Cross-Platform vs. Native Mobile Development: Which to Choose For Your Business?

When considering cross-platform versus native mobile development, it’s similar to selecting the voice tone for your business. A native app seamlessly aligns with the language of each platform, providing users with a personalized and authentic experience. Conversely, a cross-platform approach communicates in a universal language, expanding audience reach but potentially sacrificing some platform-specific charm. This decision shapes not just the technical aspects but also how your business communicates its identity to the world.

native vs. cross-platform app development

In this article, we will explore the differences between these approaches for mobile application development and examine their capabilities across different industries.

What is Native Development?

A native mobile app is a smartphone development created for use with a specific platform, such as iOS or Android. Native apps are developed in a particular programming language, such as Objective-C/Swift for iOS or Java for Android operating systems. A native application has the capability to utilize all device-specific features, encompassing details and hardware like the smartphone’s camera, push notifications, and GPS.

These are the best-known programming languages that are employed for native mobile development:

  1. iOS (Apple):
  • Swift: Apple’s programming language designed for iOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS development.
  • Objective-C: A legacy language still used in many existing iOS applications.
  1. Android (Google):
  • Java: Traditionally used for Android app development.
  • Kotlin: A modern language endorsed by Google for Android development, offering concise syntax and improved safety features.

To clearly understand the advantages of native app development and its capabilities, let’s examine three impressive examples of native-built apps.

Case 1: Instagram

Instagram initially started as an iOS-exclusive app. The choice of the native framework allowed the development team to leverage the full capabilities of iOS devices, thus addressing all mobile app project requirements. The performance, look and feel, and integration with device-specific features (like the camera) were critical to Instagram’s success.

Case 2: Uber

Uber heavily depends on the seamless processing of real-time data, precise geolocation services, and ensuring a user-friendly experience through smooth interactions. Native app development allowed Uber to optimize its app for each platform, ensuring high-performance mapping, real-time GPS tracking, and efficient use of device features. Reaching such an optimization would have been challenging to achieve with cross-platform framework. 

Case 3: Pokemon GO

Pokemon GO, an augmented reality (AR) mobile game, required high-performance graphics rendering, real-time GPS tracking, and AR capabilities. Niantic, the development team, chose native development to take full advantage of the hardware capabilities of both iOS and Android devices. This decision enabled a more immersive and responsive gaming experience.

What advantages will you be able to leverage with a native mobile app?

  • Seamless integration with platform-specific features and APIs, providing access to the latest functionalities and ensuring the app aligns closely with the design principles of each operating system (iOS, Android).
  • The ability to use certain functions and data offline on the mobile device.
  • More robust and reliable core security compared to generic apps, as well as an option for proprietary remote device control.
  • More immersive and intuitive user experience that stems from adhering of native apps’ development languages (Swift, Kotlin) to the respective platforms’ design guidelines and user interface elements.

Despite the listed native app benefits, some of the real-world app examples demonstrated serious disadvantages, such as:

  1. Development cost. Native app development can be costlier compared to cross-platform solutions. Creating separate codebases for each platform (iOS, Android) often requires specialized development teams, increasing development expenses.
  2. Time-consuming. Developing native apps for different platforms extends the time-to-market. Each platform necessitates unique development processes, leading to longer development timelines than cross-platform alternatives.
  3. Skill set requirements. Native development demands expertise in platform-specific languages (Swift for iOS, Kotlin/Java for Android), making finding or training developers with the required skills essential. Specializing in native development may narrow the available talent pool, potentially slowing down the process. 

In contrast, cross-platform apps utilize a unified codebase, ensuring compatibility across various operating systems. Let’s look at the second option for mobile app development decision-making.

Cross-Platform Development: An Overview

cross-platform frameworks

Cross-platform app development aims to create software that works across multiple digital environments, with the primary goal of making it accessible to a wider customer base. A cross-platform app consists of a single codebase compiled into the native system language of Apple and Android.

