React Native vs Native: What to choose for App Development

By admin 19 Min Read

The debate on React native vs native development has been trending for several years now and experts in the industry have not gotten over it.

Statistics show that both platforms have a large user base as they serve unique purposes in the app development industry. However, we feel there is a need to clear the air and putting both tools side by side on different categories will help in telling which is better in certain situations.

This blog is for beginners, expert developers, knowledge seekers and tech-savvy people who are either seeking knowledge or want to improve their decision-making in the app development world.

Read our related blog on React Native vs Flutter.

What is React Native?

React Native is an open-source framework by Facebook that allows developers to build mobile applications using JavaScript and React. It enables the creation of natively rendered mobile apps for both iOS and Android platforms using a single codebase.

Instead of building separate apps for each platform, React Native software allows developers to write code once and deploy it across multiple platforms. This is achieved with reusable components and a bridge that connects the JavaScript code with the native components of the respective mobile operating systems.

React Native applications are not entirely written in JavaScript; they contain a mix of JavaScript and native code. The JavaScript code handles the application logic and user interface, while the native code takes care of rendering the app’s components and accessing device features like the camera or GPS.

What are Native Apps?

Native apps are mobile applications that are developed specifically for a particular mobile operating system. This includes iOS (for Apple devices) or Android (for Android devices). These apps are built using the programming languages and development tools provided by the respective platform vendors.

For iOS apps, developers use programming languages like Swift or Objective-C, along with Apple’s Xcode development environment. Android apps, on the other hand, are typically built using Java or Kotlin programming languages and the Android Studio development environment provided by Google.

Native apps have direct access to the device’s hardware and software capabilities, allowing them to leverage the full range of features and functionalities offered by the platform.

This includes accessing the camera, GPS, accelerometer, and other sensors, as well as integrating with platform-specific services and APIs.

React Native vs Native: Why Choose Between React Native and Native Apps?

The decision to choose between React Native and native app development depends on several factors. The factors may include, project requirements, development resources and business goals.

Why You May Choose React Native

  • React Native offers a compelling advantage in terms of code reusability. It allows developers can write a single codebase across multiple platforms. This leads to faster development cycles and reduced maintenance costs.
  • Also, React Native allows developers to leverage the existing ecosystem of JavaScript libraries and tools. With this, it reduces the learning curve for web developers transitioning to mobile app development.

Why You May Choose Native Apps

  • Native app development provides superior performance and access to range of platform-specific features and APIs.
  • Native apps can take full advantage of the latest hardware and software updates, ensuring optimal user experience and functionality.

However, this approach typically requires more development resources, as separate codebases need to be maintained for each platform.

If you want to chose between React Native and native app development, it will be best to consider a number of things. These are;

  1. The specific requirements of the project
  2. The available development resources
  3. The desired balance between cross-platform compatibility, performance, and access to native features.

React Native vs Native App Development: Deeper Analysis

Let us do a comparative of React Native Software and native apps to give you a deeper understanding of their differences.

A.   React Native App Development Process

· Advantages of React Native:

One of the primary advantages of React Native is that it allows developers to write a single codebase that can be shared across multiple platforms, including iOS and Android.

This approach significantly speeds up the development process, as developers don’t need to create separate codebases for each platform.

Additionally, it’s reusable components and the ability to leverage existing JavaScript libraries can further accelerate the development cycle.

· The Drawbacks of React Native Software

While React Native aims to provide a native-like experience, there may be instances where its performance or access to certain device features is limited compared to native apps.

This is because React Native apps rely on a bridge that communicates with the native components, which can introduce some overhead and potential bottlenecks.

Native App Development Process

·  The Advantages of Native

Native apps are built using platform-specific programming languages and tools. These are mostly, Swift or Objective-C for iOS and Java or Kotlin for Android.

This approach ensures enable full leveraging of the hardware and software capabilities of different platforms. It results in superior performance and seamless access to all device features like the camera, sensors, and APIs.

· The Drawbacks of Native Apps

Developing native apps typically requires more time and resources. it takes more time because it requires separate codebases to maintain each platform.

