Talk:1363: xkcd Phone

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Where, exactly, would one find a citation that mobile phones are not known to trap insects? Is the "citation needed" meant to be funny? It's like making the statement that humans aren't entirely made of glass- who would bother to write anything that could serve as a citation for that? 22:26, 12 July 2020 (UTC)

It's a running joke on ExplainXKCD. See Wikipedian Protester#Trivia. PoolloverNathan[stalk the blue seas]UTSc 15:12, 29 November 2021 (UTC)

14:14, 4 August 2014 (UTC) Mobile phones haven't always been electronic. Remember the old 'bricks' from the '80s and '90s? More machine than computer.

This seems like an SCP artifact 10:09, 4 May 2014 (UTC)

^someone get on this, please Whiskey07 (talk) 16:28, 6 May 2014 (UTC)

I really dislike the tone of the explanation. I mean it's so negative about the features! Not that they are all useful, but isn't this a wiki and should be neutral? It takes also the fun out of it. I would like a screaming while falling phone and the relativity thing would be great for teaching relativity! RecentlyChanged (talk)

Where can i get one of these? :D UniTrader (talk) 04:11, 2 May 2014 (UTC)

I'm pretty sure the "scream when falling" thing and the "flightaware" stuff can be done somehow with Tasker. 04:23, 2 May 2014 (UTC)


I suspect it was either Black Hat or Beret Guy, but I'm not sure which. A collaboration? 04:47, 2 May 2014 (UTC)

This sounds like something straight out of aperture. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Simulates alternate speeds of light

Yes, useless as a feature on all the time; but it would be a cool app. Mark Hurd (talk) 05:57, 2 May 2014 (UTC)

Absolutely. Where can I get an app like that? 06:22, 2 May 2014 (UTC)
Here: XKCD Clock 16:11, 7 May 2014 (UTC)

Travelling at above the simulated speed of light should give an imaginary time dilation, not a negative time dilation. gamma = 1/sqrt{1-v^2/c^2} Thus, after such travel, the value of the clock would be a complex number. 15:42, 2 May 2014 (UTC)

Does the alternate speed of light simulator also dynamically adjust the mass of the phone? Better yet, does it also dynamically adjust the mass of its comoving surroundings (person holding phone, vehicle phone is traveling in)? 01:38, 20 February 2020 (UTC)

Changed the speed of light to 2.99x10^8

You guys should probably clarify that the relativisic affects actually depend on how long your trip is or how long you wait to sync your phone. For relativity to be observable on a 12 hour trip, Minimum speed for a phone would have to be 300 m/s or 3000 m/s for the clock to measure even a microsecond/millisecond difference in time. This is well known thanks to the certain time dilation experiments with planes. Your GPS chip helps account for an error of 7 to 47 microseconds per day. My point is in terms of time dilation, relativity mattering depends on how long a trip or waiting for synchronization is. By synching, I literally mean with the atomic time clock or with a GPS satellite. The synchronization of your phone with satellites is actually a couple of hundred microseconds, so normally even a light changing clock might not have as noticable changes as you might think. 13:49, 2 May 2014 (UTC) -- 13:49, 2 May 2014 (UTC)

Yeah sorry forgot to login. does anyone know how to do the indices formatting other than eg 2.99x10(littlex) rather then 2.99x10^x? Jonv4n (talk) 06:29, 2 May 2014 (UTC)

Whassup? 07:43, 2 May 2014 (UTC)
relativistic effect

Forgive me if I'm wrong, I'm not a physicist but the above explanation says that relativistic time dilation affects only occur at a significant fraction of the speed of light. It is my understanding that time dilation occurs at any speed, but is only perceptible/noticeable/measurable at very large fraction of the speed of light. Unless I'm mistaken the above it should reflect this. 22:24, 2 May 2014 (UTC)

putting "Relative" back into relativity

First time poster, please forgive my transgressions :) My understanding regarding relativistic effects is that, for a given frame of reference (e.g. phone operator travelling at 0.9c) would be absolutely none. Relativistic effects (as I understand them) would only apply between two different frames of reference. The only effect I can see in this case is if you are moving towards, or away from the phone while operating, and red/blue shift of the radio frequencies. In general, wifi and bluetooth are used locally so wouldn't apply; only the phone network would be affected.

