Mobile Applications Testing – Challenges & Approach, Strategy

Testing mobile applications is more complex, time consuming and costly process compared to traditional desktop and web applications testing as mobile applications need to be tested on various mobile devices and operating system under different network conditions.

In this technical article, I will explain various challenges involved in mobile applications testing.

Mobile Testing Challenges:

  • Mobile Device Connectivity:  Mobile Devices can be connected with Windows or Mac using Wi-Fi, USB or Cloud network and so greatly affect Mobile Testing strategy as all the 3 options are different from one another.
  • Multiple Mobile Platforms & Versions:  There are different Mobile Operating Systems in the market. The major ones are Android, IOS, Symbian, Windows and BlackBerry. Testing a mobile application across multiple devices running on the same platform and every platform poses a unique challenge for testers.
  • Mobile Device diversity: Mobile Device diversity is an especially acute problem for Android devices. Official mobile device gallery includes over 60 devices of various screen sizes, resolutions and form factors. Providing testing coverage for all the devices is a major challenge even for the big organizations.
  • Frequent Releases: Major and minor OS updates, keeps test teams continuously involved testing new app features or rectifying the app against a new OS version.
  • Varying Network Condition: Mobile apps behavior can be affected by changes in network conditions such as Wi-Fi, 2G/3G/4G, GSM/CDMA, bandwidth, connection speed etc. This requires additional testing to ensure acceptable app behavior in real world conditions.
  • Different Mobile App Types: A mobile app can be a Web app, a Native or a hybrid app which has both contents. Testing of each such app type is different than another as their implementation is quite different from one another.
  • Mobile Testing Tools Availability and Selection: As mentioned in introduction of this tutorial, testing mobile applications is more complex compared to desktop or web applications. With increase in complexity, there are actually less tools available to support mobile testing and the selection of most appropriate tool out of available is another tough task.
  • Test Execution Challenge: Test execution across different devices and browsers is a huge, challenging effort. Consider a test which needs to be executed on multiple android and iOS devices and versions; designing a test execution matrix of this scope is both complex and time consuming.
  • Testing on Emulators/Simulators: Typical mobile application needs to be tested on 5-7 iOS and 10-15 Android devices. This list grows every quarter, making almost impossible for organizations to test mobile apps on target devices. In such cases, Emulators are good choice for mobile applications testing however should never be considered a substitute for real mobile device as they have their own limitations.
  • Mobile Automation & Performance Testing: Like manual testing of mobile applications, both, automation and performance testing are also complex. Mobile applications objects are quite different than web or desktop applications and also differ depending on OS and mobile application types. Moreover there is no generic framework available for mobile test automation as mobile industry is still in budding stage.

All the factors discussed so far, add to the cost of testing mobile applications which sometimes even exceed mobile application development cost.


Mobile testing Strategy:

  • Target Device Selection: Mobile Devices and Platform diversity is a key challenge in mobile applications testing. Testing approach should include creating an optimal mix of emulator and real device of different models to maximize test coverage.
  • Network Environment: Consider primary testing on Wi-Fi and using network simulation. In addition, testing mobile apps in real network condition is also essential to assess the behavior of the application.
  • Identifying Types of Testing: To ensure mobile application works on all devices, consider different types of testing required including functional, performance, security, beta etc.
  • Mobile Cloud Testing: Mobile cloud provides a web-based mobile testing environment where applications can be deployed, tested, and managed. Cloud testing environments have capability to support complex apps and provide real-time testing results, which means defects can be analyzed while the tests are running.
  • Mobile Test Automation: Select an effective test automation tool and maximize the use of automation to reduce the cost of regression testing.



Despite the challenges in mobile application testing, careful selection of target devices, mobile and network connectivity options and tools that maximize automation, can ensure a cost effective mobile testing process.