Emulators Vs Simulators and Difference between them.

Ravindugunarathna
3 min readNov 11, 2020

When we consider about Emulators and Simulators we can see those are working seems like similar. But the terms simulation and emulation are used interchangeably. Lets talk about Emulators and Simulators and how them used for testing process in mobile developing.

Often the terms simulation and emulation are used interchangeably. But, there is a distinct difference between emulators vs. simulators. Both mimic the real thing in a virtual environment. However, the differences between emulation vs. simulation are quite big when it comes to mobile automation

Emulation Vs Simulation

Emulation duplicates while Simulation replicates a real device. In a virtual environment, emulation imitates behavior closely. Simulation mimics behavior of a real device, but doesn’t necessarily match it exactly. Both are useful in app testing in addition to real devices.

What are Simulators

Simulators copy things from the real world into a virtual environment to give an idea about how that thing would work. It simulates the basic behavior but doesn’t necessarily follow all the rules of the real environment. A simulator in mobile testing is also a virtual device. It allows you to test your app by simulating behavior of a real device. We can simply explain it like this “A simulator mimics the basic behavior of a device.”

What are Emulators

Emulation is basically a complete imitation of the real thing. It just operates in a virtual environment instead of the real world. An emulator in mobile testing is a virtual device. It allows you to test your app by emulating a real device. A device emulator mimics the hardware or OS of the device. We can simply define the Emulator like this “An emulator duplicates the thing exactly as it exists in real life.”

Difference Between emulator and Simulator

Difference between Emulator and Simulator

Real Device Vs Emulator/Simulator Virtual Device

The best practice for mobile app testing should rely on a mix of tests. These tests should be spread across emulators, simulators, and real devices, based on the build phase.

In the early sprint phases, when the features are only shaping up, it makes a lot of sense to run smoke tests, unit tests, other types of testing and fast validations against emulators from the developer environment.

Later in the build process, when the test coverage requirements and the quality insights are greater, launching the full testing scope in parallel against real devices is the right way to go. You can also add real user conditions for a truer testing experience.

Conclusion

A simulator provides a fast and easy way to set up a software environment for application testing purposes without mimicking actual hardware. An emulator takes things a step further by emulating software as well as hardware configurations. Both types of testing platforms are useful when you need to test code quickly across a large range of variations. But neither is a complete substitute for real-device testing, which you should also perform at critical points, such as just before releasing software into production.

--

--

Ravindugunarathna

Software Engineering Graduate at University Of Kelaniya | Software Engineer |Tech Enthusiasist