Verizon announced better than expected earnings this morning, and the carrier finally gave us a straight answer on iPhone sales, saying that it sold 2.2 million iPhones in the first quarter of 2011.

The carrier also let slip a major detail about the iPhone 5. In an attempt to deflect an analyst probing for details on Apple’s next phone, Verizon inadvertently mentioned that it will be a “global device” — meaning that it will work across both Verizon’s CDMA and AT&T’s GSM networks. Multiple rumors have been saying the same thing, and Verizon’s gaffe seems to confirm them.

The carrier beat Wall Street expectations with $3.26 billion in profit on revenue of $26.99 billion. Wireless revenue was up more than 10 percent from a year ago at $16.9 billion. Data revenue rose 22.2 percent to $5.5 billion — something that will only continue to rise as 4G smartphones become more readily available.  Wireline revenue was down 2.2 percent at $10.1 billion.

Verizon’s first batch of 4G devices also had a decent showing — though nowhere near iPhone levels  — with over 500,000 units sold, which includes 260,000 HTC Thunderbolts.

In comparison, AT&T sold 3.6 million iPhones in the last quarter — but it also had the benefit of selling the iPhone for the entire quarter, where Verizon only had it for around two months. AT&T is also offering a $49 iPhone 3GS, which was likely popular with bargain chasers, while Verizon only had the high-end $200 iPhone 4. Basically, we won’t see a fair iPhone fight between Verizon and AT&T until the results of the current quarter.

Verizon says it added 906,000 postpaid subscribers (including tablets and smartphones) and ended the quarter with 88.4 million retail customers — a curious drop from the last quarter, when the carrier reported 94.1 million customers. It had 104 million total connections, which takes into account customers with multiple devices.

Smartphone sales accounted for 60 percent of Verizon’s wireless business last quarter, up from 36 percent last year. Overall smartphone penetration on Verizon’s network was at 32 percent by the end of the quarter. Judging from the carrier’s earnings report, it’s clear that its wireline business is slowly winding down, while the wireless (and specifically smartphone) business is accelerating.

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