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Mobile & Web

Reactjs vs. React Native: What's the difference?

React Native is a framework specialized in cross-platform mobile development, while React is a library for building web user interfaces and components. Although React Native utilizes most of the features of React, it also provides an additional layer to build mobile apps. Developers are still writing React code but with a framework that operates as a bridge between JavaScript and native components, allowing them to build apps on iOS and Android.

Nicolás Mosconi
May 13, 2024

A brief history of React Native

React Native started as an in-house Facebook project in 2013, intending to develop a React-based framework that would enable more efficient development of mobile apps on the primary operating systems, iOS and Android. 

The framework could render native User Interface components on both mobile platforms while eliminating the necessity for writing and supporting two separate codebases. They named it React Native and made it open and available on GitHub in 2015.

Since its open-source release, it has dramatically increased in popularity and continues to be widely used by startups and big companies. The framework still uses React for base abstraction, but React Native's components are styled to resemble iOS and Android user interfaces and user experience. 

What exactly is Reactjs?

Reactjs consists of a JavaScript library that supports front-end and server development, which teams can use to build user interfaces for mobile apps and websites, among other applications.

What features make Reactjs unique from a Business perspective?

Blazing Speed with DOM

From a business perspective, one of the unique selling points of Reactjs is its ability to bring in blazing-fast performance for the applications and websites developed using the Document Object Model. 

React creates a cache, an in-memory data structure, that computes the resulting variations and then seamlessly updates the browser's displayed Document Object Model. Developers write code as if the complete view of the application is rendered on each change or update, wherein, in reality, only those sub-components which are changed are rendered. 

Since speed is one of the critical factors for making a successful mobile app, this improved performance gives an advantage to Reactjs when compared to other platforms for developing mobile apps.

Component-Based Architecture Saves Time

Reactjs introduced the idea of component-based architecture, which builds upon the paradigm of reusability of components, saving enormous time and effort.

This architecture approach takes individual pieces of a more extensive user interface and turns them into an independent, self-sustaining micro-system. For example, if any component within the Asset tab in Facebook Ads needs significant changes, then only the "Asset Tab component" will be reused and re-defined, rather than the entire User Interface.

Reactjs Gives Powerboost To Search Engine Optimization

Reactjs gives a power boost to the Search Engine Optimization of a web page or application and attracts more organic traffic thanks to its capability for server-side rendering. When a Google bot visits a web server that has completed rendering the content and images, indexing and caching the content becomes faster. It gives a massive heads-up to the overall Search Engine Optimization strategy of the site, and if the Google bot directly queries the content from the server side, the page load time also decreases. This fast visibility of webpages gives the end-users a better user experience, creating a win-win situation. 

Huge Ecosystem Of Developer Tools

Reactjs is blessed to have a vast development community who have created a massive collection of tools, component libraries, Integrated Development Environments, extensions for code editors, web browsers, and more. The availability of a wide range of third-party tools and extensions provides a new dimension of creativity and innovation while simultaneously reducing effort, time, and resources. Community-powered updates and innovation make Reactjs one of the most widely adopted alternatives for creating disruptive path-breaking apps and websites.

What exactly is React Native?

React Native refers to a cross-platform mobile framework that employs Reactjs for building apps and websites, which compiles native app components and enables development teams to build mobile applications that can run on different platforms, such as Windows, Android, and iOS, in JavaScript. Furthermore, Reactjs is the JavaScript library used to create components under React Native, which implements Reactjs under their framework employing both in a synergistic approach.

What features of React Native are its unique selling points?

Advantage Platform-specific Code

One of the most significant advantages of creating applications and websites using React Native is the possibility of developing platform-specific code. When teams use React Native to build an application, the framework automatically detects the platform it's being run on. This way, it generates the correct code for the right platform.

Creating Applications Using React Native is Very Straightforward

Developing applications gets more straightforward for a front-end developer since the majority of the code present in React Native is Javascript, making it relatively simple for a front-end development team to grasp the technology. They only need to know Javascript (specifically Reactjs), platform APIs, native UI elements, and any platform-specific design patterns. 

This easy usability and learning curve enables non-programmers to create apps without much effort, transforming how apps and websites are built today. 

Development Takes Less Time Due To the Hot Reloading feature 

Reactjs supports the Hot Reloading feature, which allows developers to reload a mobile app automatically, making the development process fast and saving time.

Ready-to-use User Interface libraries for a smoother User Experience

Developers can use "Component UI" libraries in the React Native ecosystem for a high-quality User Experience. Collaboration and sharing of UI libraries such as Shoutem, Expo, and native base, among others, reduce the time required to create them from the ground up, translating into more focus on innovation and ideas rather than creating libraries.

Main differences between Reactjs and React Native

Reactjs is defined as a base derivative of React Document Object Modl for web platforms. At the same time, React Native is a base derivative, translating into the syntax and workflow remaining the same, but components changing.

