Which Is A Better Mobile App Testing Solution- Real Or Virtual Devices?

Mobile App Testing Solution


Technology has taken a leap since the 1990s with the breakthrough of the internet. Scientific innovations and developments have changed our digital landscape drastically, levitating the competition and demand for batter and relevant applications.

Statistics have shown that an average consumer spends approximately 10.64 USD on mobile apps (in Q2 2021). For businesses to meet consumers’ demands, they have started implementing real device cloud and real device testing.


IT is projected to reach an approximate of 4.45 trillion U.S. dollars by 2022, which is an increase of 5.1 percent in growth compared to 2021.


The following are the basic differences of features in different types of applications to facilitate a better real mobile device testing experience.

Mobile Web Application Pure Native Apps Hybrid App
  1. Web browsers are used to access mobile web apps.


  1. These can be developed and used without hassles.


  1. Updates are easy to manage and install.


  1. Offline usage is not permitted.


  1. Web apps have restricted usage and functioning compared to native and hybrid applications.


  1. Not available on Google Play, App Store, and other application platforms. Hence, have limited users.
  1. Purely native applications are developed specifically for one platform like Android or iOS, Tizen, Windows 10 M0bile, BlackBerry, etc.


  1. These apps work offline.


  1. Uses all the internal, hardware-specific features of the gadget, and provides the consumer with an advanced user interface.


  1. Native apps are expensive and have a high maintenance cost.
  1. Hybrid apps use a combination of technologies for native apps and mobile web apps. This makes them more flexible and scalable in the long run.


  1. These are cost-efficient


  1. They can be easily distributed, embedded in the browser, and can use the features of the concerned gadget while working.


  1. Its graphics are less accustomed to OS and work slower than native apps.



The different versions of actual handsets used by end-users are real devices. The testing team puts the apps through rigorous testing on various mobile devices, including iOS, Android, Blackberry, Tablets, and iPads. The test on real devices gives accurate results. The problem rises since devices are updated regularly, and new devices are introduced into the market. Testing teams cannot test mobile apps on all genuine devices. As a result, real mobile device testing is not cost-effective. Functions like push notifications, real-time communications, and GPS data need real device testing.

To test on real devices, you can download an Android File Transfer, where you can browse and transfer files between your computer and your mobile gadget. These are the steps for real mobile device testing.

  •  First, you connect your phone to your computer with the cable. Change its configuration to enable the developer mode. Then open google.com in the Chrome browser.
  • On the PC, use the Chrome browser. Enter chrome://inspect/ as the URL, which opens the DevTools for Devices. Click on ‘inspect’ and DevTools.

While connecting your Phone to Safari Web Inspector, you may find a bug: a word of caution- Safari Web Inspector does not integrate well with the latest version of Big Sur. There is a temporary fix for this problem, for which you have to download a beta version of new Safari, called Safari Technology Preview.

  • On the Phone: Safari settings -> Advanced -> Enable Web Inspector
  •  In Safari, change Advanced Preferences to “Show Develop menu in menu bar”, and the Develop tab shows up in the top menu.

Connect your phone with the cable and open google.com on Safari. The Develop tab will show your connected phone and let you pick one of the opened URLs to inspect, which then opens the Web Inspector.


Virtual devices are software applications that imitate the key features and characteristics. These simulated devices assist testers in running the programme and understanding how it would perform on actual devices. Emulators and simulators are the two primary categories of virtual testing equipment.

Emulators are computer software applications that construct virtual devices. They are used on the workstation to emulate the target device’s hardware and software. It operates on machine language, which the processor understands and converts to the system’s speech via a binary translation process. Android emulators and iOS emulators are the two most often utilized forms of emulators in mobile testing.

Simulators are virtual testing tools that can only simulate mobile devices’ software properties and setups. They are designed for iOS devices such as the iPhone and iPad. The iOS simulator emulates iOS and executes the appropriate application within the environment by taking control of the computer’s operating system. However, to run the iOS simulator, testers must use MacOS since the iOS simulator requires Apple’s native Cocoa API, which is necessary for the GUI, runtime, and many other activities. It can be challenging for testers because they must operate on a MacBook or virtualize macOS on their existing computers.

Virtual devices are generally used for testing in the absence of physical hardware. The Android Emulator replicates Android devices, allowing you to test apps on various devices without having each device present.

You can download the Android Studio to set up virtual Android devices for testing.

The iOS Simulator (part of Xcode) can be used to test the fundamental functionality and UI layout of iOS apps. To configure the iPhone 11 emulator, you can use Xcode, which you can download on your PC (or MacBook Pro).


Using Virtual devices is a cost-effective solution compared to real device testing. The availability of Web Inspector and DevTools facilitates real mobile device testing. Virtual machines lack these features. Again features like push notifications, real-time communications, and GPS data need real device testing. Real devices are essential to give real-case experience and scenarios. Sanity testing and User Acceptance testing provide better results when tested on real devices. They provide accurate results. Authentication features like face ID or fingerprint recognition can not be tried on virtual machines. Real devices reduce the chance of escaping defects.

On the other side, Virtual devices are more effective in automating mobile UI tests and unit testing. They work faster than real devices in terms of testing. These enable the teams to practice shift-left testing to test mobile applications earlier in the cycle.


Statista shows that the count of mobile devices will witness a rise to 18.22 billion by 2025. This growth of about 4.2 billion devices compared to 2020 is sufficient enough to point out the impact of gadgets and applications in our lives. These urge the companies to find an optimum solution using simulators/emulators and real devices and explore all possible combinations to meet the users’ demand and provide quality assurance.

Amy Rey
the authorAmy Rey