React Native vs NativeScript: The Complete Comparison Explained

November 25, 2020
13 mins read
Last Updated September 08, 2021
React native vs Nativescript preview

React Native vs NativeScript: The Complete Comparison Explained

The mobile industry is growing continuously, with new tech stacks being introduced every day with multiple framework options to choose from for your next project. Such expansion makes it almost impossible and difficult to pick the right framework to build creative ideas for a native mobile app development project. Opting for the right framework requires feedback from experts and professionals’ experience, including your own experience and insights. 

React Native vs. NativeScript are both some of the popular JavaScript-based frameworks. But, which framework is best suitable for building complex applications? Or for developing apps that can extend on a niche-scale or enterprise-level? The list of questions and the criteria for choosing goes on. Choosing an unlikely framework that does not suit your project requirements might lead to paying through your nose. 

To help you avoid such situations, we have conducted a comparative analysis to gather all the necessary and advanced details you need to know about React Native vs. NativeScript in this article. By the end of this article, you will realize that all details are crucial. You will understand everything essential to pick the best suitable framework to build truly-native mobile applications

What is React Native? – An overview

React Native is a popular open-source framework that runs on JavaScript. It primarily focuses on the native rendering of applications that is majorly compatible with Android and iOS. React Native is written with the combination of XML -Esque markup and JavaScript which is also known as JSX. It is backed by the social media giant Facebook, with over 50 dedicated engineers working on the framework at present.

Here are some cool stats for the market usage of React Native:

  • In 2020, 42% of developers are reported to use RN for cross-platform application development. (Source: Statista)
  • 11.5% of developers prefer to use React Native for its native tools and libraries. (Source: StackOverflow)
  • 58.5% of the developing community loves using React Native. (Source: StackOverflow)

Use cases of React Native

  • Simple cross-platform apps
  • Quick prototype applications
  • Apps with simplified UI
  • Apps that look nearly native with responsive UX using FlexBox
  • Apps with reusable components
  • Apps that operate with synchronous APIs

What popular apps are made with React Native?

Facebook – Developed a supercharged, supportive mobile UI with simple navigation.

Walmart – Improved user experience by building smooth in-app animations identical to native functionality.

Bloomberg – Streamlined simple-to-access, personalized content for users with automatic code refreshing features.

Instagram – Implemented push notification in the form of WebView without building navigation infrastructure.

SoundCloud – Bridged the time gap between updates and patched versions simultaneously for iOS and Android.

Wix – Achieved high speed and agility in the development of configurable navigations and screen options.

What is NativeScript? – An overview

NativeScript is an open-source framework that builds cross-platform applications for iOS and Android using JavaScript. It transpiles one programming language to another, building native applications using Angular, Vue JS, and TypeScript. Unlike other frameworks that use Cordova for rendering a WebView-driven app UI, NativeScript has a rendering engine that provides native performance and user experience. 

Market usage of NativeScript:

  • Today, 5% to 11% of developers use NaiveScript for cross-platform application development. (Source: Statista)
  • The number of NativeScript downloads between 2019 and 2020 increased to more than 812,575. (Source: npm stat) 
  • 28% of developers are dedicated to using NativeScript for more than a year for various cross-platform application development. (Source: NativeScript survey) 

Use cases of NativeScript

  • Apps with massive server connectivity 
  • Simple gaming apps 
  • Real-time applications 
  • Music or Video streaming apps 
  • Geolocation apps 
  • Apps that can function with the default apps of the device 

What are popular apps made with NativeScript?

Sennheiser – Improved the ability to code between iOS and Android platforms with 85% code sharing and 100% element-sharing capacities. They also improved the development rate by 40%. 

PUMA – Built high-quality, simple-interface mobile apps in a short time. Easily integrated on-demand native features like messaging, push notifications, user authorization with cloud storage capabilities among others. 

Airbnb Design – Leveraged NativeScript with Lottie to create a native performance for building creative UI elements that quickly render After Effects animations in real-time. Additionally, developers could manipulate code according to the native design. 

MDBootstrap – Built a dedicated UI kit that functioned efficiently with native applications– ready-to-use mobile components, features, and icons. Created responsive and scalable cross-platform portable kits to develop flexible and native app compatibility. 

