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Tetiana Chuiasova, Automation Quality Assurance Engineer

Feb 21, 2024 13 min read

How To Do Mobile App Performance Testing: Step-by-step

This article delves into the intricacies of performance testing for mobile applications, emphasizing the importance of thorough and effective mobile app performance testing strategies.

Mobile App Performance Testing

Mobile apps play a significant role in people's daily lives, continuing to gain popularity and increase their influence. They facilitate our daily lives, provide entertainment, and are tools for interaction and communication. According to data.ai, the mobile app market has shown impressive growth in 2024, with consumer spending exceeding $171 billion and increasing by 3% year-on-year. These figures highlight the importance of mobile apps in our modern world and the challenge of providing the perfect user experience in an ever-increasing variety of devices and platforms.  

With the increasing popularity and diversity of apps, there is a particular focus on performance testing for mobile apps. This is essential to ensure that apps run consistently and efficiently on various device types. The success of a mobile app in today's digital space largely depends on its ability to deliver a high-quality user experience adaptable to various technical platforms and devices. 

What is performance testing for mobile application?

Mobile application performance testing is not just a performance test but a comprehensive evaluation of the behavior and responsiveness of an application across different load levels, devices, and network conditions. The focus is on the following aspects:   

Response speed: Assessing the application's response time to user actions. Slow response times can significantly degrade the app's experience and user satisfaction.

Stability: Check whether the application is resilient to failures and errors, especially when running intensively or for long periods. This is important to ensure reliability and user confidence.

Resource efficiency: Analysing how the application uses device resources, including memory, CPU, and battery power. Optimizing resource usage contributes to longer device uptime and more stable application performance.  

The role of performance testing cannot be overemphasized. You need to understand how real users will interact with the application. This includes testing in various real-world scenarios, such as with a poor internet connection, on older device models, or while using other apps simultaneously.    

Why is performance testing for mobile apps important?

Performance testing is important for the following reasons: 

User satisfaction: Users expect a fast and smooth interaction with an app. Any delays or glitches can lead to negative feedback and decrease the app's popularity.

Identifying bottlenecks: Testing helps to identify which parts of the app need to be optimized, improving overall performance and user experience.

Increase competitiveness: In a world where every app competes for the user's attention, high performance is a decisive factor.  

Ultimately, a well-optimized app with high performance increases customer satisfaction, builds brand loyalty and grows your user base. 

Key metrics for mobile native app performance testing services

Let's consider the key metrics when testing mobile app performance. 

01

Response Time: This is one of the most critical metrics. Response time refers to the time it takes for an app to respond to a user request. Long response times can lead to customer churn and user frustration. 

02

Throughput: Throughput measures the number of operations an application performs in a given period. This metric helps assess the application's ability to handle high loads, which is especially important for applications with many users. 

03

Scalability: Scalability assesses the application's ability to maintain efficient operation as the load increases. This is important for applications focused on growth in the number of users or data volume.

04

Stability: The stability of an application under various usage conditions ensures that it will function reliably for a long time without failures or errors.  

05

Resource utilization: Efficient resource utilization is critical to application performance. It is essential to monitor how the application uses battery, CPU, and memory to ensure it runs efficiently while minimizing battery consumption and maintaining overall device performance. 

06

Network efficiency: Given the dependence of mobile apps on network connectivity, it is critical to evaluate their performance across various network conditions, including Wi-Fi, 4G, and 5G. This helps ensure that the app remains effective in any environment.  

07

App launch time: This metric assesses how quickly an app launches from the home screen. A fast launch improves the overall user experience of the app.

08

Transitions between screens: Smooth and quick transitions between different app screens are for creating a seamless user experience.  

09

Error handling: How an app handles errors and exceptions is also a part of its overall performance. Effective error handling helps prevent app crashes and improve app stability.  

Performance testing is not just about evaluating individual metrics. It is a comprehensive approach to ensure that an application is not only functional but also efficient, user-friendly, and reliable. 

