Verizon is bringing the pressure on in its rivalry with AT&T.  In the last quarter, Verizon increased its new cell phone subscribers by 2.2 million; that’s a hefty jump on AT&T’s 1.1 million new subscribers in the same period.

AT&T had a higher number of iPhone activations during the period (3.6 million activations); Verizon only had 2.3 million activations.  The numbers aren’t bad for consumers – AT&T bolstered that higher number of activations based on sales of the lower end iPhone 3GS, giving it to new subscribers for $49 with a new two-year contract, and almost giving away the refurbished iPhone 3GS for $9 with a new contract.

Analysts had predicted a larger defection of AT&T customers to Verizon due to AT&T’s reputation with spotty service.  Verizon wasn’t impacted at all by the iPhone switch on, but it appears AT&T has been working to improve its service and could have lessened the benefit to switching with their network improvements.

Verizon still has a stronger lead with both Android and Apple sales combined.  The rumored iPhone 5 will bring a serious test to this rivalry when, if the rumors are to be believed, it comes out this fall. AT&T made a good pre-emptive strike with the iPhone3GS deals, which are still available.  Time will tell if they can maintain their iPhone leadership or if they’ll fall to their rival Verizon.