An iPhone outline with a question mark on the screen

Cell phone carriers have been hyping 5G—a wireless connection standard that supports faster internet—for some time, but you might wonder which Apple iPhones support it. Can your iPhone get the fastest wireless data speeds? Here’s a list.

What Is 5G?

5G is an industry catchall term for a suite of 5th-generation wireless technologies that allow mobile devices to theoretically operate at much higher data transfer speeds on cellular phone networks than the previous 4G LTE standard. 5G has at times been received skeptically by the tech press, however, due to an uneven rollout and heady promises that have not always been fulfilled.

Still, an iPhone that supports 5G can potentially download data from the internet at much higher rates if your local cell towers support 5G. There are exceptions and caveats, of course, including how close you are to a 5G-enabled cell tower and how many obstructions are located between your iPhone and the tower—metal roofs, thick walls, or hills, for example.

Which iPhone Models Support 5G?

As of April 2022, nine models of iPhone support true 5G cellular connections:

  • iPhone 12*
  • iPhone 12 mini*
  • iPhone 12 Pro*
  • iPhone 12 Pro Max*
  • iPhone 13*
  • iPhone 13 mini*
  • iPhone 13 Pro*
  • iPhone 13 Pro Max*
  • iPhone SE (3rd Generation, 2022)**

* Currently only the U.S. models of the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 families support millimeter wave (“mmWave”) 5G technology, which allows the fastest wireless data speeds. See note below as well.

**The iPhone SE (3rd Generation) does not support millimeter-wave 5G at all. As noted in our review of the SE, it’s not a huge loss because mmWave speed isn’t realistic in many real-world scenarios. It only works if you’re very near a 5G cell tower with few objects in between that can interfere with the signal.

RELATED: Not All 5G Is Equal: mmWave, Low-Band, and Mid-Band Explained

If your iPhone is too old and doesn’t include 5G hardware, you’ll need to buy a new iPhone that supports 5G to get it.

The Best iPhones of 2023

Best iPhone Overall
iPhone 14 Pro
The Classic iPhone
iPhone 14
Apple iPhone SE (2022)
Best Budget iPhone
Apple iPhone SE (2022)
Best iPhone Camera
iPhone 14 Pro
Best Battery Life
iPhone 14 Pro Max

What About “5GE” on Earlier iPhones?

If you have an older-model iPhone than those listed above (such as the iPhone XS or iPhone 11) connected to the AT&T mobile network, you might notice a “5GE” in the upper corner of your screen. Previously, you would have seen “LTE” in the same place. This change happened with the iOS 12.2 update in 2019.

Unfortunately, seeing “5GE” on your iPhone does not mean your older iPhone can get 5G speeds. It is a marketing move by AT&T, attempting to rebrand existing 4G LTE technology so it doesn’t look like its mobile data services are falling behind its competitors. iPhone 11 and earlier phones do not physically include the hardware needed to connect to true 5G networks, so there is no potential for a future upgrade to 5G through software updates. You’ll need to purchase an iPhone 12 or later to take advantage of 5G speeds. Happy surfing!

RELATED: Apple iPhone SE (2022) Review: Annoyingly Great

Profile Photo for Benj Edwards Benj Edwards
Benj Edwards is a former Associate Editor for How-To Geek. Now, he is an AI and Machine Learning Reporter for Ars Technica. For over 15 years, he has written about technology and tech history for sites such as The Atlantic, Fast Company, PCMag, PCWorld, Macworld, Ars Technica, and Wired. In 2005, he created Vintage Computing and Gaming, a blog devoted to tech history. He also created The Culture of Tech podcast and regularly contributes to the Retronauts retrogaming podcast.
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