Want to play Nintendo 3DS games on your iPhone? The first emulator has just landed on iOS

Nintendo 3DS
The Nintendo 3DS launched in 2010 (Image credit: Nintendo)

Apple opened up the iOS App Store to game console emulators back in April, and since then we've seen numerous apps of this type launched – and the latest one brings Nintendo 3DS emulation to the iPhone for the first time.

The app is Folium (via Android Authority), although you're going to have to part with some cash to get it: the emulation app, which also supports Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS games, will set you back $4.99 / £4.99 / AU$7.99.

If you've been longing to play Nintendo 3DS titles on your iPhone, now's your chance – though note that this social media post and video suggests there's still work to be done in terms of game optimization and customization.

Folium has been in testing for a while now, and the developer is promising plenty of updates to come. Based on this Reddit thread, if you're wanting to use the Nintendo 3DS emulation, you need a fairly powerful iPhone or iPad to get the best results – though that might change as the app is improved and optimized.

The rise of iPhone emulators

Folium iOS app

One of the consoles Folium emulates is the Nintendo 3DS (Image credit: Folium)

Under pressure from regulators, Apple has now allowed third-party app stores on iOS in the EU – and opening the door to emulators on the official iOS App Store (not just in the EU but globally) is a move Apple seems to have made to ensure those third-party alternatives aren't quite as appealing.

Emulators are tricky from a legal perspective, as technically you're breaking the law if you download and play a retro game you haven't paid for. Apple says the emulator developers are responsible for making sure their apps comply with "all applicable laws".

For now, it seems to be something Nintendo, Sony, and other console makers are prepared to tolerate. Since April, we've seen numerous emulators appear on iOS, including the Gamma app that runs Sony PS1 games.

While one Game Boy emulator has been kicked off the App Store, that was down to it ripping off another app, rather than anything it did in terms of emulation. As time goes on, we can expect more of these apps to make their way to iOS.

Please note the use of emulators may be in violation of the game developer and publisher terms and conditions as well as applicable intellectual property laws. These will vary so please check these. Emulators should only ever be used with your own purchased game copy. TechRadar does not condone or encourage the illegal downloading of games or actions infringing copyright.

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David Nield
Freelance Contributor

Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.