Portable North Pole (PNP) – Sharing of xplat-code with NativeScript allowed PNP to enhance and diversify platform compatibility without compromising the user experience and features. 

SAP – Used to build its mobile development kit that allowed higher code abstraction levels. Without influencing the system network, it rendered JavaScript codes into useful native codes with sophisticated business logic.

React Native vs. NativeScript – Pros and cons

Let’s compare React Native vs NativeScript to analyze their advantages and limitations.

Pros of React Native

  • Native rendering: Uses host platform to natively render APIs without the need for HTML or CSS markup. 
  • Performance: Translates the markup of an application to mimic authentic UI elements and yet maintain high performance. 
  • Ecosystem: Leverages rich ecosystem and UI libraries to automatically re-render app appearance with each state change. 
  • Debugging: Provides accessibility to intelligent debugging tools and error reporting. 
  • Hot-reloading: Allows hot reloading to add new codes directly into a live application. 

Cons of React Native

  • User Interface: Native rendering of APIs may not support certain native UI elements, which may make the UI look a little off. 
  • Tools and Plugins: Third-party libraries that can be used for better implementation may often turn out to be outdated.  
  • Performance: Does not support parallel threading and multi-processing, resulting in slow performance. 
  • Debugging: Chrome debugger might be inconvenient to edit, inspect codes, and UI elements properly. 

Pros of NativeScript

  • Cross-technology compatibility: Uses Angular, TypeScript, or JavaScript that allows convenient data binding and more component reusability. 
  • Native functionality: Accesses Native device API via native components developed with native performance. 
  • Programming language: Uses an XML-Esque-based markup language like HTML to develop applications with customized features.
  • Extensibility: Gives complete and direct access to all kinds of iOS and Android APIs. This offers accessibility and allows for the reuse of free plugins, Android SDKs, and CocoaPods. 
  • Developer-friendly CLI: NativeScript CLI allows developers to do almost anything ranging from adding a platform to deploying apps to a specific platform or device. Installation of plugins and app debugging is quicker and more comfortable. 

Cons of NativeScript

  • UI limitation: DOM and HTML are not widely supported, which leaves the necessity to learn the use of different UI components. This eats up a good chunk of your time and budget. 
  • Non-verified plugins: The total number of verified plugins are significantly less. Hence, there’s no assurance to the quality of plugins used in this framework. 
  • Native Knowledge: Developers must be aware of the native functionality and APIs of iOS and Android. Only then can they access the hardware of a device and any other platform-specific elements. 
  • Slower testing: Due to its native nature, an application can only accurately be tested on an emulator or an actual device. Consequently, this slows down the initial testing rate.

Performance comparison – React Native vs Nativescript

While performance should not be a killer factor for small projects, it becomes extremely important to consider it when building complex and large projects. With that being said, let’s compare React Native vs NativeScript in terms of performance.

How does React Native stand out in terms of performance?

In terms of performance, React Native has received quite a backlash from the development community. Under the hood, React Native comprises three elements: native thread, javascript thread, and a bridge that acts as a mediator to both threads. Whenever a user opens a React Native application, the native thread sends out a message to the javascript thread via the bridge. The number one reason why a few React Native applications have low performance is due to the fact that the number of messages that the javascript thread can process is limited. So when this limit is crossed, the UI starts to lag. In some cases, the application UI took longer than 16 milliseconds to render the program making the application stutter. 

However, the good news is that the performance of a React Native application can be improved by doing some workarounds and using third-party libraries like Proguard that further optimizes bytecodes. Also, elements like Slowlog help setting performance timers that can help to track performance issues and to resolve them.

How does NativeScript stand out in terms of performance?

The expectation of NativeScript performance is neither high nor low; instead, it’s at par with most cross-platform frameworks. Animations built with NativeScipt perform well at 60 FPS without any difficulty. In addition to that, this framework provides the ability to offload certain types of long-running processes to maintain a balanced frontend speed for fast performance. The ability to offload in NativeScript is achieved through the multiple-threading model. Performance improvement with this framework also depends upon the use of specific best practices. Some of these practices include merging manual tool instrumentation to optimize performance and tracing of execution time within an application. 

