Verizon Communications Inc posted strong first-quarter growth in wireless subscribers helped by sales of the Apple Inc iPhone.

Verizon Wireless, its venture with Vodafone Group Plc , posted net additions of 906,000 subscribers, just slightly ahead of expectations for more than 888,000 subscribers from seven analysts contacted by Reuters.

While Verizon Wireless added only slightly more subscribers than it did in the fourth quarter, the top mobile service was well ahead of archrival AT&T Inc, which added 62,000 net subscribers in the quarter.

AT&T Inc lost exclusive rights to the iPhone when Verizon started selling its iPhone in February. Verizon said it sold more than 2 million iPhones over half of the quarter.

Verizon earnings rose to $1.44 billion, or 51 cents per share from $443 million, or 16 cents per share in the same quarter a year before when it shouldered hefty one time charges.

Revenue rose to $26.99 billion from $26.86 billion in the year-ago quarter and compared with the average analyst expectation for $26.86 bln, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Verizon shares were down 14 cents at $37.65.

(Reporting by Sinead Carew; editing by Derek Caney)