Hadlee Simons / Android Authority
Android is a fantastic platform for emulation, as everything from Atari and the NES to PS1 and GameCube can be played on your modern smartphone. However, one of the biggest challenges in this space has been PS2 emulation, with the likes of Play and the shady DamonPS2 emulator taking a stab at the task. A new PS2 emulator landed on Android in late 2021, dubbed AetherSX2.
You only need to try out a few games to realize that this is easily the best PS2 emulator on the platform. So what should you know about it? We’ve got you covered with our guide to the emulator.
A brief history of AetherSX2
AetherSX2 is the brainchild of one person, a developer who goes by the handle Tahlreth. The developer actually used the PCSX2 emulator as the basis for their Android-based emulator. PCSX2 is a long-running, well-established emulator on PC, so it makes sense to take advantage of the work that has gone into this program.
The developer of AetherSX2 got the green light to use the PCSX2 code from the developers themselves and is licensed under the LGPL license — unlike the DamonPS2 developers, who stole the code and didn’t follow the requisite license.
In any event, the emulator was initially released in December 2021 via the Google Play Store as an open beta. You can also sideload the APK via the AetherSX2 website. We’d recommend you steer clear of any other websites claiming to offer the APK.
The AetherSX2 emulator is a major step forward for emulation on Android devices.
It’s also worth noting that the app is free to download and use, so don’t be duped by anyone saying you need to pay for it. This is in contrast to the DamonPS2 emulator, which is filled to the brim with ads and charges for a Pro version limited to two devices.
In saying so, a major turn of events happened in March 2023 when the app was reportedly updated with ads. You can still find the older, ad-free versions of the app via the fan-run Discord server and this archived link. Otherwise, if you don’t mind the ads, you can download the app via the Play Store using the button below.
What are the AetherSX2 requirements?
Hadlee Simons / Android Authority
AetherSX2’s developer recommended that your phone have a Snapdragon 845-level processor or better. They specifically said that you’ll need four large CPU cores (Cortex-A75 or higher).
In terms of the GPU, the developer says Adreno graphics offers better performance than Mali or PowerVR GPUs found in MediaTek, HiSilicon, and older Samsung Exynos processors. However, the creator adds that you should stick to the Vulkan graphics renderer option if you’ve got a phone powered by a Mali GPU (e.g., Exynos, Kirin, or MediaTek processor), as it’s generally faster than OpenGL. Some games might perform better with OpenGL, though.
AetherSX2 has some recommended requirements, but performance actually varies by wildly by game.
Don’t fear if you’ve got a mid-range phone, as performance varies from game to game. So graphically advanced 3D titles might not work on your budget device, but 2D titles might work just fine. In fact, some users report that phones with budget silicon, like the Snapdragon 665, Snapdragon 720G, Exynos 9611, and Helio G80 run some 2D games fine — although you’ll almost certainly need to tweak a few settings to get playable results.
One hard requirement is that you need a 64-bit processor and a 64-bit version of Android. That rules out phones from 2014 or earlier in particular. Devices like the NVIDIA Shield tube model also use a 32-bit version of Android.
It’s worth stressing again that AetherSX2 is a demanding emulator. So if you’ve tried tweaking various settings and a game still won’t run properly (particularly on budget hardware), you either have to wait for an update or accept that your desired games won’t work on your phone. But at least there are loads of other console emulators on Android that have more modest requirements.
Setting up AetherSX2
Got a decently powerful phone and downloaded the app? Before you can get playing, you’ll need two things. That would be a PS2 BIOS (the firmware that came with the original console) and PS2 ROMs or ISOs. We’re not linking you to either for legal reasons, but Google is your friend. Just remember that you’ll need to own the games you’re downloading, from a legal perspective.
In saying so, a new method of retrieving a PS2 BIOS from PS3 firmware was recently discovered. This requires a PC, the RPCS3 PS3 emulator for PC, the PS BIOS Claim Tool, and a PS3 firmware file. Fortunately, the latter can be found on Sony’s website.
More reading: A beginner’s guide to classic console gaming on your phone
AetherSX2 has a setup wizard to get things going, allowing you to set different compatibility profiles (“optimal/safe” if you have a mid-range or high-end device, “fast/unsafe” if you need a speed boost at the expense of stability), select the downloaded BIOS to use, and choose the directory containing your downloaded PS2 ROMs/ISOs.
You can also navigate to the Three-line menu button > App Settings > BIOS to add the BIOS this way. Forgot to add your directory of games during the setup wizard? Then you can get this done via the Three-line menu button > App Settings > Game List > Plus icon.
