Sony Xperia E is a cheap Jelly Bean phone, out early 2013

Sony's spitting out a new phone, this one featuring a 3.5-inch screen and a recent version of Android.

Sony's gathering twigs and bits of fluff for its nest -- it's about to lay a smart phone-shaped egg, due to hatch into a cheap Android phone just in time for spring.

The Xperia E is a relatively basic smart phone, sporting a 3.5-inch display with a 320x480-pixel resolution, plus a 3.2-megapixel camera around the back, while a 1GHz processor whines away under the bonnet.

The mobile, which plays little brother to Sony's Bond-sponsoring Xperia T, will be running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean when it goes on sale "from Q1 2013", which means at some point between January and March next year.

Android 4.1 isn't the very latest edition of Google's mobile operating system -- that honour belongs to Android 4.2 Jelly Bean , which introduces cracking photos like Photo Sphere. Version 4.1 isn't exactly long in the tooth however, and isn't too far behind the curve for what Sony assures will be a modestly priced mobile.

The PlayStation-maker also promises HD Voice capability for clearer chit-chat, and cancellation tech that supposedly filters out background noise. A data-usage monitor, meanwhile, should help you keep an eye on how much cash you're frittering away on streaming video and amusing cat .gifs.

The Xperia E will come in black, white and pink, while a dual-SIM version is also being built for SIM-swapping traveller types. That option will come in gold or black. Classy.

Pricey blowers such as the Samsung Galaxy S3 or iPhone 5 normally steal the limelight, but that doesn't mean cheap phones can't get our juices flowing. The Huawei Ascend G300 proved a cracking mobile for £100, while the Google Nexus 4 is rocking our socks with its quad-core processor and £239 price tag -- although shoppers are struggling to get their hands on one .

We'll be giving the Xperia E the full review treatment as soon as possible. In the meantime let me know whether you're considering a purchase in the comments, or on our Facebook wall.

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About the author

Luke Westaway is a senior editor at CNET and writer/ presenter of Adventures in Tech, a thrilling gadget show produced in our London office. Luke's focus is on keeping you in the loop with a mix of video, features, expert opinion and analysis.

 

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