Difference between revisions of "1809: xkcd Phone 5"

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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(Table of features: Expanded Can feel pain)
(Table of features)
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|'''Squelch knob'''
|'''Squelch knob'''
|Squelch is a feature of two-way radios (CB, ham, etc) which quiets background noise when no signal is present. For a smartphone, perhaps this knob could control the "signal-to-noise" ratio of your Facebook feed or other social media platforms.
|Squelch is a feature of two-way radios (CB, ham, etc) which quiets background noise when no signal is present. For a smartphone, perhaps this knob could control the "signal-to-noise" ratio of your Facebook feed or other social media platforms. It also takes the place of the headphone jack.
|'''IBM buckling-spring Home button'''
|'''IBM buckling-spring Home button'''

Revision as of 15:16, 10 March 2017

xkcd Phone 5
The phone will be collected by the toll operators and mailed back to you within 4-6 weeks.
Title text: The phone will be collected by the toll operators and mailed back to you within 4-6 weeks.


Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Needs a lot more
If you can address this issue, please edit the page! Thanks.

Today's cartoon is the fifth xkcd Phone with many questionably-useful features:

Table of features

Feature Explanation
Bluetooth speaker This is the only potentially useful feature of this phone as while a bluetooth speaker built in to the device would be no more useful for playing music from it than any other speaker it would enable other devices to play through your phone.
Stained-glass display Prevents seeing certain colors. This would also make the phone considerably heavier due to the weight of the glass.
Gallium chassis remains solid up to 85°F Many high-end electronic devices have chassis made of alloys of light metals such as magnesium or titanium. Besides being lightweight and of superior quality and durability than ordinary sheet steel or cheap plastic, these are often perceived as bragging points by the users, boasting about 'rare' metal chassis.

Gallium is a not-so-well known metal that has a very low melting point of 85°F (or 29.7°C), being one of only four metals (the other being mercury, rubidium and caesium) that are liquid near room temperature. Its melting point is lower than a healthy person's body temperature. Having a gallium smartphone chassis would be therefore very impractical because it will melt in user's bare hand and would require using some kind of insulating gloves. Besides it would have to be stored in a cool place and the internal electronics should have really good cooling, otherwise either the external or internal heat would melt the chassis.

Soundproof Presumably this means that speakers and microphone may not work.
Can feel pain This could mean either the phone feels pain inflicted upon it or feels the user's pain. Which meaning may become apparent when the chassis melts on contact with exposed skin and the phone is left with open wounds.
E-Z Pass partnership E-Z Pass is an account you put money into and you put a transmitter in your windshield so when you go through a toll booth you don't have to stop and pay by hand. However, this proposition is absurd, because you would lose the phone and still have to stop to pay the toll. The title text says that the phone will be returned to you after 4–6 weeks, which slightly mitigates the first problem, but you would still lose the phone for a month.
Foldable (once) Presumably you can "fold" it by snapping it in half but you can only do his once because the phone wont work otherwise. It may refer to the fact that a later version of iPhone had a weak spot that lead it to easily folding and breaking. The "(once)" part may refer to a joke by Jeff Dunham on his Meet Melvin act, where he asks the puppet if it can stop a speeding bullet, to which the puppet says "Once".
Screen transfers images to skin This could either mean the image displayed on the screen or potentially whatever the stained glass image itself is.
Retina storage This is a play on the name of apple's prized "Retina Display". The joke may be in reference to apple's possession of a trademark for the word "retina" in regards to computer equipment, which is made to seem absurd by the unusual use. It is not made clear whose retinas are meant to be stored.
Background task automatically catches and eats Pokémon Likely reference to Pokémon Go, an augmented reality game where the goal to go to specific locations and play a mini-game in order to catch virtual creatures called pokemon. This phone apparently does it automatically, which is considered cheating. However, it also eats them, which is something that is not part of the game and wouldn't be desirable.
Supercuts partnership Supercuts is an American hair salon chain that provides hair cuts and styling. The implication here is that the user can get a haircut by sticking their hair in the charging slot.
Squelch knob Squelch is a feature of two-way radios (CB, ham, etc) which quiets background noise when no signal is present. For a smartphone, perhaps this knob could control the "signal-to-noise" ratio of your Facebook feed or other social media platforms. It also takes the place of the headphone jack.
IBM buckling-spring Home button IBM buckling-spring keyboards are favorites of geeks for the feeling of quality and auditory feedback (keys click loudly) they provide. The iPhone's Home button provides little to no such satisfaction when pressed.
Cot-caught merger switch This is a reference to the cot-caught merger, a linguistic change happening among English speakers, particularly in some parts of North America and the British Isles, which causes caught (previously pronounced "kawt") to be pronounced the same as cot (pronounced "kot").
60x optical zoom camera A powerful optical zoom is usually a desirable feature for cameras. However, as shown in the comic, it results in very bulky lens. For that reason, such lens are rarely used in smartphones, though there are some devices like the Samsung Galaxy Camera that have a similar design.
Loran navigation Once developed for sea shipping, it enables navigation by land-based radio transmitters and is accurate to about 300 meters.
28-factor authentication An authentication factor is a way of proving ones identity. It can be a password, a fingerprint, a physical key, etc.... Secure applications may include two or more factors, a common example is the "PIN and chip" system used with credit cards, where you need both the card and secret code to authorize a transaction. Many online services now provide two-factor authentication to protect against password-based attacks. A 28-factor authentication would be very secure in theory but so impractical that it would be unusable.
Hook shot Either a reference to the basketball shot or the Legend of Zelda weapon/tool, used to bring items to Link or bring Link closer to a goal.


