Friday, August 5, 2011

Testing Mobile Websites using Mobile Emulators

I am a keen follower of (formerly known as since they provide a great set of practical guidelines for mobile development.

In a recent post, Mike McQuillan provides one of the clearest set of guidelines I have seen recently on how to use mobile emulators for testing mobile websites.

With around 4500 mobile devices on the market today, testing across all platforms and devices is a big challenge. Emulators are a big help in this area (even though from experience, they come with a caveat of never being able to completely replicate 100% of what individual handsets will do).

Emulators are broken down into three main types:

  • Device emulators - These are generally provided by device manufacturers and simulate the actual device. Device emulators are excellent for testing your site or application on a particular device or set of devices.
  • Browser emulators - These simulate mobile browser environments. Whilst useful for determining the functionality available in a particular mobile browser, they are useless for device-specific testing.
  • Operating System Emulators - Microsoft provides emulators for Windows Mobile, and Google provides an emulator for Android. These run within a simulated mobile device environment and provide access to applications running within the operating system, e.g. a Web browser.

Web-based/browser emulators are the quickest to install and access. A good point Mike makes is that despite Nokia still being a leading handset manufacturer, there are surprisingly few handset emulators for their devices.

In order to access all the emulators from device manufacturers, you will need to register on the relevant Developer Portal. If you are looking to test a mobile website for iPhone and don´t have a MacBook there is no need to panic.

You can find a PC-friendly iPhone emulator at: I actually tested this with my blog (which is mobile-adapted) but the emulator failed to reproduce my website correctly, so I would treat this emulator with caution.

You can find more detailed instructions on each emulator (including set up screenshots) in the MobiForge article by clicking on this post´s title.