The 3 Best iPhone Emulators of 2020

Develop iPhone apps on PC and Mac computers

IPhone emulators are programs that replicate the hardware of an iPhone so that you can run iOS apps on other operating systems. App developers often use emulators to test iPhone software on Windows or Mac computers they use for programming. While they can't directly run apps from the Apple App Store, these iPhone emulators faithfully mimic the basic functionality of an iPhone.

These emulators are available for multiple platforms. Check individual software requirements to determine if a particular emulator is compatible with your device.

The Official iOS Emulator: Xcode

XCode iOS emulator
What We Like
  • Full integrated development environment for iOS.

  • Free and supported by Apple.

  • It's as close as you can get to testing the app on an actual iPhone.

What We Don't Like
  • Only works on Mac computers.

  • The interface doesn't support window tabs.

  • All of the options come with a steep learning curve.

Xcode is the best emulator for iOS developers because it was created by Apple. It emulates all Apple devices so that you can see how the layout of your app changes on different versions of the iPhone and iPad with and without a Retina display. Thus, you can ensure that your app for iOS 13 is backward compatible with iOS 10 devices.

Xcode also lets you alter the settings available on the simulated device, depending on the device and iOS version, to see how those settings affect your app. You can test how your app behaves when the screen is rotated to make sure it works in both portrait and landscape modes. If you want to dig deeper into using Xcode to test your app, check out the Xcode Help guide from Apple.

Best iPhone Emulator for Windows: Xamarin Remoted iOS Simulator (Included in Microsoft Visual Studio)

Microsoft Visual Studio
What We Like
  • Create iOS apps on your Windows PC.

  • Treats Windows stylus input as an iOS device treats an Apple pencil.

What We Don't Like
  • Requires both a PC and a Mac computer to use on Windows.

  • While you can download Visual Studio for free, the Xamarin plugin is priced at $99/month.

Microsoft Visual Studio is a popular software development platform for Windows and Mac that allows for the development of iOS apps using the Xamarin plug-in. It's powerful enough to support enterprise applications for a price, but individual users creating non-enterprise software can download the free Visual Studio platform.

Xamarin gives you access to important iOS tools like ARkit, Core ML 2, Siri Shortcuts, and Touch ID. While Xamarin requires a Mac to fully function, using it on a Windows device offers some benefits. For example, if you have a Windows touch-screen device, you can interact with the simulator or use shake gestures as if you were using an actual iPhone. You can pinch, swipe, take screenshots, and even use multi-finger touch gestures.

Best Web-Based iPhone Emulator: Appetize.io

Appetize.io iOS simulator
What We Like
  • No need to install any software.

  • Works on all operating systems.

  • Free version is suitable for app testing and validation.

  • Flexible pricing options for professionals and companies.

What We Don't Like
  • Interface occasionally lags.

  • Requires an internet connection.

  • No built-in development environment.

Appetize.io is a web-based iOS simulator. To use it, you need to upload a simulator build of an app. You develop your app using a platform such as Xcode or Xamarin before you can test it with Appetize.io. You need to upload it as a .zip or .tar.gz file, which contains the compressed .app bundle. After uploading your file, Appetize.io emails a link to you where you can run the app online. It lets you embed simulator apps into HTML code using iframes, which is useful for marketing your app or displaying demo presentations.

Appetize.io is compatible with many generations of iPhone from the iPhone 4S all the way up to the iPhone 11 Pro Max, along with some iPad models. The free trial allows for one concurrent user and 100 minutes of use per month. The basic package is for 20 concurrent users and 500 minutes per month. If you want unlimited users with 2,000 minutes per month, you can buy the premium package. For companies, the enterprise package offers unlimited usage.