What is Citra 3DS emulator and how do you use it on Android?


Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra Emulation Nintendo 3DS Super Mario 3D Land

Emulation is one of the many cool things you can do with Android devices and now that Citra 3DS is on the Play Store you have even more options. This official version was released for Android in May 2020 and offers several advantages over previous unofficial versions.

Here we are going to describe everything you need to know about Citra 3DS Emulator for Android, starting with a bit of history. You can also download it right away by clicking below.

What is the Citra emulator?

Asus ROG Phone 3 with Xbox controller Citra Nintendo 3DS

Credit: C. Scott Brown / Android Authority

Citra was the first Nintendo 3DS emulator for PC. It was first released by developer Team Citra in 2014, and they’ve gradually added support for more games over the years. The developers are still actively working on it, and it now supports most commercial games, save states, and even online play. The latter is currently only available on PC.

Also read: The best emulators for Android to read old favorites

Citra isn’t the only 3DS emulator available these days, but it’s the best. It can’t play all 3DS games, but it supports big hitters like Pokémon, The Legend of Zelda, and Animal Crossing.

It should be noted that the Citra team is only developing the emulator itself. Hacking 3DS games is still very illegal. Even if you own the cartridge, downloading ROMs is still a legal gray area. The only legal way to get 3DS ROMs is to empty them yourself from a cartridge you own. Citra has a little guide about it here.

Didn’t Citra already launch on Android a few years ago?

The Android app launched in 2018 was not an officially licensed app from Citra. This first app was developed by SachinVin, an independent developer outside of the official Citra team. While the app was a great start to what Citra users requested, it did have some performance issues.

The The Citra team said that performance issues with the app developed by SachinVin “led to an increase in requests for support and features from the team – which had nothing to do with this unofficial Android port.” They also stated that “while the team has applauded this developer’s efforts, [they] had to refuse to provide support for this because it was unofficial. ”

Although the Citra team could not provide support for this application, they invited SachinVin to collaborate with them to produce an application that Citra users would love (and could actually use). We tested this unofficial app on the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra and OnePlus 7 Pro earlier this year, and you can read all about the results below.

Check: Tested: Is the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra the best Android phone for emulation?

What’s new in the official Citra 3DS emulator?

Several issues had to be addressed after Citra brought SachinVin to the team. The app settings were not saved, the button overlay was cut off, and there were numerous graphics and layout issues as well. These problems had to be fixed, then tested, then fixed again, and so on. Android is a delicate system to work with. So it took a lot of work on the app before it was presented to the public.

In addition to resolving technical issues, Citra has also implemented many features that improve performance. To list a few, GPU emulation on one of the processor cores, OpenGL ES tweaks, the ability to use your phone’s keyboard in games that require it, support for motion control and camera / microphone functionality.

One of the best additions was the ability to use an external gamepad with the app. Fortunately, a member of the Citra team realized how many people would like gamepad support, so they worked it out. It works with almost any gamepad. So if you have one, you won’t have to worry about using pesky touch controls. The Citra team even says that if your gamepad isn’t working, you can contact them on their Discord server; they’ll try to figure out what the problem is and get your gamepad working. How cool is that!

Also read: Best N64 emulators for Android

How do you use Citra Emulator?

How to use Citra Emulator

Credit: C. Scott Brown / Android Authority

Once you have downloaded and installed Citra Emulator on your Android device, there are a few steps you need to take before you can start playing. We won’t cover all of the app settings, but rest assured that there are plenty of ways to improve performance. Make sure that all of your ROMs (legally acquired) are saved in the same folder on the device before you start.

Here are the basic steps for using Citra Emulator on Android:

  1. Download the app from Google play store.
  2. Open the app and grant permission requests.
  3. Select the folder containing your ROMs.
  4. Pick a game and start playing!

If your performance is choppy, it is possible that your device is simply not powerful enough to run a 3DS emulator. It takes a lot of juice, so anything other than a flagship of recent years will struggle.

With that said, there are a few things you can try. First, change the internal resolution to 1x. You can also enable the Enable Asynchronous GPU Emulation option and disable Precise Shader Multiplication for a smaller boost. Also, keep in mind that not all 3DS games will work and some will perform better than others.

Citra Premium features

While you can download the Citra Emulator app for free from the Play Store, a paid Premium version is offered as an in-app purchase. It costs around $ 5 and unlocks a few special features like a dark theme and texture filtering.

The real benefit of Citra Premium is to support developers. They have been working on Citra for years at their own pace. By supporting them, you can rest assured that the app will continue to update in the future!


It is clear that the Citra team wants to bring a fantastic product to Citra fans on other platforms. They are constantly updating the app (at the time of writing this article, the last update was 01/26/2021). While the app is still in early access, it seems to be working just fine. And you can be sure that even after the app is out of this phase, Citra Team will do everything possible to improve and improve the emulator for its users.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *