Sprint Nextel said it had lost fewer monthly contract customers in the second quarter than analysts had expected, helped by its high-speed EVO phone from HTC Corp <2498.TW>.

Sprint, whose shares rose more than 8 percent, said it had lost 228,000 monthly-bill-paying subscribers in the quarter, compared with the average estimate of a loss of 355,000 from eight analysts contacted by Reuters.

It was a very good number relative to expectations, said Roe Equity Research analyst Kevin Roe.

Including prepaid customers who pay for calls in advance but do not commit to contracts, Sprint said it had added 111,000 customers in the quarter, leaving it with a total of 48.2 million at the end of the period.

The company forecast growth in overall subscriber numbers for the remainder of 2010, helped by fewer losses of postpaid customers in the second half of the year than the first half.

The second-quarter loss widened to $760 million, or 25 cents per share, from $384 million, or 13 cents per share, a year earlier. The latest quarter included a charge of 10 cents per share for deferred tax assets.

Revenue fell to $8.025 billion from $8.141 billion and was slightly lower than the average estimate of $8.027 billion from analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Sprint shares were up more than 8 percent at $5.25 in trading before the market opened.

(Reporting by Sinead Carew; editing by Lisa Von Ahn)