Mobile DevelopmentWeb App vs Native App: what's better for you

Web App vs Native App - let's explore the pros and cons of each approach and decide if a mobile app or web app is better for your software project.
Updated at12.03.2024
Published at12.01.2023
Matt Sadowski
Matt Sadowski

CEO @ Custom Software Development Expert

Stanislav Naborshchikov
Stanislav Naborshchikov

Solutions Specialist

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Market needs and opportunities
  3. In the right corner of the ring is a web app adjusted to the mobile screen
  4. Exploring Native Mobile Apps
  5. Let's choose who wins the contest!
  6. Conclusion
  7. Mastering Mobile Development with React Native

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In establishing a robust mobile presence and delivering a seamless encounter for users on the go, the necessity of a mobile web presence has transcended optional status. However, the ascent of mobile native apps has introduced a compelling quandary: the intricate choice between a mobile web app tailored for optimal screen adaptation accessed via a mobile browser or a mobile native application downloaded from Google Play, App Store, or any other app mobile app marketplace. This decision is akin to navigating the ever-evolving discourse of "mobile app vs web app".

Amidst this juxtaposition of web apps vs native apps, both avenues exhibit their own distinct merits and demerits, and this judicious selection holds the potential to wield a formidable influence on user engagement and conversion rates. Within this narrative, it becomes imperative to scrutinize the nuances of web apps vs mobile apps, dissecting their attributes to discern the ideal path.

Market needs and opportunities

Many people are interested in finding apartments, searching for healthcare information on the internet, and seeking financial advice. According to a report by Allied Market Research titled “Real Estate Market by Property and Business: Opportunity Analysis and Industry Forecast, 2019–2026,” the global real estate market is projected to reach $8.6 trillion by 2026. 

It presents a massive opportunity for developers and business owners to create mobile apps or web apps for the real estate market. For mobile app testing and mobile app development, it is essential to consider making both native applications and web apps using, for example, progressive web app technology that can cater to a wide range of users. In addition, having a responsive website can help attract more mobile traffic and improve user experience.

Similarly, a report by Weber Shandwick and KRC Research finds that nearly 73% of Americans obtain online health-related information. This presents an opportunity for developers and business owners to create healthcare web apps and mobile apps that facilitate easy access to accurate health information. 

Finally, according to Blueshore, people need financial planning to determine their short-term and long-term financial goals and create a balanced plan. It presents an opportunity for developers and business owners to develop financial planning mobile apps and web apps that can cater to a wide range of users. 

Blueshore Financial also reports that individuals need financial advice to identify and achieve their long and short-term financial objectives while establishing a comprehensive strategy. Developing mobile platforms and cross-platform apps must be considered to suit this escalating demand for financial planning services. In the competitive real estate and healthcare markets, solving problems effectively and rapidly generates a higher request for assistance. 

Developing real estate, healthcare, or fintech mobile and web apps can give businesses a competitive advantage, especially if the apps are well-tested and optimized for different platforms like native mobile apps or progressive web apps. A responsive website can also attract more mobile traffic and improve user experience. Proper mobile app testing is vital to meet users' expectations and provide a seamless experience.

In this article, as Mobile Reality mobile and web developers, we share how to choose between a mobile application and a web app. So, if you decide what is better for your business, mobile apps vs. mobile web applications, you're in the right place.

In the right corner of the ring is a web app adjusted to the mobile screen

The mobile version of the web app differs from the regular version in that it adapts to all mobile phone screens. It should be convenient for users to interact with the content on the site and the online store accessed via mobile browser. Regarding web development, responsive web design and development (RWD) is a crucial term. UX/UI designer has to prepare layouts for different devices and resolutions. 

Web developers must implement responsiveness and adjust web apps to different screens following UX/UI projects. Creating mobile views of the application could be a very challenging task in the case of more advanced designs with many elements. The mobile views sometimes have different business logic to give users the best mobile experience. 

