Regarding app development, Ionic and React Native are two popular options. Although both platforms belong to the cross-platform Ecosystem, they have significant differences. Whether React Native or Ionic, each has its functions, capabilities, and goals. Which is better? Which one to consider for your project? We will try to define each of them individually and then highlight the pros and cons to get a clear idea.
Ionic is an open-source framework for developing progressive and native web and mobile applications. The latest version of Ionic has greatly improved over the earlier versions in terms of usability, features, and performance.
Ionic framework is platform independent. It supports both iOS and Android. At the same time, it also supports the Universal Windows Platform if the need arises to develop applications for Windows 10. Ionic’s cross-platform allows developers to spend less time creating applications.
When working on hybrid applications, the Ionic platform usually works with Cordova to improve performance. Using CSS for transition purposes maximizes CPU time while utilizing overall GPU performance.
Easy to adapt
Cordova plugins work well with the Ionic framework. Integrating these plugins when developing an application using the ionic platform improves the functional aspects of the application by providing access to features such as flashlights, GPS, email, cameras, etc. In addition, Ionic is best suited for those customers whose needs are mainly focused on the development of hybrid applications.
Ionic’s user interface is highly user-friendly. Every available component and theme can be customized. The user interface is such that it forces the members to adapt accordingly to different platforms.
Developed with AngularJS
This makes Ionic a solid framework to work with. Since Ionic is built on AngularJS, developers are given the opportunity to take advantage of several additional features and a robust structure to control the coding process convincingly. It also allows developers to work on hybrid applications with confidence.
This is a minor issue. In most cases, you won’t notice any performance issues with Ionic. But in some specific circumstances, there is a marginal performance gap.
The ionic structure is not safe. However, most applications that cater to the financial and account sector, banking applications, government site applications, and consider an Ionic framework for development purposes are not recommended when developing complex applications. This may not provide a better security option than native applications.
Restriction of built-in functionality
The Ionic Framework does not support all built-in features. Some features are missing, and in such cases, you need to look for third-party plugins, or you can even develop the same ones.
React Native was developed by Facebook and is considered one of the most promising open source frameworks for mobile app development. React Native is platform agnostic, which means that apps developed using this framework can run efficiently on any platform, such as iOS and Android. The capabilities of native platforms are used when using the framework for developing cross-platform applications.
Pros React Native
Minimal investment without slowing down development speed
React Native is a cross-platform framework with which codes can be easily ported to different platforms. This suggests that developers can create two different versions of an application with minimal effort for two other platforms. This saves time and money by increasing development speed.
Great user interface promises a great user experience
The React Native UI is highly stable and user-friendly. It has been designed to provide the best possible user experience regarding fast loading speeds and smooth navigation. User interfaces contain built-in widgets, and their flawless performance is the key to success. The user interface makes React Native a popular choice for developing business applications with less investment.
Live update capability
Codes can be used over and over again
One code works for different platforms. It’s a pleasure to work with the React Native framework. The same code you use to develop Android apps can be used to create iOS apps with a few changes. This code reuse feature helps save a lot of time when developing applications. The support of the React Native developer community is an added benefit.
Intuitive interface and modular structure increase the flexibility of the development team
As already stated, code reuse is possible with React Native. This reusability also helps to identify errors and correct them. The intuitive and modular architecture makes it easy for developers to understand projects. As a result, the flexibility of the team working on the project is increased. It also helps reduce maintenance time.
Cons React Native
Security can be a problem
Unstable memory management
Difficult to learn in a short time
For a beginner, React Native may seem a bit difficult to learn, and the same in a short time. React Native can be a daunting task for those new to the field. Some other cross-platform competitors are easier to learn compared to React Native.
Initialization time is longer than usual
Relatively new to the field
React Native is a new framework and, therefore, immature on some level. The framework is still on the verge of improvement, and developers often have to write additional codes for the component compatibility factor.
Hybrid vs native apps
Many are faced with a choice: Ionic or React Native. Both have a huge team of dedicated developers, both frameworks are heavily used in large projects, and both boast a set of consumer-favorite applications. React Native and Ionic allow developers to build mobile apps for iOS and Android.
Yes, both of these frameworks are good: they allow developers to quickly model and publish applications to numerous resources with one source code.
That’s all well and good, but how do these two technologies differ? Which one is best for your mobile project?
Before you start, there is one crucial thing to consider. Ionic is a framework for hybrid mobile apps, while React Native is a cross-platform framework for developing native apps.
We will consider some parameters for comparison:
The positive aspect of React Native is that it allows you to write some components in Swift, Objective-C, or Java when developers need it. Using native modules and libraries in React Native applications, you can deal with operations involving many calculations, such as editing videos or pictures.
Ionic uses HTML5, CSS, and JS to develop and run applications and also requires Cordova to access control on native platforms. Working on Ionic, you can use TypeScript, which improves the quality of the code.
This is the ranking of frameworks based on the advantages that their languages provide:
- React Native (React)
- Ionic Framework (Angular)
Ionic provides incredible access to code reuse. The idea of ”packaged web applications” ensures you can reuse code. As a result, you just get a “packaged” web application. The library of adaptive components also helps (they automatically adapt to the platform on which the application is launched).
