Kyocera Mako S4000 (MetroPCS)
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.
Basic features include text and multimedia messaging, a scheduler, a voice memo recorder, a vibrate mode, an alarm clock, a tip calculator, a calculator, a timer, a stopwatch, a voice memo recorder, and a world clock. You'll also find Bluetooth, voice dialing, a speakerphone, instant messaging, Web-based e-mail, PC syncing, and an airplane mode. The Bluetooth feature won't support a stereo profile, but it does support object exchange and dial-up networking.
The VGA camera shoots photos in three resolutions, from 640x480 down to 160x120, and three quality settings. You also can adjust the brightness and white balance, choose one of 10 fun frames, use a self-timer and multishot mode, activate a date/time stamp, and select one of six color tones. You also can use one of eight shutter sounds or you can silence the effect completely. Photo quality was acceptable for a VGA camera, though not great. Colors were faded and images were grainy. The Mako does not shoot video.
You can personalize the Mako with a variety of wallpapers, screensavers, and a banner. It includes just one game--Brick Attack--but you can buy more titles. Just keep in mind that the Kyocera supports BREW instead of Java. You also can get more additional personalization options and ringtones from MertroPCS via the WAP 2.0 Web browser.
We tested the dual-band Kyocera Mako S4000 (CDMA 800/1900) in San Francisco using MetroPCS service. Call quality was quite respectable with a clear signal and natural-sounding voices. The volume could be a bit louder, but it should be fine for most environments. We also noticed that the audio was a bit flat at times, though it wasn't enough to be a problem.
On their end, callers said we sounded fine. They could tell we were using a cell phone, but we encountered few complaints beyond a couple of reports of static. Automated calling systems could understand us as well, but it was best if we were placing the call in a quiet room. Speakerphone calls were just OK; the audio was clear, but it had a tinny quality and the volume was too low. On the upside, you can activate the speakerphone prior to making a call.
The Mako has a rated battery life of 4.16 hours. It has a tested talk time of 5 hours and 2 minutes. According to FCC radiation tests the Mako has an SAR of 1.23 watts per kilogram.