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Complete Guide to Mobile App Performance Testing

In today’s mobile-driven world, people want apps to work smoothly. With smartphones everywhere, users expect apps to load fast, respond quickly, and not drain their device’s battery. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into mobile app performance testing and introduce tools to help you achieve top-tier standards.

Mobile App Performance Testing

Users expect apps to load quickly, respond promptly to their interactions, and operate smoothly without draining device resources. Issues that lead to poor performance such as slow loading times, crashes, or excessive battery consumption can significantly impact user satisfaction and ultimately harm an app’s reputation.

Types of Mobile Apps

Understanding the diverse categories of mobile apps is essential for both developers seeking to create impactful solutions and users navigating the vast app stores in search of solutions tailored to their needs. Let’s explore some of the mobile application types.

Types of Mobile Applications Based on Development Approach:

  • Native Apps: These are built for specific platforms like iOS or Android. They offer the best performance and access to mobile device-specific features.
  • Web Apps: These are accessed through a mobile browser and are essentially websites optimized for mobile viewing. They are platform-independent but may have limited access to device features.
  • Hybrid Apps: These combine elements of both native and web apps.
  • Progressive Web Apps (PWAs): These are web applications that use modern web capabilities to provide a user experience similar to that of mobile native apps.
  • Cross-Platform Apps: These are developed using frameworks that allow the same codebase to be deployed across multiple platforms.

Types of Mobile Applications Based on Use Case:

  • Enterprise Apps: These are designed for use within organizations to improve productivity, communication, or specific business processes.
  • Consumer Apps: These are aimed at general consumers and can cover a wide range of functionalities such as social networking, entertainment, shopping, health, and fitness, among others.
  • Gaming Apps: These are specifically designed for gaming purposes and can range from simple puzzle games to complex multiplayer experiences.
  • Utility Apps: These serve a specific function or solve a particular problem for users. Examples include weather apps, calculators, file managers, and QR code scanners.

What is Performance Testing in Mobile?

Mobile app performance testing

Performance testing in mobile is a critical aspect of app development. It involves assessing how well an app performs under various conditions, including different network speeds, device types, and user loads.

Types of Performance Testing for Mobile Apps

Testing mobile apps requires various types of tests to try and meet expectations for app start-up time, speed, responsiveness, and reliability. Let’s explore some key types of performance tests in the mobile app development process:

  • Load Testing: Evaluates app performance under normal and peak usage. Simulates high concurrent user loads to identify bottlenecks and ensure responsiveness during heavy usage.
  • Stress Testing: Pushes the mobile app to its limits with extreme conditions like high traffic or resource constraints. Assesses stability and resilience, uncovering potential crashes or slowdowns.
  • Endurance Testing: Assesses app performance over time to measure stability and resource usage. Identifies memory leaks, battery drain, or performance degradation during prolonged use.
  • Compatibility Testing: Ensures a mobile app functions across devices, operating systems, and network conditions. Identifies compatibility issues for specific environments.
  • Network Testing: Evaluates app performance under varied network conditions. Simulates real-world scenarios to ensure responsiveness and reliability.
  • Usability Testing: Focuses on overall user experience, including performance and intuitiveness. Gathers feedback to identify issues affecting user satisfaction.
  • Client-Side Performance Testing: Measures performance from the user’s perspective by assessing app start-up time, UI responsiveness, rendering speed, and device resource usage. Identifies issues that impact the end-user experience on various devices and operating systems.

The Importance of Having a Mobile App Performance Testing Strategy in Place

With mobile devices becoming indispensable tools in people’s daily lives, ensuring the optimal performance of mobile applications has never been more critical. As mobile apps continue to dominate user attention, it’s imperative for businesses to prioritize mobile application performance to stay competitive in a crowded marketplace.

According to the DIGITAL 2024: GLOBAL OVERVIEW REPORT by Data Reportal, the number of unique mobile users has reached 5.61 billion as of the beginning of 2024. This indicates that 69.4 percent of the global population now uses a mobile device.

Essential Digital Headlines
Credit- DataReportal

Mobile App Performance Testing Checklist

Mobile App Performance Testing Checklist

Optimal performance is paramount to delivering a seamless user experience and staying ahead of the competition. To achieve this, developers must adopt a strategic approach when testing performance that encompasses a wide range of factors.

