Browserstack vs SauceLabs: App & Browser Testing

This article provides a detailed comparison between two popular cloud-based device testing tools, Browserstack and SauceLabs, outlining their features, benefits, and pricing structures to aid readers in selecting the appropriate tool for their needs; it also introduces an alternative tool called Meticulous.

Kasper Siig
Kasper Siig
Cover Image for Browserstack vs SauceLabs: App & Browser Testing

From smartphones to tablets, desktops, and even wearables, technological progress transforms the testing environment, and the features required from testing tools. Browserstack and SauceLabs are two popular tools for cloud-based device testing, and in this article we break down each tool to provide the pros and cons of each, and help you decide which tool to incorporate into your toolstack. By the end, we’ll introduce another exciting alternative for you to consider.

What is Cloud-Based Device Testing?

Given the vast array of devices, operating systems, and browsers, ensuring consistent functionality across this extensive range, often termed "device diversity," is a monumental task. With cloud-based device testing, they can access a virtual collection of real devices, all hosted in the cloud—ultimately, this can provide developers with a number of benefits:

  • Unparalleled Coverage: Software is tested across a wide range of devices, browsers, and operating systems, delivering a user experience that's consistent, irrespective of the device or platform.
  • Economic Wisdom: Eliminates the need for a costly in-house device lab, offering testers access to the latest devices without the hefty price tag.
  • Accelerated Testing: Run tests concurrently across multiple devices, cloud-based testing reduces testing time, speeding up product launches.
  • Mimicking Reality: Either through emulation or by having real devices placed throughout the world, cloud-based tools can replicate or simulate real-world conditions.
  • Team Synergy: Given that teams might be spread across cities or even continents, cloud-based testing platforms act as a central hub, allowing teams to test, share insights, and debug together.
  • Future-Ready Scalability: As software evolves, cloud-based testing platforms adapt, ensuring that increasing testing needs are consistently met.

The Challenges Solved by Cloud-Based Testing

When developing a new application or a new feature, one of the main challenges is to ensure the app's user interface remains consistent across different screen sizes and resolutions. Moreover, functionalities like push notifications and real-time messaging must work seamlessly across various OS versions. This is where cloud-based testing platforms come in. With them, you can access a range of real devices, conduct simultaneous tests, and obtain immediate feedback, guaranteeing a uniform experience for all users.

However, each approach comes with its own set of unique challenges:

Testing Method Challenges
On-Premises Testing Significant investments required for infrastructure setup. Regular upgrades needed for equipment, machines, and software. Both virtual and physical storage areas may be required, leading to higher costs
Cloud Testing Potential issues with network latency affecting response times. Concerns about data safety and security. Integration challenges with different cloud providers. Potential for increased expenses if not managed properly
In-House Device Labs Limited coverage due to a restricted range of devices, browsers, or OS versions. Geographical limitations preventing testing from various locations. Time-consuming and resource-intensive setup and maintenance. High costs associated with constant device updates and lab maintenance

In the intricate world of software development, cloud-based device testing stands out as a cornerstone. It's not merely about ensuring software functionality; it's about assuring that every user, regardless of their device choice, receives a consistent, premium experience.

An Overview of Browserstack

Screenshot of Browserstack’s website

Central to BrowserStack is a clear and compelling mission: "Empower developers to build amazing experiences." The company remains steadfast in its dedication to providing premier software testing tools, ensuring developers and QA teams consistently deliver outstanding user experiences. With an ambition to become the "testing infrastructure of the Internet," BrowserStack is set to reshape quality assurance standards.

Browserstack Features: An Overview

Overview of Browserstack’s features

  • Manual Cross-Browser Testing (LIVE) allows developers and testers to manually assess their websites across various browsers and devices in real-time, ensuring websites render and function consistently, providing a seamless user experience.
  • Browser Automation Grid (AUTOMATE) provides a robust foundation for running automated browser tests across numerous browsers and operating systems, streamlining the testing process and leading to quicker feedback and releases.
  • Visual Testing and Review (PERCY) is a tool for visual consistency enabling visual comparisons of web pages across different browsers and devices, identifying visual discrepancies and ensuring a consistent visual narrative.
  • Manual Real Device Testing (APP LIVE) reflects BrowserStack's dedication to authenticity, this feature facilitates hands-on testing of mobile apps on actual devices, replicating genuine user interactions.
  • Real Device Automation Grid (APP AUTOMATE) allows automated testing of mobile apps on real devices, capturing an authentic portrayal of app performance.

