React Native vs Cordova vs Native app development – Which one to pick?

One of the hottest questions in today’s app development landscape is whether to go for native apps versus hybrid apps versus cross-platform apps. Native apps are usually faster, smoother, and provide more core user experience as compared to hybrid apps. On the other hand, hybrid apps bring more agility in the app development process but are not as performant as native apps.

Nowadays, in the app development ecosystem, there is a plethora of technologies and frameworks to develop native and hybrid apps. Amongst all, React Native and Apache Cordova are the most popular open source JavaScript-based frameworks used for this purpose. So, if you are confused which one you should pick up for your next app development project, then read the detailed comparison below to find all your answers.

As we are in the app development business for quite a long time now, we have developed many native and hybrid apps (our portfolio speaks for itself). However, we totally believe that native apps are always the best option as they are a lot faster, smoother, and provide a more native user interface and experience. However, hybrid apps are most suitable for large platforms like Facebook and Uber.

Read Here: How to Make an App Like Uber

Before comparing React Native to Cordova to Native app development, let’s first see how they work:

React Native:

React Native is based on React (a JavaScript framework) to design apps UI using JavaScript. It supports both Android and iOS to develop hybrid apps. Basically, React Native apps don’t use WebViews to render the app UI as in Cordova. A JavaScript interpreter is embedded to run only the JS code of the app.


Cordova is another open source JavaScript framework to design hybrid apps. Cordova apps use WebViews to render the user interface of the app. Cordova also allows developers to use latest web technologies like HTML5, JS, etc. to design apps for Android, iOS, and Windows.  

Native app development:

In native app development, platform-specific coding languages and tools are used to build apps with a fluid and responsive user interface with fast performance.

Now, let’s compare React Native to Cordova to Native App development and see in which areas do they excel than others:

React Native Cordova Native App Development
Performance Apps developed using React Native are faster than Cordova apps but
slower than native ones.
Cordova apps are just Webviews which makes them sluggish and less
Native apps are fastest and most responsive.
Supported Platforms Android and iOS Android, iOS and Microsoft UWP Platform specific.
Interaction with device core components React Native renders the UI written in HTML as native components which
make the app interaction with the core device components faster.
Interaction with core device components is slower as compared to React
Native apps.
Native apps directly interact with the device hardware components which
makes them the fastest.
Native user experience HTML (GUI) code of the React Native app is loaded as native UI elements
which give users a better native user experience.
Webviews of the Cordova mobile apps have a less native user interface as
compared to React Native apps.
Native apps provide the best device experience to users.
Maturity React Native is less mature than Cordova in terms of the number of
available plugins.
Cordova is more stable than React Native. Whether it is Android or iOS, Native app development is now around for
so many years and is most stable as compared to other two hybrid app
development technologies.
Backward compatibility Little support for old platforms. React Native doesn’t support iOS 7. Better support for old platforms. Best support for old platforms.
Debugging The UI of a React Native app is debugged in the application itself and
the JavaScript is debugged in the Chrome Developer Console. While
debugging a React native app, the device only needs to be connected for
the very first time only. After that, the debugging process can be done
over a LAN. Also, debugging of React Native apps is simpler and easier
than debugging of Cordova apps.
In Cordova apps, the UI and JavaScript are debugged in the Chrome
Developer Console. While debugging a Cordova app, your device needs to
be connected to the system.
There are specific IDE tools are designed for debugging the native apps
like Android Studio for Android development and Xcode for iOS
development. These IDE tools are used to debug apps using simulators or
real devices.
Portability In React Native, there is a less code reuse as compared to Cordova. You
have to almost reimplement code for different platforms.
Apache Cordova code written for one platform can be easily ported to a
different platform without much of any headaches.
In native app development, you have to completely re architecture the
app to make it run on a non-native platform.
When to use? Use React Native when you want to develop cross-platform apps with a
more native feel and faster performance.
Cordova is best suited when you want to quickly convert your web
application into a cross-platform but it comes with a cost of less
native feel and slow performance.
Native app development is best suited for any scenario and even if you
are looking to implement the idea on multiple platforms. However, it is
advised to test your idea on a single platform first and then expand to
other platforms based on its performance.

Based on the comparison table, we recommend React Native if you want to build hybrid apps with fast performance and native UI appearance. But, in that case, you won’t be able to reuse much of the source code to port the app to a different OS. Cordova solves this problem is also a good option if you are looking for code reusability factor while targeting multiple mobile platforms at once but it comes at the cost of user experience.

In a nutshell, it totally depends on the project requirements before picking up a technology stack for hybrid apps. When it comes to native app development, there are standard IDEs and coding languages to build apps for a specific platform like Android Studio for Android (Java/Kotlin) and Xcode for iOS (Objective-C/Swift).

In order to decide which type of app you should get developed, you can use this formula: if the major part of the source code, then at the front end and not in the backend goes for native apps otherwise opt for hybrid apps. Once you have decided which type of app to get developed, you can then choose the perfect set of tools and technologies to begin the development work.

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Sudeep Bhatnagar
Co-founder & Director of Business
Sudeep Bhatnagar

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