Sales of smartphones will jump 28 percent in 2009 after growth slowed to just 3.7 percent in the fourth quarter due to weakening economies and lack of attractive new models, according to research firm Gartner.

Last week, research firm Informa forecast for 35 percent growth in sold smartphones in 2009 driven by innovative new devices and operator subsidies designed to promote mobile data consumption.

Gartner said on Wednesday it expected top three handset makers -- Nokia, Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics -- to play key role in driving smartphone market growth this year.

Main driver will be Nokia continuing to push Symbian down into the lower tier, Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi said. You are also going to see Samsung and LG ramping up their smartphone portfolio and the Chinese going after Android.

Market leader Nokia lost share in smartphones last year as it lacked attractive touch screen models and controlled 41 percent of the market in the fourth quarter, compared with 51 percent a year before, Gartner said.

Blackberry-maker Research in Motion and Apple, with its iPhone, won larger share of the smartphone market in the fourth quarter, controlling 20 and 11 percent shares, respectively.

(Reporting by Tarmo Virki; Editing by Dan Lalor)