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Mobile App Performance Testing: Tools and Checklist

November 30, 2023Yamini Priya
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In the fast-paced world of mobile applications, performance is king. Users demand seamless experiences while using mobile apps. And any hiccup or lag can make them look for alternatives. That’s where mobile app performance testing comes to the rescue. It is a critical process that helps ensure that the app not only works but excels in performance, too.

Let’s simplify why performance testing of mobile apps is vital with an example. Imagine downloading a new app, and instead of smooth transitions, you experience sluggish screens and unresponsive buttons. Frustrating, right? That’s precisely why developers and testers do performance testing to ensure the app runs well and users keep coming back. 

A study stated that app crashes after download lead to 71% of uninstalls. All the dollars spent on app development go in vain when the performance of mobile apps is slow or unresponsive. 

In this blog, we will discuss everything about mobile app performance testing and how you can automate it for faster and more efficient test results.

What is Mobile App Performance Testing?

Mobile app performance testing is a type of software testing that assesses the speed, responsiveness, stability, and overall performance of a mobile application under various conditions. The main goal of performance testing is to ensure that the app performs well and provides a positive user experience across different devices, networks, and usage scenarios.

It helps developers identify and address performance bottlenecks, optimize resource usage, and enhance the overall user experience of a mobile app.

Type of Mobile Applications

There are four types of mobile applications:

Mobile-web applications – These are mobile apps that can run on mobile web browsers.

Hybrid applications – These applications are built using web technologies (HTML, CSS, PHP) but packed as native apps. They share a single codebase and can run on different platforms.

Native applications – These applications are developed separately on different platforms, such as iOS and Android.

Cross-platform applications – Developed to run on multiple platforms with a single codebase. Frameworks like React Native or Flutter facilitate the creation of cross-platform apps.

Testsigma is a robust, low-code, cloud-based test automation platform that allows you to automate mobile app testing in one place, including Flutter testing

Apart from mobile app testing, you can automate web, desktop, and API tests using a single platform. Also, you can automate different types of functional tests at a 5x faster rate without writing a single line of code.

Mobile App Performance Testing – Example

Consider a banking mobile app that allows users to perform various transactions, such as checking account balances, transferring funds, and paying bills. During performance testing, QA testers will have to look into the below.

  • Load Testing: Evaluate how the app performs under expected user loads. It helps identify bottlenecks and capacity limits.
  • Network Performance Testing: Evaluate how the app performs under different network conditions, including 3G, 4G, or varying levels of Wi-Fi connectivity.
  • Stress Testing: Put the app under stress by increasing the number of transactions per second or concurrently processing a high volume of transactions to check how well it works and if it can handle unexpected loads.
  • Response Time Testing: Measure the time it takes for critical transactions to complete, such as transferring funds or loading account details, to ensure users experience acceptable response times.

Thorough performance testing can help developers and QA teams identify and address performance issues before the app is released, ensuring a positive user experience and minimizing the risk of negative reviews or user abandonment due to performance-related issues.

Mobile App Testing: Key Performance Indicators

Below are some of the key performance indicators that help analyze mobile app performance.

Latency/Response Time

Latency or response time refers to the delay between a user’s action within the app and the app’s response to that action. Low latency enhances user experience. Users expect swift responses to their interactions, and delays can lead to frustration. 

According to statistics from Google, most users abandon the site if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. So, make sure your app loads as fast as possible.

Mobile App Performance Testing

Load Speed

Load speed is the time it takes for an app to launch and become functional after a user initiates it. Faster load speeds contribute to positive user experiences and can influence user retention.

Screen Rendering

Screen rendering is the time it takes to display content on the screen accurately after user interaction. Quick and smooth rendering is crucial for providing a seamless user interface.

Throughput

Throughput measures the number of transactions or operations a system can handle in a given time. High throughput is vital for apps dealing with a large number of users or data transactions simultaneously.

Error Rate

Error rate is the frequency of errors or bugs encountered by users while interacting with the app. A low error rate is indicative of a stable and reliable app.

