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Riddhesh GanatraSOFTWARE ENGINEERauthor linkedin

React vs. React Native: Understanding the Differences


React is know to be a JavaScript library designed for building user interfaces in web applications along with a component-based architecture and virtual DOM for efficient rendering.

Meanwhile , React Native extends React's capabilities to mobile app development, allowing developers to build cross-platform also known as hybrid apps using a single codebase.

While React focuses on web interfaces, React Native leverages native components for creating seamless and performant mobile applications.

Both technologies share a common foundation but cater to different domains, offering flexibility and reusability in their own ecosystems.

In the end , your ultimate choice between React and React Native depends on the specific needs and platforms of your project.

IS React and React Native the same ?

Even though React.js and React Native share the same underlying concepts and are developed by Facebook, they are not the same thing.

Both of these frameworks serve different purposes and are used for different types of development .

For instance, React.js is focused on web development, while React Native is designed for building mobile applications.

However, they both share the same basic principles, such as the component-based architecture and the use of a virtual DOM, making it easier for developers to transition between them if needed.

How do they work

React and React Native are both JavaScript frameworks developed by Facebook for building user interfaces, but they serve different purposes.


  • React is a JavaScript library used for building user interfaces, primarily for web applications. It allows developers to create reusable UI components that can be composed to build complex UIs.
  • It uses a declarative syntax, meaning you describe what you want to happen, and React takes care of updating the DOM to match that description. This is in contrast to imperative programming, where you specify step-by-step instructions.
  • React uses a virtual DOM to optimize rendering. Changes are first made to a virtual DOM, and then React calculates the most efficient way to update the actual DOM.
  • It is commonly used for building single-page applications where the content is dynamically updated without requiring a full page reload.

React Native

  • React Native is a framework for building mobile applications using JavaScript and React. It allows developers to use React concepts and components to build native mobile apps for iOS and Android.
  • One of the key advantages of React Native is that it enables the development of cross-platform mobile apps with a single codebase. Developers can write the majority of the code once and deploy it on both iOS and Android.
  • React Native allows the use of native components, which means that parts of the application can be written in native code (Swift/Java) for performance-critical tasks.
  • Similar to React, React Native supports hot reloading, allowing developers to see the result of the latest code changes in real-time without restarting the entire application.

Points to consider while comparing React with React Native

  • It should not be too difficult for React developers to switch to React Native for mobile development.
  • However, there are some key distinctions to consider while transitioning from web applications to mobile app development.
  • While React Native uses many of the same fundamental principles as React, the transition to mobile requires new considerations such as handling instant push notifications, implementing in-app purchases, optimizing for different screen sizes and device capabilities, managing offline functionality, and ensuring smooth performance on mobile devices.
  • These distinctions need a more thorough understanding of mobile-specific concepts and APIs.
  • Nonetheless, with a solid React foundation, developers can easily adapt to React Native and use its features to create powerful cross-platform mobile applications.


  • React Native serves as an excellent gateway for traditional React web developers to delve into mobile development frameworks.
  • One significant advantage lies in the consistency of the default React API and its fundamental principles, which remain unchanged when transitioning to React Native.
  • Developers can seamlessly apply their existing knowledge of React components, state management, props, and lifecycle methods to build mobile applications.
  • This continuity streamlines the learning curve and facilitates a smooth transition into mobile development.

Performance optimization concepts

  • React Native inherits many optimization strategies from React, allowing developers to leverage familiar JavaScript-based techniques to enhance performance.
  • For instance, React's memoization feature, React.memo(), can be employed in React Native to optimize functional components by preventing unnecessary re-renders.
  • Additionally, techniques such as component splitting, virtualization, and asynchronous rendering can also be utilized to improve the app's responsiveness and resource utilization.
  • Moreover, concepts like state management with Redux or Context API, routing with React Navigation, and styling with CSS-in-JS libraries like Styled Components or Emotion remain consistent across React and React Native development, further simplifying the transition for React developers.

React (Web Development)


  1. Wide Adoption: React has a large and active community, making it easy to find resources, libraries, and solutions to common problems.
  2. Reusable Components: React's component-based architecture promotes reusability, making it easier to manage and maintain code.
  3. Virtual DOM: The use of a virtual DOM enhances performance by minimizing direct manipulation of the actual DOM, leading to efficient updates.
  4. React Ecosystem: A vast ecosystem of third-party libraries and tools is available, enhancing the capabilities of React applications.
  5. Server-Side Rendering (SSR): React supports server-side rendering, improving initial page load times and search engine optimization.


  1. Learning Curve: For beginners, there might be a learning curve, especially when dealing with concepts like JSX and the component lifecycle.
  2. Tooling Complexity: The React ecosystem involves various tools (Webpack, Babel, etc.), which might add complexity to the development setup.
  3. Verbose Syntax: JSX, while powerful, might seem verbose to some developers, especially those accustomed to traditional HTML.

React Native (Mobile App Development)


  1. Cross-Platform Development: Allows for building mobile applications for both iOS and Android using a single codebase, saving time and resources.
  2. Native Performance: React Native apps can achieve near-native performance, as they interact directly with native components.
  3. Hot Reloading: Developers can see the result of code changes in real-time without rebuilding the entire application, facilitating a faster development cycle.
  4. React Development Model: Developers familiar with React can leverage their knowledge and skills when transitioning to mobile app development with React Native.
  5. Access to Native Features: Provides access to device features like camera, GPS, and sensors through native modules, allowing for a native user experience.


  1. Limited Third-Party Libraries: While React Native has a good set of core components, there may be fewer third-party libraries compared to the extensive React ecosystem for web development.
  2. Platform-Specific Code: Despite the cross-platform nature, there might still be a need for platform-specific code for certain functionalities, reducing the true "write once, run anywhere" promise.
  3. Learning Curve for Native Modules: Working with native modules might require additional learning for developers who are not familiar with mobile development.