Also, perhaps the adjustable speed of light is a reference to the the game "A slower speed of light" by MIT Game Lab (in which you walk around collecting objects; each object slows light down, and increases relativistic effects). Jaybee (talk)

Phone may attract/trap insects; this is normal. Funnier if you take it as a reference to the spider problems Mazda keeps on having... (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

About the attracting insects ... I would expect this to be normal feature in night. Trapping, however ... -- Hkmaly (talk) 09:08, 2 May 2014 (UTC)

There are other indications that the phone is at least partly biological, this being the strongest evidence of that. Insects could be the power source for the biological part(s). 14:07, 2 May 2014 (UTC)

This could also be a reference to computer bugs and the Harvard Mark II. 08:31, 15 May 2014 (UTC)


Could the Siri bit be a reference to Portal? When I first read it, I remembered this GLaDOS quote: "Your Aperture Science Weighted Companion Cube will never threaten to stab you, and in fact cannot speak. If your Weighted Companion Cube does speak, please disregard its advice." Could be completely wrong; just a thought. 10:09, 2 May 2014 (UTC)

Perhaps Siri is beling likened to the "ATMOS" device in the Doctor Who episode "The Sontaran Stratagem" Esp666 (talk) 11:20, 2 May 2014 (UTC)

Lamest. Comic. Ever. And I'm not just saying that because he doesn't mention the Ubuntu Touch OS. tbc (talk) 12:22, 2 May 2014 (UTC)

Realistic case

Car telephones and the first cellphones were rather expensive, at least in Germany fake "realistic cases" were sold without any working electronics in it. Usage was to impress silly friends. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

I thought this was aimed at the iPhone. Apparently these have an elegant case, but I have never actually seen one. Everyone I know covers their iPhone with some hideous plastic monstrosity, since the design is not practical.-- 14:10, 2 May 2014 (UTC)

Could possibly be a reference to the "Realistic" brand, which was used on various products sold by Radio Shack (U.S. electronics retail chain) from 1954 to some time in the '90s. 16:14, 2 May 2014 (UTC)

I am not a native speaker of English. I thought the joke was on the double meaning of "case", meaning both "something that happened or might happen" (like "realistic scenario") and "something that covers something else". Does that make sense to you guys? 10:06, 6 May 2014 (UTC)

Screaming when in free fall: my first Android app!

I love the bit about screaming when in free fall: that was the first Android app I hacked together back in 2009 (based on the tricorder app). Nealmcb (talk) 13:49, 2 May 2014 (UTC)

I actually made this app that simulates that freeFall app108.162.212.32 19:03, 30 May 2014 (UTC)

Title Text

Hover-over title text was truncated; love it. 14:43, 2 May 2014 (UTC)Pocono Chuck (talk)

you must have an really old firefox browser -- you should update !!! 16:23, 2 May 2014 (UTC)
Happened to me. Using whatever the latest IE is at the moment. It cut off at nause-. 17:13, 3 May 2014 (UTC)

Price includes 2-year Knicks contract. ... but a contract with the Knicks would only appeal to pro basketball players.

Nonsense. Lots of "regular" folks would buy this phone it it meant they got to play in the NBA. 16:26, 2 May 2014 (UTC)

I agree with this. A whole lot of people who think they have "skillz" would buy the phone if they got into the NBA. 17:14, 3 May 2014 (UTC)

This may also be an indirect way of stating that it is incredibly expensive, seeing as those sort of contracts usually involve you getting compensated. -- 13:41, 3 May 2014 (UTC)

"Your mobile world just went digital" is an inversion of the marketing-speak that was common when what we'd now regard as smartphones first began to be adopted by the mainstream (iPhone/G1 era, since Symbians, Blackberries, and early WinMo tended to be business or enthusiast devices). People already ubiquitously e-mailed, browsed the Web, etc...what was presented as 'new' was that you could now do it from your phone. 19:09, 2 May 2014 (UTC)

I think the "Under certain circumstances, wireless transmitter may control God" statement might be a reference to how transmitting devices have to comply with FCC regulation and not interfere with aircraft or government communications. Perhaps this phone is intended to be noncompliant so as to control high-level electronics, even at supernatural levels. 21:11, 2 May 2014 (UTC)Dbrak


You could hold a frictionless phone just by hooking your little finger under the bottom edge, regardless of friction gravity will hold it into your hand. Just like you could leave it in a bowl without it jumping out. 19:12, 2 May 2014 (UTC)

Unless you held your pinky perfectly balanced, horizontal and motionless, a frictionless object would slide right off it, as it would off any flat surface that is not perfectly horizontal. 14:13, 3 May 2014 (UTC) 13:15, 3 May 2014 (UTC)DCollins

Wouldn't you be able to hold it somewhat like a normal phone, if you hold a finger under the bottom of it? 17:08, 3 May 2014 (UTC)

Saying a frictionless phone can't be held is like saying prisoners would slide out of prisons if they had frictionless surfaces. 14:50, 4 May 2014 (UTC)

If it was frictionless, it would be only slightly harder to hold than a wet bar of soap. -- 22:56, 22 September 2014 (UTC)

I think it would be a lot harder than that. Beanie talk 13:44, 7 July 2021 (UTC)
Why the hell this funny phone isn't available at the xkcd store?

