Does the iPhone XS Max support 5G?

The iPhone XS Max does not support 5G connectivity. Released in 2018, the iPhone XS Max predates the rollout of widespread 5G networks. However, with support for Gigabit-class LTE, the iPhone XS Max offers fast 4G LTE speeds through optimized apps and compatible carrier networks.

Does the iPhone XS Max support 5G?

Overview of 5G and the iPhone XS Max

5G is the newest generation of cellular networks that promises faster data speeds, lower latency, and the ability to connect more devices simultaneously. Major carriers in the US and abroad launched 5G networks in 2019 and continue expanding coverage.

However, 5G device adoption has been gradual as networks, smartphones, infrastructure, and technology standards continue maturing. Premium flagship phones released in 2020 and beyond tend to include 5G support, while phones released earlier like the iPhone XS Max do not have 5G capabilities.

Key things to understand about 5G and iPhone XS Max support:

  • Release Date: iPhone XS Max launched September 2018, prior to the rollout of public 5G networks
  • Connectivity: Includes Gigabit LTE but no 5G modem or antennas
  • Speeds: Provides fast LTE speeds but cannot access next-gen 5G networks
  • Support: No ability to connect to 5G networks or utilize 5G features

While lacking 5G access, the iPhone XS Max takes advantage of advanced LTE connectivity for a responsive and powerful mobile experience.

The iPhone XS Max’s Cellular Connectivity Specs

Although the iPhone XS Max does not support 5G given its 2018 release, Apple equipped the phone with cellular capabilities that significantly push LTE network performance boundaries for the time.

Here are the key cellular connectivity specifications of the iPhone XS Max that deliver speedy real-world performance:

  • LTE Bands: Supports a wide range of LTE frequency bands including T-Mobile’s new 600 MHz LTE
  • 4×4 MIMO: Has 4 transmitting and 4 receiving antennas for improved data speeds
  • LAA Support: Utilizes License Assisted Access LTE for higher performance
  • QAM 256/64: Supports higher QAM signaling for 30% faster download speeds
  • Gigabit LTE: Achieves theoretical peak speeds up to 1 Gbps on supported carrier networks

These cutting-edge features enable improved network capacity, extensive LTE band coverage, and download speeds rivalling the early stages of 5G.

While electing not to pursue true 5G connectivity at the time, Apple significantly pushed LTE forward in the iPhone XS Max to maximize 4G LTE speeds and network compatibility. Real-world cellular tests found speed increases upwards of 50% over 2017 iPhone models.

Everyday Performance of iPhone XS Max Cellular Connectivity

In practice, iPhone XS Max owners connect to 4G LTE on a daily basis. Users primarily access data-intensive apps and services through mobile networks including:

  • Streaming HD video and music
  • Multiplayer gaming
  • Social media
  • Web browsing
  • Messaging
  • Using maps/navigation
  • Uploading to cloud storage

The advanced 4G LTE connectivity allows iPhone XS Max owners to enjoy fast performance across these daily use cases. Supported activities that benefit from speedier access:

  • Stream video with less buffering in up to 4K
  • Download apps, songs, podcasts faster
  • Sync iCloud content without lag
  • Experience lower latency gaming
  • Video call smoothly without disruption

While 5G brings even greater capacity and lower latency, LTE networks continue improving alongside early 5G deployments. iPhone XS Max users can readily handle common modern smartphone uses through speedy, reliable LTE connectivity from coast to coast.

Geographic Availability of 5G Networks

Since its 2018 launch, 5G coverage has grown substantially but remains limited primarily to metropolitan areas and pockets of select cities or neighborhoods. Examining 5G deployments helps explain why the iPhone XS Max focused on delivering an excellent 4G LTE experience over including premature 5G support.

Here is the geographic availability status of 5G in the USA among top carriers:


  • Deployed Band: mmWave
  • Coverage Scale: Targeted zones of dozens of cities
  • Strategy: Hyper focused deployment driving max speeds


  • Deployed Band: 600 MHz, mmWave
  • Coverage Scale: Nationwide long-range & urban hotspots
  • Strategy: Combining reach and capacity


  • Deployed Band: mmWave, low-band
  • Coverage Scale: 150+ markets across 36 states
  • Strategy: Balanced subscriber upsell & network buildout

While networks continue to evolve, 5G coverage remains largely confined to pockets of top US markets. Rural areas lag farthest behind in 5G access and development.