[An image of a smartphone featuring large camera lens is shown. Clockwise from the top the labels read:]
Bluetooth speaker
Stained-glass display
Gallium chassis remains solid up to 85°F
Can feel pain
E-Z Pass partnership: phone can be dropped into coin basket to pay tolls
Foldable (once)
Screen transfers images to skin
Retina storage
Background task automatically catches and eats Pokemon
Supercuts partnership: trims hair fed into charging port
Squeltch knob
IBM buckling-spring Home button
Cot-caught merger switch
60x optical zoom camera
Loran navigation
28-factor authentication
Hook shot
[Below the phone:]
The XKCD Phone 5
We're trying to catch up to Apple but refuse to skip numbers®
comment.png add a comment! ⋅ comment.png add a topic (use sparingly)! ⋅ Icons-mini-action refresh blue.gif refresh comments!


Darn, I was almost fast enough to get the cot-caught merger explanation in there. That being said, now I really want a phone with a Zelda style hook shot. Andyd273 (talk) 14:02, 10 March 2017 (UTC) --I just came to say the same. I want the hookshot! 14:05, 10 March 2017 (UTC)

It's way more likely that this refers to the Zelda hook shot, as it looks like a little tube where some sort of grappling hook could potentially shoot out from. It doesn't look like it could shoot out basketballs, though. 15:28, 10 March 2017 (UTC)

It looks like "Hook Shot" is a clever suggestion for a feature name: the lens attaches to the camera with a 'hook' so you can take great 'shot's. Schnitz (talk) 18:01, 10 March 2017 (UTC)

And how is the Hook shot not a DotA/DotA 2 reference? My first reaction upon seeing the Hook shot was DotA. See http://dota2.gamepedia.com/Clockwerk and http://dota.wikia.com/wiki/Clockwerk -- 14:10, 13 March 2017 (UTC)

It's worth noting that most of the Loran-C system (which presumably is what would be used on a phone) has been decommissioned in the last decade or so, including all the stations operated by the US and Canadian governments. 15:52, 10 March 2017 (UTC)

Notice the new what if? Electrofishing for Whales released the day before this comic! Only 9 days between releases... --Kynde (talk) 16:33, 10 March 2017 (UTC)

OFF TOPIC: Can you imagine how much Randall must have been laughing while looking at all those funny electrofishing sources he is citing... ROFL--Dgbrt (talk) 19:44, 10 March 2017 (UTC)

LORAN -- I was under the impression that the US LORAN base stations were turned off in 2010. Perhaps a few years later in some other parts of the world. So a LORAN reciever is of less use than a chocolate teapot.-- 18:08, 10 March 2017 (UTC)

I understand "Can Feel Pain" as the next step up for Siri (or Google or Alexa or...) to become conscious. 18:18, 10 March 2017 (UTC)

The phone is slightly round. What could this mean? It's not like Galaxy Edge.--Dgbrt (talk) 19:44, 10 March 2017 (UTC)

I think part of the joke of "Squelch knob" is that a lot of people simply don't know what a squelch knob does. May as well put this mysterious knob on a phone, too. Does anyone else agree? 01:36, 11 March 2017 (UTC)

It was really funny for me personally that this comic came out this Friday as right before I came home and saw the new xkcd phone I had just picked up my new smartphone. It was "just" a Samsung so great I didn't see this first because then I would have been disappointed by the few features my new phone has. But at least it is now easier to make such a comment like this on the phone --Kynde (talk) 16:17, 11 March 2017 (UTC)

