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Mobile Device Testing Online: What to Know

Testing apps on emulators and simulators? Wish you could just test on a real mobile device testing online? No problem.

If you’re not performing real mobile device testing online today it’s time to ask yourself a question: why not?

The most important part of testing any application is to make sure you’re accurately recreating the user’s experience. In other words, you need to test the way the user interacts with your application. This can be a challenge, especially with mobile applications, where devices are seemingly limitless.

The good news is you can test on multiple real devices, all without going through the hassle of acquiring them yourself. In this post, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about mobile device testing online.

Fragmentation, a growing problem

For the last decade, mobile devices have been proliferating at an exponential rate. In fact, a study published by Statista indicates that:

In 2021, the number of mobile devices operating worldwide stood at almost 15 billion, up from just over 14 billion in the previous year. The number of mobile devices is expected to reach 18.22 billion by 2025, an increase of 4.2 billion devices compared to 2020 levels.

So, what does this mean for app developers?

It means that there are more permutations of devices and their configurations than there are features on their application. And if they expect to deliver a quality experience, they’re going to need to make sure their application functions correctly across different devices.

Indeed, it’s no secret that device fragmentation is a serious problem for testers. The only way to do that is through frequent and thorough testing your mobile application.

What is mobile app testing?

When we talk about mobile testing, we’re talking about the methodologies and processes involved in testing your mobile application. It’s what makes sure that things are running smoothly, that previous changes have not introduced unexpected consequences, and that the user interface behaves the way that’s expected.

But there are many different types of testing.

Testing types

Depending on your testing strategy, you’ll want to include different types of testing. Here are a few that are commonly included.

Functional testing

A Functional Test verifies whether an application functions correctly. It focuses on ensuring that user functionalities behave as expected, typically through the user interface. This includes testing the app’s navigation, input mechanisms, behavior, content, and overall look and feel.

Security testing

Security Tests identifies vulnerabilities that could potentially exploit weaknesses in the application, Ensuring the app’s security by detecting and addressing potential risks.

Localized testing

Localized Testing aims to assess the app’s performance in different locations. Does the application function in diverse settings where variations in time, languages, and regional formats occur?

Performance testing

Performance tests evaluate how well the app performs under different stressors, assessing its speed, stability, and overall performance. They help to identify any bottlenecks or issues related to the app’s responsiveness.

Regression testing

Regression Testing examines how changes to an application affect its existing functionality. By conducting regression testing, developers can ensure that new deployments, patches, or bug fixes do not break or negatively impact previously working features.

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How do you test mobile applications?

Depending on your strategy, you’ll want to test a variety of different ways. Fortunately, today there are no shortage of quality tools, frameworks, and techniques available. Knowing the types of tests are important in forming your mobile app testing strategy, but you’ll still need to find the most effective way to perform those tests. 

Manual testing

Everyone performs manual tests. I don’t care how efficient your processes are, at some point, your testers bust out a device and start clicking through things. 

And that’s a good thing. Manual tests serve a great purpose in mobile app testing. They’re quick, easy, and allow for ad hoc use cases that may be hard to automate but could reflect the way your users interact with the application more accurately.

Due to the break-neck speed of development testing needs to be performed early and often. That’s why no test strategy is complete without some sort of test automation. 

Automated testing

A recent article published in Forbes indicated the same:

Modern test automation (TA) technologies can allow for the seamless automation of any software through a user interface (UI) and application programming interface (API), ensuring the testing of the particular business process from a software functionality perspective mimicking the end user (human) and system behavior through application under automation (AUA).

In many cases, a similar approach would apply to the automation of the operational processes that would require interactions with systems through UI and APIs.”

With test automation, test scripts are typically written in a programming language and run through a testing framework.

There are several frameworks available, depending on your strategy, and your application’s OS. Appium, Selenium, and Espresso are all popular code-based automation tools. These tools also will typically integrate with a CI/CD tool to automatically run test cases during deployments or on a schedule.

If code isn’t your thing, you could use a scriptless mobile test automation platform, like Sofy. With a tool like Sofy, you can record your test case all without writing a single line of code, then automate it.


Emulators are software programs that mimic the entire hardware and software environment of a specific mobile device, including the operating system, configurations, and settings. 

For example, the Android emulator is provided by Google as part of the Android SDK (Software Development Kit). It allows developers to create virtual Android devices that simulate different configurations, screen sizes, and versions of the Android operating system. Developers can install and test their Android apps on these emulated devices, replicating real-world scenarios.

Emulators are useful for testing mobile applications online because they provide an environment to replicate device-specific behaviors and test a wide range of scenarios.

They allow for efficient testing across multiple device configurations without the need for physical devices, which can be cost-prohibitive and less flexible.


Simulators replicate the behavior of a specific mobile device’s operating system but do not emulate the hardware components.

The Android Virtual Device (AVD) is a simulator that comes bundled with the Android SDK. It allows developers to create virtual Android devices that run on the host computer’s operating system. 

Unlike emulators, the AVD does not emulate the device’s hardware at the lowest level but provides a simulated Android environment to run apps and perform testing.

The iOS Simulator provided by Xcode is considered both an emulator and a simulator. While it emulates the iOS operating system, it runs on the same hardware architecture as the host machine, enabling developers to run and test iOS apps quickly.

With both emulators and simulators, you’re able to test a mobile device online.

Real device testing

When it comes to mobile app testing, real device testing is king. While emulators and simulators can still be a part of a well rounded strategy, they’re better used at early parts of testing since they can’t ever truly represent a real device.

With modern mobile testing tools, you don’t have to settle with an emulator or simulator to do your mobile device testing online.

You also don’t have to acquire your own devices and manage your own device lab.

With a real device cloud, you can provision a clean instance of a device online, run your tests, and automate it across dozens of other devices. Real device testing online lets someone else worry about the maintenance, storage, and security, while you get access to them when you need them. 

For example, Sofy lets you provision a clean instance of a hosted device. It’ll come with your app already installed. Then, you can record a test case and automate it with a few additional steps. You’re then able to run your test on several other devices and even integrate with your favorite CI/CD tool. All of this is done without having to deal with code.

You’ll also get real-time feedback on test performance so you’re able to debug quickly.


Mobile device testing online doesn’t have to be complicated. Cloud-hosted real device testing makes it easier than ever. While emulators and simulators offer a great opportunity to test during early phases of development, you’ll want to eventually branch out to testing on as many real devices as possible.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed above are those of the contributor. They do not necessarily represent or reflect the official beliefs or positions of Sofy.