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TESTING MOBILE WEB - PHONES AND PLATFORMS TO FOCUS ON

Decision on what mobile phones/browsers to support for mobile web page project is not a trivial task. There are quite a lot of mobile platforms, each one with its own default mobile web browser, additionally there exist also third party browsers. The first thing you need to do is to look at some statistics as you have to decide on what platforms to focus on. StatCounter at http://gs.statcounter.com/ gathers web page statistics – we recommend to look in there. It is worth not only to look at worldwide statistics, but also regional statistics where your mobile web page will be mainly targeted – there are huge differences between different parts of the world. We will focus on European region, the results for USA will be similar. We also recommend to use rather line type of stats then bar type, because it gives information about trends, not only about current usage statistics (and you have to remember that you develop for some time in future not for now). So let’s see how it looks in case of mobile web browsers in Europe for September 2010 :

Stat Counter Global mobile browsers in Europe

We can see two things: there are a few platforms that we should focus on and that generally web browsers usage is generated by platforms’ default browsers, with exception of third party Opera web browser, which is quite popular. In case of Opera we have two browsers: Opera Mini and Opera Mobile. Opera Mini displays web pages first processed in data centers (to make web page more tolerable for mobile phones and to reduce net bandwidth) thus its support for JavaScript is limited, whereas Opera Mobile is standard web browser and supports JavaScript, Ajax and Html5. We recommend to focus on Opera Mobile in case of more powerful web projects that need good support for those technologies. Summing it up we can define following recommendations:

Platforms that we recommend to focus on

  • iPhone/iPod (for Europe and North America)
  • Android (for Europe and North America)
  • Blackberry (for Europe and North America)
  • SymbianOS (for Europe only)
  • Opera Mobile web browser (for Europe only)

Test Phone Recommendations

Here we restrict ourselves to platforms listed above. Selection of platforms/phones to support depends on web technologies and phone’s functionalities you need during development. Thus we propose test recommendations for three categories (each one more restrictive then previous):

  • HTML 4.1, CSS and JavaScript support
  • HTML 4.1, CSS, JavaScript support with focus on phones with touchable screens
  • HTML 4.1, CSS, JavaScript support with reasonable support for HTML 5

Our general test recommendation is to perform the daily development tests on oldest acceptable version of each platform. Acceptable version means such version of given platform whose default browser supports all technologies required for your project. Also we recommend that for critical projects strong (deep) before release tests should be done not only on oldest acceptable version, but also on each available simulator/device. If your project requires lots of phone’s resources, then you should also consider testing on oldest device running newest available version of the platform (for example iPhone 3G with iOS 4) – this is device/platform configuration with worst performance and it might be helpful to assure that your project runs fine on it. Now lets turn our attention to each of the categories.

HTML 4.1, CSS and JavaScript support

Finding and recognizing oldest acceptable version is quite hard and we recommend to use results gathered by John Resig http://jquerymobile.com/gbs/, who needed to recognize supported platforms for JQuery Mobile project. We propose to focus on native column from his table, as its represents default web browser for each platform. Definitely you need to support A-grade platforms from this table: iOS v3.1.3, v3.2 and v4.0 (and newest v4.1); Symbian S60 v5.0; Blackberry OS v5.0, v6.0; Android v1.5, v1.6, v2.1, v2.2. In case of iOS and Android the situation is clear: all A-grade versions run on majority of those platforms devices. In case of Blackberry OS v6.0 runs only on few latest phones so we recommend to support also v5.0 that runs on lot of Blackberry devices that are currently in use. In case of Symbian S60 it is worth to support version 5.0 that runs on touchscreen devices and if you want to support also non touchable devices then you should suport Symbian S60 version 3.2 as well. Additionally you need of course to support latest Symbian^3 platform. As to Opera Mobile you can see from John’s table that latest version 10.0 of Opera Mobile should be supported, previous versions might gave you some trouble. Below is list of all recommended platforms and devices to consider:

