Since the words are pronounced the same, it's hard for us not think of Maaco auto body shops when we see the Kyocera Mako S4000 for Metro PCS. Of course, a cell phone has little in common with a place to get your car a new paint job, but we think the of marketing slogan "Uh-oh, better get Maaco" could work in either case. Speaking of bodies, the Mako S4000 is a tad boxy, but it shows a sleek profile with a shiny metal skin. The feature set is a bit low-end functional--there's a VGA camera, voice dialing, and Bluetooth--and the sound quality is agreeable. As a MetroPCS phone, the Mako comes entirely contract-free, but it still has a wallet-friendly price of $119.
The angular Mako S4000 won't win any awards for cutting-edge design, but we wouldn't put it out to pasture either. The silver metal skin is sturdy and attractive, and we like the slim profile (3.5 inches by 1.84 inches by 0.67 inch). The Mako is a portable, lightweight (2.91 ounces) phone that travels well.
The exterior display is a bit smaller than we'd like, but it shows all the necessary information including the date, time, battery life, and signal strength. It also supports photo caller ID and works as a self-portrait viewfinder for the camera. The backlighting time, which is rather short, can't be changed but you can change the wallpaper. You can, however, activate the backlighting again with the volume rocker.
The camera lens is located just above the display. There's no flash, but that's not unusual on a VGA camera. The small speaker below the screen has a retro mesh design. It's a unique touch, and the speaker is in a convenient location. On the right spine are a volume rocker and a 2.5mm headset jack, and a camera shutter and a micro-USB port sit on the right spine. The latter also accommodates the phone's charger.
The internal display measures 1.5 inches and supports 262,000 colors. Though it's smaller than we'd like and the pixel resolution is a tad low (160x128), it's acceptable for this caliber of phone. Colors were relatively bright and graphics and photos were decent. You can choose from two menu designs--list and grid--but both are user-friendly. You can change the brightness and the backlighting time. The mirrored frame surrounding the display attracts fingerprints.
We weren't so impressed with the navigation array. Though it is spacious, it was difficult to get a grasp on the flat keys. In particular, there is no tactile definition between the square toggle and the small central OK button. We had difficulty scrolling through the menus unless we used our fingernail. Users with large hands should give this phone a test run before buying. Surrounding the toggle are two soft keys, a back button, a dedicated speakerphone key and the Talk and End/power buttons. The toggle doubles as a shortcut to four functions.
The keypad also wasn't the best. The keys are flat and slippery, so you can't dial by feel. Still, we didn't have many problems after some practice. The numbers on the keys are large, and the backlighting is bright.
The Mako has a 500-contact phone book with room in each entry for six phone numbers, two e-mail addresses, two Web addresses, two street addresses, and notes. You can assign callers to groups, but only groups can be paired with a photo or one of the 10 polyphonic ringtones.