React vs React Native: Everything You Need To Know

by | May 31, 2021 | Resources

React and React Native are two of the most popular technologies used to build web and mobile user interfaces (UI) today. 

While React is used to build web applications, React Native is used to build mobile applications.

Both React and React Native use JavaScript, which is one of the most widely used languages and is used in almost every website you have seen.

The most popular programming languages in Stack Overflow’s 2018 Developer Survey

Even if you know nothing about React (also known as React Js) and React Native, you have been definitely using either of the two almost every single day!

In this article, we’ll tell you all about React and React Native, the pros and cons of each, and their differences and provide ample examples of their usage, so you have a clear understanding. 

What is React?

React is an open-source JavaScript library for building user interfaces (UI) for single-page applications. 

It was conceived in 2012 by Jordan Walke, a software engineer with Facebook, where the technology was developed.

React allows developers to easily integrate it with existing code or other libraries and simplifies the process of developing and building web applications.

The best feature of React is Virtual DOM

Courtesy: React Is Taking Over Front-End Development – DZone Web Dev

This is how it happens: React creates an in-memory data structure cache that computes the resulting differences, and then updates the browser’s displayed DOM seamlessly. The programmer writes the code as if the entire page is rendered on each change, whereas in reality, only those sub-components that are changed are rendered. 

This enables React to work at blazing speeds. 

Also, you can tell React what state you want the UI to be in, and Virtual DOM allows it to ensure the DOM matches that state, without you having to go behind the scenes. 

If you are interested in knowing more about React’s Virtual DOM (Document Object Model) you can read it here.

What is React Native?

React Native, which is also based on JavaScript, is designed to build mobile applications with reusable components. 

React Native enables the creation of applications across multiple platforms (Windows, Android, iOS) smoothly and seamlessly.

And that’s React Native’s biggest advantage.

Before React Native, developers had to use different tools to build applications for different platforms.  

React Native uses a native Application Program Interface (API) when rendering UI components. 


React Native comes with native modules and components that improve performance.

After the resounding success of React, Facebook began working on a cross-platform mobile framework to address their growing mobile needs. 

That is when React Native was born. React Native was made available on GitHub by Facebook in 2013.

Advantages and Disadvantages of React and React Native

Advantages of React

Here are some of the major advantages of React:

  1. Component-Based Architecture Saves Time
    React contributes to efficiency by allowing users to reuse assets through its component-based architecture. Apart from saving enormous amounts of time, it is advantageous for another reason which is that changes in one component do not affect any others. This component isolation and one-directional flow of data with downward data binding not only promotes efficiency but also improves code stability. 

  2. Easy to learn
    There are several free tutorials and training materials available online for anyone wanting to learn React. It is especially easy for someone who has a background in JavaScript. React is also quite easy to use, which partly explains its popularity.

  3. Better for SEO
    A web application based on React is more SEO-friendly. React ensures a faster speed by reducing the time of page load, thus aiding SEO, which is the cornerstone of any business today.
Courtesy: How does React.js Work? Benefits and Uses 2020 – PMCAOnline
  1. High performance, better user experience
    As already mentioned in this article, Virtual DOM is one of the key features of React. Virtual DOM shortens the update time to the real DOM, ensuring the application has higher performance and better user experience.

  2. Easy to use
    React requires much less coding than HTML, making it easy to build high-functioning web applications with greater ease. It also provides greater functionality.

  3. Huge pool of value
    Developers from across the globe have been using and improving React for nearly a decade now. The React community provides valuable libraries that facilitate the React development process.

  4. Easy development and maintenance
    React uses multiple components that have their own logic and rendering, which can be reused as needed. This means that applications built on React are easy to develop and maintain.
Courtesy: React vs Angular: What to Choose for Your App? (

Disadvantages of React

Some of the disadvantages of React are listed below:

  1. Need for constant upgrades
    Given the dynamic nature of the React environment, it requires developers to constantly update themselves and keep abreast of the changes and developments. This becomes a tedious task for developers as the React environment is constantly changing at a rapid pace. 

  2. Poor execution owing to upgrades
    Because of the constant upgrades in the React world, developers are forced to create their own documentation for specific tools which results in poor execution.

Advantages of React Native

Below are some widely accepted advantages of React Native:

  1. Lightning-fast Development
    Since React Native uses JavaScript, it has the scope of more iterations and flexibility. React Native also has the added advantage that web developers can easily improve their skills and build React Native apps.

