For the first time, the iPhone has captured over 50 percent of the U.S. smartphone market. In fact, Apple’s share is now 53 percent, compared with 42 percent for Android-based devices, according to a new Kantar Worldpanel ComTech survey.

Apple’s gain in the U.S. is significant. In November 2011, the iPhone controlled 35.8 percent of the market, while Android held the majority at 52.8 percent.

The launch of the iPhone 5 is being seen as the primary reason for Apple’s expanding numbers.

Says Dominic Sunnebo, global consumer insight director at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech:

Apple has reached a major milestone in the U.S. by passing the 50 percent share mark for the first time, with further gains expected to be made during December.

A similar survey taken at the end of November had Apple’s share of the smartphone market at 48.1 percent compared to 46.7 for Android-based devices.

Meanwhile, Android’s lead in Europe continues. It now controls 61 percent of the market, up from 51.8 percent a year ago. This compares to 25.3 percent for the iPhone.

The No. 1 smartphone manufacturer in Europe continues to be Samsung, which holds 44.3 percent of the market. After Apple, HTC, Sony, and Nokia are fighting for the third position.

Kantar Worldpanel ComTech’s latest smartphone survey looked a buying decisions made during a 12-week period that ended on Nov. 25.

For full survey results, click here.

Source: Kantar Worldpanel ComTech