User Acceptance Testing (UAT) is a crucial phase in the software development lifecycle that ensures the application meets the expectations and requirements of end users. When it comes to UAT, there are two primary approaches that organizations can take: conducting tests on real devices or utilizing emulators. Each approach has its advantages and disadvantages, making it essential to choose the right method based on the specific needs and constraints of the project.

Testing on real devices involves using physical smartphones, tablets, or other devices that accurately represent the target audience’s devices. This approach allows testers to assess the application’s behavior in real-world scenarios, considering factors such as network connectivity, device performance, and battery usage. By testing on real devices, organizations gain valuable insights into how the application interacts with different hardware configurations and operating systems. However, this approach can be expensive and challenging to maintain due to the vast array of devices available.

On the other hand, emulators provide virtual environments that simulate various device configurations and operating systems. Emulators are software programs that replicate the functionality and behavior of real devices, enabling testers to assess performance and compatibility across different platforms. Emulators offer cost-effectiveness, scalability, and flexibility in testing various device models and software versions. However, they may need to fully replicate the nuances of real devices, potentially resulting in discrepancies in performance and behavior.

In this blog, we will explore the differences between User Acceptance Testing with real devices and emulators. We will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each approach, considering factors such as cost, accuracy, scalability, and user experience. Additionally, we will provide insights into selecting the appropriate approach based on project requirements, best practices for conducting UAT, and real-world scenarios where one approach may be more suitable than the other. By the end of this blog, you will have a comprehensive understanding of the considerations involved in choosing between testing with real devices and emulators, empowering you to make informed decisions for effective User Acceptance Testing in your software development projects.

Understanding User Acceptance Testing (UAT)

User Acceptance Testing (UAT) is a crucial phase in the software development lifecycle. It is the final testing phase before the software is released to end-users, focusing on ensuring that the application meets their requirements and expectations. UAT involves conducting tests from the user’s perspective to validate the software’s readiness for deployment.

The objectives of UAT are twofold. First, it aims to validate that the software meets the functional and non-functional requirements specified by the users or stakeholders. This includes checking if the application’s features, workflows, and interfaces align with user expectations. Second, UAT helps identify any potential issues or bugs that may impact the user experience or hinder the software’s functionality.

Conducting UAT on various platforms and devices is crucial to ensure a seamless user experience across different environments. With the diverse range of devices and operating systems available in the market, it is essential to test the software on different platforms to verify its compatibility. By conducting UAT on various devices, organizations can ensure that the application performs optimally regardless of the device used by the end-users, providing a consistent and satisfactory user experience.

Real Devices for User Acceptance Testing

Real devices refer to physical smartphones, tablets, or other devices that accurately replicate the devices used by the target audience. Testing on real devices offers several benefits in UAT:

  • Capturing real-world user behavior: Real devices allow testers to observe and analyze how the application behaves in real-world scenarios. This includes factors such as network connectivity, device performance, battery usage, and environmental conditions. By testing on real devices, organizations can gain insights into how the software performs under different circumstances, ensuring a more accurate assessment of its usability.
  • Ensuring device-specific functionality: Some applications may have features or functionalities specific to certain devices or operating systems. By testing on real devices, organizations can verify that these device-specific functionalities work as intended, ensuring a smooth user experience on each supported platform.

However, testing on real devices also presents challenges. Acquiring and maintaining a diverse device pool can be expensive, especially with the constant release of new devices in the market. Organizations need to invest in purchasing and maintaining a wide range of devices to cover the target audience adequately. Additionally, testing on specific devices may have limitations, such as limited availability or restricted access to certain functionalities, which can impact the thoroughness of the testing process.

In the following sections, we will continue discussing the topic, covering the advantages and disadvantages of using emulators for UAT, as well as best practices for choosing the right approach based on project requirements.

Emulators for User Acceptance Testing

Emulators play a significant role in User Acceptance Testing (UAT) by providing a virtual environment that simulates different device configurations and operating systems. Emulators are software programs that replicate the functionality and behavior of real devices, allowing testers to assess the application’s performance and compatibility across various platforms.

Using emulators in UAT offers several advantages:

  • Cost-effectiveness: Emulators eliminate the need to acquire a vast array of physical devices, resulting in significant cost savings. Organizations can allocate their testing budget more efficiently by investing in a smaller set of real devices while relying on emulators to cover a broader range of platforms.
  • Simulating different device configurations: Emulators provide flexibility in testing other device models, screen sizes, and software versions. Testers can easily switch between virtual devices and simulate various configurations, ensuring comprehensive coverage without the need for multiple physical devices.
  • Scalability and rapid testing: Emulators enable quick and efficient testing by allowing simultaneous testing on multiple virtual devices. This scalability is particularly beneficial when there is a need to execute tests across different devices and platforms in a time-efficient manner.

