The Xperia Z Ultra’s Triluminos and X-Reality Engine technologies explained

by: Bogdan PetrovanJune 25, 2013

Sony Xperia Z Ultra press (4)

The Sony Xperia Z Ultra was officially launched today, and just as the leaks indicated, the sleek device comes with a couple of interesting features in the display department – Triluminos and X-Reality Engine.

The TFT displays on the Xperia Z, ZL, and other older devices from Sony have been criticized for their washed out colors and poor viewing angle. Will Triluminos and X-Reality change that perception?

Let’s get the basics out of the way first. The Xperia Z Ultra boasts a 6.4-inch TFT display of 1920 x 1080 resolution (also known as 1080p or Full HD), with a pixel density of 342 pixels per inch. These specs should ensure wonderfully crisp images, though there are other devices that boast higher pixel densities – Sony’s own 5-inch Xperia Z features a 441 ppi density, while the 4.7-inch HTC One leads the race with a density of 469 ppi.

Sony has a glorious history in display technology, dating back from when it was making the most appreciated television sets on the market. Under the leadership of CEO Kaz Hirai, who took the reins in early 2012, the company has embarked in the so called “One Sony” turnaround strategy, which emphasizes, among others, the need to make the best possible use of technologies developed in-house across Sony’s various areas of activity.

For the mobile division, One Sony meant adopting display technologies originally created for TV displays, such as the Bravia engine, and now Triluminos and X-Reality.

Now that we have a little background, let’s see what Triluminos and X-Reality actually are and how they work.


Explained plainly, Triluminos is a technology that enables LCD TFT displays to show a wider range of colors, and thus to display images that are richer and more vivid.

According to MIT Technology Review, a Triluminos display boasts a color gamut that is 50 percent larger than that of a conventional LCD panel. How is this possible? By using quantum dots.

Quantum dots are best described as light-emitting nanoparticles. Basically, they are very small (2-10 nanometers) particles of a material that emits light. Depending on the size of the particle, which can be controlled precisely, quantum dots emit light in a specific wavelength, which the human eye perceives as a specific color.

Conventional LCD displays use a white backlight that passes through red, blue, and green filters to form the color that the user perceives. The problem with this approach is that filters are not very selective – in other words, it’s hard to form very specific colors, and the end result are washed out colors. With Triluminos, the white backlight is replaced by a blue LED, which emits a blue light that causes a film of quantum dots to produce pure green and pure red. The different wavelength light is combined to form the color on the screen. This way the display can show more pure, unadulterated colors.

sony triluminos

The blue triangle is the color space of a conventional LCD, the red triangle is Triluminos.

Triluminos tech should allow the Sony Xperia Z Ultra to compete with the Super AMOLED displays on Samsung flagships, which are recognized for their rich colors. That’s the theory at least, and there are other factors that determine the quality of a display, such as contrast, brightness, visibility in sunlight, and viewing angles.

Here’s an interview with a Sony executive that provides more details on Triluminos, courtesy of AV Forums.

X-Reality Engine

X-Reality is an image processing technology that enhances the images and videos displayed on the Xperia Z Ultra. It makes pictures look sharper, reduces noise, improves contrast, and fine tunes saturation.

Sony has been using the X-Reality and X-Reality Pro image processors on its high-end TVs for a while now, though it’s not clear to us if X-Reality for mobile is the same thing.

So, how does X-Reality work? According to Sony, the software breaks down the signal sent to the display into several components – texture, outline, contrast, and color. Each one is separately analyzed and processed, to ensure the clearest, sharpest, most attractive final image.

Of course, results may vary. The videos of your kittens that you filmed with your old 3MP camera phone won’t magically turn into crystal-clear, high definition masterpieces. But in some situations, X Reality will make content look noticeably better.

Here’s a demo of the X-Reality technology in action.

And here’s a more in-depth explanation of how image processors work (in this case, it’s the similar Bravia Engine). Thanks, Rob!

To wrap up, both Triluminos and X-Reality look great on paper, but we’ll have to see them work for ourselves before we pass a judgment on their ultimate usefulness.

  • jumbo3220

    the new screen surely kick the “poor viewing angles” thing from Xperia Z,, take a look at this

    • Interesting, huge difference.

    • MasterMuffin

      That’s just beatiful

    • Ron

      I always dismiss a sentence or paragraph talking about viewing angles because it is just nitpicking. I am not one of those people who looks at their phones from the sides. You can even consider it as a privacy filter.

      • Cristi13

        What privacy, you can clearly see what’t on the screen, only the colors get messed up. Or maybe you are right, maybe no one will want to at your phone because how awful the screen is.

      • Pav

        I always had my galaxy phone flat on the table when having breakfast reading. On z3 i have to turn the brightness up.

        • Can you please snap a photo of the Z3 display u r trying to look at. Maybe its a Chinese lookalike not the original Z3 :P

    • Roberto Tomás

      that’s what I want to see. people talk about “ooh, viewing angles aren’t at all a problem” but then I get it in my hands and .. me personally, its a problem. That ipad that everyone likes? nope, the viewing angles suck in my opinion.. with it actually in my hands.
      As they are moving towards thin film technologies, LCD stands a chance of beating this issue. But seeing is believing.
      In terms of color, everyone knows that the sort order is: LCD, CRT, IPS + LCD, OLED, QDLCD, QDOLED. so this is basically as good as it gets.

  • simpleas

    This is really great marketing and hardware (i think lol due to marketing) Phones look awesome.

  • Rob C

    For the third Video I think this Video is a better explanation of the Technology (in TV) that “Bravia” and “X-Reality” may bring to a CellPhone’s Display: . There are quite a few Videos that are better than the given example one.
    I look forward to seeing more wide Gamut Displays and truer colors in future Cell Phone’s Display. When Image Sensor Technology (for CellPhones) catches up it will make for some great YT Videos !


    “blockbuster” Xperia Z Ultra violet beautiful?

  • nejihiashi88

    so sony enhance the bad colors with a processor or a gpu so that an extra load on the processor and the gpu and i think the games will be really bad because they will use extra power for the games , still sony cant be compared with samsung and lg in the panels business , but i really wish sony have the better technology .

    • vince

      It’s not processing power that enhances the colors, it’s the type of material the film is made of. Quantum dots enhance the typical 60% color gamut to 99-100%

  • Debashisa Jena

    None can stand against Super AMOLED!!

  • nitheesh

    Amoled vs Trilliminous

  • Lt.Ken

    Hi, I am a bit of a novice, how do I get this beautiful update onto my Z1?

    • Buddy, just keep the firmware updated with the latest sony iterations and you will have all the options. Triluminous display is switched ON for defaut on the latest firmware build number 14.4.A.0.157
      Though you can switch X-Reality on and off as per your colour-liking and lighting around you :-)
      Setting found in the Display section of phone settings