Although mobile games can be fine, they are not up to the same level as classic Game Boy, Nintendo 64, and PlayStation titles. Super Mario 64, The Legend of Zelda, and Pokemon are all examples. Install an emulator for iOS to allow you to play these games on your iPhone.
Apple does not allow emulators in the App Store. However, we will show you four ways to install them on your iPhone/iPad. These methods are all free, and you don’t have to jailbreak your iPhone.
Emulators and Roms
Emulator software is software that emulates a computer system. It’s similar to an old console for playing video games. Installing a Nintendo DS emulator is necessary if you want to play a Nintendo DS-related game on your iPhone.
A ROM is also required for any game you wish to play. A ROM is a software version of a game. The same ROM can be used with multiple emulators as long as it works with the original game you are emulating.
Emulators are free and legal to use. However, ROMs can be a bit more difficult. You can sometimes make a ROM of a game you already own if you have the right software. Nintendo previously stated that the ROMs of its games are against the law.
It is a crime to share any ROM with another person, no matter what. Despite this, many people do it anyway. It takes only a few seconds to Google the ROMs that you are looking for.
The files can be downloaded to your iPhone and opened with the emulator of your choice. Although we can’t be held responsible for your actions, MakeUseOf doesn’t condone them.
What are the best emulators for iOS?
Before we tell you how to install emulators for your iPhone or iPad, we suggest you know the iOS emulators that we recommend. We don’t have enough information to cover everything here, so we will keep this brief.
These are the top iOS and iPadOS emulators:
- Delta: Multi-platform Nintendo emulator
- GBA4iOS is Multi-platform Game Boy Emulator, which has been superseded and taken over by Delta
- iNDS: Nintendo DS emulator
- PPSSPP: PlayStation Portable emulator
- Provenance Multiplatform emulator, including Atari and Sega systems
- Happy Chick – Multiplatform emulator with an integrated ROM library and lots of ads
Delta is the most popular emulator for iOS. It supports many Nintendo consoles, including Game Boy Advance, N64, and Nintendo DS (for developers’ Patreon subscribers). You can install Delta using the AltStore. This is the fourth method described below.
How to install emulators on an iPhone/iPad
Apple does not allow emulators in the App Store. This is why it is so easy to install emulators on an Android device. There are many other methods to install emulators on iPhones without having to use the App Store.
From the easiest to the most difficult, here are the four methods to install emulators on an iPhone or iPad. You might want to skip to the AltStore option. This is the best and most reliable option.
1. Get Emulators from an Alternative App Store
Numerous websites make it easy and quick to download emulators for the iPhone or iPad. You just need to find the emulator that you are looking for on one of these alternative App stores, then download it and tell your iPhone to trust its developer.
Problem is, these emulators don’t work all the time. This is especially true if you are always using the latest iOS version.
The emulator you are looking for may not be available or it might not work as well as the one you downloaded last week. Apple will revoke the developer’s “enterprise certification,” which allows you to install apps outside the App Store.
The process of getting a new certificate can take from a few hours to several weeks. During this time, you cannot install the emulator. Even if the emulator is already installed, you can’t use it. You can’t do anything except wait or try another website.
These sites can be a good option if you need a quick download without paying anything.
Use your iPhone or iPad to visit any of these alternative App Stores. Tap the Install, Open buttons next to the emulator. Be aware of ads and follow the instructions on each site.
After installing an emulator, an iOS or iPadOS notification will appear asking permission to install it. Wait for it to appear on the Home screen. Go to Settings >General > VPN & Device Management, tap the name of the developer to Trust/HT2_ Install this app.
An app that says “Unable To Install” will be revoked. You can try another store or go to the next step instead.
2. For more reliability, subscribe to BuildStore
The BuildStore works in the same way as above but allows for far fewer revoked applications because it restricts access to registered devices. To register your device, you will need to pay $19.99 per month. After that, you can download any available emulators for free.
Although most emulators on the sites above are revoked approximately once every three weeks or so, it only happens to the apps in the BuildStore around three times per year. The BuildStore can quickly get them running again after they have been revoked.
You register one device when you sign up to the BuildStore. This means that if you want to upgrade or replace your iPhone you will need to purchase a subscription.
These steps will help you register for a BuildStore Account.
- Open Safari on the device that you wish to download emulators, and then go to builds.io.
- Follow these links to Access Now and create an account.
- Follow the prompts for sign up or log in if already registered.
- Register with PayPal to make payment for your subscription.
- Click the button to Install Profile and then Allow to the BuildStore to download configuration profiles from the popup.
- Navigate to the Settings page on your device. Tap the Profile downloaded link at top of the page. You can also go to General > VPN & Device Management.
- Enter your passcode to Create your profile.
Sign in next time you visit BuildStore to see the full range of emulators. To download the emulator that you like, tap Install and then Open.
3. Cydia Impactor is used to compile emulators
Cydia Impactor, a free Mac, Windows, and Linux app, makes it easy to install custom apps onto an iPhone or iPad. You just need to download the source code of the emulator that you desire, and then drag it into the Cydia Impactor window.
Cydia compiles and installs the emulator on your iPhone. It’s as if you created the app and are testing it on your iPhone.
To re-sign your app, you will need to go through this process seven times per week without an official Apple developer account. This costs $99 per calendar year. If all that seems like too much trouble, you can try the AltStore method.
These instructions will help you install Cydia Impactor emulators:
- Install Cydia Importer on the computer.
- Download the IPA file you need for your emulator. You can usually find them for free by doing a quick Google search.
- To connect your iPhone/iPad to your computer, use the cable included with it.
- Start the Improving app. Select your device from the dropdown menu.
- Drag and drop the emulator IPA files onto the Cydia Impactor window.
- Enter your Apple ID password and follow the prompts. You can use two-factor authentication with your Apple ID to create an app-specific passcode.
Wait for Cydia’s compilation to complete, then install the emulator on an iPhone or iPad. After that, you will find it as an application on your Home screen. You will need to do this again seven days later to re-sign your app.
4. AltStore is the best way to get the Delta Emulator for life
The AltStore functions in the same way as Cydia Impactor. It compiles apps on your device as you created them. It connects automatically to your computer via Wi-Fi to sign apps. This means that you don’t have to worry about the 7-day limit.
This will only work if you have the AltServer app installed on your Mac or Windows PC. While the app is running, you must ensure that your iPhone and computer are connected to the same Wi-Fi network.
Delta is the most downloaded app through the AltStore.
These steps will allow you to install Delta on an iPhone using AltStore.
- Install AltServer onto your Mac or Windows computer.
- To connect your iPhone/iPad to the computer, use the cable included with it.
- Open iTunes (or MacOS Finder Catalina or later) and enable the option to sync iPhone over Wi-Fi.
- Launch AltServer Open the file on your computer and then choose to open it in the menu bar (or System Tray in Windows). Install AltStore on Your iPhone or iPad.
- Enter your Apple ID password.
- Follow the prompts on a Mac to install and activate the Mail plug-in. You will need to restart the Mail app and enable the AltStore plug-in from your preferences.
- The AltStore app will appear on your iPhone after a few seconds.
- Go to Settings >General > VPN & Device Management, and select Trust with your Apple ID. Next, download the AltStore app and install Delta.
Use emulators to play classic games on your iPhone
You now know how to install emulators on iOS and iPadOS. But you need to decide which games you want to play. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer number of options available.
We recommend that you revisit childhood games. What are you most fondly remembered? What were you unable to do?
Take a look at our detailed guide to Pokemon on iPhone to see if you have answered those questions. Then, relive your childhood with Pokemon!