Native or React – which is better?

9th September 2021


Smartphones in today’s times have become instruments of great utility. From being communication efficient to keeping lives connected, mobile phones are doing it all with great convenience.

With 6.4 billion smartphone users across the world believed to grow to 7.5 billion by 2026, with mobile web traffic accounting for 54.8% of global web traffic, which is a 79 percent jump in the last 6 years. With over 3.5 billion users log in through smartphones and tablets, if you are weighing up which route to take - native or hybrid for your mobile application, it’s understandable. But one thing is sure by now, that one has to have a mobile app in order to succeed.

We here help you make an informed decision in regards to the approach you wish to take when building a mobile app. Let’s start by stating few basics –

One needs to make a decision by understanding their users, time in hand, and market viability along with the budget to spare.

  • If you plan to entice your users by giving them athome like experience, by building a native app that fits into the platform of choice (Android or iOS)?
  • Or do you believe in getting out the door as soon possible with an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) approach and quickly build a hybrid app that is common for both platforms?

Kingpin - Customer Experience

Before we dig deeper into the world of Hybrid vs Native Mobile Apps, we need to understand ‘mobile phones are very personal devices.

Your smartphone or mobile device is with you, quite literally, all the time (even when asleep…alarm). And if this one thing is what you depend heavily on for, quite literally, everything, then it needs to be reliable, and responsive and giving you the answers as you need, and the experience should be smooth. Believe me, nobody has time for a bad user experience. User experience trumps everything else be it app or web.

Hybrid app's performance is subpar to native apps, but there are a lot of advantages to using a hybrid.

Native and Hybrid Apps — Quick Overview

A native app is an application specifically designed for a mobile operating system - for iOS or Android.

Meaning the applications ecosystem is mature and follows the technical specification and user experience guidelines of the specific Operating System. App’s performance with me faster and smoother, in-app interaction will be more consistent with other native apps on the device. Therefore, it will be easy for a user to navigate and use the app.

Another significant advantage of a native app is easy access and utilization of the built-in ability of the user’s device like camera, recorder, GPS, address book, etcetera. Native apps can also use device’s default app, reminder systems, or uses the device’s music app (the preloaded ones on the phone or tab)
In short, native apps are native to the user's OS, in the literal sense.

Hybrid applications on other hand are, primarily, websites packaged into a native wrapper. Hybrid apps are common for both IOS and Android.

Hybrid apps do look and feel like a native app, but being outside of the basic frame of the application reciprocates more like a company's website. Typically, with restricted controls and navigational elements which are fueled by a company’s website.

In other words, a website built on HTML5 and JavaScript, pushed in a native container is a Hybrid app, which loads most of the information on the page as the user navigates through the application, unlike Native apps which downloads most of the data when the user installs the app.


Time and Cost

In our experience, a mobile app is planned only when, when companies are either playing catch up with the competitors or have identified an untapped business opportunity.

Its undeniable, that a Native app will perform better, will have better security, and better user experience.

However, if time is money (even less than six months), then hybrid definitely is the better option. Hybrid apps can be built on single source code that can be released across platforms, thereby considerably decreasing development time and effort and therefore development cost as compared to that of native applications.

User Experience

Today’s app development is all about the user experience - “How a user can accomplish a task without thinking they’re in a new app?”

The psychology of a mobile user is straight, they do not want to go through the learning curve again, they do not want to absorb new features specific to certain apps. Meaning the application's visual cues, interactions, controls, etc must be seamlessly integrated.

Hybrid apps are platform agnostic. One UI, one code base — nice and simple. Additionally, you do not have to maintain two different code bases. But the trade-off is - the user experience.

Even the most brilliant app architect cannot really build an app that caters equally well to both the dominant IOS and Android users. Both have very different style guidelines where each decision must be weighed case-by-case on strategic and tactical grounds.

Dynamics and release Cycles

Another factor to consider is the company’s dynamics and release cycles, which primarily should depend on the nature of work.

If yours is an agile product or process which needs updating in short and frequent intervals or it’s the waterfall approach which is planned cyclically in say every 6 months.

Hybrid over Native

  • Hybrids need less development time and effort, hence could be played out faster.
  • Development and deployment of new features are easier with Hybrid apps.
  • Bug fixing is faster since they are platform agnostic.
  • There is no immediate difference a user will detect between a hybrid and a native app but the company will definitely detect cost difference.

If ‘fast foot forward' is your strategy to reaching out to 90% of all users (iOS and Android users together), then a hybrid application is what you are looking at.

Native over Hybrid

  • App performance and user experience are noticeably superior with a native app.
  • Native apps support an offline mode which means if a user attempts to access the app in no or poor reception area, they will be able to browse through the pre-downloaded data.
  • If in the future a company requires the app to access location, contact list, or other device-specific capabilities, a Native app can but for an Hybrid app, this may be possible at a steep development cost.


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