The differences between native, web, and hybrid mobile apps

When deciding to build a mobile app you are facing a problem which type to choose. There are a lot of things that can impact the possible functions of the app and the difficulty of its development.

Depending on what the app supposed to be, what features it should have and how much money you are willing to pay for it, you can choose between web, native and hybrid app. The truth is, that none of those types is better than others. However, they are distinctly different and have their advantages and disadvantages.

Native app

The native app is written in specific languages for different platforms (Objective-C for IOS and Java for Android). Therefore, developers need to build separate apps if they want it to be available on both operating systems. However, because an app is more suited for each OS it will perform better and deliver improved user experience. 

Furthermore, native apps have access to smartphone hardware such as camera, microphone, and geolocation, that allow you to add more features to the app. This will give users a broader range of options within the app making it more attractive and more interactive keeping the users’ attention for longer. 

Besides that, native apps are available in app stores which allow users to come across them more often increasing the possibility of its installation. Thanks to availability and high-performance native apps usually are the first choice for app developers. However, if you want to build a small and simple app the native type could be too expensive and have features that you don’t actually need.


1. Fast and responsive
2. Better user experience
3. Available in app stores
4. Can have a lot of features
5. Can work offline
6. Can access smartphone hardware


1. Can be quite expensive
2. The need to build separate apps for different platforms
3. Difficult programming languages
4. Not the best choice for simple apps

Web app

The web app is a version of a website that opens in the browser, unlike regular apps. It is designed to look more like a native app to deliver a natural experience for the users. It has limited access to smartphone’s hardware that can affect the app’s ability to interact with users and draw their attention. However, web apps are easy to develop and can work on every smartphone as they are written in HTML5 and JavaScript and can be opened in most browsers.

Progressive web apps are now more popular than regular web apps because they can deliver better user experience as they look more like native apps. However, they can’t be downloaded from the app store and have limited features although due to the addition of Web App Manifest (JSON file) progressive web app can work offline as well.


1. Cheap
2. Easy to develop and maintain
3. Accessible on all platforms


1. Slow
2. Limited features
4. Not easily accessible for users (not available in app stores)

Hybrid app

Hybrid apps are a combination of native and web apps. In fact, they are web apps that behave and look like native apps. Users can install them from the app stores, unlike regular web apps. Although, they do not require a browser to run they still don’t open independently but in WebView.

Hybrid apps are easier and faster to develop however the performance can suffer because the app should be adapted to all platforms it is being developed for. But it is still a better option for smaller apps that don’t need to include a lot of functions. Additionally, hybrid apps can access a smartphone’s camera, microphone, and other features to allow users to interact more with an app and make their experience better.


1. Easier and faster to build
2. Cheaper then native apps
3. Better user experience than web apps
4. Available in app stores
5. Don’t require a browser
6. Can access smartphone hardware


1. Limited customization
2. More expensive than web apps
3. Slower than native apps
4. Difficult to adjust to different platforms

All three types have their strengths and weaknesses and can result in apps with different performance levels and features. It is difficult to say which one of them is better because it solely depends on the needs of the app you plan to develop. At the end of the day, the decision will influence the time and cost of development and the complexity of the app. Therefore, you need to critically assess your financial means and how long you are willing to wait for the finished app.

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