#app, #development, #React Native, #xamarin
30 October 2020
Julianna Sykutera

React Native vs Xamarin

If you follow the latest trends in the app development sector, you know that React Native vs Xamarin is a common battle. They share a spot on the list of top cross-platform technologies. They both provide an environment for convenient development of products on multiple platforms at once. However, they have different functionalities which may be more useful or less, depending on the project. 

Let’s explore the characteristics of the two cross-platform technologies and discover when it’s good to switch to one or the other. 

React Native App Development 

We’ve already talked about what is React Native used for and how the framework makes everything easier. Let’s quickly sum up its history.

React Native is a JavaScript framework brought to us by Facebook. It’s an open-source tool that enables developers to create apps with a native-like feeling. The technology has earned the number 1 place on the list of top cross-development frameworks of 2019 and 2020. Because it’s quite young (released in 2015) it meets most expectations from developers and has a pretty extensive coding society. 

Xamarin App Development 

On the other side of the ring, we have our old friend Xamarin. 

Xamarin is also an open-source framework but it operates on C# and .Net instead of JS libraries and HTML. The framework allows for building apps for Android, iOS, and Windows, enabling sharing approx. 90% of app code across all platforms. It was released in 2013 by Microsoft and since then provides developers with a technology responsible for managing communication between shared code and platform code. 

Let’s compare them on key metrics 

What matters for either developers or product owners is the performance, coding environment, development costs, and possible community support of a given technology.

React Native vs Xamarin: Performance 

React Native lets you build apps with lightning speed processing, highly responsive UI, and great overall performance almost identical to native mobile apps. However, the framework doesn’t support 64-bit mode on Android. 

Xamarin wins one category as it fully supports 64-bit mode and it runs the fastest code on Android and iOS. Xamarin apps also are of high-performance with native-like feeling as it uses platform-specific hardware acceleration. 

React Native vs Xamarin: Development environment 

React Native is very flexible when it comes to choosing your development environment. As a developer, you can select any IDE (integrated dev. env.)/text editor for your work choosing from dozens available on the Internet. Atom, Sublime Text, Visual Studio Code, GNU to name a few. What’s important here is that React Native has a powerful feature called Hot Reloading. It basically means developers can see changes in the code in real-time without the need to fully reload the app. Cool stuff! 

Xamarin has more to offer as it allows you to build apps in Visual Studio Code and Apple’s XCode. Choosing this framework you can write code for an iPhone app on Windows and then compile it for Mac. Visual Studio provides many useful tools and layouts to make your app works just better and it generally simplifies the whole process. 

React Native vs Xamarin: Community support 

React Native capabilities were appreciated by the vast majority of developers worldwide. Because of that, the technology has a pretty extensive coding community around, ready to educate others and share knowledge about working with the framework. If you want to learn React Native, there are tons of materials available online including not only articles but also whole courses and tutorials!

Xamarin is two years older than React Native but since it’s not that popular there will be fewer people operating actively on the technology today. But if you’re looking for experienced Xamarin developers ready to help you with the code, you can find them on forums, Stack Overflow, or QA sites. 

React Native vs Xamarin: Cost

The only thing that makes React Native wins this category is the fact that enterprises have to pay for Visual Studio in order to use Xamarin, while React Native is an open-source framework = free for everyone! 

Pros and cons of React Native 

Pros

Access to native functionalities 

Ready-to-use components 

Highly responsive UI 

Hot reloading feature

Pretty extensive community support 

Open source and free of use 

Cons

Frequent updates  

It can’t handle complex animations 

It doesn’t ensure security for third-party plugins

Inability to perform on multiple screens 

Pros and cons of Xamarin

Pros

Equipped with a profiler that reports about performance issues

Full hardware support (GPS, camera, etc.)

Open source and free

Xamarin Component Store available 

Support for two development environments (Visual Studio and Apple XCode) 

Cons

Complicated documentation

Not the best for complex UI 

Smaller community support 

Large size of Xamarin apps 

Knowledge of platform-specific code might be needed

Summing up

The choice of what to work with lays in your hands. We collected the key information about both technologies to help you see the bigger picture. Overall, both Xamarin and React Native provide great functionalities and environment to build high-performance apps. 

If you work with JavaScript and React developers then React Native will suit you well and those who love C# will probably get friends with Xamarin pretty quickly. But there’s really no rule for it. Remember that by choosing the framework on the basis of your current project specifics you’ll never go wrong!

You can also read: 

Innovative features of React Native development 

Top 5 companies using React Native 

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