How to Run Dolphin Emulator on iOS

Recently, the landscape for mobile gaming has massively improved. More powerful hardware, slimmer devices, and longer battery life have made gaming more accessible to the general public. There have even been innovations in how you play! Devices like the Backbone attach to your phone to transform it into a more responsive, ergonomic controller.

For people like me who don’t want to play newer games, though — what does that look like? How easily can I emulate old consoles on my super-powerful smartphone? The answer is pretty straightforward but requires a little tech know-how if you have an iPhone. As a rule of thumb, emulating anything is much easier on Android. The reason this post exists is that I recently made the switch to the latest iPhone and wanted to share my experience!

What is Dolphin Emulator?

Dolphin is a free, open-source emulator that’s been around for ages. Most commonly used on PC, Dolphin also has separate apps for Android and iOS. Using this emulation software you can play games from old consoles like the Wii or GameCube for free using “ROM” files. You can find these “ROM” files in various online archives via a simple Google search. Dolphin can run these off your device to boot up the game.

Setup Guide

Before starting, you’ll need a few things. Besides an iPhone, you’ll also need a Mac and a cable to connect them. This will be useful later on.

1. Download Dolphin IPA

Dolphin must be downloaded through a laptop, set up using AltServer, and then moved onto your phone to properly install. Dolphin iOS can be downloaded here.

2. Download AltServer & AltStore

This is where you’ll need to hook up your laptop to the phone. The AltStore is required to get Dolphin running on iOS. This third-party app store is acquired using a MacOS app called AltServer. Download AltServer using your laptop here, and, following the instructions in the link, you should be able to use this software to download AltStore on your phone.

Using AltServer, now, you can also access the Dolphin IPA file on your laptop and use this software to install Dolphin onto your iPhone. Almost there!

3. Trust Developer Certificate(s)

After everything’s been downloaded, the software needs to be trusted. On iOS, navigate to: Settings > General > Device Management > Developer App. From here, trust the certificate(s) related to Dolphin.

4. Find & Import Game ROMs

I won’t link to any actual archives in this guide, but finding ROMs is relatively easy and risk-free these days. I would search for this online and download it to your phone. From there, you can open up the Dolphin software and import the file. Once that’s done all you should have left to do is start playing!

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