Verizon Communications reported a bigger-than-expected increase in wireless subscribers in the quarter just ahead of its launch of the Apple Inc iPhone.

Verizon Wireless, Verizon's venture with Vodafone Group Plc added 872,000 contract customers in the quarter compared with an average expectation for more than 646,0000 from eight analysts contacted by Reuters.

Verizon's profit rose to 93 cents per share from 22 per share in the year-earlier quarter, on an adjusted basis. The latest quarter included 39 cents of non-operational gains.

Revenue fell 2.6 percent to $26.4 billion from the year-ago quarter before it sold off rural telephone lines in 14 states. Analysts were expecting revenue of $26.48 billion according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

(Reporting by Sinead Carew; editing by Derek Caney)