Mobile Application Performance Testing Services

There are different types of performance testing, each with a unique role and specifications.  

  • Load testing: This type of testing evaluates the performance of an application under both normal and heavy load conditions. It ensures that the application is capable of handling a large number of simultaneous user requests while revealing the application's capabilities and scalability.   
  • Endurance testing: This test determines how the application handles long periods of continuous use. Particular attention is paid to its ability to handle large amounts of traffic for many hours while ensuring stability and preventing failures.   
  • Stress testing: Stress testing is designed to test an application under extreme conditions. This can include high data loads, abnormal traffic, and limited resources. The goal here is to identify potential vulnerabilities and limitations of the application.  
  • Peak testing: This type checks the application's ability to cope with sudden traffic bursts. Its primary purpose is ensuring the application can respond effectively to unexpected loads without degradation. 

Each method provides a unique perspective on an application's ability to withstand different conditions and threats, from load testing to penetration testing. Ultimately, comprehensive testing ensures that applications are functional, performant, and safe for users. 

Performance testing for mobile application: Tools and Services

Many tools are available that can help with mobile app performance testing. These tools offer functionalities such as data analysis, performance measurement, and test automation. Some popular tools include:  

Appium & Selenium: These tools are true veterans in the testing world. Appium is for mobile apps, and Selenium is for web applications. Both support test automation and work with multiple programming languages, making them ideal for end-to-end testing. Appium & Selenium can also be used for performance testing (sweeping of scripts) on various devices. These utilities are commonly used to automate basic functional testing. 

LoadRunner: This tool from HP is used for load testing. It allows testers to create realistic load scenarios to assess an application's performance under pressure.   

JMeter: Apache JMeter is great for performance testing web services and mobile applications. It can simulate heavy server loads and analyze overall system performance.  

MonkeyRunner: Developed by Google and designed for testing Android applications. MonkeyRunner can control the device and automatically execute test scripts, greatly speeding up the testing process.

Firebase Test Lab: Google's Firebase offers extensive tools for testing mobile apps, including testing on real devices in the cloud. This helps developers ensure that their apps work flawlessly on all devices.  

Choosing the right tools and services for mobile app performance testing depends on the specifics and requirements of each project and is unique to each case. 

Challenges in mobile app performance testing

Now it's time to look at some of the key challenges testers face in ensuring high-performance mobile apps:

Device diversity: The sheer number of devices with different screen sizes, specifications, and operating systems creates significant challenges. Each device may behave differently, making it difficult for the app to work consistently across all platforms. 

Resource optimization: Applications often consume too much memory, battery power, or CPU time. Addressing this issue ensures smooth and resource-efficient work of your application. 

Network interactions: Mobile applications are constantly interacting with servers and cloud services. The efficiency of these interactions and their impact on application performance is an important aspect that requires careful testing. 

Considering user scenarios: Predicting and testing all possible scenarios of how users may use the app is challenging yet necessary. By understanding user interactions, testers can enhance the stability and performance of the application. 

Third-party integration: Modern applications are often integrated with various third-party services and platforms. Ensuring compatibility and performance with such integrations is another challenging task for developers. 

Mobile app performance testing requires attention to detail, a deep understanding of user experience, and keeping up with the latest technology trends. 

Benefits of mobile app performance testing

Our Luxe Quality engineers believe this is more than a technical necessity. It is a strategic tool that provides the following benefits: 

Improved user experience: First and foremost performance testing directly impacts user experience. A fast and smooth application performance increases user satisfaction and encourages repeated application use.  

Resource optimization: Testing identifies how an application uses system resources such as CPU, memory, and battery. Optimizing the use of these resources results in a more efficient and cost-effective application.  

Improved stability: Performance testing identifies and eliminates bugs that can cause the application to freeze or crash. This ensures application stability even under high load conditions.  

