Sales grew by 13.4 percent in the first three months of 2008 to 294.3 million units.
However, European sales fell by 16.4 percent, the first quarterly drop since 2001.
"Sales in emerging markets continued to be driven by strong net new subscriber growth, but the mature markets felt the pressure of an uncertain economic environment," said Carolina Milanesi, research director for mobile devices at Gartner.
"Sales of high-end devices in particular were lower as consumers turned to mid-tier devices when looking to upgrade their old phones.
"Phone manufacturers should strengthen their mid-tier offerings in order to cater to those users who might be reticent to invest too much money in replacing their old phones when the economic environment remains challenging."
Nokia, Samsung and LG all showed strong market share growth compared to the first quarter of 2007, but the big loser was Motorola which saw its market share nearly halve over the year.
Gartner blamed the fall on a paucity of new handset designs after the successful Razr platform.
"Motorola is unlikely to introduce many products in the second half of 2008, a time when most competitors will bring new additions to the market," said Milanesi.
"So it stands little chance of winning back its number two position. It may even have to watch out for a threat from current number four LG."
Sony Ericsson's sales share also fell, but only slightly, due to the manufacturer's strong focus on the European market.
Mobiles showing strong sales growth
By Iain Thomson on May 30, 2008 2:09PM