Mobile games are fine, but they don’t live up to the heights of classic Game Boy, Nintendo 64, or PlayStation titles. We’re talking about Super Mario 64, The Legend of Zelda, Pokémon, and much, much more. If you want to play these games on your iPhone, you need to install an emulator for iOS.

Apple doesn’t allow emulators on the App Store, simply we’ll show you four other ways to install them on your iPhone or iPad instead. Best of all, nigh of these methods are gratis and none of them crave yous to jailbreak your iPhone kickoff.

Explaining Emulators and ROMs

An emulator is a piece of software that mimics a computer system, like an old video games panel. If you desire to play a Nintendo DS game on your iPhone, for example, you need to install a Nintendo DS emulator.

You also demand a ROM for the game y’all want to play. A ROM is the software version of a video game. Y’all tin use the same ROM with multiple emulators, as long as the original game worked with the console you’re emulating.

While emulators are open source, making them gratuitous and legal to utilize, ROMs are a piddling more complicated. If you already ain a game, in some cases you can make a ROM version of it for personal use. Yet, a Nintendo FAQ has previously suggested that using ROMs of its games for whatever reason is against the law.

No matter what, information technology’south a crime to share a ROM with anyone else. That said, plenty of people do it anyway. All information technology takes is a quick Google search to find whatever ROMs you’re looking for.

Yous tin can so download them on your iPhone to open with your emulator of choice. We tin’t control if y’all choose to do this, just know that MakeUseOf does not condone this practice.

What Are the Best Emulators for iOS?

Before we prove yous how to install emulators on your iPhone or iPad, y’all probably want to know the iOS emulators we recommend. There’s easily plenty to talk about here for a separate article, and so we’ll keep information technology brief.

Here are the most pop emulators for iOS or iPadOS:

  • Delta:
    Multi-platform Nintendo emulator
  • GBA4iOS:
    Multi-platform Game Male child emulator, superseded by Delta
  • iNDS:
    Nintendo DS emulator
    PlayStation Portable emulator
  • Provenance:
    Multi-platform emulator, including Atari, Sega, and Sony systems
  • Happy Chick:
    Multi-platform emulator with a built-in ROM library, just lots of ads

Delta is probably the best emulator for iOS, with support for numerous Nintendo consoles including the Game Male child Accelerate, N64, and Nintendo DS (for the Delta developer’s Patreon subscribers). The best mode to install Delta is using the AltStore, which is the 4th method detailed below.

How to Install iPhone Emulators Without Using the App Store

Apple doesn’t permit emulators on the App Shop, which is why it’s so much easier to install emulators on an Android device. Yet, there are plenty of other ways to install emulators on an iPhone without using the App Shop.

Here are four ways to get emulators on your iPhone or iPad, from the simplest to the near complicated. The simplest method also happens to exist the least reliable; for less frustration, yous may want to skip straight to the last option, using the AltStore, which is by far the most reliable free option.

1. Download Emulators From an Alternative App Store

Endless websites make it quick, gratis, and like shooting fish in a barrel to download emulators for your iPhone or iPad. All you lot need to do is find the emulator you want on one of these alternative App Stores, download it, then tell your iPhone to trust that app’s developer. The problem is that these emulators terminate working all the fourth dimension, particularly if you’re always running the latest version of iOS.

You’ll frequently find the emulator you want isn’t available, or the one you downloaded last calendar week doesn’t work anymore. This happens when Apple revokes the developer’south “enterprise certificate,” which is what lets you install apps outside of the App Store.

It can accept anywhere from a couple of hours to several weeks for the programmer to get a new certificate, during which time yous tin’t install that emulator. You lot can’t even use it if you already installed information technology. There’southward nothing you lot can do except cross your fingers and wait, or endeavor a unlike website.

Still, if yous want a quick download, without needing to pay anything, these sites are usually your best option.

Visit any of the following alternative App Stores using your iPhone or iPad and tap the
push button next to the emulator you desire. Watch out for ads and follow the onscreen instructions for each site:


Later on downloading an emulator, you lot should see an iOS or iPadOS warning asking for permission to install information technology. Tap
Install, so wait for it to appear on your Home screen. Lastly, go to
Settings > General > VPN & Device Direction
and tap the developer’s name to
that app.

If an app says “Unable to install” then it’south currently revoked. Try another store or skip to the next method instead.

2. Purchase a BuildStore Subscription for More Reliability

BuildStore website banner

The BuildStore uses the same method as above, but has far fewer revoked apps considering it limits access to registered devices. Y’all need to pay a hefty sum of $19.99 per month to register your device, after which you tin can download any of the available emulators at no farther cost.

