I often see posts on twitter or software testing communities where people asking for help regarding mobile device fragmentation and how to handle all those different devices. Usually my answer to this is, that you don’t need to test on that many mobile devices.
There are several ways to go. One way to go, is to gather user information from tracking statistics of the released app version. If the app is not yet released, statistics from the Web page (if in place) can help to gather information about the target customers and the devices they are using. If this kind of information is available you can start thinking about how to get at least the top 10 – 15 devices of the customers.
If buying is not an option because it is too expensive or there are other concerns, you can either use cloud testing provider to test your app on physical devices within a cloud or you can rent them. I was kind of surprised that many people are not aware of the fact, that there are so called Open Device Labs where you can rent mobile devices for free to use them for mobile app development and testing.
If you check http://opendevicelab.com/ you will find a interactive map with locations of Open Device Labs (ODLs) nearby. If there is an ODL nearby, go there and rent a mobile device for free. The idea behind is simple:
“Open Device Labs (ODLs, #ODL) are a grass roots community movement. They establish shared community pools of internet connected devices for testing purposes of web and app developers.”
The project has been started by Anselm Hannemann, Andre Jay Meissner and Christian Schaefer. If you like the idea and you want to contribute to it, please have a look at http://opendevicelab.com/#contribute or you can even donate “old” and new phones.
If you have more question regarding Open Device Labs, check the FAQ page.
Even more information about ODLs can be found on http://lab-up.org/.