  1. Define Performance Goals and Metrics: Determine the key performance indicators (KPIs) such as response time, latency, throughput, and resource utilization, and establish benchmarks for acceptable performance levels based on industry standards.
  2. Identify Different Devices and Platforms to Test: List the devices, operating systems (OS), and versions the mobile app will support, including various screen sizes, resolutions, and hardware configurations to ensure compatibility testing.
  3. Plan Test Scenarios: Define realistic user scenarios covering different functionalities and usage patterns. Include scenarios for normal usage, peak loads, and extreme conditions to cover all performance aspects.
  4. Select Testing Tools: Choose appropriate tools for load and stress testing, network emulation, client-side performance testing and monitoring. Also, ensure compatibility with target platforms and the ability to generate comprehensive reports.
  5. Prepare the Test Environment: Set up test environments that mirror production conditions as closely as possible, and configure network conditions, including bandwidth, latency, and packet loss, for realistic testing.
  6. Perform the Tests: Execute load, stress, endurance, compatibility, network, client-side and usability tests to evaluate application performance, stability, compatibility, and user experience across various scenarios and conditions.
  7. Analyze and Interpret Results: Analyze test results against predefined KPIs and metrics to identify bottlenecks, issues, and areas for optimization.
  8. Iterate and Optimize: Implement necessary optimizations based on test findings to enhance your mobile app performance, and iterate the testing process to validate improvements and ensure continual performance optimization.
  9. Document and Report: Document the testing process, including test scenarios, methodologies, tools used, and results, and generate comprehensive reports highlighting metrics, findings, and recommendations for stakeholders.
  10. Monitor Performance Post-Release: Implement monitoring tools to continuously monitor your mobile app’s performance post-release and proactively identify and address issues in real-time to maintain optimal application performance and user satisfaction.

By following this checklist, you can establish a robust mobile app performance testing strategy to make sure your application meets expectations for speed, responsiveness, and reliability.

Choosing the Right Testing Tool

Performance testing tools are becoming more and more critical for accurately predicting system capacity, and network performance and building quality software.

There are open-source and proprietary tools. Choosing the right one for you can make a world of difference! Not only reducing costs but improving overall quality.

While open-source tools are valuable, proprietary testing tools offer robust features and dedicated support that can be indispensable in certain scenarios.

Some Of The Top Performance Testing Tools Suitable for Mobile

With these considerations in mind, let’s briefly explore some of the top testing tools that are suitable for mobile application performance testing.

Apptim

Apptim Logo

Apptim is a testing platform designed to optimize client-side performance of mobile applications. Without the need to install SDKs or extra libraries, it provides in-depth reports with various app performance metrics, including mobile app launch times, battery consumption, CPU and Memory Usage, FPS (frames per second), UX response times, app crashes and more.

It enables users to analyze app performance and user experience by connecting their own devices, using a device farm in the cloud or an on-premise device lab.

Check out Apptim’s documentation to learn more about the tool.

Apache JMeter

Apache JMeter Logo

Apache JMeter is an open-source tool for testing and measuring server-side performance. It simulates multiple users, and analyzes throughput, latency, and other metrics across static and dynamic resources.

JMeter allows users to create test plans to simulate different scenarios, with multiple concurrent users sending requests to a target server and generating real-time reports.

JMeter DSL

JMeter DSL Logo

JMeter DSL (Domain Specific Language) is an open-source library developed by us, that simplifies JMeter testing through coding, eliminating the need to learn a new language or incorporate new tools. It broadens JMeter’s user base, facilitates faster testing, and enhances software quality.

JMeter DSL streamlines integration of continuous performance testing into development pipelines, promoting shift left testing and simplifying the application of engineering and software development skills to test development and maintenance.

You can expand on these benefits and more in our insightful JMeter DSL guide.

Gatling

Gatling Logo

Gatling is a robust tool for applications, APIs, and microservices, pivotal in anticipating slow response times and system crashes to improve time-to-market and user experience.

It challenges system limits, identifying weak spots before they become real-world problems.

Check out our comprehensive review of Gatling to get more insights.

