What makes a mobile app successful? There are many factors, but at the core, users want an application that works well, is easy to use, and does what it’s supposed to do. These are the key tenets of mobile app success.

If your app doesn’t meet these criteria, users will simply uninstall it. User research shows that one in every two apps is uninstalled after 30 days.

You don’t want your app to become another statistic. So what can you do to ensure your app is worth your users’ time and attention?

Test it. A lot.

With thorough mobile application testing, you’ll be able to release a product your target audience loves using. But because of the unique nature of mobile apps and devices, you need a specific strategy to ensure your testing is effective.

In this article, we’ll go through the steps you should take to build a successful mobile app testing strategy.

What Is Mobile App Testing?

Mobile application testing is the process of testing a mobile app for usability, functionality, and consistency. Usually completed before the app release, testing allows app makers to determine if the software meets expected business and technical requirements and offers a good user experience.

The Importance of Testing Mobile Applications

Mobile application testing is a crucial first step if you want to release a successful app. Without testing, taking a mobile app public could b disastrous. From failed deployment to costly fixes to user frustrations, these issues can quickly spiral and make an application worthless — inevitably leading to a damaged reputation.

Here are some of the reasons mobile app testing is essential:

  • Testing ensures that developers or the quality assurance (QA) team have identified major bugs and resolved them before the release.
  • It allows testers to verify that the app meets client or user requirements for all included features.
  • By testing every new feature, testers ensure that features are not interfering with each other and creating hidden bugs.
  • The cost of testing before release is lower than the cost of recalling the app and fixing the bugs after release, so preemptive testing is more affordable and logical than testing after hearing user complaints.

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All in all, testing is the difference between a high-quality mobile app that delights users and a product that is frustrating to use.

Download our Developing a Mobile Testing Strategy Whitepaper

The Challenges of Mobile App Testing

Testing a mobile application is entirely different from testing a desktop app. That’s because the process has to account for usage across various devices and operating systems.

How an app performs on an iOS versus Android device varies. So, mobile app testers must consider their audience, user preferences, and where and how the app will be used when creating a testing strategy.

A desktop app might have to be customized to work with two operating systems. But, with mobile apps, there are even more variations like device type, screen size, and hardware specifications, to name a few.

Let’s take a closer look at the factors that make mobile testing more complex:

Device Types

Every mobile app has to be compatible with every mobile device variant in the world. That’s an enormous challenge and requires an extensive and advanced infrastructure of testing solutions that can help testers ensure compatibility.

Additionally, mobile apps have to be compatible not just with different operating systems but with different versions of the same operating system.

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Start-up mobile app companies are sometimes surprised by the significant costs associated with ensuring device compatibility, but the investment is worth it.

Screen Sizes

Screen size affects the way an application appears. Because there is so much size variety with smartphones and tablets, testers and developers have to be diligent to ensure that the app appropriately resizes to fit each screen.

On top of that, the app has to adjust to multiple screen resolutions so the overall design and appearance remains consistent on every device.

Mobile Network Bandwidth

Mobile apps also have to be optimized for users’ network bandwidths, which differ. If testers don’t ensure that the app works across bandwidths, it will lag, frustrate users, and turn out to be unsuccessful.

App Security

Security testing for mobile apps is crucial because the many variations mean more potential vulnerabilities for hackers to take advantage of. As a result, security testing can be a lengthy process for mobile app developers and testers.

Building Your Mobile Application Testing Strategy

Because of the nature of mobile application development, you’ll need to create a customized mobile testing strategy to ensure your app is a success.

While a testing or development team can tailor strategies to test mobile apps, it’s still important to understand the main steps you should take to ensure a well-performing app that users want to download.

Step #1: Determine the Target Market

Any product or service, whether it’s a mobile app or an electric car, needs to have a target market. The target market is the group of people for whom the product or service is designed.

These people have a specific need for your app. It’s their preferences and requirements that your development team relies on when crafting the user experience.

So you need to identify your target market before you can create an effective mobile app testing strategy.

