Which iPhones support 5G?

14 October 2020

iPhone 12

5G is quickly becoming a near-essential technology in smartphones, as it’s such a massive mobile data upgrade, as can be seen below.

So the question Apple fans are currently asking is "Does my iPhone work with 5G?" The answer is probably no – because while the brand new iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Mini, iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max do support 5G, the older models don’t.

If you have an iPhone already or are thinking of buying one soon then your choice of iPhone has never mattered more – and if you want 5G then your choices are limited.

Below you’ll find full details of Apple’s 5G iPhones, along with details of the mobile data speeds of all other recent iPhones, and some of the key alternative 5G phones to consider if you’re not set on Apple.

Do any current iPhone models support 5G?

Apple’s first 5G phones arrived a lot later than Android rivals, which might seem odd, but below you’ll find an explanation for why that is, along with all the other information you need about 5G on the iPhone 12.

5G Coverage Checker

Find out which networks have launched 5G in your area, or when it is coming to your area.

How fast is mobile data on current iPhones?

iPhone Model 5G Ready Max Speeds

iPhone 12

Yes

5G

Max speeds 4Gbps

iPhone 12 Mini

Yes

5G

Max speeds 4Gbps

iPhone 12 Pro

Yes

5G

Max speeds 4Gbps

iPhone 12 Pro Max

Yes

5G

Max speeds 4Gbps

iPhone 11 Pro / 11 Pro Max No

Cat 19 LTE

Max speeds 1600 Mbit/s

iPhone 11

No

Cat 16 LTE

Max speeds 1000 Mbit/s

iPhone SE 2020 No

Cat 16 LTE

Max speeds 1000 Mbit/s

iPhone XS / XS Max No

Cat 16 LTE

Max speeds 1000 Mbit/s

iPhone X / XR No

Cat 12 LTE

Max speeds 600 Mbit/s

 iPhone 8 / 8 Plus No

Cat 12 LTE

Max speeds 600 Mbit/s

iPhone 7 / 7 Plus No

Cat 9 LTE

Max speeds 450 Mbit/s

The iPhone 12 range all support 5G as noted, with Apple claiming that they can theoretically reach speeds of up to 4Gbps in real-world conditions.

Apple additionally claims that the iPhone 12 range supports more 5G bands than any other smartphone – meaning they should be able to tap into the full 5G potential of more networks across the world.

As for the older models, none of them support 5G, but the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max do support Gigabit LTE, which is a very fast form of 4G, which in this case uses 4x4 MIMO (meaning a greater number of antennas than standard 4G) and is capable of attaining peak download speeds of 1.6Gbps, or 1,600Mbps.

Technically the iPhone 11, iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max are capable of similar, but Apple has made additional speed improvements for the 11 Pro models, having moved on from Cat 16 (which tops out at 1Gbps) to Cat 19.

This makes the iPhone 11 Pro range theoretically significantly faster than the iPhone XS range, as well as the iPhone SE (2020) – which is also Cat 16 - and several times faster than the iPhone X and iPhone XR, both of which pack lesser Cat 12 LTE modems.

This elevated performance is starting to enter the orbit of 5G. However, real world speeds are still typically far lower both than the maximum theoretical speeds offered by these iPhones, and than current 5G speeds.

Plus, 5G speeds are expected to improve over time, as infrastructure improves and networks acquire more 5G spectrum at auction. 5G right now will typically be at least several times faster than even the speeds you’re likely to get from the iPhone 11 Pro, as our 5G speeds guide explains, and in future the gulf will only widen.

So if you want truly next-gen speeds, you need to opt for an iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Mini, iPhone 12 Pro, or iPhone 12 Pro Plus.

Why did Apple take so long to launch a 5G iPhone?

The fact that we didn’t get a 5G iPhone until late 2020 wasn’t that surprising. While Apple often leads the way with its design innovations, it’s famously slow to adopt new third-party connection standards. Historically, the company tends to wait until new standards are relatively mature and well on their way to mass-market adoption before it considers implementing them.

Apple’s handling of the switch to 3G and 4G provides ample evidence of this. The company didn’t equip the first iPhone with 3G connectivity when it launched in 2007, despite the fact that the first commercially available 3G networks had gone live globally in 2002 and 2003. It wasn’t until the launch of the appropriately named iPhone 3G in 2008 that Apple adopted the by then well-established mobile network standard.

Apple was similarly late to the party when it came to 4G. By the time the 4G-ready iPhone 5 hit the market in 2012, consumers had already experienced around two years of 4G Android phone releases.

Even the iPhone XS with its Cat 16 Gigabit LTE support arrived a good year and a half after the Samsung Galaxy S8 did likewise, and the iPhone 11 Pro hasn’t pushed things that much further.

On top of which, Apple spent much of 2018 and 2019 in legal tussles with Qualcomm – the company that makes the 5G modems for the initial 5G iPhones. That’s all settled now, but may well have delayed things. As might the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

What other 5G phones are there?

While only the iPhone 12 range supports 5G, there’s a whole lot of 5G Android phones, with more landing all the time..

These include the Samsung Galaxy S20 5G, Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus 5G, Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G, Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, Samsung Galaxy Note 20 5GOnePlus 8, OnePlus 8 ProOnePlus NordMoto G 5G PlusSamsung Galaxy A90 5GHuawei P40 range, and more.

Compare 5G phone deals

Should I buy the iPhone 5G?

If you’re a fan of the iPhone and have 5G coverage where you live and/or work then definitely. Even if you don’t have 5G coverage where you are now, if you’re planning to upgrade it’s worth getting a 5G phone so you’re future-proofed, and with all the latest iPhones supporting 5G they’re the obvious option to upgrade to.

The only reasons not to buy a 5G iPhone is if you’re happy with Android, happy with 4G, or want to save money.

There are many great 5G Android phones, as noted above, so you have loads of other options if you’re open to them. Some of them are also a lot cheaper than the iPhone 12 range – we’re thinking phones like the OnePlus Nord and Moto G 5G Plus, so they could also help on the saving money front.

If you’re more than happy with 4G meanwhile, you could consider the relatively affordable iPhone SE (2020), but most flagships and many mid-rangers now come with 5G, so whether you’re buying Apple or Android you don’t necessarily have to spend any extra to get it.

James Rogerson
About James Rogerson

Sub-Editor at 5G.co.uk

James is sub-editor at both 5G.co.uk and TechRadar. Also works as a researcher/ technical writer for 5G.co.uk and several other websites including TechRadar, T3, Smart TV Radar, 3G.co.uk with work on the web, in print and on TV.

View more posts by James Rogerson >

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