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Xamarin vs React Native: A cross- platform app dev comparison

Xamarin vs React Native - the battle that people who are up to speed with the mobile app development industry are all too familiar with. So, which one is better? If only it was that easy. Both open-source cross-platform frameworks are increasingly popular with developers - and it’s easy to see why. 

They’re both powerful and make life so much easier when developing bespoke platforms. Rather than hiring specific mobile developers who know how to write code for iOS and Android platforms, these tools can assist your business and help save time and money. 

Within conversations around app development, it’s unlikely that the comparison of Xamarin vs React Native won’t crop up. So, to make life a little easier for you we’re comparing the two giants. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, so you must find out which one is best suited to your business before committing to either.


We’ll cover: 


What is Xamarin? 

Xamarin is an open-source app development platform from Microsoft. The tool allows developers to easily produce high-performing and on-trend bespoke systems for Android and iOS platforms. Apps are developed with C# and .NET - meaning that it’s completely versatile and you can take advantage of the various packages and libraries each one offers.

Image Credit: Wikipedia

Microsoft takes pride in the strength of their Xamarin platform. It’s loved by developers around the world - in fact, some global businesses swear by the platform. Just Giving, BBVA and UPS are just a few of the giant names that use the Xamarin platform to their advantage. 

Xamarin apps can be developed on macOS and Windows platforms. Not only is their flexibility in the build either - but they also lend themselves to a wide range of supporting technology. To name a few, they can be run on iOS, Android, macOS, watchOs and more. So, you needn’t worry about developing an app that’s incompatible with certain software programs. 


What are the advantages and disadvantages of Xamarin?


Underlying Technology

As we’ve mentioned, Xamarin allows users to program in C# and .NET, this means that they can reuse the majority of the code for different platforms to create a cross-platform app. Otherwise, you’d be left having to recreate unique code each time and it’d take a long while. It cuts the need to switch from one platform to another, which allows you to save time and confusion by working on one sole platform. 

Within Xamarin, all apps have built-in Visual Studio. The software includes a rich editor, debugging tools and native platform integration - what more could you want? This ensures that the app you’re producing performs optimally and is compatible with various devices and software. Sounds good enough to us!



The performance of Xamarin is second to none. It deserves all plaudits for running the fastest code on both Android and iOS. You can’t argue with that, can you? The speed of an app is a big factor in determining the success of it. As with anything, apps and websites especially, if you’re operating at a slow load pace, your users are eventually going to get fed up with waiting.

Xamarin fully supports 64-bit mode, which means that it’s able to provide a slick User Interface (UI) to support the use of your native tools directly. Again, UI is crucial to the success of your application - just like User Experience (UX) that we mentioned above. If your app doesn’t look appealing, it’s not going to catch the eye of the user. Or, it may look too cluttered and prove hard to use.



Platform specific differences

Through the mediums of forums, groups and communities, there’s a wealth of knowledge online for development support. As you’ll know yourselves, developers are always running into issues that they need support to get over - which when using Xamarin, resolving issues becomes a little trickier. 

As it’s a relatively new platform, problems arise from platform specific differences which come down to the operating system, the IDE and compiler version and the specific library and framework version. Development times are often long as it is, you don’t need any reason to push them back further and delay the overall project, do you?


Built-in app overhead

One of the main issues with Xamarin is app overhead. With this platform, it’s built-in, which means that they have a larger footprint. So, what does that mean for your app development? Well, it means that you may face increasing download times and the storage space that the compiled app uses compared to natively developed apps on your devices will certainly increase too. 

As we mentioned before, app development is a long process as it is. What you have to remember is that the development work is only one part of successful app development. So should the project be delayed at one stage, it means the wider project will face further delays too. 


What is React Native?

React Native allows you to create industry-leading, exciting mobile apps. Like Xamarin, it’s a cross-platform application that helps save development time. Once you’ve written the script in JavaScript, you can then use the code again on several platforms to help quicken the process. React Native has a huge community of support around the world - and it’s easy to see why. 

