Emulators v/s Simulators


A simulation is basically a system which is made to behave same as the other as prescribed to its instructions. The process of implementation using this system is totally different as it allots the general behavior to a system, which does not essentially adhere to every rules of a system which is simulated. It lays down the procedure to the user describing about how a system functions.

For example, just think of some flight simulator. It generally looks and even feels as you are actually flying in an airplane, but in reality you are totally disconnected from it. You may bend or break those rules which seem harsh to tackle as nobody sees you. Likewise, it is done by flying an Airbus A380 model upside down between the destinations of London and Sydney without breaking it.


Emulation is a process of a system that imitates to the behavior or functioning of a computer or electronic system. It follows all the rules of the particular system that is being emulated. It works by replicating the functioning of the other system; ensuring that the binary function is compatible with the inputs and outputs of the emulated system. It operates although in a different environment against the environment of original emulated system. Here the rules are fixed and hence cannot be broken in any condition.

For example The MAME system is mainly built on this system. Thus, all the old arcade systems which were long forgotten, that were used to be implemented for almost all hardware, even the firmware of the hardware systems. These can now be emulated right down to their original bugs and crashes which may appear when a system reaches its highest possible score.

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Basic differences

  • An emulator is a basic application which can emulate the real mobile device hardware, software and even operating systems. It allows you to check and debug the applications. Whereas a simulator is not that complex application. It simulates the internal behavior of a system, but cannot emulate the hardware and operating system.
  • Emulator is generally provided by device manufacturers whereas a simulator can be made by the device manufacturer or also by some other company.
  • Emulators are created in machine-level assembly languages in general whereas, simulators are in high level languages.
  • Emulators are very beneficial for debugging whereas Simulators cannot handle the debugging work.
  • Mobile Emulator and Simulator generally perform twin functions, and both the terms are used interchangeably.

Reasons of Emulators used more as compared to simulators are given below:

  • Mobile emulators are usually free and given as part of the SDK with every new OS release.
  • Simple Emulators are very easy to download and install. Multiple emulators are also run in much straight forward style.
  • Emulator is very helpful in providing a convenient way for the step-by-step debugging procedure of your applications to be tested.
  • Emulators make it easy to test web applications.
  • It basically exposes all the faults and defects that are caused by the handset itself or environment.
  • The major best practices points to the fact that the actual development must use emulators (simulators are a bad option if chosen), although the sanity and regression testing can be preferred to be done on real handsets.

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