Sprint may have reported a loss Tuesday as part of its latest earnings report, but the company is optimistic after its first quarter selling the iPhone.

The company paid heavily to sell the iPhone, but sold 1.8 million of the devices in the past quarter, and 40 percent of those sales were to new customers. Overall, Sprint added 1.6 million customers in the past three months. Sprint reported that it had lost $1.3 billion in the past quarter, beating analyst estimates, but still a wider loss than the previous quarter.

Executives from Sprint had already warned that the company would post a loss because of subsidy costs on the iPhone — as CNET notes, the more iPhones Sprint sells in the short-term, the greater its losses will be. But the company has also asked for investors to be patient and wait for the payoff of its reportedly $20 billion gamble on the iPhone and the expansion of its 4G network.

Customers picked up Sprint iPhones in droves, likely in part because the carrier offers an unlimited data plan. There has been some speculation that Sprint may eventually do away with its unlimited plan as smartphone users consume more and more data. But the company is keenly aware that the unlimited plan is a great selling point for its network.

“Our strong fourth quarter performance illustrates the power of matching iconic devices like the iPhone with our simple, unlimited plans and industry-leading customer experience,” said Sprint Chief Executive Dan Hesse in the earnings release.

Related stories:

Report: Apple ‘iTV’ prototypes at TV makers’ labs

Apple temporarily blocks German iPhone ban

More technology coverage from The Post: Google releases Chrome for Android