You’re free to use the touchscreen controls for AetherSX2, but the app also supports gamepads (e.g., Bluetooth and USB-C). We recommend a physical controller for faster-paced titles like action games, racing, and platformers. You can check out our list of the best Bluetooth controllers, but I’ve used the Razer Kishi USB-C gamepad for a battery-free experience.
What about real-world AetherSX2 performance?
Hadlee Simons / Android Authority
I’ve tested the emulator on the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1-powered vivo X80 Pro, vivo X70 Pro Plus (Snapdragon 888 Plus), the Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro (Snapdragon 855), and the Dimensity 810-equipped POCO M4 Pro. Tested titles include Ace Combat 5: Squadron Leader, Burnout 3: Takedown, Fire Pro Wrestling Returns, Gran Turismo 4, Marvel vs Capcom 2, Shadow of the Colossus, The Simpsons Hit and Run, and WWE Smackdown: Here Comes The Pain.
The two 2022 flagship phones ran all of these games at a very playable pace, so 2023’s flagship phones running the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 should deliver a smoother experience. Meanwhile, Xiaomi’s older flagship ran most of these games just fine, but Burnout 3 was an unplayable, slow-mo affair out of the box.
You can play some less demanding games on budget devices, but you'll want a recent high-end phone for the best performance.
On the other end of the spectrum is the POCO M4 Pro. It features a recent mid-range processor in the Dimensity 810. Games like Burnout 3 and Gran Turismo 4 are too slow to be playable out of the box. But underclocking (more on this later) does help with titles like The Simpsons Hit and Run and Shadow of the Colossus. It makes them less of a slow-mo experience and more playable. And less demanding 2D titles like Fire Pro Wrestling Returns, MegaMan X Collection, and Marvel vs Capcom 2 run well.
This is far from comprehensive evidence of how your experience will go, as this is just a small selection of games with basic tweaks being used at best. Still, it should give you a rough idea of what each phone segment is capable of. But it suggests you might want to opt for an older flagship instead of a new budget phone.
Tips and tricks for a better experience
Being an advanced PS2 emulator, AetherSX2 can be a major challenge for smartphones. It doesn’t help that hundreds of phone models and dozens of processors are out there. Fortunately, the developer includes several features and offers plenty of tips.
- Try changing the graphics renderer from OpenGL to Vulkan, for one. The Vulkan API generally delivers a fast experience but might not deliver the best experience for all games.
- This leads to our next tip. In case you didn’t know, you can tap and hold on a game listing to adjust settings only for that title. This is handy if you’ve got one game that requires plenty of tweaks, while the rest of your library works just fine with minimal changes.
- The developer also recommends that those with slower phones try underclocking the emulated console’s CPU. This can be accomplished by visiting the Three-line Menu button > App Settings > System, then choosing the EE Cycle Rate (Underclocking) and EE Cycle Skip (Underclocking option) fields. The EE Cycle Rate should be changed to a negative number, while the Cycle Skip should be set at a positive number.
- Another handy tip from the horse’s mouth is to enable the Multi-Threaded VU1 option (found in the Three-line menu button > App Settings > System). This can also bring a significant speed boost but requires at least three big CPU cores. Enabling this on a phone with only two big cores could result in slower speeds.
- Three other settings worth toggling for better performance include the GPU Palette Conversion, Preload Textures, and Disable Hardware Readbacks options.
- One way to potentially get better performance that has nothing to do with the app is to switch from your phone’s default power profile to a performance mode (usually available in battery settings). This increases performance at the expense of battery life and temperature. Just keep in mind that higher temperatures can also lead to faster throttling. This could make the default power mode better for longer play sessions.
- AetherSX2 also supports resolution upscaling, from 1x (the original resolution of the game) all the way to 8x. This doesn’t work well with every game. Still, it’s worth experimenting with this option if your preferred game has some headroom for a higher resolution.
- The game does support save states, but updates tend to wipe them. Save to the virtual memory card in every game if you don’t want to start from scratch after every update.
You can access your virtual memory card (which uses a .ps2 file extension) by opening a file manager and visiting Android > data > xyz.aethersx2.android > files > memcards and copying the relevant file. This should then be sent to the other Android device. You can import the old memory card from the new Android device by choosing “import memory card” from the sidebar and navigating to the relevant file in the resulting file manager window.
The emulator is technically capable of this to an extent, but it’s definitely not made with this in mind, and the support is very rudimentary. We strongly recommend you download an emulator like Duckstation for more polished, feature-rich PS1 emulation with a wider variety of compatible games.
