Recently one of my friends asked me what I used for my mobile testing, and I was struck by how few devices I use. Perhaps its a bit of nostalgia but in 2015, the idea of mobile device labs have dried up.  

I remember more than a few products like the Device Lab Stand by Vanamco and various companies proudly posting their setups or posting how to create your own. I’d be surprised today to see any sort of setup resembling these in a web dev firm. I imagine iOS devs keep a small roster of a few generations.

Back in 2012, I’d been very excited to have a setup like one of the messes above, but the wild west days are gone. A few reasons jump to mind: 

  • Mobile is a two party system between iOS and Android (Sorry MS, RIP Palm).
  • Mobile browsers have matured. 
  • We no longer think in “devices” but screen sizes. Responsive web design solves most screen size issues.
  •  Fragmentation is increasingly less of an issues. iOS adoption rates are impressive. Android grew up and thanks to Chrome swapped to the default browser for most handsets, Android fragmentation is less of a problem for web developers.
  •  Its all about webkit (Sorry Mozilla).
  • Simulators are fairly accurate for 95% of the time for web development. 
  • The rise of VNC fueled services like BrowserStack enable users to test on edge cases without the need for expensive labs.
  • Device longevity for phones is still relatively low (when’s the last time you’ve seen an iPhone 4 or Galaxy S1 in the wild or even a iPhone 4S?)
  • Most devs make effective use of libraries like Modernizr and HeadJS.
  • Visual Regression testing keeps a finalized design in check.