React Native vs Swift: Performance, Development, And Speed Comparison

Author
SPEC INDIA
Posted

December 3, 2021

How many times have you searched what is the best framework or what is the best programming language, or what is best between the two choices?

We always do that. Searching best will give you a standard list of popular options but deciding best depends on one’s requirement. Keep in mind that there is no perfect framework, language, or tool exists. Each has its pros and cons. In software development, it’s important to choose the right tool for the right job. To make the selection easier, we are here to help you select the right framework for iOS app development.

While the battle between cross-platform app development and native app development is still going on, we will be talking about React Native vs Swift in this post. We will compare both options based on several factors and also help you decide what to choose and when.

React Native vs Swift: Who Wins At Where?

Before we go into a detailed comparison, let’s go through the quick introduction of each.

What Is React Native?

React Native, powered by Meta Platforms, Inc (formerly known as Facebook) is an open-source UI software framework. React Native is a JavaScript-based framework for building natively-rendered apps for iOS, Android, Android TV, tvOS, Web, Windows, macOS, and UWP using React framework.

React Native is immensely popular to build cross-platform apps and it powers thousands of app that include the world’s leading apps and platforms – Facebook, Flipkart, Instagram, Pinterest, Wix, Walmart, Salesforce, Tableau, Coinbase, Skype, Bloomberg, and so on. You can use a single codebase with platform-specific versions of components so that you can enjoy the benefits of cross-platform along with native capabilities.

What Is Swift?

Swift is a multipurpose, multi-paradigm, compiled language created by Apple Inc. It is widely used for macOS, iOS, Linux, tvOS, iPadOS, and watchOS. Swift is the preferred choice for iOS app development and it dominates the market with a large user base and a strong community. Swift is a modern, performant, faster, and powerful programming language.

Swift is being used by a large number of organizations and companies that include Facebook, Uber, Accenture, WhatsApp, Slack, Lyft, LinkedIn, and so on.

React-Native-vs-Swift

React Native vs Swift: A Detailed Comparison

Please note that, here, we are not talking about native development vs cross-platform development. As both choices are popular and widely used, our comparison context is to find which option is best suitable for developing iOS applications and when.

Let’s get started.

  • Swift vs React Native: Community

Swift was developed as a replacement for Apple’s programming language Objective-C. It was introduced at 2014 WWDC. It is equipped with modern features, simpler syntax, and lightning speed. Being an open-source project, it has great community support and an active community.

As it is backed by Apple, you need not worry about its future and enhancements. The Swift community is constantly working on making Swift the world’s best general-purpose programming language.

On the other side, React Native enjoys the top position in the cross-platform market. React Native is based on JavaScript and allows developers to reuse code between different platforms which will significantly reduce development time.

Again, React Native is an open-source project and supported by Facebook. In 2018, React Native had the 2nd highest number of contributors for any repository in GitHub. It has a very active community and is supported by contributors and companies around the world including Microsoft, Callstack, Expo, Software Mansion, and Infinite Red.

Both, React Native and Swift has great community support and are community-driven.

  • React Native vs Swift: Performance

Which framework or language is more efficient?

Usually, the performance of any app depends on the features involved, and how frameworks work, or how it builds an iOS app.

Performance is based on several other factors as well such as CPU usage optimization, memory, and architecture. React Native takes more memory than Swift. CPU usage optimization is slightly better in React Native than Swift. Swift is a successor to C and Objective-C languages. It uses the high-performance LLVM compiler technology that results in incredible speed and performance.

Well, there is no such noticeable difference you can see in performance when you compare apps built with React Native and Swift. The only difference is RN takes more memory space than Swift and that can make difference when you want to build a feature-rich, graphic-sensitive app.

Do you know?

Code written in Swift is executed up to 2.6x faster than Objective-C and up to 8.4x faster than Python 2.7.

Having said that, both offer great performance. It is not always the case that native app should win over framework-based apps.

  • Swift vs React Native: User Interface

Swift enables developers to create beautiful UIs and visually-appealing apps across all Apple platforms. Developers can build UI elements from scratch using SwiftUI to deliver a completely-native, better user experience. Developers can create UI by simply dragging and dropping components and editing those as per the requirements.

Good Read: Top 20 Popular Apps Built Using Swift

React Native uses JavaScript libraries for building user interfaces. It allows creating platform-specific versions of components to deliver a native-like experience. React Components wrap native code and interact with native APIs through React’s declarative UI and JavaScript. RN provides several critical platform components already wrapped and the community is working on offering more enhancement in this space.

However, JavaScript makes UI creation very easy in RN but it is quite difficult to keep up with constant changes and advancements that are happening in the native environment.

  • React Native vs Swift: Development

Speed, learning curve, code maintainability, and resources are some of the variables we will take into consideration.