Yes, there’s a very helpful community-driven spreadsheet detailing performance and compatibility in various titles. It also lists the chipset used to play each game, giving you an idea of whether your phone is powerful enough to run it.
One option is to use the Dolphin GameCube emulator if the title in question has a GameCube port. Another option is to wait for an app update, which isn’t guaranteed to make your desired game playable. You could also upgrade to a new phone, although you’ll need to double-check that the new phone plays the desired game. It’s still risky to upgrade to a new phone specifically for an emulated title that might not work in your case.
You only need to try out a few games to realize that this is easily the best PS2 emulator on the platform.Is AetherSX2 a good emulator? ›
You only need to try out a few games to realize that this is easily the best PS2 emulator on the platform.What is the best PS2 emulator for Android? ›
Best Android PS2 Emulator: Aether SX2
Created by developer Tahlreth, this one application has reignited the fire beneath portable PlayStation 2 emulation on Android devices. Unlike earlier PS2 emulators on Android, looking at you Damon, AetherSX2 is completely free.
The AetherSX2 team recommends a phone with a Snapdragon 845 CPU or higher. Phones like the LG Thrill P925, I14Pro, and M11 Ultra, which each have four massive CPU cores, are particularly noteworthy. Also, a 64-bit CPU and Android 7.0 or later are needed for this emulator to function.
The developer simply wasn't having fun anymore. The lone developer behind the best PS2 emulator for Android has “indefinitely suspended” development. In a post, the developer says he received “death threats” and other attacks. The AetherSX2 emulator will still work, but no future development is planned.What games run well on AetherSX2? ›
|Game Title||Playability||Compatibility Notes|
|7 Wonders of the Ancient World||Playable||Perfect|
|18 Wheeler: American Pro Trucker||Playable||Perfect|
|25 to Life||Playable||Runs great, pretty perfect with Multi-Threaded VU1 on.|
|007: Everything or Nothing||Playable||Runs almost perfect apart from black lines|
But fans of what's arguably one of the best emulators for Android, AetherSX2, have been dealt bad news as its developer has decided to suspend development indefinitely, citing a barrage of online impostors, complaints from users, and even death threats.How much RAM do you need to run a PS2 emulator on Android? ›
8 GB RAM. DirectX 10 (DX11 since 1.6. 0) or OpenGL 3.How much RAM do I need for PS2 emulator? ›
4 GB RAM. 8 GB RAM. DirectX 10 (DX11 since 1.6.What is the fastest PS2 emulator? ›
DamonPS2 is heralded by many as being the quickest and most reliable emulator for Android play. It has a game compatibility rate of around 90%, with 20% of those playing perfectly. That's a big drop, but it still gives users roughly 720 games to play through.
You can use the PS1 BIOS for DuckStation, and the PS2 emu BIOS for an emulator like AetherSX2. You may need to enable fast boot for games to launch, but this is a quick and easy way to get a working BIOS for the PlayStation 1 or PlayStation 2 for emulation.Is AetherSX2 compatible with Android? ›
AetherSX2 is a PlayStation 2 emulator for Androids that lets you play any of the many games from the second Sony console which, as of 2022, remains the most sold console in history. As usual with any emulator, some games work better than others, but, in general, their performance is outstanding.Is AetherSX2 still in development? ›
AetherSX2 development is indefinitely suspended. Due to neverending impersonating, complaints, demands, and now death threats, I'm done. You can still download/use the app and it will continue to work for the forseeable future. AetherSX2 was always meant to be a fun hobby for me, not profit driven.Why is PCSX2 bad? ›
However as far as I'm aware the main criticisms of PCSX2 are: It's plugin based which has gone out of fashion in emulator design. Development has slowed down as previous contributors to the project have left over the years or reduced how much they work on it.Is it possible to play PS2 games on Android phone? ›
There are several PS2 emulators available for Android and PCs, which you can install and enjoy them. You can use any of the PS2 emulators to enjoy your favorite PlayStation 2 games on your smartphone. PlayStation 2 supports almost all games on Android smartphones.What is the best RPG emulator for Android? ›
There are numerous reasons to rank LDPlayer as your best emulator for RPG games playing. This emulator can literally give you the most optimized gameplay than when you are playing it on a mobile, and it has many features to prove it as well. Let's look at those proving points one by one as follows.What PS2 games work on AetherSX2? ›
- Oni (2001 Video Game) ...
- Kingdom Hearts (2002 Video Game) ...
- God of War (2005 Video Game) ...
