React Native vs. Ionic Explained: A Step-by-Step Evaluation

Take a look at eye-opening statistics of the number of smartphone users worldwide from 2014 to 2020.

smartphone users worldwide from 2014 to 2020

Image Credit: Statista

The number of smartphone users is predicted to grow by 2.87 billion in 2020. As you can see above, the number is expected to surpass the five billion mark by 2019.

Mobile app development is a talk of town everywhere and the number of mobile apps is increasing at a rapid pace in app stores. More and more organizations are adopting mobility and capitalizing on mission-critical mobile apps to expand the business. In order to meet the ever-changing business needs, there is a multitude of technologies and platforms are being introduced frequently. It also becomes a point of debate to choose the right technology to accomplish objectives.

Here, in this article, we will discuss the most popular frameworks – React Native and Ionic to help you understand the primary differences between these two frameworks along with their key features and drawbacks.

Before we start, here’s something important you should consider. Ionic is a framework for hybrid mobile app development and React Native is a cross-platform framework to build native apps.

Hybrid Mobile Apps vs. Native Apps: A Popular Debate

Native apps are built in a specific language for a specific platform. For example, when you write code in Objective C for the iOS platform or use Java for Android, then the application is called as a native app. The main advantage of native app development is a superior performance.  Contradictory to this, hybrid applications are web applications which use web technologies such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to develop an application. To provide native experience and access native features of Android, iOS, or any other platform, it uses PhoneGap/Cordova platforms.

Which One Should You Choose: Ionic or React Native?

React Native vs Ionic Comparison Detailed

Let’s explore each framework in detail so you can easily decide when to use which framework.

Ionic Framework: Better Performance And Elegant Design

Ionic, launched 5 years ago by Drifty.co, is a standard framework for hybrid mobile app development. It allows web developers to build apps for the majority of the platforms using a single code base. It leverages web technologies such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript and platforms like PhoneGap/Cordova to deliver the native-like experience.

It is one of the widely popular frameworks to build feature-rich, modern and elegant apps.

React Native Framework: Build Native Apps Using React

Developed by the Facebook community, React Native is a cross-platform framework based on JavaScript technology. It enables developers to build enhanced and native-like apps using a single code base. The aim of this framework is to build first-rate native application experiences using JavaScript and React.

Facebook uses React Native development most in various apps and it has a dedicated community to make React Native a more advanced tool.

What Are The Key Difference – React Native vs. Ionic?

  • Technology Stack:

Ionic offers complete SDK to build hybrid apps, while the goal of React Native is to leverage “learn once, write anywhere” theory. React Native adopts the native behavior and standards of the platforms and hence, gives seamless native experience. Here, the advantage is that it gives a complete focus on user interfaces with the help of native UI components.

If we talk about Ionic, it embraces the power of classic web technologies to build multi-functional, multi-platform apps with the minimum code base. Furthermore, it is built on top of Angular (don’t confuse as Ionic 2 is a complete rewrite of the original Ionic framework).

So, if you are familiar with Angular, it is comfortable for you to start with an Ionic framework. It is also loaded with many built-in components which make development easier, faster, and smoother.

This framework has thousands of mobile apps built using Ionic so far. Ionic app development has grown quite a lot recently and many companies are choosing Ionic to build their apps.

  • Performance:

As React Native delivers an experience as close as to native, developers who are obsessed with native-feeling, choose React Native over Ionic. Since it aims to provide closer native appearance, you need to modify some platform-specific component.
React is a more stable framework and also ideal for large-scale applications. It is intended to provide great performance and responsiveness which requires a comparatively higher budget.

On the other side, Ionic is all about native browser apps using mobile-optimized HTML, CSS, and JS components. It offers a hybrid approach to the app development and ideal for rapid prototyping of an app. It accomplishes modern needs in such a manner which reflects write once, runs anywhere software paradigm.

Sometimes, there could be performance issues as there are a lot of callbacks to the native code involved, plus, you need to download various plugins to access native features.

