Xamarin vs React Native: The differences and which is better?

In the age of smartphones and tablets, every mobile apps developer is seeking the fastest, cheapest, easiest ways to develop and deploy high performing apps. iOS and Android rule the market, and as a mobile apps developer, you have to choose the most appropriate framework to run your app on more devices and provide the best user experience. And what could possibly better than React Native vs Xamarin?

Both of these open-source, cross-platform frameworks are favored by the development community to build high-performing apps while saving coding efforts and time. So let’s be objective. What module is better for the development? In this article, we – ArrowHiTech would like to discuss some of the most prominent differences between the two frameworks: Xamarin vs React Native, in order for you to choose for your project.

But first, let’s get started with some definitions.


What is Xamarin? What is React Native?

Xamarin is a cross-platform mobile app development framework launched way back in 2011 by the company that has the same name. It was later acquired by Microsoft in 2013. Since then, Microsoft integrated this framework into its Visual Studio development interface. Xamarin uses the C# language as a base for app development and contains the underlying platform SDKs for both Android & iOS.

React Native or React Native app development, to give it a brief explanation, allows building mobile apps for Android and iOS in JavaScript. It lets us compose UI components in JS code which is then translated into native platform-specific components. For more information about React Native, check out our previous article here: React Native: why you might (or might not) want to use it for your mobile app development.


Why does this comparison between React native vs Xamarin important?

We need to compare React Native vs Xamarin because making one choice out of either makes a significant difference in how your cross-platform app mobile application will be developed and deployed. Your project may have specific requirements for which the only one of these frameworks might be suitable. Or perhaps your desired mobile app would need some specific functionalities that could only be delivered by either of the two. 

Now, it becomes difficult for many business owners to choose the best tool among two for developing their mobile applications. So in the text below, we have gathered some of the most common differences between them, and we shall see which is better. After all, this is what you’re here for.

React Native vs Xamarin: The comparison

#1. Availability

In terms of availability, React Native is clearly the winner. This is because it’s an open-source JavaScript-based framework and available for both iOS and Android platforms. Moreover, many great companies and startups use React Native. The popular mobile apps that use this framework are Facebook, Facebook Ads Manager, Instagram, F8, Facebook Analytics, Skype, Pinterest, Bloomberg, Uber, Walmart, Tesla, Artsy, Chop, Discord, Vogue, and so on.

On the other hand, Xamarin, while being open-source as regards to the JavaScript-based framework, yet it wasn’t always so. The resources and features of the free version are far less than the previous one, and you may need to shell out a few bucks to get its enterprise version, just for better performance. Moreover, the developer community of Xamarin is relatively smaller, and it’s used by fewer companies such as Honeywell, slack, BOSCH, Cognizant, or JetBlue.

#2. Technology used

React Native is a JavaScript-based framework, so it leverages one of the most popular, the most commonly used languages in web development. This also means that developers with hands-on experience in JavaScript can easily get into mobile app development with React Native. The learning curve of this programming framework is short and there is a huge availability this skill set in the market.

Xamarin uses C# and .NET frameworks. It lets developers reuse somewhat around 96% of the code to create iOS and Android apps. Having support from Microsoft also means that it can be used within the Visual Studio environment. That offers developers some nifty tools such as a rich editor, native platform integration, and a decent set of debugging tools. So, to give it a fair comparison, we would say it’s a tie.

Since we are in the digital world, the best metric for measuring popularity would be online search trends. Here’s what we’ve found when we analyzed Google search trends for React Native and Xamarin.

These search trends let us know what developers are looking to learn, or wanting to know about. They clearly tell us that people seem more interested in React Native as compared to Xamarin. So, React Native, once again win this round.

#4. Compilation of React Native and Xamarin

With React Native, Just in Time (JIT) compilation can be used for the Android app, but not for the development of iOS applications, thus React Native falls back to interpreting the JS code. However, things are much different in the case of Xamarin. C# makes both JIT and Ahead of Time (AOT) compilation possible. In most of the cases, an AOT compiled code runs faster. So Xamarin wins this round fair and square.

#5. Ready-to-use components

To build smart and faster apps, React Native offers a broad range of ready-made components with comprehensive documentation. From testing tools to type checking, networking, forms, and user interface, there’s a solution to cater to your immediate needs. From that, the store will be variable, thanks to JavaScript-based frameworks. Yet, the documentation of this module won’t be so great.
Xamarin’s components, however, are split between the component store and NuGet. All is good here too, except the documentation which has a considerable scope of improvement. The store, in our point of view, is relatively better than what React Native offers, albeit with scope for improvement in documentation. Let’s just call it a tie in this one, since the benefits that these two bring can be weighed similarly.

#6. Development environment

React Native is flexible – it allows developers to choose the IDE/text editor they love the most. The best feature by far is the Live Reload feature which lets developers see the effects of changes made to the code in real-time. In the past, Expo is used to debug and build React Native apps.

Development environment

Xamarin has a friendlier development environment as it lets developers write code on Windows and even on an iPhone app. Eventually, the code can be compiled on a Mac as Apple doesn’t let developers do so any other way. Generally, Visual Studio is for development that simplifies building mobile, desktops, and web apps. Apple’s XCode can be used for mobile app development. Ultimately, the two ways are relatively easy. So one point for Xamarin.

#7. Performance of Xamarin and RN

The performance of React Native is commendable – it keeps its promise of delivering near-to-native performance. However, when you dig deeper, there are a few points that you should consider such as it doesn’t support 64-bit mode on Android or has certain navigational performance issues. Thankfully, there are smart ways to address these concerns and a dedicated React development company can easily cater to this all.

Talking about Xamarin, it deserves brownie points for running the fastest code on both Android and iOS platforms. It fully supports 64-bit mode and provides a brilliant UI to enable the use of native tools directly. Talking about the app’s weigh, this framework can also optimize for the best. So once again, Xamarin is the winner.

Final words

That should be the conclusion for the two programming frameworks: Xamarin and React Native. Winding up, all we can say is that both React Native and Xamarin are powerful frameworks. Both have their own perks and limitations, and only you can decide what is the best choice for your next project. We hope that after reading this article, you will have the perfect choice for your mobile app development project.