When integrating the needs and wants of the particular market you’re serving, you should be able to answer a few questions:

  • What pain point is this mobile app solving?
  • Who are the people that would use this app?
  • Why would people use this app?

These three questions can help you identify the value of your mobile app for a particular group of people. You can then continue to build specific personas and create a profile of your target market, which includes demographics, psychographics, and other needs and wants.

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The profile of your target market can help you understand where your mobile app fits into their lifestyle, what features you should develop, whether your app should be an Android app or if it should be both Android and iOS, and more.

Step #2: Understand the Type of App You’re  Testing

Mobile testing is not uniform. The testing strategy you use will hinge upon the type of app you have. So before creating a full-fledged test strategy, understand whether your app is a mobile web application, a native app, or a hybrid app.

Mobile web technologies:

  • Are apps you can open on a smartphone or tablet through a mobile browser.
  • Are easy to develop, access, and update and require no installation from the Google Play store or the App store.

Native apps:

  • Are applications developed for a specific platform, such as Windows 10 mobile, iPhone, and Android phones.
  • Work when users are offline.
  • Provide an advanced user experience because they can leverage the full features of the specific platform and send push notifications.

A potential limitation of these apps could be that they’re more expensive to develop and maintain. In thi case, it’s best to articulate a very strategic and focused test process for beta testing and publishing.

Hybrid apps:

  • Are a mix of native and mobile web apps. Creating a hybrid app is similar to placing web content into a mobile app.
  • Are more affordable to develop than native apps and have easier distribution.

However, a limitation of hybrid apps is that they may lag behind in performance testing, with users specifically experiencing slowr loading times or transitions between pages.

Overall, the type of performance testing, UI testing, compatibility testing, and usability testing that you’ll undertake depends on the type of app you’re developing.

Step #3: Finalize the Mobile App Requirements

Before beginning development, most developer teams have a rough idea of the app’s requirements. But the testing phase calls for additional research to finalize requirements. And the good news is that, simply running mobile app testing means you’ll leave with lots of additional data that you can use to iteratively improve both app functionality and your testing strategy.

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As you interact with the target market to better understand their requirements, plan to section those desired features into must-have items and nice-to-have items. These requirements can help the testing team create relevant test scenarios, sample test cases, and prioritize feature development.

Step #4: Prioritize Configurations

Most testing and quality assurance teams have a slew of testing tools they use to ensure things like performance, usability, and security. But configurations that help the development team track crucial data should be the next priority.

Tools such as Google Analytics, browser support, and other app configurations help teams track usage data and create a user journey. The journey can include items like:

  • How users found the app
  • Where users downloaded the app from
  • What features they are using the most
  • What feature led to a user uninstalling the app

This data is essential in further improving the mobile app, including the user interface and integrations with native apps.

Step #5: Define the Testing Environment

The next step is defining the testing environment, which means mobile device testing. The mobile device market is diverse, and you will run into what seems like an endless list of devices when you account for all the different screen sizes and operating systems. But this is where the target market profiles come into play.

Since you’ve already identified your target market, you know what types of devices they use, their preferred screen sizes, and the operating systems. You should use these facts to create testing environments and determine whether you should use mobile device emulators, simulators, or both.

  • Emulators are programs that imitate hardware and software features of different mobile devices. They work the same way as these devices would in the real world.
  • Simulators are also programs that mimic the basic behaviors of a mobile device, but they don’t replicate its hardware.

Since emulators consider both hardware and software, they are a better choice to include in your mobile testing strategy.

Step #6: Test on Real Physical Devices

If your QA team has already planned for testing on an emulator software, you should also test on real devices.

So which devices should you be testing on?

It depends on your target market and what they use. You can choose the top three to five devices that your market uses and test for different operating systems, screen sizes, and resolutions.

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The advantages of doing mobile testing on real devices are endless. You’ll get more accurate results and can easily replicate bugs, see battery usage, view how push notifications perform, and more.

Make sure to plan this step exceptionally well, as it can be costly and may derail your budget and time to launch if you don’t do it efficiently.

Step #7: Test for Connectivity and Security

A mobile testing plan should also test for connectivity and security.

