Buying Android Phones for App Testing
November 22, 2016 11:48 AM   Subscribe

We're building an iPhone app, and just decided to do Android version. Problem: no one on the team owns one. App aims for full compatibility with v5, and decent compatibility with v.4.4 (that's not up for discussion). I need to buy 5 or so phones for testing, preferably older ones so we can detect lag. We'll use wi-fi only. Please suggest models (preferably a diverse spread), or even specific deals. If we can add 1 semi-modern model without paying $$$, that would be great (maybe cracked screen or poor cell function?).

Tablets aren't an issue.
posted by Quisp Lover to Shopping (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Why not use AWS Device Farm?
posted by GuyZero at 12:10 PM on November 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Hadn't heard of it. Not totally sure how it works, but am investigating. Thanks!
posted by Quisp Lover at 12:19 PM on November 22, 2016

Xamarin test cloud? (disclaimer - I work for Xamarin, but not on the test cloud)
posted by plinth at 12:19 PM on November 22, 2016

Yeah even if it doesn't work for you the list of devices is a good starting point.
posted by GuyZero at 12:21 PM on November 22, 2016

Best answer: The cloud services are good, but I'd recommend having a couple devices in hand for testing. You can find a Nexus 4 running 4.4 for next to nothing and a refurbed 5x is less than $200.

Problem: no one on the team owns one. App aims for full compatibility with v5, and decent compatibility with v.4.4 (that's not up for discussion).

This isn't quite what you asked, but I'd really suggest bringing someone that is an Android person on board, at least as a contractor. There's things about the platform that people who are exclusively iOS people might not be aware of, from UI conventions to the effect that asking for certain permissions will reduce your download rate or get you bad reviews.

As an example, you're worrying about full compatibility with Lollipop, which is two major versions behind at this point. There's something to be said about trying to support the 25% of the market still running 4.4 but those are also the consumers less likely to pay for apps or click through on high paying ads. Focusing on working really well on Marshmallow and Nougat may pay off better for you.
posted by Candleman at 1:54 PM on November 22, 2016 [3 favorites]

Best answer: You didn't mention the country, but I'll assume you're from US and want to target that market. Samsung pretty much dominates the western markets and also unfortunately dominates the platform device bugs. So I'd recommend something in terms of:

* Samsung Galaxy S4 (preferably Verizon version because those can be terrible) running Android 4.4
* Nexus 5X (running state-of-the-art newest Android and clean interface)
* Samsung Galaxy Note 3 or 4 (phablet-like Samsung device running Android 6.0 with stylus)
* HTC or LG device with 800x480 screen and Android 4.4
* One of the Samsungs running Android 5.0 with 720p resolution (there's a metric done of them)
* If you have the budget, latest and greatest Samsung Galaxy S7, LG V10 or something in this high-end bracket.

Basically the idea is to have a Samsung device with Android 4.4 (since they're usually most buggy), a Google Nexus/Pixel device running newest Android 7.0, a phablet device for huge screen, a tiny device for small screen testing and if you have a budget, the best of the market.

Also as Candleman said - find an Android expert and have them take a look at your interface and help you with architecture. Just like we Android devs have little idea on what feels "right" on iOS, you'll mess up a lot of subtle things if none of you is actually a full-time user of an Android phone.
posted by mavrik at 2:31 PM on November 22, 2016 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I do this for a living! I've been collecting devices for a while, and the things that I've bought specifically for testing have been mostly Samsung or Nexus for market share or Blu phones for cheapness (among other things, I have an S4 and S5, Note 4, Galaxy Nexus, Nexus 5x, Nexus 9, Galaxy Tab S, Pixel, and Pixel C covering Android 4.1-7 and a variety of screen sizes/resolutions, and outside of the last two those are all old enough at this point to be cheap). Cloud testing services are really cool, especially for trying to reproduce crashes that users are seeing on particular devices (lookin' at you, Samsung phones running 4.2.2), but nothing beats physical hardware for giving you a sense of how the app actually feels/peforms. Emulators (I use Genymotion) are similarly useful (and also similarly limited).

Also, agreed with the folks above: Android has noticeably different idioms and expectations from iOS, and if you want to do Android well, you're at least eventually gonna want someone who is familiar with the platform.
posted by Vibrissa at 2:53 PM on November 22, 2016

Response by poster: Thank all.

We have an Android consultant, plus the Android dev is pure Android. We won't do anything dumb.

Hmm. I'm a very experienced beta tester. It might be economical to offer to test iPhone versions for devs who mostly work in Android, in barter for their periodically testing ours on a variety of Android phones (in addition to a couple phones here in-hand). It's a simple app, so wouldn't be time consuming.
posted by Quisp Lover at 3:04 PM on November 22, 2016

Best answer: Amazon has some cheap, unlocked phones running Android.

posted by miguelcervantes at 3:10 PM on November 22, 2016

Response by poster: Development got stalled, so I never moved on this, but the programmers will have an alpha for us soon. Anyone know any specific deals right now (again: cracked screens or poor/no cell function is fine)?

This looks like a good deal on a refurb Samsung Galaxy s4/Verizon (as recommended by mavrik)
posted by Quisp Lover at 7:59 PM on February 1, 2017

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