- Devil May Cry (2001 Video Game) ...
- Smuggler's Run (2000 Video Game) ...
- Syphon Filter: The Omega Strain (2004 Video Game) ...
- Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror (2006 Video Game)
Android devices don't support DVD/CD drives; Android uses ARM processor architecture which isn't great for emulation; Processor emulation needs a lot of CPU overhead, and fast single thread devices for emulating the guest; Input devices for gaming on Android don't really comply with the PS2 controller.Is it illegal to use a PS2 emulator? ›
Emulators are 100% legal, as is the process of downloading them. They are no different to other programs you might download such as word processing or music player software. Downloading and uploading ROMs is illegal, however, so make sure you use your own game files.Where to download AetherSX2 games? ›
AetherSX2 is publicly available on the Google Play Store, and you can also download the APK directly from the developer too. You can also sign up for the alpha while logged into your Google account.
Yes you can run the android emulator with 4GB RAM but it is not recommended as it will take a lot of time to load. It is recommended that you should have atleast 8 GB RAM. And if you have a SSD hard disk then its more then enough.How much RAM do I need for gaming Android? ›
The short answer is that you need at least 4GB. That's enough RAM for web browsing, social media, video streaming, and some popular mobile games. However, while that applies to most smartphone users, the amount of RAM you need depends on the apps you use, and many opt for smartphones with between 6GB-8GB RAM.What specs do I need to run PS2 emulator? ›
- Operating system. Windows 10 21H2 (1809 or later) (64-bit) Ubuntu 20.04/Debian or newer, Arch Linux, or other distro (64-bit)
- CPU. Supports SSE4.1. PassMark single thread performance rating near or greater than 1800. ...
- GPU. Direct3D10 support. OpenGL 3.x support. ...
- RAM. 4 GB system memory.
PS2 is more impressive in that nearly every one of its 60fps games is 3D! Japan also had Nekketsu Oyako and Parodius Deluxe Pack (I assume the Mahjong games were 60 as well but who cares).What FPS does PS2 run at? ›
PS1 launched with 12 games in NA, 5 are 60 fps. PS2 launched with 26 games in NA, 21 of those games are 60 fps PS3 launched with 13 in NA, 2 are 60 fps. PS4 launched with 17 in NA, 8 or 9 are 60 fps (must double check) Where will PS5 land?What is the max FPS on PS2? ›
Are PS2 games 30FPS? There is no PS2 games that "natively" run at 50\60fps...they all run at 25\30 PC style fps at 50\60fps refresh rate.What is the CPU speed of PS2? ›
At the heart of the console's configuration is its central processing unit (CPU), a custom RISC processor known as the Emotion Engine which operates at 294.912 MHz (299 MHz in later consoles).Why is PS2 emulation so difficult? ›
Emulating them perfectly with correct timing requires an enormous amount of power. Moreover, the PS2, just like PS1, uses the MIPS architecture instead of standard x86 code, thus making emulation slower.Do you need a powerful computer to emulate PS2 games? ›
PS2 emulators require as much power as you can throw at them. They'll even take advantage of graphics cards and multi-core processors if you have them. Just buy whatever system you can afford and hope it'll run the PS2 emulators at a decent speed.What is EE in AetherSX2? ›
From what I have been able to piece together, it appears that it means Emotion Engine (The processor of the PS2, I think).
That's why AetherSX2 was a big deal when it was first announced, as it was free, open source, and had the blessings of the PCSX2 developers.What is BIOS image PS2 Android? ›
PS2 BIOS are files that enable you to run Play Station 2 Roms on your PC. It means that you can play PlayStation 2 games on your computer thanks to PCSX2 BIOS. It offers a chance for gamers who want to play PlayStation 2 games but they don't have a PlayStation 2 console.Do all PS2 emulators need BIOS? ›
The BIOS. The PlayStation 2 BIOS is required in order to boot games. This is a separate download after you've downloaded PCSX2. Below you can download this BIOS.Can Retroarch play PS2 games on Android? ›
On top of all that, RetroArch also runs on iOS and Android for tablets and phones, as well as on game consoles like PS2, PS3, PSP, PS Vita, Wii, Wii U, 2DS, 3DS, Switch, and more!What emulator can play PS2 games on Android? ›
- DOWNLOAD PTWOE. AetherSX2. ...
- DOWNLOAD AetherSX2. DamonPS2. ...
- DOWNLOAD DamonPS2. Play! ...
- DOWNLOAD Play! PPSSPP. ...
- DOWNLOAD Pro Playstation. Golden PS2. ...