Sometimes, developing the web application's responsive version takes the same time as creating the desktop version. As a product owner, project manager, and team lead, in the worst scenario, the time and cost of developing frontend applications can be doubled in web app vs mobile app. The positive thing is the backend development and its adjustments. If the business logic is the same on the desktop and mobile versions, we don't have to implement any changes in the backend app regarding the web app vs mobile app. 

On the other hand, if the mobile website has significantly different business logic, usually backend changes are necessary, but we shouldn't assume doubled backend development effort. Regarding the quality assessment and testing process, unfortunately, the step dedicated to the mobile version could be the same as for the desktop version of the web application or website. The views and logic must be tested on each resolution to ensure the app and user experience are identical on all devices. Moreover, the mobile web app can behave differently on browser A than on browser B. Apart from different resolutions, different browsers need to be tested as well, which will increase the workload necessary for development.

The mobile version of the site is essential with a constant increase in the number of smartphone users. Compared with a mobile app, the site's mobile version has advantages and disadvantages.

Pros and cons of mobile web apps

Web applications and mobile counterparts have become integral tools for businesses and users. This section delves into the world of web apps and their mobile versions, shedding light on their features, functionalities, and considerations for making informed decisions in the dynamic realm of digital technology.

Advantages of web apps and their mobile versions

  • Quotes: In the Mobile Reality company, the cost of a mobile website is initially included in the price of creating a website design.

  • Access: For a mobile site, you do not need to create a new site for different platforms since it works the same on all mobile devices.

  • Distribution: The mobile site should not be uploaded to stores in advance.

  • Responsive Design: A well-designed mobile web application can adapt to various screen sizes and orientations, providing a seamless user experience on different devices, including smartphones and tablets.

  • Accessibility: Mobile websites can be optimized for accessibility, making them inclusive for users with disabilities, which is essential for compliance with accessibility standards and regulations.

  • Cross-Platform Compatibility: Mobile websites are accessible through web browsers, which means they can run on different operating systems (e.g., iOS, Android, Windows) without the need for development targeted on specific platform.

  • No App Store Approval Process: Unlike native mobile apps, mobile web applications don't require submission to app stores or the associated approval process, allowing quicker updates and releases.

  • Reduced Development Costs: Developing and maintaining a separate native app for multiple platforms can be costly. With a mobile web app, you save on development expenses since you're targeting a broader range of devices with a single codebase.

  • Instant Updates: Mobile web apps can be updated in real time, ensuring users can access the latest features and content without downloading and installing updates.

  • Lower Data Usage: Mobile websites and their features often consume less data from the Internet than native apps, which can be an advantage for users on limited Internet browser data plans.

  • Easier Sharing: Sharing links to mobile web apps is straightforward, making it easier for users to refer others to your application without requiring them to download and install anything.

  • SEO Benefits: Mobile web apps are more accessible to search engines, which can improve your site's search engine rankings and visibility.

  • Compatibility with Older Devices: Mobile web apps can be designed to be compatible with older mobile devices, ensuring that a broader range of users can access your application.

  • Cost-Effective Maintenance: Maintaining a single codebase for a mobile web app is generally more cost-effective than maintaining separate codebases for multiple native apps.

Depending on your specific project, type of app, and its objectives, you can tailor these advantages to better align with your messaging or emphasize particular points relevant to your target audience.

Disadvantages of a mobile version of web application

  • Extra work: Additional work from UX/UI/graphics and frontend side, and sometimes from the backend development perspective. You’ll have two different sets of content to manage and maintain.

  • Multiple domain/URL: In some cases, creating mobile versions of the web app may require setting it up under a separate domain, which may have implications for SEO, and sharing content on social media becomes an issue

  • Redirection: Mobile users will be redirected to the optimized view and vice versa, adding additional page load time 

  • Performance Issues: Mobile web apps may not perform as smoothly as native apps, especially when dealing with complex functionalities or resource-intensive tasks. It can lead to slower loading times and reduced user satisfaction.

  • Limited Offline Functionality: Unlike native apps, mobile web apps typically require an internet connection to function correctly. They may need to work or provide more experience when offline, which can be a drawback for users in areas with poor connectivity.

