HomeGuideWhy Test on Real Devices vs Emulators and Simulators
Why Test on Real Devices vs Emulators and Simulators
By Jash Unadkat, Technical Content Writer at BrowserStack - August 14, 2019
Mobile application testing is gaining importance with constant growth in the mobile industry. As per Statista, mobile phone users have grown from 48.8 to 63.4% in the past 5 years. Mobile manufacturers are continually rolling out various devices with different specifications and operating systems at regular intervals.
Given the proliferation of smartphones, several organizations and brands are developing mobile applications and releasing them in the hands of consumers.
However, the most critical challenge for the application developers is to ensure that the application works well across various devices and is compatible with all the other configurations.
There are several approaches to mobile testing like:
Testing mobiles applications on Emulators
Simulating the mobile applications using Simulators
Testing mobile applications on real devices
It is essential to understand testing using Emulator vs. Simulator vs. Real Devices. Each approach has its benefits and limitations which one should keep in mind before finalizing any one approach.
Issues with testing mobile applications on Emulator or Simulator
As mobile emulators simulate both hardware and software, they are slow. As a result, the testing process becomes times consuming and also increases the overhead
Mobile emulators do not take into consideration essential factors like battery drainage, overheating and internal conflicts with other applications. This may result in incomplete testing of application which is unfit for release
Sometimes, emulators end up being incompatible with a specific application or app elements. In such cases, one may need to create or purchase software patches which may not be free to keep working on the emulator
Mobile emulators support only specific operating systems or specific platforms. In such situations, testing the applications across platforms becomes difficult
Simulators are not capable of identifying abnormal behaviors in an app because the tester won’t be able to determine whether the unexpected behavior is due to the simulator or a bug in the application itself
The simulation results are challenging to analyze due to partial or incomplete data. As a result, many bugs may be overlooked
After considering the above points, we can conclude that emulators and simulators are suitable for testing mobile apps in the initial stages of development. However, they are not reliable enough to release applications in the production stage.
Why do Developers prefer Testing on Real Devices?
Following are a few significant reasons that justify why developers prefer testing on real devices:
It enables the developers or testers to test mobile applications in a real environment. This is the most significant advantage as the developers can observe the exact behavior of the application which the end-users would see
Developers can quickly test the screen resolutions and brightness of the device in various light conditions
It enables the developer to identify unexpected behavior of the app quickly as actual devices use all hardware like Bluetooth, GPS, built-in sensors like wifi, in real-time
Testing on real devices is faster as compared to emulator/simulator-based testing
Helps the developer to evaluate the battery performance issues like battery drainage or overheating
Developers can also evaluate test results for incoming interrupts like push notifications, messages, or calls.
It allows the developer to test the applications on real operating systems and analyze any bugs that the end-user may face
Drawbacks of using Device Labs for Testing
There exists thousands of mobile devices and maintaining a proper testing pool with a wide range of devices demands enormous investment.
Maintaining the testing pool at regular intervals is a very challenging task as every device needs to be updated periodically.
Updating devices is a time-consuming process
Ensuring the availability of different devices for testing is very difficult
Mobile testing is slowly gaining massive importance with the rapid growth in the smartphone industry
Emulators and Simulators both prove to be an optimal solution for mobile application testing, but in the initial stages of development
Testing on the Real device is more reliable and efficient when compared to simulators and emulators. However, it has few limitations too
It is not an either/or approach when it comes to emulators, simulators, and real devices
Each approach has its importance depending on the stage of an application’s lifecycle