Depending on your target market and their locations, your users might access the app through various connectivity options, such as 1G, 4G, and even 5G. Your app must perform well under any circumstances, so it’s crucial that the QA team ensures it performs in all scenarios during the test phase.

In addition to connectivity, security is also paramount. Increasing cyberattacks have made security a genuine concern among mobile app users for both Android and iOS. Testing teams should consider this during the testing process and ensure that security is top-notch.

Security testing starts with identifying vulnerabilities in the mobile app data flow. The team should include QA tests on data flows, especially if you’re asking users for personal data, such as names, phone numbers, or credit card information.

Data flow is one half of security, and data storage is the other half. Your testing team needs to identify how data is being stored and its encryption status. During testing, you want to make sure your app prevents users from saving data on their own devices, which would make it easier for hackers to steal it.

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Additionally, including security testing in your native, hybrid, or web app strategy reveals whether authenticated pages are delivered using the industry standard encryption method of HTTPS. This includes the delivery of images, scripts, and any other CSS elements on the page.

Step #8: Test in Phases

One of the most significant downsides to developing a mobile app as opposed to a desktop app is that you cannot roll back a mobile app, even if it has too many bugs.

You will have to develop an entirely new, upgraded version that solves any bugs your team or users detect in the usage process. That’s why testing in phased releases is crucial to ensuring success.

Both the Google Play Store and Apple Store allow mobile app developers to release their apps in phases over time. That way, they can detect bugs and fix them. You can release your app to 1% of your user base in the beginning and then gradually increase the release ratio as you make improvements and upgrades.

Your mobile app testing strategy should include these phased releases and their timing. You’ll also want to allocate costs and human resources to each.

The timing is especially important because you don’t want to release new versions every few days and annoy users with notifications. Instead, spacing out your releases to excite users is an excellent strategy for continued use.

Step #9: Test with Cloud-Based Tools

QA teams have the choice of testing with on-premises tools or cloud-based tools. Which tools you use to perform testing depends on preferences, but using cloud-based tools provides a few additional benefits.

Cloud-based tools allow testers to run mobile devices on multiple systems and networks, update and manage apps in the cloud, and run the same script on several devices simultaneously — all while being cost-efficient.

If you prefer testing with on-premises tools, you’ll have a higher degree of control over your testing environment, more security, and you won’t be dependent on an internet connection.

Whichever testing tools you use in your strategy, make sure you can run several tests on them, including:

  • Cross-platform testing
  • Functional testing
  • Performance testing
  • Upgrade testing
  • Beta testing
  • Integration testing
  • UX testing
  • Bug tracking

Step #10: Combine Manual and Automated Testing

Today, mobile applications are not solely tested manually. A combination of manual and automated testing is always recommended.

Manual testing is more affordable in the short run, more flexible, and allows testers to better simulate the real actions of users. But it also makes test cases hard to reuse, requires more time, and there are specific tests, such as load testing, that don’t work with manual methods.

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That’s where automation comes in. Automation makes mobile app testing fast, affordable in the long run, reusable, and shareable.

So when you’re going through the creation of your application testing strategy, be sure to identify the precise combination of manual and automated testing. And then, later on, assign test cases to each method. For example, you can use emulators in the first stage and then test them on real mobile devices later.

When you get every part of your mobile app testing strategy right, from the type of app to the tools and methods you’ll use, you’ll be able to create the perfect functionality and performance and a user-friendly design.


The testing process for mobile applications — web apps, native apps, and hybrid apps — is more nuanced than testing for desktop applications. The complexities of testing on different devices and accounting for screen sizes, resolutions, connectivity, and other factors make it much more difficult to build and test.

That’s why a well-defined strategy is imperative to success.

If you’re looking for a professional testing company that can help you create a mobile app your users appreciate, XBOSoft can help.

XBOSoft provides high-quality software testing and quality assurance services and specializes in creating comprehensive strategies that complement your development needs. Our deep expertise extends to working in any platform, framework, or medium, so you can have the best-performing mobile app out there.

Fill out our form and get started with an experienced testing company today!