AMA: Mobile simulators/emulators or real devices for testing?

Paul asks…

“Do you prefer testing on simulators/emulators or real devices when testing mobile apps, how do you decide?”

My response…

I don’t currently do a huge amount of mobile app testing but my general guideline is I try to do any mobile app automated testing on simulators/emulators and any mobile app manual/exploratory testing mobile on real devices.

The reasoning is emulators/simulators are more efficient and scale easily to use for automated tests when running in a CI environment. I understand that there are services that offer real devices on demand to run tests on but I can’t see the point for automated testing.

I do however think you’re more likely to find bugs on real devices as you’re using all the physical sensors/inputs like touch and electrical interference/weak signals. I have found that testing on real devices out in the field, whether that’s catching a bus/train, or taking your device to a shopping centre/library etc. is often a great way to find bugs.

Author: Alister Scott

Alister is an Excellence Wrangler for Automattic.

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