Examining the pros and cons

React Native vs Ionic: Which one is for you?

Sourodip Biswas
react native
© Shutterstock / Guillermo del Olmo

When preparing to develop a mobile app, one of the first questions you should ask yourself is which framework will you work with? There are upsides and downsides to all options. Let’s take a look at React Native versus Iconic. Which one is right for you? In this article, see what each framework excels in, and you’ll be one step closer to a finished app.

Mobile app development is not the usual designing and developing thing anymore. You ought to start by planning how you will design or develop before you plan the design or the coding strategies for the app.

It all starts with the platform you wish to develop for and ends with the framework you want to choose to make development easier. In between, you also need to choose the app development approach you wish to take- native or cross-platform. A lot of frameworks have made it possible for you to go quick and easy with app development. Among the many, React Native and Ionic are two strong frameworks and among the top mobile app development frameworks.

The ongoing war between the two frameworks is known to all; here we will discuss how you can make a choice between the two, and what makes one popular over the other. The React Native framework was enabled for cross-platform solutions using JavaScript and offers native-like app solutions on both iOs and Android. Ionic, on the other hand, was built using technologies such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. It is used for hybrid app solutions.

react native

Native or hybrid

Your choice for app development begins with your approach- native or hybrid.

React Native is used to develop native-like cross-platform app solutions, which means you can create the apps for specific operating systems such as iOs and Android.

Generally, when you are developing a native solution, you will need to work with the coding languages meant for them. In the case of iOS it is Swift and Objective C, while in the case of Android it is Java.

However, when it comes to React Native, the widgets are all native-like, which offers a seamless experience to the app solutions. You don’t need to change the code base, but with React Native you can use the native components and create native apps for both the platforms individually.

On the other hand, Ionic is a completely hybrid solution. They use standardized coding technologies such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. You need to code once, and you can use the code everywhere. The flip side is that you cannot use the native components. If you want to integrate the native components, then you ought to use the Cordova plugins in this case.

As a result, if you want to develop a native-like solution, you ought to opt for React Native. It eases your task of developing separate apps for both platforms.

Flexibility or technology stack

The next question is very important for the developers- how easy it is for the developers to create app solutions using the available technology stack?

React.Js is the underlying technology for the React Native framework. React uses JSX for UI, which looks like any other JS template that you have used in the past. You need to have an understanding of JS as well as React.Js to be able to develop apps in React Native.

However, in the case of Ionic, you will observe more flexibility. The tech stack includes Angular, Vue as well as React. In fact, with the upgrade to Ionic version 4.x, you can develop apps using any of the available web development frameworks.

The learning curve for the developers reduces with the Ionic framework, which is why when it comes to the technology stack, Ionic is clearly the developer’s choice.

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Learning the framework

It is important to know the learning curve for both the technologies before getting started. You don’t want to develop using a framework that is going to take forever to learn and get started.
For React Native, knowing React is mandatory. This means, you have a learning curve, which could be sharp and long if you don’t know the basics of React or you are new to React. There is no flexibility in the tech stack, as we have seen. Hence, the learning curve won’t be flexible either.

On the other hand, with Ionic, you can use any of the web development frameworks, as you need basic knowledge of JavaScript, CSS, and HTML. The learning curve here is small compared to that of React Native.

The other reason for the learning curve being small can be attributed to the fact that with Ionic you are creating web apps that can be used as mobile apps while, in case of React Native, you are creating actual native app solutions.

Clearly, Ionic is the choice as it makes the developers comfortable right from the start.

The better performer

When choosing a development framework, you ought to choose the one that is not just flexible but also delivers high performing app solutions.

When it comes to app performance, native apps are the winner, as you get to directly access the native components.

However, if you are not taking the native approach, React Native comes closer to being a native app solution. The framework comprises of underlying widgets that are native-like, and JavaScript comprises of the native components as well.

Ionic takes the hybrid approach and uses the web view approach to deliver mobile apps. In this case, there would be too many requests and callbacks, which can eventually affect the performance of the app.

That’s why, when you are planning for app performance, you should choose React Native over Ionic.

SEE ALSO: 10 things to consider while developing mobile apps with React Native

The community support

This is the final comparison point between the two that helps you make the choice. It is important that you have a good community support, else you might not have anyone to bail you out of the issues you might be facing.

React Native has a stronger community, according to Github results, as compared to Ionic. The contributors, as well as the stars for React Native are very high. That makes it not just a strong framework but also a well-supported one.

Summing up

When it comes to React Native or Ionic, the choice depends on how comfortable the developers are, and what type of solutions they aim to develop. The popularity of the framework also plays an important role in making the choice. The type of app is the final decision-maker. For instance, if you plan to develop a gaming app, then React Native cannot be your framework choice.

However, when it comes to choosing between React Native and Ionic, despite the steep learning curve, it is always a good idea to go with React Native. The reason being: it uses native components, offers high-performance solutions, and garners stronger community support as against Ionic. All these factors play a crucial role in making the decision.


Sourodip Biswas

Sourodip Biswas works with a team of experienced mobile app developers at Space-O Canada, a leading React Native app development company. He spends his time researching interesting technologies and mobile apps that help make people’s lives easier. His work has been published on various distinct blogs across the web. You can find him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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2 years ago

What if I want to develop an app that will work on Android, iOS and a web browser (for desktops)?