  • Less Access to Device Features: Mobile web apps have limited access to device hardware and software features compared to native apps. This can restrict the functionality and user experience you can offer. However, Progressive Web App (PWA) technologies, which we evaluated deeply in the following article, can help bridge this gap by providing improved access to specific device features, such as camera, location, and push notifications. PWAs can leverage browser APIs and service workers to offer a more native-like experience, but full access to all device features may still be restricted compared to native apps. This limitation can affect the range of functionalities and user experiences you can deliver with a mobile web app, even when using PWA technologies.

  • Security Concerns: Mobile web apps are more susceptible to particular security vulnerabilities, such as cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks, which can put user data at risk if not properly secured.

  • Browser Compatibility: Ensuring that your mobile web app works consistently across various web browsers and their different versions can be challenging and time-consuming.

  • Limited App Store Exposure: While not having to go through the app store approval process can be an advantage, it also means that your mobile web app won't benefit from the visibility and credibility associated with being available on popular app stores.

  • User Engagement Challenges: Users may be less likely to engage with a mobile web app compared to a native app, as they may not be as prominently displayed on a user's device or have access to push notifications.

  • Resource Constraints: Developing and maintaining both a desktop and mobile web version of your application can strain your development and design resources, potentially leading to inconsistencies in user experience and design.

  • Limited Offline Data Storage: Mobile web apps have limited access to local storage compared to native apps, which can affect their ability to store and manage data efficiently.

  • Less Intuitive User Experience: Native apps can often provide a more intuitive and familiar user experience tailored to the specific platform, which can be challenging to replicate in a mobile web app.

  • User Trust: Users might be more cautious about entering sensitive information on a mobile web app compared to a native app, which they may trust more due to its presence on an Android Google Play or iOS App Store.

It's important to note that the significance of these disadvantages can vary depending on the specific goals and requirements of your project. When deciding between a mobile web app and a native app, it's essential to carefully consider these factors in the context of your target audience, functionality, and long-term maintenance plans.

Exploring Native Mobile Apps

Native mobile apps, for instance, are meticulously tailored to their operating platform, offering heightened performance and functionality compared to hybrid apps or mobile sites. Yet, the creation of a native app could entail higher expenses and a more time-intensive process, not to mention the challenges of app store distribution, such as those posed by Google Play.

Conversely, the development of a mobile site presents a more cost-effective and accessible avenue, though it might not match the comprehensive functionality of a native app. Irrespective of the chosen route, collaborating with a seasoned app developer is paramount. Their expertise proves invaluable in navigating the intricacies of mobile versus app store distribution, ensuring that your application aligns with user needs and expectations in web app vs native app.

To prevent undue clutter on the site, it's wise to sidestep intricate site structures and intrusive animations. In the context of mobile websites, an intriguing avenue worth exploring is the creation of a more sophisticated iteration, like a progressive web app. However, a comprehensive analysis of this topic of "web app vs native app" merits a separate article due to the need for a more extensive explanation and exploration.

The mobile landscape offers diverse pathways, and making an informed decision between "web app vs mobile app" hinges on aligning your choices with the expectations of your audience.

When delving into the "native apps vs web apps" debate, the native mobile app stands as a pinnacle of tailored and immersive user experiences. Native apps are developed specifically for a particular mobile platform, such as iOS or Android, and are downloaded and installed directly onto users' devices. Leveraging platform-specific languages like Swift or Kotlin, native apps optimize performance and provide seamless integration with the native features of smartphones. This approach enables access to functionalities such as camera, GPS, and push notifications, resulting in a sophisticated and intuitive user journey. Native apps are an ideal choice when aiming to cater to a niche audience that seeks refined interactions and a personalized touch. Although native app development may require specialized expertise, the payoff is heightened engagement and user satisfaction, making it a compelling choice between web apps vs mobile apps for businesses prioritizing a premium mobile experience.

Pros and cons of native mobile apps

The mobile app has a lot of useful features for online sales that are not available on mobile websites. If you need to decide whether to order a mobile website or an application, then below is a list of mobile device functions that can be used in a mobile app.

