Comprehensive Guide on How to Test Mobile Applications

Looking for a mobile app test plan and some expert tips on how to test mobile applications? Whether it be ordering food from restaurants, hailing a cab service for your next ride or looking for directions to arrive at your destination on the map, mobile phone apps can do them all today. To be successful, only offering some highly innovative and interesting features to your end users is not enough. Your mobile application should also be free from any obvious glitches while offering great user experience. Therefore, mobile app testing is becoming increasingly important. Learning how to create mobile app test plans, how to generate mobile app test scenarios and how to write mobile app test cases can decide the fate of a mobile application.

What is Mobile Application Testing & How to Test Mobile Apps?

Mobile application testing is the software testing process using which, smartphone applications and mobile apps are tested for functionality, usability, user experience and consistency glitches. Mobile testing can be performed manually or using test automation tools such as Appium etc. Testing of your mobile application is important for several reasons. e.g. We should perform mobile app testing to ensure that your mobile applications work as expected. Hence, it’s critical to test them thoroughly.

1. Mobile App Documentation Testing
2. Mobile App Functional Testing
3. Mobile App Usability Testing
4. Mobile App UI (User Interface) Testing
5. Mobile App Compatibility (Configuration) Testing
6. Mobile App Performance, Load & Stress Testing
7. Mobile App Security Testing
8. Mobile App Recovery Testing
9. Mobile App Localization Testing
10. Mobile App Retesting & Regression Testing

Things to Consider When Performing Mobile App Testing

Mobile application testing is a specialized type of testing and can be totally different from software testing and web testing. Here are a few important things that should be considered while performing mobile application testing:

– Screen resolution of the mobile device (important for gaming and other graphic-heavy apps)
– Turning on/off GPS when performing mobile app testing (especially important for location-based apps)
– Screen orientation (landscape, portrait)
– Different Mobile manufacturers
– Different Mobile OS types and versions
– Type of mobile application (native app, hybrid app, mobile web app, progressive web app)

Mobile App Testing for Different Types of Apps

Defining your app testing strategy can largely depend on the type of mobile app you’re testing. Irrespective of the type of industry for which the app has been built for, mobile apps are broadly categorized into four different types:

Native Mobile Apps (iOS/Android)

Native mobile apps are built specific for iOS or Android. A native iOS app is an IPA binary file, that can then be tested by manually installing on supported iOS devices or using test automation with Appium and/or XCUITest frameworks. Similarly, a native Android app is an APK package that can then be tested by manually installing on supported Android devices or using test automation with Appium and/or Espresso frameworks.

Hybrid Mobile Apps

Hybrid mobile apps include a native application wrapper, which is independent of the mobile operating system — iOS or Android. Thus, a hybrid mobile application can access all operating systems specific capabilities. A hybrid application can be installed from the Apple App Store or Google PlayHybrid applications can also be tested by the Appium test framework.

Mobile Web Apps

Mobile web apps are accessed using mobile native browsers, such as Native Android Browser, Chrome, Safari, Firefox or device specific mobile browsers such as Samsung Browsers etc. These are essentially responsive web applications. Hence, these can be tested using the Selenium test framework.

Progressive Web App (PWA)

A progressive web app is an installable web link that is specific to iOS and Android. Apps available for Instagram and Twitter are both examples of PWAs. With PWAs, you can create a shortcut to these apps and install them without needing to go to the Apple App Store or Google Play.

How to Ensure Test Coverage while Performing Mobile Testing?

Owing to the vast possibility of different types of mobile platforms, mobile operating systems, mobile phone manufacturers, handset models, OS versions, mobile browsers etc that are available in the market, it can sometimes be a real challenge to ensure sufficient test coverage while performing app testing.

Choosing between Real Devices, Emulator, Simulators and Cloud-based SaaS Services

Though nothing can beat the use of a real device for mobile app testing, the fact remains that it is practically impossible to have all the supported mobile devices in a testing lab. So often, mobile app testers have to rely on emulators, simulators and various cloud-based SaaS services offering mobile device and mobile browser stacks.

Web Apps Automation Testing Company

It’s easy to confuse between “Emulator” and “Simulator” and many mistake them to be one and the same. However, an emulator is the original gadget replacement and allows you to run applications on your mobile device without modifying them. In contract, simulators don’t imitate the mobile device’s hardware but using them a mobile app tester can set up analogous mobile environment that simulates the original mobile’s OS. Thus, simulators are usually preferred to test mobile application whereas emulators are better suited for the mobile web application testing.

Similarly, if you are required to run mobile app compatibility testing across a large combinations of mobile devices, platforms, OS types, OS versions and browsers then using a cloud-based SaaS testing service provider such as BrowserStack, SauceLabs, CrossBrowserTesting etc may be a great idea.