- DOWNLOAD Golden PS2. Gold PS2 Emulator. ...
- DOWNLOAD Gold PS2 Emulator. New PS2 Emulator. ...
- DOWNLOAD New PS2 Emulator. Free Pro PS2 Emulator.
From system requirements to tips and tricks, here's what you should know about the AetherSX2 emulator. Android is a fantastic platform for emulation, as everything from Atari and the NES to PS1 and GameCube can be played on your modern smartphone.Can AetherSX2 run PS3 games? ›
PS3 uses a PowerPC based processor, so the emulator would have to be recompiled and retooled to use the new architecture, rather than x86 or ARM. This is way more work than this explanation would give credit for... so short answer: No.How do you enter a SIM cheat? ›
To enter Cheat Codes in The Sims 4, you must first open the Cheat Console by pressing “Ctrl + Shift + C” on your PC or Mac, while in game. This will bring up the cheat dialogue box where you can enter cheats.How to play PS2 cheat? ›
The X, Circle, Triangle, and Square buttons are used for most cheat codes. The Circle button may sometimes be represented as the letter "O" in cheat guides. The Select button is occasionally used to enter cheats. The Start button must sometimes be pressed before you can input codes.What emulator is AetherSX2? ›
Aether sx2 ps2 is an offline PS2 emulator for android devices. It is designed to provide an enjoyable and seamless gaming experience on Android devices. It supports various PS2 game titles, including popular titles. It has intuitive controls, allowing users to easily navigate through the game.
New games for the console continued to be made until the end of 2013, including Final Fantasy XI: Seekers of Adoulin for Japan, and FIFA 14 for North America. The last game to be released on the PlayStation 2 is Pro Evolution Soccer 2014, which was released in the United Kingdom on 8 November 2013.Is the PS2 emulator stable? ›
PCSX2 — The Best PS2 All-in-One Emulator Option
It's one of the most stable versions you can use to emulate your favorite brains of games, classic games, and more. PCSX2 also has the largest collection of compatible games. They have reliable graphics plugins and other additional plugins.
You only need to try out a few games to realize that this is easily the best PS2 emulator on the platform.Why do emulated games run so bad? ›
Graphics Processing: The graphics processing on an emulator is often slower than on a physical phone. This is because emulators have to translate the graphics processing instructions from the phone's hardware to the computer's hardware.Can PCSX2 damage your computer? ›
Depending on the game, PCSX2 could very much push the heat envelope quite a bit... but it's very hard to damage any computer with overheating hardware anymore.What is the best emulator you recommend? ›
|1||LambdaTest Automated and live testing on over 3000+ real browsers and operating systems|
|2||BlueStacks Popular Android emulator with low RAM usage|
|3||LDPlayer Free, fast, and lightweight Android emulator for PC|
|4||Nox Player Android emulator with clean UI & great usability|
PCSX2 is the best PS2 emulator for PC and laptop gaming. It's the the go to programme for thousands of users with gameplay and graphics that trump all other emulators. Anyone looking to recreate their favourite PS2 games from yesteryear should give this program a try.Is AetherSX2 a PS2 emulator? ›
AetherSX2 is a PlayStation 2 emulator for Androids that lets you play any of the many games from the second Sony console which, as of 2022, remains the most sold console in history. As usual with any emulator, some games work better than others, but, in general, their performance is outstanding.Which Android version is best for emulator? ›
|✅Android Emulator||Supported Platform||Version|
|Noxplayer||Wind & Mac||Android 4.0|
|MEmu Play||Windows XP/7/8/8.10/11||Default: Nougat 7.1.2|
|Android Studio||Wind 8/10/11 & Chrome||Android 4.2 and higher|
|Genymotion||Win & Mac & Linux||Android 5.0 and higher|
FCEUX (Nintendo Entertainment System)
For the vast majority of the 'emulation crowd', FCEUX is one of the easiest, most accessible emulators on the market. It's built around the NES operating system, and as such, players can get access to many of the most iconic games to emerge from the 1980s.
- Emuparadise. ...
- Emulator Zone. ...
- WoWroms. ...
- RomsUniverse. ...
- The Eye. ...
- Romulation. ...
- MyAbandonware. ...
- ClassicGames.me. One of the first websites to offer ROM and ISO for older or difficult-to-find games is Vintage Games.
DamonPS2 Pro is another fastest and best-performing PS2 emulator for Android device in the global. Like the PPSSPP emulator, which runs PSP games, you can also use DamonPS2 Pro to play PS2 video games. However, you can download this emulator by paying some cost.