iPhone 5 pushes Verizon to 3.1M iPhones sold in Q3

The carrier indicates that Apple's just-released iPhone 5 represented 21 percent, or 651,000, of total iPhones sold for the period.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Verizon sold 3.1 million iPhones in the third quarter, thanks in part to the launch of the iPhone 5.

The carrier's chief financial officer, Fran Shammo, said that 21 percent of its iPhones were enabled with a 4G LTE connection, indicating that 651,000 iPhone 5 units were sold. The iPhone 5 hit the market with a week left in the quarter, and sales are expected to ramp up in the fourth quarter.

It remains to be seen how many iPhones its competitors, AT&T and Sprint Nextel, sold in the period, with both companies set to report their results next week. But it's widely expected that both similarly saw a jump in sales due to the release of the new model.

Just how big of a jump is uncertain because of supply constraints that have limited just how many iPhone units have been sold. Several weeks after the launch, there remains a long wait for an iPhone when ordering from Apple's Web site.

"The iPhone 5 had supply constraints," Shammo said during a conference call with investors today. "I'm not sure where it stands with the supply constraints."

He noted that Verizon had seen a pick-up in sales of the discounted iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S, which drew in new customers who were intimidated by the higher price of the iPhone 5.

"The iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S should continue to be good drivers in the fourth quarter given their recent reduced pricing and some potential continued supply issues related to the iPhone5, so their contribution to the total iPhone activations should not be underestimated," said Julien Blin, an analyst at Infonetics.

Shammo said he expects sales of the iPhone to accelerate in the fourth quarter though.

Verizon sold 3.4 million Android smartphones in the period, underscoring the carrier's ability to diversify its portfolio of mobile products. Beyond the iPhone, Verizon boasts other successful phones such as the Galaxy S III from Samsung. About 3 million of those devices were 4G devices.

About a third of activations came from new customers, helping to drive the 1.5 million net new contract subscribers it added in the period.

In the second quarter, Verizon sold 2.7 million iPhones and 2.9 million Android phones.

Updated at 6:44 a.m. PT: to include additional comments from the CFO.

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