These are the best-known cross-platform frameworks:

  1. React Native. Developed by Facebook, React Native uses JavaScript and React to build cross-platform mobile applications. It enables developers to write code once and deploy it on both iOS and Android.
  2. Flutter. Created by Google, Flutter utilizes the Dart programming language to build natively compiled mobile, web, and desktop applications from a single codebase.
  3. Xamarin. Owned by Microsoft, Xamarin allows developers to use C# for cross-platform development. It provides a single codebase for iOS, Android, and Windows applications.

Below, we listed three successful cross-platform app development case studies.

Case 1: Facebook Ads Manager

Facebook Ads Manager leveraged React Native for cross-platform development, allowing the app to be efficiently maintained and updated across both iOS and Android platforms. This approach has contributed to faster feature rollouts and consistent user experiences, ultimately driving the app’s success.

Case 2: Walmart

Walmart implemented Flutter for its mobile app, unifying the development process for iOS and Android. The cross-platform strategy significantly reduced development time and costs while providing a seamless and consistent shopping experience across different devices, contributing to the app’s success.

Case 3: Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams uses a combination of cross-platform frameworks like Electron for desktop and React Native for mobile, enabling a unified codebase. Cross-platform app advantages allow Microsoft Teams to offer a collaborative communication platform across various devices and operating systems, contributing to its widespread adoption and success.

Why should you decide to apply a cross-platform app development approach?

  • Choosing a cross-platform approach expands the pool of developers, making it easier to find expertise in web technologies like HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript, and PHP.
  • Unlike native web apps, cross-platform apps offer a cost-effective solution while providing a native look and feel. They can access most native features by compiling the development code into the native system language.
  • Cross-platform development allows designing the app once but coding for each operating system individually, leading to approximately 90% code reuse and over 80% cost savings compared to native development.
  • Developing the app only once saves valuable time, ensuring a low time-to-market and enabling the rapid realization of a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) for business model validation in the mobile technology landscape.

When using cross-platform solutions for mobile app deployment, developers face challenges accessing platform-specific APIs, often requiring workarounds to achieve consistent functionality across different devices. Here are some other significant drawbacks:

  1. Operating system updates. Cross-platform apps are impacted by operating system updates, requiring adaptation of frameworks and updates to community plugins, which may lead to compatibility issues.
  2. Limited functionality. While cross-platform apps access a significant portion of system-specific functions, they may lack certain features. Code reusability in app development and plugins can address this limitation.
  3. Performance considerations. Compiling can increase the app size compared to native development, potentially resulting in minor performance losses. However, with the increasing power of mobile devices, users often do not notice these differences.

Cross-platform vs. Native Mobile Development: Industry-Specific Features

Native and cross-platform frameworks offer distinct advantages tailored to specific industry needs. For those requiring precision and optimization, industries like healthcare, finance, and gaming find their stride with native development. On the flip side, the versatility of cross-platform development suits sectors like e-commerce, content publishing, and education, enabling a broader reach and cost-effective solutions. 

The decision between these two approaches becomes a strategic maneuver, shaping not only the technical foundations of an app but also influencing the business dynamics within diverse industries. We compiled a few examples to highlight the differences between native and cross-platform frameworks in practice.

Industries that can benefit from native app development

1. Features for healthcare:

  • Integration with device features: Native apps can seamlessly integrate with device features like sensors and wearables, enhancing functionalities like health tracking and remote patient monitoring.
  • Data privacy: The healthcare industry demands robust security standards, and native apps can implement platform-specific security features, providing a secure environment for sensitive patient data.

2. Features for finance and banking:

  • User experience: Finance apps often require complex interactions, and native development allows for a customized and intuitive user interface, optimizing the user experience.
  • Performance: Speed is crucial in financial transactions, and native apps, being optimized for specific platforms, provide faster response times and smoother transaction processes.

3. Features for gaming:

  • Graphics and performance: Native development enables game developers to take full advantage of platform-specific hardware, delivering high-quality graphics and optimal performance.
  • Integration with platform features: Native games allow for social sharing, leaderboards, and in-app purchases, enhancing user engagement.

Industries that can benefit from cross-platform development

1. Features for e-commerce:

  • Consistent user experience: Cross-platform apps can provide a consistent user experience across different devices, ensuring a unified and familiar interface for customers regardless of their platform.
  • Faster time to market: Development for multiple platforms simultaneously accelerates the app development process, enabling quicker deployment and faster adaptation to changing market demands.