Outside of the specific tools you can use, there are some common traits that can be found across Browserstack’s entire suite of features.

  • Extensive Coverage: One of BrowserStack's hallmark features is its comprehensive coverage, granting instant access to over 3000 browsers and real iOS and Android devices, ensuring thorough testing across a myriad of devices, browsers, and OS versions.
  • Unwavering Security: In today's climate of frequent data breaches, BrowserStack's commitment to security is paramount. Being SOC2 Type 2 compliant, it guarantees that testing processes and data are shielded from threats, alleviating concerns about cloud data security.
  • Integration with Leading Tools: To optimize the software development lifecycle, BrowserStack integrates smoothly with renowned tools such as Selenium, Jenkins, Slack, Appium, and more, ensuring it integrates seamlessly into existing workflows and boosts efficiency. In summary, BrowserStack's offerings underscore its dedication to quality, security, and efficiency. By presenting a range of tools tailored to diverse testing requirements, BrowserStack has established itself as an invaluable partner for developers and QA teams globally.

Pricing & Reviews

Browserstack pricing page

Browserstack offers a diverse range of plans tailored to specific needs. The plan you select largely hinges on the desired feature set. For those interested in the “Live” feature, the following plans are available:

Plan Price (billed annually) Key Features
Desktop $29/month 3000+ desktop browsers. Unlimited testing minutes. Localhost, staging, private website testing
Desktop & Mobile $39/month All features of Live. 20,000+ real iOS & Android devices. Mobile browsers
Team $150/month (for 5 users) All features of Desktop & Mobile. Collaborative debugging. Geolocation testing
Team Pro $199/month (for 5 users) All features of Team. 2FA with OTP/SMS. Test payments via Apple Pay and Google Pay
Enterprise Custom pricing All features of Team Pro. Advanced access control. Single sign-on. IP whitelisting
Freelancer $12.50/month Standard features
Open Source Free Standard features

For insights into user feedback, reviews on TrustRadius reveals that Browserstack enjoys a predominantly positive reception. However, some users have pointed out areas for improvement, particularly in performance, support, and configurability.

Criteria Rating (out of 10)
Likelihood to Renew 9.2
Usability 9.3
Availability 9.1
Performance 7.9
Support Rating 8
Implementation Rating 9.1
Configurability 8.2
Contract Terms and Pricing Model 9.1
Product Scalability 9.1
Professional Services 9.1
Vendor post-sale 9.1
Vendor pre-sale 9.1

SauceLabs' Testing Capabilities

Saucelabs test toolchain

SauceLabs has carved a niche for itself through unwavering determination and technological innovation. Initially, it honed in on testing for the Internet Explorer browser, addressing a significant challenge for developers globally. As the digital realm evolved, so did SauceLabs. In 2013, Adobe's decision to shut down its BrowserLab testing platform led to a nod in SauceLabs' direction, underscoring its growing prominence in the testing arena.

The accolades didn't end there. SauceLabs took the lead in supporting Automated Testing for Microsoft Edge and promptly extended its support to the Firebug plug-in for Mozilla Firefox. Financially, the firm experienced an uptick in investments during 2015 and 2016. This financial boost facilitated the acquisition of Test Object, a distinguished real device mobile app testing platform, in December 2016.

Further solidifying its industry standing, SauceLabs launched the Sauce plugin for Microsoft Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS) and unveiled the innovative SauceLabs Test Analytics. The company's unwavering commitment to excellence garnered it multiple accolades, including a spot among the top 100 fastest-growing private companies in the Bay Area in 2015 and 2017. Additionally, Forrester Research hailed Sauce Labs as the "developers’ choice for cross-browser and mobile testing in the cloud," an endorsement that underscores its prowess.

