Automated vs. Manual Mobile App Testing: Do You Need Both?
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In quality assurance (QA), testing automation is one of the greatest champions of speed. But, when it comes to functionality and first impressions, there is no substitute for manual testing. The fact is, even as automated testing software becomes more refined, manual mobile app testing still plays a huge role in shipping quality applications. Both categories of mobile app testing have distinct advantages and disadvantages, but it’s particularly important for mobile app development companies to practice manual testing to deliver an exceptional user experience.


Mobile app testing is an indispensable part of any development project; however, the primary goal of any mobile app project is to deliver quality output while scaling back on cost and time-to-market. If you’re launching a minimum viable product (MVP), manual testing is the way to go, and here’s why. 


This article will explore both manual and automated testing, their pros and cons, and the best scenarios for each method. 


Mobile App Development Checklist

Automated Mobile App Testing

The speed and reliability of automated testing are helpful for regression testing and executing time-consuming test cases, and most automated tests are reusable, but in an agile environment, automated test scripts have to be reworked. As a mobile app evolves, the product flow changes, as well as the user interface requirements and specific features. As a result, every change calls for an update in the automated test script. If you’re working on a smaller project, like an MVP, the upkeep required for automated mobile app testing is tedious and wasteful. Truthfully, maintaining automated test scripts often causes projects to fall behind in sprint cycles unless you keep a tight hold on the reigns. 

Pros of Automated Mobile App Testing

  • Scalable for larger mobile apps  
  • More cost-efficient for larger mobile apps, over time
  • Able to run multiple tests simultaneously
  • Performs tedious tests that are demanding for manual testers

Cons of Automated Mobile App Testing

  • Slow and wasteful for a simple feature, small-scale mobile app
  • Unable to test user experience factors
  • Code and configurations are typically specific to each mobile app


Again, Creating automated test scripts is time-consuming, and it’s certainly not possible to automate every test scenario. For this reason, it’s important to be selective about what test cases you choose to automate. For example, automated testing works best for repetitive tasks and large datasets. Essentially, if you do decide to use automated testing, you want to use the method to test the core functionality of the mobile app and create more time for manual exploration of user experience and key features.  

When to Use Automated Mobile App Testing

Regression Testing: Automated testing works well for regression testing because of frequent code changes. The automated testing method also allows you to run regression tests quickly.


Repeated Execution: Repetitive and drawn-out tasks lend themselves well to automated testing.


Performance Testing: When you’re testing the speed and performance of a mobile app against thousands of concurrent users, automation is helpful.


Regardless of the benefits of automated mobile app testing, there will always be testing scenarios that require a human touch. For an MVP, the truth is, automation is too expensive for the size of the project. For long-term projects, the costs are worth it, but if you’re looking to take your MVP to market quickly, the cost of automation software on top of maintenance and management costs isn’t feasible.

Manual Mobile App Testing

Automated mobile app testing will never replace manual testing entirely. App crashes, for example, need to be located with manual testing, as do usability and user experience scenarios. Similarly, automated testing cannot find errors it wasn’t programmed to find.

Pros of Manual Mobile App Testing

  • More accurate user interface (UI) testing
  • Replicates real user experiences
  • Faster and more cost-effective for small projects
  • Easier to identify and deal with app crashes
  • Handles more complicated use-case scenarios

Cons of Manual Mobile App Testing

  • Not 100% accurate due to human error
  • Requires human resources to perform
  • Test cases are tedious to perform


There are a number of reasons why manual mobile app testing is necessary throughout the development lifecycle. For example, if a user finds a bug in your mobile app, manual testing can replicate this issue to find a solution. The time between user-reported issues and fixing the problem is critical, and manual testing is much faster in these scenarios.


Manual testing also covers a whole host of complicated use cases that mobile devices present. Factors like device compatibility and UI interactions simply can’t be tested using automation. How will your mobile app perform if the user is running multiple apps? How will your app function if the user receives a phone call, or leaves the app to send a text? Device permissions, connectivity, and navigation gestures all need to be explored with manual testing to offer a high-quality mobile app.

When to Use Manual Mobile App Testing

Exploratory Testing: Mobile apps need human testing for this scenario. Exploratory testing requires knowledge, analysis, experience, intuition, and creativity.


Usability Testing: It’s impossible to determine how user-friendly a mobile app is without manual testing. Human observation is the most important factor in determining how efficient and convenient a product is.


Ad-hoc Testing: This is a completely unplanned method of testing where the insight and understanding of the tester is the only important factor.


In the eyes of your users, your product is only as good as it’s performance and that’s why QA is key to mobile app success. Thorough mobile app testing is repeatable, but at the same time, there needs to be some degree of variation in the tests you perform. Automated mobile app testing is ideal for performing multiple, time-consuming tests, but manual testing is necessary for exploring use-cases that aren’t immediately apparent. No matter what mobile app testing you choose to perform, preemptive strategizing about what requires testing is necessary before development begins.


Mobile App Development Checklist