GBA Emulators for iOS Without Jailbreak: 5 Best Apps

Game Boy Advance handheld Nintendo console

The Game Boy Advance was one of the most popular handheld gaming consoles ever made, and many of its titles are still beloved today. Fortunately, you no longer have to carry around a bulky console to play your favorite games. Instead, you can play your favorite games from the convenience of your iPhone with these GBA emulators for iOS.

Best GBA Emulators for iOS

Each of the emulators listed below allows you to play GBA games on your iPhone. However, they have different features that you should consider before choosing the right one. Some take a little longer than others to set up. Finally, apps like RetroArch support emulation for a variety of different consoles beyond GBA.

1. RetroArch

Retroarch emulator homepage

RetroArch may not be the absolute best choice for GBA emulation, but it is often considered the most versatile. If you already use emulation on another device, such as a Raspberry Pi or Steam Deck, then you are probably familiar with RetroArch.

It offers a simple interface that lets you play far more than GBA games. You can emulate other handhelds, like the GBC and NES. Installation is pretty simple, and it does not require a computer or any complicated software. However, you will need to source and install the console cores yourself.

2. Delta Emulator

Delta emulator homepage

Delta Emulator is a great option for GBA emulation on iOS because of its clean design and ease of use. It doesn’t support as many consoles as RetroArch, but it does include all of the cores needed for popular consoles such as the SNES, N64, GBC, GBA, and NES.

Another nice feature is that you can upload games directly from a Google Drive or DropBox account. This removes the need for complicated file downloads or transfers. It also supports most Bluetooth controllers, which is very convenient. If you don’t want to carry a controller around, you can also play with the on-screen buttons that mimic the original console.

3. GBA4iOS

GBA4iOS emulator homepage

GBA4iOS is one of the few standalone GBA emulators for iOS. Unlike many other emulation tools, GBA4iOS only supports GBA games. While that may seem a bit limiting, it is actually better since it perfects emulation on a single console instead of trying to support numerous devices.

GBA4iOS supports GBA and GBC games along with cheats. You can easily add games via DropBox, plus your saves also stay in the cloud. The controller skins are another nice feature, as they include a standard Game Boy Advance layout and an SP variant. One downside to GBA4iOS is that it requires BuildStore on iOS, which in turn is a $20 subscription.

4. Provenance

Provenance emulator homepage

Provenance is another all-in-one emulator that lets you play GBA titles, among other games. Provenance is easy to use since it lets you download games directly without fooling with file transfers or cloud storage.

The app’s layout is pretty generic, but it is very easy to navigate. Additionally, Provenance is very snappy, with practically no load times or pauses when booting a game or saving. The controls are also unique because they allow for full customizability.

5. Happy Chick

Happy Chick emulator homepage

Happy Chick is a great emulator that supports 18 different video game consoles on both iOS and Android devices. Most notably, you can play MAME arcade and PSP titles in addition to GBA games on Happy Chick.

Another great feature is online multiplayer, which is uncommon in this type of mobile emulator. The setup process is a little complicated, but the end result is well worth it. Happy Chick also supports cloud storage for saving data, but you can download ROMS directly to the emulator.

What Can You Play With a GBA Emulator?

A GBA emulator is designed to work with Game Boy Advance games. Keep in mind that not all GBA games will work perfectly with emulation. Because the original GBA handheld supported backwards compatibility, some GBA emulators can also play original Game Boy and GBC games. Multiplatform emulators like RetroArch support multiple consoles, including PlayStation and Sega.

Where to Get Emulator Roms?

There are a number of websites with downloadable ROM files. A quick Google search for you favorite GBA game will turn up ROM sites. Some ROMS are easier than others to find, with first-party games being the most difficult. Once downloaded, you can transfer the ROMs to a cloud storage service for easy access. Alternatively, some emulators let you download ROMs directly from the internet.

Do GBA Emulators Require a Jailbroken Device?

For many years the only way to run an emulator on iOS was with a jailbroken phone. Fortunately, that is no longer the case and there are now many workarounds to get a GBA emulator on iOS. Some emulators still require a jailbroken device, but the ones listed above do not. Additionally, there are also emulators that work entirely in a web browser.

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