Advantages of the mobile application

  • Enhanced User Experience and Performance: Well-developed native mobile apps consistently outperform their mobile website counterparts. Mobile apps are faster than web apps. They offer smoother navigation, faster loading times, and a more responsive user interface, leading to a superior overall user experience. Native apps are optimized for the specific operating system, making them inherently faster and more efficient.

  • Superior Design and UX/UI Capabilities: As a difference, native mobile applications have a distinct advantage in terms of design and user experience (UX/UI) capabilities. They can leverage platform-specific design guidelines and native UI elements, resulting in a more visually appealing and user-friendly interface. This tailored approach ensures that the app aligns seamlessly with the native look and feel of the device.

  • Personalized Push Notifications: While mobile websites and progressive web apps (PWAs) can send push notifications, native mobile applications offer a higher degree of personalization. They can trigger notifications based on specific user behaviors, preferences, and in-app interactions, delivering more relevant and engaging messages to users. This level of customization can significantly enhance user engagement and retention.

  • Deeper Integration with Device Modules: Native mobile apps have the advantage of deep integration with native device modules and APIs. They can access and utilize device features such as the camera, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), GPS, and more. This direct integration unlocks a wide range of capabilities, enabling apps to offer advanced functionalities and a seamless user experience that is not easily achievable with mobile web apps.

  • Biometric Authentication: Native mobile applications can leverage biometric authentication methods, such as fingerprint recognition or facial recognition, to enhance security and user convenience. This allows users to access the app or complete transactions without the need for tedious password entry, streamlining the login process and improving overall security.

  • Access to Device Sensors: The mobile application domain is access to a wide range of device sensors, such as gyroscope, accelerometer, and magnetometer. This access enables the development of apps for augmented reality, fitness tracking, navigation, and other sensor-driven functionalities that enhance user engagement.

  • Offline Functionality: Native apps can offer a more comprehensive offline experience compared to web apps. They can store data locally, allowing users to access certain features and content even when they are not connected to the internet, which can be especially valuable in areas with intermittent connectivity.

  • Monetization Opportunities: Native apps provide various monetization options, including in-app purchases, subscriptions, and advertising. These opportunities can help businesses generate revenue directly from the app and build sustainable business models.

  • Enhanced Security: Native apps can implement advanced security features to protect user data and transactions. They benefit from the robust security measures provided by mobile operating systems and can encrypt data to ensure user privacy.

  • App Store Exposure: Native apps benefit from being available on popular app stores such as the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. This exposure can lead to increased discoverability, trust, and credibility among users, potentially resulting in higher downloads and user retention rates.

  • Offline Storage Capacity: Native apps typically have access to larger storage capacities on users' devices compared to web apps. This allows for the storage of extensive datasets, media files, and user-generated content within the app.

  • Seamless Integration with Native Services: Native mobile apps can seamlessly integrate with native services and APIs, such as payment gateways, social media platforms, and location-based services. This integration enhances the overall user experience and extends the app's functionality.

Disadvantages of the native app

  • Costs: additional significant development costs,

  • Development process: longer and requires a much more effort product development process,

  • Marketing: additional marketing activities to boost application visibility and presence on app stores like Android Google Play, iOS AppStore, and HUAWEI AppGallery,

  • Distribution: additional installations and maintenance efforts. Before a user can download a mobile to his iPhone or Android device, it needs to be placed in the app marketplace, and later on, the app store presence needs to be maintained.

  • Platform-Specific Development: Native mobile apps require separate development efforts for each platform (iOS, Android, etc.), which can significantly increase development costs and time. Maintaining two separate codebases can be resource-intensive and costly.

  • App Store Approval Process: Submitting a native app to app stores like Google Play, iOS App Store, and HUAWEI AppGallery involves an approval process that can be time-consuming and uncertain. An app may face rejection or require multiple iterations to meet app store guidelines.

  • Dependency on App Stores: Native apps are subject to the policies and rules of the app stores they are distributed on. This dependency can limit the app's freedom and flexibility in terms of content, updates, and monetization options.

  • Updates and User Adoption: Encouraging users to install updates can be challenging, leading to fragmentation where some users are on outdated app versions. This can result in compatibility issues and additional support efforts to cater to different app versions.