App Crashes

App crashes occur when the application unexpectedly stops functioning. Frequent crashes can severely impact user satisfaction and app ratings. 

Device Performance

Device performance refers to how well the app functions across different devices with varying specifications. You can do this by testing your mobile app on different devices, browsers, platforms, and versions. Manually doing this is not a practical solution and is very expensive. You can test your mobile apps on the cloud using a test automation platform like Testsigma that allows users to test apps on real devices. 

Automate mobile app testing over 3000+ real devices/tablets and 1000+ browser/OS combos and ensure your app is responsive, portable, and cross-platform compatible.



Ensuring consistent performance across diverse devices is critical for a positive user experience. A mobile testing strategy that addresses these KPIs will help create a robust and reliable application that meets user expectations and minimizes the risk of negative reviews or uninstallations.

How To Do Performance Testing Of Mobile Apps?

Mobile app performance testing is crucial to ensure that the application can handle the expected load and provide a satisfactory user experience. Here’s how you can conduct performance testing for mobile apps:

Step 1 – Define Performance Metrics

Identify key performance metrics such as response time, throughput, resource utilization (CPU, memory, network), and error rates. Consider the specific requirements of your mobile app and its expected user base.

Step 2 – Understand User Scenarios

Analyze user scenarios to simulate real-world scenarios. This includes understanding peak usage times, geographic distribution of users, and different network conditions.

Step 3 – Select Performance Testing Tools

Choose appropriate tools for mobile performance testing. Popular tools include Apache JMeter, Gatling, LoadRunner, and more.

Step 4- Prepare the Test Environment

Set up a test environment that closely mimics the production environment. 

Step 5 – Create Test Cases

Prepare test cases that simulate various user scenarios. Include scenarios for various devices, network speeds (3G, 4G, Wi-Fi), and different user loads.

Step 6 – Execute Tests

Run the test cases to analyze the performance of your mobile app.

Step 7 – Monitor and Analyze

Monitor key performance metrics in real-time during test execution. Analyze the results to identify performance bottlenecks and report them to the development team so they can work on improving the app’s performance.

Step 8 – Optimization and Retesting

Based on the test results, optimize the app’s performance by addressing identified bottlenecks. Retest to ensure that the optimizations have the desired impact on performance.

Step 9 – Documentation

Document the test scenarios, results, and any performance improvements made. This documentation is valuable for future reference and regression testing. Automate regression testing using Testsigma and reuse test scripts for fast and efficient testing.

Mobile Application Testing Strategy

The performance of a mobile app is usually measured using the three categories,

  • Device performance, 
  • Server/API performance, 
  • Network performance. 

Let’s discuss this in detail below.

Device Performance

Device performance testing shows how well the application performs on different devices, considering variations in hardware, screen sizes, resolutions, and operating systems. To ensure optimal device performance, consider the following:

App Start-Up Time

The first parameter any user will check is the app’s load time. Evaluate how quickly your app launches after the user taps its icon. According to statistics, 49% of users expect applications to start in 2 seconds or less. 

Battery Usage

Continuous use of some mobile apps can drain the battery and heat the device. This issue arises when an app consumes more resources than necessary, putting strain on the processor.

Memory Consumption

Check the app’s memory usage, as certain functionalities may increase it. For example, push notifications in Android apps can lead to higher memory consumption. So, address these issues before deploying the app to ensure optimal performance.

Hardware/Software Compatibility

Test the app on various devices, considering different vendors, RAM, and processor specifications. Verify smooth operation across devices, such as Apple, Samsung, Huawei, Lenovo, etc.



Usage with Other Apps

Ensure that the app functions well when other apps run in parallel. That is, switching between the app under test and other applications should not cause interference.

App in Background

When retrieving an app running in the background, ensure it returns to the same state to prevent data loss. Properly handling this scenario avoids the need to re-enter data when retrieving the app.