  • Plugins and Community:

There is a huge number of plugins available for React Native. In addition, React Native has a wide community which is very helpful to find important information, updates, and solutions to solve your issues. There’s also a plugin to utilize PhoneGap/Cordova plugins which help you access many mature plugins from the other communities.
For Ionic, there is also an established and grown-up community that can assist you in solving your issues. A lot of PhoneGap/Cordova plugins are being used to obtain native features.

  • Platforms:

As the nature of both these frameworks is cross-platform, they both support Android or iOS. Ionic 2 supports Universal Windows Platform (UWP) as a part of its expansion and that’s an additional benefit point when you use Ionic.

React Native vs. Ionic – Tabular Comparison

 
React Native
Ionic
PurposeLearn once, write anywhereWrite once, run anywhere
Language StackReact and JavaScript

 

Web technologies – HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Angular JS, TypeScript
Nature of appsCross-platformHybrid apps
Developers Facebook CommunityDrifty.co
Popular forNative-like and elegant user interfaces across the platformsUsing single code base you can develop an app for iOS, Android, Windows, Web, Desktop, and also PWA (Progressive Web Apps)
Reusability Of CodeThe platform-specific code needs to be changedOptimum reusability of code
Performance Closer native look and comparatively fasterSlower than React Native due to WebView
Code TestingNeeds a real mobile device or emulator to test the codeUsing any browser, the code can be tested
Learning curveA steep learning curveAn easy learning curve due to web technologies, Angular, and TypeScript
Community and SupportStrong and StableStrong and Stable
GitHub Stars66k34k
GitHub Contributors 1694243
Supported PlatformsAndroid, iOS, UWPAndroid, iOS, UWP (Universal Windows Platform), and PWA
Companies UsingFacebook, Instagram, UberEATS, AirbnbJustWatch, Untappd, Cryptochange, Nationwide, Pacifica, and many more

Why Is Ionic So Popular? What Are The Strengths?

  • Ionic is a free and open-source
  • Easy to learn with built-in components
  • Clear and updated documentation
  • Build apps for iOS, Android, Windows, Desktop, Web, and PWA
  • Rich pre-styled components and great community support
  • Rapid development testing cycle

Drawbacks of Using Ionic:

  • It has performance lags
  • You need to use Apache Cordova plugins to access device’s hardware functionality
  • It uses WebView to deliver a native-like experience

The Advantages Of React Native:

  • Maximum code reusability to develop apps for Android, iOS, and Windows platforms
  • Stable and maintained platform to develop large projects
  • Rapid development with the efficient code structure
  • Wide community and platform-independent code

The Challenges of React Native:

  • There is a need for native development skills
  • Lack of custom modules
  • As it is backed by Facebook, you need to follow licensing rules

React Native or Ionic: What Should I Choose?

Well, anyone can’t tell you which is better. There are many factors you can consider such as features, requirements, cost, time, team size, and platforms while deciding the best framework. As both frameworks serve a different purpose, choosing any of them is surprisingly easy.

If you are low on budget and want excellent performance, you can opt for Ionic.

React Native is ideal for native-feeling apps which may cost you higher than the Ionic.

Don’t get stumped, we are here to help! Our expert developers and analysts can help you select the best framework according to your needs. We possess experience and expertise in developing React Native apps with an innovative approach and a customer-centric mindset. Contact us for any web or app development needs and we go the extra mile to achieve your objectives, really!

Hope this post helps! If you feel it is missing an important point or feature, or you want to share your experience with us, we welcome your comments. Drop us a line through the comment section below and help us to make this article complete!

Author: SPEC INDIA

SPEC INDIA, as your single stop IT partner has been successfully implementing a bouquet of diverse solutions and services all over the globe, proving its mettle as a boutique ISO 9001:2015 certified IT solutions organization. With efficient project management practices, international standards to comply, flexible engagement models and superior infrastructure, SPEC INDIA is a customer’s delight. Our skilled technical resources are apt at putting thoughts in a perspective by offering value-added reads for all.


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