From version 3.1 to the current version 7.0.13, NativeScript blogs offer extensive tips and tricks to improve application performance.

A Study On React Native Performance Issues, And Insights On Improving It

Application architecture – React Native and Nativescript

When choosing a framework, it’s important to choose flexibility and avoid any strict enforcement of architecture and guidelines.  As a matter of fact, it’s always recommended to treat a framework as a guide, not methods, and standards. That said, let’s juxtapose React Native vs NativeScript to check whether they are flexible in terms of architecture. 

What kind of architecture does React Native support?

Under the hood, React Native possesses a bridge between the Native thread and JavaScript thread. As per this functionality, the JavaScript code communicates with the platform and the Native API. In iOS, React Native uses JavaScriptCore separately to run all codes, whereas it bundles the JavaScriptCore within the application in Android. Whilst this might increase the native functionality, it also increases the app size, resulting in performance issues or device lag.

What kind of architecture does NativeScript support?

NativeScript follows the MVC or MVVM architectural pattern. But, this framework widely functions on Modules, CLI, and plugins. The structure of NativeScript is composed of multiple modules, and each of them is responsible for enabling a set of specific features. The two most essential ones that make up the architecture are Root Module and Page Module. Together, they form an application Module comprising CSS style code, actual business logic, and XML-based UI codes. This framework efficiently manages Module dialogs due to its MVC friendliness. 

Ease of Testing – React Native vs Nativescript

To be able to work without a glitch under continuous, high load, and growing market expectations, your application development project needs to go through a series of tests to ensure compliance with the UI standards, compatibility, and usability. Here’s how React Native vs NativeScript stands out when compared with testing. 

How easier is it to test a React Native app?

React Native boasts of no official support for UI level testing and Integration testing. Furthermore, there are only a few unit level testing frameworks available to test RN apps. No official support means developers have to rely on third-party tools like Appium and Detox and unearth bugs with the help of them.

Moreover, It is still relying on third-party libraries for build and release automation. Succinctly put, the entire framework doesn’t offer any automated steps to deploy the iOS apps to the App Store. Instead, React Native suggests developers define the manual process of deploying the app through Xcode.

How easier is it to test a NativeScript app?

Since the release of version 2.5, NativeScript follows its own QA workflow that enhances an application’s default testing capacities. It integrates unit testing directly into the default CLI to support testing tools such as Jasmine, Mocha, and QUnit. Furthermore, external providers like Appium can also be used for functional testing. 

NativeScript uses Karma to run unit tests. It supports continuous integration when the unit test is configured with a Karma reporter or JUnit reporter. 

Suitability for building complex apps – React Native vs Nativescript

Both React Native and NativeScript offer official documents, guidelines, open-source projects, third-party libraries, and plugins to support developers throughout the development process. Let’s compare how React Native vs NativeScript fare against each other in terms of building complex apps.

Is React Native suitable for building complex apps?

Yes, you can leverage React Native to build complex native apps. But it’s important to note that will be likely to be possible only when you involve native app development along with React Native. At that stage, your application is more likely to be hybrid than cross-platform. The entire process of building complex apps with React Native does not only involve Javascript but the utilization of native development skills.

Is NativeScript suitable for building complex apps?

Unlike most frameworks, complex or advanced apps work smoothly with NativeScript with high performance even while building a complex or an advanced app. However, building a full-packaged complex application requires additional XML and UI support. NativeScript follows a bundle workflow process that develops optimized and complex apps using a tree-shaking mechanism, which improves the build time. Additionally, the Hot Module Replacement feature replaces, updates, and upgrades modules without restarting the existing application.

Community around React Native vs Nativescript

How big is the community around React Native?

Since the launch of React Native in 2015, its community has been growing, and the number of contributors to the framework on GitHub is the proof of that. Currently, there are more than 2,207+ professional developers who actively share their experiences. Even a novice can easily seek help in developing React Native applications. In fact, there are over 19.8k live projects where developers come together to resolve existing issues. Some of the common platforms where you can find other React Native developers, projects, conferences, and live events are:

  • Meet Up
  • Slack
  • Discord
  • Telegram
  • Reddit
  • Stack Overflow

How big is the community around NativeScript?