However, there are limitations to using emulators in UAT:

  • Performance and behavior discrepancies: Emulators may not fully replicate the performance and behavior of real devices. There can be differences in processor speed, memory, graphics rendering, or network connectivity. These discrepancies can impact testing accuracy, as specific performance-related issues may only manifest on real devices.
  • Limited accuracy in simulating real-world scenarios: Emulators may need help to accurately simulate specific real-world scenarios or environmental factors that can affect the application’s behavior. For example, emulators may not fully replicate the impact of different network conditions, GPS signals, or battery usage.

Choosing the Right Approach

When deciding between real devices and emulators for UAT, it is crucial to consider project-specific factors to make an informed decision. Here are some criteria to consider:

  • Budget constraints: Evaluate the available budget for acquiring and maintaining real devices. Emulators can be a cost-effective option, mainly when testing various device configurations.
  • Project timeline: Assess the project timeline and the amount of time available for UAT. Emulators offer scalability and rapid testing capabilities, which can help expedite the testing process. On the other hand, testing on real devices may require more time due to the logistics involved.
  • Target audience: Consider the characteristics of the target audience, including the devices they commonly use. Testing on real devices ensures a more accurate representation of the user experience on specific devices and platforms.
  • Device-specific functionality: Determine if the application has device-specific functionalities or features. If so, testing on real devices becomes crucial to ensure the proper functioning of these features.

To illustrate the decision-making process, examples or case studies can be shared where real devices or emulators are the preferred choices. These real-world scenarios can provide insights into situations where organizations successfully utilized either approach based on their specific project requirements.

By carefully considering these factors and evaluating the advantages and limitations of each approach, organizations can choose the most suitable approach for User Acceptance Testing, ensuring comprehensive coverage and a seamless user experience.

Best Practices for User Acceptance Testing

Regardless of whether User Acceptance Testing (UAT) is conducted on real devices or emulators, there are several best practices that organizations should follow to ensure effective and efficient testing:

  • Develop a well-defined test plan: A test plan outlines the objectives, scope, and approach of UAT. It should define the test scenarios, test cases, and acceptance criteria to ensure comprehensive coverage of the application’s functionality.
  • Ensure comprehensive test coverage: UAT should cover all critical user scenarios, including typical and edge cases. Testers should consider different user roles, workflows, and potential user interactions to identify any issues or areas for improvement.
  • Thorough documentation: Document the test process, including test cases, test data, and test results. This documentation serves as a reference for future testing and helps track the progress and outcomes of UAT. It also facilitates effective communication and collaboration among team members.
  • Involve end-users and stakeholders: Collaborate closely with end-users and stakeholders throughout the UAT process. Their feedback and insights are invaluable in identifying usability issues, gathering requirements, and ensuring the application meets their expectations.
  • Continuously evaluate and adapt the UAT strategy: UAT is an iterative process, and it’s essential to evaluate and adapt the testing strategy continuously. Incorporate feedback from end-users and stakeholders, address identified issues promptly, and adjust the testing approach to align with evolving project requirements.
  • Consider accessibility and internationalization: Ensure that the application is accessible to users with disabilities and compliant with relevant accessibility standards. Additionally, if the application is intended for a global audience, consider internationalization aspects such as language support, date and time formats, and localization requirements.
  • Conduct regression testing: Perform regression testing after resolving issues identified during UAT to ensure that fixing one problem does not introduce new ones. Regression testing helps maintain the overall stability and functionality of the application.
  • Collaborate with development and QA teams: Foster close collaboration between the development, QA, and UAT teams. Clear communication, frequent updates, and knowledge sharing between these teams help streamline the UAT process and ensure effective bug reporting and resolution.

LambdaTest is a cloud-based digital experience testing platform that allows developers and testers a comprehensive solution for testing applications over a wide range of real devices and emulators. With real devices, LambdaTest provides access to a vast inventory of smartphones, tablets, and desktop computers across over 3000+ OS, browsers, and their various versions. This allows testers to evaluate the application’s performance in a real-world environment, ensuring accurate and reliable results.

Additionally, LambdaTest offers to execute tests using various automation tools like Selenium, Appium, etc., and run tests parallely on multiple environments that reduce test execution time and improve overall software quality.


User Acceptance Testing (UAT) is a critical step in the software development lifecycle that aims to validate the software’s readiness for end users. Whether testing on real devices or utilizing emulators, following best practices is essential for successful UAT. These best practices include developing a well-defined test plan, ensuring comprehensive test coverage, thorough documentation involving end-users and stakeholders, continuous evaluation and adaptation of the UAT strategy, considering accessibility and internationalization aspects, conducting regression testing, and promoting collaboration among teams.

By implementing these best practices, organizations can enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of their UAT efforts, resulting in a higher-quality software application that meets user expectations and delivers a seamless user experience. Remember, UAT is not a one-time activity but an ongoing process that should adapt to evolving project requirements and user feedback. With a well-executed UAT, organizations can gain confidence in their software and ensure its successful deployment to end-users.