Testing Mobile Apps – Use Manual Testing or Test Automation?

When it comes to mobile app testing, both automation testing and manual testing are equally important and striking the right balance between the two often proves to be the difference between success and failure. As a rule of thumb as with any other types of testing, if something is related to usability, user experience or UI-level tests then manual testing often delivers best results. On the other hand, if you have a set of functional tests that are repeatable and expected to be executed over and over again then your mobile testing strategy would benefit by implementing test automation.

Understanding Different Stages of Mobile App Testing

Even though mobile app testing have some similarities with web app testing, there are some major differences between mobile and desktop applications. Let us learn about the various different stages of mobile application testing.

1. Documentation Testing

This is the preparatory stage where the very beginning of mobile app testing takes place. In this stage, app testers are given wireframes depicting screen layouts, navigational charts, and any other requirements that may not be clearly defined on the design. These requirements are then analyzed by the mobile app testing team for correctness and inconsistency. Any contradictions, if found in the requirements are then resolved before the start of app development. Documentation testing phase involves the creation and analysis of various requirements artifacts (e.g. functional requirements specification documents, PRD etc), Test Cases, Test Plan, Test Coverage Matrix, Traceability Matrix.

2. Functional Testing

This stage of mobile app testing is performed to ensure that the developed app is functioning and working as per the defined requirements. When performing functional testing for your mobile application you must keep the following important factors in mind:

– Business functionality of the mobile app e.g. banking, social networking, food ordering & delivery, cab hailing, travel booking, learning & education, video game industry, etc.
– Target audience such as B2B companies, students, travelers, gamers, foodies, entrepreneurs, etc.
– Distribution channels such as Google Play, direct delivery, Apple App Store, etc.

Here are some basic validations that a mobile app tester needs to cover in functional testing phase:

– Installing and running the mobile application
– Field level and form submission testing
– Business functionalities testing
– Interruptions testing
– Constant users feedback testing
– App update testing
– Device resource utilization testing

3. Usability Testing

This type of testing is perfumed to ensure end user’s convenience while using the application, an intuitive interface that adheres to industry standards. It is performed to create fast and easy-to-use applications. Here are 3 main basic criteria for the apps evaluation:

– User Satisfaction
– App Efficiency
– Overall Effectiveness

Here are some basic validations that a mobile app tester needs to cover in usability testing phase:

– Making sure that the buttons are not of too small size and can be easily accessible
– Verifying that the mobile app works in multitasking mode, when necessary
– Checking that the navigation work as expected
– Ensuring that the icons and pictures look natural and don’t cause pixellation or blurring issues
– Verifying the color of different screen elements and making sure that they are as per the design
– Ensuring that the text size is enough to make them visible to the user
– Ensuring correct behavior of the Zoom-in and Zoom-out functions
– Making sure that the context menus are not over-crowded
– Making sure that the mobile app can be terminated at any state and that it resumes operation in the last used state
– Verifying that the user can undo or cancel their action if they accidentally pressed the wrong button
– Making sure that the screen load speed and response time is not too slow

4. UI (User Interface) Testing

User Interface (UI) testing is done to ensure that your app’s GUI meets all the required specifications. Here are some basic validations that a mobile app tester needs to cover in UI testing phase:

– Ensuring the app’s compliance with the specified standards of UI
– Verifying your app’s UI with the some of the widely used mobile screen resolutions: 640 × 480, 800 × 600, 1024 × 768, 1280 × 800, 1366 × 768, 1400 × 900, 1680 × 1050
– Ensuring responsiveness of the mobile application across different device types.
– Testing all the design elements in the GUI: buttons, icons, colors, links, fonts, font sizes, layout, text boxes, text formatting, labels, captions, buttons, lists etc.
– Ensuring that any banners or advertising do not overlap on application control buttons
– Ensure that the banners have an accessible Close (X) button
– Making sure that the app functions and displays correctly on retina as well as non-retina screens
– Making sure that the app functions and displays correctly with portrait and landscape page orientation

5. Compatibility (Configuration) Testing

Compatibility (Configuration) testing is performed to ensure optimal app performance when used across different types of mobile devices – while taking their screen size, screen resolution, OS version, handset model, underlying hardware, etc into account. When conducting mobile app compatibility (configuration) testing, the following factors need to be taken into consideration:

– OS Configuration
– Browser Configuration
– Database Configuration
– Device Configuration
– Network Configuration

Mobile app compatibility testing can be further categorized into following types.

Cross-platform testing: Testing your mobile application’s compatibility with different types of mobile operating systems: Windows Mobile, iOS, Android, BlackBerry, etc.

