Xamarin vs. React Native: Which Software To Choose in 2021?

Coming up with a New Year’s resolution is easy enough, but following it through is always the hard part. For savvy business persons hoping to grow their business, resolutions might revolve around seeing their business thrive. This often depends on the making of several big decisions that can prompt business growth, like Xamarin vs. React Native, for example. 

With the value of the mobile app market breaking $189 billion in 2020, a decision like Xamarin vs. React Native can have a notable impact on businesses engaging in mobile app development. Both Xamarin and React Native allow developers to create performant native apps. 

But when it comes down to just two software frameworks that claim to achieve the same goal, which one is best for your tech stack? Read ahead to find out. 

Xamarin vs. React Native: Side-by-Side Comparison

Here is a side-by-side comparison of Xamarin vs. React Native. If you couldn’t quite figure out which software was best before, a direct comparison is in order. 

Performance

Because cross-platform frameworks are known for sacrificing performance in turn for convenience, this category is paramount to your final decision. 

Though both Xamarin and React Native offer near-native performance, Xamarin runs the fastest code on Android iOS and has a UI for using native tools. 

TLDR: In Xamarin vs. React Native, Xamarin has more brownie points for native-like performance. Xamarin wins. 

Popularity

Popularity does not always determine the value of software but it does have a big influence on how others interact with the software. Characteristics like a large talent pool, comprehensive tooling, and a great community often revolve around the popularity of a software.

Perhaps because React Native is open-source and Xamarin is close-sourced and only maintained by Microsoft, React Native is more popular than Xamarin. From Stack Overflow insights to Google Trends, this is clear. 

TLDR: When you compare Xamarin vs. React Native for popularity, React Native wins

Community & Developer Ecosystem

For the same reasons as noted above, you can expect that React Native has a larger and more supportive community than Xamarin. 

When React Native was younger, its community was limited. However, as the framework grows and JavaScript frameworks in general garner more attention, it’s become easier and easier to spot fellow React Native developers.

TLDR: Looking at Xamarin vs. React Native side-by-side, React Native has a larger community and better developer ecosystem

Development Environment

Both Xamarin and React Native have pre-built components to enhance performance and the developer experience. But despite React Native’s live reload feature, the framework as a whole pales in comparison to Xamarin. 

Xamarin.Forms along with Xamarin.iOS and Xamarin.Android empowers developers to create platform-specific native UI components. In this way, Xamarin developers can get closer to native-like performance than React Native developers might be able to. 

TLDR: Xamarin has more useful pre-built components than React Native. 

Availability

Most open-source frameworks are free. But unfortunately, Xamarin can’t claim that label. Xamarin does have a free version, but its features are limited.

Free generally means more access, giving React Native the upper hand in this category. 

TLDR:  In contrasting Xamarin vs. React Native, React Native is simply more accessible than Xamarin

Compilation

JavaScript and its frameworks, including React Native, use just-in-time (JIT) compilation. Though compiled languages typically run faster than interpreted languages because they are converted to machine code before execution, JIT compilation may be the best of both worlds. 

JavaScript, Java, and C# all use JIT compilation. However, JIT compilation in React Native only works for Android not iOS, disrupting performance for iOS applications. C# has both JIT compilation and ahead-of-time (AOT) compilation. And AOT compiled code runs faster in most cases.

TLDR: Xamarin vs. React Native shows that both frameworks have similar compilation styles but Xamarin offers a compiler well-suited for both iOS and Android. Xamarin wins

Costs

Xamarin and React Native are free. But Xamarin is only free for individuals and small companies. A Visual Studio Enterprise annual edition can cost nearly $3000. This, of course, makes the entirely free React Native much more appealing. 

TLDR: React Native is cheaper than Xamarin. 

Xamarin vs. React Native: Side-by-Side Comparison

Now that you know how React Native vs. Xamarin compare side by side, understanding their differences and similarities, here is a breakdown of the main characteristics of each software.

Other language comparisons that may interest you:

What Is Xamarin?

