Native vs Hybrid App Development in 2021

11 min read
Main differences between native and hybrid app development

Native vs. hybrid app development – what is a better approach and what tech stack to choose? Definitely, this is a hot topic these days and mobile app development companies face these questions once they decide to digitize their business in 2021.

This article explains all ins and outs of technical options to create your application with, namely:

  • the advantages and disadvantages of native vs. hybrid app development
  • hybrid mobile software (Apache Cordova, Ionic, Xamarin)
  • native mobile software (Swift, Java, Node.js).

After you read this article, you will know the most suitable approach for your digital project as well as what programming languages to use. Aside from getting this knowledge, you can avoid potential pitfalls and know core challenges when building mobile apps. To mention a few, these could be improper product performance, troubles with app scalability and ongoing maintenance as well as missed deadlines, overpaid invoices.

So, let’s get straight to the point.


For starters, let’s clarify what is the difference between a native and hybrid or cross-functional application. The main difference between a native mobile app and a hybrid mobile app is the technologies backing the development process. Here is a view.


Native vs Hybrid App Development in 2021

There are dozens of technologies that can be used to develop a hybrid application. Here are the most common hybrid app development frameworks in 2021. To get a better idea of their differences and similarities, check out the description of the main technologies below.

Ionic can be used together with the Apache framework and utilizes the same major web technologies – JavaScript, CSS, HTML, Angular, TypeScript, etc. Ionic developers are provided with more available UI (user interface) components and toolkit that are easy to work with.

These include the following:

  • Updated UI elements and gestures
  • New API for custom animation creation
  • Fresh colors, icons, themes, controls, and similar.

The technology is fast but can have some issues with ongoing support and maintenance across platforms. It has many plugins and in order to support the project, it can require additional manual assembly.

The technology is based on web front-end tech stacks of HTML5, CCS3, and JavaScript frameworks. Apache Cordova is considered as one of the key tools for hybrid app development. The instrument uses the mentioned tech stack and web components depending on the device’s platform to implement the necessary functionality for a mobile app. To mention, PhoneGap is a free distribution of Apache Cordova.

The following technology is a free and open-source hybrid technology powered by Microsoft. The company has announced its new way to develop a hybrid app that ensures code distribution across platforms simultaneously. This has resulted in increased development speed and simpler maintenance.

In contrast with Ionic, Xamarin uses the same UI adjustments for all mobile platforms. On the other hand, the tool won’t work with complex or complicated visuals or graphics elements. Xamarin is better to apply for simple mobile apps.


In this section, the main advantages of utilizing a cross-platform approach are listed. Based on your project requirements, it is necessary to compare its advantages and side effects and make a correct decision.


Pros of Hybrid Apps

Cons of Hybrid Apps

  • Cost
  • Time Effective
  • Unified codebase
  • Easier
  • Faster
  • Offline availability
  • Mobile app functionality close to native
  • General programming skills and knowledge
  • Poor video and audio processing
  • Debugging
  • Limited accessibility to native component and device functionality
  • High dependency on the selected frameworks and their updates, bugs resolutions
  • Cost increase due to project scalability and maintenance
  • Possible issues with other systems integration
  • Problems with animations, complex graphics, and UI elements
  • Challenge with app launch to the marketplace (e.g. App Store has strict guidelines)

Based on this listing, it is possible to conclude that hybrid mobile app development offers simple and inexpensive mobile apps. No wonder you will love the budget if you are a hybrid mobile app development company.  On the other hand, it all depends on the mobile app concept that is going to be implemented.

Generally speaking, hybrid apps depend on its framework, plugins, UI elements to get connected to their functionality. In case, a project needs an advanced feature, this should be approached manually. This requires high expertise from app developers to resolve such tasks, which also increases expenses.


In this section, the native application development technologies are described in greater detail.

Hybrid App Development: Key Frameworks in 2020

As mentioned, Swift and Objective C are those programming languages that help to create a native iOS app.