Risk mitigation: Early detection of performance issues avoids the cost of fixing bugs after the application is launched. This reduces risks and potential losses to the business.  

Increased competitiveness: A quality-tested application becomes more competitive in the market. It provides users with a better user experience compared to competitor applications.

In an industry where users quickly abandon apps due to poor performance, such tests are the key to success. 

Step by step guide on how to do performance testing for mobile applications

Every tap on a smartphone screen expects an instant response. Performance testing doesn't just test the speed of an app but also ensures that it functions reliably under different conditions. Let's look at the key steps to follow for effective mobile app performance testing.

Requirement planning and analysis: The first step is clearly understanding the testing objectives. Identify the key performance indicators (KPIs) for your app. This could be response time, throughput, or resource utilization.  

Selecting testing tools: The next step is to select the right tools. Many performance testing tools are available in the market, including JMeter, LoadRunner, and others. The choice depends on budget and specific requirements.  

Create test scenarios: Develop scenarios that simulate real user usage of the application. This helps to evaluate how the application will perform under different loads.  

Perform testing: Perform testing by monitoring how the application handles the given scenarios. Pay attention to response time, stability, and resource consumption.  

Analyze the Results: After testing, analyze the obtained data thoroughly. Identify bottlenecks and areas that require optimization.

Optimization and retesting: Make the necessary changes to the application and retest to see if performance has improved.

From planning to analyzing the results, every step plays an important role. 

Example of how to performance test mobile apps

Let's consider how to test mobile app performance for property rentals designed for selecting accommodation, booking viewings, and interacting with landlords. During peak periods, especially at the beginning of the school year or the holiday season, the application experiences a significant increase in user activity. 

Purpose of testing: The purpose of load testing, in this case, is to determine the ability of the application and its server infrastructure to handle a high number of concurrent users, especially during peak hours. The test should identify performance bottlenecks and help optimize the server load to ensure the stability and speed of the application.  

Scenario testing: 

User behavior Simulation: Create scenarios that simulate typical user actions: searching for accommodation, filtering by various parameters, browsing listings, booking viewings, and communicating with landlords.  

Determining load: Load testing starts by simulating a moderate number of users, which is gradually increased to thousands of concurrent sessions to understand the threshold at which failures or delays start to occur.  

Use of specialized tools: Using tools such as Apache JMeter or LoadRunner to create and monitor the load on the application servers.  

Analyze the results: After testing, the team analyses response times, request processing speed, and server performance. It is also important to pay attention to the behavior of the database and APIs that provide the functionality to the application.  

Optimization and troubleshooting: Based on the results, the team takes steps to optimize the application code, improve the server architecture, or strengthen server resources.  

Conclusion: This load-testing approach ensures that the property rental mobile app is able to serve a large number of users efficiently and smoothly even during the busiest periods. This guarantees that users receive a quality service at all times, which is key to maintaining their loyalty and satisfaction. 

Final word

We hope you got the answer to your question, “How will you perform performance testing for a mobile application?”. With the sheer number of apps on Google Play and the heavy use of smartphones in our daily lives, ensuring app quality and performance becomes a necessity. Performance testing is not only a part of development but also a critical element to ensure the successful launch of an app in the market. It prevents failures and strengthens the reputation of the product, making it not only functional and user-friendly but also fast and reliable. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is mobile performance testing?

Mobile performance testing evaluates a mobile application's speed, responsiveness, and stability under certain conditions

What are the metrics in mobile performance testing?

Key metrics include response time, scalability, stability, resource utilization and network efficiency. 

How does network type affect mobile performance testing?

Different network types (like 4G, 5G, and Wi-Fi) can significantly impact an app's performance, so testing across various networks is crucial. 

How does mobile performance testing differ from desktop performance testing?

Mobile testing must consider varied device capabilities, screen sizes, operating systems, and mobile-specific functionalities

Can mobile performance testing be automated?

Yes, many aspects of mobile performance testing can be automated using specialized tools and frameworks. 

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