Global cellphone sales fell 9.4 percent in the first quarter of 2009 as consumers reined in spending amid the recession, research firm Gartner said on Wednesday.

In addition to weaker consumer demand, the handset industry has also been hurt as retailers unwind large inventories of unsold phones following a drop in demand in late 2008.

Gartner said retailers' stocks fell by some 25 million phones in the quarter and said it expects destocking to continue in the April-June quarter, but at a lower pace.

It repeated its forecast that cellphone sales to users would decrease about 4 percent in 2009 compared with 2008, while handset makers' production volumes would fall around 10 percent due to the inventory reduction.

Sales of smartphones such as Apple Inc's iPhone grew 12.7 percent year-on-year in the quarter, the research firm said.

(Reporting by Tarmo Virki; Editing by David Holmes)