Objective-C was the primary language when building iOS apps. Since its longer origin, it has lots of libraries, solutions, and experienced experts. However, the language begins to be more outdated and yields its more modern ancestor, Swift.

Swift is a new iOS language released by Apple Inc. These days, developers use Swift in the majority of a native app development project. This is due to its usability in working and learning and the app performs better. Despite the fact, Swift can lack some components, it is simply a matter of time to completely replace Objective-C.


Java is a core technology to build native mobile Android apps, as well as it is used across many desktop and web projects. Java has an extensive library, community, system of tools that enable effective programming procedures.

Kotlin is a language that was developed to work with Java and Java Virtual Machine. You will spend less time on building the time as well as enjoy shorter syntax, fewer memory requirements. When compared to Java, this app has better performance. Apps like Expedia, Square, Pinterest, Flipboard are just among the few that are based on Kotlin programming language.

Native vs Hybrid App Development in 2021

Architecture of a native mobile app

Both Swift and Kotlin are appropriate for the front-end side of a native app. When it comes to the back-end, you need specific software, like Node.js.


Node.js is a platform for back-end development that at its core uses the JavaScript engine since 2009. It performs operations on the server-side and initially intended for the web developments and dynamic content. Similar to Java, the tool supports code-sharing and re-usage. The technology has an advancement of event models that allows for creating lighter, more efficient, and solid projects.


Let’s now figure out which points make native vs hybrid app development a better choice.


Pros of Native Apps

Cons of Native Apps

  • Great mobile app performance
  • Top-notch and native user experience
  • Connection and usage of the device hardware
  • Application of custom design and elements
  • Possibility to build more sophisticated app functionality
  • Higher security and reliability of an app
  • Offline functionality and operations
  • Easier support and maintenance (up-to-date SDK and tools for developers)
  • Greater visibility at app stores
  • High development cost
  • Time-consuming
  • App approval and authorization
  • Complex maintenance
  • Necessity to develop separate apps (for iOS and Android)
  • Distributed codebase
  • Need to have a competent app development team

Hmm… you still have some doubts about what approach hybrid or native to utilize for your next project?

The following table summarizes the key information and ideas of native vs hybrid app development.





Number of platforms 


many (iOS, Android, Web)

App development cost

initially higher (if an app is created for a few platforms) 

from moderate to low





easy – support 1 platform 

average – support of multiple platforms simultaneously

Operation speed



Device accessibility 

100% access 

lower-connection to the device

Offline functionality 


can be limited

Graphic & animations

custom, plenty 

moderate accessibility 


wide toolkit, SDKs, APIs

restricted to the framework 


First to note, these days, almost 90% of the time is spent in a mobile app rather than web browsers on smartphones. Aside from this fact, users tend to spend more and more Internet time on mobile apps in 2021.

Native vs Hybrid App Development in 2021

Time spent in smartphone (applications vs web)

To add, users become more demanding for the high-quality and top-notch level of service. In case of any bug or even slight issue (e.g. screen freeze for a couple of seconds), users will bounce this mobile application. A chance these users would install or even open the app again accounts for the miserable percentage.

Native vs Hybrid App Development in 2021

So what approach wins in the native vs hybrid app development debate?

From a technical standpoint, native apps offer wider functionality, easier to support and scale. These apps use native elements of the device’s operating system and provide native experiences. Despite higher costs and the possibility to build only one app at a time, these apps are faster, more secure, and offer great user interaction and navigation.

If you are still considering hybrid app development, note that even these may look and feel like a native, they have lower performance. This can result in lots of trouble and failures during development, launch to the app store, followed by a decrease in customer retention.

Therefore, it is highly recommended to build a mobile app with its native technologies like Swift, Kotlin, and Node.js. In any case, hybrid apps may be a choice to go if the budget and time are constraints for you. If you are a hybrid mobile app development company, you win in time and money but lose in performance. So, it’s your choice to decide which way to go.

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