Mobile App Performance Tests - A Step-by-Step Approach

6 min read
28 September 2022

According to a report by Statista, this year (2022) saw smartphone subscriptions rise to over 6 billion, and estimates suggest that this number will go up by several hundred million in the following years. These numbers highlight a marked increase in the demand for organizations of all sizes to have mobile apps.

Organizations need to look beyond delivering services and goods to customers. While these things are essential, boosting their Return on Investment (ROI) must also be a significant concern.

Mobile apps can help with brand promotion and learning about the demographic of your consumer. They can help you understand your consumer's likes, dislikes, and more. There isn't a limit to how much you can benefit from app utility; this makes running performance tests on these apps even more important, so where do you start?

Performance testing - how does it help?

Performance testing helps testers achieve an extensive list of objectives. These objectives include the following:

It helps testers validate application performance during big workloads.

While running tests on application performance, testers can measure a system's performance based on the increase in the number of actions or concurrent users. Testers can identify the number of system resources the app consumes and its response time at its peak. This objective is especially beneficial if your app often has traffic spikes - where during specific periods, your app sees a surge in the number of visitors that reduces after a short while.

Testers can run performance tests to validate hardware use.

Performance testing can help testers and product owners understand if their app, with low server storage and CPU usage, still functions according to set requirements.

They can determine the application's capacity.

Testers can run performance tests to determine if the software currently on the application can match metrics designed beforehand like server response time, peak traffic load, and more.

Testers can assess and measure application performance on a protocol level.

Testers can use performance testing tools to work with real devices and understand how their app will perform under actual traffic conditions. They can use these tools to measure response times and create a comprehensive load profile.

Lastly, developers can compare the application's performance under critical conditions.

Performance testing can help developers establish application performance limits to predict and prevent a system crash.


Strategy for Performance Testing Mobile Apps

Having a strategy to execute performance tests is crucial. Here's a step-by-step performance testing plan that you can use:

1. Start by ensuring your test objectives align with business requirements.

Performance testing will give you the best results when you set goals. However, while developing these goals or objectives, ensure they harmonize with the scope of the business. While testing, a tester can then use these set goals to assess the application's functionality toward lead generation—for example, the cart feature in an e-commerce store application or the registration and contact form. This stage helps the testing team understand the application's architecture, data levels, business, presentation, and more.

2. Identify test KPIs

Setting benchmarks for your performance tests will help you understand if your test was a success or failure. Here are a few KPIs for mobile application testing that you can take into consideration:

  • Maximum response time.
  • The peak number of requests.
  • Average throughput.
  • The peak number of active users per OS and device.
  • Error rate.

3. Scenario prioritization

Beginner testers always fall into the trap of testing every feature the application has to offer all at once, without the prior selection of test cases. Instead, testers can outline multiple packet scenarios essential for the application's performance. Once you test these crucial features and ensure they work well, you can then move to test the other features of the application.

4. Test on real devices

It is always better to perform mobile app performance monitoring on real devices. Real devices genuinely help you understand the UX your application provides, even before actual users can use it. From being able to get the general feel of the application right down to accessing critical features like the camera, GPS, battery, and other device-specific functions.

The HeadSpin platform allows you to connect to real devices from anywhere in the world. You can use these devices to run performance tests effectively by helping you to identify and resolve functional & performance issues.

5. Ensure your approach to testing and the organization's overall development methodologies are in sync.

It is essential to remember that your testing efforts match the organization's development framework. Testers should always be ready to implement continuous integration and align their workflow to the organization's Agile and Waterfall workflows; this would mean adapting to regression tests and providing regular bug reports, to name a few.

Testers being on the same page as the organization helps improve the decision-making process and overall communication.

6. Remember to keep track of the bandwidth and latency of carrier networks while testing.

The latency and bandwidth of mobile devices can vary because mobile devices connect to the internet through third-party carriers. Remembering this difference can help testers and QA specialists ensure optimal user experience and application performance.


HeadSpin offers comprehensive performance testing capabilities that you can use to monitor and optimize your user experience journey. Collect data from real-world conditions from our global device cloud and leverage comprehensive AI insights to perform root-cause analysis.

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