of 2011, or just a quarter of the number of iPhones that AT&T(s T) did in that same period. But it’s actually good news for the nation’s third-largest carrier, which announced its quarterly earnings Wednesday.
That’s because of the 1.8 million iPhones the carrier sold, 40 percent of them went to new customers that came to the carrier for the iPhone. We knew the iPhone was fairly popular on Sprint’s network — the carrier sold out of its stock of the iPhone 4S the first day it was available back in October.
Although 1.8 million iPhones may pale in comparison to its competitors, it was Sprint’s first quarter selling the iPhone, after all. AT&T sold 7.6 million iPhones during the quarter, but the carrier had a nearly four-year head start on Sprint. Verizon(s vz)(s vod), meanwhile, sold 4.2 million iPhones last quarter.
While new customers may be coming in the door, it’s still costing Spring some extra dough. The carrier said Wednesday that the costs of subsidies it paid during the quarter went up from $1.2 billion to $1.7 billion in the last year, which was “primarily due to the launch of the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S, which on average carry a higher subsidy rate per handset as compared to other handsets.”