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Revision as of 01:59, 30 October 2013

Welcome to the explain xkcd wiki!
We have an explanation for all 1465 xkcd comics, and only 0 (0%) are incomplete. Help us finish them!

Latest comic

Go to this comic explanation

xkcd Phone 2
Washable, though only once.
Title text: Washable, though only once.

Explanation

This is a followup to 1363: xkcd Phone, which debuted the original xkcd phone. Like xkcd Phone "1", this comic parodies modern smartphone advertising with a promotional image for a fictional phone. Like the previous xkcd phone, the comic touts a variety of features which are either pointless, misleading, or physically impossible. They are clockwise, from the top left:

  • MaxHD: Over 350 pixels per screen: 350 pixels is not very impressive: Each would be about 0.5×0.5 cm. Even if it implies 350 pixels along the edge this is still less than standard definition TV (PAL gives 576 lines of horizontal resolution). Likely a reference to HD+, FullHD, QuadHD and other marketing expressions for screen resolutions, by which common users are often confused. In 732: HDTV Randall has observered that HD is not an especially high resolution, when compared with smartphone or computer monitors. This one is even worse, by far, but MaxHD sounds similar to FullHD, so it could fool some users into thinking that this is equal or better.
Note: Retina display (high pixel density display) for smartphones is 326 pixels per inch, not per screen.
  • Always on Speaker: An always on microphone is a genuine feature. It allows speech control software such as "Okay Google" or "Siri" to respond without having to be turned on. An always on speaker would be less useful especially if it implies the phone is always making noise.
  • Blood Pressure reliever: This appears to be where a real phone would have its front facing camera. This could imply that it's a sharp part that you can cut yourself on, thus relieving your blood pressure, or else implying that the other features of the phone are so frustrating that a feature was required to relieve the users' blood pressure.
  • Auto-Rotating Case: Phones often feature an "auto-rotating screen", meaning that the display switches between portrait and landscape mode depending on its orientation with respect to gravity. But the case is a physical part of the phone, so making a case that did not "auto-rotate" with the phone would be the real challenge.
  • Ribbed: A reference to ribbed condoms, which are often advertised as superior to standard ones because the texture can be more physically stimulating to the genitalia. Some other objects can be advertised with the word ribbed as well, but mostly in the context where it allows a firmer grip on the device when wet. Since phones are usually not meant to be used wet it is still a fairly useless feature.
  • Waterproof (inside only): Waterproofing is done to the outside to prevent water from getting in. Instead, this phone prevents water from escaping.
  • Googleable: Another non-feature. Advertising as ...able is a way for marketing to add features, without adding features. This may be (for example) a recyclable paper bag: paper is normally recyclable. Any term may be 'googled' so being "googleable" is not an actual feature.
  • Cheek toucher: The screen will touch your cheek when making a hand-held phone call.
  • Cries if lost: Actually useful function, for it would help the owner find the cellphone in case it was lost. It refers to people's habit of calling their own cellphones to help find it. It also resembles the first xkcd phone's functions of 'Screaming when falling' and 'Saying hi when lit'.
  • Bug drawer: This is most likely the cover for other ports, though looks like a small drawer, capable of only holding bug-sized items. Possibly a joke on software bugs, which would, being virtual rather than physical, easily fit inside this area. One might also introduce bugs to your phone in this way. May also be a reference to "Phone may attract/trap insects; this is normal" from the original xkcd Phone comic.
  • Coin slot: In most phones, this would be the charging port. Payphones have coin slots.
  • Scroll lock: A computer key on most keyboards which is practically never used. It is also in where a usual cellphone's "home" button is, making it very frustrating. (Despite a previous xkcd strip it was not invented by Steven Chu.)
  • OS by Stackoverflow®: Stackoverflow.com is a very useful and popular question/answer forum for programmers, and many recent software products probably have benefited from advice given there, so Randall may be giving credit where credit really is due. Or it may be a reference to the rampant problem of code reuse, where programmers use the pre-written code on StackOverflow rather than writing their own, regardless of the fact that the code on StackOverflow may contain bugs or otherwise cause problems for their specific program.
  • 3D Materials: All real materials are three-dimensional, so this feature is not special.
  • Dog Noticer: Alerts the user to nearby dogs.
  • FitBit® Fitness Evaluator: Fitbit make wristbands that measure heartrate, count user steps, and act as an aid to planning an exercise program. This comic is published on Boxing Day (26th December) 2014 and is relevant as Fitbits are a popular Holiday Gift at this time.
  • Volume and density control: A play on words between volume as in speaker loudness, and volume as in a physical property inversely related to density. Apparently this would allow the user to change the size of the phone (which would indeed be a very useful feature, or a very worrying one), thus changing the volume and the density. Note that some computer mice have a feature where the user can put weights inside the case to customise the weight and thus affect the density in a different way.
  • It is washable but only once (the title text): The phone can physically be washed, however after the first time doing this the phone will cease to function.

Transcript

[An image of a smartphone. Coming off from it are many labels. Clockwise, from the top left they are:]
MaxHD: Over 350 pixels per screen
Always-on speaker
Blood pressure reliever
Auto-rotating case
Ribbed
Waterproof (interior only)
Googleable
Cheek toucher
Cries if lost
Bug drawer
Coin slot
Scroll lock
OS by Stackoverflow®
3D materials
Dog noticer
FitBit® fitness evaluator
Volume and density control
[Below the phone:]
Introducing
The xkcd phone 2
A phone for your other hand®



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Last 7 days (Top 10)

Lots of people contribute to make this wiki a success. Many of the recent contributors, listed above, have just joined. You can do it too! Create your account here.

You can read a brief introduction about this wiki at explain xkcd. Feel free to sign up for an account and contribute to the wiki! We need explanations for comics, characters, themes, memes and everything in between. If it is referenced in an xkcd web comic, it should be here.

  • List of all comics contains a table of most recent xkcd comics and links to the rest, and the corresponding explanations. There are incomplete explanations listed here. Feel free to help out by expanding them!
  • If you see that a new comic hasn't been explained yet, you can create it: Here's how.
  • We sell advertising space to pay for our server costs. To learn more, go here.

Rules

Don't be a jerk. There are a lot of comics that don't have set in stone explanations; feel free to put multiple interpretations in the wiki page for each comic.

If you want to talk about a specific comic, use its discussion page.

Please only submit material directly related to —and helping everyone better understand— xkcd... and of course only submit material that can legally be posted (and freely edited). Off-topic or other inappropriate content is subject to removal or modification at admin discretion, and users who repeatedly post such content will be blocked.

If you need assistance from an admin, post a message to the Admin requests board.

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