Building the Happy Cog Test Lab
When first planning our test lab, I surveyed my own collection of devices and then asked around our Austin office for people who had some older phones sitting at home in a closet or junk drawer. I was able to pull together a handful of devices, including two older iPhones we tested with during some iOS development work. I purchased the remaining devices.
There are a few options for purchasing devices for your test lab. You can buy them brand new (required for getting the latest gear like the Microsoft Surface or the Nexus 7), used through eBay or Craigslist, or legitimate used from a reseller like Mobile Karma.
I didn’t like or want the hassle of dealing with eBay or Craigslist, so I avoided those sites entirely and went straight to Mobile Karma. All of the devices are contract-free and fully tested. The condition is also noted with each device, and prices can vary based on condition. For a test lab, I have no problem buying a scratched-up BlackBerry if it is $50 cheaper than the mint version of the same phone.
You have to be careful about choosing Android, Windows Phone 7, and BlackBerry devices. The Android OS is fragmented, with different versions on different devices. There are two versions of Windows Phone 7 (7 and 7.5), which run different versions of Internet Explorer. BlackBerrys also run different flavors of the OS, and, unless you plan to get a data plan, make sure you buy a BlackBerry that supports WiFi.
In the resources list at the end of this article, I’ve included some links to information about the OS version of Android, BlackBerry, iOS, and Windows Phone 7.
Here are the devices we currently have in our lab:
- iPhone (original)
- iPhone 3G
- iPad 1
- iPhone 4 (Retina)
- Nexus 7
- Kindle Fire
- Microsoft Surface
- Samsung Focus with Windows Phone 7
- Motorola DROID
- BlackBerry Bold
- LG Optimus S (with Android)
- Palm Pre Plus
At least one of us in the office owns the most current Apple devices, so while they are not a permanent part of the test lab, we also have access to iPhone 5 and iPad Retina. Additionally, everyone on the team will get a new iPad Mini at the end of the week when they are released.
Resources to Get Started
I researched and put together our test lab with the help of the experience of others, especially using information shared by Jeremy Keith and Brad Frost. Below is a list of resources that will help you get started or improve your current device setup.
- Test on Real Mobile Devices without Breaking the Bank by Brad Frost
- Device Lab Portland
- Laboratory Conditions by Jeremy Keith
- ClearLeft’s Test Lab
- How to Build a Device Lab by Dave Olsen
- Adobe Edge Inspect – formerly Adobe Shadow, now out of beta and renamed.
- Blackberry OS Versions
- Windows Phone Versions
- iOS Versions
- Android OS Versions
- Comparison of Android Versions
- Mobile Karma
Ready to build your lab? Go!