Let’s be honest here: the Android emulator is pretty useless beyond testing whether or not an app runs at all on a device. For real testing and especially for UI/UX testing, you need to check the app on an actual phone/tablet. But there are hundreds of Android devices, you can’t possibly test on all of them, so you’ll have to settle to one or two. In this post I’ll give my suggestions as to what makes a good testing platform for tablet apps.
The best setup is not one, but two tablets at opposite sides of the spectrum – a low end but popular tablet and a high end one. This way you can tune the application (or game) performance so that’s usable at the low end and at the same time you can judge how it will work at the high end (and maybe bring additional enhancements there). This dual tablet setup can help with two other aspects – you can test for two different Android versions – Honeycomb and ICS and two sizes – 7″ and 10″.
With this in mind, here are my proposals:
Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7
I wouldn’t exactly call the Galaxy Tab 7.7 a “low-end” device but I believe it’s a representative tablet for 2012. It has a very nice Super AMOLED display, bright and crisp with a resolution of 1280×800 pixels, very popular among Android tablets and since it’s a small device, you can make sure that the buttons and text are big enough to be readable and usable. It has most new tech and sensors, including gyro but unfortunately no NFC (apparently these are used only in phones.
It has a 1.4GHz dual-core processor and 1 GB of RAM. You can choose from 16/32/64 GB memory versions, but I recommend the smallest one. It also supports HSPA, which may come in handy for testing if your app relies on online services (it’s always a good idea to test on both WiFi and cellular and especially see what happens when you switch from one to the other), although you’ll have to investigate if you can use your mobile operator services, such as O2 Broadband, with the tablet.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 comes with Android 3.2 (Honeycomb), which is a boon for testing as Honeycomb is still more widely uses than ICS.
Asus Transformer Pad Infinity
I don’t usually recommend unreleased devices, but in this case I believe it’s worth to wait a month to get probably the best tablet of the year. As a sidenote, The Lenovo K2 tablet is also very promising, but I much prefer the slim and light Asus design – after all, portability is the key feature of a tablet.
Its specs are impressive – at 8.3mm it’s thinner than the iPads; it has (better than) full HD 1920×1200 resolution on a 10.1″ display, a quad core ARM A9 CPU running at 1.3Ghz, 1 Gb of RAM and all the major features you’d expect.
With its larger screen, resolution and density you can make sure the app will display correctly and since it comes with Android 4, you’ll be able to test for any differences compared to Honeycomb.