Reactjs, at its core, is a JavaScript library that enables the programmer to create an engaging and high-performing User Interface Layer. Meanwhile, React Native is a complete framework for developing cross-platform applications for the web, iOS, or Android. 

The virtual Document Object Model is employed to render browser code in Reactjs, while native APIs render components on mobile in React Native.

The apps developed with Reactjs render HTML in User Interface, while React Native uses JavaScript Extension (JSX) for rendering UI. CSS is used for creating styles in Reactjs, while a stylesheet is used in React Native.

In Reactjs, the animation is possible using CSS, just like in web development. In contrast, React Native requires an animated API for inducing animation across various application components.

Reactjs is the best option if the goal is building a high-performing, dynamic, and responsive user interface for the web, while if the objective is giving mobile apps a truly native feeling, React Native is the best option.

Drawbacks and limitations of Reactjs and React Native

Regarding developing apps and websites, Reactjs and React Native both have some limitations and drawbacks; before adopting any of them, developers should be clear on these limitations and plan to overcome them in advance.

Limitations Of Using Reactjs

Overhead Costs & Time: It is often necessary to download another react-enabled library, increasing costs and unexpected expenditures. For example, if the team is working with the Carbon framework for User Interface experience, then it becomes critical to download Carbon components with React.

Learning curve: For new developers, learning Reactjs may take much more time than React Native, which can be an issue for teams of less experienced professionals attempting to build an app using Reactjs.

External library support: Although Reactjs supports many external, third-party libraries, there are few native libraries for Reactjs. External libraries can help the developer utilize both HTML and CSS functionalities and build them into JavaScript Extensions, which has a steep learning curve.

Limitations Of Using React Native

Lack of native libraries: React Native can slow down the development process when the application has heavy functionalities which rely on external, third-party libraries. When the project requires complex calculations simultaneously, Swift, Objective-C, and Java perform better than JavaScript since there are overhead performance costs with JavaScript when controlling native elements. 

Loosely held abstraction layer: Thanks to React Native being a loosely held framework in which developers can use tags like HTML, stylesheets like CSS, and code from Javascript, which at first is a positive quality, as it provides more freedom and agility to the development teams. However, this loosely held design poses challenges. For example, it doesn't enforce any parameters or rules; practically speaking, a variable can be anything at any time. 

It takes more time to initialize: Because the JavaScript thread takes a long time, React Native takes a hit in the performance aspect of initializing the runtime for gadgets and devices.

Requires many native workarounds: If specific functionality is not found in React Native, developers have two options: writing the native modules in Swift/Objective-C and Java or asking another native development team to write a new native module.

License & Patenting Issues: In 2017, Facebook updated the Open Source Licensing and Patent, and since Facebook controls React Native, according to this new update, if any developer uses these open-source platforms for any purpose that Facebook doesn't approve of or directly violates the patent, then Facebook has a right to stop that developer from using React Native. This update has impacted both Reactjs and React Native developers, as Facebook can stop their apps developed on these platforms from operating at any time.

Examples of React Native in use

Facebook Ads

With React Native being perfectly suitable for a large amount of complex business logic required to accurately manage different ad formats, time zones, currencies, date formats, and currency conventions, migrating the app to React Native was accessible because a big part of its code was already in JavaScript.


Beginning with the Push Notification view, which was implemented as WebView, Instagram integrated React Native into their existing native applications. What's great about this is that it did not require building navigation infrastructure from the ground up, as the base user interface was quite simple and could easily be migrated to new React Native components.


Bloomberg employed a unique mobile app development framework to develop its new mobile app for iOS and Android, which gives users a streamlined, interactive experience with personalized content, videos, and live feeds.

Uber Eats

Uber employed React Native components to create a mobile dashboard for choosing meals and restaurants, implemented with valuable features such as push notifications, making ordering food via Uber Eats intuitive and easy.

When should you consider React Native?

When the project requires the team to build an app that works both on the web and mobile, developing with React (for web) and React Native (for mobile) may not be a genuine "single-codebase approach." However, due to the many similarities between the two technology stacks, it's still one of the most efficient ways to build a cross-platform product.

When organizations need to convert their web applications to a mobile environment, they still need a development team proficient in React and React Native. Knowledge of only one of them will be insufficient.

When developing mobile apps for Android and iOS, React Native is a framework that can render native User Interface components on both mobile platforms, so you don't need to write and maintain two separate codebases.


Which is better, React or React native? Both Reactjs and React Native are essential pillars for application and web development, and due to their flexible functionalities and evolving collection of libraries, they are gaining more adepts every day.

While Reactjs is a JavaScript library and React Native is the entire framework, Reactjs is the heart of React Native, and both technology stacks complement each other. While Reactjs is ideal for creating applications with advanced functionality and complex calculations, React Native provides a native feeling to your mobile products.

Need help mapping the pros and cons of these tech stacks to make an informed decision? Reach out for assistance on Reactjs and React Native today!