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13 Mobile App Testing Types and Approaches

  • App not in use: 39.9%
  • Limited storage: 18.7%
  • Excessive notifications: 12.6%
  • Confusion: 5.4%
  • Technical issues: 5.4%

What these numbers represent is crystal clear. Because mobile devices have inherently low storage capacity, it’s bound to get uninstalled if your app is no longer relevant to the user. Similarly, if your app introduces technical difficulties—it doesn’t matter if it’s just a slight inconvenience—users are likely to uninstall it to look for a more user-friendly alternative. 

Knowing the different mobile app testing types and how they uniquely contribute to delivering an exceptional end-user experience is an excellent place to start. 

1. Functional Testing 

Examples of functional testing include validating whether:

  • The application installs and launches correctly
  • Users can sign up and log in
  • Text boxes and buttons function properly
  • Push notifications render correctly

2. Compatibility Testing

For example, cross-browser compatibility testing ensures that an application functions correctly and consistently across different web browsers, while database compatibility testing verifies that the application works seamlessly with different databases or database management systems (DBMS). 

3. Localization Testing

Localization testing relies on native language speakers and focuses on uncovering a range of issues, including:

  • Unnatural translations
  • Cultural relevance and accuracy
  • Currency, symbols, and pricing
  • Overlapping UI elements

4.  Interruption Testing

Interruption testing evaluates how well an application can recover from unexpected interruptions. Although interruption testing applies to any type of application (web, mobile, standalone, etc.), it’s more common in mobile applications because of mobile’s unique characteristics: diverse hardware, various connectivity scenarios, battery life, etc.

Examples of interruptions to test include:

  • Incoming phone calls when an application is running
  • Incoming messages or SMS when an application is running
  • Battery life when an application is running
  • The device is plugged in or out of charging when an application is running
  • The device shuts down when an application is running
  • OS upgrade occurs when an application is running
  • Loss and restoration of the network while an application is running

5. Performance Testing

Delivering a world-class digital experience to your users requires a consistently performant application across an ever-evolving range of end-user traffic patterns, network access locations, and device configurations. A slow or unreliable user experience – no matter how functionally complete or elegantly designed – is a bad user experience. 

  • Load testing: Assess whether the application can handle the expected maximum number of users or transactions 
  • Endurance testing: Evaluate application performance and stability over an extended period
  • Stress testing: Evaluate the application’s behavior under extreme conditions to determine failure thresholds or breaking points
  • Spike testing: Assess whether the application can handle sudden increases in user activity

6. Security Testing

Security testing focuses on identifying and addressing application weaknesses and vulnerabilities. The goal is to make sure the app can withstand various forms of attacks and any unforeseen failures.

There are several types of security testing, including:

  • Vulnerability scanning: Identify known vulnerabilities that attackers can exploit, such as misconfigurations or outdated software versions
  • Penetration testing: Simulate real-world attacks to pinpoint potential security flaws
  • Security code review: Check for security vulnerabilities in the source code
  • Ethical hacking: Employ skilled security professionals to mimic the actions of a hacker and identify vulnerabilities

7. Payments Testing

Gaining confidence in the integrity of financial transactions involves a range of test cases, from ensuring that end users are presented with the appropriate set of payment options to accurately executing a range of different financial transactions. This type of testing is further complicated by the myriad of third-party payment processes that mobile application owners depend on to support a high-quality end-user experience. 

Additional examples of payments testing test cases include:

  • Know-your-customer and payment flows
  • On-location payment terminal systems
  • Currency-specific credit cards
  • Cryptocurrency and alternative payment methods

8. Usability Testing

Led by trained UX researchers, usability testing studies uncover a range of insights that inform how well an application experience delivers against end users’ expectations. Usability testing projects include: 

  • Preference testing
  • Design testing
  • Moderated usability testing
  • Unmoderated usability testing
  • Competitive experience testing

9. API Testing

API testing serves as a complement to functional testing by decoupling testing from the user interface of the application. This form of testing seeks to uncover if API calls return the appropriate data, in the appropriate form, within a given time SLA. Product teams can gain quality assurance efficiencies through API testing because it removes a dependency on the release frequency of the application front end. 

API testing enables organizations to achieve several key benefits, including:

  • Functional validation: Ensure that API endpoints provide the right outcomes and perform the expected functions
  • Data accuracy and integrity: Ensure that the data returned by API responses is accurate and consistent with what’s stored in the database
  • Error handling: Test how well the API handles different error scenarios
  • Performance and scalability: Evaluate the response time of API calls under varying loads to ensure the API meets performance and scalability requirements

10. Build Testing

Regardless of scope, build testing is a tightly integrated part of a CI/CD pipeline process because it must keep pace with the demands for a speedy and highly interactive software delivery process. 

11. Role Testing

Role testing should not only validate application access level but also seek to validate if a change to a user’s role or status results in the correct level of increased or decreased entitlements across the application experience. 

12. Stream Testing 

Stream testing ensures the reliable delivery of audio and video as an interactive part of a mobile app experience. It tests for issues related to live streams and on-demand playbacks, including performance under certain network conditions and intermittent content quality issues that can negatively impact user satisfaction and engagement. 

  • Diagnostics of stream health
  • Drops in user impressions
  • Content personalization and ad delivery
  • Live event monitoring

13. Device Testing

Mobile device testing seeks to uncover device, OS, and configuration-based shortcomings in the end-user experience. These include: 

  • Are your Android and iOS apps swiping and dragging as expected?
  • Does the mobile app switch seamlessly between experiences?
  • How well does the screen render across different physical form factors?
  • Is the location and biometric-based functionality working correctly?

When testing mobile applications, it’s worth noting that reliance on emulators and simulators alone isn’t enough. While they’re faster and more efficient, they can’t replicate all the diverse real-world and real-time scenarios your app must handle. For this reason, it’s essential to use actual mobile devices to get more accurate testing results.

Automating Testing of Mobile Applications

As a best practice,  QA teams should use manual testing to conduct exploratory testing that requires human-led insights to identify more nuanced shortcomings of the application experience. Manual testing is also well suited for testing that benefits from real transactions, real data, and real users.