HBO Max: price, films, and how to get a free trial

Max: price, films, and how to get a free trial
(Image credit: Warner Bros Discovery)

Max (previously known as HBO Max) is a streaming service with a ton of top-drawer content from HBO, Warner Bros., New Line Cinema, DC and more. And now it has a new name, new content, new subscription tiers and a more expensive price.

When it first launched, it offered a free seven-day trial, and while that's now dried up, the service will surely launch in more countries around the world, which could mean free trials for those new territories.

Here's everything you need to know about Max.

You can also watch Max from abroad – handy, given that a deal with Sky means that the streaming service isn't available in the UK. So anyone travelling from a country where it is available can still watch their subscription wherever they are in the world.

How to watch Max outside the US

Max launched in Europe in late 2021, when it was still known as HBO Max. Can't get it where you are? Subscribers can access streams from abroad using a Virtual Private Network. With a VPN, you can access Max as if you were in the States. Check out Max and give it a go.

Below, we'll explain how to watch Max wherever you are, and on whatever device you have. Launched in May 2020, there are over 13,000 hours of premium content available through three tiers (as of 23rd May 2023): Max Ad-Lite ($9.99/month or $99.99/year), Max Ad Free ($15.99/month or $149.99/year) and Max Ad Free Ultimate ($19.99/month or $199.99/year). We'll break down what each tier offers in the next section.

Max is currently available in the US and select European countries – in October 2021 it came to Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Spain and Andorra, and in March 2022 it landed in 15 more European countries (though still not the UK). Thankfully, subscribers can watch while abroad using a VPN.

Max price: how much does it cost? Is there a free trial?

Max price: how much does it cost? Is there a free trial?

(Image credit: HBO)

The new pricing and name come into effect on 23rd May. Here's what the three Max tiers offer.

  • Max Ad-Lite ($9.99/month or $99.99/year): ad-supported streaming, 1080p, two concurrent streams, no offline downloading and 5.1 surround sound
  • Max Ad Free ($15.99/month or $149.99/year): no ads, 1080p, two concurrent streams, 30 offline downloads and 5.1 surround sound
  • Max Ad Free Ultimate ($19.99/month or $199.99/year): no ads, up to 4K HDR streaming, four concurrent streams, 100 offline downloads and Dolby Atmos sound

Now, a couple of things to note. Firstly, 4K HDR and Dolby Atmos were previously included in the $15.99/month tier, but now have been bumped to the pricier $19.99/month one. Secondly, the cheapest tier used to cost $6.99/month. Whichever way you slice it, the service is more expensive than before.

The Ad Free tier is $0.50 pricier than Netflix's equivalent, and Ad Free Ultimate costs the same as Netflix's Premium tier. So Max is being positioned as a high-end streaming service. It might not have the same depth of content as Netflix, but the quality of its offering is undeniable, especially now it incorporates Discovery+.

Max free trial: how can you get one?

Sadly, Max has stopped offering a free trial. Keep an eye on for all the latest Max deals. Previously, HBO has offered 20% off HBO Max subscriptions, cutting the price of the ad-free tier from $14.99 to $11.99 a month, and the ad-supported plan from $9.99 to $7.99 a month. So there are deals to be had, you just might have to wait.

Which devices support Max?

Which devices support Max?

(Image credit: HBO)

You'll find the Max app on a wide range of smart TVs (including those from Sony, Samsung and LG), games consoles, smartphones and streaming devices. These include Roku streaming devices (with OS 9.3 and above), Chromecast dongles, Amazon Fire tablets (4th gen or later), Amazon Fire TV, Amazon Fire TV Stick, Amazon Fire TV Cube and Amazon Fire TV Edition Smart TVs.

Other smart TV platforms with Max are Roku TV, Samsung TVs (2016 or later), Android TV (OS 5+) and the Apple TV box (4th gen or later).

It's also available on all laptop and desktop computers running Mac OSX, Windows or Chrome OS as well as Android smartphones and tablets (with Android OS 5 or later) and iOS 12.2 or later devices.

Owners of the PS4, PS5 and both Xbox One X and Xbox Series X and S are also in luck.

Max on Roku and PS5

As of 2021, Max has been available on Roku streaming devices and PS5 consoles.

To watch Max on Rokudownload the Max app from the Roku Channel Store. You can subscribe directly to Max through your Roku device, or if you've already subscribed to HBO through Roku, the HBO app will automatically update to become Max. Then just log in using your HBO credentials and you're away.

To HBO Max on PS4 and PS5, go to the PlayStation Store and search for Max. Then, select Max and select 'Download'. Once downloaded, open Max and sign in.

Max on Fire TV stick

We get a lot of people asking us how to 'watch Max on Firestick'. Well, it's easy. Most Amazon Fire streaming devices including Fire TV sticks, Fire tablets and Fire TV Edition smart TVs support Max.

You'll find the Max app under Apps & Games in the Fire TV app. US customers with Amazon Alexa can navigate to the HBO Max app by saying, “Alexa, find Max” into their Voice Remote or a paired Echo device.

How to watch Max in the UK

How to watch Max in the UK

(Image credit: HBO)

Although Max is only available in the US and select European countries at the moment, it's relatively simple to access the service from outside the US using a reliable VPN or "Virtual Private Network". This lets you access the service on your laptop, smart TV, set-top box or streaming stick.

