While HBO Max is now live in the US, those trying to access the streaming service in the UK will find it’s not available. Like with Disney+, Netflix and most other streaming services, HBO Max has launched exclusively in the US, but unlike the other streaming giants, there’s a big question mark around whether it’ll ever leave US shores and become available worldwide.
So, what does that mean to us in the UK? We can’t miss out on the great content like The Wire and True Detective that HBO Max offers, after all. Fortunately, there are ways to get around the virtual barrier, much like there is with Hulu, The CW and Netflix US, with the most effective tool being the humble VPN.
Here, we outline how to sign up to and watch HBO Max via your iPhone (or iPad!) in the UK. For more on the streaming service, take a look at how to get HBO Max for free, and the differences between HBO Max, HBO Now and HBO Go.
Watch HBO Max on iPhone using a VPN
So, you’ve gone to the HBO Max site and realised you can’t access it via your browser in the UK, right? That’s due to US exclusivity, but as with most geolocked content, you’ve got the option of using a VPN to trick the site into thinking you’re visiting from the US.
Using a VPN, otherwise known as a Virtual Private Network, allows you to mask your IP address to browse the internet as if you were a resident of another country. This is perfect for geolocked content like HBO Max, and also comes in handy if you want to watch BBC iPlayer when abroad.
There are plenty of great VPNs to choose from, but we’d recommend either ExpressVPN or NordVPN. We’ve used the latter to write this article, so we can confirm that it works. For a full list of alternatives, take a look at our selection of the best VPNs for HBO Max.
How to subscribe to HBO Max on iPhone in the UK
Once you’ve signed up to a VPN service, you’ll have to download and set up the VPN app on your iPhone. Once set up, follow these steps to install and watch HBO Max in the UK:
- Head to the Apple ID site on a PC to create a new US Apple ID. It’s important that you don’t use the built-in functionality on your iPhone to create a new Apple ID or you’ll be forced to input US-focused credit card details.
- When signing up for a new Apple ID, be sure to change Region to US. You can use a UK mobile number to sign up without having an effect on your chosen region, don’t worry.
- Verify your new Apple ID.
- On your iPhone, head to Settings > iTunes & App Store.
- Tap your Apple ID, and tap Sign Out.
- Tap again to sign in to your new US Apple ID.
- Go back to the main Settings menu and select General > Region and change your Region to United States. You can choose to keep UK formatting if you like.
- Go to the App Store and search for HBO Max - you should now be able to find and install it.
- If the App Store asks you for payment information at this stage - ignore it until you've got the HBO Max open and installed.
- Open your VPN app of choice and connect it to a US-based server. This step is very important, as even with the app installed, it won’t load if it detects a UK connection.
- Open the HBO Max app.
- Tap the Profile icon and create a new account with your email address and password. This doesn’t have to be the US Apple ID you created earlier, by the way.
- Use PayPal as the method of payment, allowing you to pay using a UK card.
- Verify your account.
You should then be able to access HBO Max as if you were living in the US, as long as you’ve got a US-connected VPN running anyway.
We have had reports of people not being able to install HBO Max on iOS as the app store forces users to register their payment details within the app store, and doesn't accept UK PayPal if you try to register with this account.
If this happens to you, we recommend purchasing US App Store credit via a digital gift card - which can be added as a US payment option.
This can be bought from places such as Amazon US, though there are other retailers available - you'll need a website that allows you to pay with UK bank details. The typical minimum amount you can purchase will be $25 - enough to cover one month's subscription of HBO Max.
If you set your email address as the recipient, the code to redeem the money will be sent to your inbox. When you come to add the payment information, select 'redeem gift card or code', and you should be able to add the money as credit on your account.
With this, you should then be able to sign up for an HBO Max account - and you should be able to change your payment information back to your UK PayPal via the website to avoid having to pay for a new gift card every single time.