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xkcd Phone Flip
Theranos partnership: Sorry, we know, but we signed the contract back before all the stuff and the lawyers say we can't back out, so just try to keep your finger away from the bottom of the phone.
Title text: Theranos partnership: Sorry, we know, but we signed the contract back before all the stuff and the lawyers say we can't back out, so just try to keep your finger away from the bottom of the phone.


Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Created by THE BOT FORTOLD BY THE FORTUNETELLER PROPHECY - Please change this comment when editing this page. Do NOT delete this tag too soon.

This is the 9th in the ongoing xkcd Phone series in which Randall explains his new joke phone designs with many strange and useless features. It is a reference to the somewhat recent Galaxy Z series, but instead of folding in half, it folds into the more complex and much less usable shape of a typical paper fortune teller. The product's slogan suggests that this was not an intended feature, which would be incredibly difficult to create accidentally without causing the phone to become nonfunctional. It's therefore possible that this phone was designed by Beret Guy's company, which has in the past trademarked seemingly normal phrases and done impossible things with electronics.

The name Phone Flip is a play on the term Flip Phone, which has refered to older cellphones with a basic hinged construction, but Samsung has released a line of smartphones under the Galaxy Z range given the name 'Flip' (or 'Fold') which use a flexible display across the hinge. Randall's version takes this complexity up a notch with a currently impractical varifolded origami design.

Noted features, from the top, left column first:

Exfoliating Screen
A term commonly found on lotions and facial products, "exfoliating" means removing dead skin cells from the surface of the skin, in order to improve its appearance. This could mean that it will exfoliate when pressed to the skin. However, this would probably require a mildly abrasive and/or adhesive screen texture or coating, which are usually not desirable qualities of a touchscreen.[citation needed] A different reading is that the screen itself exfoliates, i.e. slowly disintegrates. Unless the phone is an organism able to regrow exfoliated surfaces, this will eventually lead to the screen's disappearance, not an improvement of its appearance.
Orthotic shape for arch support
Orthotics are devices used to reduce stress on the body. "Arch support" is a specific term referring to padded inserts designed to fit to the contour of a person's foot and provide support for the arch of the foot, a raised area between the ball in front and the heel in back. Fitting this space requires either a curved shape or one that's thicker in the center, which would make a phone less straightforward (pun not intended) to use. Additionally, the materials used in a phone are not suitable for orthotic usage and doing so anyway could worsen any issues and damage the phone from the stress of the person's weight upon it.
Single Big Pixel
Typical phone displays use many small pixels, each with relatively few display states. For instance, each pixel can show a uniform color. It would be difficult to make a useful display with a single pixel of this sort. Some displays use smaller numbers of more complicated picture elements (e.g., each element could show a letter, like a split-flap display, or a nixie tube). To make a useful display with one pixel means that element needs a different display state for every image the phone can show (like a carousel slide projector, movie projector, or gobo).
Ready to eat
A typical sales pitch for convenience foods denoting that no time must be spent preparing the product for safe consumption, in contrast to other such meals where ingredients would need to be combined and/or cooked in some fashion. It is unknown how a phone could be produced in such a way as to be edible. The display might use sugar glass.
Meaning less able to produce an immune response - so perhaps useful in that people do not want their phone to cause an immune response in their body, however cell phones typically cause no immune response, so this is not generally an issue. This is probably related to items that are marketed as hypoallergenic, less likely to cause an allergic reaction.
Up to 50% more
A play on the words "Up to 50% more <product>". Although considering that there is no mention of what product there could possibly be 50% more of (or 0% extra, as that is also less than or equal to 50%), this statement is useless. See 870: Advertising.
Full-spectrum backlight optimized for plant growth
Full-spectrum lights and backlights are typically used to increase color rendering accuracy, especially important in photography, art, and printing. It typically refers to the part of the spectrum people can see. Plants respond to some wavelengths outside our visual spectrum (e.g., UVA), and are less influenced by some portions of the visual spectrum (e.g. green, hence mostly reflecting such light). A backlight optimized for plant growth would not provide a very natural appearance to our eyes and typically appear pink. The screen backlight is unlikely to be used for growing plants.
Long-lasting main sequence battery
Perhaps referring to a "main sequence" star (Dwarf stars, like the sun, where main energy generation is hydrogen fusion). Such stars spend a long time in this phase of evolution. This might also explain SPF 15 and full-spectrum backlight. Stars do last a long time compared to most cell phone batteries.[citation needed]
Break Glass to Access Apps
A play on how fire alarms and extinguishers are protected by glass casings in most places, although in this case it is not that helpful. Unusual things behind glass is also mentioned in 1634: In Case of Emergency.