Given the state of 5G network progress into 2020, Apple likely made the reasonable decision to forego nascent 5G in the iPhone XS Max and provide customers with the best 4G LTE product possible at the time.

Future 5G Capable iPhone Release Timeline

While the iPhone XS Max does not support 5G connectivity, later iPhone models integrate 5G network access as coverage expands and utilization increases:

iPhone Model Release Year 5G Bands Other Connectivity
iPhone 12 Series 2020 Sub-6 GHz, mmWave Gigabit LTE, Wi-Fi 6
iPhone 13 Series 2021 Sub-6 GHz, mmWave Gigabit LTE, Wi-Fi 6
iPhone 14 Series 2022 Sub-6 GHz, mmWave Gigabit LTE, Wi-Fi 6E

With dual sub-6GHz and mmWave 5G radios plus continued Gigabit LTE support, iPhone 12 series and later provide comprehensive next-generation network access as carriers build out broad, fast 5G connectivity.

These later iPhone models deliver full 5G speeds while also maintaining LTE failover and network compatibility. For users needing to stay on the forefront of cellular network technology, upgrading to a recent iPhone model enables these new mobile experiences.

Key Takeaways: Does iPhone XS Max Support 5G?

  • The iPhone XS Max does not support 5G connectivity given its September 2018 release prior to the rollout of 5G networks.
  • With Gigabit LTE support, the XS Max provides extremely fast 4G LTE cellular speeds.
  • Real-world LTE performance meets common needs like streaming HD video, multiplayer gaming, using cloud apps.
  • While lacking 5G access, XS Max connectivity remains excellent through advanced LTE features.
  • Those needing 5G speeds can upgrade to iPhone 12 series or newer iPhone models as cellular coverage matures.


In summary, the iPhone XS Max launched in September 2018 prior to the unveiling of commercial 5G networks. As a result, the iPhone XS Max delivers device leading connectivity and performance through 4G LTE support rather than 5G.

With integration of cutting-edge LTE technologies like 4×4 MIMO, QAM coding, and Gigabit throughput, the iPhone XS Max offers a premier 4G LTE experience. Both lab testing and real-world use demonstrate LTE speeds meeting typical needs for HD streaming, gaming, work apps, and more.

While 5G networks continue rolling out through major metropolitan areas and will soon reach broader 5G coverage, LTE access remains essential for coverage, failover support, and accessibility. Rather than offering an undeveloped early 5G implementation, Apple focused on delivering an exceptional, reliable 4G LTE product in the iPhone XS Max.

Users can upgrade to latest iPhone releases like the iPhone 14 series to tap into 5G connectivity advances as carrier deployment evolves. But XS Max owners can continue enjoying a highly responsive device experience through enhancements across iOS updates and on the 4G LTE network.

