How to Do Performance Testing for Mobile Applications – The Ultimate Guide


The usage of mobile phones has increased drastically in today’s digital world. The usage of the desktop has gone down since the rise of mobile phone usage. According to Statista, By 2020, the number of smartphone users is projected to reach 2.87 billion.

What Does this Mean to Businesses?

You have to ensure your customers are getting the best possible experience while using your application. Be it the usability or performance. Though businesses are carful while developing the application, it is best to do a complete mobile application testing before it gets into your customer’s hands.

Mobile Applications

Whether it is on a browser or an application, these days mobile users expectations are very high when it comes to user experience. Especially for mobile apps, it has become very competitive. There are plenty of apps in the apps store, you just have to be the best to earn a place in your customer’s phone.

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Types of Mobile Applications

Not all applications are the same. Each one is created keeping in mind the devices and technologies in which they will be used. There are totally 3 types of applications.

  • Native mobile applications
  • Web-based mobile applications
  • Hybrid applications

Native Mobile Applications

The applications that run on your smartphone or tablets are called native applications. These applications run on the OS of the device. These are generally reliable and provide high performance. Native applications can also access other applications such as address book, photos etc from your smartphone.

Web-based Mobile Applications

These applications are run directly from the browser and are not installed on the device.

Hybrid Applications

Hybrid applications are a mixture of both native and web-based applications. The application runs inside a native container as native applications. It uses the mobile device browser to render applications and not the actual browser.

The Mobile App Performance Testing Approach

The mobile app performance testing approach in smartphone different from web application performance testing. The desktops and laptops used to access web apps usually don’t face problems with poor network conditions such as latency or packet loss.

However, in mobile applications all factors such as latency, packet loss, network conditions, device type (smart device or smartphone) and bandwidth matters. We should take all the above factors into consideration while performing mobile application performance testing.

The first step of mobile app performance testing services should be to understand the type of application you are running on the device. The three types of mobile applications are

  • Browser-based applications
  • Native-applications
  • Hybrid applications

Browser-Based Applications

Browser-based applications can be accessed directly via a mobile browser. These types of applications don’t need additional software to be installed or downloaded.

These applications are built lightweight and are developed on an identical stack in all device types.

Moreover the responsive design makes it easier to create a multi browser-based application in order to make the application render on different screen sizes.

The major drawback for browser-based application is it cannot be accessed without an internet connection. Also, the application’s speed is based on the internet connection.

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Hence, it is important to replicate the user load of a mobile browser during performance testing. It is equally important to test the web page rendering on target devices.

Native Applications

Native applications are built using the software on a particular platform that is installed directly on the device.

These applications are more responsive and faster than browser based applications as they are built locally on the device.

During performance testing of native applications, one has to consider the testing platform, as the code on each device will be different.

Hybrid Applications

A combination of both native and browser is a hybrid application. They are comprised of a Native shell which offers a fast-integrated experience. During performance testing, the user-generated load on the server-side is tested.

Mobile Application Performance Testing Strategy

Any mobile application’s performance is measured using the following 3 categories.

  • Device performance
  • Server-API performance
  • Network performance

Device Performance

In device performance check the following,

  • Application startup time
  • Memory consumption
  • Battery Time while using the application
  • Usage with other Applications
  • Hardware and Software variation
  • An application running in the background
  • device-performance-testing

Server/API Performance:

In Servier/API performance check the following,

  • API calls generated
  • Data to and from the server.
  • Server downtime
  • API Performance

Network Performance:

In Network performance check the following,

  • Packet Loss
  • Network Speed

Key Challenges in Performance Testing

  • Simulating Connectivity like Edge, 3G, 4G or WiFi, etc
  • Organizing different mobile platforms against their OS
  • Mobile devices restrictions like resources consumption and battery
  • The varied sizes of mobile devices
  • Mobile phone usability

How to Set Up a Mobile App Performance Test Environment?

Step 1 – Understand thoroughly the mobile app that needs to be tested

Step 2 – Identify the OS on which the mobile app will be running

Step 3 – Build the test setup

Step 4 – Select the appropriate tool for testing

Mobile App Performance Testing Checklist

It is always better to have a checklist while performing mobile app testing. Here is a sample checklist that will help you get started.

  • Check the RAM required for the application
  • Check the response time and speed of the application under different circumstances and networks.
  • Make sure the user experience is realistic under various network conditions.
  • Make sure the essential results are achieved in multiple connectivity situations
  • Make sure the application is not crashed
  • Make sure the app is performing well in Wi-Fi and data
  • Check the mobile API usage bottlenecks and uptime
  • Test the mobile app to its limits

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This is just a beginning and a high-level overview of mobile app performance testing. Understanding the mobile application is crucial for performance testing. Challenges in performance testing include different sizes of mobile devices, costing, resources availability and budgeting.

Author: Pradeep Parthiban
Pradeep is a Content Writer and Digital Marketing Specialist at Indium Software with a demonstrated history of working in the information technology and services industry.