  2. Advantages of Live and Hot Reloading
    React Native’s support for Live and Hot Reloading is a huge advantage.
    Live Reloading is a tool that helps in compiling and reading the file where the developer had made the changes. It also offers a new file to the stimulator, automatically reading the app from the beginning.
    The Hot Reloading is based on the Hot Module Replacement (HMR) and made its inception after the initial reloading process. Although there is not much of a difference in functions and features, the main aspect comes into play during saving the changes.
Courtesy: Business of Apps – Connecting the app industry
  1. Lesser debugging
    Using React leads to unified version updates and only one set of bugs to be fixed across multiple platforms, which reduces the amount of work that goes into optimization and debugging. 

  2. Cross-platform Functionality
    Thanks to its reusable code, which can be deployed for both iOS and Android, React Native enables cross-platform functionality. 

  3. Strong Community
    The React Native community is a decade-old group that’s ready to exchange knowledge and know-how about React Native, meaning if you ever face a problem, there’s a huge network of developers ready to help at all times. 

  4. Economical
    React native comes with a huge advantage of minimizing costs. A React Native application typically needs to be built once, that too using a single codebase. Another cost-saving comes from the MIT license under which React Native is distributed. Anyone can modify the software, and changes to the code do not need to be reported. The React Native framework is also completely license-free, so there is no need to pay or share for anything done within the framework.
Courtesy: What is React Native? Advantages, Features & Importance – Orafox

Disadvantages of React Native

Here are the main disadvantages of React Native:

  1. Relatively new
    React Native is new as compared to other Android and iOS programming languages. It is still in its nascent stage and this can have a negative impact on the apps.
    1. React Native lacks consistency in releasing updates, which at times becomes tough for developers. Due to the suddenness of the upgrades, developers are not left with any choice but to make a lot of changes and make regular upgrades. 
    2. While using React Native, developers are at times required to write the extra native code for components not compatible with React Native.

  2. Tough to learn for new developers
    React Native can be a tough rope to learn especially if you are just a fresher in the app development field. This is due to the presence of JSX in the JavaScript syntax extension where the HTML element gets combined with JavaScript. An average learner won’t find it that easy in comparison to other cross-platform apps.

  3. Takes Longer to Initialize
    The problem with React Native is that it takes a lot of time to initialize the runtime even for the hi-tech gadgets and devices before it can be rendered initially. This is again because of the JavaScript thread which takes time to initialize.

  4. Not as Secure
    We know that React Native is a JavaScript library and open-source framework, which creates a gap in security robustness. But at times, you need to provide extra security specifically if you are creating banking and financial apps where data is highly confidential. So, in those cases, experts advise not to choose React Native.

  5. Constant Updates
    React Native is continually updating and that comes with bug fixes, new ported native components, performance improvements, and improved custom components. Updates aren’t necessarily a disadvantage, but something that React Native developers have to consider as opposed to a more developed framework.

  6. Lacks Custom Modules
    React Native still lacks certain components, while others are yet to be fully developed. Most React Native developers would not encounter this issue; however, those who do have to find ways around it by building a solution from scratch or hacking an existing one. Creating a custom module may also result in three separate codebases (Android, iOS, RN) instead of only one.

Differences between React vs React Native

The best way to understand the differences between React and React Native is by comparing them in the following categories: 


React is primarily used to build UI for web applications, whereas React Native is for creating cross-platform mobile apps on iOS, Android, and Windows and designing responsive mobile UI.


React navigation is completely integrated with JavaScript, which is ideal for the loading of web applications. React Native, on the other hand,  is slightly more complicated using its own navigation library to navigate mobile applications, enabling key mobile performance.

Platform Dependency

React can be executed across all kinds of platforms. While a large percentage of code can be shared across multiple platforms, there is also a percentage of platform-specific code that is adapted to each specific platform i.e. iOS or Android.

HTML tags

React uses HTML tags, while React Native does not. 

Where have you seen React and React Native?

As discussed in this article, both React and React Native have widespread popularity in their respective functions. 

If you are wondering where you have come across web applications and mobile apps built on React and React Native, the following list will pleasantly surprise you:


The following websites use React:

Facebook web version
Instagram webpage
Whatsapp Web
Myntra website

React Native

The following apps use React Native:

See the source image
Facebook app
See the source image
Instagram app
See the source image
See the source image
Airbnb app


Going through those real-world examples in the previous section would probably be enough for you to understand the popularity of React and React Native. The two technologies are only gaining popularity with time and most developers swear by them. In the coming years, their popularity will only increase, and more and more websites and mobile apps will be using them. Hopefully, this article was helpful enough to understand the basics of the two technologies.

Have a question? Leave it in the comments section below and we will get back to you. In the meantime, you can check out our other articles here.

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Tathagata Sen

Tathagata Sen

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