Home Technology Emulators/Simulators Vs. Real Device Testing for Mobile Apps

Emulators/Simulators Vs. Real Device Testing for Mobile Apps


Developers worldwide have been using emulators and simulators for years to test their products. Does using a simulator or device emulator online in the current iOS and Android ecosystem, which is much different from that of a few years ago, still make sense?

Let’s first clarify the distinction between an emulator and a simulator. Although these phrases are frequently used interchangeably, their precise definitions matter a great deal in software development.

According to research, 88% of consumers would stop using an app if it had even one issue. Hence, it is essential to test your app on the right platform properly.

Using Simulators vs. Emulators for Mobile App Testing

Despite the similarities in their functions, emulators and simulators vary fundamentally. There is no need to use a simulator to test the actual hardware of a device because it just mimics its internal functioning. However, testers that do not need to test application performance properly under optimal circumstances will not mind the trade-off.

Emulators, on the other hand, recreate the complete experience of gadgets. This implies they can reflect the totality of the genuine device’s functionality. In this regard, simulators fall short of emulators. Nevertheless, simulators can outperform emulators in some situations.

Simulators are more than enough for simple application testing if you are a tester. Simulations can be used to test simple features like calculation, which do not require complicated testing environments, such as a sandbox or a virtual machine.

In a similar situation, an emulator will be unnecessary. Emulators are best suited for applications that require access to a wide range of hardware and software options.

Snapchat, for example, uses complex features, such as geolocation, audio systems, cameras, and other memory-intensive elements, to enhance the user experience. Such applications can run smoothly on emulators since they provide a complete environment for them.

On the other hand, a simulator lacks hardware capabilities; thus, it cannot demonstrate how sophisticated features like geo-location, sound systems, cameras, and so on truly operate on the device. Snapchat’s core functionalities won’t be clearly shown, making it more challenging to track down and fix any technological issues.

It is also simpler to debug emulators. Emulators highlight errors in a program. This is because the vendors themselves develop the emulators. Google provides an official Android SDK for developers.

Machine assembly language is used to create emulators, whereas high-level programming languages are used to create simulators. But emulators can’t keep up with simulators in terms of speed, which is why they’re often considered inferior.

Real Devices for Mobile Testing

There were about 15 billion mobile devices active worldwide in 2021, up from 14 billion in 2020. No matter how popular emulators get, genuine device testing will not be phased out anytime soon. There are still many flaws with emulators, even though they are pretty similar to the simulating devices.

Beta testers must get a sense of what the final product will be like for the general public. This is possible only on physical devices. When it comes to mobile testing, there are several advantages to using genuine devices:

  • There is a limit to what a computer can do. Several sensors and other motions in smartphones need to be tested and require a physical device.
  • An emulator can only do so in a controlled environment when it comes to performance. The performance of real devices will be impacted by various factors, such as temperature and other applications operating in the background.
  • On an emulator, you’ll only be able to test network performance under lab settings. Testing for sluggish and inconsistent internet connections is necessary because that’s what most people will use.
  • It’s impossible to tell how your app impacts a particular device’s battery life without using a genuine device. It’s critical to test your app on a real smartphone to see whether it drains the battery rapidly.
  • When using a smartphone, you may expect several interruptions, such as phone calls or the need to switch off the screen. Only by running it on an actual device can you ensure that your application is not interrupted during testing.
  • It’s impossible to make your program appear its best on all devices if you use an emulated device. Every gadget has a different screen quality, brightness, and size. Hence, tests on actual devices are critical. This is the only way to be sure.

Real Device vs. Virtual Devices in Mobile Testing

Testers can simulate the software environment of genuine mobile devices using virtual mobile testing equipment. Even though these solutions are near, they are not the same as actual gadgets. The testing environment of genuine devices is replicated via emulators, although this does not give a realistic depiction.

However, you may still get a good picture of what an actual gadget might seem like if you use an emulator. The performance of an app can be most adequately measured on a real device because of various external factors.