When you look at the list of best emulators for Android, you'll find a lot of recurring themes across the board. There are many more NES and SNES emulators available than for something like the PS1 or PS2. A lot of that has to do with the difference in graphics for what Sony was using back in the day, even compared to other graphics-intensive consoles like the Dreamcast or N64.
So when you are trying to find the best PS2 emulators for Android, there simply just aren't as many options out there. And this may come as a bit of a surprise considering just how popular the PS2 was and continues to be for many. If you're dead-set on emulating some of your favorite PS2 games on your Android phone, then you're not completely out of luck.
Play! is the best PS2 emulator for Android
Unlike something like ePSXe for PS1 emulators, Play! is a relatively new emulator to land on the Play Store. And like its PS1 counterpart, it doesn't go down the RetroArch path by being compatible with a bunch of different consoles. Instead, the developers are only focusing on being able to provide a solid emulation experience for those who want to play PS2 games on their Android phones.
As we stated, the app is still relatively new to the scene, which means that you won't find a bunch of bells and whistles to tweak the gameplay settings. But what you will find is an automatic library scanner that locates your PS2 games and doesn't require you to download and use a BIOS in order to work.
You won't find a vast library of supported games, as the developers are continuing to push regular updates to fix issues that arise. For example, the current version number on the Play Store is only 0.40, so Play! hasn't even hit its 1.0 release yet. The developers do have a list of compatible (and non-compatible) games on GitHub, so you can sift through to see what works and what doesn't. And best of all, Play! is completely free to download and use, and you won't have to worry about any in-app purchases.
Why we recommend that you stay away from Damon PS2
For years, DamonPS2 has been the default PS2 emulator on Android, as there really haven't been any other contenders to dethrone it from the ranks. However, in the past few years, there have been some rather questionable discoveries made by users who have dug deep into the company behind DamonPS2 and the information that is collected on your device.
Thanks to the EmuGen Wiki along with some Reddit investigating, there are more than a few privacy concerns to be aware of. First of all, DamonPS2 is closed-source, which isn't really the end of the world as there are plenty of apps out there that go this route versus being open source. However, with the update to version 3.0, DamonPS2 started requiring a constant internet connection and requiring access to users' personal data such as contacts and location data.
And if that wasn't enough, then there's also the matter of whether the DamonPS2 team "stole" code from the developers of PCSX2. This is another PS2 emulator (and a quite popular one) for PC users who want to play their favorite PS2 games. In a blog post back in 2018, the developers released a statement in regards to the code that they claimed was stolen by the DamonPS2 developers. At the time, DamonPS2 was removed from the Play Store before the requested DMCA takedown was able to run its course, which would have left DamonPS2 banned from the Play Store.
Finally, there's the matter of performance, as DamonPS2 is only recommended to be used with devices using at least the Snapdragon 835 chipset. This leaves plenty of potential users left with subpar performance, which is just not a great experience, especially if you were to spring for "DamonPS2 Pro".
The fact of the matter is that while Play! is still being actively developed, it's really the only PS2 emulator that we can recommend in good faith. There seems to be no "funny business" taking place, and since Play! is open source, this makes it easier for bugs to get squashed and the development process to continue to progress.
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