LoadRunner

Load Runner Logo

LoadRunner offers comprehensive solutions for applications of all complexities, supporting various protocols and providing advanced scripting and reporting capabilities.

It empowers businesses to simulate virtual users, reproduce real-world loads, and identify bottlenecks to enhance overall application performance.

BlazeMeter

BlazeMeter Logo

BlazeMeter is a cloud-based performance testing platform that enhances Apache JMeter with scalability, analytics, and a user-friendly interface.

It simplifies web and mobile application performance testing with real-time insights, scalability, and collaboration features for teams of all sizes.

NeoLoad

NeoLoad Logo

NeoLoad is a dynamic performance testing solution designed to accelerate testing cycles while maintaining result accuracy. Its user-friendly interface and JavaScript scripting cater to diverse users and emphasize team collaboration for result sharing and analysis.

It provides fast, automated performance testing, adaptable to modern application environments, addressing challenges in complex scenarios.

Azure Load Testing

Azure Load Testing Tool Logo

Azure Load Testing is a managed cloud based testing tool that simulates high-scale traffic for applications, aiding in performance optimization for developers, testers, and QA engineers. It works regardless of the hosting environment.

It seamlessly integrates with various application types and supports CI/CD workflows for automated testing and early issue detection.

In June 2023, we released a new feature in JMeter DSL that significantly simplifies the use of Azure Load Testing when scaling tests. Allowing performance tests developed with JMeter DSL to be run on Azure Load Testing.

You can dive deeper into more performance testing tools in our list of the Top 10 Performance Testing Tools.

Mobile App Performance Testing FAQ’s

Creating a robust testing strategy for mobile applications is a complex process that requires careful planning and execution. Let’s go through some frequently asked questions regarding mobile application performance testing with insights from Matías Reina, Sofia Palamarchuk, Fabián Baptista, and Andréi Guchin.

Why is performance testing crucial in app testing?

Testing performance ensures a positive user experience by detecting and mitigating issues that lead to frustration and app abandonment. It’s crucial for maintaining app quality amidst pressure to release quickly, and evolving user expectations driven by advancing technologies like 5G.

Should performance testing be part of every mobile app testing strategy?

Prioritizing performance tests on critical aspects like start-up time and user experience can prevent production rollbacks and enhance user satisfaction. Start small with automated checks and expand based on business needs and target audience.

What bugs might be missed without performance testing on mobile apps?

Performance testing helps uncover critical issues such as excessive memory usage, battery drain, slow loading times, and low rendering speeds, which can lead to poor user experiences and app abandonment.

What are the main challenges when running tests on mobile?

Extending client-side performance testing involves deciding between emulators or real devices and developing automated scripts, which requires significant effort. Challenges include accurately measuring end-to-end user actions, creating robust automated tests, and addressing security updates that complicate script automation and realism.

Why do testers find mobile apps harder to test than PC apps?

Mobile app testing presents challenges due to tool complexity, device fragmentation, varied network conditions, and the relative newness of mobile testing compared to other platforms. These factors hinder test coverage, increase costs, and require specialized knowledge and resources.

Why is server-side performance testing important for apps?

Server response time significantly impacts user experience, even with optimized client-side code. Load performance tests are essential for identifying server-side bottlenecks that can cause delays or crashes during peak usage. While client-side variables like device type and network conditions are beyond control, optimizing server performance offers more impact in improving overall app performance.

Why test app performance on physical or emulated mobile devices?

To assess performance changes between app versions, consistency in testing conditions is crucial. Emulators offer cost-effective benchmarking, while real devices provide accurate compatibility analysis. The choice depends on app requirements; emulators suffice for most apps, but actual mobile devices offer lower risk and exact user experience insights.

How can Apptim benefit our mobile app testing strategy?

Apptim offers both desktop and CLI tools for comprehensive mobile performance testing. The desktop tool facilitates manual testing without complex IDEs, streamlining incident reporting and collaboration between developers and testers. The CLI tool seamlessly integrates into development pipelines for evaluating client-side performance on emulators and real mobile devices. Additionally, Apptim’s platform provides proactive performance measurement and UX testing, enhancing productivity and mitigating performance risks pre-deployment.

Are You Looking for a Quality Partner for Performance Testing?

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