A VPN is a handy application that creates an encrypted connection between your device and the internet, meaning the information passed back and forth is entirely private. Crucially, it lets you pick an IP address server in the country whose content you'd like to access. In the case of Max, you'll need a US server.

VPNs are a doddle to use and run in the background, so they won't interfere with your streaming fun. That said, some VPNs are more reliable than others. As a rule we’d suggest a paid-for service such as ExpressVPN.

Try ExpressVPN risk-free for 30 days

Try ExpressVPN risk-free for 30 days
ExpressVPN offers a 30-day money back guarantee with its VPN service. You can use it to watch on your mobile, tablet, laptop, TV, games console and more. There's 24/7 customer support and three months free when you sign-up. Try it – it's easier than you think.

Do I need a US credit card?

How to watch Max in the UK

(Image credit: HBO)

If you don't have a credit card issued in the US the best option is to use PayPal or subscribe on your iPhone/iPad or Android phone/tablet. 

How to sign up to Max without a US credit card:

1. Launch your chosen VPN and select US as your country 

2. Create a new Apple ID/Google account remembering to pick US as your country. (Apple users can use a UK phone number but should head to the Apple ID website to sign up, rather than using an app on their device). 

3. Use your new Apple ID/Google account to access the US Apple App Store or US Google Play Store and download the Max app.

4. Subscribe to Max through the Max app, using PayPal (this can be a UK account) as your method of payment.

5. Bingo! You should now be able to sign in to your Max account from any device.  

Fun fact: you can use this method to subscribe to other US streaming services, including Hulu and Peacock TV, as well as the US versions of Disney+ and Netflix.

Max shows and films: what can you watch?

As you'd expect, the Max app offers access to the complete HBO catalogue – shows such as The Sopranos, The Wire, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Veep, Westworld and South Park. 

You also get access to WarnerMedia's vast library of movies and TV shows stretching back 100 years, from Casablanca and Citizen Kane to Braveheart and the Harry Potter films.

More recent fare includes the final season of Succession, The Last of Us, Barry, White House Plumbers, The Matrix Resurrections, Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts, and Ron's Gone Wrong. There are also new spin-off programmes in the Game Of ThronesThe Batman and The Big Bang Theory franchises coming soon, as well as a retelling of the Harry Potter books via a TV series that will supposedly take place over the next 10 years. Exciting.

Previously, Max struck a deal to stream Warner Bros. entire slate of 2021 movies on the day they're released in theatres. The 2021 Warner titles were available on HBO Max for 31 days, so you could play (and pause) them from the comfort of your sofa. Only subscribers to HBO’s standard tier ($14.99 a month) could enjoy streaming same-day theatrical releases. That deal has now ended – now Warner films debut in cinemas before coming to Max 45 days later – but keep an eye out for similar perks in future.

The full list of films covered by that deal was as follows: Wonder Woman 1984, The Suicide Squad, The Matrix Resurrections, King Richard, Dune, Godzilla vs. Kong, Cry Macho (starring Clint Eastwood), Tom & Jerry, The Little Things (starring Denzel Washington), Judas and the Black Messiah, The Many Saints of Newark, Mortal Kombat, Space Jam: A New Legacy, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, Malignant, Reminiscence and Those Who Wish Me Dead. 

Prefer Japanese anime? Max is the only streaming service that provides access to content from the legendary Japanese film studio Studio Ghibli in the US. Fan of 90s sitcoms? Max is also the place to see the Friends and Fresh Prince of Bel Air reunions. New episodes of Frasier aired on Paramount+ in 2022. 

What audio and video formats are available?

How to watch Max in the UK

(Image credit: HBO Max / WarnerMedia)

The majority of Max content is presented in HD but the service also offers 4K HDR titles with Dolby Atmos audio. To begin with, this was part of the $15.99/month tier, but now it's only available as part of the $19.99/month option.

Wonder Woman 1984 became the first film to stream in 4K HDR (Ultra HD) on HBO Max when it premiered on the service alongside the theatrical release on 25th December 2020.

All the Warner Bros. 'same day' movie premieres also debuted in 4K HDR.

How to watch Max in 4K HDR 

To enjoy Max content in 4K HDR with Dolby Atmos sound, you'll need:

1. 4K TV with support for HDR (Dolby Vision or HDR10).

2. Supported 4K HDR streaming device (Amazon Fire TV stick 4K and Fire TV Cube, Android TVs, Apple TV 4K, Google Chromecast Ultra/with Google TV, Roku Ultra 4800x, Roku 4K TVs, Roku Premiere, and Roku Streaming Stick+).

3. Dolby Atmos-capable soundbar or sound system.

4. Decent broadband connection – over 25Mbps ideally.

Set-up sorted? Max should automatically play the likes of Elvis and King Richard in 4K HDR with Dolby Atmos sound. The service will adjust the video quality based on your connection speed (you can't manually adjust the resolution in HBO Max).


Make the most of Max with these 4K TV deals

The best streaming services for TV and movies compared and rated  

Football fan? How to get a Premier League live stream

Tom is a journalist, copywriter and content designer based in the UK. He has written articles for T3, ShortList, The Sun, The Mail on Sunday, The Daily Telegraph, Elle Deco, The Sunday Times, Men's Health, Mr Porter, Oracle and many more (including What Hi-Fi?). His specialities include mobile technology, electric vehicles and video streaming.

With contributions from