The Effects of 5G on Design



What is 5G?

5G is the 5th generation of cellular networks. It is the global wireless standard after 1G, 2G, 3G, and 4G networks. With speed up to 100 times more than 4G, it is designed to connect virtually everyone and everything; including machines, objects, and devices, opening up previously impossible opportunities for people and businesses.

5G offers higher multi-Gbps peak data speeds, ultra-low latency, greater reliability, enormous network capacity, greater availability, and a significantly more consistent user experience to more users.  It operates on the same radio frequencies currently used for smartphones, on your Wi-Fi networks and in satellite communications.

For users, these features translate into a host of tangible benefits:

– High speeds let users download movies, music and videos in seconds, not minutes. The 20 Gbps speed enables organisations to use these for office services, including automation, advanced web conferencing, etc., while offering substantial time savings in downloads.

– The low latency of 5G makes it compatible with newer applications such as AI, IoT, and virtual reality. The user experience is enhanced as mobile phone users can open a webpage and browse conveniently and use several ways to access the internet for important information. 

– The increased network capacity of 5G allows companies to navigate cellular and Wi-Fi wireless strategies, leading to better performance. It also provides methods to access the internet with high efficiency.

– Increased bandwidth – one of the highlights of 5G – supports the speedy transfer of data and offers mobile phone users faster connections due to more bandwidth. 

– An innovation driver,  5G, efficiently connects different devices, including drones and sensors, thus paving the way for implementing IoT (Internet of Things), allowing organisations to augment productivity. Finally, while congested networks are a 4G limitation, more bandwidth and faster speeds eliminate this hurdle in 5G.   

Owing to this suite of benefits, services earlier considered ahead of their time, such as e-health, networked vehicles and traffic systems, are now a reality, enhancing societies, transforming the industry, and markedly improving day-to-day experiences. Imagine millions of connected devices collecting and sharing data in real-time, thus reducing road accidents; or life-saving applications that serve their purpose, all due to lag-free connections; or production lines in factories that can warn about machinery breakdowns well before they occur. 

According to data published on Statista, the United States and China are way ahead of other nations in their 5G rollout, with a combined 660 cities in which 5G is available. The Philippines is the third highest in 5G rollout, with active connections in 95 cities.

The 2021 Ericsson Mobility Report provides a perspective on 5G growth worldwide. The report predicts that by the end of 2027, 5G subscriptions globally will touch 4.4 billion, accounting for nearly 49% of mobile subscriptions across the world. As per the study, the uptake rate of 5G subscriptions is estimated to be higher than what it was for 4G.

According to International Data Corp. (IDC), by the end of 2021, there were  89.5 million units of 5G smartphones in the US, a significant increase compared to only 33.4 million in 2020. IDC forecasts that by 2025, these numbers will increase to 153.3 million 5G smartphone units.

Implications of 5G on UX design

As UI UX designers continue to work on enhancements in user experience,  5G, with its low latency and high transmission speeds, will eliminate these barriers typically present in 4G. This will augment UX and UI designs and render them more user-friendly.  UX designers designing mobile apps interface will benefit from improved mobile connectivity. For example, nowadays, designers need to consider aspects like how much time a product will slow down if an animated transition is used. This concern would be non-existent in the case of 5G. Coming at an opportune time when UI UX designers need it for improved user experiences,  5G will enable designers to implement user-friendly designs in creating cloud-based virtual reality gaming apps and navigational apps and improve the overall clarity of the user interfaces. 

5G and User-Centred Designs

The job of a UX designer begins long before the app or device is ready for use by the customer. The key to a great design involves addressing the user’s needs at every stage – from branding to product development/design and operation – and developing relevant design solutions for the website, app or device. As UX designers work against 4G limitations to incorporate efficiency and a positive user experience, the 5G mobile technology, with its high transmission speeds hitting up to 10Gbpsis, is bound to boost interactivity with apps and evolve the storyline. For instance, the concept of texting took a giant leap once emojis could be added to messages or directions to nearly any place on earth were made instantly available.

Website and Mobile Apps UI UX in the 5G era

Speedy file transfers (across accounts and devices), new and enhanced features (to VR, AR and even IoT)  and reduced dependence are more widely discussed benefits of 5G. In addition, here’s a quick look at what 5G holds for UI/UX  in the website and mobile apps space.

– Clarity of UI:

As video and audio streaming features and capabilities advance to the next level, UI will make significant gains, and developers will have to implement major enhancements and upscale the app UI to a greater extent.

– Opportunities for UI in navigational apps:

With high-speed, smooth-flowing communication networks, the tourism industry is touted to reap major benefits from 5G. It is predicted that these conditions will support new opportunities in building navigational apps. UI developers will need to create innovative UI solutions for mobile apps, bundling relevant features and user-friendly listings of famous tourist places from different geolocations.

– High-quality 3D models:

App development in immersive AR (Augmented Reality) and 3D gaming will witness growth spikes, and these will need to be supported by good UI. For example, immersive virtual reality backed by 5G network speeds can help a home furnishings store show interested buyers how different types of upholstery would look in their houses and thus help them make informed choices. So, there would be endless possibilities to revolutionise consumer experience and how they shop by building an immersive retail experience online.

