Comparison of Native Mobile App v/s Mobile Web App

Posted by ongraph · March 2, 2017 · 7 Min read

Table of contents

Having an application for business is just a medium of earning more money. With an app, a business addresses to the digital market through the tinny device, called Mobile. They come up with an idea of a business that will stay and functions through the use of the thumb, and that’s where a service provider or application development companies has to guide the clients with all the pros of using a technology best suited to their idea of business.


With the availability of bundle of unique technologies that are facilitating numerous features and functionality, selecting and adopting the right one helps in winning half of the battle in the beginning. Almost all businesses are going Mobile, small and big enterprises are compelled to build mobile application. It’s Native Apps vs Mobile Web Apps where clients get stuck to decide which one to opt for. Let’s try to understand both of the popular application trends in Mobile world.


Native Mobile Apps?


Native Mobile Apps are apps which are developed specifically for a particular mobile device. One can install these apps directly on the device itself by downloading them from the app stores, including Apple App Store, Google Play Store, etc.



However, native apps are built for particular mobile operating system like Apple iOS and Android OS. In addition to this, an app that is developed for Apple iOS will not work on Android OS or Windows OS. Therefore, if someone wants their app to work across all major mobile operating systems, they have to build separate apps for each operating system. Hence, Native Apps Development involves more money and more effort (time, resources). Apart from user experience, the most crucial Pro with Native Apps, is their ability to function without internet- connectivity as well in many use cases.


Mobile Web Apps


Mobile Web Apps are the internet-enabled applications and are accessible via the mobile device’s Web Browser. In order to access these apps, users are not required to download and install it onto the mobile device. The app is written as web pages in HTML and CSS, with the interactive parts in Jquery, JavaScript or similar language. That means that single web app can be used on most devices capable of surfing the web, regardless of the operating system.


Each of them has their clear advantages. Therefore we need to evaluate native apps versus mobile web apps based on some broad level factors:


User Interface:


There are many companies who invest in the development of both a native app and a mobile web app. Below, look at Facebook’s native app and mobile web app experiences:



As the image depicts, there is little difference between general look and feel of both images, these are not making a consistent user experience. However this is more out of compulsion as the technology being used for each type is different and possibilities with them are different as well. Hence a informed call based on this understanding needs to be taken.




  • Mobile application development platforms such as Android & iOS require its own development processes & tools for Native App development. This results in possibly different features experience across platforms. Since Mobile Web App runs on mobile web browser, it combines their own features and quirks and hence offers same set of features for all.
  • Native apps and their particular development platform make use of its own native programming language, including Java (Android), Objective-C Programming (iOS), and Visual C++ (Windows Mobile), etc. Mobile Web Apps that run on mobile browser are written in HTML, CSS, JavaScript and server-side languages or web application frameworks of the developer’s choice (i.e. PHP, Rails, Python).
  • For Native app development, manufacturer of the platform offers required tools, including standardized software development kits (SDKs), development tools and common user interface elements (like buttons, text input fields, etc.). Whereas, mobile web app development do not require the use of any (SDKs) and has one common standard across

There are tools and frameworks that assist in the development of apps for deployment on multiple mobile OS platforms and web browsers (e.g. Sencha Touch 2, AppCelerator Titanium, PhoneGap, etc.). However these tools have their limitations in terms of features they could support and also varied user experience for same features across different platforms.




Native Apps interface with the device’s native features, their information and hardware (like Accelerometer, camera, etc). However, mobile web apps have the limited access to device’s native features and information (orientation, geolocation, media, etc).




  • It’s not easy to make money through Native apps due to the restrictions for mobile-specific ad platforms such as AdMob. Though mobile web apps are not platform specific, these easily monetize through site advertisement and subscription fees.
  • Download price can be charged by the developers for native app downloads and app stores will typically handle the payment process (in exchange for a percentage of sales). Charging users to use the mobile web app requires you to set up our own paywall or subscription-based system.


Method Of Delivery:


  • Native apps are required to download onto a mobile device. Mobile web apps are accessed effortlessly on a mobile device’s web browser.
  • After the installation, native apps runs as a standalone application. Mobile Web Apps runs without the help of any software.
  • Native apps are available in app stores, hence these are easy to be located by the users. Since, mobile web apps are not available on any app stores, it can be harder for users to find your app.


Versioning of The App:

Many users are out there who ignore to update their apps, therefore different users running different versions of the app. There is no need to update mobile web app, thus all users are on the same version.





Both applications also have their own strengths such as:

  • Native apps perform faster than mobile web apps. Whereas mobile web apps enjoy the common code base across all platforms
  • It is easy to locate native apps in app stores and marketplaces, but a mobile web app is directly access in mobile web browser with it URL.
  • Since Native apps comes after a massive checks of store standards, it ensures it users, the quality and safety of the app. Mobile Web apps do not require any store approval and can be released in any form and any time.




Besides the strengths, both of applications have their own certain weaknesses as well. Let’s explore them too to better understand them.


  • Development of Native Apps requires quite much more investment. Preferably, client wish to develop apps that supports multiple mobile device, and it increases overall expenses. Though building mobile web apps is cost-effective than native app, but it is not able to access all of the device’s features (yet).
  • Being in-compatible to multiple platform, Native Apps require maintenance for multiple code base. Mobile Web App also supports multiple browsers. Hence investment for multiple versions is involved in both options.
  • Native app requires App Store approval to be available to users. However, app store sometimes delays the launch of the app or prevent the release of the app. Mobile Web App here has its own cons as it would not get user hit from any relevant website as native app receive through a centralized app store.


Therefore, we have embraced several features, functions, technologies, strengths as well as weaknesses of Native App and Mobile Web App. Depending upon the certain factors such as target audience, business objectives, and technical requirements and so on, your clients can decide to build either native app or mobile web app.


Rest apart, it’s not necessity to choose between building the one, as both of the options together can also be taken into the consideration. Many companies, including news portals, etc maintain Native App as well as Mobile Web App. Just look at your budget and resources and decide if it’s possible to own both of applications or the development of the rest choice can take place latter.

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