SauceLabs Features: An Overview

Overview of Saucelabs’ Features

  • Comprehensive Coverage: Sauce Labs distinguishes itself with its extensive range of testing environments. It ensures applications and websites maintain compatibility across the latest browser/OS combinations, mobile emulators, simulators, and real devices. This expansive coverage allows developers to test across diverse scenarios, mirroring a majority of user interactions.
  • Scalability for CI/CD: Aligned with contemporary development paradigms, SauceLabs is crafted with continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) workflows at its core. It promotes swift feedback, empowering development teams to adeptly manage multiple pull requests daily, guaranteeing both rapid and dependable software delivery.
  • Enhanced Efficiency with Debugging Tools: In today's accelerated development cycles, efficiency is paramount. SauceLabs boasts a range of debugging tools, encompassing videos, screenshots, and log files. It also provides in-depth analytics, live testing environments, and Sauce Headless for headless browser testing. These tools empower developers to swiftly pinpoint and address issues, accelerating iterations and elevating product quality.
  • Enterprise Security and Support: In an era where digital security is paramount, SauceLabs delivers top-notch protection. With single-use VMs and real devices subjected to stringent post-testing cleaning, data integrity remains uncompromised. Moreover, Sauce Connect offers a secure tunneling protocol, ensuring enterprise-level security concerns are thoroughly addressed.
  • Brief History and Background: While not a direct feature, grasping SauceLabs' storied history offers insights into its evolution and unwavering commitment to excellence. From its initial emphasis on Internet Explorer testing to accolades from industry stalwarts and its ongoing innovation, SauceLabs has consistently demonstrated its dedication to redefining the limits of cloud-based testing.

SauceLabs has carved a niche for itself as an indispensable ally for developers and QA teams worldwide. Its expansive coverage ensures optimal compatibility across a vast array of browser/OS combinations, mobile emulators, simulators, and real devices, reflecting the diverse interactions of users.

Pricing & Reviews

Saucelabs pricing page

In comparison to Browserstack, SauceLabs' pricing structure is refreshingly clear, pivoting on a credit-based model.

Plan Price Key Features
Free $0 2,000 free credits/week. Test on up to 10 devices in parallel
Monthly $50/month 25,000 credits/month. Test on up to 25 devices in parallel
Annual $600 per year 330,000 credits/year (including 30,000 bonus credits). Test on up to 50 devices in parallel
Enterprise Custom pricing Unlimited automated testing minutes. Private device cloud. Single sign-on (SSO)
Mobile Beta Testing $199/month (billed annually) 50 apps, 500 beta testers. 180 days data retention. 10,000 video sessions/month
Open Source Projects Free Standard features

While the TrustRadius page for SauceLabs doesn't offer as detailed scores as Browserstack, it indicates general user satisfaction with the product. However, it's noteworthy that there's a slight discrepancy between the modest 7.4 rating and the "key insights".

Attribute Insight
Overall Rating 7.3 out of 10
Total Reviews 286 Reviews and Ratings
Would Buy Again 91% of users would repurchase
Value for Price 100% believe it offers good value for the price
Feature Set Satisfaction 95% are satisfied with the feature set
Sales and Marketing Promises 100% affirm it met sales and marketing promises
Implementation Satisfaction 90% felt the implementation met expectations

Comparing Browserstack and SauceLabs

Both platforms offer robust testing capabilities, but selecting the right one requires careful consideration of specific needs and constraints.

Budgetary Constraints

For organizations where financial prudence is paramount, the cost of services significantly influences decisions. At first glance, BrowserStack's "Freelancer" plan, priced at $12.50/month, seems reasonable. However, its scope may not fully address the comprehensive testing demands of an expanding startup. Conversely, the "Desktop & Mobile" plan, at $39/month, offers a more encompassing testing environment, spanning both desktop and mobile platforms. While SauceLabs entices with a "Free" plan offering 2,000 credits weekly, it may prove inadequate for startups with rigorous testing needs. Their "Monthly" plan, priced slightly higher at $50/month, grants a substantial 25,000 credits, potentially aligning more closely with the expected testing frequency of a growing company.

Specific Testing Needs

There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all tool; choosing a tool requires careful consideration of a given tool’s feature set, compared to the challenges faced. For companies grappling with the following issues, the decision may look like:

  • Geolocation Testing: If the application delivers content tailored to the user's location.

