What Android devices should I test on?

Customers often ask me for suggestions as to what devices they should buy to test their applications on.  In the iOS world you can have every single device your app will ever run on sitting on your desk.  In the Android world things are not quite so simple – as of early 2014 an app targeting phones and tablets, from 2.3 up will have to run on over 4722 different devices!

Given the number of different devices anybody looking at doing Android development will have to limit themselves to testing on a representative sample.  When looking at on device testing there are typically a few boxes you want to tick:

  • Android version: 2.3, 4.0, 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, 4.4
  • Device size: small, med, large, xlarge
  • Screen density: ldpi, mdpi, hdpi, xhdpi, xxhdpi
  • Device manufacturer: Samsung, HTC, Google, Motorola, etc
  • If at all possible you want to cover the most popular phones such as the S3

Now if you do a bit of naive maths, you might say hang on, thats still 400 devices!  Fortunately you can use one device to tick multiple boxes – for example Samsung Galaxy Y will allow you to test on a 2.3 device, with a small screen size, in ldpi resolution running  Samsung’s version of Android.  Also many combinations don’t exist – good luck finding a 2.3 device, with a xlarge screen in xxhdpi density for example!

I personally own the following devices for testing:

Samsung Galaxy S2 and S3

The Galaxy S2 and S3 are both extremely popular devices with a massive portion of the Android market share.  Just testing on the Galaxy S3 alone will allow you to cover off a large portion of the android device market share.  The S2 allows me to test on an older device with a smaller screen size and density.  The S3 is still one of the most popular Android devices on the market, it features a very common screen size (4.8 inches) and runs in the popular xhdpi density.

Nexus 4, 5 and 7

Googles nexus line of devices allow you to test under googles unmodified stock version of the Android operating system.  Rapid software updates released from google mean you will always be able to test agains’t the newest version of Android.  In addition each of these devices have been very successful in the market place.  The Nexus 5 is probably one of the cheapest ways to get an xxhdpi class display to test your app on.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2, 10″ model

The samsung galaxy Tab 2, is a now throughly outdated tablet device from Samsung, however it does allow us to cheaply cover off testing at a 10″ tablet size

Samsung Galaxy Y

The Samsung Galaxy Y it an extremely cheep low end device.  It allows apps to be tested under Android 2.3 on a small screen with the LDPI density.  Surprisingly the Galaxy Y is an extremely popular device!  Open Signals June 2013 report showed it was the 3rd most popular Android device, comming just behind the S3 and S2 in terms of market share!  Undoubtedly this is being driven by its price – the Galaxy Y can be picked up for $59 from Coles supermarkets.

Huawei Ascend Y201

The Huawei Ascend is another low end device, this time running android 4.0.3 with an mdpi, 3.5 inch sized display.  This allows me to test under another manufacturers version of Android.  The Ascend can be picked up over the counter at coles supermarkets for just $39 – a sunningly low price for a 4.0 android device.

Future Additions

This library of devices allows me to test under some of the most popular devices, running under some of the most common screen sizes, densities and versions of Android available.  However the Android devices space is constantly evolving and new devices are being being released all the time.  In the future I will be looking to add:

  • Samsung Galaxy S4 – Following in the footsteps of the S2 and S3 the S4 is bound to become one of the most popular android phones on the market
  • A LG and an HTC device – While the nexus 4 and 5 are produced by LG they are not running LG’s version of the Android operating system.  Likewise I have no HTC devices to test against.  I will be looking to add some midrange LG and HTC devices to my library
  • A more modern 10″ tablet – The galaxy tab 2 is definitely starting to show its age.  Perhaps if a new nexus 10 is released, running at a xxhdpi resolution it may be worthwhile adding it to my library