I would buy if the price would be in the range of other articles there. Just for fun...--Dgbrt (talk) 19:30, 2 May 2014 (UTC)

Yeah, having a phone that causes symptoms of radiation poisoning would be very funny indeed. 11:03, 16 July 2016 (UTC)

Root needed

I think that needing root for ajust the volume may be a allusion people needing to root Android to change fonts or to take screenshots (untill version 4.x). FlavianusEP (talk) 23:04, 2 May 2014 (UTC)

Or does volume refer to the overall size of the phone? (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Probably not. It sufficiently works as humour in the original sense not to want to stretch (NPI!) the reference further.
PS, I de-edited FlavianusEP's thing. There was no reason to edit that. And, if you did, you could have made it grammatical too. "...needing root to adjust the volume...", not just the typo.
And I also credited you with your unsigned ip, which you forgot to provide yourself. Consider it the Pedant's Curse. 23:29, 15 February 2022 (UTC)

Alternative meaning: The spirit of xkcd

I think there's a secondary possible interpretation for this comic -- that the various features of the phone represent the overall "spirit" or "attitude" of xkcd, in a way reminiscent of an early strip -- -- about "what xkcd means." More specifically, a common theme in xkcd is taking advanced concepts in science and technology, and applying them to whimsical, humorous, impractical, or outright impossible uses. Several of phone's features -- such as the simulated speed of light -- touch on the same theme. Wordplay, another common xkcd theme, is present as well; and the anthropomorphism of technology, along with making devices appear 'cute', is also present, and also is something that has come up in xkcd many times in the past.

The comic is called "xkcd Phone", after all -- I think simultaneously with being a parody of phone advertisements, the comic is also meant to show us what a phone that fits into the xkcd world would be like. 17:52, 3 May 2014 (UTC)

I agree; it seems like a basic comic at first glance, but I'm wondering if there's a meta-meaning if you put all of the pieces together. Each feature, and warning, is a clue to the overarching purpose of the phone, or to the true joke that this phone embodies. imtrbl (talk) 19:11, 8 May 2014 (UTC)

Blowing out candles....

For the birthday candles thing: I do remember seeing a video ad for an app back when the iphone was first opened up to outside developers that would turn the phone into a fan, and it demonstrated that it was strong enough to blow out a birthday candle. Seemed quite useless at the time. Still does today for that matter (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Side-facing camera

I thought the joke here was that the camera only contained a side-facing camera rather than a side camera in addition to a front and back camera. While you can see the camera on the side, you don't see a camera on the front and they don't talk about a rear camera. It'd be pretty annoying to use a side-facing camera for anything but the surreptitious case you described. S (talk) 16:58, 4 May 2014 (UTC)

Do not submerge in water

I assumed this was also referencing the 4chan, etc pranks with the waterproof iPhone 18:41, 5 May 2014 (UTC)


A completely wireless phone would not be unuseable. The only wire phones need nowadays is for recharging their battery, but this can be done by induction, like with the Qi system with which some Nokia and Google (Nexus) phones are compatible. Zoyd (talk) 12:25, 6 May 2014 (UTC)

FoxTrot reference? I think this one could be a reference to th J-Pad in the foxtrot webcomic . Foxtrot's author has already published a guest comic for XKCD a few years ago, so Randall should know about it. 16:31, 11 May 2014 (UTC)

Cell Phones Cure Cancer?

I know, I know, the editor who added "makes fun of the WHO claiming that cell phones might cause cancer despite huge studies showing the opposite" probably didn't mean that, but it's kind of amusing to interpret it that way. Nyperold (talk) 19:42, 15 June 2016 (UTC)

Side-facing camera[edit]

Some fake phones actually feature things like that. See: this. It does have a rear cam, but no front-facing one. Real English (talk) 15:41, 24 August 2020 (UTC)

"Prolonged use may cause mood swings, short-term memory loss, or seizures" could also be referencing the adverse health effects commonly associated with spending too much time using a smartphone. Mood swings could be caused by the bewildering variety of content found on social media apps, which could result in the user's mood changing rapidly as they browse through unrelated topics that influence the way they feel. Short-term memory loss could be attributed to the fact that many users rely on their smartphones to take notes and set reminders. If a person depends almost solely on their phone to remember things for them, their short-term memory may degrade over time due to disuse. I don't know how seizures fits into this analogy, but it might've been included for the reasons described in the main explanation page. 20:13, 7 April 2021 (UTC)