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Samsung Galaxy S 2 available in NFC version from June

UK-bound Galaxy S 2 phones will be fitted with an NFC chip from next month, a Samsung rep has let slip.

A new Samsung Galaxy S 2 with a near-field communication (NFC) chip for mobile payments could hit UK stores in June, according to a tipoff reported by Mobot. The slinky Samsung is barely out of the starting blocks, yet a new version could be on sale just a month from now.

We're not entirely sure why Samsung chose to omit the NFC chip for the first wave of UK-bound handsets. A lack of current demand might have something to do with it, but we'd have thought creating a custom phone for the British market would be more hassle than keeping the chip installed.

Looks like the company's had a change of heart anyway. Mobot reader SimboUK probed a couple of Samsung customer support members and extracted a statement. "We have received a confirmation that the Near Field Communication 'NFC' version of the Galaxy S II should be available in the UK by June 2011."

Take it with a pinch of salt -- customer support people are often kept in the dark. But this has the same feeling as buying a CD album (remember those?) then seeing it re-released a few months later at the same price with additional material. Hmph.

Arguably, modern smart phones have such a short lifespan before they're chucked or recycled that the first wave of Galaxy S 2 owners may not care NFC isn't available. It's not widely used in the UK now, but by the time they look to upgrade, it might well be. It's certainly not a major selling point for this slim, fast, light phone. At least if the handset flies off the shelves, an NFC-enabled S 2 will be quickly available for those who do want it. Don't expect initial handsets to be upgradeable.

More bothersome is the statement added almost as an afterthought. "Kindly know that there are no plans to launch the Galaxy S II in 32GB model in the UK."

We don't much care whether or not we can use NFC at KFC. We just want lots of memory. With the highly flavoursome Ice Cream Sandwich version of Android just around the corner, promising improved multi-tasking and application performance, that extra 16GB could come in really handy. The iPhone 4 still wins on storage capacity at least.

Update: Samsung Mobile UK has confirmed to TechRadar that an NFC version of the Galaxy S 2 will be launched later this year "to support the roll out of our network partners' NFC services." The price for an updated handset is still "being reviewed".