The (cross-platform) mobile app developer burden
Serious mobile app developers and testers need access to every mobile and tablet device they want to target. Using the various emulators and simulators will only get you 90% of the way there.
Why should I use real mobiles and tablets?
Connection types and failure
If you’re transferring data you need to ensure it works with any type of connection (whether it’s via 2G, 3G, 4G or WIFI etc) and if that connection fails, it’s handled elegantly. You should also test for switching connection types. Different devices also have different connection possibilities.
3rd party alerts and notifications
To ensure your app responds appropriately when there’s an unexpected condition, such as an incoming phone call, message, email, push notification or other type of intrusive alert.
If you’re using a simulator running on a top spec laptop, expect the performance on a mobile or tablet device to be different. The hardware and software features of a real device are never entirely replicated using an emulator. Different devices also have different performance.
You got the touch
Touch screen interfaces with multi-gesture support are impossible to accurately replicate on emulators and simulators. Different devices often have different touch screen interfaces.
Physical devices are costly to acquire, once you have 20 (and that’s really not a lot) you could have easily spent £10K! These devices grow old quickly and their resale value drops drastically, not that you can sell them anyway, you need them for legacy testing.
It’s not just the new, cutting edge devices you need to buy (although they are usually the most expensive), it’s the old legacy devices that often use older operating system versions you need too. I’ve trawled ebay many times looking for devices that have a specific issue.
Come on, keep up
With the mobile and tablet market developing at an incredibly fast rate, new devices are launched regularly, so you might as well keep your bank card out of your wallet.
This is a great way to get your hands on new devices. I recently won a first prize in a Windows Phone Challenge that landed me a shiny new Nokia Lumia 820 (that sits nicely next to my Nokia Lumia 920).
Where does this leave us?
With draws full of mobile and tablets and not enough money to buy socks. Oh, but with killer apps :)