Since NativeScript uses technologies such as Angular and TypeScript, its community is divided between different frameworks. Yet, they hold 19.2k Github stars with approximately 1.4k shared repository projects and 193 active contributors. However, when combined with TypeScript, JavaScript, and Angular communities, NativeScript is an enormous fraternity. It also has an official community page, where users and contributors actively engage in quality discussions and meet for conferences. NativeScript developers can also take part in other communities via: 

  • Reddit
  • Stack Overflow 
  • Slack 
  • ProgressNEXT
  • NativeScript Developer Day 

Modularity support for React Native and Nativescript

Does React Native support modularity?

React Native may offer less modularity support. Android, iOS, and Reactjs developers might find it hard to correlate with each other. Without expertise, different teams may have issues with code fragmentation in React Native. However, React Native offers the possibility to combine simple native elements of different OS platforms for different developers to work together to some extent.

Does NativeScript support modularity?

NativeScript accommodates tech stack, plugins, and features by default. It also provides support to TypeScript and JavaScript packages with the help of its module design pattern. As a result, developers with diversified knowledge effortlessly use the modules offered by this framework to build simple as well as advanced native apps. However, it’s rare to find developers with such expansive experience and an extended skillset. Overall, the modularity of NativeScript brings different developers together to achieve quality and successful results. 

User experience – React Native vs Nativescript

User experience is a vital element in choosing the right framework for your project. It aims to provide positive experiences that keep users loyal to the product or brand. Additionally, a meaningful user experience allows you to define customer journeys on your website that are most conducive to business success.

React Native’s ability to give the best user experience

Android’s Material Design and Style Design in iOS are transforming by the day, and it’s tough for React Native to keep up with the constant change in the requirements of native platforms. Additionally, ready-made React Native UI kits such as React Virgin, Shoutem, and Ant Design make it even more difficult to create consistent designs across platforms. However, some valuable components like ScrollView fixed header, Modal components, Activity indicators, Snap carousels, and Pagination components help greatly in improving the UX across multi-platform.

NativeScript’s ability to give the best user experience

Building enterprise-level business applications are one of the added benefits of choosing this framework. Moreover, you could explicitly customize the free, professional-grade UI elements that NativeScript offers. Since all its features are backed by native functionality and native controls, it gives you performance that improves the user experience. This framework also tests all its libraries, templates, and UI elements before implementation to achieve the desired user-interface. In fact,  you can take your user experience to a whole new level by using methods like getFrameByld, classes like Frame, and properties like navigationContext

Code Maintainability – React Native vs Nativescript

A framework should be easier to maintain and adapt. In terms of application development, maintainability means that your developers can easily analyze the code and proceed in fixing errors, thus implementing the correct functionality. That said, let’s analyze how maintainable the code is in the case of React Native and NativeScript.

How convenient is it to maintain code in React Native apps?

In React Native, upgrading and debugging the code is a pain, perhaps. When you fork the code to suit your application, it interferes with the framework’s logic thereby slowing down the development process. In addition to that, most of the native components might have a third-party library dependency. Often these libraries are outdated and cannot be maintained properly due to the issues that come along with it by default.

How convenient is it to maintain code in NativeScript apps?

Since NativeScript focuses on native functionality, it requires less effort to figure out where the problems lie. In fact, it takes fixing of a single codebase to correct multiple issues across devices as the code is shared between multiple platforms. Moreover, the behavior of the HTML code-shared as modules differentiate between various platforms by using http.get commands and abstractions. A Common ground between different devices is quickly developed with NativeScript through appropriate maintenance. What’s more, the reusability of components for building different features for different devices is high with NativeScript. This helps developers access more solutions and opportunities to sustain the existing codes. 

Application size – React Native vs NativeScript

The selection of a framework can have a large impact on the size of an application code. For a large project, the application size should dominate the framework size. Less size is always more in this case. Let’s map out the difference between React Native vs NativeScript in terms of application size. 

What is the minimum application size in React Native?

The initial size of the Hello World app with React Native is 7 MB and when native dependencies were added, the size increases up to 13.4 MB. React Native can iterate applications faster and at a minimal size, better than NativeScript.

