How to Choose Between Web or Native App

The war of supremacy between native apps and web apps has been brewing ever since HTML5 has been launched. The supporters of native apps have come out quite vocally on this issue and hailed the native apps superior in all aspects. They are said to be faster, stable and more in control of the mobile operating system and the device hardware. Whereas, the web apps are considered to be slower as compared and poorly featured. Many experts are of a view that best of both kinds of apps should be embraced and a hybrid app should be created to provide a holistic experience.

An overview of a native app and a web app

If we talk about the basics, a native app is one that is built using programming languages like Java, Objective-C, C++, etc for a specific platform and has to be installed on the mobile devices for use. On the other hand, a web app does not reside inside the mobile device but is operated using a mobile browser. It is built using a markup languages like HTML5 and others like CSS, JavaScript, etc. An app with features of both native and web apps is called a hybrid app.

How to Choose Between Web or Native App

Salient features of a native app:

  • The native app is developed for a specific mobile operating system.
  • It is installed inside the compatible device for use.
  • Native apps can access the hardware features of the mobile device such as camera, gyroscope, fingerprint security, proximity sensors, and many others.
  • These apps can notify the users in case of any update.
  • Native apps can be published on the app stores of the mobile platform it is meant for.
  • They may not require an active internet connection to operate.
  • Mobile games available on the app stores are the examples.

Features of a web app: 

  • They require an active internet connection to run as they reside on the server.
  • They are not downloaded or installed on the device and can be accessed through a mobile browser.
  • These apps have partial or limited access to the hardware features of the mobile device.
  • Web apps cannot send notifications to the mobile users through the notification center.
  • They are not published on mobile app stores and hence, do not need any approval.
  • They are cross-browser compatible and not specific to a mobile device or platform.
  • Examples are mobile websites like and others.

Factors that help you decide between native and web app

If you wish to take your business to the mobile users and are in a dilemma over web apps and native apps, you need to be sure about certain factors. Ask yourself the intended audience of the app, take into consideration the purpose of the app and the budget that you wish to allocate to the process of development. After going through the factors discussed below, you will be in a better position to take the call.

Target users

Depending on the users that the app intends to target, the type of the app can be decided. If the app wishes to target the customers such as tech geeks and youth, who are very picky about the apps they choose, a native app is a better choice for obvious reasons. These apps are capable of providing better UX, the liberty of usage, and range of functionality which a web app cannot think of.

On the other hand, if the app is intended to target the customers who love to buy merchandise online, web apps can suffice as such apps require internet connection to operate and can do without access to the device’s hardware features.How to Choose Between Web or Native App1

Type of app 

The kind of functionality an app performs largely decides whether it should be built like a native or a web app. A mobile game, for instance, does not require an active internet connection all the time and needs access to hardware capabilities of mobile phone like accelerometer, gyroscope, multiple touches, etc. Such an app has to be a native one and not a web app.

On the contrary, an e-commerce app just requires an active internet connection and no access to any hardware feature. A web app type is perfectly suited for e-commerce mobile application.


Cost is a very important decision maker as far as native and web apps are considered. It is quite obvious that a web app involves the lesser cost of development as HTML5 and JavaScript developers are not as highly paid as Java or Objective-C developers. Moreover, the time consumed in building a web app is much lesser than a native app. Therefore, if you have limited resources, you can go with the web apps as they would cost less but work across all platforms.


As the native apps reside inside the mobile devices, they are bound to be faster than web apps. However, every app does not require high speed and for such apps where swiftness of operation is unimportant, web apps are good alternatives. However, as the speed of an app is directly associated with your UX, compromising on it can have a detrimental effect on the success of your app. Cost factors can be overshadowed if speed is important for your app. In such cases, Native apps must be chosen.

Closing thoughts

With mobile apps becoming the center of businesses, the discussions about two major variations of apps- native and the web have also picked up. Both the apps have their own pros and cons and their utility depends on the factors discussed above. A more practical and effective approach is followed where a blend of native and web apps called the hybrid apps are being deployed. Such apps have the best features of both the types and work smoothly across a range of mobile devices without much hassle.

Author’s Bio: The author of the blog Nola Arney is an app developer working at HTMLPanda. Apart from building the great mobile application, She has a penchant for writing on topics revolving around the technologies, innovations, and advancements in the app development domain. She has published hundreds of write-ups in several online forums and portals.

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