The demand for mobile device testing on various devices has surged exponentially, driven by the proliferation of smartphones. This has resulted in a diverse landscape of mobile devices, platforms, and operating systems. 

In the past, mobile screens were relatively small, and designs were less user-friendly. However, this has evolved with today’s larger and more intuitive screens. Mobile-first applications have become the dominant trend, leveraging the enhanced displays of modern mobile devices.

In this article, we will explore Selenium mobile testing.

What is Selenium?

Selenium is an open-source framework that facilitates test automation and is compatible across various platforms and browsers. It delivers efficient tools to automate the testing of web and mobile applications effectively.

By simulating user actions, Selenium enhances mobile application testing, assisting developers in validating application functionality throughout development cycles. For mobile apps, automation primarily utilizes Selenium WebDriver to simplify test automation for native, hybrid, and mobile web applications.

Can Selenium be used for Mobile Testing?

Although Selenium was not originally designed for mobile testing and cannot directly test mobile apps. However, Selenium-based frameworks such as Appium and Selendroid enable you to test mobile applications similarly to traditional Selenium testing.

The Complexities of Mobile Testing

Mobile testing introduces a unique set of challenges that conventional web testing frameworks like Selenium could not address. Here are some challenges:

  1. The Diversity of Devices and Operating Systems: Mobile apps are becoming increasingly intricate, making them more challenging and costly to test. What is driving this swift rise in complexity? The mobile application market is highly volatile. Everyone desires “the best app,” causing rapid evolution in technical and visual user experiences. 
  2. The Increasing Complexity of Apps: Mobile apps are growing increasingly sophisticated, utilizing extensive data points for enhanced insights and greater personalization. They also integrate features such as GPS, social media, and payment platforms, each adding a layer of complexity to the test automation challenge. Covering all possible user scenarios can make testing mobile apps seem insurmountable.
  3. Insanely Fast Iteration Cycles: The need for apps to adhere to the latest in-app design trends has resulted in rapid iteration cycles. Two-week sprints are no longer sufficient; daily sprints are becoming the norm. These brief release cycles allow less time for thorough app testing, often leading to bugs being released, which can damage the app’s and developer’s reputation.
  4. Expensive to Test: Testing mobile apps can be costly. Developers may need to purchase distinct devices to test their apps on different devices and operating systems. Manual testing is also time-consuming and expensive; maintaining and versioning these devices adds to the costs.

Recognizing the unique challenges of mobile testing, the Selenium community has adopted specialized frameworks designed specifically for mobile application testing. These frameworks harness Selenium’s core automation capabilities while catering to the mobile ecosystem’s distinct needs, offering a comprehensive solution for mobile app testing. 

Additionally, cloud-based platforms like LambdaTest offer a scalable and cost-effective solution by providing access to a wide range of real devices and emulators/simulators for comprehensive mobile testing. LambdaTest is an AI-powered test orchestration and execution platform that lets you run manual and automated tests at scale with over 3000+ real devices, browsers, and OS combinations.

Selenium-supported frameworks for mobile test automation are:

1. Selendroid

2. Appium


Also known as ‘Selenium for Android,’ this framework is used to test mobile applications on Android devices. It utilizes the JSON Wire protocol and ensures backward compatibility with older Android versions. Additionally, by using an iOS driver, it can also be employed to test iOS mobile applications.

Key Features of Selendroid:

  • Works on Android applications (both native and hybrid) as well as mobile web applications.
  • Enables parallel testing of mobile applications on multiple devices simultaneously using Selenium Grid.
  • As an open-source tool, it is free to use.
  • It features ‘hotplugging’, allowing it to detect and recognize new devices added while tests run and remove or add devices on the go.
  • Language Support: Supports Selenium WebDriver compatible programming languages like Java, C#, and Python.
  • Provides a built-in Android Driver Webview App for testing mobile web applications.
  • This supports testing gestures on mobile devices through the Advanced User Interactions API, including actions like single tap, double tap, swipe down, swipe up, etc.
  • Can be used on both emulators and real mobile devices for automated testing.
  • It supports ‘Dynamic Extendability’, which allows test scripts to be added, edited, or modified while tests are running.

Components of Selendroid:

  1. Web Driver Client: A Java client library installed on the computer where test scripts are written.
  2. Selendroid Server: Runs on the mobile device where the application under test (AUT) is running.
  3. Android Driver Webview App: A built-in driver specifically designed for testing mobile web applications.
  4. Selendroid-Standalone: Used to install the AUT and Selendroid Server on the mobile device.

With its comprehensive feature set and focus on the Android ecosystem, Selendroid has emerged as a powerful tool in the mobile testing landscape. It enables developers and testers to deliver high-quality, thoroughly tested Android applications.


It is a preferred selection for mobile automation testing because it supports iOS, Windows desktop, and Android mobile applications. Appium includes a built-in Selendroid mode for testing older versions of Android applications. Like Selendroid, it also utilizes the JSON Wire Protocol.

Key Features of Appium:

  1. Operates on a client-server architecture with an HTTP server written in Node.js, facilitating communication between clients and mobile devices. Clients include libraries for Ruby, PHP, C#, and Python, which issue commands to the mobile device.
  2. Supports automated testing for iOS and Android (hybrid, native, and web applications) and Windows desktop applications, making it suitable for cross-platform testing.
  3. Allows the same test scripts using the same API to be used across iOS, Windows, and Android platforms, promoting code reusability.
  4. Highly popular with a large and active user community, providing extensive support and resources.
  5. Unlike other tools such as Selendroid and Robotium, Appium does not require the application to be reinstalled or rebuilt after small code changes, as it does not access its source code.
  6. It supports the parallel testing of test scripts on multiple devices simultaneously.

