Native App, Web App, or Hybrid App? Which Platform is Best?

While building an app from scratch, you need to make many decisions, from its design schema and functionalities to marketing strategy. Among all the decisions, selecting whether to build a native, web, or hybrid app is quite crucial as it affects your app’s usability, development timeline, budget, accessibility, and performance.

However, you should have answers to these questions before zeroing in on an application type –

  • What are your expectations from the application?
  • What will be the deadline for your app development project?
  • What features do you want to integrate?
  • How much cost do you want to pay for app development?
  • Who is your target audience?

This comparative article will attempt to answer these questions by providing each option’s basics, strengths, weaknesses, and costs. Also, we will share the essential things to consider that can help you greatly in your decision-making.

Photo by Eduardo Rosas

What are Native Apps?

A native application is one that is exclusively targeted and built for a specific device platform, viz. iOS or Android. iOS apps are mainly focused on iPhones and iPad. They are written in Swift or Objective-C. On the other hand, native Android apps are built using Java.

Native apps can effortlessly interact with the operating system features of a device, like a camera, storage, microphone, contacts lists, etc. Apart from this, Native applications offer a reliable, smoother, and faster app experience.


  • Exclusive support from different app stores and other app marketplaces
  • Seamless and crystal clear user input/output
  • Enable developers to access ample features of any operating system
  • Follow the guidelines and standards of a specific UI with pinpoint accuracy

Disadvantages –

  • Experienced developers with specialized skill sets are needed.
  • Native apps are comparatively much costlier than hybrid apps.
  • Native app development is time-consuming compared to its counterparts, as developers have to take time to write codes for specific OS.
  • Usage of various technologies and programming languages makes native app development costlier as you have to develop different apps for respective platforms

What are Web Apps?

A web app is a responsive solution that you can seamlessly access through any web browser whenever you want. Thus, it becomes easier for you to save your storage space as installing it on your device is not necessary. You can even think of web applications as interactive feature-based websites. In addition, web apps have back-end and front-end web development technologies.

The thing that differentiates web apps from websites designed to be interactive is the primary purpose of a website. Therefore, building a web app is a good choice if you are looking to save big on budgets. In addition, you can consider hiring a reputed web app development services provider if you don’t have enough resources on hand.

Advantages –

  • The website to which the application is directly linked gets updated automatically, so users get the most up-to-date & same version via the same URL.
  • You can run web apps on Windows, iOS, or Android. The web browser can easily adapt to any operating system as long as it is in place.
  • Web apps offer better portability as users can operate them from their mobile, laptop, tablet, or desktop.
  • There is no need to store web apps on the devices. As a result, users can save their phone memory with ease.

 Disadvantages – 

  • Lacks a quality control system which may create security concerns
  • App updates and maintenance efforts get increased
  • Web apps are not SEO-friendly as search engines don’t index them
  • Relying on the internet, it may not work in case of connectivity issues
  • A website’s failure in loading fails the app as well

What are Hybrid Apps?

Building a mobile app is good, but it might not give you the real picture of whether users will download it on their devices. And that’s where a hybrid app comes into play. It combines the best aspects of both native and web apps.

Like a native app, you can distribute a hybrid app through different app stores. These apps can use cross-compatible web technologies and incorporate operating system features.

Hybrid apps are platform agnostic solutions built with CSS, HTML, and Javascript. Apart from this, hybrid applications can easily access native APIs that bridge native SDK and WebView.

Advantages –

  • You do not need a web browser to run hybrid applications
  • Contain a reusable codebase that is accessible over various platforms
  • Easier to scale on different platforms
  • Lets you save more on costs thanks to a single codebase
  • Supports enterprise-level and cloud solutions

 Disadvantages – 

  • Hybrid is not the right choice for an app involving complex functionalities
  • Hybrid apps need to be updated when iOS and Android release any new feature
  • It is not a good choice if you want to add 3D components or eye-catchy graphics as it creates quality issues
  • The slower transition among different pages

Considerations for App Development

After having a detailed discussion about the significant application types, let us move forward to the things to consider while developing an app –

  • Offline Accessibility –

If you want to integrate offline accessibility, then native app development is the right choice. Although in-browser caching is available in HTML5, it is not as efficient as a native app’s performance.

  • Speed

Native applications are undoubtedly the frontrunner when it comes to speed. Native apps are exclusively built for one platform, i.e., iOS or Android. Also, it uses a specific platform’s core APIs and programming languages. All these things will make Native apps faster and more responsive.

  • Platform

Before zeroing down on an app development platform, you must define your target audience. For that, you need to decide who will use your app and on what operating systems. For example, if you want to target mass markets, then Android is a good choice. But if you want to target a niche audience, you must adopt iOS for your app.

  • Budget

You can build a mobile application on a very short budget or put in hundreds or thousands of dollars. App development cost heavily depends on the features’ complexity and the functionality you want to integrate.

Regarding the development costs of all three options, native app development can cost you somewhere between $21,000 to $77,000. On the other hand, web application development cost ranges from $10,000 to $2,55,000. At the same time, the cost of building hybrid apps is between $55,000 to $105,000.

  • Minimum viable product

It is pretty straightforward to get carried away by the functionalities you want in your mobile app. But the more functionality your app has, the higher the cost may be. So here, starting with the minimum viable product (MVP) might be best.

With an MVP, you can develop a functioning mobile app, test it, and then build upon it. Once you review your app for usability testing, you may realize that you need additional features.

Concluding Lines

Mobile, web, native, and hybrid applications have their strengths and weaknesses, and your final decision will depend almost entirely on your business needs. Therefore, it’s essential to create a clear understanding of the difference between each option to make the right decision.

After considering your options, you need to hire a reputed app and web development services provider to test run your project rather than hiring an in-house staff. The significant advantage of working with a professional outsourcing development team is that they can help you make your mobile app development project smoother rather than exploring an unknown territory.

About the author

Hardik Shah is a Tech Consultant at Simform, a digital product engineering company. He leads large scale mobility programs that cover platforms, solutions, governance, standardization, and best practices. Connect with him to discuss the best practices of digital product engineering cloud transformation @hsshah.

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