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For any test automation experts, manual mobile app testing is time-consuming and, like any other human activity, prone to mistakes and errors. That is correct.

However, it would be a myth to claim that all the test cases/scenarios can be fully automated or would be worth building the automation framework. For instance, mobile usability testing and interface testing are hard to automate.

In the times when mobile test automation brings higher ROI, manual mobile testing still has its advantages in many use cases. It goes hand in hand with automated testing and, if handled right, helps to fine-tune every aspect of your application. Today, let’s dig deeper and find out when and how you should perform manual mobile testing unerringly.

When and Why to Do Manual Mobile Testing

Manual testing is irreplaceable when it comes to functionality and first impressions. It gives you the kind of feedback you might hear from the actual users. The most significant merits of manual testing are flexibility and simulation of real user actions. But when is manual mobile testing applicable, and when it is better to choose test automation? Here is a list of testing types that resonate with manual mobile testing.

  • Usability and UI testing. Only humans can evaluate how user-friendly and handy the app is. Even a slight divergence between the actual look and feel of the app and the design agreed upon in the specs can be noted by an experienced manual tester right away. A machine can’t do that.
  • Compatibility testing. This type of mobile testing can be automated. However, it is usually not a repetitive task; thus, doing it manually makes sense because manual app testing is more flexible and cost-effective. It’s also important to check if the app is responsive on real devices with different OS versions, screen sizes and resolutions.
  • One-time testing. Writing a script is not at all profitable if you need to test some features only once or twice. If the task is not repetitive or monotonous, it’s better to run the test manually and document the results.
  • Localization (L10N) and internationalization (I18N) testing. Since the font or word length varies from language to language, it may affect the UX/UI of the app (especially when it comes to UI mirroring). Manual testing proves useful when you need to check if the app performs well in all languages and regions that are in the requirements.
  • Ad-hoc testing. Both of these types of testing require experience, intuition and creativity of testers since there is no script or scenario that they can use. A professional quality assurance engineer can foresee the possible actions an end-user will make and ensure the app runs smoothly in these situations.

On the flip side, manual mobile testing is not the best option for:

  • regression testing (whereas automated testing works perfectly for that)
  • load and performance testing
  • complex scenarios with large data sets that are resource- and time-consuming if executed manually
  • functional testing for large applications that need to be run frequently
  • being the main testing approach to achieving continuous testing

5 Steps to Testing Mobile Apps Manually the Right Way

Manual testing is sometimes deemed as randomly clicking or tapping through the mobile app and logging bugs. Well, if you don’t have a plan or structure, then yes, your manual mobile testing will consist of mere clicking around. So, to keep everything under control, you need to outline your action plan and define the route for executing it.

Here are the five key steps you need to take when testing an app manually.

1. Have a Plan

It may sound obvious, but you need to know exactly what to test and how to test it beforehand. Otherwise, it will be like running in circles trying to catch a bug. Any bug. So, start with studying your test plan and choosing the test cases that are better to test manually. Then, group them based on what should be tested (navigation, UI elements, interruptions, etc.). This will help you keep your test sessions as brief as possible.

2. Outline a Click Path

For each use case, write down a detailed click path. It will let you optimize the time per each test session when repeating precisely the same test on different devices. And, in case you discover a bug, you’ll be able to reproduce it easily and quickly.

3. Test on a Variety of Devices

An app can work flawlessly on one device but crash on another. That’s why it is crucial to perform the same test on different real devices with different OS, hardware and software options. Besides, in the case of Android OS, some manufacturers make custom UI changes that may affect the app (for example, Xiaomi MIUI or Huawei EMUI). Don’t worry, you don’t need to store hundreds of devices in your office. You can use real devices in the cloud and choose the parameters you need.

4. Repeat

Repeat all the steps in the same sequence again in case new bugs arise after code modification. It is important to run all the tests to be sure that fixing one issue didn’t break anything else.

5. Document the Results

Make sure to write down all the information you have gained so that you can easily test that part again after the bug has been fixed.

Summing Up

When it comes to usability and accessibility of the mobile app, manual testing is king. Still, monotonous work can lead to fatigue and result in missing bugs, especially when it’s required to run the same tests over and over again. To do your manual app testing right, you need to structure the testing steps before you get down to it. Having a thorough plan and a detailed click path for every test case will help you run the same test on multiple devices and reproduce bugs if caught. Stick to these tips, and you’ll notice the efficiency of your mobile testing efforts to improve in no time.

Victoria Bezsmolna

Tech Writer