1809: xkcd Phone 5
|xkcd Phone 5|
Title text: The phone will be collected by the toll operators and mailed back to you within 4-6 weeks.
| This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Seems almost complete now!|
If you can address this issue, please edit the page! Thanks.
This is the fifth entry in the ongoing xkcd Phone series, and once again, the comic plays with many standard tech buzzwords and horribly misuses all of them, to create a phone that sounds impressive but self-evidently isn't to even the most ignorant customer. The previous comic in the series 1707: xkcd Phone 4 was released almost 8 months before this one.
The features are explained individually in the table below.
The slogan beneath the phone, "We're trying to catch up to Apple but refuse to skip numbers", is a reference to inconsistent product numbering, such as Samsung releasing the Note 7 after the Note 5, likely in an attempt to catch up to the numbering of either the iPhone or Galaxy S series, both of which were already at 7. Similarly, there was also no official iPhone 2. But there is an xkcd Phone 2 available. The trademark sign behind the word "numbers" probably indicates a reference to the Apple spreadsheet app with the same name.
The title text that says that the phone will be returned to you by the toll operators is a reference to E-ZPass partnership feature, see explanation in the table regarding that feature.
Table of features
|Hook shot||In The Legend of Zelda the Hookshot is a recurring weapon/tool. It is a machine consisting of a chain and hook. When used, the chain extends and sends then hook which is attached to it. It is used to bring items to Link or bring Link closer to a goal (Link is the name shared by the main protagonists, each possessing the Spirit of the Hero). Likely a reference to new video game The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which was released a week prior to this comic. In the comic the hook shot is shown as a small add on to the phones top.|
|Bluetooth speaker||Bluetooth speakers are often used to play audio from a smartphone wirelessly, usually with more volume and better quality than the phone's small built-in speaker can provide. Embedding a bluetooth speaker into the phone would allow the phone to play audio from outside sources through its built-in speaker, which could be useful if no better speakers were available but would generally be avoided given the previously noted limitations of phone speakers. This is perhaps a jab at the current trend of playing music or Internet content audibly in public through the tiny, tiny speaker embedded in most phones. The Bluetooth speaker is located in the normal place for a phones speaker.|
|Stained-glass display||Stained glass is colored glass, traditionally used for decorative windows in buildings most often churches. It is generally much thicker and because of the color much less transparent, especially for some colors, than the glass types normally used for touch-screens, making the phone difficult to use as it would remove some of the colors shown on the screen below the glass. A typical feature noticed about the glass for real phones would be its strength, as in work phones for construction workers.|
|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 rather than steel or plastic. 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, however, is an uncommon metal with a very low melting point of 85 °F (or 29.8 °C), making it one of only four metals (along with mercury, rubidium and caesium) that can be liquid around room temperature. Because the melting point is lower than the average human body temperature of 98.6 °F (37 °C) a gallium smartphone chassis would melt in the user's bare hand, assuming it hadn't already done so due to heat produced by its internal components. Even if the electronics had good heat management, cooling in smartphones is normally accomplished by distributing heat to the case, not exhausting it.
A similar real advertisement regarding the chassis would be that it was waterproof down to some depth (say 85 feet or 25 meters). See also the feature below regarding this.
|Soundproof||A Soundproof chassis could result in the unwanted effect that the speakers and microphone may not work as no sound may enter or leave the phones chassis. A more likely feature would be waterproof see above point.|
|Can feel pain|| Possibly a reference to intelligent personal assistants like Siri, Cortana or Alexa gaining consciousness (see 1807: Listening for the latter). Such artificial intelligence references is a recurring subject on xkcd.
This could mean that either the phone feels pain for damages inflicted upon it or it feels the user's pain level (regarding either physical and/or emotional pain). The meaning would quickly become apparent for the user if the chassis melts on contact with exposed skin leaving the phone with "open wounds".
This could be seen as a similar feature of the first xkcd phone, 1363: xkcd Phone, where the title text notices (among many other things) that the phone will drown if submerge in water. A similar thing is also mentioned for 1549: XKCD Phone 3. That phone is waterproof but can drown. Since this phone is soundproof but not waterproof, see the two points above, the drowning issue may still be relevant. The second phone, 1465: xkcd Phone 2, cries when lost a similar display of emotions/feelings. That phone also mentions waterproofing, but here it is only the interior, and although it is washable, it is only a one time feature (like the fold-ability of this one, see two points below). Finally also 1707: xkcd Phone 4 mentiones it is waterproof, but not between 30-50 m down...
|E-ZPass partnership: Phone can be dropped into coin basket to pay tolls||E-ZPass is an electronic toll collection system. The vehicle drives through the toll lane without stopping, and sensors detect the pass and deduct the appropriate amount from the user's account. The phone's integration with E-ZPass is absurd since the phone needs to be dropped into a coin basket to work. Not only would you have to stop in order to throw the phone into the coin basket, which defies the idea of E-ZPass, but you would also lose your phone.
