Testing Mobile App on Virtual Devices vs. Real Devices

The increasing use of mobile devices has influenced many industries like e-Commerce, banking, healthcare, etc. to build mobile equivalent versions of their products, engage customers, and amplify product reach. This has resulted in the delivery of different types of mobile apps that need frequent updates and releases to sustain the market requirement. Today, a mobile-first approach is being followed by many companies right from the design/prototype creation till the Go Live of an app. To ensure the quality is not impacted, companies have started investing in mobile app testing during each update/release.

But, with a plethora of devices available with varying OS, screen sizes, capabilities, etc., it is never easy to test mobile apps on a huge range of devices adequately under the given timeframe and cost constraints and get the desired product quality. Now, this is where you will have to decide whether you want to test the application manually or choose the automation methods using a virtual device (Simulators/Emulators) based testing or prefer a real device.


A simulator is a partial replica of the original software that mimics the basic behavior of a device but not the hardware or the OS. Few Simulators do not support testing of certain functionalities like battery usage, cellular interrupts, etc. In general, Simulators are used for iOS device simulation.

Some of the common Simulator examples are:

Appium Simulatorhttps://docs.experitest.com/display/TC/AS+-+Connecting+An+iOS+Emulator
iOS Simulator using XCodehttps://developer.apple.com/library/archive/documentation/IDEs/Conceptual/iOS_Simulator_


An emulator is a device-specific that closely emulates both the OS and the hardware. It behaves like a real hardware/software system. Emulators provide better results compared to Simulators as they can be used to test specific scenarios/features and mimic multiple devices. While Simulators are used only for iOS simulations, Emulators can be used for both Android as well iOS devices.

Some of the common Emulator examples are:

Emulators and simulators are often used interchangeably since both perform somewhat similar functions. A major difference is that one emulates or replicates real mobile device software, hardware, and the OS to test and debug applications within another software/hardware platform, while the other simulates or imitates only the internal behavior of a device but does not emulate hardware or work on the OS.

Testing a mobile app on a real device

A real mobile device is used for testing the functionality of mobile applications in real devices. Testing on a real mobile device ensures that the working of the device application is smooth and convenient in the hand of the end-user.

Now that we have a fair understanding of what is an Emulator, Simulator, and a Real device, let us assess the pros and cons to know when to use Emulators / Simulators or a Real device.

Pros of using virtual devices vs real devices

Cons of using virtual devices vs real devices


As emulators/simulators prove to be good in the early stages of the software development lifecycle (SDLC), they can be used by developers for quicker application development of mobile apps and UI designers for quick design reviews. The testing team can prefer mixing real devices and virtual devices to ensure the quality of the mobile apps is not compromised.

So, are you ready to test your mobile apps? Contact us if you have a query.

By – Arif Gajula