  • Storage Space: Native apps consume device storage space, and users may uninstall apps to free up space if they are not frequently used. Maintaining a presence on users' devices can be challenging, especially if your app competes for storage with other apps.

  • Resource-Intensive Maintenance: Ongoing maintenance, bug fixes, updates, and platform-specific optimizations require dedicated resources and effort. This can strain development and support teams and add to long-term costs.

  • Compatibility Issues: Native apps may face compatibility challenges as new device models and operating system versions are released. Ensuring that the app works seamlessly across a variety of devices can be demanding.

  • User Trust and Privacy Concerns: Users are becoming increasingly cautious about app permissions and data privacy. Native apps often require access to various device features and user data, which can raise privacy concerns and affect user trust.

  • Cross-Platform Discrepancies: Maintaining feature parity and consistent user experiences across multiple platforms can be challenging, especially if development efforts are not synchronized.

Unlike a mobile site, a mobile app engages customers more and helps them to monitor changes in the online store faster. Push notifications are a great advantage for online retail. But unlike the mobile version of the site, the mobile app requires additional time and money.

Let's choose who wins the contest!

First round

What are the main goals of the digital platform?

First of all, the client must decide why his business needs a mobile app or a mobile version of the web app. If the client initially wants a mobile app, then it is worth considering that the mobile version of the site will bring profit faster and reach more of the audience. A mobile app should be chosen if the client wants to make the most of all the modern functions of smartphones, where web development technologies are powerless. This kind of assumption could be worked out during product development workshops, which would be an excellent opportunity to discuss all business aspects and objectives that a particular online service or digital product should achieve.

Second round

New clients or old users?

If the company has already established itself in the field of eCommerce, then it is worth investing in creating a mobile app that will help increase the loyalty of the audience. According to the comScore website in the Mobile Applications report for 2016, users spend 20 times more time using a mobile app than the mobile version of the site. Mobile applications increase the loyalty of existing users, unlike the mobile version of the site.

According to the Mobile Applications Report 2016, users spend 20 times more time in the mobile app than on the mobile version of the site.

Third round


If you already have the product's first version, the MVP of your digital platform, a marketing page, and some web modules already built and working, you can analyze the traffic your web app or marketing page generates. Google Analytics is beneficial in such a situation. Based on the data generated based on our initial traffic, we can analyze how many users prefer our web app on mobile devices and how many users on desktop. As an example, let's examine the chart below:

This registered traffic presents significant traffic from mobile devices, without a doubt. The mobile channel is the major player here, and building the mobile app could be the option that should be deeply considered regarding the product's future and the development's next iteration.

When choosing a mobile version of the site or a mobile application, it is worth considering that the site attracts three times more unique visitors per month compared to the application.

It should be clearly understood that both solutions have advantages and disadvantages for business. Hypothetically, if the client has an unlimited budget and there are no clear deadlines, then it is possible to implement both a mobile application and a mobile version of the site for business since they solve different tasks. It is essential to understand which job is more important now: to find new customers or to increase brand commitment. 

Bridging the Gap: Cross-Platform Development and Hybrid Apps

As we have already evaluated the difference between web apps and mobile applications and their business aspects, a compelling middle ground combines the best of both worlds: cross-platform development and hybrid apps. This section explores these innovative solutions that balance web app and native mobile app capabilities.

Cross-Platform Development: Uniting Efficiency and Reach

Cross-platform development is a strategy that empowers developers to create mobile applications that run seamlessly on multiple platforms, such as iOS and Android, using a single codebase. This approach is particularly enticing for businesses seeking cost-effective solutions without sacrificing the breadth of their audience reach.

Key Advantages of Cross-Platform Development:

Code Reusability: Cross-platform development allows developers to write code once and deploy it across various platforms. This significantly reduces development time and effort compared to maintaining separate codebases for each platform.

Consistency: Cross-platform apps strive to deliver a consistent user experience across different devices and operating systems. Users can expect similar functionality and design elements, ensuring a unified brand experience.

