React.js vs React Native – What’s the Difference?

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Are you looking for the perfect framework and library for your project? React.js (sometimes called React JS or just React) and React Native are both incredibly powerful pieces of tech.

Both were developed by Facebook, now called Meta, and both are very useful for web and mobile app development.

But what is the difference between them?

Comparison between React.js and React Native, with React.js focusing on building web applications using JavaScript library and virtual DOM, and React Native on building native mobile apps with cross-platform development and native components.
Understand the differences between React.js and React Native, two powerful tools for building web and mobile applications respectively.

React and React Native are both incredibly similar tools and not just in name. However, React and React Native work very differently.

When comparing React vs React Native, the biggest difference is that React is a JavaScript library for building web applications, while React Native is a framework for creating native mobile apps using both JavaScript and React.

If you know what the difference is between React and React Native it can help you use them correctly, which can increase your efficiency and the quality of your websites or web apps.

Outside of increasing your performance, understanding the different React Native and React uses can also help you make informed decisions.

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What is React.js?

Definition and Purpose

React.js, or just React, is an open-source JavaScript library. As mentioned before, React was developed by Facebook.

You would generally use React when you are working on user interfaces for web applications, as it can help you make reusable UI components. It is great for reactivity and dynamic content, which makes it ideal for single-page applications.

Key Features and Benefits

There are several key features and benefits to consider before you choose React:

  • Component-based architecture
  • Virtual React DOM
  • Unidirectional Data Flow
  • JSX Syntax
Key features and benefits of React.js, showcasing component-based architecture, virtual DOM, unidirectional data flow, and JSX syntax on the left, with reusable UI components, optimized rendering, predictable state management, and simplified development process on the right.
Explore the key features and benefits of React.js, a popular JavaScript library for building web applications with component-based architecture and virtual DOM.

The React library lets you build encapsulated components.

These can be used over and over again when creating web and mobile applications, as mentioned above. They manage their own state, which means applications using React are easy to maintain.

Virtual DOMs optimize rendering by only updating the components that have been changed, making React great for performance.

The unidirectional data flow means that there is always predictable state management. This results in apps that are very easy to debug.

Lastly, the JSX syntax provides a syntax extension that lets you write HTML inside JavaScript code. This can be a little bit confusing if you are a beginner, but for more experienced developers, it can simplify the development process.

What is React Native?

Definition and Purpose

Like its counterpart, React Native is an open-source framework created by Facebook. React Native uses are primarily related to building native mobile applications using both JavaScript and React.

React Native can be used to write code once and then deploy it across iOS and Android. This means creating an app in React native is a no-brainer.

Key Features and Benefits

There are several advantages of React Native that you need to consider.

  • Cross-platform development
  • Native Components
  • Hot Reloading
  • Extensive Library and Community Support
Advantages of React Native illustrated by icons representing cross-platform development, native components, hot reloading, and extensive library and community support.
Discover the advantages of using React Native for mobile app development, including cross-platform capabilities, native components, hot reloading, and extensive community support.

As already mentioned, React Native allows you to write one codebase and run it on iOS and Android. This is very efficient and can save you a lot of time and money.

React Native also uses native UI components. These guarantee that React Native Apps have a good user experience compared to some others.

Hot reloading allows you to see the results of changes to Native code rather than needing to rebuild the entire app.

The extensive library and community support of React Native may help you increase the speed and efficiency of your development.

React.js in Web Development

Role and Use Cases

React.js is usually used to build web applications. Since React is ideal for speed and performance, it is usually used for single page applications (SPAs), as already discussed, though React is not limited to these situations.

You can see examples of platforms that make use of React.js on Facebook, Netflix, and Instagram.

Advantages and Limitations

The advantages and limitations of using the React framework and libraries for your application are important to consider

The reusable components, Virtual DOM, variety of tools available, and community support are all beneficial to the speed and user experience of your React applications.

Limitations include the steep learning curve. Not only do you need to learn JavaScript, but you also need to learn how to use the React libraries. If you are new to programming, this can be very overwhelming.

And then, there is the fact that a lot of the different React components are often unnecessary for simpler websites, like the kind that have static content.

This means that you might benefit more from using a simpler JavaScript library for building user interfaces.

React Native in Mobile Development

Role and Use Cases

React Native is most often used to build native mobile applications, as mentioned above. Usually, apps need to run on multiple ecosystems.

For example, the mobile apps of companies like Airbnb, Bloomberg, and Uber Eats are all built using React Native.

