Well, now we know where a bunch of those iPhones that Apple sold went. AT&T revealed it activated 7.6 million iPhones last quarter. That easily bests Verizon’s 4.2 million iPhone activations over the same period.
AT&T says the majority of iPhones activated were the iPhone 4S (the carrier sells that model as well as the iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS). The number of activations was the largest in any quarter since it started carrying the phone back in 2007.
Touting a “superior customer experience,” AT&T says its iPhone 4S was helped by faster download speeds than those on Verizon or Sprint. The carrier isn’t just blowing smoke. The HSPA+ network the AT&T iPhone runs on does have faster theoretical performance that the EV-DO networks of its competitors, though real-world speeds vary greatly.
AT&T had an exclusive hold on the iPhone in the U.S. until the January 2011 release of the Verizon iPhone. That legacy gives it the advantage of having the iPhone 3GS (which has hardware that cannot run on the networks of Verizon and Sprint), not to mention an entrenched user base tied to the carrier with two-year contracts.
The 7.6 million iPhone activations didn’t leave much room for other models and platforms. AT&T activated 9.4 million smartphones total, so Android, Windows Phone, RIM, and everyone else got just 1.8 million activations.
Despite beating Verizon in the iPhone race, AT&T posted a loss. It was more than $6.6 billion in the red this quarter, partly due to a one-time charge because of the scuttling of its takeover of T-Mobile. And while it added some subscribers to boost its total number to 103.2 million customers, Verizon added more and has 108.7 million.
We’ll get the full picture of the first quarter with three U.S. iPhone carriers when Sprint reports its earnings on February 8.
Did you activate an iPhone on AT&T last fall? Tell us in the comments why you selected AT&T instead of Verizon or Sprint.
BONUS: Unboxing the iPhone 4S
iPhone 4s Box Top
Hard to tell that there's anything different about this iPhone from the box alone.