React Native vs Xamarin: What’s the Best Cross-Platform App Development Framework?

Looking to develop an app that runs on multiple devices? Well, you’re not alone. Many business leaders are planning to launch their cross-platform app that runs best on multiple platforms together at a relatively lower cost.

Since there are various cross-platform app development frameworks available such as Flutter, Kotlin, Ionic, and more, React Native and Xamarin stand out as robust choices.

You can now develop scalable and secure cross-platform mobile applications. This ultimately solves the problem of many entrepreneurs and business owners about developing separate apps for multiple operating systems.  

Based on a survey by Statista, 32% of software developers across the globe use React Native app development platform while 12% use Xamarin for developing cross-platform mobile applications. 

But the question here is: which one is better: React Native or Xamarin?

Both platforms bring various benefits to the table especially high-quality UI/UX design and optimal project budget which are essential for every company. 

However, to get more clarity on this consideration, let’s compare them to find a suitable fit for your business. 

An Introduction to Xamarin and React Native

Xamarin stands as an open-source cross-platform application development tool, initially a paid resource until Microsoft’s acquisition in 2016. Following this, it transformed into an open-source platform and is now a prominent choice for building apps on Android, iOS, and wearables with a native interface.

Microsoft integrates Xamarin into Visual Studio’s IDE, offering a free tool within the Visual Studio Enterprise suite. This makes Xamarin a leading technology stack for enterprise app development, known for its versatility and cross-platform capabilities.

In contrast, React Native, owned by Facebook, is a JavaScript framework enabling the execution of natively rendered Android and iOS app development processes. It boasts immense popularity and serves as a fundamental component in renowned mobile app development processes.

Major players like Instagram, Bloomberg, Vogue, Wix, Uber, and Tesla are built on React Native, testifying to its robustness. The framework not only facilitates a dual-platform presence but also competes intensely with native app development, leaving developers pondering over the ideal choice for their app development endeavors.

Here are some of the convincing reasons behind using React Native and Xamarin that will help you to make the right decision:-

Why use React native for Cross-Platform App Development?

  1. Intuitive

React Native adopts a modular architecture similar to React, enhancing code readability and ease of development. Its modular nature enables clear differentiation of functionalities through independent code blocks.

  1. Community-Driven

Originating as an internal project at Facebook, React Native’s shift to open-source fostered a large and supportive community. This communal atmosphere makes mobile app development feel collaborative and backed by collective efforts.

  1. Cross-Platform

React Native app dveelopmnet framework, like Xamarin, emphasizes high code reusability, saving time and costs. Its unique approach of relying predominantly on the graphical processing unit (GPU) rather than the central processing unit (CPU) contributes to exceptional speed, setting it apart from other hybrid technologies.

  1. Exceptional features

React Native introduces standout features like ‘hot load’ or ‘live reload,’ enabling developers to witness immediate updates in their codebase. This distinctive feature is cherished by many React Native developers for its efficiency and real-time responsiveness.

Why use Xamarin for cross-platform development? 

  1. Cross-Platform

Xamarin’s use of C# in the .NET ecosystem makes mobile app development more accessible. Code works across platforms while maintaining native-like performance, facilitated by Xamarin.Android and Xamarin.iOS, offering access to relevant SDKs for Android and iOS.

  1. Efficient

Xamarin’s efficiency lies in code sharing between operating systems, saving time and costs. A unified technological stack in C# allows writing UIs and core logic for both platforms. Xamarin.Forms facilitates easy maintenance through source code updates, and Xamarin Test Cloud ensures automated bug testing.

  1. Maintainable

Xamarin.Forms simplifies app maintenance with source code updates applied universally. Xamarin Test Cloud and Xamarin Test Recorder identify bugs before stable releases, ensuring a reliable app.

  1. Comprehensive

Backed by .NET, Xamarin provides comprehensive tooling for a rich developer experience. Beyond libraries like Xamarin.Essential, it supports CSS and other libraries, offering real-time collaboration via Visual Studio Live Share, code cleanup, and intelligent suggestions.