Advantages and Limitations

As already discussed, the advantages of React Native development include the ability to reuse code and access React Native components, as well as the library and community.

Also, if you already know how to use React and JavaScript, then transitioning over to React native is rather easy.

Although React Native is used for mobile apps by large companies, there are some big drawbacks. The performance of React Native apps is still not quite as high as that of apps that use pure native functionality.

There is also an abstraction layer that can make it difficult to find issues and debug your code.

Comparing React.js and React Native

Differences in UI Components

When comparing ReactJS and React Native UI components directly, we can see that ReactJS components render HTML. Contrastingly, React Native renders native mobile UI elements.

This means React Native’s look and feel are more authentic on mobile devices.

Performance and Efficiency

When comparing performance, we see that React.JS is optimized for web applications. But React Native is best for mobile apps.

Although React Native mobile development results in performant apps, there is still a bit of discrepancy in the performance between React Native and Native platforms.

This means that if speed and performance are your only considerations, building entirely Native applications is still the best option.

However, if you do not have any complex code running, for example, animations, React Native is the best option.

Development Environment and Tools

Usually, React developers use Webpack, Babel, or a couple of other code editors.

Developers who work with React Native will usually work with iOS-specific tools like Expo and Xcode, or Android-specific tools like Android Studio.

Advantages of Using React Native for Mobile Development

Access to Native Modules

Using React Native gives you direct access to native modules or native app components.

This means that you end up with high performance.

You also have the added benefit of being able to use native APIs along with the other native features.

Code Reusability and Flexibility

One of the most significant advantages of using a framework like React Native is that you can reuse code over multiple platforms.

As already mentioned, this means that the same code can be used for iOS and Android apps.

Building Web Applications with React.js

Best Practices and Tips

There are a couple of best practices that you need to consider when building a web app with React.js.

The first is that you need to use functional components and hooks. React provides these as a simple way to manage state and side effects.

Next, you should really make sure that you take advantage of the ability to reuse components. This will save you a lot of time and optimize your performance.

Furthermore, you need to use techniques like lazy loading, memoization, and so on.

Real-World Examples

We’ve already mentioned three different platforms that use React.js. Facebook, Netflix, and Instagram.

More real-world examples include:

  • Khan Academy: which makes use of the React library.
  • AirBnB: Make use of React to reuse code.
  • Whatsapp: React is used to build their user interface.
  • DropBox: Uses React to support its large traffic quantities.
  • Codecademy: Uses React as one of the main scripts thanks to how simple it makes SEO.
  • Atlassian: Uses React’s many features when coding in JavaScript.

Developing Native Mobile Apps with React Native

Best Practices and Tips

There are some best practices to consider when developing mobile apps with React Native.

First, you need to make sure that you use native modules wisely. Only using native modules when necessary will help you maintain your performance.

Then, you need to make sure that you pay special attention to optimizing images and other kinds of assets.

You should also use tools like Flipper and React Native Debugger. These can help you track your performance and figure out where there are issues.

Real-World Examples

As already discussed, Bloomberg, Uber Eats, and AirBnB all use React Native in their apps.

Other examples include:

  • Facebook
  • Microsoft Apps
  • Amazon Apps
  • Shopify
  • Wix

You will notice when exploring further that there is some overlap in use between React and React Native. Although both can technically be used at the same time, one is usually for the website and the other for mobile applications.

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React.js and React Native both use a React core but are very different. Which one you decide to work with will depend on what you need done.

React.js libraries are used for web development. React Native provides a framework better suited to building mobile apps.

Both are incredibly powerful and are some of the best options out there if you would like to use JavaScript code.

If you are unsure about which would be best for you, consider reaching out to us here at

We can help you outsource your development to an experienced software engineer or even help you hire a dedicated team as part of your staff augmentations process.


Frequently Asked Questions

No, React Native and React are not the same. React is a JavaScript library that developers usually use for building website interfaces. React Native is a framework that is often used to build mobile apps.

Whether you should learn ReactJS or React Native depends on what you want to do. If you want to build web apps, then you need to learn ReactJS. If you want to build mobile apps, then you need to learn React Native.

The difference between React Native and modern React is that the latter refers to the latest version of React.js. The former incorporates the latest version of React.js but specifically for apps.

React is more popular than React Native because of its extensive use. React is a library that is used in web development, which is still a larger community than the mobile development that React Native is used for.

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With over 10 years of experience in software outsourcing, Alex has assisted in building high-performance teams before co-founding Trio with his partner Daniel. Today he enjoys helping people hire the best software developers from Latin America and writing great content on how to do that!
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