Simulator and Emulator in Mobile Testing
Mobile Testing

The need for Simulator and Emulator in Mobile Testing

To support their business-critical mobile applications, enterprises require sophisticated mobile app testing solutions that allow them to deploy and support their mobile application development in a timely and cost-effective manner, while reducing risk exposure. Unfortunately, it is not budget or time effective to gather all the latest devices on the market and to maintain synchronization across all of them. This is why some testers choose to use Simulator and Emulator in Mobile Testing.

The need for Simulator and Emulator in Mobile Testing

In my previous post “Emulator, Simulator & Real-device Testing” I tried to explain the concept of Simulator and Emulator in Mobile Testing. These tools have emerged as a necessity from the fact that there are a lot of variations in device types, screen sizes and operating systems on the market. Simulator and Emulator in Mobile Testing are widely used for both manual and automated mobile application testing. Let’s see what the need is, what they offer or what the limitations to Real-device testing are…

Device Fragmentation

It is one of the development team and QA team’s biggest concerns. The wide gamut of mobile devices from apple to Samsung to android and to Symbian and so on, makes it very hard for the testing team to arrange all sorts of mobile devices while working under considerable amount of budget and timeline related constraints.

iOS and Android Mobile Operating System

The testers are not confident about which mobile devices to invest in for testing. Is the testing on real devices worth the expense? Simulator and Emulator in Mobile Testing is tailor made for this type of situation(s).

Budget Constraints / Economy

Project Budget, Time & Scope

How many different types of handset do you need to test? Which one should you pick? The costs involved in procuring and managing these devices are significant. Buying them for a project can quickly blow the budget for many projects. Best practices call for testing on up to 30-40 devices in your market and replacing ~30% of those each quarter to stay up to date.

Many startups simply cannot afford enough devices to create a good representation of the market for automated or one-to-one testing. That’s where Simulator and Emulator in Mobile Testing come in picture. In most cases, Simulator and Emulator in Mobile Testing are completely free and provided as part of the SDK with each new OS release. All you need to do is download the software, install on your PC, and you’re ready to go.

Step-by-step Debugging

Real Mobile devices when used in the development stage for unit testing and similar purposes could turn out to be harder to connect to the IDE than the emulators and this causes tremendous problems for debugging and in a project with timeline constraints this may very well hamper the overall conclusion of the project.

Due to their integration with the development environment, Simulator and Emulator provide the developer or tester with access to detailed debugging information. This allows for convenient step-by-step debugging of your application on the emulator.

Time Saving

Since Simulator and Emulator in Mobile Testing are simple client software that runs locally on your PC, they have less latency than real devices connected to the local network or in the cloud. A quick and easy way to test small changes on the fly.

Parallel execution

The challenge with device testing is that if you want 100 tests, you’re going to have to do them one at a time. Or get another 99 testers, all looking for the same things you are. As such, multiple emulators can be programmed to run, doing much of the same work as a device tester, but faster and at greater volume. It does not require the same amount of device hardware, either.

Mobile App Automation Testing


Aside from the cost of real devices, there is a logistical problem in storing them, and performing the tests on them. Without a way to test multiple devices simultaneously, testing on real devices is a decidedly manual process. Even if you can test multiple devices at once on an automated platform, this will take a considerable amount of room.

Testing even 5 devices can clutter your desk a great deal. Not to mention the problems of ensuring the right cord stays with the right device, and other such issues. Plus there’s always the chance your test devices could be stolen, especially if left on a desk for a long period of time to run tests.

Automation Setup

Automated Mobile App Testing

If setting up automated testing, another issue is that each device may need configuration in order to connect with the platform. One example would be enabling ADB debugging on your Android devices. Also, you have to coordinate how they are all going to charge. The larger the number of devices such tasks have to be done for, the more cost to your organization in both time and effort.


If you are using devices connected locally to your workstation, you will need to make sure USB ports are open. In addition, mobile devices can easily be stolen, allowing unauthorized access to your internal network resources.

Capture Screenshots

Capturing screenshots of UI or display issues can be easier from an Simulator and Emulator in Mobile Testing, as they are already on your desktop. Windows Snipping Tool, Microsoft Office facilities and many Third party applications are available to capture screenshots.

Real-time refresh

Additionally, an Simulator and Emulator in Mobile Testing can extract data in real time and refresh reports as it runs, providing the development team with data they need in order to debug issues.

Ease of availability

Simulator and Emulator in Mobile Testing are in most cases open source and free software which can be very easily downloaded from Internet and ready to be tested for.


Just download the software, install on your PC and you’re ready to go. Multiple Simulator and Emulator in Mobile Testing can be run in a simple and straightforward manner. Functional, UI and usability testing can be easily done. It also helps in isolating issues, which are not dependent on network connections, for example UI, usability, different screen sizes, input methods etc.


There are specific situations where the deadline to produce test execution results are short and purchasing the required mobile devices may not be possible. Thereby it might be necessary to use the Simulator and Emulator in Mobile Testing for testing the relevant mobile applications.

While Simulator and Emulator in Mobile Testing are great tools for the tester’s and developer’s toolbox, Real device testing is an indispensable part of the app development process, and should never be ignored. Keep in mind: the public will not be accessing your mobile product via an emulator!

Mobile App Test Strategy using Emulator & Real-devices

Best practices for mobile app development would include both Simulator and Emulator in Mobile Testing and real devices to maintain strong standards and quality assurance. Ideally one would use emulators (and a few reference real handsets) in the early coding and debugging phases, and real devices for the later usability, performance, inter-operability, network feasibility and regression testing phases.

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