A mobile emulator is a software application for web based simulation of how websites and applications run, appear and function in a mobile environment. A mobile emulator can be accessed via web browsers by developers and can run on a PC or Mac. A mobile emulator tests the mobile websites and apps and even existing mobile applications where users want their applications to run on their computers.

Device specific testing is a concept that you must test a particular website on at least one mobile device on all manufacturers and on as many mobile browsers as possible. This helps you to get an idea on how the site works on different devices and helps you to resolve if any issues occur. You have to access all the necessary devices and web browsers.

There are three types of mobile emulators:

Device emulator:
These are provided by device manufacturers and they are ideal for testing the applications or websites on a particular device or set of devices.

Browser emulators:
These replicate mobile browser environments on mobile device. Useful for identifying the features and functionality available in a particular mobile browser, they are not useful for device-specific testing.

Operating System Emulators: They run within a simulated mobile device environment. These provide access to the applications that are running on the operating system. Eg web browser. Some manufacturers of operating system emulators are Microsoft which provides emulators for windows mobile, Google for Android OS and Nokia. Some browser emulators available are Opera mini and open wave.

Emulators can be used for testing on real devices. The benefit of emulators is that there is no data browsing charge as browsing is performed from standard web connection. Starting emulators are faster than switching sim cards and rebooting devices; it provides quicker access to devices. Many emulators are available at no cost.