The best PSP emulators for iPhone/iOS

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Written By Paulo Papa

Father, nerd, writer.

If you're an iPhone user who wants to take a trip down memory lane, we have you sorted. Here we answer - what is the best PSP emulator for iPhone/iOS!

Apple products — such as the iPhone — are not the type of devices one immediately thinks of when we talk about gaming. However, with the help of emulators, you can now use such devices for playing games from platforms like the PlayStation Portable (PSP). 

And oh! Here’s our best pick for PSP emulators for Android, should you be using devices running on this operating system. 

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With that out of the way, let’s begin.

Best PSP emulator for iPhone/iOS

Let’s take a look at two of the best PSP emulators for iPhones — just in case you’re feeling the itch to revisit some of your favorite titles for Sony’s most popular handheld console

1. RetroArch for iPhone/iOS

Photo from RetroArch

RetroArch is a multi-platform emulation system that can be used with various devices, including iPhones.

Aside from running PSP games, RetroArch is capable of playing titles from other platforms. From classic ones such as NES, Game Boy, and Game Boy Advance, to more modern consoles like Play Station 2, Xbox 360, and Wii U.

RetroArch is popular among emulation communities thanks to it being free and highly customizable. By the way, you can download RetroArch for iOS here

Here are some of its sought-after features.

RetroArch for iPhone/iOS: Features

Polished interface: Since the RetroArch UI (user interface) is not exactly beginner-friendly, feedback from users — especially ones new to emulation — revealed that there was bit of a learning curve with this app.

The team behind the emulation system has worked on making it less overwhelming for users of all levels. Hence, RetroArch now boasts a more polished interface where your game collection can be viewed through a beautiful top box-oriented menu. The menu also supports thumbnails and features various animated backgrounds.

Next-frame response time: One of the more impressive features offered by RetroArch is the next-frame response time. What this means is that there is no obvious difference in how the game plays from the original hardware to the emulated system.

Highly customizable: As we’ve briefly covered above, fans have loved RetroArch for its highly-configurable settings. This means you can tweak your games down to the smallest details. You can change how it looks, how it sounds, and even how it runs.

RetroArch: Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Free to download
  • Highly-customizable
  • Can run on various devices
  • Achievements, trophies, and badges
  • Recording and streaming

Cons:

  • Customization options can be overwhelming for beginners

In terms of performance, RetroArch runs PSP games on my iPhone XR with ease. Games I love to play on an iPhone include PSP classics like Gran Turismo, Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions, Tekken: Dark Ressurection, and Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII.

We do suggest playing with an external D-pad like GameSir when playing with an iPad, or a backbone phone controller like the Razer Kishi if you are gaming on an iPhone. 

2. PPSSPP for iPhone/iOS

Photo from PPSSPP

No app is does better PSP emulation than the PPSSPP. In my book, it beats RetroArch and other PSP emulators in that regard. It is the leading emulation system for the Sony PSP and offers a superior experience when it comes to running PSP games. 

First thing I’d like to point out is that the iOS version of the PPSSPP — much like its Android version — beautifully recreates the vibe and feel of the PSP UI. The smooth blue background, as well as the moving square, triangle, circle, and x buttons, are some nice touches. Also, saving and loading your progress has a very similar feel to that of the original PSP console. 

Everything you need to game is also shown to you in a simple and straightforward layout. Your recently played games, your game library, as well as homebrew and demos, are all found at the top of the home page.

There’s no need to watch YouTube video tutorials, read how-to blogs, or join Reddit forums, just so you can get accustomed to the system’s interface. Everything is elementary and I would praise its out-of-the-box gaming experience. 

While you can apply tweaks here and there, the user-friendly interface of the PPSSPP for iPhones makes it an inviting app. 

Its settings, should you want to go there, offer relevant customization options which include things like virtual D-pad personalization, HD resolution support, various audio options, and joystick calibration, among others. 

You can download the PPSSPP app from PPSSPP’s website. All you need to do is to proceed to the Downloads section, and select “PPSSPP for iOS.” While there, you can also download the app for your Mac by selecting “PPSSPP for Mac.” 

PPSSPP: Features

Constantly updated: One of the best things about PPSSPP is that it is constantly updated. Since today’s smartphones are always being updated Henrik Rydgård, the creator of the emulator, is always making fixes for PPSSPP to ensure that it runs smooth on many of today’s devices.

PSP-focused settings: Compared to RetroArch, the customization options found inside the settings of PPSSPP are obviously not impressive. However, one has to take note that the PPSSPP is a PSP emulator and not a multi-platform system like the abovementioned RetroArch.

It also means that the settings are not as overwhelming to users. In fact, they are much akin to the ones you will find on the original PSP.

Can transfer saves from PSP: Picking off from where we left, yes, PPSSPP is a PSP emulator and is not the jack-of-all-trades like RetroArch. One of its advantages though is its ability to transfer saves from the original PSP so you can continue your progress from your actual handheld console. How cool is that?

PPSSPP: Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Feels like the real deal
  • Very user-friendly
  • Always updated
  • Will let you transfer PSP save files

Cons:

  • Customization settings might disappoint seasoned emulation gamers

What is the best PSP emulator for iPhone/iOS?

Photo from PPSSPP

So, hands down, PPSSPP is the best PSP emulator for iPhone/iOS.

It’s not surprising to see why many fans, myself included, choose PPSSPP as the best PSP emulator. Its combination of simple and easy-to-understand user interface as well as its very PSP-esque theme pique one’s nostalgia without having to overwhelm a player with a demanding download or set-up experience. 

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