Sprint sells 1.4 million iPhones in Q3, edges slightly into profitability

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Despite a net loss of more than 300,000 customers, Sprint backed its way into a $383 million profit for the fiscal third quarter of 2013 and posted strong sales of Apple's handsets.

America's third-largest wireless carrier by total subscribers, Sprint recovered from a net loss of more than $760 million in the year-ago quarter. Revenue per subscriber grew to a record $64.28 as smartphones continue to be a major sales driver for the carrier, accounting for 92 percent of devices moved to contract, or postpaid, customers.

Apple's iPhone continues to be a strong seller for Sprint, with 40 percent of the 1.4 million iPhones — the same number Sprint sold in the second quarter —  sold going to new subscribers. The number accounts for 28 percent of the 5 million smartphones sold by Sprint in the quarter.

The outlook remains grim for the carrier, however, as it continues to hemorrhage cash and customers. The third quarter's $383 million profit was helped along by a one-time $1.4 billion gain from its investment in Clearwire, which came as part of July's $21.6 billion buyout by Japanese telecom company SoftBank.

The dismal numbers come as Sprint's chief rivals, Verizon and AT&T, posted subscriber increases of 927,000 and 363,000, respectively.

Additionally, Smaller carrier T-Mobile has begun to turn up the heat on Sprint, offering attractive new plans like free international roaming data and completing the build-out of its fourth-generation LTE network. T-Mobile covers 233 markets with LTE compared to Sprint's 230, according to CNET.