Top 5 Device Farms for Building Better Apps

Imagine this:

You’re a developer, and you just finished your mobile app. You’ve spent many days and (long) nights picking an idea, defining the functionalities, planning it, designing it, wire-framing it, coding it. Now you’re ready to ship it . . . right?

Not so fast.

Long before your app is ready to go out into the world, you need to test it. After all of those months spent bringing your initial idea to life, there’s likely been at least a few missteps along the way. And better to find that out now before your users do, right?

At PLUS QA, we support developers, startups, and agencies through this next step with a number of different testing services, including manual testing, automated testing, continuous testing, and more. But for developers and companies who don’t have every device they need to test on in-house — and don’t yet have a testing team like ours — a device farm is your next best step.

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Remote App Testing with Device Farms

Device farms first popped up around 2006, as companies saw a growing need for testing app quality across a wide variety of devices and OS versions in an automated and integrated environment. A device farm is a remote app testing service that developers and companies can use to test their app on thousands of real devices and emulators.

The benefits of device farms are clear: you can test various different configurations in multiple different environments; most device farms give you the option between using built-in test suites or customizing test scripts; and the best device farms follow up with detailed, organized reports with screenshots and crash logs.

Unfortunately, working with a device farm is still working with a third-party service: you have to depend on the vendor to fix issues and update devices; the more popular the service is, the longer you may have to wait for select devices; and security — while a priority — is never a guarantee.

All that being said, if you’re looking to implement automated or continuous testing to ensure the quality of your apps, device farms offer the comprehensiveness and affordability you may need to get the job done.

Stack of mobile devices on top of a yellow background

Five Device Farms for Mobile App Testing

The following are five of the most reputable (and affordable) device farm services available:

AWS (Amazon)

  • Available Devices: Android, iOS, and Fire OS devices (phone and tablets); mixture of OEM and carrier-branded devices (device list)
  • Pricing:
    • Free Trial: 1,000 minutes
    • Pay as you go: $0.17/device minute
    • Unlimited test & access: Starting at $250/month
    • Private devices: Starting at $200/month (Custom Quotes)
  • Our Favorite Features:
    • Videos, logs, and performance data
    • Real-world environment simulation
    • Built-in test suite or customized testing

Icon of laptop, tablet, and mobile phone

Sauce Labs

  • Available Devices: Support 2,000 iOS and Android devices on public clouds in the US and Germany
  • Pricing:
    • Free Trial: 14 days
    • Virtual Platforms (Billed Annually):
      • Live: $19/month
      • Automated: $149/month
      • Unlimited Automated: $298/month
      • Enterprise: Custom Quotes
    • Real Devices (Billed Annually):
      • Live: $89/month
      • Automated: $349/month
      • Unlimited Automated: $600/month
      • Enterprise: Custom Quotes
  • Our Favorite Features:
    • Debugging tools
    • Test analytics
    • Parallel testing

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Firebase Test Lab (Google)

  • Available Devices: Selection of devices always growing to match available OS versions and devices
  • Pricing:
    • Spark Plan: Free
    • Flame Plan: $25/month
    • Blaze Plan: Pay-as-You-Go
  • Our Favorite Features:
    • Existing workflow integration
    • Intelligent crawler navigates your app; no tests required
    • A/B Testing

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Visual Studio App Center (Microsoft)

  • Available Devices: Thousands of physical devices for you to deploy your tests to, each with a different operating system installed
  • Pricing:
    • Free, 30-day trial
    • Additional Audience Segments: $10/month
    • Additional Concurrent Builds: $40/month
    • Additional Devices: $99/month
  • Our Favorite Features:
    • Organized device sets
    • Improved API access
    • Automatic unit tests

Icon of laptop and mobile phone

BrowserStack

  • Available Devices: 2000+ real iOS and Android devices
  • Pricing (Billed Annually):
      • Freelancers: $12.50/month
      • App Live Testing: $49/month
      • App Automate Testing: $199/month
      • Enterprise: Custom Quotes
  • Our Favorite Features:
    • Test from multiple sources on real device cloud
    • Use natural gestures to interact with your mobile app just as you would with a device in hand
    • Use crash reports and logs for real-time debugging

* * *

Device farms are an affordable and professional solution for automated testing across a wide variety of devices. But while the ability to automate testing across multiple devices is valuable, you still have to write and manage automated tests, all while consistently keeping them up to date. In some instances, manual testing — or a combination of manual and automated testing — may be a better solution.

If you’re looking for a more wide range of testing services — including a combination of manual and automated tests across a comprehensive list of devices and platforms with a professional testing team, get in touch with the team at PLUS QA!

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