While nearly emulators from the websites to a higher place become revoked virtually once every three weeks, this simply happens to apps on the BuildStore about three times a yr on boilerplate. And when they are revoked, the BuildStore gets them back up and running much quicker.

When you sign upwardly for the BuildStore, you register a particular device. That ways if you lot upgrade or supersede your iPhone, y’all’ll demand to pay for a subscription once again.

Follow these steps to sign up for a BuildStore business relationship:

  1. From the device yous want to download emulators on, open Safari and go to
  2. Follow the links to
    Become Admission Now, then create an account.
  3. Follow the prompts to sign up, or sign in if yous already have an business relationship.
  4. Sign in to PayPal to fix payment for the subscription.
  5. Tap the push to
    Install Profile, then
    the BuildStore to download a configuration contour from the popup that appears.
  6. Go to the
    on your device and tap the
    Contour Downloaded
    link at the superlative of the page. Alternatively, get to
    General > VPN & Device Management.
  7. Enter your passcode and agree to
    the profile.

The next time you visit the BuildStore, sign in to view the range of emulators. Select the emulator you want, then tap
Install, followed by
to download and install that emulator on your iPhone or iPad.

3. Use Cydia Impactor to Compile Emulators

Cydia Impactor install window on macOS

Cydia Impactor is a free Mac, Windows, and Linux app that makes it incredibly easy to install custom apps on an iPhone or iPad. All you demand to practice is download the source code for the emulator yous want, then drag and drop it into the Cydia Impactor window.

Cydia compiles the code and installs that emulator on your iPhone. It works every bit though you lot developed the app yourself and are installing it on your iPhone for testing purposes.

Without an official Apple Developer account (which costs $99 per year), you need to repeat this procedure every seven days to re-sign the app. If that sounds like too much hassle, take a look at the AltStore method below.

Follow these instructions to install emulators using Cydia Impactor:

  1. Download and install Cydia Impactor on your figurer.
  2. Find and download the IPA file for the emulator you want. These are commonly bachelor for free with a quick Google search.
  3. Use the cablevision that came with your iPhone or iPad to connect it to your figurer.
  4. Launch the
    app and select your device from the dropdown menu.
  5. Drag and drop the emulator IPA file onto the Cydia Impactor window.
  6. Follow the prompt to enter your Apple ID and password. If you utilize ii-factor authentication with your Apple ID, create an app-specific password to use.

Cydia Impactor with iNDS emulator IPA file

Wait for Cydia to compile and install the emulator on your iPhone or iPad, subsequently which yous should observe information technology as an app on your Home Screen. Recollect to repeat this process every seven days to re-sign the app.

4. Use AltStore to Go the Delta Emulator Forever

AltStore website banner

The AltStore works in a like fashion to Cydia Impactor: compiling apps on your device as though you developed them yourself. Nonetheless, it automatically connects to your reckoner over Wi-Fi to re-sign apps, which means you don’t need to worry most the 7-24-hour interval time limit.

The most pop app bachelor through the AltStore is Delta.This is actually ane of the best multi-platform emulators for iOS, and the AltStore is the best way to install it.

For this to work, you need to install the AltServer app on your Mac or Windows PC. Y’all also need to brand sure your iPhone and computer regularly connect to the same Wi-Fi network while that app is running.

Follow these steps to install Delta on your iPhone using AltStore:

  1. Download and install AltServer on your Mac or Windows calculator.
  2. Apply the cablevision that came with your iPhone or iPad to connect it to the reckoner.
  3. Open iTunes (or Finder on macOS Catalina and later on) and turn on the option to sync your iPhone over Wi-Fi.
  4. Launch
    on your computer, and then open information technology from the card bar (or Organization Tray in Windows) and choose to
    Install AltStore
    on your iPhone or iPad.

    Install AltStore option from menu bar app on Mac

  5. Enter your Apple ID and countersign.
  6. On a Mac, follow the prompts to install and activate the Mail service plugin. This includes restarting the Post app and enabling the AltStore plugin from its preferences.
  7. Subsequently a few seconds, the AltStore app should announced on your iPhone.
  8. Get to
    Settings > General > VPN & Device Management
    and choose to
    your Apple ID. Then use the AltStore app to download and install Delta.

Employ Emulators to Play Classic Games on Your iPhone

Now that you know how to download and install emulators for iOS and iPadOS, you lot probably need help deciding which games to play kickoff. Almost everything is available to you, so it’s piece of cake to feel overwhelmed with choices.

Our advice is to revisit games from your childhood. What do you call up fondly? What did you never get the chance to play? If yous answered Pokémon to either of those questions, take a wait at our comprehensive guide to playing Pokémon on your iPhone and outset reliving your babyhood!