Xamarin is a Microsoft software for building native Android, iOS, and Windows apps. The software is a sub-platform of .NET, a software framework providing tools and libraries for building apps. 

Really, Xamarin is an extension of .NET, but the platform is specifically designed for mobile app development. You can consider all of these platforms as part of the Microsoft C# ecosystem. 

C# is a programming language developed by Microsoft. The language was inspired by C and C++. However, it has better class libraries and support for object-oriented programming. The language features multiple programming paradigms and is statically typed with lexical scope.

The .NET Framework relies on C#, F#, and Visual Basic. Xamarin uses C#. With Xamarin, you can share up to 90% of your codebase from platform to platform.

For mobile app developers, a large concern is that cross-platform development – that is, sharing codebases between Android and Apple operating systems (OS’s) – will impede performance. Frameworks like Xamarin endeavor to mitigate that possibility. 

Because Xamarin allows developers to use C# rather than the host languages of mobile operating systems, like Java for Android and Swift for iOS, developers can save time in development while also getting a native-like performance. 

If Xamarin sounds like it would be helpful for your next project, it’s time to worry about hiring developers.

>>> Learn more about how to hire Xamarin developers. 

What Are the Advantages of Xamarin?

Xamarin vs. React Native wouldn’t be a fair fight without an adequate comparison. The following Xamarin advantages should help you compare the two frameworks. 

Cross-platform

Because Xamarin uses C# and is part of .NET, mobile app development is far easier than otherwise. In addition to your code working on multiple platforms, you still get the benefit of native-like performance. 

Xamarin.Android and Xamarin.iOS gives developers access to relevant software development kits (SDKs) for Android and iOS. And Xamarin.Essential is a library of overlapping native application programming interfaces (APIs). 

Efficient 

For the same reason, Xamarin is efficient. As codebases can be shared from one mobile operating system to the other, cross-platform development means saving time and costs.

With Xamarin, you also use a single technological stack as you can write both UIs and the application’s core logic in C#.

Maintainable 

Xamarin.Forms is a means of maintaining apps by updating source code. The updates will automatically be applied to all solutions.  

Xamarin Test Cloud and Xamarin Test Recorder can run automated tests so you can run bugs before they appear in a stable release. 

Comprehensive

Since Xamarin is backed by .NET, it has lots of comprehensive tooling in support of an extensive developer experience. 

Aside from the aforementioned Xamarin libraries, Xamarin lets you use CSS and other libraries, unlike React. There is also real-time collaboration via Visual Studio Live Share, as well as code clean up and intelligent suggestions. 

When Is the Use of Xamarin Recommended?

Unsurprisingly, Xamarin should be used for building mobile apps. The platform provides a means to build mobile apps without utilizing OS-specific languages like Swift or Java. Ultimately, the advantage of this is more efficient and holistic development as codebases can be shared cross-platform. 

What Apps Use Xamarin?

Hopefully Xamarin vs. React Native doesn’t come down to a popularity contest, but it can be helpful to know where exactly Xamarin is used and why.

Apps That Use Xamarin

UPS

The United Parcel Service (UPS) needs little to no description. It’s the company delivering some large percentage of packages worldwide. 

The UPS mobile app allows you to create shipments easily on the go. Thanks to Xamarin, developers were able to increase their productivity while making the app.

FreshDirect

FreshDirect is a leading online grocery delivery service specializing in local and organic produce as well as fresh seafood, custom cuts of meats, and chef-made meals. 

Its corresponding mobile app shifted to C# from Objective-C and Swift in early 2015 to speed up time-to-market. 

Olo

While the name Olo might not be the most recognizable, you’ve probably indirectly benefited from the app more often than you might think. Olo creates custom ordering apps for a number of restaurants including WingStop, Applebee’s, and Five Guys. 

The DevOps team has used Xamarin from the very beginning to ensure a rapid time-to-market and a seamless user experience.

What Is React Native?

React Native is a mobile application framework developed by Facebook. The framework is based on React, a JavaScript library for building user interfaces (UI). 

