Testing on physical devices, rather than solely depending on simulators or emulators, offers several important benefits in the field of software development. This is particularly true for applications designed for mobile platforms and the ever-growing field of the Internet of Things (IoT). With real devices, testers can more accurately simulate the real-world user experience, and can take into consideration certain factors such as screen size, touch sensitivity, and device-specific nuances. Here we explore some more of the key advantages to testing on real devices.

Google Home device being used with a connected iPhone.


Network, Security, and Software Issues

Real devices can uncover device-specific bugs that can go otherwise unnoticed using simulators or emulators. Some of these issues can arise due to sensor integration, hardware limitations, or manufacturer-specific quirks, and many accessibility issues can only be found by testing a physical device in real-world conditions. Detecting and correcting issues that are device-specific is an important part of delivering a consistent and reliable user experience across a wide array of devices.

Testing on real devices allows for evaluation under differing network conditions, such as the differences between 3G, 4G, and varying Wi-Fi configurations or network speeds, and examining how those connectivity issues may affect the seamless functionality of an application. Further, real devices provide a way to test an application’s security and privacy features in a real-world context, ensuring the integrity of the app by identifying potential vulnerabilities that could be exploited.

Network speed test application showing network performance on Wi-Fi network.

With the wide range of devices available on the market today, testing on a real device helps to account for the diverse hardware and software configurations that a user base may engage with. Real devices run different versions of operating systems and software, and multiple configurations and updates to a device’s software should be taken into consideration during testing. Some mobile apps and IoT devices might also rely on complex sensors and peripherals such as GPS, accelerometers, Bluetooth, or cameras, and testing on real devices allows for the evaluation of how these sensors interact with the application–especially important for software that requires location tracking, enables augmented reality, or any other application that has a dependency on sensory data.


External Factors and Performance

Also especially important for testing IoT applications, certain external factors can play a role in how software performs. Lighting conditions, outdoor versus indoor environments, and movement all have an impact on how users interact with an application, and other physical properties (size, weight, aesthetics) also influence the success or failure of software releases and updates.

Real devices also allow for comprehensive performance assessments to address how an application behaves under different conditions and what effect it has on the specific device being used. Evaluation how software impacts battery life or CPU and memory usage is crucial for optimizing the app’s performance and resource management, and helps identify and address any resource-heavy features.

iPhone being used in front of a desktop PC set up.


User Experience and Cost Benefits

User interface validation is necessary to determine whether or not the application’s user interface–the layout, design, and interactions of an app–are properly displayed and acceptable to users across different form factors and screen sizes. Testing the UI responsiveness, screen rendering, and touch interactions on real devices ensures that your app looks and behaves as expected across real-world devices represented within your user base.

Finally, although testing across a wide range of real devices might initially seem costly, it can ultimately save money by identifying and resolving issues early on in development. Preventing post-launch bug fixes, customer support issues, and software updates that are necessary due to device-specific issues that were missed can ultimately save both time and resources and contribute to the overall success and engagement your app will enjoy.


Localization Testing on Real Devices

Locale testing on both desktop and mobile apps is crucial to launching a product that works well in different regions of the world and using different languages. On a real, physical device, you are more likely to find bugs related to currency symbols, character display, time and date, and overall text layout and formatting. Setting up a test device in a specific language will help to improve the quality of your application and identify issues before your users experience them.

Mobile phone running an application with text content that is in a non-English language.

Testing on real devices is an important component of the software development process, especially on mobile apps and IoT devices. While testing on simulators and emulators can cover a broad range of scenarios, testing on real devices closes the gaps that are missed without the advantage of having an app tested under real-world conditions.

If you’re interested in mobile app and IoT testing, PLUS QA can help! With over 500+ devices in our Device Lab, our experienced testers are available to test your product and uncover issues that may otherwise be missed during simulations testing, and ensure a smooth release of your application.

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