This leads to longer development cycles and increased maintenance costs, especially for projects that target multiple platforms.

B. Performance and User Experience

· React Native Performance

While React Native provides a native-like experience, its performance may be slightly slower than native apps. This is especially true for those that involve intensive graphics or computations. However, for most common use cases, the performance difference is often negligible to end-users.

· Native App Performance

Native apps are built with platform-specific languages and tools which enables high performance and functions. If you are considering it for computational tasks or graphics, it works too well.

· User Experience with React Native Apps

React Native apps also offer enhanced user experience, leveraging platform-specific UI components and gestures. However, there may be instances where the user experience deviates slightly from a true native app due to the limitations of the framework.

·  User Experience with Native Apps

Native apps offer the most authentic and consistent user experience for their respective platforms. They adhere to the platform’s design guidelines and can fully leverage the latest features and updates provided by the operating systems. With this, it ensures a seamless and familiar experience for users.

C. Cost Considerations

· React Native App Development Cost

Developing a React Native app typically has lower upfront costs compared to native app development. This is due to the ability to share a single codebase across multiple platforms, reducing the need for separate development teams and resources for each platform.

· Native App Development Cost

Native app development generally comes with higher costs, as separate codebases and development teams are required for each platform.

 Additionally, the maintenance and updates for native apps can be more expensive due to the need to manage multiple codebases simultaneously.

Use our app calculator to calculator the cost of mobile app development.

D. Learning Curves

Learning React Native

For developers with experience in JavaScript and React, the learning curve for React Native is relatively gentle.

Developers can leverage their existing knowledge of these technologies and adapt to the React Native framework and its specific APIs and components.

Learning Native Development

Learning native app development typically involves a steeper learning curve. Developers need to become proficient in platform-specific programming languages and development environments. For example, iOS app development requires knowledge of Swift or Objective-C and Xcode, while Android app development involves Java or Kotlin and Android Studio.

React Native vs Native: Choosing the Right Approach for Your Project  

When deciding between React Native and Native app development, it’s crucial to consider various factors that align with your project’s requirements and goals.

Here are some key considerations:

  • Performance and Speed
  • User Experience and Design
  • Development Time and Cost
  • Access to Native Features
  • Code Reusability
  • Community Support and Ecosystem
  • Maintenance and Updates
  • Scalability and Flexibility

Performance and Speed

Comparing the performance and speed between React Native and Native apps is essential, as it directly impacts the user experience.

Native apps generally have a performance advantage over React Native apps, especially in computationally intensive tasks or graphics-heavy applications.

However, the performance difference may be negligible for many common use cases. The impact of performance and speed on user experience should be carefully evaluated based on the specific app requirements.

User Experience and Design

User experience and design are critical factors in mobile app development, as they determine the app’s usability and overall appeal to users.

While React Native apps strive to provide a native-like experience, Native apps can offer a more authentic and consistent user experience. The app adhers to the platform’s design guidelines and fully leverage the features and updates of the operating systems.

Development Time and Cost

The development time and cost can vary significantly between React Native and Native approaches.

React Native typically has a faster development cycle and lower upfront costs due to the ability to share a single codebase across multiple platforms.

Native app development, often requires more time and resources, as separate codebases and development teams are needed for each platform.

Access to Native Features

One of the key advantages of Native app development is full access to the device’s hardware and software capabilities, such as the camera, GPS, sensors, and platform-specific APIs.

On the other hand, React Native provides access to many native features, there may be limitations or additional complexities in certain scenarios. Evaluating the specific native features required for your app can help determine the most suitable approach.

Code Reusability

React Native’s ability to share a single codebase across multiple platforms is a significant advantage in terms of code reusability. This can lead to reduced development and maintenance costs, as well as faster iterations and updates.

In contrast, Native app development requires separate codebases for each platform, which can increase complexity and maintenance efforts.

Community Support and Ecosystem

Both React Native and Native app development have active communities and ecosystems, providing resources, libraries, and tools to support developers.

React Native benefits from the vast JavaScript and React ecosystem, while Native app development has robust support from platform vendors like Apple and Google.

The availability of community support and third-party libraries can significantly impact the development process and long-term maintainability of the app.