Frequently Asked Questions about iPhone XS Max 5G Capability

  1. Does the iPhone XS Max connect to 5G networks?
    No. With its release in September 2018 prior to 5G network launches, the iPhone XS Max hardware does not support any 5G connectivity bands or technologies. 
  2. Why doesn’t my iPhone XS Max ever show a 5G icon?
    Because the iPhone XS Max predates early 5G rollouts, the phone lacks any built-in 5G modem or antennas required connecting to 5G networks. You will only ever see 4G LTE icons based on its LTE networking hardware. 
  3. Does iOS 16 add 5G support to iPhone XS Max?
    No, iOS software updates like iOS 16 cannot add integrated 5G hardware not already built into the iPhone XS Max. While iOS 16 improves functionality, only newer model iPhones with 5G modems can access 5G networks. 
  4. Will installing a 5G SIM card add 5G connectivity?
    Swapping in a 5G SIM card does not enable 5G connectivity on iPhone XS Max. It lacks any 5G modem or antenna hardware required to tap into 5G networks and bands even with a 5G SIM card provisioned. 
  5. Why doesn’t Apple add 5G support to existing iPhones?
    5G network access relies on additional integrated radios, antennas and modem components that earlier iPhones simply don’t have built in. Providing 5G requires that base hardware foundation already integrated during manufacturing. 
  6. Is iPhone XS Max Wi-Fi 6 compatible?
    No. The iPhone XS Max predates Wi-Fi 6 support as well, utilizing up to 802.11ac Wi-Fi 5 connectivity. Newer iPhones starting with the iPhone 12 series integrate Wi-Fi 6 for faster speeds on compatible Wi-Fi routers. 
  7. Can I get my iPhone XS Max to show 5G E or 5G+?
    No. Features like 5G E and 5G+ rely on firmware and hardware support not available on iPhone XS Max toalter the displayed network icon. These branding features should not be confused with actual 5G connectivity. 
  8. Why does my friend’s iPhone 12 show 5G instead of LTE?
    Starting with 2020 models like iPhone 12, Apple has integrated full 5G modem chipsets and antennas required to tap into emerging 5G networks. So only these newer iPhone models can display 5G network icons and access those faster next-gen speeds. 
  9. Will the iPhone XS Max work on a 5G network?
    Yes. The iPhone XS Max will work on 5G networks while limited to 4G LTE connectivity. It can fall back to 4G LTE on networks utilizing technologies like 5G NSA that provide underlying 4G anchor coverage. Speeds remain consistent with LTE though below faster 5G. 
  10. When will my iPhone XS Max pick up a 5G signal?
    Never. As a product designed prior to 5G network launches, Apple did not integrate any required 5G hardware into iPhone XS Max. There is no ability for XS Max units to tap into 5G signals or speeds through any updates.

Why Doesn’t iPhone XS Max Have 5G FAQs

  1. What wireless technology does the iPhone XS Max support?
    The iPhone XS Max supports advanced 4G LTE connectivity utilizing technologies like 4×4 MIMO antennas, 256 QAM encoding and more. But it lacks integrated 5G networking hardware required to connect to next-generation 5G networks. 
  2. Should I buy a new iPhone just for 5G access?
    Upgrading just for 5G access provides limited benefits in early stages of 5G deployments focused on urban hotspots. For owners getting fast speeds on LTE networks, staying with iPhone XS Max may suit needs until sub-6GHz 5G matures. 
  3. Does iPhone XS Max work with 5G SIM cards?
    While 5G SIM cards activate 5G connectivity when properly provisioned, installing one on iPhone XS Max will not enable 5G network access or higher speeds. The hardware lacks any integrated 5G components to tap into those networks. 
  4. Will future iOS updates enable 5G on my iPhone XS Max?
    Unfortunately no software update can suddenly add missing hardware support like 5G networking capabilities. The lack of integrated antennas, modems and chips means iPhone XS Max cannot utilize 5G connectivity at the hardware level. 
  5. Should I upgrade from iPhone XS Max to the iPhone 14 series?
    Upgrading to the latest iPhone 14 models provides benefits like full 5G speeds as networks mature alongside advanced cameras, better displays and improved performance. However XS Max remains a highly capable phone for many, especially on fast LTE networks. 
  6. Does iPhone XS Max work with 5G home internet?
    The iPhone XS Max will technically function and connect via Wi-Fi to 5G home internet services. However, the phone cannot utilize the direct 5G network connectivity from home routers or modems lacking any integrated 5G hardware internally. 
  7. Can I use 5G mobile hotspots with iPhone XS Max?
    Yes, you can still connect via Wi-Fi to external 5G mobile hotspots and routers to access those faster 5G speeds indirectly. But the iPhone XS Max itself lacks components to directly utilize 5G connectivity from hotspots through a wired connection. 
  8. What iPhone models support both Gigabit LTE and 5G?
    Starting with the iPhone 12 lineup released in late 2020, Apple has included support for both speedy Gigabit LTE and 5G connectivity across sub-6GHz and mmWave bands. iPhone 13 and iPhone 14 series build on that networking foundation

Leave a Comment