In the title text, however, it says that the phone will be returned by the toll operators and returned by mail within 4–6 weeks. So this mitigates the problem of losing the phone slightly, but there would be about a month where the phone could not be used.
|Foldable (once)||Almost anything long and slim can be "folded" by simply snapping it in half. But as it says this can only be done once because the phone cannot be unsnapped and will not work anymore once it has been folded.
It could also refer to the fact that a version of iPhone had a weak spot that lead it to easily folding and breaking. And it could be reference to the type of cellphones which are designed so they can be opened and closed by hinges.
|Screen transfers images to skin||Transferring images to the skin sounds like either real tattoos or the water tattoos used by children or other kinds of temporary tattoos. Likely it should be understood that it would be possible to transfer the image displayed on the screen to your skin, hopefully when activating the feature rather than by accident. And preferably also none permanent. This may also be a reference to the experimental Cicret Bracelet's ability to project images onto your arm: |
|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. Could also be a reference to retinally implanted computers. The retina storage is a slot at the bottom of the phone right of the charging port.|
|Background task automatically catches and eats Pokémon||A 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 Pokémon (see 1705: Pokémon Go). This phone apparently catches Pokémon automatically, similar to the external device Pokémon Go Plus. However, this feature also eats them, which is something that is not part of the game and wouldn't be desirable, as it is about collection and storing as many different Pokémon as possible. It could be a coincidence, but it seems funny that the label for this background feature is the only one that point at the back of the phone.|
|Supercuts partnership: Trims hair fed into charging port|| 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 Supercuts by sticking hair into the charging slot. This is not only impractical and would only work for hair long enough to be fed into the port, but it would most likely result in a bad haircut. Also the slot would soon be filled with hair. The charging slot is otherwise placed in the normal spot and looks like a regular charging port.
This feature could actually be quite dangerous if the hair is not removed from the charging slot afterwards because the hair could melt or catch fire inside the phone.
|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 takes the place of the headphone jack, replacing the normal hole with a small knob.|
|IBM buckling-spring Home button||IBMbuckling-spring keyboards are favorites of geeks for the feeling of quality and auditory feedback (keys click loudly when pressed) they provide. Real smartphone's home button, typically located exactly as in this image, 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"). The switch is clearly visible on the side of the phone. There is no typical feature similar to this one most smartphones, although it could look a bit like a volume control, although that would not usually be a sliding switch.|
|60x optical zoom camera||A powerful optical zoom lens is usually a desirable feature for cameras. However, as shown in the comic, it results in very bulky lens. If 60x zoom should be achieved the lens needs to be as big as shown on the backside of the phone, and the whole idea of being able to carry the smartphone easily in a pocket would be defied.
For that reason, such lenses are never used in smartphones, although rarely some devices, like the Samsung Galaxy Camera, use a smaller lens with a similar design. But this is no longer a smartphone.
This feature would seem to be a jab at the variety of add-on devices, including close-up lenses, handles and external flashes, that are currently in use to enhance the phone's ability to function like a camera (and the selfie stick).
Some phones might instead mention their digital zoom level instated. But that is not a popular feature among photo enthusiasts, as it makes no difference to the image quality if you zoom like this or just zoon in on a normal picture taken without zoom, as no optical resolution is gained in the process of digital zooming. Randall has made several comics about cameras before; see for instance 1719: Superzoom and other comics linked via this.
|LORAN navigation|| LORAN (Long Range Navigation) was a precursor to modern GPS navigation, using land-based transmitters. Once developed for sea shipping, it is accurate to about 300 meters (1,000 feet). The joke, of course, is that all modern smartphones have integrated GPS navigation which is far more accurate. Due to the much lower frequencies involved, reception of LORAN signals though is much better in areas with obstructed view of the sky. However LORAN has been decommissioned more or less completely since before 2000.
Incidentally, some receivers of the Decca Navigator System (which operates on a similar principle as LORAN) featured moving map displays, something we associate with modern GPS devices.
|28-factor authentication||An authentication factor is a way of proving one's identity. There are 3 generally recognized forms: something you know, something you have, and something you are. 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. 28-factor authentication would likely be very secure in theory but also so impractical that it would be unusable.|
- [An image of a smartphone with a common optical camera lens attached on its back is shown. Over the entire length the case is slightly rounded. There are several features visible as bottom like features at the top and bottom of the front as well a microphone like slit at the top. A sliding switch is visible on the side, and at the bottom there is a knob, a connector port and a small slit. Clockwise starting from the top left all the labels read:]
- Hook shot
- Bluetooth speaker
- Stained-glass display
- Gallium chassis remains solid up to 85°F
- Can feel pain
- E-ZPass 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 Pokémon
- Supercuts partnership: Trims hair fed into charging port
- Squelch knob
- IBM buckling-spring home button
- Cot-caught merger switch
- 60x optical zoom camera
- LORAN navigation
- 28-factor authentication
- [Below the phone:]
- The xkcd Phone 5
- We're trying to catch up to Apple but refuse to skip numbers®TM
add a comment! ⋅ add a topic (use sparingly)! ⋅ refresh comments!