T-Mobile USA was able to add a net total of 160,000 customers in the third quarter, growing to 33.3 million customers in all, but the gain came largely from prepaid mobile phone users, and the company continued to experience a decline in the number of customers on long-term contracts.

The Bellevue-based company, part of Deutsche Telekom, remains the only major U.S. carrier that doesn’t offer Apple’s iPhone. The iPhone 5 launched in September, during the third quarter.

T-Mobile USA lost a net total of 492,000 contract customers in the quarter. That was less than the 557,000 contract customers lost in the second quarter, but still not the direction that the company ultimately needs to move if it wants to gain meaningful ground against its larger rivals.

In addition, company’s bottom line took a big hit from an $8.1 billion accounting charge related to the company’s proposed combination with MetroPCS. T-Mobile USA’s net loss was $7.78 billion for the quarter. The company says the goodwill writedown will have no effect on its business operations or cash position.

The deal, announced last month, will create a combined company with more than 42 million subscribers, headquartered in Bellevue.

In a statement, new T-Mobile USA CEO John Legere struck an upbeat tone: “We continue to make solid progress with our Challenger Strategy, as evidenced by our strong performance in prepaid services, the growing attractiveness of our Value and Unlimited plans, the execution of our network modernization program, and the expansion of our popular handset portfolio.”

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