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Physical and Real Device Cloud Testing

The Ins and Outs of Physical and Real Device Cloud Testing: A Comprehensive Overview

January 12, 2024
 Rohith Ramesh Rohith Ramesh
Rohith Ramesh


Physical device testing has been a cornerstone in the testing realm for years, maintaining its significance even amid the rise of automation and real device cloud testing. Its enduring importance in usability and hardware functionality testing, including camera and GPS, is undeniable. However, as we navigate the ever-evolving testing methodologies, the need for a more innovative, cost-effective solution becomes apparent.

Enter real device cloud testing, a game-changer in the testing domain. This dynamic approach brings many advantages, from cloud storage and seamless communication tool integration to testing compatibility with the latest virtual browsers and OS versions. In this blog, we explore extensively, drawing comparisons between physical and real device cloud testing. We aim to assist you in identifying the most suitable fit for your business model.

How Physical Device Testing Works

Physical device testing involves the comprehensive examination of your mobile, web app, or website through manual and automated testing approaches using dedicated hardware devices. From ensuring the proper functionality of buttons to identifying potential app freezes during memory storage issues, this method offers a detailed assessment of your application's performance.

While commonly associated with mobile app testing, physical device testing extends its applicability to websites and desktop applications. Using actual devices provides a realistic perspective on how your app or site will behave in real-world scenarios. Tests can be conducted in controlled lab environments, utilizing physical devices that mirror the targeted mobile platform. The choice between virtual and physical testing hinges on the nature of the test and the testing environment, with physical devices proving more suitable in certain situations.

Why Opt for Physical Device Testing?

Embarking on your test suite journey with physical devices brings forth a multitude of advantages:

  1. More Comprehensive Hardware Support: Physical devices offer compatibility with a wide array of features such as cameras, sensors, GPS, facial recognition, accelerometers, pyrometers, and others not yet embraced by virtual counterparts.
  1. Real Environment Testing Experience: Ensure adaptability to real-world conditions, eliminating flaky tests and false positives. Replicate and address bugs found on the device effectively, enhancing overall test reliability.
  2. Enhanced Performance: Physical device testing delivers faster and more accurate results than virtual alternatives like emulators and simulators, translating to expedited build times.
  1. Usability Issue Resolution: Identifying usability issues, from unresponsive buttons to system configuration problems, is more straightforward on physical devices. Address and rectify these concerns effortlessly, facilitating comprehensive usability testing.
  1. Swift Bug Identification: Proactively identify and address bugs before deployment, avoiding complexities and incompatibilities. Testing on physical devices enhances the quality of your test cases.
  1. Configuration Insight: Gain real-time insights into configuration settings on various devices, providing valuable knowledge for future projects.
  1. Confident Reporting: Reporting successful tests to clients becomes more straightforward and confident when conducted on actual handsets. Accelerate the product's journey to the customer with assured testing outcomes.
  1. Third-Party Support: Unlike virtual devices, physical devices boast compatibility with a broader range of libraries, ensuring comprehensive third-party support.

Understanding Real Devices in the Cloud

In simple terms, a Real Device Cloud is a cloud-based mobile testing environment. Hosted in the cloud, it features Android and iOS devices conveniently accessible from your desktop browser. This platform allows you to test your apps and websites efficiently. Signing up and logging into your account grants you access to real devices, providing enhanced accuracy and flexibility compared to traditional mobile app emulators and simulators. The seamless user interface and robust integrated development environment create a hassle-free testing experience.

Advantages of Real Device Cloud in Mobile App Testing

Whether your team operates on-site or in a remote/hybrid setup, leveraging a real device cloud to test mobile apps provides numerous benefits to developers and testers:

  1. Secure Access Anytime, anywhere: Test from any location, ensuring immediate access to the necessary devices and desired device/OS combinations.
  1. Automated Testing Support: The real device cloud seamlessly accommodates manual and automated testing, enhancing testing flexibility.
  1. Enhanced Team Productivity and Collaboration: Centralize mobile app testing resources, enabling distributed teams to efficiently share results and collaborate on resolving application issues.
  1. Expanded Device Coverage: Test native and hybrid apps across various Android and iOS devices. A cloud-based platform broadens your team's access to a variety of devices.
  1. Maintenance-Free Operation: Eliminate the challenges of maintaining physical devices. Enjoy relief from concerns about device mix and the complexities of constant device, OS, or browser updates.
  1. Accelerated Test Execution: Execute a higher volume of real device tests with minimal error rates.

A cloud-based mobile testing strategy is more cost-effective, scalable, agile, and easier to implement than on-premises infrastructure.

Read more: Why is Real Device Cloud Critical in App Testing?

Distinguishing Features Between Physical Devices and Real Device Cloud Testing

Businesses choose between traditional physical device testing and the emerging trend of real device cloud testing in testing methodologies. While the former remains essential for certain industries with specific device requirements, the latter is gaining traction, especially among smaller and medium-sized organizations. The decision between the two approaches requires a careful evaluation of individual needs, and the role of online mobile app testing tools is pivotal in enhancing efficiency.

1. Remote Working Flexibility:

  • Physical devices necessitate testers to be in the same location as the device, limiting remote team management.
  • Real device cloud testing enables testers to access devices, offering remote flexibility in various work scenarios.

2. Cost:

  • Physical device testing involves purchasing and maintaining physical devices, incurring substantial costs.
  • Real device cloud testing removes the necessity of purchasing physical devices, with payment based on device usage time or through a subscription model.

3. Maintenance:

  • Testers bear the responsibility of updating and maintaining physical devices.
  • Real device cloud testing platforms handle all maintenance issues, relieving testers of these concerns.

