Nintendo 3DS Emulator for iPhone Released in App Store With Caveats

Folium has become the first Nintendo 3DS emulator for the iPhone available in the App Store, although there are some caveats to be aware of.

Folium Alpha Sapphire Feature
Foremost, this is the first Nintendo emulator on the App Store that costs money. Folium developer Jarrod Norwell is charging $4.99 for the app, which is a bold choice given that Nintendo recently sued the developers of Yuzu, a Nintendo Switch emulator that made a profit off a subscription-based "early access" tier. Yuzu reached a $2.4 million settlement with Nintendo and discontinued its emulator earlier this year. It is unclear if Nintendo will take any action against Folium, but it might risk more scrutiny as a paid app.

Second, Apple does not allow emulators to use "just-in-time" (JIT) compilation. This limitation can result in Nintendo 3DS games having reduced performance, especially on older iPhone models, but your mileage may vary. We recommend reading user reviews on Reddit and elsewhere before deciding whether to purchase Folium.

Third, it is possible that another all-in-one emulator on the App Store like RetroArch could add Nintendo 3DS support for free in the future.

With all of that in mind, Folium gives you the opportunity to relive classic Nintendo 3DS games on your iPhone right now, provided that you supply the ROMs. However, be aware that downloading copyrighted games is illegal in many countries.

Folium also offers Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS emulation, but we recommend using the free Delta app for those consoles. Folium is compatible with many hardware controllers, including the Nintendo Switch Joy-Con, Nintendo Switch Pro Controller, Backbone One, and the latest PlayStation and Xbox controllers.

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Top Rated Comments

prismamidi Avatar
2 weeks ago
It’s astonishing how little people here know about the legality of emulators.

It’s perfectly legal to charge money for one, that was settled over 20 years ago.

Yuzu died because their devs were sharing ROMs between them and developing it on unreleased games. Not because they charged for it.

This will not be pulled and Nintendo has no legal grounds to sue the dev.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
purplerainpurplerain Avatar
2 weeks ago

does it support MACOS?
Dude….are you posting from Windows? If you type on an Apple device it will always auto correct to ‘macOS’
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Sir_Macs_A_Lot Avatar
2 weeks ago
I don't see Nintendo letting this one slide, as they are openly making money through the App Store. I just hope Delta doesn't get hit with collateral damage.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
AppleTO Avatar
2 weeks ago

It is unclear if Nintendo will take any action against Folium, but it might risk more scrutiny as a paid app.
Haven't we been down this road many times before? If the emulator doesn't contain any of Nintendo's property, regardless of cost, what grounds do they have to sue?
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Pakaku Avatar
2 weeks ago

there is the other detail that emulators enable infringing on the copyrighted ROMs
The user is responsible for getting their own ROMs, not the emulator devs. So if the devs aren't supplying the ROMs, then they shouldn't be getting in trouble.

There's also the matter of how a user even gets their own ROMs. Piracy is obviously illegal. Dumping your own games privately technically shouldn't be a problem if you're not distributing them publically. But as above, that's not the emulator devs' responsibility either.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
aloysiusfreeman Avatar
2 weeks ago

You can buy 3DS games all day on eBay, Mercari etc. They did not suddenly disappear from existence.
As I said in my post, there is no way to buy Nintendo games through retail. Buying games on eBay only profits the previous owner, not Nintendo or the developers.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)