Server/API Performance

Evaluate how the application interacts with servers and APIs to ensure that data is retrieved and transmitted efficiently. Consider checking the below,

Data to and from the Server

The app needs to manage the data sent from the server promptly. Some apps receive data in a specific format from the server, and before displaying it, the app must convert it to a relevant format. However, this conversion process sometimes slows down the app and increases response time.

API Calls Generated from the App

Minimize the number of calls the app makes to the server for better performance. Reducing redundant API calls for the same functionality is crucial for efficiency and enhances performance.

Server Down Time

In case the server is unreachable, the app can store data locally in a native database. This way, when the server is down, the app can display data from the local database. An alternative solution involves failover or backup servers, ensuring continuous synchronization with the main server. If the primary server is down or undergoing maintenance, the backup server should seamlessly take over.

Network Performance

Examine how the application performs under different network conditions, such as 3G, 4G, or Wi-Fi, to ensure a consistent user experience. Check the app for various network conditions, including

Jitters

Jitters occur when there’s a delay in receiving network information, common in connectionless or packet switch networks. You need to make sure the app is able to handle jitters effectively. Also, check that the app can display appropriate notifications, prompting the user to resend requests or wait until the system responds.

Packet Loss

In cases of complete packet loss, the app should resend requests or generate alerts. Incomplete data can cause frustration for users. So, check if the app displays relevant messages, encouraging users to try again.

Network Speed

  • Test the app on diverse networks with varying speeds, including 2G, 3G, and 4G, encompassing both Wi-Fi and mobile networks.
  • Monitor the app’s behavior, particularly during network switches.
  • Instances where the app becomes unresponsive during transitions, such as switching from 4G to Wi-Fi or vice versa, should be identified.
  • Address issues promptly to prevent user frustration, which may necessitate restarting the app for proper functionality.

By addressing these three performance categories, you can create an application that is compatible and capable of delivering optimal performance under various server/API and network conditions.

Troubleshooting Mobile Applications Performance

After identifying issues during performance testing, the next step is to locate and fix the problems.

Scenario – Lag or slow response of the app

The possible causes of this include RAM or Cache issues. To solve this, try to close unnecessary processes or clear the cache. Sometimes, troubleshooting network connectivity issues may help address lags.

Scenario – App restarting, locking up, freezing, or being unresponsive.

You can fix this by following the below steps,

  • Optimize the application code.
  • Manage RAM (or ROM in some cases) when using external cards.
  • Wipe the cache partition.
  • Ensure the software is patched and up-to-date.
  • Implement automatic restores.
  • Verify app compatibility with third-party apps and APIs.
  • Map the mobile application according to the device.

Mobile App Performance Testing Tools – Android and iOS 

Here is a list of the top 10 Android and iOS performance testing tools that testers can use to test how well the apps perform in terms of performance, load, stress, and more.

1. Apache JMeter 

Apache JMeter, an open-source testing tool, can be used for mobile app performance testing along with web applications. It allows users to simulate a heavy load on a server or network to test its strength or to analyze overall performance under different load types.

2. Gatling

Gatling is an open-source testing tool that you can use for load testing. You can simulate many users and analyze the performance of your backend systems.

3. Android Profiler

The most popular Android IDE by Google, Android Studio, comes with a comprehensive set of tools called Android Profiler. It provides real-time data on your app’s CPU, memory, and network activity. It helps to debug and optimize Android app performance.

4. BlazeMeter

BlazeMeter is one of the most popular performance testing tools that allows users to simulate realistic user scenarios and load test mobile applications. 

It is a cloud-based testing tool that users can use to simulate high-traffic scenarios. It provides real-time reporting and analytics. BlazeMeter was developed by Broadcom, previously known as CA Technologies. It is compatible with other testing frameworks like Selenium, Gatling, JMeter, and more.

5. LoadRunner

LoadRunner is a performance testing tool by Micro Focus that supports different performance testing types, such as load and stress testing. It supports a variety of application protocols, including those used in mobile applications.