React Native - Xamarin vs React Native

Image Credit: Coded Lines

It’s hugely popular with developers that are familiar with JavaScript. That way, you don’t have to spend time learning the coding preferences of Android and iOS individually. As we all know, learning a new coding language isn’t an easy feat. So if you can simplify the task by sticking to what you know and reusing it across various platforms, happy days, right?

React Native has the backing of social media giants Facebook - and many other global enterprise companies too. Skype, Tesla and Walmart have all put their trust in the platform to design their bespoke systems. The framework removes the headache of selecting an iOS or Android development.


What are the advantages and disadvantages of React Native?


Cross-platform usage

The fact that developers only have to use one codebase is a massive advantage when using React Native. Developers are always looking for different ways to try and speed up the development time of websites - this often results in cutting corners and finding issues along the way. We’re not saying that there won’t be issues by any means - this is coding, after all. 

However, your development times are guaranteed to decrease. Which means that you can spend your newly available time focusing on other areas of the app development that need it the most - rather than writing out several sets of code for the same functionalities. The platform was initially developed for iOS - but adding Android functionality to their capabilities is another string in their bow. 


Cutting edge performance

Once upon a time, hybrid or cross-platform app development platforms were looked down on. However, you can kiss goodbye to that stigma and say hello to optimum performance. Usually, when apps become more complicated, the more they lag. React Native is there to dispel all myths and prove that it can be done. 

React Native apps are compiled into natively written code, not only does this mean that it’ll work on both platforms and be fully compatible, but it also means that it’ll perform the exact same too. And what’s better - no lags at all! It’s worth noting that Xamarin does this too.



It’s evolving with time

We can’t expect platforms to be flawless, can we? This is development, after all, we know it’s not always plain sailing. However, React Native has a lot of technical glitches - and some of them are completely untouched. That means it could be complete guesswork figuring them out and there may actually be no way of sorting the issues you’re experiencing. 

When issues are unresolved, it means that extra time will be added to your development time. As we’ve mentioned earlier, this is a big issue for developers and the wider project too. If you can’t resolve them, you may be forced to start over again with your modules and features - which again will be a large waste of time. 


An uncertain existence

This isn’t necessarily a massive worry for developers using the platform - but it’s something that’s worth thinking about and keeping in the back of your minds. Due to the fact that React Native is owned by Facebook, it means that they have the right to kill the existence of the platform at any time. 

Should the platform lose its popularity, or Facebook need to make cuts, the status of the platform could be in jeopardy. As we’ve just mentioned, this is unlikely, due to the popularity of the current platform - however, if there’s one thing that 2020 has proved to the industry, it’s that uncertain times can be just around the corner and can strike when least expected. 


Xamarin vs React Native: And the winner is…

So, we’ve taken a close look at two exceptional platforms - and now it’s time to pick our winner. It’s a tough one, as they’re both popular with global businesses for a reason - but we side towards Xamarin. Although relatively new, we can’t look past the speed that it operates at. 

Speed is crucial to the success of your app development - and the fact you can use the majority of the code over platforms increases the speed it takes to develop the app. In that case, you can guarantee speed for the user and speed in the development phase - keeping all parties more than happy, right? 

React Native is a brilliant platform - don’t get us wrong. However, it’s still evolving and some issues may prove costly to the full development phase. For that reason, we wouldn’t take the risk. This won’t be the last of this fantastic platform, and we’re excited to see the battle that’s thrown up over the next few years. 


Develop your bespoke applications with Red-Fern

With the constant evolution of mobile technology, B2B apps are becoming increasingly popular. But you need to get them right - otherwise, it’ll prove to be a large waste of money and time. One way in which you can guarantee the success of  your app development is by partnering with an agency who can be trusted to get the job done perfectly. 

At Red-Fern, we’re vastly experienced in working with our partners to develop the latest bespoke systems. To help shape your decision, we’ve created a free guide that outlines everything you can expect when working with us to develop your unique app. 

However, it’s not quite ready yet - so, in the meantime, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. One of our expert development team members will be on hand to help you with any questions or queries that you may have.

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