BrowserStack offers geolocation testing in its "Team" plan and higher tiers.

SauceLabs doesn't provide clear information about geolocation testing in its listed plans.

  • Mobile App Testing: If there is a need to develop a mobile version of the application.

BrowserStack supports testing on real iOS & Android devices within its "Desktop & Mobile" package.

SauceLabs includes mobile testing, but further investigation is needed to understand the specific devices and configurations available.

  • Collaborative Debugging: If collaboration with a team for debugging sessions is a common practice.

BrowserStack introduces this feature in its "Team" package.

SauceLabs doesn't specify if collaborative debugging is part of its offerings.

The Verdict

Decisions, particularly in the startup realm, seldom present clear-cut answers. Theoretically, BrowserStack's "Desktop & Mobile" plan, priced at $39/month, aligns seamlessly with the prerequisites of geolocation and mobile app testing. The prospect of upgrading to the "Team" plan for enhanced collaborative debugging further elevates its appeal.

However, prudence dictates a cautious approach. The resolution to trial both platforms underscores this sentiment. After all, hands-on experience often unveils nuances that mere specifications overlook.

The Visual Testing Wildcard: Meticulous

Meticulous for visual regression testing

Although Browserstack and SauceLabs may be among the best options for cloud-based device testing, it’s important to note that there are many other aspects of visual testing to consider. For instance, nearly all tools on the market—even no-code tools—require some amount of maintenance. As long as your test suite requires you to configure tests in some capacity, maintenance is inevitable.

The only way of solving this, is by having the only aspect of configuration being instrumentation—enter Meticulous. This tool only requires you to install a simple Javascript snippet, after which Meticulous will record real user sessions. Then, by analyzing screenshots with pixel depth, you can be sure to catch any and all visual discrepancies.

All of this—combined with additional features found within Meticulous—lays the foundation for an efficient visual regression testing tool.

What’s the Right Choice for You?

Both platforms present a suite of tools tailored to streamline and elevate the testing experience for developers and QA professionals. However, picking one over the other requires a thorough understanding of their features, similarities, and distinctions.

Feature BrowserStack SauceLabs
Environment Extensive range of devices, browsers, and OS Extensive range of devices, browsers, and OS
Hosting Hosted on the cloud Hosted on the cloud
Integration Compatible with renowned CI/CD tools Compatible with renowned CI/CD tools
Mobile Testing Facilitates mobile testing on actual devices Facilitates mobile testing on actual devices
Pricing Model Transparent monthly pricing Operates on a credit-based system
Geolocation Testing Accessible in premium plans Not specifically highlighted
Collaborative Debugging Featured in the "Team" package Not specifically highlighted
Visual Testing Not a central offering Prioritizes visual testing (notably post-acquisition of Percy)

Different platforms resonate with different user segments. Startups might gravitate towards BrowserStack's "Desktop & Mobile" package, given its equilibrium of cost-effectiveness and exhaustive testing features. In contrast, larger corporations could favor SauceLabs for its adaptability, focus on visual testing, and seamless integrations. Solo developers or independent contractors may be inclined towards BrowserStack for its intuitive interface and the "Freelancer" package catering to fundamental testing requirements.


Meticulous is a tool for software engineers to catch visual regressions in web applications without writing or maintaining UI tests.

Inject the Meticulous snippet onto production or staging and dev environments. This snippet records user sessions by collecting clickstream and network data. When you post a pull request, Meticulous selects a subset of recorded sessions which are relevant and simulates these against the frontend of your application. Meticulous takes screenshots at key points and detects any visual differences. It posts those diffs in a comment for you to inspect in a few seconds. Meticulous automatically updates the baseline images after you merge your PR. This eliminates the setup and maintenance burden of UI testing.

Meticulous isolates the frontend code by mocking out all network calls, using the previously recorded network responses. This means Meticulous never causes side effects and you don’t need a staging environment.

Learn more here.

Authored by Kasper Siig

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Kasper Siig
Kasper Siig

Kasper is a seasoned technical professional with experience ranging from DevOps engineering to specialized content creation, currently leveraging his deep understanding of technology to lead Siig Marketing, a firm dedicated to crafting high-converting, developer-focused marketing content.

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