Key differences between Xamarin and React Native

While Xamarin and React Native are both cross-platform app development frameworks, they have some key differences in terms of technology stack, development approach, and performance:

  1. Technology Stack

Xamarin employs C# and the .NET framework, fostering a development environment suited to Microsoft technologies. React Native relies on JavaScript and React, attracting developers with web development expertise and a different set of tools.

  1. Development Approach

Xamarin caters to two methods: Xamarin.Forms for shared UI code across platforms and Xamarin.Native for platform-specific APIs. React Native adopts a declarative approach, where developers articulate UI using JavaScript and React components.

  1. Performance

Xamarin boasts near-native performance by directly interacting with native APIs. Conversely, React Native introduces a bridge between JavaScript and native components, which can cause slight performance overhead. Despite this, continuous enhancements make React Native capable of delivering high-performance apps.

  1. Development Tools

Xamarin seamlessly integrates with Visual Studio, providing a robust suite of debugging and testing tools. React Native, on the other hand, offers its development tools, including the React Native CLI and Expo CLI, both well-equipped to handle third-party libraries and tools.

  1. Community and Support

Xamarin benefits from strong support backed by Microsoft, ensuring regular updates and bug fixes. React Native, being a creation of Facebook, boasts a lively community with contributions from developers globally, fostering ongoing improvements and support.

  1. Popularity

While popularity alone doesn’t define a software’s value, it significantly influences interactions. React Native’s open-source nature fosters a larger community and tooling compared to Xamarin, which is closed-source and Microsoft-maintained. This trend is evident in Stack Overflow discussions and Google Trends, highlighting React Native’s broader appeal.

  1. Availability

Open-source frameworks are typically free, a feature not entirely applicable to Xamarin, which has limitations on its free version. The availability of React Native’s free and unrestricted nature gives it a distinct advantage, making it more accessible for React native app development companies and businesses alike.

  1. Compilation

JavaScript in frameworks like React Native utilizes just-in-time (JIT) compilation. While compiled languages tend to offer faster execution, JIT compilation might blend the advantages of interpreted and compiled languages. However, React Native’s JIT compilation works for Android app development but not iOS, affecting iOS app performance. C# supports both JIT and ahead-of-time (AOT) compilation, with AOT providing faster execution in most cases.

  1. Costs

Both Xamarin and React Native are ostensibly free, but Xamarin’s free tier is limited to individuals and small businesses. For broader access, a Visual Studio Enterprise annual edition, priced at nearly $3000, is required. In contrast, React Native remains entirely free, making it a more attractive option.

React Native or Xamarin – When to choose what?

Xamarin is the Right Option to Consider When

  • Faster Development Process: When speed is crucial, Xamarin offers an efficient development cycle.
  • MVC and MVVM Patterns: If you prefer using MVC or MVVM patterns in your application architecture.
  • Testing Within Development Environment: When you want to conduct app testing seamlessly within the development environment.
  • No High-End Graphics Requirement: If your application doesn’t demand intricate high-end graphics.

React Native is a Good Choice for Mobile App Development When: 

  • Building Social Media Apps: For applications similar to social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
  • Developing eCommerce Apps: When working on eCommerce applications.
  • Integration of Facebook Ads: If you intend to incorporate Facebook ads into your application. 

Final Words

After a thorough comparison between React Native and Xamarin for cross-platform app development, the choice boils down to specific business needs.

For businesses prioritizing speed and code reuse, React Native emerges as the favorable option. Conversely, those desiring diverse development language options and native access might lean towards Xamarin.

There’s no one-size-fits-all tool for cross-platform development; both React Native and Xamarin have proven their effectiveness. Your project’s requirements will determine the right choice.

It’s advisable to consult with a React Native app development company and seek expert advice tailored to your project.

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