6. Locust

Locust is an open-source, distributed, and Python-based load testing tool that helps evaluate the performance and scalability of mobile and web applications, APIs, and network-based services. It allows you to write test scenarios in Python code and distribute them across multiple machines for testing.

7. NeoLoad

NeoLoad is a performance testing tool that simulates realistic user behavior for web and mobile applications, APIs, web services, and other network-based services. NeoLoad was developed by Neotys and supports HTTP and HTTPS protocols for performance testing. 

8. Robotium

Robotium is an open-source test automation framework designed to make it easy to write powerful and robust automatic black-box test cases for Android applications. It supports a record-and-playback feature for creating test scripts.

9. Monkey Runner

Monkey Runner allows users to run tests on real devices connected to a PC or emulators. It provides an API for controlling devices from outside Android code.

10. Automator 

Apple developed Automator for OS X. It allows users to automate repetitive tasks, thereby helping testers save time and effort.

Requirements for Mobile App Performance Testing

Performance testing is crucial to ensure that your mobile application operates efficiently and delivers a positive user experience. Here are the key requirements for mobile app performance testing:

Identify the Devices to Test

Identify the scope of devices to perform testing. For example, if your app is created exclusively for Android, then you don’t need to test it on other operating systems. This approach helps testers understand the requirements and speeds up the testing process.

devices that you need to test your mobile app

Credits

The above data from Statcounter will help you identify the devices that you need to test your mobile app on. Always ensure to test on the popular devices!

Identify What Metrics to Evaluate

Testers have to determine specific functions of the mobile app that require evaluation. This may include assessing app start-up time, battery usage, and other relevant factors.

Choose a Performance Testing Tool

Based on the identified testing scope and app functions, select a performance testing tool that aligns with your needs. Ensure the tool supports the specific mobile OS and application types.

Mobile App Performance Testing Checklist

Are tools alone enough to start testing? You need to know what needs to be tested in performance testing. That’s where the checklist comes in. Here’s a sample of what needs to be tested while testing the performance of a mobile app. 

To understand this easily, let’s consider Google Maps as an example. Below are some of the performance test cases of Google Maps:

 Mobile App Performance Testing Checklist

  • Evaluate the time it takes for the Google Maps app to load initially.
  • Evaluate the time it takes to calculate and display directions.
  • Test the performance of offline maps, including download speed and map responsiveness when offline.
  • Measure the impact of the Google Maps app on the device’s battery life during regular usage.
  • Test the performance when launching Google Maps from other apps (For example, Uber, Lyft, etc).
  • Test the app’s behavior when switching between different network connections (Wi-Fi, 4G, etc).
  • Measure the impact of the Google Maps app on the device’s battery life during regular usage.
  • Monitor the app’s memory usage over time, especially during extended usage.
  • Simulate multiple users accessing the app simultaneously to assess its performance under heavy load.
  • Ensure that the app is free of bugs and does not crash
  • Verify the requirement of RAM usage for the app to work properly
  • Check the speed and response time of the app under different conditions

Summary

With the right testing tools and a well-thought-out checklist, you can streamline the testing process and ensure your mobile app not only functions but thrives in the competitive digital landscape.

Remember, it’s not just about functionality; it’s about how your app handles the real-world demands of users. From load testing to response time, each element plays a vital role in delivering an app that stands tall in the competitive landscape.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can we use JMeter for mobile app performance testing?

Yes, you can use Apache JMeter for mobile app performance testing. It is one of the most popular open-source testing frameworks that allows users to perform load testing and performance testing of mobile and web apps.

What are the Challenges in Conducting Mobile App Performance Testing?

Mobile app performance testing faces several challenges, like,

  • Managing various mobile platforms and their OS.
  • Simulating various network connectivities such as Wi-Fi, 3G, or 4G.
  • Managing mobile app constraints, such as battery and resource consumption.
  • Ensuring mobile phone usability during testing.
  • Dealing with different sizes of mobile devices while running the same app.
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