Native vs. Hybrid vs. Web – Which Type of App Is for You?

To say that mobile apps have changed the way people use their smartphones is an understatement. Just in the last three years, the number of app downloads on mobile phones worldwide increased from 143. 7 billion in 2016 to 194 billion in 2018. 

It’s no wonder that mobile apps have also become an integral part of marketing strategies in different industries. Businesses of all sizes recognize the importance of having an app and they all want one. That’s why the industry of app development is growing non-stop.

When you are starting out with mobile app development, the first question that comes to your mind is this – Should I build a native app, a web app, or a hybrid app?

These three types of apps come with their own pros and cons. To help you decide, here are some of the basics of these three and their differences that you should know about. 

Native Apps

Native apps are those that are developed especially for a specific platform. They are what most people think of when you say ‘mobile apps’. These are what you mostly download from the App Store if you’re an iPhone user or Google Play if you’re on Android. 

What sets native apps from hybrid and web apps is the fact that they are built for a specific platform. For example, native apps for the iPhone are written in Objective-C while native Android apps are in Java. 


  • Native apps are the most reliable and they deliver the best user experience.
  • Native applications are faster and more secure than other types of apps.
  • Native apps interact and work well with the other features of the mobile device including the camera, microphone, and more. 


  • If you want your native app to work on any device, you would have to build separate apps for multiple platforms.
  • Keeping native apps updated on multiple platforms requires more work.
  • You would need a bigger budget for the building and maintenance of your native app on multiple platforms.

Web Apps

Simply put, web apps are applications that are solely developed to run in browsers like Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox or Safari. They are built using CSS, JavasScript, or HTML. 

What makes them different from the other two types of apps is that you can access web apps directly via any web browser. They can be used on any mobile device with a browser. There’s no need for codes to be written for multiple platforms. 


  • You don’t have to worry too much about maintenance with web apps.
  • You only need a single code base to run the app on any platform.
  • Web apps do not require frequent updates.
  • Web app development costs lower compared to native or hybrid apps.


  • They are not available for download.
  • Interaction with web apps can be complex.
  • The operating system is often slow.
  • Features like push notifications, offline availability, and more are not natively supported.

Hybrid Apps

You can probably guess by the name itself that a hybrid app is what you get when you put the elements of native apps and web apps together. Hybrid apps are developed for specific platforms and the web. Examples of hybrid apps include Instagram and Yelp.

You might confuse them for native apps because they can be downloaded from an app store but they also function like web apps because you can browse them, too. They are native app codes that are embedded with web technologies like CSS, HTML, and Javascript. They are published via native app stores. 


  • You get cross-platform support with hybrid apps.
  • Hybrid apps reach a global audience.
  • Compared to native apps, you are going to need fewer developers for hybrid apps.
  • They can work offline.
  • They require less maintenance.


  • Hybrid apps tend to be less responsive.
  • While they are supported by some APIs, there are still some device features that you cannot access with a hybrid app.
  • Their poor performance means the user experience is often compromised. 
  • They are dependent on the user’s browser speed so they won’t run as fast as native apps do. 

Native vs. Web vs. Hybrid – Which Approach is Best?

By now, you already know the differences between each type of app and their pros and cons. But if you want to make the right choice, simply knowing that information is not enough.

You need to fully understand what your business or your clients’ needs are. How do you determine that?

Here are some questions that you need to ask yourself and whoever you are building the app for. 

What do you want to achieve with this app?

The most common reason for app development is to create revenue. In such a case, you want to consider web apps if the goal is to monetize through ads, you should go with native apps. If you, however, count on ads for promotion, web apps will work for you. 

Who is your target?

Do you want an app that can be used only by iOS users or by Android users seamlessly? Go for a native app. If you do so, the next question would be what platform you are going to develop for. Stats say iOS users spend more time on apps than Android users do, so you might want to consider that, especially if you want to get higher revenue.

What features do you want your app to have?

Of course, the more feature-loaded the app is, the harder it will be to develop and the more costly it will be. Native apps are the best choice if the abb is going to be heavy with features. 

How soon do you need the app?

If you are asked to develop an app within a limited timeframe, you might want to consider a hybrid app if you need an app that works on both iOS and Android platforms. If you only need it to work on a single platform, it would be faster to build a native app.

What’s your budget?

Native applications can be pricey. If you are working on a limited budget, you would do well to stick with web applications. Of course, the cost can still vary depending on the requirements of the app. 

Final Thoughts

Whichever one you choose to build an app, remember who and what you are building for. It should be reliable and user-friendly. Most importantly, it should be able to meet the expectations of your client and the users and adapt to possible changes in the future. Consider the timeline given, the app requirements, and the business needs as well. Remember that the best type of ap is the one that meets the needs of your client.