Cross-browser testing: Testing your mobile application’s compatibility in different types of mobile phone browsers: Apple Safari, Google Chrome, Native Android Browser, Mozilla Firefox, Opera Mini, Samsung Browser etc.

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Database testing: Testing your mobile application’s compatibility in different types of database configurations: DB2, Oracle, MSSQL Server, MySql, Sybase.

Device Configuration testing: Testing your mobile application’s compatibility across different types of mobile devices based on:

– Device type: smartphone, phablet, tablet, iPhones, iPad mini, iPad Pro etc.
– Device configuration: processor type, processor speed, memory size, RAM, battery capacity in mAh, screen resolution, retina vs non-retina display etc.
– Network configuration testing: Testing your mobile application’s compatibility when performing under different types of network configurations (TDMA, GSM) and standards (2G, 3G, 4G, LTE, 5G).

6. Performance, Load & Stress Testing

Performance testing is performed to determine the operability, stability, resource utilization and other similar attributes of a mobile app quality different usage scenarios and workloads. Mobile app performance testing can be categorized into following types.

Mobile App Load Testing: This is done to test the mobile app’s response under normal as well as extreme loads.

Mobile App Stress Testing: This is done to test the mobile app’s ability to sustain continued stress over a given period of time. Stress testing ensures that your mobile app is able to bear occasional stress and wouldn’t crash.

Mobile App Stability Testing: This is done to test if your mobile app can function well for a longer period within normal load parameters.

Mobile App Volume Testing: This is done to test your mobile app’s performance when it is subjected to a huge volume of data.

Mobile App Concurrency testing: This is done to test the performance of your mobile app when multiple users are simultaneously logged in.

7. Security Testing

Security testing is performed to check the security of the application. Here a penetration testers analyzes the risks to the application from hackers, malware, viruses, unauthorized access to private and confidential data. Here are some basic validations that a mobile app tester needs to cover in security testing phase:

– Ensuring that the user’s data (login credentials, passwords, bank account details, debit / credit card numbers) are securely stored
– Verifying that the application security system requires the users to set a strong password
– Making sure that the application does not give access to confidential data or functionality without proper user authentication
– Protecting the application against SQL injection attacks
– Protecting the application and the server from DoS (denial of service) and DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks
– Protecting the application from malicious attacks from hackers
– Protecting the system from malicious CSS (cross site scripting) attacks
– Preventing potential malicious consequences of file caching
– Examining user uploaded files and preventing any possible harmful effects
– Analyzing the system files and identifying and fixing vulnerabilities
– Preventing possible malicious consequences of cookies

8. Recovery Testing

Recovery testing is conducted to test the ability of your mobile application to withstand and then successfully recover from potential failures that may be caused by server issues, hardware failures, or network communication problems. Here are some basic validations that a smartphone application tester needs to cover in recovery testing phase:

– Verifying that the the application is able to recover after unforeseen crashes
– Ensuring the app is able to recover data after a network connection failure

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– Testing the mobile app’s ability to recover after a system failure or a transaction failure
– Verifying the ability of the mobile application to process financial transactions after a power failure (low battery, accidental application shutdown etc.).

9. Localization Testing

Localization testing is performed to verify the adaptability of your mobile application for a specific geographically located audience based on their cultural variations. Here are some basic validations that a mobile app tester needs to cover in localization testing phase:

– Testing the list of languages that are supported by the mobile application
– Ensuring the correctness of the translation
– Verifying the correctness of the currency conversion based on the selected language
– Checking the correctness of date formats based on the selected language

10. Retesting & Regression Testing

Retesting and Regression testing is performed to ensure that the development has successfully fixed all defects that were detected in each phases of testing activities (retesting) and to ensure that the new changes and bug fixes did not introduce any new defects in the mobile app (regression testing).

Mobile App Re-testing or Confirmation Testing: This type of testing is done to test that all the detected defects are successfully fixed.

Mobile App Regression Testing: Sometimes code changes made to fix bugs or do improvements in the app can inadvertently introduce new issues by breaking previously working functionalities. Regression testing is done to prevent those issues and ensures that no new defects were caused by the recent code changes.


Quality issues with mobile app solutions can result in dissatisfied customers, poor brand image and lost sales opportunities. For any mobile application to successful, thorough and effective mobile app testing often results in happy customers, user satisfaction and hence a profitable business. Though Mobile App Testing often comes with its own challenges, having the right skillset and hiring a top-quality smartphone application testing company can help minimize the risks associated with it. This is why choosing the best mobile app testing company becomes so crucial.

Mobile Apps Automation Testing

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