Native vs. Cross-platform: Which Is Best For Your Business?

native vs cross platform development

In a world where people spend 3 hours daily on their smartphones, the future for app publishing sure looks bright. Apps have become so essential that the average person uses nine of them throughout the day. Unsurprisingly, global app revenue is expected to reach $755.5 billion by 2027

But the competition is fierce. In a sea of over 5.6 million Android and iOS apps, getting yours noticed, downloaded, and regularly used can be difficult.

Choosing a development approach for your app is among the first and most important decisions to make. And when it comes time for development, no topic is more polarizing than cross-platform app development vs. native.

Which one should you pick? In this blog, we’ll compare native app development vs. cross-platform to help you find the right fit. We also give you some tips for choosing a mobile app development company if you’re looking to hire a dedicated development team

In this article:

What is native app development?

Native development involves building apps tailored for a specific platform using languages and tools that are native or natural for that platform’s natural operation. This means Swift for iOS app development and Java or Kotlin for Android.  

The native approach allows full access to the platform’s resources and features. However, it also means you need to build and sustain separate native applications for each platform. This trade-off can be worthwhile in some cases because native development offers the following advantages:

  • Solid performance – Native apps don’t use a bridge or other compiler that can break performance or add an extra layer of complexity while developing. They also give developers direct access to features like cameras, accelerometers, and GPS. 
  • Good user experience Native applications adhere to platform-specific UI guidelines and SDKs to deliver brand-standardized UX. 
  • Updated security Native apps are built using the last platform’s security features and APIs, providing updated protection against malware and other security threats. 

Overall, native app development is a dependable approach that continues to be widely used. But it has several drawbacks: 

  • Less flexibility – Because there are separate codebases for iOS and Android, it can be difficult to implement changes or updates made to one app in the other. 
  • More expensive – Building native apps for different platforms is resource intensive. Android and iOS require different skill sets and programming languages, so you need to hire developers for each platform. 
  • Difficult to maintain – Native apps require separate updates and bug fixes for each platform, complicating maintenance. 
  • Slower time-to-market – Developing separate apps for different platforms takes longer than building a single app that works everywhere. This can delay app launch and give competitors an advantage in capturing market share and customer attention.

Native app development may be the best choice if you intend to launch an OS-specific app on just one platform. It can also be effective when device-specific features are necessary.

For example, if your app requires access to lower-level system tools such as the iPhone’s CarPlay. 

But outside these two scenarios, native cross-platform development is the clear winner. 

What is native cross-platform development?

The terms hybrid cross-platform and native cross-platform are often used interchangeably, but they’re slightly different. Let’s distinguish the two before we proceed.

Hybrid cross-platform

Hybrid cross-platform development broadly refers to building a single application that runs on multiple platforms using another technology as a bridge to build apps. During its early days, this approach relied on web-based technologies like Cordova (previously known as PhoneGap) and Ionic. 

Native cross-platform

Native cross-platform development is a newer type of cross-platform approach. It refers specifically to using tools and frameworks that leverage native UI components and platform-specific APIs, resulting in apps that look and feel native. When it comes to frameworks, Flutter and React Native are the current leaders. 

  • Google-backed Flutter is an open-source UI toolkit that allows developers to create beautiful, high-performance applications for Android, iOS, and the web. Popular names like Alibaba, eBay, and Google Pay all use this framework. We’ve used Flutter to develop the white-label food delivery app Swfast.
  • React Native, on the other hand, is a Meta-developed JavaScript framework that lets developers build native mobile iOS and Android apps using a single codebase. Skype, Wix, Bloomberg, and various small modules in Instagram and Facebook use this framework. We used React Native to develop the exMox app.

From Microsoft to Shopify, big tech loves native cross-platform because of its clear value proposition — invest your efforts in building and maintaining one high-performing app instead of diluting resources in separate apps. This preferred approach offers key benefits:

  • Faster development – There is no need to write platform-specific code for each operating system. Focusing on one codebase also streamlines bug fixes and deployment. All of this translates to a shorter time to market, which is crucial for competing in a fast-paced industry. 
  • Better market reach – Cross-platform apps reach a wider audience because they work on multiple platforms. And we’re not just talking about Android and iOS but also Linux, macOS, Windows, smartwatches, and even connected home appliances. 
  • More cost-effective – Using a single development team and codebase for multiple platforms is more cost-effective than hiring separate teams for each.
  • Better consistency – There’s a misconception that native cross-platform apps are less consistent than native apps. This is simply not true. React Native makes it easy to achieve consistency with its JavaScript-to-native bridge and hot reloading features and its component-based architecture.

    Flutter requires UI rendering but offers tooling to nativize scrolling inertia, wait indicators, and similar features. Its platform channels also allow developers to incorporate native UI elements and fall back to native code when necessary. Seamless communication between Flutter’s Dart code and platform-specific codes provides access to native APIs or functionalities. 
  •  Simpler maintenance and better security – A one-code approach makes synchronizing updates and security patches easier. 
  • Flexibility – Cross-platform apps can be quickly adjusted to reflect customer feedback. This helps boost user satisfaction and retention.

