Once you decide your business needs an app, the next question is what kind? The application development space is seeing constant innovation, but three common types of apps are native apps, web apps, and cross-platform apps. As you compare native apps vs. web apps vs. cross-platform apps to decide which one is better for your business, it’s important to consider a few things. Among these are the pros and cons of each platform, your time to market, budget, and audience.

In this blog post, we look at the advantages and disadvantages of each app and how to choose between a native app, web app, and cross-platform app for your business.

What is a native mobile app?

Native mobile apps are built to run on a specific operating system, such as iOS and Android. Leveraging each platform’s native languages and tools, developers can design an app that is optimized to deliver high performance and usability for users of that operating system.

Pros of native mobile apps:

Native mobile apps can access a device’s internal hardware and software, including cameras, push notifications, location tracking, and security features. This allows the app to deliver a more intuitive user experience, superior performance, and speed.

Cons of native mobile apps:

Since native mobile apps are tailored to each operating system, they must be built from scratch with a separate code base for iOS and Android. This means that designing a native mobile app requires more development time, expertise, and money.

What is a web app?

Not to be confused with a website, a web app is a responsive app that can be accessed via the internet. Unlike websites, web apps allow users to interact with and manipulate their content. After web apps are developed, they need to be deployed to a web server or cloud environment, such as AWS or Azure.

Common examples of a web app include online portals, forms, and eCommerce carts.

Pros of web apps:

Since web apps can be accessed from a browser and are not tied to any specific operating system, anyone with internet can use a web app. Web apps are also easier to deploy since they do not have to be approved by marketplaces like Apple App Store and Google Play for distribution.

Compared to native mobile apps, web apps are easier, faster, and cheaper to build. Further, with web apps, you can push updates in real time as opposed to waiting for users to install a software update.

Cons of web apps:

Although they are simpler to build and deploy, web apps generally provide less functionality. Web apps may also deliver an inconsistent user experience across devices and browsers.

What is a cross-platform app?

Using platforms like React Native, a cross-platform mobile app is designed to leverage a reusable code base to deliver an app that provides a native-like experience across multiple operating systems.

Pros of cross-platform mobile apps:

A major advantage of cross-platform apps is that they allow for reduced costs and time to market. Since the same code base can be customized for iOS and Android, it can shorten the development timeline.

Cons of cross-platform mobile apps:

Compared to native mobile apps, cross-platform apps offer less scope for customizations and integrations. They are also likely to fall behind native apps in the performance and user experience categories.

Native app vs. Web app vs. Cross-platform app: Which one is better?

Ultimately, whether you choose to build a web app, native mobile app, or cross-platform mobile app for your business depends on many factors. Here are a few things to consider and think about when comparing native app vs. web app vs. cross-platform app to choose the right one for your business.

What is the purpose of the app:

The purpose and intended functionality of your app will play a big role in choosing between web apps, native apps, and cross-platform apps. If you need a simple app to deliver an online form, for instance, you could build a web app.

But, if you need a feature-rich app that can access a device’s hardware and perform more complex functions, then you might be better off investing the time and money to build a native mobile app. Similarly, if you want your app to run on both iOS and Android, then you may choose a cross-platform app.

What to choose: It depends.

You want to launch the app quickly:

If you want to reduce time to market, a web app or cross-platform app is your best bet. Both web apps and cross-platform apps require less development time than native mobile apps.

Although native mobile apps offer superior performance, they need more development time and planning for a seamless deployment. This could significantly delay the launch of your app.

What to choose: Web apps or cross-platform apps

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You have a tight budget:

If you are working with limited resources and a tight budget, then choose web apps or cross-platform apps, depending on the purpose of your project. By nature, native mobile apps require more experienced developers and cost more money to build, making them a more significant investment in comparison.

What to choose: Web apps or cross-platform apps

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You need a more tailored user experience:

Native mobile apps, hands down, deliver superior user experience. Since they are optimized for each operating system and have access to a device’s features, they can provide a seamless and personalized user experience.

Some cross-platform apps also have full or limited access to a device’s hardware and software, so if you do not need a very tailored user interface, you could opt for this type of app to save time and money.

What to choose: Native mobile apps


You need a fast, high performing app:

If you want a fast, responsive app, you should build a native mobile app. Since they are designed for a specific operating system and downloaded directly to a mobile device, they can deliver a more seamless performance and high speed.

What to choose: Native mobile apps


What does your audience need:

Consider who your audience is and how they’re likely to use your app.

For instance, if your audience needs offline functionality, then a web app is not the right fit. However, if they prefer to access your app through a browser as opposed to downloading the app, then you should choose a web app.

Understanding your audience, what features they need, and how they prefer to interact with technology will help you determine what type of app you should develop.

What to choose: It depends.


need help choosing between a native app vs. web app vs. cross-platform app?

Our app developers can help your business make an informed choice between native apps, web apps, and cross-platform apps based your specific needs. Whatever approach you choose, our experienced developers can help build, test, and deploy your business app!

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