4. Speed:

  • Real device cloud testing offers faster testing speeds, which is crucial in today's fast-paced digital landscape, especially when testing across multiple devices.
  • Physical devices may result in slower testing processes.

5. Geolocation Testing:

  • Both testing methods support geolocation testing, but real device cloud testing is preferred for its efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

6. Procurement Cost:

  • Physical device testing requires businesses to purchase devices, incurring significant upfront costs.
  • Real device cloud testing reduces operational costs by providing necessary infrastructure on demand.

7. Parallel Testing:

  • Real device cloud testing allows parallel testing across multiple devices simultaneously, enhancing efficiency.
  • Parallel testing is impractical in physical device testing.

8. Scalability:

  • Real device cloud testing offers enhanced scalability by enabling simultaneous testing across various devices.
  • Scaling physical device testing proves challenging, particularly for simultaneously testing multiple devices.

Choosing Between Physical Device Testing and Real Device Cloud Testing for Your Business

Several crucial factors come into play when evaluating an app or website through software testing. The goal is to bridge the gap between expected and actual results, ensuring the program functions as intended while remaining budget-friendly, time-saving, and conducive to meeting deadlines.

Before committing to a testing strategy, whether physical device or real device cloud testing, consider the following key factors:

1. Objective of the Test:

  • Define the test objective. Is it a comprehensive app test or focused unit testing? This clarity influences the choice between physical device and real device cloud testing.

2. Risk Assessment:

  • Assess the risks associated with each methodology. Compare the cost implications and manageability between physical and real device cloud testing.

3. Requirements:

  • Examine app or website requirements. Consider features like camera testing, GPS support, and mobile browser compatibility to align with the testing strategy.

4. Project Timeline:

  • Evaluate the project timeline. Opt for physical devices for shorter projects, while real device cloud testing suits long-duration projects requiring meticulous test log tracking.

5. App or Website Type:

  • Determine the nature of the app or website, whether VR-based or e-commerce. Tailor the testing strategy to match the project's scale and requirements.

6. Time and Budget:

  • Consider time and budget constraints. Real device cloud testing is often preferred for quicker results, while physical device testing may incur higher costs and time.

7. Adherence to Industry Norms:

  • Ensure that your chosen testing method aligns with industry regulations and guidelines.

8. Documentation Support:

  • Verify if your testing provider offers comprehensive technical documentation for reference during testing challenges.

9. SDLC and ATLC Support:

  • Align the testing strategy with the software development and automation testing lifecycle, considering the varying testing needs at different stages.

10. Team Capability:

  • Consider the capabilities of your testing team. Strive for effective testing without compromising team morale, leading to burnout.

11. Flexible Features:

  • Prioritize testing methodologies that accommodate constant changes, ensuring adaptability to evolving app or website requirements.

Choosing between physical and real device testing demands a thorough understanding of these factors to make an informed decision tailored to your business's unique needs.

How HeadSpin Facilitates Real Device Cloud Testing

HeadSpin, a data-driven test automation platform, empowers companies to conduct comprehensive end-to-end tests on mobile apps using real, local devices globally. The secure global device infrastructure facilitates QA teams connecting to authentic, local devices, enabling geolocation tests on mobile apps and websites. This infrastructure spans the world, facilitating testing across distributed edge nodes or 'edges,' and offers seamless access to devices with actual SIM cards via the global device cloud.

Key Features of HeadSpin's Global Device Infrastructure:

1. Availability of Popular Devices:

  • QA teams can remotely access and debug mobile apps on popular devices like iPhone, iPad, Samsung Galaxy, Xiaomi, and Pixel without SDK or local team support.

2. Multiple Deployment Models:

  • HeadSpin provides flexible deployment models, including on-prem, single-tenant cloud, multi-tenant cloud, and the option to create a custom lab. This ensures secure testing, data storage, and analysis tailored to organizational needs.

3. Secured Real Device Cloud:

  • HeadSpin's cloud is SOC 2-compliant and is undergoing third-party security assessments. The entire HeadSpin Platform, including its global device infrastructure, is certified for security measures like passive reconnaissance, automated vulnerability scanning, and manual testing. Real devices are securely stored in various locations using PBox, a protected appliance with a number lock.

4. Geolocation Testing:

  • HeadSpin supports geolocation testing on real devices, allowing companies to assess mobile application functionality against geographical factors and ensure optimal performance. With testing available in 90+ locations worldwide, HeadSpin's geolocation testing evaluates aspects like network infrastructure, cellular data, and data bandwidth, optimizing digital experiences for end users across different geographical locations.

Bottom Line

As the mobile app market experiences rapid growth, businesses must prioritize functional excellence and high-quality standards for their apps. Selecting the right testing strategy is pivotal in achieving this goal. Relying solely on traditional physical devices may need to catch up in today's dynamic landscape. Real device testing emerges as a more effective solution, offering businesses the flexibility and scalability required for extensive app testing.

Harness the power of HeadSpin's AI-based Platform and real device cloud to conduct comprehensive functional and UX tests. This innovative approach allows testing on real devices in authentic locations, ensuring mobile apps' security and optimal performance in a swiftly evolving market.

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Q1. How does real device testing differ from emulator testing?

Ans: Real device testing is crucial in a robust mobile app testing approach, often complementing virtual devices like Android emulators and iOS simulators. Emulators and simulators, driven by software, offer quicker provisioning than real devices.

Q2. How does a real device differ from a real device cloud?

Ans: In the fast-paced digital landscape, rapid time-to-market is essential. Real device testing on the cloud proves faster than traditional physical devices, ensuring swift testing, especially when evaluating applications across multiple devices.

The Ins and Outs of Physical and Real Device Cloud Testing: A Comprehensive Overview

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