Co-founder of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg maintained that, “The biggest mistake we made as a company was betting too much on HTML as opposed to native.” In other words, Zuckerberg realized that in using HTML5 to develop Facebook’s mobile version, he was sacrificing performance. 

His solution was to build a new framework entirely for mobile development. React and React Native share the same base similarities. Both frameworks are explicitly concerned with state management and additional libraries must be used to render further functionality. 

States control the behavior of an app at a certain time. State management refers to the management of UI controls like OK buttons, text fields, and whatever else responds to user interaction. 

Because everything is written in JavaScript, this enables code sharing from one platform to the next. And developers do not need to write in Android or iOS-specific languages. 

React Native developers are in high demand. If you want one for yourself, Trio knows just where to look: The complete guide on how to hire React Native developers.

What Are the Advantages of React Native?

Get a good idea of how React Native pulls its own weight and take a look at the advantages of using React Native. 

Intuitive

React Native uses a similar architecture to React which is modular in nature. With this modularity, it is easy to differentiate between varying functionalities via independent code blocks. This allows for ease of development. 

Community-Driven 

Though React Native first started as a project for Facebook’s personal use, when it was released as an open-source project, there was no going back. React Native’s community is large and therefore supportive, making mobile app development really feel like a collective effort. 

Cross-platform

Just like Xamarin, React Native promises code reusability at high percentages. Of course, the product is saving time and money. 

Another perk driving React Native’s success in the cross-platform development industry is how it divvies up processing power. 

While other frameworks rely on the central processing unit (CPU), React Native predominantly relies on the graphical processing unit (GPU). In comparison to hybrid technologies, React Native is exceptionally fast. 

Idiosyncratic

Some features of React Native stand out more than others. For example, many React Native developers cherish one of the framework’s features called ‘hot load’ or ‘live reload’ where updates to your codebase can be seen immediately. 

When Is the Use of React Native Recommended?

Not unlike Xamarin, React Native has a very specific use case. That is, developers should use the framework for building cross-platform mobile apps.

By using just JavaScript throughout your mobile app development, your project can be built faster and cheaper than using traditional native languages. 

What Apps Use React Native?

Xamarin vs. React Native can only be contrasted directly if you observe how they stand on their own imaginary two feet. In that same vein, here are some major apps that rely on React Native.

Apps That Use React Native

Facebook

Given that Facebook developed React Native, it shouldn’t be shocking that they use their own software. For context, Facebook is a huge social networking website and mobile app.

Ironically, React Native was born out of a hackathon project that prioritized advantages such as quick iterations and having a singular development team. 

Walmart

Walmart is a retail corporation with a sizable chain of grocery markets and department stores. The corporation chose React Native in an attempt to improve customer experience. As a result, they found almost 100% of their codebase could be shared between platforms. 

Wix

Wix is an online company where you can build and host websites quickly and easily. Using React Native improved Wix’s speed and agility where web development is involved. The company also created its own software for handling navigation called wix-react-native-navigation

Conclusion

Xamarin vs. React Native warrants an upfront, close look. The two frameworks share many similarities. Both frameworks enable developers to build cross-platform mobile apps with near-native performance. 

When you look at the framework side-by-side, it’s clear that React Native does better than Xamarin in the majority of categories. Yet a business that prioritizes performance and compilation times over other factors might go with Xamarin instead.

Whichever way it may be, remember that Trio has the tools and developers you need to see your project to completion. And we’ll also consult with you to help you choose the software that will give you exactly what you need. Contact Trio now to find out more.

 

 

Cordenne Brewster

Content Marketing

About

A tech enthusiast whose ardor is best expressed through the written word.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Xamarin is a Microsoft software for building native Android, iOS, and Windows apps. The software is a sub-platform of .NET, a software framework providing tools and libraries for building apps.

React Native is a mobile application framework developed by Facebook. The framework is based on React, a JavaScript library for building user interfaces (UI).

Some popular applications using Xamarin are UPS, FreshDirect, and Olo.

Some popular applications using React Native are Facebook, Walmart, and Wix.