Components of Appium:

  1. Appium Client: The automation test scripts, written in languages such as Java, C#, Ruby, or Python, serve as clients for Appium and issue commands and instructions.
  2. Appium Server: The Appium server, implemented using Node.js, acts as the central hub, receiving connection and command requests from clients in JSON format. It executes these requests on the target mobile devices, creating sessions to facilitate communication and test execution.
  3. End Devices: These are the mobile devices (real or emulators) on which the automated test scripts are executed. Appium supports a wide range of devices, enabling comprehensive testing across various hardware configurations and software versions.

While Appium and Selendroid share certain benefits and use cases, Appium’s cross-platform support and active community make it a compelling choice for automating functional, regression, compatibility, and integration testing of Android and iOS applications. However, when testing specific Android versions (10-17), Selendroid may be preferred due to its backward compatibility advantages.

Getting started with Mobile Testing with Selenium

Testing mobile applications using Selenium differs from testing web applications, but it’s possible. Here are the steps to get started with mobile app testing using Selenium:

  1. Set up the Mobile Testing Environment:
    • Install the latest version of Appium Server, which serves as a bridge between Selenium and the mobile device or emulator.
    • Set up the Android SDK or Xcode on your machine.
    • Configure the desired capabilities for your mobile device or emulator, such as the platform name, platform version, device name, app package/bundle ID, and app activity.
  2. Create a New Test Script:
    • Write the test scripts using your preferred programming language (Java, Python, C#, Ruby, etc.).
    • Install the required Selenium libraries or bindings for your chosen language.
    • Create a new test script file and import the necessary Selenium classes and methods.
  3. Initialize the Driver:
    • Instantiate the AppiumDriver class by providing the desired capabilities along with the Appium Server URL.
    • By doing this, your test script will connect to the mobile device or emulator.
  4. Locate and Interact with UI Elements:
    • Use Appium’s UI Automator (for Android) or XCUITest (for iOS) to locate and interact with the app’s UI elements.
    • Selenium provides methods like findElement and findElements to locate elements based on their accessibility IDs, XPaths, or other locator strategies.
    • Once you’ve located an element, you can click, send keys, or retrieve text.
  5. Write Test Cases:
    • Create test cases to encompass multiple scenarios and functionalities of your mobile app.
    • Use Selenium’s built-in assertions or a unit testing framework to verify the expected behavior.
  6. Run Tests and Generate Reports:
    • Run your test scripts from your preferred IDE or command line.
    • Selenium integrates with popular testing frameworks like TestNG or PyTest, allowing you to generate comprehensive test reports.

Here’s a simple example in Python using Appium and Selenium to test an Android app:

from appium import webdriver

# Define desired capabilities
desired_caps = {
    “platformName”: “Android”,
    “platformVersion”: “12.0”,
    “deviceName”: “Pixel 6 Pro”,
    “appPackage”: “”,
    “appActivity”: “”

# Initialize the driver
driver = webdriver.Remote(“http://localhost:4723/wd/hub”, desired_caps)

# Locate and interact with UI elements
username_field = driver.find_element_by_id(“”)
password_field = driver.find_element_by_id(“”)
login_button = driver.find_element_by_id(“”)


# Assertions and test cases
# …

# Quit the driver

Best Practices for Mobile Application Selenium Testing

Here are the best practices for mobile application Selenium testing:

Use Appium or Selendroid:

  • Appium is a test automation framework that extends Selenium’s capabilities to support iOS and Android platforms.
  • Selendroid is specifically designed to test Android applications with Selenium.

Set up the Mobile Testing Environment:

  • Install the latest version of Appium Server or Selendroid Server.
  • Set up the Android SDK (for Android) or Xcode (for iOS) on your machine.
  • Configure the desired capabilities like platform name, version, device name, and app package/bundle ID.

Use Mobile-Specific Locators:

  • Web elements in mobile apps use different locators compared to web applications.
  • Use locators like XPath, ID, accessibility ID, UIAutomator (Android), etc.

Handle App Interactions:

  • Mobile apps involve gestures like swiping, scrolling, and tapping.
  • Use Appium/Selendroid methods to simulate these gestures.

Account for Device Fragmentation:

  • Test on different device models, screen sizes, and OS versions. 
  • Use device farms or cloud-based testing services.

Manage App State and Context:

  • Mobile apps can have native, web, and hybrid contexts.
  • Switch between contexts and manage the app state properly.

Optimize Test Execution:

  • Use techniques like parallel execution, test sharding, and cloud testing.
  • Improves test execution times for mobile testing.

Handle Interruptions and Notifications:

  • Mobile devices can receive calls and notifications during testing.
  • Disable notifications or handle interruptions gracefully.

Implement Reporting and Logging:

  • Capture detailed information about test execution and failures.
  • Use reporting and logging options from Appium/Selendroid.

Stay Up-to-Date with Framework Updates:

  • Mobile platforms and testing frameworks evolve frequently.
  • Update tools, frameworks, and scripts to ensure compatibility.


In summary, Selenium itself doesn’t support mobile app testing. However, if you prefer Selenium, you can achieve a similar testing experience for mobile apps by using Appium and Selendroid. Sometimes, you can test desktop apps with Appium, although Selenium remains a better option if you have extensive desktop testing requirements.