Given all these benefits, it’s easy to see why analysts expect the cross-platform tool market to grow by 17% every year until 2030.

But while native cross-platform frameworks have come a long way in accessing device-specific features, they can’t leverage all the functions native development can. For example, some hardware components (such as sensors) may not be fully accessible. 

What are the key factors to consider when choosing an approach to mobile app development?

After reviewing each approach’s benefits and limitations, you can start deciding which strategy best serves your project. This means looking at factors beyond just the platform.

  • Development time – Choose an approach that aligns with your project timeline. Building one app that works on all platforms is generally faster than building a separate one for each. 
  • User experience – The success of your app will depend largely on how users interact with it. These days, apps built by experienced developers on React Native and Flutter are as smooth as native apps.
  • Cost – Because native cross-platform development uses a single codebase for multiple platforms, it’s around 30% cheaper than native. Even large companies with unlimited resources find it more practical to use this approach. 
  • Maintenance – Cross-platform apps are easier to maintain because there is only one codebase to manage.
  • Future scalability – Flutter and React Native have narrowed the performance gap between native and cross-platform apps. They make it quick and easy to accommodate new users or add functionalities to support scalability. Additionally, these frameworks have large communities of developers for support and can easily integrate with other technologies. 

All things considered, native cross-platform development is the best choice for most projects. When wielded by a highly-experienced mobile app development company, this “write once and use everywhere” approach is superior to native development. 

Developing with native languages vs. native cross-platform development

Here’s a quick cheat sheet to answer one of the most common questions – which is better: native app development vs cross-platform app?

 NativeNative cross-platform
Time to marketLongShort
Ease of updatingComplexMedium to complex
CostHighMedium to low
User reachLimitedLarge
Quality of UXExcellentExcellent
SpeedVery fastVery fast
Device accessFullPartial

Choosing a mobile app development company

Working with a mobile app development company that has the right skills, experience, and approach is crucial for the success of your app.

key factos when choosing an app development company

Here are some factors to consider when choosing a partner:

  • Experience – If you want to build an app targeting both platforms, choose a company with a proven track record in iOS and Android cross-platform development. They will understand the strengths and limitations of various frameworks and can help you select the best fit for your project. Because they’re familiar with platform-specific requirements, they can ensure your app complies with all applicable standards.

You can also benefit from their efficient coding techniques and optimal resource allocation. This can result in faster time-to-market, reduced costs, and an app that delivers a consistent and engaging user experience across both iOS and Android.

  • Portfolio – Have they successfully completed apps similar to the one you want to build? A company that has built apps for clients with comparable needs and challenges can better understand your project’s technical requirements, potential obstacles, and solutions. Evaluate their previous work to gauge their ability to deliver a product that meets your expectations and aligns with your objectives.
  • Reviews and references – Check Clutch rankings to see what other clients say about a prospective developer. is a respected B2B ratings and reviews platform in the IT services domain. It’s a valuable resource for businesses looking to hire software development firms, mobile app developers, web design experts, digital marketing agencies, and other IT professionals.
  • Development processNearshoring is a practical approach for mobile app projects that require continuous collaboration. It means working with a team in a nearby country, like Brazil, to benefit from similar time zones and cultural alignment. 
  • Pricing and value proposition – The cost of app development ranges widely from a few thousand to millions of dollars, depending on complexity. Naturally, simpler apps cost less than intricate apps that require more time, person-hours, and financial investment. You want to work with a developer that is transparent about how it calculates the cost of the project and is open about any additional expenses that are not included in the base price (like security, hosting, and marketing.) 
  • Communication – Open communication ensures that developers understand project goals and requirements, preventing delays and additional costs. It also facilitates collaboration and faster problem-solving. Transparency allows timely risk mitigation, fosters trust, and prevents miscommunication for better outcomes. 

Dedicated development teams excel in communication. Their focused approach improves understanding and teamwork. Established processes and channels reduce miscommunication and delays, allowing team members to quickly reach a consensus. Close collaboration and familiarity also encourage continuous improvement. 

Cheesecake Labs is your partner for native and cross-platform development

cheesecake labs software development company latin america

Cheesecake Labs is proud to be one of the best mobile app developers in Latin America. We are trusted by a long list of mid-market and enterprise clients to deliver high-quality apps that work seamlessly on multiple devices. With our expertise in cross-platform frameworks, we can build native-quality apps efficiently. 

Ready to chat about your mobile app development project? We can turn your idea into a fully viable product. Get in touch to get started!

About the author.

Natam Oliveira
Natam Oliveira

VP of Engineering at Cheesecake Labs - IA / IoT enthusiast. Go bravely where no one have never gone before!