Why Should a Mobile Tester Use Real Devices Instead of Emulators?


In the testing world there are countless options for using Emulators for testing. I have heard many clients ask, Why not just use Emulators? or What’s the big deal about “Real Devices?” The long and short of it is, emulators are emulators and can never completely behave the same as an end user’s device. Below, I have outlined a few of the typical advantages and disadvantages of testing with the two as well as a brief infographic to check out.



Mobile Emulators are software driven programs installed on a computer that imitate the features of mobile software. They duplicate most of a real device’s behavior and are generally available for free with Platform SDK. Accessibility and simplicity allow for emulators to be easier for app developers to manipulate and use, especially during the building process. Because they are free, emulators often seem like a bargain that is too good to pass up.

Real Devices(iOS/Android):

Testing on real devices allows for real world application. It checks your app’s complete functionality from the perspective of an end user. Real people use real devices not emulators. Since your app needs to work on real devices, it should be tested on them too. Real device testing ensures the smoothness and usability of the application in the customer’s hands.

Using only emulators to test apps is simply insufficient. Emulator testing only provides a small fraction of the feedback needed to improve your app. There are many tests that only real devices can perform, and not all bugs or crashes can be detected by emulators.



Tests that only real devices can perform:

Tests run on real devices can perform network, performance, real OS (with manufacturer’s tweaks), user interaction, and battery consumption tests. This level of complexity is achieved only through a product identical to that of the end user’s, not an emulator.

Network: On varied networks like 2G, 3G, 4G, and under different network conditions like low bandwidth or high latency, app testing can only be conducted using real devices.

Performance: Emulators are not the best for many testing situations, such as circumstances where developers need to test performance over an extended period of time.

Real OS (With Manufacturer’s Tweaks): It is not enough if an app is tested on a single OS version of a device. For the app’s success and positive rating, it has to be tested on a myriad of real devices with different OS versions.

User Interactions: Using physical inputs like Zooming, Pinching, Scrolling are considerably different on touch-screens. Also, sensor inputs such as GPS, proximity sensors, shake, and NFC cannot be simulated.

Battery Consumption: The only way to test an app with varied battery conditions is by using physical devices. Emulators cannot simulate activity under different stages of battery life.

Yes, emulators have a place in the world of testing but they cannot surpass a real device. Dynamic testing and constructive performance feedback make testing with real devices a considerably more logical decision for apps beyond the building process. These products serve as a tangible presentation of your work.

Let’s Face It: Real Devices Allow For Real World Application.

Katie Cochran

The author Katie Cochran

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