Ike T. Sanglay Jr. Puts Apple's macOS Big Sur on a Custom Handheld, Powered by a LattePanda Alpha

This handheld hackintosh uses an off-the-shelf SBC, some software tricks, and a 3D-printed chassis with Arduino-driven cooling system.

Maker Ike T. Sanglay Jr. has shown off what he believes to be the world's first handheld computer capable of running Apple's macOS 11 "Big Sur" operating system — courtesy of a LattePanda Alpha single-board computer in a 3D-printed housing.

"As for how I installed macOS," Sanglay explains in his video walk-through of the project, "I just followed the OpenCore Dortania guide. The LattePanda Alpha has an Intel [Core] m3-8100Y CPU and 8 gigabytes of RAM."

While the LattePanda Alpha is powerful enough to run Apple's latest macOS release — albeit unofficially, with Apple long looking down on those who create "hackintosh" builds running macOS without valid licenses — it's not a handheld, which is where Sanglay's build comes in.

It may not be hugely practical, but packing Apple's macOS Big Sur in a handheld is impressive. (📹: Ike T. Sanglay Jr.)

Implementing a Broadcom Wi-Fi and Bluetooth module, additional cooling fans, and a battery originally designed for a Chuwi MiniBook laptop, Sanglay's project adds a keyboard and touchpad, an Arduino Leonardo as a board management controller, and a custom housing printed in PLA Plus — "more heat-resistant and stronger than regular PLA," Sanglay notes.

An HDMI display completes the handheld, though takes up the primary video output of the LattePanda SBC — "but we can still get video on the USB [Type-]C port," Sanglay adds, meaning it's possible to drive two displays from the device.

"Maybe you'll say that handheld macOS is not practical, yada yada," Sanglay predicts. "Well, sure, you're right: I just want to make one for myself. Besides, I think I'll mostly use this as a Mac Mini per se."

"'Oh, but for that price you could have bought an [Apple] M1 Mac Mini instead.' I know, but where's the fun in that?"

The full build, with links to the guides for installing macOS Big Sur on non-Apple hardware, is showcased on Sanglay's YouTube channel.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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