While it is a fact that mobile device testing is a crucial part of the app development life cycle, the question of using a simulator or a real device cloud remains. Testing on real devices is a more significant investment than a simulator, but is it something you need?
Simulators or Real Devices?
Simulators can mimic a real device and its functionality. However, this may not always provide the best results for testing. Here are a few parameters to help you make your decision.
94% of people make their first impressions of a brand's website by looking at its design (Web FX via Adobe). Good UI is essential to web and mobile applications. So, testing it well is equally critical.
Virtual testing platforms do a good job testing the user interface as there is no hardware involved. In this case, it is undoubtedly an option you can choose; however, for complete accuracy, real devices are the best.
The problem with Network conditions is that they are not constant. While most people now use 4G networks, consistent connectivity is still challenging. Users can also operate on different bandwidths, which we cannot anticipate easily. Regarding mobile device testing, the focus is on offline data management. Almost every testing option comes with a network bandwidth throttle that can help you tighten or lose the bandwidth numbers.
Network conditions involve hardware, software, network reception issues, and more. Testing it on a simulator will not give you accurate results. Real devices are accurate and can help you test effectively.
Mobile devices come with many sensors, and if your app uses any one of these, it is essential that you test it. Some of the well-known sensors include:
Mobiles also have temperature and relative humidity sensors. Since sensors involve hardware, it is essential to test sensors on real devices. Accuracy in testing is critical as we have to meet user expectations. For example, certain games may use the gyroscope sensor to give users the option to play by tilting the screen. Users expect their game to be responsive to the sensor. Any lag or delay can cause users to abandon the game, and this behavior is similar to any app.
Testers use emulators to test sensors; however, this is during the initial development and testing stages. Once you've reached the final stages of the development process, real devices will help you gather accurate, valuable insights into the workings of your app. These insights will help you fix any problems with your sensors.
The HeadSpin platform helps you connect to real devices from anywhere, enabling real device testing. Our AI delivers actionable insights throughout the digital experience lifecycle, from planning and development to trouble ticketing and operations.
Testing for performance is crucial if you wish to know your application's stability, scalability, responsiveness, and speed. Performance testing helps identify issues within the software and improve its quality. Developers run this test to evaluate the processing speed of an app, its network bandwidth usage, workload efficiency, and application output, helping developers understand the scope of improvement and fix issues. Learn more about performance testing here.
Specific benchmarks in performance testing include identifying the load time in devices, network condition parameters, and the traffic bandwidth threshold. While testers can use simulators to test traffic bandwidth threshold and load time, they can test many of these benchmarks on real devices. Real mobile device testing gives accurate and detailed results.
Battery drain is a concern that we all experience. While mobile manufacturers do their best to ensure mobile devices restrict apps that drain battery, they cannot keep them all out. Thus, your app must not drain the battery when developing your app. You will need to do this on a real device cloud.
A well-developed simulator cannot replicate battery drain scenarios or how different devices will react to apps. You will need to test on real devices to get accurate and insightful test results.
An app can run hundreds of processes simultaneously. When CPU usage increases, mobile devices can heat up, adding to battery drain. Memory and GPU usage metrics also contribute to CPU usage. Keeping a check on CPU usage is not something simulators can test. Testing on real devices is essential to get accurate readings that genuinely help.
Simulators have their advantages, and using them, in certain scenarios, during the initial stages of development can help. However, as we have seen, it is clear that testing on real devices is the better way to test apps accurately.
The question then is should you build your device lab or use one that another organization provides?
The Way Forward
Building your device lab can prove to be a significant investment. You will need to buy your own devices and hire people to develop and maintain your lab. Additionally, the more devices you add, the greater the cost.
Adding devices to your lab is one aspect of the cost. Maintaining them will take a lot of time and money. You will need to consistently update this device and ensure it runs the latest OS and firmware.
Maintaining the infrastructure where you plan on housing these devices is another investment. This infrastructure helps preserve the health of your devices and gives you constant updates. Eventually, scaling your lab is another significant investment.
With a real device cloud, you will not need to worry about these challenges, and you can test your devices with ease. The HeadSpin platform lets you connect to real devices from anywhere. It integrates seamlessly into your CI/CD pipelines to perform accurate functional and performance tests. The AI-driven algorithm surfaces issues and highlights the underlying root cause. It also gives you actionable insights that you can use to fix these issues.
Yet, if you wish to use your own devices, The HeadSpin add-on product, known as CYOL (Create Your Own Lab), can help. CYOL, through the HeadSpin reverse bridge technology, delivers uninterrupted local access to remote devices. You can organize and utilize your existing device investment to remotely test and debug your app workflows as if the device were in the palm of your hand.
A Final Word
If you're already using real devices to test, take advantage of HeadSpin CYOL. However, if you're using simulators to test your apps, the HeadSpin Platform can help. Testing on real devices is beneficial because it allows you to test your app in real-world scenarios and get accurate results.
You will know precisely how your app will function on a real device through it. This data can help you build an app that your users can use to their complete advantage.
Q1. Between emulators and physical devices—which scenario fits which of these better?
A1. While in the initial stages of development, emulators and simulators are often efficient in testing singular features quickly, these might not be adequate for testing the significant elements of mobile apps. Following are certain elements that you can test better on real devices:
- Performance during incoming interruptions from calls, SMS, or any background apps
- Conflicts with pre-installed apps
- Multiple networks like LTE, Wi-Fi, 3G, and 4G
- Battery drainage and abrupt power off
Q2. What are HeadSpin's deployment options?
A2. HeadSpin offers several deployment options as follows:
- On-prem (customer premises)
- Dedicated or Single Tenant (cloud-hosted)
- Shared or Multi-tenant (cloud-hosted)
- HeadSpin Create Your Own Lab (CYOL, through the HeadSpin reverse bridge technology, delivers uninterrupted local access to remote devices. You can organize and utilize your existing device investment to remotely test and debug your app workflows as if the device were in the palm of your hand.)
- On-the-go (automobile testing)
- Hybrid (One or all of the given options)
Q3. What challenges can mobile testing counter?
A3. Mobile testing checks the performance of an app against issues like memory leakage issues, simultaneous use of apps, battery consumption, and network (3G, 4G, sometimes 2G, and Wi-Fi) problems. It also helps check the app's compatibility with different platforms and operating systems.