Mobile application testing

Testing is a crucial part of a mobile application lifecycle. However, there is a common misconception that testing and QA start during the testing phase of the development lifecycle. When, in fact, it is worth involving testers at all stages of the software development process not to accumulate bugs or fix them faster to save on the project budget and time frames.

In this article, we will briefly describe what the testing process looks like, what types of testing there exist and what are the best practices for mobile app testing.

Let’s start with the overview of types of mobile app testing that exist.

Types of testing

Functional testing

Functional testing represents some basic check of a mobile application to ensure that the app meets all the requirements described in the specifications. QA specialists check every feature of the app to make sure that the system works exactly as intended.

Because functional testing interacts with app’s UI elements, database layer, network layer and more it is generally a time consuming and complex process. You would require a good balance of different functional testing types to get the most out of it.

Performance testing

After you’ve tested the performance of your applications feature-by-feature, it’s time to assess the performance of the entire system. That’s when performance mobile testing comes into play – it helps to check the functioning of the application under certain requirements. Performance tests check whether the app works correctly under the required load, whether the app should continue to work accurately with a certain number of users, it also helps to check delays in receiving information, start-up time, memory consumption, network connectivity, battery consumption.

Usability testing

The user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) are the next things that need to be planned well without fail. The user interface is what the users see and how they interact with your mobile application: with the numerous mobile apps available in the market today, your app may not get a second chance if the consumer or end-user does not like it.

The main goal of this type of testing is to validate that your users can intuitively navigate the app, that all interface elements look clear, and allow users to achieve their goals. Conducting usability tests is one of the best practices for mobile app testing because it allows you to make sure that your product is perfect not only from the technical side but also from the user side.

Compatibility testing

Even though most devices in the mobile market use iOS and Android, it’s important to pre-plan what OS your app will support, and not only which OS but, more importantly, which versions will be supported. The goal of compatibility testing is to ensure that the app will perform the same in different environments. This is especially important for cross-platform apps developed simultaneously for Android and iOS. As part of compatibility testing, QA specialists can check browser compatibility, hardware, networks, operating systems, versions, etc.

Security testing

The more data being sent back and forth with apps the more security becomes a primary concern.

In the process of testing the security of a mobile application, QA specialists can test the following scenarios:

  • Checking the protection of user data from network attacks;
  • Providing session management to protect information from unauthorized users;
  • Finding and fixing unmanaged code;
  • Protection of the business logic of the application from external attacks;
  • Analysis of system file interaction;
  • Prevention of unsafe data storage in the device memory and more.

Also, there are different data security standards to be followed and thus tested. Here are the most common security guidelines:

PCI DSS – the set of data security requirements for mobile applications accepting payments;

HIPAA – security practices for mobile healthcare applications that collect, store, or process medical data;

FFIEC – a set of guidelines that require banking and financial institutions to install control and security measures to protect sensitive financial data.

Manual, or automated mobile testing. Which is better?

When choosing between manual and automated testing, it is worth considering a combination of both strategies as one of the best practices for mobile app testing, since each method has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Though automation testing is very important in speeding the testing process with high accuracy and reliability, when it comes to functionality and first impressions, manual testing wins the battle. Even if automated testing becomes more refined, manual testing will still have its importance in releasing quality-based apps.

Let’s see when should automated testing be preferred:

  • Automated testing is best to use for regression testing, repeated execution, and performance testing.
  • Tasks that are repetitive in nature are the most suitable for automated testing
  • Performance testing is better to be performed by automated testing as speed and performance of an app is tested against thousands of concurrent users.

Let’s see when to prefer manual testing:

  • Manual testing is an optimal choice for smaller-scale apps
  • Manual testing is best to use in performing exploratory testing, usability testing, and ad-hoc testing.
  • Device compatibility and UI interactions is something that is tested by humans and thus, cannot be tested with the automation testing.


Choosing between emulators and physical devices

In the initial stages of development, emulators and simulators can be used to test singular features quickly. However, there is no way to publish a successful app without testing it on real devices.

Just to emphasize the point, here is a list of things one can test on real devices but not on emulators and simulators:

  1. Low battery, battery drainage, abrupt power off
  2. App performance during incoming interruptions such as calls or SMS
  3. Overheating
  4. Conflicts with other preinstalled apps
  5. Geolocation
  6. Multiple networks – Wifi, 3G, 4G, etc.
  7. Network density
  8. Localized features



So, what are the best practices for mobile app testing? First, one of the best practices is to conduct tests at all stages of the development process in order to quickly fix bugs and avoid unnecessary testing at the final stage. Secondly, mobile application testing has many nuances. QA professionals should make sure not only that the app works as required, but also verify its performance, security, usability, and compatibility with different operating systems and networks.

At Altabel Group, we have experienced QA specialists who help to create high-quality and bug-free products. Feel free to contact us if you are looking for testers and QA techies.

Anna Kozik

Business Development Manager