Right hand column:

Buy one get one
A play on typical retail sales advertised as "Buy one get one ____", where one buys one item at full price and gets another of that item either for free or at a reduced price. Since no discount has been mentioned, it would imply that you can get two at full price or perhaps simply that if you buy a phone, you receive the phone; this is expected upon almost all purchases and is tautological in nature.
Bending phone activates chemical flashlight
This feature parallels a glow stick, which is also activated by bending the stick; this breaks an inner capsule causing chemicals to mix and produce light. However, doing this with a phone likely to cause physical or chemical damage and additionally only works once, which is not very useful for a phone flashlight that one typically uses as a tool throughout the phone's lifetime.
SPF 15 Coating protects your face from websites
Sun protection factor (SPF) is a rating used to compare the protection provided by sun screens. Some people find some web sites excessively bright, colorful or garish, making them hard to read, or causing eye strain. This extends that to imply that some sites are so bright that they might cause sunburn. In reality, some sites, browsers, or plugins provide a night mode, for those who have problems with excess brightness. (See also full spectrum, and main sequence battery.)
Alternatively, SPF in this context might be a novel term for, for example, site protection factor, or socials protection factor, and be a method for protecting you from viewing potentially harmful content encountered on the internet.
Iatrogenic construction
'Iatrogenic' means 'physician caused', and usually refers to illnesses which are caused or worsened by medical malpractice. This may imply that the phone was made by doctors, which may align with the statement given in the title text.
All-vinyl data storage for maximum fidelity
This is a reference to the hipster maxim that vinyl records provide high fidelity music. And while vinyl data storage does exist, it's profoundly outdated and was never widely adopted. The relevant formats had several issues, including (relevantly) wear issues that lead to fidelity problems after repeated reads.
Locks in moisture
Good for cosmetics perhaps, to combat 'dry skin' (which is really more to do with substances other than water), but generally bad for a cell phone, where ingress (let alone retention) of liquids tends not to help the electronics.
National Weather Service partnership - phone is afraid of thunder
Not a useful feature, as normal phones do not have emotions (yet).[citation needed] How this fear manifests is also unexplained. It may turn off, or it may scream like the original xkcd phone did when in free fall. A number of the previous xkcd phone have had unexplained, inexplicable or incomprehensible partnerships.
One-click ruina montium
Ruina montium ('mountain destroyer') was a now-lost mining technique used by the ancient Romans, thought to involve a form of hydrostatic drilling. It is not clear how this could be applied by a smartphone, let alone as a one-click operation.
Free Refills
Good for restaurant drinks, not typical for cell phones. Could mean no cost refueling (e.g., fuel cell power), or recharging or battery swapping.

The title text references the failed company Theranos that notably could not live up to its ambitious promise to diagnose many health issues from a single drop of blood. Due to legal agreements, and subsequent design choices already built in, the bottom of the phone will still collect a drop of your blood (unless you're particularly careful).


Ambox notice.png This transcript is incomplete. Please help editing it! Thanks.
[A rectangular phone with a touch screen. There is a small dark camera section at the top of the screen and a charging/connecting port may be shown on the lower casing edge. Lines on the left side of the phone lead from the general area of the image to feature descriptions down the leftmost edge of the frame.]
  • Exfoliating screen
  • Orthotic shape for arch support
  • Single big pixel
  • Ready to eat
  • Hypoimmunogenic
  • Up to 50% more
  • Full-spectrum backlight optimized for plant growth
  • Long-lasting main sequence battery
  • Break glass to access apps
[Two phones folded in the shape of a 'paper fortune teller' are depicted on on the right, set one above the other with other general feature lines leading off from the nearest folded phone illustration towards further listed items down the right-hand side of the frame.]
  • Buy one get one
  • Bending phone activates chemical flashlight
  • SPF 15 coating protects your face from websites
  • Iatrogenic construction
  • All-vinyl data storage for maximum fidelity
  • Locks in moisture
  • National Weather Service partnership: phone is afraid of thunder
  • One-click ruina montium
  • Free refills
[Text below the phone:]
The xkcd Phone Flip
We actually didn't mean for it to do this

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