React Native Functions


Choosing Your Path: React Native vs. Native Development – Which One to Pick?

In the arena of mobile app development, the “React Native vs. Native development” debate continues to resonate amongst developers and business owners alike. Choosing the right development framework is no simple task, with the decision having far-reaching implications on the final product’s performance, development time, and overall user experience. Whether to hire React Native developers or a native development team is often a challenging decision to make.

Choosing Your Path: React Native vs. Native Development - Which One to Pick?

Let’s dive deep into these two popular development paths – React Native, a hybrid approach that may motivate you to hire React Native developers, and Native Development, the traditional method – and understand their strengths and weaknesses through practical examples. By the end of this blog, you should have a clear idea of which approach is better suited to your needs and consequently make an informed decision about whether to hire React Native developers or opt for a native development team.

Understanding the Basics

Before we delve into specifics, let’s begin by defining what React Native and Native Development entail.

React Native is an open-source mobile application framework created by Facebook. It enables developers to use JavaScript and React along with native platform capabilities to build mobile applications. The primary advantage of React Native is its ability to create applications for both iOS and Android using a single codebase, saving both time and resources.

Native Development, on the other hand, refers to the process of building apps for specific operating systems. Android apps are traditionally developed using Java or Kotlin, while iOS apps are developed using Objective-C or Swift. The primary advantage of native development is the ability to leverage all the features and performance benefits offered by a specific platform.

Example 1: Performance

Performance is one of the major differences between React Native and Native Development. 

Native Development shines when it comes to performance. Native apps have direct access to device features and the device’s hardware. This results in better performance, faster load times, and smoother animations. A quintessential example of native development is the ‘Apple Health’ app on iOS devices. This app collects data from your iPhone, Apple Watch, and apps that you already use, and then intelligently showcases all your health data in one place. The app runs flawlessly, providing a high-end user experience with smooth animations, which can be attributed to native development.

React Native, though not as performance-intensive as native apps, can still provide more than adequate performance for most applications. A real-world example of a successful app built using React Native is Facebook’s own Instagram. Instagram’s performance on both iOS and Android platforms is impressive, and it’s challenging to tell that it was built using a cross-platform framework.

Example 2: Code Reusability and Development Time

React Native takes the crown when it comes to code reusability and shorter development time. As previously mentioned, React Native allows developers to use the same codebase for both iOS and Android platforms. An excellent example of this is the ‘Bloomberg’ app, which provides global business and finance news. Bloomberg was entirely re-engineered using React Native, which resulted in improved app performance and faster load times. Furthermore, the development team was able to accelerate product development by sharing 85-90% of code between iOS and Android.

Native Development, in contrast, requires separate codebases for each platform. This approach increases development time and requires more resources. However, the ‘Waze’ navigation app exemplifies how this approach can be beneficial. Developed natively for Android and iOS, Waze is known for its real-time, user-generated reports and quick, accurate routes. This high level of precision and efficiency can be attributed to the app’s deep integration with native features.

Example 3: User Interface and User Experience (UI/UX)

In terms of UI/UX, Native Development tends to have an edge. Native apps can fully leverage the UI features of the platforms for which they’re developed. This allows them to have a look and feel that’s consistent with the platform, and hence more intuitive for the user. Snapchat, for instance, built with native development, has a distinctive and smooth UI, making use of numerous native elements to provide a seamless user experience.

React Native, while not as optimal as Native Development in terms of UI/UX, still delivers a high-quality user experience. Apps developed using React Native can share a large portion of their UI code across platforms, leading to a consistent look and feel. An example of this is Airbnb, which used React Native for a significant portion of its app. Although Airbnb eventually moved away from React Native, the app delivered a robust and consistent user experience across platforms during its use.

Example 4: Access to Native Features

When it comes to access to device-specific features, Native Development is the clear winner. This is particularly important for apps that rely heavily on device hardware or platform-specific APIs. Uber, the ride-hailing giant, for instance, needs precise GPS, real-time updates, and smooth map rendering, for which native development is more suitable.

On the other hand, React Native apps have access to native features, but this is done via ‘bridges’ which can impact performance. However, many apps, such as Facebook, manage to offer a vast array of features with React Native. For instance, Facebook integrates features like geo-tagging, camera utilities, and real-time notifications, providing a user experience almost identical to that of a native app.

Example 5: Community and Support

When it comes to community support, both React Native and Native Development have active communities that contribute to their respective ecosystems. 

React Native benefits from the extensive JavaScript and React communities. The framework is maintained by Facebook and has a vast number of contributors on GitHub, constantly improving the framework and building third-party plugins. An example of an app benefitting from this active community is the ‘Discord’ app. React Native’s robust community and continuous updates have helped Discord maintain its status as a top communication platform for gamers.

Native Development, on the other hand, has dedicated communities for each platform. These include the Android Developer community and the iOS Developer community. Google and Apple maintain and provide resources for their respective platforms, which greatly aids developers. ‘Google Maps’, for instance, is a classic example of a native app where frequent updates, improvements, and new features are pushed regularly, thanks in part to the vibrant native developer community and support from Google itself.

Example 6: Flexibility and Scalability

In terms of flexibility and scalability, both React Native and Native Development can be used to build scalable apps, but the approach differs.

With React Native, the flexibility comes from being able to push over-the-air updates without needing to go through the app store review process, thanks to libraries like Microsoft’s CodePush. Also, JavaScript’s dynamism allows for high flexibility. An example of this is the ‘Skype’ app. Microsoft has leveraged the flexibility of React Native to continuously improve the app and push regular updates, enhancing its features and user experience.

In contrast, Native Development provides scalability through access to lower-level code. Native apps can handle more complex computations and manage resources more efficiently. ‘LinkedIn’, developed natively, is a testament to this. Despite the high amount of data processing and complex functionalities, LinkedIn runs smoothly, thanks to the efficient resource management provided by native development.

Example 7: Cost of Development

Developing with React Native generally requires less time and fewer resources, primarily because of the shared codebase, translating to lower development costs. ‘SoundCloud Pulse’, an application for creators that allows them to manage their accounts and keep their community humming, was developed using React Native. By choosing React Native, SoundCloud was able to keep development costs lower without compromising on functionality.

On the other hand, Native Development might require a higher initial investment since you need separate developers for each platform (iOS and Android). However, the cost can be justified for complex applications needing platform-specific features and top-notch performance. A prime example would be ‘Pokemon Go’, which is a highly complex app that interacts with the device’s GPS, camera, and gyroscope. The game’s exceptional success is worth the higher development costs associated with native development.

Conclusion: React Native vs. Native Development

Choosing between React Native and Native Development is dependent on multiple factors such as the complexity of the app, the resources available, the required development speed, and the specific features the app needs.

If you require an app with high performance, intricate use of native features, and platform-specific UI/UX, native development is the way to go. 

However, if you’re aiming to quickly develop an app for both iOS and Android, and performance is not your primary concern, React Native offers an efficient, cost-effective solution. In this case, you may want to consider hiring React Native developers. They can leverage the cross-platform benefits of React Native to expedite the development process.

Remember, the goal isn’t to choose between React Native and Native Development based on their standalone merits but to select one that aligns best with your project’s specific needs. Whether you choose to hire React Native developers or opt for a native development team, making an informed decision will pave the way for your app’s success!

Previously at
Flag Argentina
time icon
Experienced Lead Software Developer specializing in React Native solutions, 5 years of expertise, with proven team leadership.