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Mobile Device Emulator for Website Testing vs Real Devices

By The Nerdy Geek, Community Contributor -

With the rising use of smartphones across the world, it has become effortless to access any website or application at any given point in time. Phones have become made it easier to access websites using mobile browsers on the go. Users prefer to quickly open a particular website on their phones rather than logging into their desktop systems and opening the URLs. 

As a result, it has become absolutely necessary to test the websites thoroughly on mobile devices to ensure a smooth user experience. However, there are still a lot of applications that do not have any native app support. For them, it becomes even more critical to pay attention to mobile browser testing. Developing Mobile Friendly Websites is very important for customer engagement and retention. Also, it is essential to select a Mobile Friendly Website Tester tool, that can help ensure a seamless user experience when accessing websites on mobile devices.

This guide covers why Mobile Web Browser Testing is important, its benefits, and ways to perform mobile website testing using Emulator vs Real Devices.

Why is mobile web browser testing important?

As per a survey performed by Statista in 2022, there has been a steady increase in the percentage of mobile device traffic worldwide over the last few years. This indicates a rising demand for mobile-friendly websites; hence, mobile web browser testing is essential to deliver a seamless experience.

Mobile Browser Traffic Statistics

Source: Statista 

However, with more varieties of mobile devices available in the market, it is also necessary to ensure that they are taken into consideration while testing websites. Since each of these devices comes with its own screen size or resolution, they operate on different networks and have their own hardware capabilities. The variables are increasing and should be addressed during testing. 

Now, considering all of these different areas, it becomes very crucial to test a website thoroughly so that it can ensure the same user experience across each of these devices, regardless of their underlying parameters.

For customer delight and retention, it is crucial to take these real user conditions into account, and test on real devices for a seamless and consistent experience, no matter which screen size, device, or browser the user accesses the website from.

What are the advantages of Mobile Web Testing?

Here are some of the major advantages of Mobile Web Testing:

  1. Mobile web testing enables you to verify that your web app is working as intended across a stream of devices.
  2. It enables you to test the responsiveness of your website.
  3. It helps in building a bigger customer base by reaching out to users accessing mobile website in addition to those going the traditional way.
  4. It helps in optimizing the website for different mobile browsers like Chrome, Safari, etc.
  5. It increases the overall user-friendliness of the website.
  6. It also helps in evaluating if there are any issues pertaining to the device-browser-OS combination. 

How to Perform Mobile Website Testing

There are different ways to test websites on mobile browsers, as mentioned below:

Method 1: Using Emulators or Simulators 

Emulators or Simulators are used to mimic the behavior of a mobile device without actually using them physically. Both emulators or simulators intend to serve a similar purpose, however, emulators and simulators are different

While Simulators create an environment, containing all software variables and configurations, that exist in the website or app’s actual production environment, Emulator attempts to recreate all hardware features of a production environment.

So considering Mobile Emulators for Website testing, they help a lot in understanding the behavior of any website or app very quickly. They have also started to support a few features like network throttling and support for device hardware features like cameras. 

However, the problem with emulators is that they are not real devices, hence do not offer real user conditions. Additionally, they need maintenance. One needs to download and configure an Emulator and keep updating them. They are even bulky in nature. They also do not provide very accurate analysis and find it tough to switch quickly between different network conditions. 

Method 2: Using Mobile Emulation in Chrome

Dev tools in Chrome are another option for mobile emulation. You can view or test the mobile version of the website using the Chrome Devtool by following the steps below:

1. Launch Chrome and open the website that needs to be tested. 

2. Press the F12 button for Windows and macOS users can use the shortcut fn + F12

3. Select the Device Toggle Bar. Click on the below-highlighted option.

Mobile Emulation on Chrome using DevTools

4. Select the device from the Dimensions dropdown on which the website needs to be tested.

Mobile Emulation on Chrome

Once the value is selected, the mobile version of the website will be displayed on the chosen device. However, this method doesn’t provide very accurate results and, as a result, cannot be used for in-depth testing. 

Also, this method can only be used for Chrome browsers and cannot run it for other browsers.

Method 3: Using BrowserStack Live for Mobile Website Testing on Real Android and iOS Devices

There is no method other than Testing on Real Devices that can ensure accurate results and are effective. In fact, running mobile website tests on real devices has been the most effective way over the years. This enables developers and testers to evaluate how a website behaves in different mobile browsers installed on actual iOS or Android smartphones. However, it brings a question of deciding whether to build vs buy the real device infrastructure.

Maintaining a large variety of devices is not a cakewalk as it requires a lot of investment and effort in procuring and maintaining them. Buying a subscription to a real device cloud like BrowserStack enables developers and testers to test their websites and mobile applications across 3000+ real browsers, operating systems, and mobile devices.  

BrowserStack’s real device cloud provides QA teams with the ideal testing infrastructure for comprehensive mobile web testing.

Test on Real Devices for free

Let us test a sample website MakeMyTrip across different mobile devices using BrowserStack. 

Step 1: Enter the URL of the MakeMyTrip website that is under test upon opening BrowserStack Live.

BrowserStack Live for Mobile Website Testing on Real Devices

Step 2: Select the Mobile Device-Browser Combination for testing.

BrowserStack Live Device Selection to test on Mobile Browsers

Step 3: Wait for the device to initialize and start the test. Below are the snapshots of the test performed on different device-browser combinations.

Google Pixel 6 v12.0 with Chrome 

Testing Mobile Browsers on Google Pixel 6 With Chrome

One Plus 9 v11.0 with Firefox

Testing Mobile Browsers on OnePlus9 with Firefox

Xiaomi Redmi Note v11.0 with Chrome

Testing Mobile Browsers on Xiaomi with Chrome

iPhone13 Pro v15.6 with Safari

Testing Mobile Browsers on iPhone13 Pro with SafariiPad Pro 12.9 v14.6 with Chrome

Testing Mobile Browsers on iPad Pro with Chrome

These were some of the device examples on which we tested the website. There are a lot of similar device options which are available and can be used to test a mobile website’s performance easily and quickly, without spending a lot of efforts in maintaining them. 

Benefits of testing on BrowserStack’s Real Device Cloud

In addition to an easier testing experience, the real device cloud also offers:

  1. Support to the latest as well as legacy versions of Apple iPhones and iPads.
  2. Support to the latest as well as legacy versions of real Android smartphones from vendors like OnePlus, Google, Samsung, Huawei, etc. 
  3. Support different mobile browsers like Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and Opera with their latest versions. 
  4. Network throttling to simulate the performance of web pages in poor network conditions.
  5. Instant access to Dev Tools for inspecting the web elements.
  6. Geo-location Testing support helps to determine the website’s location-specific results.
  7. Automated Screenshots to capture the behaviour of the website under test.
  8. Session recorder which can help the QA team members to record a particular behavior and share it with the Dev team.
  9. Integrations with popular bug reporting tools like Jira, Trello, Slack, etc, as well as CI/CD tools such as Jenkins, Maven, etc.

With these benefits offered by BrowserStack real device cloud, it becomes by far the most efficient and cost effective way for Mobile Website Testing, as compared to emulators, or simulators. It allows QAs to test their websites thoroughly on 3000+ device browser combinations for 

Try BrowserStack for Free

Cross browser testing Mobile Testing Real Device Cloud Website Testing

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