React.Native vs Ionic: Choosing Mobile Hybrid Frameworks

Feb 11, 2019

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Mobile app development

Hybrid mobile app development is on trend right now, and those with credible experience in the industry have all the chances of becoming successful and profitable software development companies. More and more enterprises adopt mobile technologies and incorporate apps into traditional ways of conducting business, thus changing the face of industrial work flows and the future with it.

Saving time and money is usually one of the reasons companies choose to switch to hybrid mobile app development platforms, which can backfire when fixing problems takes up way too much time. No wonder that a multitude of platforms and tools are being introduced on a regular basis, creating an increasingly competitive environment and a wide selection range. A wise choice depends on the deep consideration of the available budget, development capabilities, your vision of the app, your requirements, etc.

Hybrid mobile app development makes life easier for application development firms since they can create apps with efficient cross-platform (iOS, Android) performance. The app development process is faster and simpler in this case, which saves you money and time, since you need to develop a single app instead of several native apps. Sure enough, it becomes a profitable business. For example, as the Markets And Markets research suggests, the popularity of the cross-platform app market is experiencing a rapid growth and is estimated to increase from $25.19 Billion in 2015 reaching $80.45 Billion in 2020. The current trend suggests that we will face the popularity war between React.Native and Ionic.

React.Native and Ionic

No doubt these two players have great coding languages, but let’s see in detail what’s so special about each platform and how we can use them to the full extent.

Please meet React.Native

React.Native is an emerging open source platform and arguably the future of hybrid mobile app development. It is maintained by a community of expert React.Native developers and leading corporations, including Facebook and Instagram. It helps mobile app developers to reuse the code already existing in any Android or iOS app.

The list of the platform’s advantages is quite long. Let’s just focus on the most prominent ones.

  • The possibility to reuse existing codes is one of the key advantages attributed to React.Native. In some cases, code reuse may be up to 95 % which considerably speeds up the development process and cuts costs.
  • React.Native apps are similar to native ones in their behavior and user interface (UI) due to the use of platform-specific UI building blocks. In a certain sense React.Native occupies its niche in the mobile development sector: it is more suitable for those cases when the speed of native applications is a priority rather than their complexity.
  • The development process is easy and convenient. To proceed with development, a programmer should have experience in writing JavaScript codes and know React. In any case, to present a quality Android or iOS product, specific experience is required. The platforms have many similar and specific features, which result in a relatively high risk of confusion during development. In other words, React.Native is easy and convenient, if the developer understands what he or she is dealing with and which results are expected.
  • Cross-platform performance and ease of development reduce time required for implementation of the project (if compared with native development). Support on the part of the extensive community of React developers also contributes to this factor: there are a multitude of readily available plugins to be used in React.Native. Their use simplifies the developer’s efforts as well.
  • Good compatibility with native code components of the application allows, on the one hand, to add native components into React.Native apps, if you need better efficiency. On the other hand, it is possible to use React.Native components in native apps to add certain functions for both platforms (iOS and Android) at the same time (as is the case with Instagram).

Let’s see the other side of the coin. A bunch of drawbacks come with this acclaimed technology as well.

  • It has been initially created for iOS, and components for Android may require some additional efforts on your part.
  • The technology suits best for developing simple apps. It loses its competitive advantage, if you need complex platform-specific features and the React.Native plugin doesn’t ensure this functionality.
  • There is a need for native development skills, and the developer may need to look into components written with the use of ObjectiveC/Swift or Java.
  • You may need additional time to get familiarized with React, JSX (if you don’t have work experience with ReactJS) and the generally different approach to writing programs.
  • Performance of apps built with React.Native still drags behind the native app’s performance due to the bridge between native components and the business logic.

Please welcome the Ionic framework

Ionic is based on Angular. This framework enables developers to create hybrid mobile apps with the help of such web technologies like HTML5, CSS, and Sass. Apps then distributed via native app stores and installed on devices by leveraging Cordova.

Why don’t we highlight its strongest advantages?

  • When it comes to Ionic, you don’t have to spend much time with native languages or other platform-specific issues. Native-styled UI components are in abundance, as are interactive paradigms, mobile components, typography, etc., thus making the development cycle shorter.
  • Preset templates and a variety of third-party starter kits facilitate fast prototyping with Ionic.
  • A frontend developer is familiar with a set of applied technologies, which significantly reduces time for completing the task.
  • The created app runs on all popular platforms (iOS, Android, Windows, Desktop, Web, and PWA), generating cross-platform functionality with slight code variations.
  • The app looks equally well on different platforms and devices.

What about the dark side of the moon?

  • Ionic demonstrates some performance issues in case of numerous callbacks sent to the native code. Web technologies used to render an application considerably reduce the speed. In addition, Ionic doesn’t use native components, but rather tries to recreate native behavior using web technologies.
  • The development of advanced interactive or graphics transitions can turn out into a difficult task.
  • Styles are changed by default to be compatible with an app template, thus increasing time costs for app development and testing on different platforms and devices.
  • Use of browser entails a prolonged app loading and a deteriorated responsiveness at the CPU load due to the browser shell used to imitate behavior of each platform.
  • Native UI look is gone when you use Ionic. The app will look pretty much the same no matter what platform/device it runs on.


React.Native vs. Ioinic

And the Oscar goes to…

Who’s the fairest of them all at the end of the day?

In general, one cannot say that a certain framework is better or worse. To put it simply, they are just different. The choice depends on your goals, requirements, cost, time, team size and expertise, and platforms. Most companies are searching for a software development company which would deliver apps as fast as they can. The budget may be a secondary factor, and speedy delivery of a quality app ¾ number one for the client.

Of course, the best and easiest recommendation here would be to test those two options and see which is the best framework for hybrid mobile app development in your particular case.

In general, Ionic can be recommended for fast development of mobile app prototypes, whilst React.Native suits more for full development of ready solutions. React.Native is ideal for apps with a native taste which may cost you higher than hybrid mobile app development with Ionic.

Contact us at for more expertise on React.Native. More information is here.

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