Cost Efficiency: Businesses can save significantly on development costs by leveraging cross-platform development frameworks. The need for fewer developers, reduced development time, and streamlined maintenance contributes to cost efficiency.

Faster Time-to-Market: Cross-platform development enables faster deployment of apps to multiple platforms simultaneously, reducing time-to-market and allowing businesses to capitalize on emerging opportunities more swiftly.

Access to Native Features: Cross-platform frameworks often provide access to native device features through plugins or modules, allowing developers to incorporate functionalities like GPS, camera access, and push notifications.

Easier Maintenance: Maintaining a single codebase simplifies the process of updates, bug fixes, and feature enhancements, ensuring that all users receive the latest improvements simultaneously.

Hybrid Apps: The Marriage of Web and Native

Hybrid apps, a subset of cross-platform development, take the fusion of web and native approaches a step further. These apps combine web technologies (HTML, CSS, JavaScript) with a native shell, essentially embedding a web view within a native app container.

Advantages of Hybrid App:

Cost Savings: Hybrid apps share a common codebase, reducing development costs compared to fully native apps. Businesses can reach both iOS and Android users without duplicating efforts.

Rapid Development: Leveraging web technologies for the user interface accelerates development, making it possible to prototype and iterate quickly.

Cross-Platform Compatibility: Hybrid apps can run on multiple platforms with minimal adjustments, ensuring a broader audience reach.

Web Content Integration: Hybrid apps can easily integrate web content, making them suitable for content-heavy applications and websites with dynamic content.

Simplified Maintenance: Similar to cross-platform apps, hybrid apps benefit from easier maintenance with a single codebase.

Access to Device Features: Hybrid apps can access native device features through plugins, making it possible to utilize device functionalities effectively.


In conclusion, the decision between a web and mobile app hinges on the distinctive demands of your business and your target demographic. If your objective is to implement a cost-effective solution that reaches a broad spectrum of users, opting for a web app could be the ideal route. It provides a versatile platform accessible across various devices and platforms, ensuring broad accessibility.

Conversely, if your aim is to furnish an elevated and tailored user experience, and if you possess the necessary resources to invest in native app development, a mobile application holds the potential to deliver substantial advantages. Native apps leverage the full spectrum of features inherent in modern smartphones, allowing you to create a more immersive and sophisticated user journey. For businesses seeking a middle ground, hybrid apps present an enticing amalgamation of the perks offered by both web and native applications.

Ultimately, the optimal choice hinges on a comprehensive grasp of your business requisites and aspirations. By aligning your mobile development strategy with your distinct needs, you can navigate the difference between the "native apps vs web apps" dichotomy with clarity.

At Mobile Reality Team, we specialize in a spectrum of services aimed at enhancing your mobile presence. Our expertise encompasses crafting responsive designs that ensure your website is mobile-friendly, as well as delving into the intricate realms of cross-platform and native app development. Our paramount goal is to augment user experiences, be it through versatile web applications or feature-rich native apps. I invite you to explore our website to gain insights into our meticulous work process. Reach out to us, and let's embark on a discussion to ascertain the most fitting solution for your requirements. Whether you're drawn to the multifaceted reach of a web app or the captivating finesse of a native app, we are committed to tailoring our services to your specific needs.


[1]Health Online 2013, Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project  




Mastering Mobile Development with React Native

In the fast-paced world of mobile app development, React Native stands out as a key player for building versatile and efficient applications. At Mobile Reality, we're not only experts in crafting complex UIs and integrating advanced features like biometrics authentication with React Native, but we're also adept at navigating the nuances between it and other frameworks like Flutter and Xamarin. Dive into our wealth of knowledge:

For those considering the development of a mobile app and weighing the benefits of a web app against a native app, our sales team is available to provide expert advice tailored to your specific needs. Additionally, if you're passionate about crafting cutting-edge mobile applications and looking to take the next step in your career, explore our current job offerings on our careers page. Join us in leading the mobile development scene with React Native and beyond.

Did you like the article?Find out how we can help you.

Matt Sadowski

CEO of Mobile Reality

CEO of Mobile Reality

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