A Breakdown of Hybrid vs. Native Mobile App Development Cost Factors
For many companies, both large and small, the cost of a mobile app development project is top-of-mind, and determining what development approach to use plays a significant role in the decision-making process. Should you choose a hybrid development approach, or choose native app development? Depending on your business objectives and overall goals, this decision can make or break the success of your mobile strategy.
This article will compare the cost of native and hybrid mobile app development, answering crucial questions like:
- What are the essential differences between native mobile apps and hybrid applications?
- What are the drawbacks of each development approach?
- Does hybrid app development cost less?
By the end of this article, you’ll have a better understanding of which development approach is best for your business. Here’s a breakdown of the two app development approaches and the unique factors that impact the cost of a project.
Native Mobile App Development
Native mobile apps leverage specific platforms and use the languages the chosen platform accepts. For example, Swift and Objective-C are typical for iOS apps and Java or Kotlin for native Android apps. Native apps have the best performance and are the most used in the app market. Users tend to prefer native apps over web apps or hybrid apps for their speed and responsiveness. These types of apps are more interactive, intuitive, and offer a better overall user experience.
It is easier to maintain two codebases for two applications than it is one codebase for two applications. With native app development, you have fewer dependencies for bugs to occur because you’re not relying on a cross-platform tool such as Xamarin, React Native, or Cordova.
Advantages of Native Apps
- Native apps deliver the best performance compared to hybrid applications.
- Native apps receive complete support from app stores and the overall app marketplace. Distribution in app stores helps with discoverability.
- Native development allows developers to access the full feature set of the selected operating system.
- The user experience of native apps is far superior to hybrid apps. To the user, the flow is more natural because of each mobile operating system’s specific UI guidelines and standards.
- A native app must be approved by its respective operating system which assures quality, security, and device compatibility.
Disadvantages of Native Apps
- Native apps use difficult programming languages that require experienced developers.
- Expenses are more costly upfront for native apps compared to hybrid apps.
- Native apps are not the best option for simple applications.
While the initial cost of native mobile app development may be higher than other options, this development approach will save money over time. By offering a great user experience, better performance, and accessibility, native apps can offer users a more personalized product. The multiple advantages of native apps will result in higher conversion rates and long-term customer loyalty.
Developing only one app for all platforms is an advantage of hybrid app development as it is typically faster, allowing quicker time-to-market. But while hybrid app development is faster than native development, it also has a significant disadvantage, which is that you can’t customize your product the way you would be able to do with a native app. The more customization you want within your hybrid app, the more expensive the project will be. Depending on customization requirements, a native solution will end up being more cost-effective.
Hybrid apps access hardware through a bridge which can slow development down. Also, a hybrid app can sometimes frustrate users because the user experience doesn’t follow specific operating system guidelines.
Advantages of Hybrid App Development
- Hybrid apps don’t need a web browser like web apps.
- Hybrid apps have access to a device’s internal APIs and device hardware.
- Only one codebase is needed for hybrid apps.
Disadvantages of Hybrid App Development
- Hybrid apps are much slower than native apps.
- With hybrid app development, you’re dependent on a third-party platform to deploy the app’s wrapper.
- The more customization the app requires takes away from hybrid development, which costs more money that can be saved with native app development.
With hybrid app development, you have to contend with issues that stem from both native systems and hybrid systems, which makes bug fixing more difficult. Performance is also a disadvantage because hybrid apps load in a web view. The user experience is often sacrificed with a hybrid app as you cannot customize the app based on the platform.
Customizability is a significant disadvantage to hybrid apps. The more customization you do, the more you’re steering toward a native solution. If customization is important to you, taking the native approach to development will be more beneficial. The more customization you want in your hybrid app, the more expensive the project will be, and therefore a native solution will end up being more cost-effective.
Does Hybrid App Development Cost Less?
Hybrid and native app development arguably require the same amount of effort and here’s why. With hybrid app development, you have to contend with issues that stem from both native systems and hybrid systems. Working between the two systems makes fixing bugs more difficult.
The disadvantage of having to work with a third-party hybrid wrapper is the dependency on a cross-platform development tool such as Xamarin or Cordova. Every time the UI kit releases new features, you need to wait for the right tool to support it. When you develop a hybrid app, there’s an added layer that you don’t have control over which can increase the chances of bugs occurring.
Bugs are a huge concern for hybrid app development when working with the latest features that have been released for a particular operating system, which negatively impacts the cost of development as it may extend the development timeline.
Can You Support Hybrid Development With In-House Web Engineers?
Many people think they can support their hybrid app in-house with their on-site web developers. However, the reality is that these web developers need to understand Native iOS and Android functionality in addition to web development. This means you’ve built a more complex application that will need two different skill sets to support it. Developers with this expertise are difficult to find and a lot more expensive retain. This goes for React Native as well. You simply cannot support React Native with web developers alone.
Bringing Hybrid development in-house is not always the cheaper option. We recommend that you find a native app development partner to help you build out a team of developers who have the expertise for your mobile app.
It Comes Down To The User Experience
The majority of users will retry a mobile application only once or twice after they’ve had a poor user experience with the first try using the app. For this reason, it’s important to ensure your app will work consistently to avoid abandonment after the first use.
Native apps win the performance battle by a landslide. A native app is faster and more reliable by nature. It has all the structure, content, and visual elements ready to be displayed at any time, providing a more seamless experience.
What’s more is that with hybrid app development, the appearance of your app can vary from user to user, depending on the version of the software they are using and the type of device running your app. As a result, your app may not always look the way you intend and can amount to poor user experience.
Although the initial cost may be higher with a native app, you’ll end up saving a lot of time and money in the long run. By offering a great user experience, better performance, and leveraging the device features, you’re able to provide your users with a more personalized experience. The combination of the native mobile app advantages will result in higher conversion rates and will ultimately boost customer loyalty.
There is no fixed price for app development. The reality is that multiple factors impact the price of your project. When it comes to the cost of mobile app development, you ultimately get what you pay for. Many companies overlook several cost considerations that are central to mobile app development, which is why we’ve created the Definitive Guide to Mobile App Development Costs Infographic [Free Download] to illustrate how multiple areas of a mobile app development influence the cost of a project. If you’re curious about what cost considerations you might be forgetting, download the infographic and check out our blog post: Managing Mobile App Development Costs: 3 Essential Considerations.