React Native also compiles to native conditional settings but only provides a basic set of components. You already have to adjust them yourself, from which a lot of work follows for the application to fit the style of both platforms. In short, code can be reused (because you’re still using the same language, and libraries like Redux don’t need tweaking).
Here’s how you can rate these frameworks for code reusability:
- Ionic framework
- React Native
Extensive template library
This parameter answers the following questions: How easy is creating a beautiful UI? Will you have to make many UI components yourself, or is there a large set of pre-made ones? Do these sets automatically adjust to the required platform?
Ionic itself is a vast collection of pre-built and styled-components. The compiler responsible for the native application is also part of the Ionic suite (provided by the CLI) but also uses bundles such as Cordova or Capacitor. The components that Ionic provides are automatically adapted to the platform on which the application is running. So creating a beautiful, native-looking application is a pleasure.
React Native has a good set of built-in components, but many must be styled by hand. In addition, they are non-adaptive. Just like with Flutter, you have two OS alternatives. This requires fitting into your code, where you already have to select styles and widgets according to conditions.
Here’s how you can evaluate both frameworks by the library of ready-made components:
- Ionic framework
- React Native
The performance provided by React Native is similar to native applications as it renders code elements to the native API. React also allows you to use native modules, which can be written in native languages in incredibly complex cases. However, they cannot be used across platforms. Their main goal is to provide high performance.
In terms of performance, Ionic loses. Its performance is not as good as React Native or Flutter. The reason for this is the use of web technologies to render the application. This approach significantly reduces the speed. In addition, it does not use native components and only tries to create a native look or feel through web technologies.
But there is also the other side of the coin—ionic speeds up the testing process, which runs instantly in the browser and simplifies the development process.
Among the three available frameworks, Ionic provides the lowest performance due to the use of web technologies. There is only one “but.” “Worse” does not always mean “terrible” or even “bad.” Performance is worse only when compared to other options. On modern devices, any application will run without a hitch. You will hardly notice the difference if your FPS is 100 instead of 105. So don’t forget about Ionic when you start developing a new application.
This is how you can rank these frameworks in terms of performance:
- React Native
Users begin to judge the application from the first seconds of launch. Therefore, the GUI of the application must combine attractiveness and simplicity. Let’s see what they offer us:
React Native modules are linked to native UI controllers, making them as user-friendly as native apps. In addition, it uses the ReactJS library with rich UI elements. All this together dramatically simplifies the development of the UI.
Ionic doesn’t use any native elements at all and just renders everything in HTML and CSS. He then uses Cordova to create a native feel. The Angular components that the framework includes also make Ionic apps feel native.
Here’s how they can be sorted by what kind of UI they offer:
- React Native
Ecosystem and Third Party Libraries
What does their Ecosystem look like? Is it easy to find help (for example, on Stack Overflow), and are there third-party libraries from which to add the desired functionality?
Here’s how you can rate them against the Ecosystem and third-party libraries:
- React Native
Market and community
A dynamic ecosystem is good, but the popularity of the chosen option also matters. Let’s see:
In terms of popularity, Ionic comes right after React. It allows developers to build native mobile apps the fastest way. Ionic has strong community support and a great marketplace where you can find many starters and templates to start developing any app from Uber to Spotify.
Here’s how they can be sorted by industry recognition and reliability:
- React Native
Access to native device functionality
Your application will need access to native features such as a camera or GPS. How easy is it to get? And is it just as easy for relatively new features like the Android/iOS AR API?
To provide access to native features, Ionic has Cordova and Capacitor. They offer a good set of packages to access functionality, such as the camera. You can also write your wrappers for some functions and include them in your code. It is worth noting that the Ionic/Cordova and Angular plugins are stable and updated with every platform update.
Due to its popularity, React Native has a huge set of third-party packages and built-in APIs for accessing the platform’s functionality. Over-reliance on third-party packages has drawbacks, which the developers of those packages may have left behind. Because of this, support is not at the same level as Ionic and NativeScript.
Here’s how they can be sorted by accessibility to native device functionality:
- React Native
React Native: Android 4.1+ , iOS 8+
Ionic: Android 4.4+ , iOS 8+ , Windows 10
React Native: Facebook, Instagram, UberEats, Airbnb (later, they stopped using RN)
Ionic: JustWatch, Pacifica, Nationwide, and many more
React Native: Fully open-source framework. Developers can use this system and its libraries free of charge. Ionic: This is a free, open-source framework for developing cross-platform applications. The company also offers a paid Pro Development Environment. They ensure that Ionic Pro speeds up the development process.
When working with React Native, any third-party library can become outdated and incompatible with the updated codebase. This leads to serious support problems.
In Ionic, unlike RN, you only have to work on maintaining a single application (in RN, you need to support builds for iOS and Android separately). The biggest problem is the constant updates of the framework itself and frequent releases on Ionic and Cordova.
If you need to build near-native, performance apps, then React Native is your choice. On the other hand, if the rental requirements allow you to create a productive application that looks like a native one, you can always start working in Ionic. Everything depends on the needs of the project.
In general, it cannot be said that some framework is better and some are worse. They are just different. The choice depends on the tasks, the ultimate goal, and many other factors. It can be recommended to use Ionic for rapid development of mobile application prototypes and React Native for full-fledged development of ready-made solutions.