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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Mobile Browser Emulator?

A mobile browser emulator mimics a mobile device in your own computer. This enables developers, QA engineers and designers to quickly check how their websites function in a particular mobile browser.

For example, if a user wants to access a Safari emulator on their Windows laptop, it would mean mimicking Safari on iOS in their Windows machine via a binary translation.

Why do users opt for a Mobile Browser Emulator?

Mobile emulators online allow Developers and QA Engineers to do a first level check of their code on a few mobile browsers, before starting real device cross browser testing. Designers and UI Engineers also use it for prototyping and quick mockups.

How does a Mobile Browser Emulator work?

A mobile device runs on a particular Instruction Set Architecture (ISA), which is written in the machine language that the processor of the device understands. Emulators work by doing a binary translation of the ISA of a particular mobile device into the machine language of your own computer’s processor. This helps mimic that particular mobile device on your computer.

What are the disadvantages of using an emulator?

Emulators cannot mimic real device conditions and usually run slower than real devices. Emulators also cannot mimic the exact CSS support, differences in API and other behaviors that browsers in real devices support. Therefore, you cannot test on the same conditions as your end users.

Are emulators good enough for testing websites on mobile browsers?

No. Testing on mobile browsers should strictly be restricted to prototyping and creating mockups. Prior to going live, every change must be tested in real devices to ensure a bug-free user experience.
In fact, Chrome advises the developer community to test on real devices. Similarly, for apps, Google recommends that a mobile app is tested on a real device prior to submitting it to the Play Store.

Why use real device cloud of BrowserStack instead of mobile browser emulators?

We have now established that we can ship websites with confidence only after testing on real devices. However, managing your own device cloud with maximum coverage can be expensive. Similarly, having multiple browser versions across different OSes across different devices and hardware configurations can get really complex. For example, getting access to a Safari emulator online on a Windows 10 laptop or an Opera emulator on a iOS 11 device is a nightmare for every QA tester and Developer.

BrowserStack provides instant access to real devices (be it the latest iPhone or Samsung or Pixel device), browser combinations (we even have Firefox till version 32) and Operating Systems (iOS 11 or Android Oreo – we have it all) at a click of a button. You can also automate your tests using Selenium and integrate with CI/CD tools like Jenkins, Travis CI, TeamCity via our plugins.