Pokemon spoiler inside (rot 13): Va rcvfbqr 16 bs gur Cbxrzba bevtvany frevrf, Nfu, Zvfgl, Oebpx, Wrffvr, naq Wnzrf, nybat jvgu gurve znal Cbxrzba, ner genccrq ba n obng. Orvat irel uhatel, gurl pbafvqre rngvat Wnzrf'f Zntvxnec, hagvy Zrbjgu ovgrf Zntvxnec...naq oernxf uvf grrgu. 21:05, 11 March 2017 (UTC)

Vf vg ernyyl n fcbvyre gb erirny n cybg cbvag 18+ lrnef nsgre gur bevtvany nve qngr?These Are Not The Comments You Are Looking For (talk) 03:14, 12 March 2017 (UTC)

Every time I see another one in this lame series I get a stronger impression that this is Randall's way of "phoning in" a comic when his creative well goes dry. tbc (talk) 04:32, 12 March 2017 (UTC)

"there is an xkcd Phone 2 available" - really? (Not really.) Real "haptic" (touch) technology on devices includes producing the sensation of touching a real version of a virtual object, as well as a device sensing not only being touched, but how it is touched. On the other hand, I don't think our relationships with devices will be improved if they can feel pain. Or fear, which logically comes next. That's wrong, even if they are already doing it to us. [email protected] 03:34, 13 March 2017 (UTC)

I think "retina storage" is like a retina scanner -- except it's not read-only. -- 05:05, 13 March 2017 (UTC)

Regarding the E-ZPass partnership ... I wasn't aware that you need to stop to in order to throw the coins into the coin basket. Sure, you need to remember to release the quarter a full 3 seconds before passing the basket if you are traveling more than 60 MPH, as mentioned in fortune. -- Hkmaly (talk) 01:11, 17 March 2017 (UTC)

Layout question

We have five xkcd phone explanations. Three of them are using a bullet list and two (including this) use a table. I prefer the bullets, not only because it's easier for editors. A table cell where the text needs a couple of lines is either bad text or bad layout. I think it's the layout. What do you think?--Dgbrt (talk) 19:57, 10 March 2017 (UTC)

I like the table but I do not wish to use the time to change any of these explanations. Also it is not important to me but I would prefer the five explanations used the same layout. So I would not object if all where made into bullets lists. --Kynde (talk) 08:14, 11 March 2017 (UTC)
It's me - I have copied the tabular layout from the other phone comic explanation. I like tables more than bullet lists even if the explanation is large, because tables keep explained items visually separate, so you can easily find the one you're looking for - and there's a sortable version. It is more troublesome for editors indeed. Maybe we should use wiki definition lists (which translate directly to HTML definition lists) to combine the best of both worlds. It may be possible to add some nice CSS for a better look but I don't know how do do it in a wiki. Or maybe create some new pretty macro? I don't know anything about creating wiki macros. Below I put an example definition list to show how to write it in wiki markup and how it looks like - definitely better than bullet list IMHO. -- Malgond (talk) 10:38, 13 March 2017 (UTC)

Definition list example:

something to explain
long and windy explanation of a really trivial topic that users of this site really love to write
just a point in four-letter namespace
Hi Malgond, there was only one phone with a table; three others using simple headers for the items. Looks much better and it's also easier to read. But nested bullet lists are even worse. And no professional writer would use a table like this here.--Dgbrt (talk) 21:10, 13 March 2017 (UTC)
Indeed; I have used a table only because it looks better for me. Opinions may vary. We need some decision here - and someone willing to put in effort to reformat explanations to an agreed standard. How about me trying to reformat this explanation into a definition list? It can be easily undone if the consensus is it doesn't look good... -- Malgond (talk) 09:18, 14 March 2017 (UTC)
Thanks Malgond, your first version was hard to understand because of the missing indent relating to the discussion. I've changed your proposal slightly because the text should begin in a new line. Otherwise many people won't understand the formatting. And I like this proposal also because there are no bullets or even worse nested bullets. I'm eager to see your edit.--Dgbrt (talk) 16:54, 14 March 2017 (UTC)

The page refers to "monroe". Is this standard? -- 12:40, 14 March 2017 (UTC)

Can't see Monroe here but if so it should be Randall.--Dgbrt (talk) 16:54, 14 March 2017 (UTC)

>>Trims hair fed into charging port

I think this is a marketing response to the iphone pulling facial hair. 00:36, 25 October 2017 (UTC)

large -> great; thin -> fine; thicker -> coarser; less -> lesser; would -> should; phones -> phone's; long and slim -> slender; children -> kids; long -> fore; big -> great; thickness, length -> span; physical -> real; like -> -like; Darn -> Knit; fast -> swift; ... -> ...?; traveling -> faring; nice < niais < nescius := not-skilled -> well, ass; hard -> touh; won't -> shan't Lysdexia (talk) 20:40, 25 July 2019 (UTC)