Emulator and Simulator - A Comparison Guide


By Deepak Arora

Emulator and Simulator - A Comparison Guide

Mobile applications need an environment to run on. The environment is a function of software and hardware. To perform testing on the mobile app’s functionality, you will require a mobile lab to emulate a real-world scenario. For example, a person using a mobile app and the workflows being carried out.   

Real Devices Versus Emulators/Simulators   

Device support is one of the significant challenges that you may face out while working on mobile testing. The types of smartphones and the number of new models are increasing day by day. There are comparisons between devices, and which devices to test is not a painless way to solve. It relies on the identification of the compatibility matrix as early as possible in the project. However, that part is also a big fuss as everything in the project is not in a static way.  

It is not feasible for mobile Emulators/Simulators to emulate every single feature of an actual device. For instance, phone hardware quirks and pixel perfect. In the Android world, the software representation of underlying hardware is referred to as an emulator (as against a Simulator in the iOS world). For mobile devices, the test environment includes a combination of real devices, including mobile emulators/simulators to achieve the expected test coverage.   

Let’s understand the clear difference between mobile Emulator and Simulator in mobile testing.   

Emulator – It is a software program that supports your mobile to mimic or imitate the features of another mobile software or computer by installing them to your mobile device or desktop. 

Simulator – A Simulator is crafted to build an environment that involves various configurations and all of the software variables that may exist in the actual app’s production environment. Simulators don’t try to replicate the real hardware that will run the application in production. It may require high-level programming languages to build machine environments.  

Comparison: Emulator vs. Simulator   

An mobile Emulator is software that mimics the software and hardware of the target device on your computer. This task is done via translation of the target device’s ISA (Instruction Set Architecture). However, A Simulator is also a software that enables your computer to execute several programs built for distinct operating systems. Simulators are suitable for iPad or iPhone devices. On the other hand, Emulators are meant for Android devices and easier to emulate.   

You may curious to know how is Simulator different from Emulator? Well, we also want to resolve your query in a comprehensive manner.   

Let’s check the table chart: 



A mobile simulator objective is to mimic the actual behavior of the device.   

An mobile emulator aims to duplicate the things as it exists in real life.  

A mobile simulator is also a virtual device in mobile testing that allows you to check your application by simulating its real-time behavior.   

In mobile testing, an emulator is a virtual device that helps you test your application by emulating it in a real scenario. This device can imitate the operating system or the hardware of the device. 

The simulators' role is to copy things from the real world into a virtual environment and get an idea about how the particular thing will work. It doesn’t follow all the rules of a real environment but simulates the basic behavior.   

Emulation is the complete copy of the real thing or a feature. It just runs in a virtual environment rather than the real world. 

Simulation is ideal for automation testing and unit testing.   

Emulation is suitable for unit testing, automation testing, and debugging.  

It is faster compared to emulators.   

It is slower due to latency as it includes binary translation.

The target area of the simulator is to check the internal behavior of the mobile device.   

It targets operating systems, software, and mobile device hardware.  

The internal structure of simulation is written in a high-level language.   

It is written in a machine-level assembly language.  


Also, Read Emulator Vs. Simulator Vs. Real Device  

Mobile Emulator Examples:   

There are endless of open-source and commercial-based emulators available for every operating system. Some examples are   

  • is a browser-based emulator that helps you use iOS applications on any PC.   

  • BlueStacks is an emulator that allows to use of Android apps on Mac and Windows.  

  • Programs like Xcode iOS. You can use it to operate on both Windows and Mac.    

  • Nestopia Emulator enables to play Nintendo games on Linux.   

  • Various emulators for the Play Station let people play and enjoy games on Sony’s mobile systems.   

  • WINE operates the Windows app on the Linux OS.   

  • MAME emulates multiple archade machines.   

  • BlueMSX emulates z80 based consoles and computers.   

Examples of Mobile Simulation Software Include:   

ANSYS Discovery, Simulink, SimScale, ANSYS SCADE Suite, SIMULIA, Anylogic, ETAP PS, AVEVA DYNSIM Dynamic Simulation, National Instruments Multisim, etc.   

Whereas iPhone emulator, Android emulator, and Galaxy emulator are some of the most popular emulators for software testing.   

Now, you have a bit understanding of the difference between emulator and simulator, but you also need to know the benefits while comparing both of them with mobile devices:   

  • Deadline-driven Scenarios/Situation-based Scenarios 

Buying the desired mobile devices is really challenging as every mobile cost differs from other models. Yet, you can use emulators and simulators in mobile testing because there are numerous available Android emulators online for PC and Mac. For example, Android Studio, ARChon, Bliss OS, LDPlayer, GameLoop, BlueStacks, NetEase MuMu Player, Phoenix OS, and many more. The best part is all of these emulators you can get for free of cost and helps you to test mobile application as per your needs.   

  • Easy Accessibility   

It is not an undeniable fact that testing on mobile devices offers reliability options. However, performing testing on Simulators and Emulators is effortless as you can have access to the URL when needed for the application.   

  • Easy to Use   

Both mobile Emulators and Simulators are good for conducting testing on various mobile devices. Inversely, mobile devices are perfect to meet the needs of UI and UX, and when it comes to testing the brightness display and colors of an mobile application, we can get as many benefits from real mobile devices.   

  • Battery Validation Scenarios   

You can charge mobile devices anytime to test your app without concerning about battery. In Contradict, it is not easy to fix battery-related issues with mobile simulators and emulators.   

  • Performance Testing  

Validation of mobile app’s performance is highly crucial as it ensures that the application will work better under varied load situations and makes the system stable and responsive. You can get more accurate results when you run a performance testing of app on a mobile device. On the flip side, it is difficult to say how much accuracy you can acquire with mobile emulators or simulators.   

Real device testing is apparent to create a win-win situation with QA testing. Still, we can't ignore the possible benefits of emulators and simulators, especially when it comes to saving budgets and helping businesses meet their requirements faster.   

BugRaptors prefer all three options for mobile apps testing, and we have a modern mobile test lab at our place to provide you faster time-to-market and quality-made products. Do you have any mobile app for testing?  We are ever ready to serve you with our mobile app testing advisory.   

Give one look at our specialized Mobile Test Automation Services


Deepak Arora

Deepak, a certified QA engineer associated with BugRaptors. He is well versed with Manual testing, Mobile application testing, Regression and Sanity testing. He is responsible for guaranteeing a level of quality for the end client and to help the software development team to identify problems early in the process.

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