Time to Market:

React Native: If you choose to develop a cross-platform app, React Native is best as you can share code between platforms and you can have maximum code reusability. Hot reload of React Native helps developers do changes faster, resulting in easy edits and faster development.

Swift: Native apps can take full advantage of devices’ processing capabilities and as well as Swift’s iOS-first design that makes apps faster, smoother, and error-free.

Learning Curve:

React Native: It is easy to learn as many developers are familiar with JavaScript.

Swift: It is a modern programming language and an alternative to Objective-C. Many resources are available for Swift that makes it easier to learn. It has a smooth and easy learning curve for entry-level developers and students.

Code Maintainability:

React Native: Upgrading and debugging code in RN is not smooth as Swift. Also, there are many things that have third-party dependencies and libraries. This becomes difficult to manage every time that may slow down overall performance.

Swift: It is easier to maintain and test. With expressive and lightweight syntax, code written in Swift is clear and clutter-free. Also, the Swift community makes upgradation easier, and every year new version is released with enhanced features and improvements. It makes use of REPL (read-eval-print loop) to cleanly debug and run the program within the development environment.

Hiring Developers:

React Native: You will easily find React Native developers as many developers are turning towards JavaScript-based technologies which is a promising career.

Swift: Swift is ‘Objective-C without the baggage of C’. C is widely adopted by developers and it is one of the major languages to start a development career. You can easily hire experienced iOS developers to build truly native apps. The rate of iOS developers may vary based on location, time, app features, and project type.

When To Choose What? React Native or Swift?

Choose Swift When:
  • There is a need to develop an app for iOS only
  • You want to build feature-rich and highly graphic-sensitive apps
  • When memory is your concern while building an app
  • When you require more platform-specific code rather than common code
Choose React Native When:
  • When you want to build cross-platform apps
  • You have limited resources and a team
  • You are a startup and running a small business
  • You need faster time to market an app
  • You want to reach a wider audience

Let’s quickly go through the advantages and disadvantages of each solution for iOS development.

Advantages Of React Native:
  • Native-like performance and platform-specific UI components
  • Maximum code reuse and cost-saving
  • Modular architecture for more clarity
  • Live reload makes app development faster
  • Community-driven and evolving
  • Easy integration, safe, and reliable
  • JavaScript-based technology for optimal performance
Disadvantages Of React Native:
  • Difficult to debug
  • Scaling problems due to JavaScript
  • Increased complexity, increased problems for UI
  • Still evolving framework
Advantages Of Swift:
  • Fast, safe, and interoperable with C
  • Effective memory management
  • Best user experience
  • Backed by a giant community, Apple
  • Low maintainability
  • Easier to scale and maintain
Disadvantages Of Swift:
  • Not a reflective language
  • Still a young language compared to Objective-C
  • Limited talent pool available
  • Backward compatibility issues
  • Small community compared to any open-source language

Let’s quickly summarize the differences between React Native and Swift through this table.

React Native vs Swift: A Quick Summary

Parameters React Native Swift
Developer Facebook And Community Apple Inc And Open-source contributors
Type Open-source UI software framework General-purpose, multi-paradigm, compiled programming language
Initial Release 2015 2014
UI development Native components wrapped using APIs, cross-platform support iOS native UIs using SwiftUI
Platform Supported Android, Android TV, iOS, macOS, Web, Windows, UWP All Apple’s Operating Systems
Community A top choice for cross-platform development with a great community support Relatively small community being an open-source project backed by Apple Inc
Performance Native-like performance with speed, smooth navigation, and better user experience Faster and superior performance when running complex apps as it leverages device capabilities and gives better results for graphic-sensitive and heavy-computational apps
Suitability Cross-platform apps, apps for startups and SMEs Truly-native iOS app that leverages platform’s capabilities and requires heavy computation and graphics
Community A thriving community with powerful support from the community The most vibrant and active open-source community
Language and Syntax   JavaScript-based framework, JSX Syntax – syntax extension to JavaScript Alternative to Objective-C, concise, clear, and trulyexpressive syntax
Used By Facebook, Flipkart, Shopify, Skype, Instagram, Wix, Walmart, Tesla, Discord, Tencent, and many more Clear, Khan Academy, Eventbrite, LinkedIn, Airbnb, Sky Guide, and so on.

React Native vs Swift: A Final Verdict

Finally, this debate can be centered around another context of cross-platform vs native development but here we have taken an iOS context. Both are great solutions for developing iOS apps but to ease decision-making, here is the clear suggestion: choose React Native when you are targeting more than one platform and go for Swift when you want to leverage native platform capabilities.

If you want to build an app that is not too complex, you will see a negligible performance difference between both these options. If you want an enterprise-level, feature-rich, and heavy-graphic app, go for native, i.e., Swift.

What are you using for developing an iOS app?

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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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