Maintenance and Updates

Maintaining and updating apps is an ongoing process, and the approach taken influences the complexity and cost of this process.

Update in React Native apps are easier across multiple platforms by updating the shared codebase. However, Native apps may require separate updates and maintenance efforts for each platform, potentially increasing the workload and costs over time.

Scalability and Flexibility

As your app grows and evolves, scalability and flexibility become crucial considerations.

React Native apps have an advantage in terms of scalability because the codebase can be extended and reused across platforms.

However, Native apps can offer greater flexibility in integrating platform-specific features and optimizations, potentially providing a more tailored experience for each platform.

By carefully evaluating these factors in the context of your project’s requirements, objectives, and available resources, you can make an informed decision on whether to choose React Native or Native app development for your project.

React Native vs Native: When to Choose React Native?

React Native can be an excellent choice for app development in various scenarios. Here are some situations where choosing React Native might be advantageous:

  • Cross-platform compatibility:

If you need to develop an app for both iOS and Android platforms simultaneously, React Native is a reliable tool.

It can share a single codebase across multiple platforms significantly reducing development time and costs.

  • Rapid prototyping and MVP development:

React Native’s fast development cycle and reusable components make it an ideal choice for quickly building and iterating.

This approach allows you to validate your app idea and gather user feedback early in the development process.

  • Resource constraints:

If you have limited development resources, React Native’s code reusability and lower upfront costs come to the rescue. This makes it a more feasible option compared to building separate native apps for each platform.

  • Leveraging web development expertise:

It is recommended if your development team has extensive experience with JavaScript and web technologies like React. The reason is that the transition to React Native can be smoother, as it follows similar principles and patterns.

  • Simple or moderately complex apps:

When dealing with applications that don’t require intensive use of device-specific features or have moderate complexity, React Native Software stands out. It serves as a good balance between development efficiency and performance.

  • Focus on user interface and functionality:

If your app’s primary focus is on providing a visually appealing user interface and core functionality, rather than heavily relying on platform-specific features or hardware optimization, React Native can be a suitable choice.

  • Rapid iteration and frequent updates:

React ability to update the shared codebase and deploy updates across multiple platforms simultaneously can be beneficial for apps that require frequent updates or rapid iteration cycles.

It’s important to note that while React Native can be a powerful solution in many cases, it may not be the best fit for apps that require the following;

  • Extensive platform-specific customizations,
  • Intensive graphics
  • Intensive computations
  • Deep integration with device-specific hardware and apis.

In such cases, native app development might be a better choice.

React Native vs Native: When to Choose Native Development

While React Native offers many advantages, there are scenarios where native app development may be the more suitable choice.

  • Performance-critical applications:

If your app requires high-performance graphics, intensive computations, or real-time processing, go for native apps. Native app development can provide better performance optimization and access to low-level hardware resources.

  • Extensive use of device-specific features:

Also, any app that heavily relies on platform-specific features should be built on native app development platform.

  • Strict compliance with platform guidelines:

Some industries or use cases may require strict adherence to platform-specific design guidelines and user experience standards. In such cases, native app development can ensure full compliance and a consistent user experience across the platform.

  • Advanced graphics and gaming:

Furthermore, when an application involves complex 3D graphics, gaming engines, or high-performance animation, native app development may be the more suitable choice.

This is largely because it can provide better access to platform-specific graphics libraries and optimizations.

  • Access to cutting-edge technologies:

Still on native app considerations, when you are sure that your app needs to take advantage of the latest platform-specific technologies or APIs as soon as they become available, native app development is your sure plug.  It allows for faster integration and adoption of these new features.

  • Long-term maintenance and scalability:

Does your mobile app have a long lifespan, with frequent updates and the need for scalability? Consider choosing native app development, if yes. The software can provide better long-term flexibility and control over the codebase, as well as easier integration with platform-specific updates and optimizations.

So far in this blog post, we dived into the important aspects of the debate; React Native vs Native development. We do hope you have gained extensive knowledge of the topic and can now make better decisions.

If you need any type of assistance, reach out to us and we will offer you the best.

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