You could be running Windows on your iPhone — but Apple won't let you

Gamma PS1 emulator on iPhone
(Image credit: Future)

Over the last few months, thanks to rule changes on the App Store, we’ve seen many emulators launch onto the iPhone’s iOS platform. Delta, Gamma, and other emulator apps that mimic games consoles of old are kicking off a long-awaited boom in retro gaming play on Apple’s devices, following Apple’s years’ long block of such applications.

But while you can go and play all your favorite GameBoy and PlayStation games (amongst others) on your iPhone, there is one piece of software that Apple simply doesn’t want you to get going on iOS at all — Windows.

That’s not to say it isn’t possible. But as one Windows emulator developer has found out, there’s a line that Apple just won’t cross when it comes to emulators on its mobile hardware.

“PC is not a console”

According to UTM developers on X, Apple has blocked an attempt to make a Windows emulator available on any app store that you might find on your iPhone. That doesn’t just include the official App Store, but also any third party app stores that you can install on your device across the EU region — so no Windows emulation on your iPhone for you.

In the statement, UTM claims that Apple thinks that the PC is “not a console”, which is apparently a prerequisite for getting your emulator through Apple’s barriers of entry. Despite, of course, there being a wide range of games available for the platform.

UTM, however, has apparently decided that fighting the blockage simply isn’t worth the time and money it would take to get Apple to listen. “We believe that UTM SE (which does not have JIT) is a subpar experience and isn’t worth fighting for.” Therefore, UTM will “adhere by Apple’s content policy decision”.

So, if you’ve been interested in running Windows on your iPhone 15 Pro Max, then you’re very much out of luck.

If you’re interested in running Windows on Apple devices, there are still ways you can do it. For one, you can be really naughty and side-load the UTM SE app for iOS, although that comes with all the requisite risks. You'd have to jailbreak your iPhone, which means no more official versions of iOS, like, ever again. That's not to mention the increased security risks of jailbreaking, or that if you get it wrong, you could end up with a very expensive glass and aluminum paperweight. A pretty one, but one that will remind you of your mistake every time you open the drawer you've put it in.

You can also use the full-size UTM app on Mac, or run virtual machines on your Mac with apps like Parallels — so while it’s not easy, it’s certainly not impossible.

Will UTM come at a later date with a different version for iOS? Maybe, although for now, it seems we won’t see it for some time.

iPhone 15 Pro Max |$33 per month$15 per month at Verizon

iPhone 15 Pro Max | $33 per month $15 per month at Verizon

You can currently save $839 over the course of your contract at Verizon, more than halving the monthly cost of the device. That's on the 512GB version as well, so you get more storage for your buck. Not that you can play Windows games easily on it — shame.

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Tammy Rogers
Senior Staff Writer

As iMore's Senior Staff writer, Tammy uses her background in audio and Masters in screenwriting to pen engaging product reviews and informative buying guides. The resident audiophile (or audio weirdo), she's got an eye for detail and a love of top-quality sound. Apple is her bread and butter, with attention on HomeKit and Apple iPhone and Mac hardware. You won't find her far away from a keyboard even outside of working at iMore – in her spare time, she spends her free time writing feature-length and TV screenplays. Also known to enjoy driving digital cars around virtual circuits, to varying degrees of success. Just don't ask her about AirPods Max - you probably won't like her answer.