Sure, it’s pretty geeky, but if you like VMs, you’ll love the iOS and Android emulators that come packaged with the SDKs.
Obviously, providing a way for a developer to test applications before deploying them is a must-have requirement for any SDK, and both the iOS and Android emulators (and others too) provide mobile emulators.
This is old news, I know, but the use case here is for non-developers.
Like a VM, you can use these emulators to test-drive a mobile OS. Say for example, you’re thinking about that shiny new Android tablet or that sweet iPhone for Christmas. Wondering how they work and if you’ll be able to get used to using them, especially if you’re new to the OS?
Download the SDK and run the emulator.
Create an Android Virtual Device (AVD), and you’re off and running.
One note, you won’t have the Android Market, although otherwise the emulator functions exactly like a phone would. There are hacks out there to make the Android Market work, if you’re into that.
iOS: Get a Mac. Yeah, you need one to run the iOS SDK. Register the Apple Developer Program (free) and download the SDK, which is an enormous 3.2 GB, and install.
Once installed, you can run the emulator in iPhone, iPhone and iPad modes. Unlike Android, it’s not a fully functioning version of iOS, but it works for development.