You can now play Nintendo 3DS games on your iPhone — here's how

12 3DS games to buy
(Image credit: Nintendo)

With Apple opening up the App Store to emulators in April, we’ve seen a steady drip of emulator apps making their way into the iOS ecosystem. We’ve already seen emulators for the original Nintendo, the PlayStation 1, PSP and a Gameboy emulator (though the first one was quickly removed from the App Store). 

The latest one to catch our eye is the Folium app. Folium works with Game Boy Advanced and Nintendo DS. What makes it unique compared to other emulator releases is that Folium is the first emulator in the app store that works with Nintendo 3DS games, as seen by 9to5Mac

Folium says the app is a “beautifully designed, high performing multi-system emulator that allows you to play video games from retro consoles and handhelds, currently including cores for the Game Boy Advance, Nintendo 3DS and Nintendo DS.”

It’ll be interesting to see how the 3DS screens translate to the iPhone. Android 3DS emulators have the option of using a split screen on some of the best foldable phones, like the Galaxy Fold 5 or the Google Pixel Fold. For non-foldable phones, emulators like Citra push the lower screen into a small corner of the app. Apple has been tipped to be designing a foldable something, iPhone or iPad, it’s not clear yet. 

Folium is iPhone only and costs $4.99. If you want to try it yourself, you’ll need to be running iOS 15 or later. Most iPhones should be there already, especially with iOS 18 coming out later this summer at WWDC 2024. If you’re interested in emulation on the Apple TV or an iPad Pro, check out the RetroArch emulator, which was the first one available to Apple TV.

The Folium app works with MFi controllers such as the Nintendo Switch Joy-Con, PS4 and PS5 controllers. It also works with Xbox Series controllers or the BackBone One.

As a reminder, emulators on iOS do not come with games (or ROMs); they are just launchers for the various ROMs that they support. If you’re interested in getting a game into the emulator you’ll need to already have the ROM or download it. Once you have the file you’ll need to sideload the ROMs into the emulator front-end. For obvious legal and copyright reasons, emulators cannot actively provide ROMs to users.

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Scott Younker
West Coast Reporter

Scott Younker is the West Coast Reporter at Tom’s Guide. He covers all the lastest tech news. He’s been involved in tech since 2011 at various outlets and is on an ongoing hunt to build the easiest to use home media system. When not writing about the latest devices, you are more than welcome to discuss board games or disc golf with him.