2. Features for publishing:

  • Broader reach: Cross-platform development enables publishers to distribute their content to a diverse audience using various devices, ensuring wider accessibility.
  • Streamlined content updates: A single codebase simplifies updating and managing content across multiple platforms, reducing the time and effort required for maintenance.

3. Features for education:

  • Accessibility: Cross-platform apps are accessible across various devices, making educational content available to a broader audience, including students with different types of devices.
  • Consistent learning experience: Cross-platform development ensures a consistent user interface and experience for students and educators using different devices, promoting a seamless learning environment.

In recent years, more and more companies have chosen cross-platform mobile app development best practices to create their business software applications. The cross-platform app development industry is on a steady growth trajectory, with a projected revenue of US$120 billion in 2023 and an anticipated 16.8% CAGR over the next decade. By 2033, the total market size is expected to reach US$546.7 billion.

This is because this software development approach makes it possible for companies to expand across multiple platforms at the same time quickly. By applying for cross-platform mobile app development services, companies can effectively expand their customer base, improve services, and increase their revenue.

Choosing the Right Approach

Bearing in mind all the pros and cons of cross-platform development compared to native, which might work more efficiently for your business? Ultimately, every company has its own objectives and approach to developing an app., Bso it’s up to you to decide which route you want to take. But when comparing native and cross-platform apps for potential implementation, you may ask yourself the following questions Lightpoint experts compiled for you.

native vs. cross-platform mobile app development

1. What is your target audience and their preferred devices?

If your audience predominantly uses a specific platform (iOS or Android), native development might be more suitable for providing an optimized experience. However, a cross-platform framework (especially when comparing React Native vs. Flutter) might be more efficient if diversity is a key consideration.

2. What features are critical to your application’s success?

If your app heavily relies on platform-specific features, such as utilizing the latest AR capabilities or integrating seamlessly with device hardware, native development is likely the better choice. Given all the advantages and disadvantages of cross-platform mobile development, it may limit access to certain unique features.

3. What is your budget and timeline for development?

If cost-effectiveness and quicker time to market are top priorities between cross-platform vs. native mobile development, the first one might be preferable, as it allows code reuse across different platforms. However, if budget permits and there’s a need for platform-specific optimizations, native development could be more advantageous in the long term, because it allows for tailored optimizations, taking full advantage of each platform’s unique features. For example, a native iOS app can leverage features like Face ID authentication, providing a seamless and secure user experience specific to Apple devices.

4. How important is maintaining a consistent user experience across platforms?

If uniformity in the user interface and experience is critical, cross-platform development can provide a consistent look and feel across devices. On the other hand, native development allows for a more tailored experience on each platform.

5. What is the long-term vision for your app?

If your business envisions expanding into new markets or incorporating evolving technologies, a flexible and scalable solution, such as cross-platform development, might be more suitable. However, if you foresee deep integration with platform-specific advancements, native development could offer a more future-proof solution.

Overall, the choice between native vs. cross-platform app development hinges on whether your priority is harnessing platform-specific features for an immersive user experience or achieving wider accessibility and quicker time-to-market with a shared codebase. To ensure you meet all project-specific requirements and budget constraints, consult with practicing experts from a software application development company.


To make the right choice between cross-platform vs. native mobile development, it’s important to understand the differences between each option so you can move in the right direction. To conclude, you must take into account the following options:

  • User experience and optimization: Prioritize the importance of delivering an optimized user experience through platform-specific features.
  • Target audience and devices: Consider the primary platform your preferred audience uses to guide the choice between native and cross-platform development.
  • Feature set: Evaluate the criticality of platform-specific features for the success of your app.
  • Budget and timeline: Analyze development constraints in terms of budget and timeline; cross-platform development often offers cost-efficiency and quicker time-to-market.
  • Long-term vision: Consider scalability and future expansion plans to determine your app’s most suitable development approach.

After mobile app framework selection, it’s important to work with app developers who can give shape to your idea profitably and cost-effectively. Subcontracting app development is a great way to build your business without employing permanent in-house staff. Contact a Lightpoint expert today and get personal advice for a confident choice!