– Personalised Chatbots:

Haptic feedback is the use of touch to communicate with users.  As 5G network architecture provides more opportunities for instant feedback, users will be able to receive and control haptic feedback. Haptic UX facilitates timely and relevant information leveraging the sense of touch. An error state for an incorrect password incorrect; a unique gesture that unlocks features on the device; playing racing games on the mobile etc., are examples of real-world haptics.

5G and the design team

As some of the best in business will tell you, behind every successful app, there’s an awesomesauce Ul/UX design! With 5G opening new vistas, visually appealing and engaging internet experiences will attract users and enhance customer satisfaction. 

Satisfied customers are credible sources of publicity, which leads to an increase in customers. Besides, they bring brand loyalty as they become returning buyers, thus increasing the ROI for your business.  Here are some very specific pointers on how the design landscape will benefit from 5G.


Gaming is prevalent amongst children and young adults, and as co-op games connect players worldwide across common platforms, 5G will play a key role in ending lags and high latencies, thus improving gaming experiences. With speed no longer a hurdle, players will expect more innovative and appealing GUIs (Graphical User Interfaces). And, get a more immersive experience with the click of one button.

AR/VR and 5G:

Augmented and Virtual reality today could be viewed as being in the same phase computer was in the 2000s. 5G will create experiences that seemed impossible a few years ago. With its full potential yet to be unlocked, studies predict the AR and VR will hit new highs by 2025.

The importance of AR and VR has been highlighted above – from the perspective of 5G and its impact on websites and apps-  but we can’t emphasise them enough.  As 3D become a norm, every app used will deliver an experience. In the design spheres, efforts will align toward creating holistic user experiences rather than just being perceived as a platform. This includes designing every aspect, including sound, motion and interface. Design specialists will be in demand to pre-design and configure user actions to deliver precise outcomes.

Proactive customer engagement and support in the decision-making process:

As data transmission speeds get a tremendous boost, 5G will result in the standardised utilisation of a phone’s battery life. This will lead to a gradual increase in the rate of user engagement. The time taken to make a decision and user actions will become quicker. At this point, it will be necessary for product designers to incorporate relevant features and attractions in the initial stages of engagement, which will then play a vital role in the decision-making process.

As users become increasingly receptive to downloading new mobile apps, there will be a shift in emphasis from user acquisition to user retention, which will radically change the user’s overall expectations and experience.

Interactions will become customised: 

Developers will no longer be forced to make lighter apps. The 5G enabled advantages such as faster speeds will provide developers excellent opportunities to creatively introduce 3D capabilities and micro-interactions in mobile apps, thus making them more attractive to the user.

As users get used to personalised content,  they are bound to want customised interfaces. Popular examples may include personalised characters in online gaming or creating chatbots representing the individual favourite character.

Ready your UI UX for 5G

Speed ranks among the top factors in determining the overall user experience. Users, especially the younger lot, prefer faster loading apps that load in seconds and save time.  Considering that 5G scores way better than 4G for mobile apps, ensure that speed does not take a hit when designing UI/UX for 5G.

Here is a checklist of things to keep in mind for developing ‘speed-efficient’ designs.

– Consistent design: As a designer, make it your #1 rule to be wholly involved with the design process. You can save time by unifying the designs of your Android and iOS apps and integrating the mobile version of Web, PWA and AMP.

– Consistent user journey: A good UI UX should provide the users with a consistent journey across different versions. If you have a specific idea for a process, use the same across all the different product versions. Simplify the experience and avoid redesigning the process.

– Consistent product features across all platforms: This is an essential check because if your mobile app version is not as up-to-date as your web version, it can cause delays in product development, consequently affecting the overall user experience.

– Structure repetitive processes. Using a repetitive structure for designing and developing landing pages for all your marketing campaigns will showcase your versatility in optimising your UI UX for 5G. Likewise, use the same concept when designing banners.

– Simplify qualitative user research: Do away with putting away outdated, time-guzzling methods and leverage creative and innovative systems for converting qualitative data into quantitative data, thereby making user research more productive.

– Simplify data collection methods. Opt for automated quantitative research, which gives you time to incorporate more efficient UI UX for a great 5G experience.


You will surely agree that 5G promises to revolutionise the way users use the internet and create a demand for more interlinked designs connected with peoples’ intrinsic behaviours. At the heart of the matter, 5G is all about connecting people and things in a reliable way and without lag so that people can perceive and get something in real-time.  While earlier technologies provided mobile connectivity that allowed people worldwide to connect and exchange files and photos, 5G technologies will further intensify these connections due to superior transmission speeds, low latency, and high resolution, among a host of other benefits. 

With its advanced capabilities and features, the 5G mobile network will be of great advantage to UX and UI designers who, while navigating 4G hurdles, have to leverage every opportunity available to maximise the users’ overall experience with the website app or device. Undoubtedly, 5G will facilitate the efficient functioning of mobile applications, improve the quality of user interfaces and support the creation of useful mobile apps. 5G promises to be technology that has the potential to create a future that is safer and sustainable.

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