AT&T sells 6M smartphones in Q1, accounting for 9 out of 10 device sales

As you might expect, AT&T(s t) saw its growth drop off considerably in Q1 compared to the always blockbuster holiday quarter, but it didn’t do too shabby. It posted a net increase of 291,000 new subscribers, sold a first-quarter record 6 million smartphones and even saw a surprising uptick in connected tablet sales.

Per usual, the iPhone was a big driver of its smartphone performance, accounting for 4.8 million activations. AT&T added 365,000 tablets to postpaid plans in the quarter, and increased the overall number of smartphones connected to its network by 1.2 million. At the end of March, 72 percent of AT&T’s contract phone customers now owns smartphone, and nearly nine of ten new phones purchased sports an smartphone OS.

Financially, AT&T’s revenues were down 1.5 percent year over year to $31.4 billion due to the sale of its advertising business, but its net profit ticked up by $100 million to $3.7 billion.

AT&T’s major pain point was in its prepaid business. It lost 184,000 prepaid subscribers, but Ma Bell said many of losses came from prepaid tablet users, many of which have switched over to its shared data plans. About 14 percent of 10 million of AT&T’s contract subscribers are now on such shared data plans. For each shared account, customers typically connect three devices, AT&T said.

In its wireline group, AT&T added 731,000 U-Verse broadband subscribers — its best quarter to date — but those gains were offset by 607,000 DSL line losses. U-Verse internet customers now total 8.4 million, about half of all its broadband connections. AT&T also added 232,000 U-Verse TV customers bringing its video programming accounts to 4.8 million.

AT&T’s LTE network now covers 200 million people, and it announced it plans to accelerate its remaining rollout. It originally planned to have a network footprint covering 250 million people by the end of the 2013, but it is now targeting 270 million in the same timeframe.

This post was updated at 2:20 PM on Tuesday to add more details from AT&T’s earnings call