App & Browser Testing Made Easy

Give your users a seamless experience by testing on 3000+ real devices and browsers. Don't compromise with emulators and simulators

Home Guide Chrome OS Emulator or Real Device: Which one to choose?

Chrome OS Emulator or Real Device: Which one to choose?

By Tom Collins, Community Contributor -

Table of Contents

Chrome OS is created by Google and is primarily a simple and secure OS for Chromebook devices.

  • It is an operating system such as Windows or macOS, but it is not as resource-heavy.
  • Typically, it uses one-sixth of the hard drive space compared to Windows 7. 
  • Chrome OS has a Chrome browser installed within it, which improves its accessibility. However, you cannot access certain features on it.

Chrome Browser Market Share Chrome Browser Market Share

Although you can download and run Android apps. But you would not be able to manipulate the entire screen of the Chromebook for those apps. Instead, you have to use a phone screen format that takes a small part of the screen.

What is an Emulator?

An emulator is a virtual device replicating an actual device’s software and hardware. They make it possible by translating the target device’s Instruction Set Architecture (ISA). In this way, you can get the functionalities and behaviors of the real devices within emulators. 

  • Emulators create a virtual environment for testing your device. 
  • But you have to remember one thing: emulators can’t generate real devices’ actual capabilities and functionality. 
  • Instead, they can acquire ‘nearly native capabilities’ suitable for early testing. 
  • There are Android emulators, iPhone simulators, and Galaxy emulators to conduct your software testing.

You can run Chrome OS on Android emulators. Here is a brief description of some of the best Chrome OS emulators.

Chrome OS Emulators for Windows 10

1. Android Studio

Android Studio is a good choice for Android developers and testers. It’s an IDE. But it also provides emulators with AVD (Android Virtual Device). You can create any Android device with AVD functionalities to test and debug your apps. The best thing is it provides the latest Android versions to test. 

But it can’t provide additional support for the keyboard as game-oriented emulators have. Otherwise, it’s a powerful Chrome OS Emulator for Windows 10.

2. ARChon

ARChon s a pseudo-emulator that particularly runs on Chrome OS. So, you must need Google Chrome to use it. It works for all operating systems, including Linux. This emulator becomes useful for running Android apps on desktops and testing. But the process of the app running is complicated with ARChon.

Other Chrome OS emulators support apps’ functionalities as well as games. They are – John GBAC, Nintendo DS Games, PPSSPP emulator, etc. But there is a con that Chrome OS is not great for playing games.

Advantages of Running Chrome OS on an Emulator

1. Access to Chrome OS on non-Chrome OS devices

Emulator allows you to run Chrome OS on non-Chrome OS devices without having a real device. Example –  Android Studio. 

  • It can run system images of Chrome OS within it. You can get the images through the SDK Manager of that emulator. 
  • Then you need AVDs to manage your testing with Android emulators. ADV is a setting that defines the characteristics of real Android devices. 
  • They can produce better solutions for performance testing on emulators. ADVs contain hardware profiles, images, storage areas, and other properties. 
  • Also, you need to launch Device Manager from Android Studio to maintain your AVD.

2. Ability to test apps and websites on Chrome OS

Developers and testers can test apps and websites with Chrome Dev Tools emulation features. You can test your apps and websites with mobile responsive view mode. Also, website inspection is available with ‘element inspector’.

3. Cost-effective accessing Chrome OS

Most emulators are free to use. So, you can easily access Chrome OS from them by using proper installation and configuration processes.

Disadvantages of Running Chrome OS on an Emulator

1. Reduced performance compared to running Chrome OS on actual hardware

Performance testing can’t yield authentic results for running Chrome OS on an emulator. – 

  • Emulators can’t dictate real-user conditions testing like battery heating, drainage, memory usage, and storage issues. 
  • Also, emulators can’t provide reliable test results for sensors ’performance ex. GPS, biometrics, accelerometer, etc. 
  • Though they can find performance issues, they will not consider them errors.

2. Limited functionality compared to running Chrome OS on actual hardware

It’s much more difficult to perform user interactions on emulators. When working on a desktop, you have to use a mouse to interact with Chrome OS, and for a mobile device, you can give inputs through your touch keypads. 

Again actions like zoom in, zoom out, scrolling, file uploads, and other functionalities fluctuate on emulators. In other words, emulators are not perfect for these actions.

3. Additional resources required to run the emulator

You need additional time to run emulators; as you know, they are slower than real devices. Their loading time is typically slow. So, when you work with multiple ADV, those may become a frustrating experience. Thus emulators are better for long-term testing projects. Otherwise, it will be time-wasting. 

Also, you can’t depend on emulators for the whole SDLC process. You need to invest in real devices for crucial testing like smoke, sanitary, regression, and UAT testing.

Does running Chrome OS on Emulator solve your problem?

Running Chrome OS on an emulator may solve some problems, but it may not be the best option for accurate results and real user condition testing. There is an absolute chance of facing bugs if you release your apps just by testing with a Chrome running emulator. 

Chrome OS Emulators or Real Devices: Which one to choose?

Emulation results are insufficient due to incomplete data about the real environment. You can test your apps and websites on emulators in the early phases of software development. Thus, developers and testers prefer real devices to complete the final testing stage. 

Benefits of using Real Devices:

  • You can examine the exact behavior of the app that consumers can see on real devices.
  • Testing screen resolutions, brightness, and contrast become easy in light of the real environment.
  • Also, you can observe and test the performance of hardware components like- cameras, Bluetooth, GPS, etc.
  • Again, you can get reliable test results for incoming interruptions – notifications, messages, calls, or video calls.

But using device labs is costly for web and app testing. You have to maintain and upgrade devices for this purpose. Also, there are other drawbacks of investing in and maintaining device labs with the latest devices. 

So, the best solution is a Real Device Cloud. You can access and test with a wide range of real devices from this cloud. Also, the real device cloud supports cross-browser testing, local testing, and Responsive web testing.

How can BrowserStack help for this purpose?

BrowserStack is an enterprise-grade testing infrastructure that removes the burden of device labs and provides access to 3000+ real devices and browsers on the cloud. Also, supports instant access to device-browser-OS combinations from anywhere and anytime. It solves for device fragmentation problems and supports local testing also.

Enterprises prefer using a Real Device Cloud for uncompromising security & privacy as BrowserStack is SOC2 Type 2 and GDPR compliant.Real Device testing on BrowserStackQA teams can test user interactions like- tap, scroll, zoom, navigation, etc, and real device features – Geolocation testing, push notifications, network simulations, and more.User interaction testing on browserstack dashboardClosing Notes

  • The Chrome browser will be the go-to browser option for Chrome OS or Chromebook users, hence all modern websites should strive to be compatible with it.
  • Testing on real devices is the most recommended way to test cross-browser compatibility.
  • Browserstack provides access to the latest and legacy browser versions for Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Safari, and Microsoft Edge on different OS. 

Test on BrowserStack

Emulator/Simulator Real Device Cloud

Featured Articles

Chrome vs Chromium: Core Differences

How to enable Chrome Compatibility Mode

Curated for all your Testing Needs

Actionable Insights, Tips, & Tutorials delivered in your Inbox
By subscribing , you agree to our Privacy Policy.
thank you illustration

Thank you for Subscribing!

Expect a curated list of guides shortly.