  • iOS
    • v3.1.3 :
      • iPhone 3G, iPod Touch 3rd generation
    • v3.2 :
      • iPad
    • v4.0, v4.1 :
      • iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4
    • Recommended test device:
      • iPhone 3G
  • Android
    • v1.5:
      • HTC: Dream (android dev phone 1 is htc dream also), Hero, Magic
      • Motorola: DEXT, ME600, MB300, i1, MB501
      • Huawei: U8230, U8220
      • Other: Acer beTouch E110, Sciphone N19, Dell Mini 3, Samsung M900 Moment, LG-GW620
    • v1.6:
      • LG: GT540 Swift, LKH5200 Andro-1G, LU2300 Optimus Q;
      • Samsung: Behold II, i7500 Galaxy, i5700 Spica;
      • Sony Ericsson: XPERIA X10 Mini, Xperia X10;
      • Other: Acer: Liquid A1, SciPhone N21, CSL Spice, Garminfone, HTC Tattoo, ZTE Link
    • v2.1:
      • Acer: Liquid E, Liquid Stream S110;
      • HTC: Aria, Desire, Droid Incredible, Legend, myTouch 3G Slide, Wildfire, Google Nexus One;
      • LG: VS740 Ally, KU9500,
      • Motorola: Charm, Droid X, Milestone XT701, XT720, Defy, Flipout;
      • Pantech: Sirius Sky, Sirius Izar, Sirius Vega;
      • Samsung: i5800 Teos, Galaxy A, i9000 Galaxy S, Acclaim, M910 Intercept
    • v2.2:
      • HTC: Evo 4G, Desire HD;
      • Motorola Droid 2
    • Recommended test device:
      • HTC: Dream (android dev phone 1 if available)
  • Blackberry
    • v5.0
      • models: 8330, 8900, 9000, 9630, 9650, 9700, 9100, 9300, 8530, 9500, 9530, 9550
    • v6.0
      • models: 9670, 9780, 9800
    • Recommended test device:
      • 8520 – (its not listed above but should have upgrade to v5.0 available)
  • Symbian S60
    • v3.2
      • Nokia: 5320 XpressMusic, 5630 XpressMusic, 5730 XpressMusic, 6210 Navigator, 6220 Classic, 6650 fold, 6710 Navigator, 6720 Classic, 6730 Classic, 6760 Slide, 6790 Surge, C5, E5-00, E52, E55, E71x, E72, E75, N78, N79, N85, N86 8MP, N96
      • Samsung: GT-i8510 (INNOV8), GT-I7110, SGH-L870
    • v5.0 (also known as Symbian^1)
      • Nokia: 5230, 5233, 5235, 5250, 5530 XpressMusic, 5800 XpressMusic, 5800 Navigation Edition, C6-00, N97, N97 mini, X6
      • Samsung: i8910 Omnia HD
      • Sony Ericsson: Satio, Viva, Vivaz Pro
    • Symbian^3
      • Nokia: C6-01, C7-00, E7-00, N8
    • Recommended test device:
      • Nokia C5
  • Opera Mobile 10.0
    • Recommended test device:
      • test on some Symbian S60 device: so again – Nokia C5

HTML 4.1, CSS, JavaScript support with focus on phones with touchable screens

In that case we have to narrow selection of supported platforms/devices. All iOS and Android platforms/devices uses touchscreen so for them the list is the same, in case of Blackberry the list of platforms doesn’t change but list of supported devices shrinks to 4 models. In case of Symbian S60 we have to remove v3.2 completely as it doesn’t run on any device with touchscreen. So below you can see list for supported devices with touchscreen:

  • iOS
    • the same devices as in the previous section (“HTML 4.1, CSS and JavaScript support”)
    • Recommended test device:
      • the same device as in the previous section
  • Android
    • the same devices as in the previous section (“HTML 4.1, CSS and JavaScript support”)
    • Recommended test device:
      • the same device as in the previous section
  • Blackberry
    • v5.0
      • models: 9500, 9530, 9550
    • v6.0
      • models: 9800
    • Recommended test device:
      • one of 9500, 9530, 9550 models
  • Symbian S60
    • v5.0 (also known as Symbian^1)
      • the same devices as in the previous section (“HTML 4.1, CSS and JavaScript support”)
    • Symbian^3
      • the same devices as in the previous section (“HTML 4.1, CSS and JavaScript support”)
    • Recommended test device:
      • Nokia 5230
  • Opera Mobile 10.0
    • test on some Symbian S60 device: so again – Nokia 5230

HTML 4.1, CSS, JavaScript support with reasonable support for HTML 5

HTML 5 is not yet fully defined, so there is no such thing as a browser that fully supports HTML 5. But there are already quite a few well defined functions in this standard and they are already implemented in some browsers. If you want to go into deeper details please use this excellent tool for testing html5 compatibility: http://html5test.com or http://beta.html5test.com. In case of mobile web browsers we only have three platforms that support HTML 5: iOS from v3.1.3, Android from v2.1 and BlackBerry from v6.0. You might also consider to support Opera (please look at: http://www.opera.com/docs/specs/productspecs/), but here we assume that its HTML5 capabilities are not yet acceptable. This limits our choice of platforms/devices to the list below:

  • iOS
    • the same devices as in the previous section (“HTML 4.1, CSS and JavaScript support”)
    • Recommended test device:
      • the same device as in the previous section
  • Android
    • v2.1
      • the same devices as in the previous section (“HTML 4.1, CSS and JavaScript support”)
    • v2.2
      • the same devices as in the previous section (“HTML 4.1, CSS and JavaScript support”)
    • Recommended test device:
      • HTC Desire
  • Blackberry
    • v6.0
      • models: 9670, 9780, 9800
    • Recommended test device:
      • one of models available for v6.0: 9670, 9780, 9800

In each case, we tried to choose the oldest model that supports the required platform and functions as a testing device. If you feel a little confused by all this platforms and devices now, please don’t worry :) . Here is a table that summarizes all of this in reference to recommended devices:

HTML 4.1, CSS, JavaScript

HTML 4.1, CSS, JavaScript, touchable screens

HTML 4.1, CSS, JavaScript, support for HTML 5

iOS iPhone 3G iPhone 3G iPhone 3G
Android HTC Dream HTC Dream HTC Desire
Blackberry 8520

9500 or 9530 or 9550 9670 or 9780 or 9800
Symbian S60 Nokia C5 Nokia 5230

Information about available emulators

Collection of useful links

Mobile web development and testing in general

Html5

Symbian

Android

Blackberry

Opera Mobile

Other

Stefan
Over 9 years of programming experience. Very skilled in sniffing iOS memory leaks. In the past he has been working a lot with large JEE projects.
According to Gartner Inc, mobile social networking is the fastest-growing consumer mobile app category today.