In addition to that, enabling Proguard and using enableSeperateBuildPerCPUArchitecture element will reduce the size in large by auto-generating split builds for all native and external libraries.

What is the minimum application size in NativeScript?

A simple native application built with NativeScript is anything more than 12MB. However, it is still small-sized considering the package of native elements and features. Also, self-containing multiple APKs within one package with a single codebase targets different device configurations and reduces the size of the application. The ABI mechanism of NativeScript with Android allows the device to automatically extract the machine code and scan for any shared library during development. This saves application size as the device identifies the 32-bit and 64-bit compatibility. 

React Native Database – Choosing the right database for your React Native app

React Native vs NativeScript – Learning curve

The learning curve can help organizations to understand the time frame required for the developers to become proficient in the framework. It is important while choosing a framework as organizations can better perceive the situation and foresee whether the developers require training support or time to practice the framework before start working with it. Let’s find out how React Native vs NativeScript fare against each other in terms of the learning curve.

How good is the learning curve of React Native for developers?

Learning React Native is considerably simple for those who have built applications using JavaScript. But, web development is different from mobile app development which is why mobile developers find it relatively difficult to learn and implement the framework. Over time, React Native has released various libraries, extensive documents, and tutorials that improve the learning curve.

How good is the learning curve of NativeScript for developers?

NativeScript offers extensive learning as developers can switch between TypeScript, JavaScript, or Angular based on your need, feasibility, and comfortability. Declarative coding style, for one, allows both experienced developers and newbies to get their hands on NativeScript quickly. A deep understanding of native performance comes with development experience in Core Modules and design patterns. All the available resources and documents might be overwhelming for first times, but they prove to be extremely useful. 

React Native and NativeScript – Hiring developers

How convenient is it to hire React Native developers?

The average yearly rate of hiring good React Native developers in Western Europe is $78,000. In the USA, the average hourly rate of hiring a React Native Developer goes up to $61.54 per hour. To build an application with React Native, you’ll need about 5 to 10 developers. This team can be a mix of talent with at least 2 React Native experts to guide the team through the development lifecycle. Additionally, since code maintenance of different platforms is crucial for the success of a React Native application, it’s recommended that you team up with developers who have a diverse technical background.

How convenient is it to hire NativeScript developers?

On average, NativeScript developers charge $249 for prioritized, unlimited application builds, and a minimum of $19 per month to build applications only with free community support. All in all, the cost of hiring NativeScript developers is between $20 and $100 an hour. Whether your plan is to build an advanced, high-end application or a straightforward, simple one, you’re more likely to reduce costs by hiring an extended development team rather than full-time developers or freelancers. Since NativeScript supports modularity and multiple technologies, you must need a team size of around four or more at the very least.

NativeScript vs React Native in 2021 - Which One to Choose?

Conclusion

Both React Native and NativeScript have their own sets of strengths and limitations. If you are still in the dilemma of choosing which is best for your project, the following points might help: 

Choose React Native if you want to: 

  • Develop a pocket-friendly application at a faster rate with easy maintenance. 
  • Build apps that support a device’s native plugin as well as third-party modules.
  • Create applications with the ability to send real-time upgrades and live updates. 
  • Provide users with an app that has guaranteed architecture of both Android as well as iOS. 
  • Leverage extended or existing developers with web skills to conveniently build native-mobile based cross-platform apps. 
  • Build simple UI-centric mobile apps with fast and efficient reloading features. 

Choose NativeScript if you want to: 

  • Build cross-platform augmented reality-based mobile apps. 
  • Avoid performance concerns along with framework compatibility with Angular and Vue as well. 
  • Provide the mobile app with a wide range of complex views and a paradox of choice in components. 
  • Create extensible APIs easily with free and re-usable templates and plugins. 
  • Share a web app’s code with a mobile platform without affecting the native performance using Vue or Angular. 
  • Customize and develop simple, easily accessible, and eye-catchy UIs without the requirement of WebViews. 

Working from last 8 years into consumer and enterprise mobility, Hardik leads large scale mobility programs covering platforms, solutions, governance, standardization and best practices.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Areas We Serve

Join 12000+ tech leaders 🚀

Follow the latest testing trends and learn practical skills on various tech topics by signing up to our newsletter.

You have Successfully Subscribed!