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React Vs React Native: Unveiling Key Differences

Published on: April 29, 2023

React.js and React Native are popular tools for building web and mobile applications. Though they share commonalities, they cater to different development needs.

In this article, we will examine the similarities and differences between React.js and React Native, with a focus on their respective use cases and benefits. By the end, you will have a comprehensive understanding of both tools and the scenarios in which they excel.

The Basics of Web and Mobile Rendering

How Websites Get Rendered: HTML, CSS, and JavaScript

When a user accesses a website, the browser retrieves an HTML file containing content and links to other resources such as images, videos, and stylesheets. The browser parses the HTML file, building a Document Object Model (DOM) that represents the page elements.

It then downloads the linked resources, applies styling, and renders the content. JavaScript code runs alongside this process, providing interactivity and dynamic content updates.

React.js: A Solution for Organized Web UI Development

React.js is an open-source, front-end JavaScript library for building user interfaces or UI components. It simplifies the process of designing UIs by allowing developers to create reusable elements that can be easily integrated into different parts of the website or app. React.js employs a component-based architecture, separating data, logic, and presentation layers for easier comprehension and maintenance.

Here's an example of a simple React.js component that displays a list of items:

import React from 'react';

const ItemList = ({ items }) => (
    {items.map((item, index) => (
      <li key={index}>{item}</li>

export default ItemList;

React Native: Building Cross-Platform Mobile Applications

React Native, on the other hand, is a framework for creating cross-platform mobile applications for iOS and Android devices. It leverages the same syntax and component-based architecture as React.js while using native UI components and APIs to build mobile apps.

Here's an example of a React Native component that displays a list of items using native components:

import React from 'react';
import { View, Text, FlatList } from 'react-native';

const ItemList = ({ items }) => (
      renderItem={({ item }) => <Text>{item}</Text>}
      keyExtractor={(item, index) => index.toString()}

export default ItemList;

React.js and React Native: Common Grounds

Despite their differences, React.js and React Native share several key features:

  • Both utilize the core React library and component-based architecture.

  • They use JavaScript as their programming language and JSX as their templating language.

  • Virtual DOMs are employed in rendering applications for both tools.

  • Styling techniques and components are shared, albeit with some differences.

  • Chrome DevTools can be used for debugging both React.js and React Native applications.

  • Both frameworks prioritize a declarative programming model, which reduces the complexity of application code and makes it easier to reason about.

  • Both React.js and React Native were developed by Facebook(now Meta).

Key Differences Between React.js and React Native

1. Purpose and Platform Support

React.js is primarily used for web development, creating UIs for web applications that run on browsers. React Native focuses on building cross-platform mobile applications for iOS and Android devices.

2. Performance Considerations

While React.js and React Native are both built on the same core library, performance considerations differ between web and mobile platforms. React.js applications generally have lower performance requirements compared to mobile applications, as web browsers handle memory management and performance optimizations.

React Native, on the other hand, requires more attention to performance, as mobile devices have limited resources compared to desktop computers. Mobile applications must be optimized for battery life, memory usage, and responsiveness to provide a smooth user experience. React Native's use of native UI components and APIs helps achieve better performance on mobile platforms compared to hybrid app development solutions, such as Cordova or Ionic, which rely on WebView for rendering.

3. UI Components and Styling

React.js uses HTML, CSS, and JavaScript for layout and styling, while React Native employs native UI components and APIs for mobile app development. Although they share similar syntax, React Native components more closely resemble native UI elements.

4. Libraries and Ecosystem

Many libraries commonly used with React.js for web development have mobile versions for building apps in React Native, such as Axios, Bootstrap CSS, and Tailwind CSS. However, each ecosystem has its unique set of tools and libraries that cater to their respective platforms.

For instance, React.js relies on web-specific tools like Webpack and Babel, while React Native uses tools like the React Native CLI, Expo, and platform-specific emulators/simulators for testing and debugging.

5. Animation and Gesture Support

React.js and React Native handle animations and gestures differently. While React.js relies on web-based CSS animations and JavaScript libraries like GreenSock, React Native has built-in support for animations and gestures through the Animated API and the PanResponder API. This provides developers with an easier and more efficient way to create engaging user interactions in mobile applications.

Making the Choice: React.js or React Native?

Your choice between React.js and React Native depends on your project requirements and target platforms. If your goal is to develop a web application with an interactive UI, React.js is the ideal choice.

On the other hand, if you want to create a cross-platform mobile application for iOS and Android devices using your existing knowledge of React and web development tools, React Native is the way to go.

It is worth mentioning that both React.js and React Native can coexist in certain scenarios. For example, you can build a web application with React.js and a companion mobile app with React Native while sharing some code and logic between the two platforms.

Happy Coding!