Web App vs Native App: How Do You Choose? 


Deciding whether to build a web app or a native app is the first and most important decision in an app-building project. There are several factors to consider since both options provide necessary functions for a multitude of apps. A team needs to consider questions like, ‘what functions must be included in our app?’ and ‘will an app store perceive our app to be unique and necessary?’. 

This article provides a great introduction to selecting an app type. Any quality app developer should also be able to answer any questions and provide insight into this vital step of the app creation process.

What is a Web App?

A web-based app is hosted on the web and can be used on any device. These apps do not require a download and instead users can access them from any mobile browser. Popular examples of web-based apps include Netflix, Gmail, and Microsoft Office. 

What is a Native App?

Native apps are built for a single platform, such as iOS or Android mobile operating systems. A native app built for the iOS mobile platform can only be used on an iOS device. Popular examples of native apps include Spotify, Waze, and WhatsApp. 

Clearly, there are lots of impressive apps that are both web-based and native. Deciding which app type to use is a matter of personal goals and project purpose.

Web App vs Native App: Factors to Consider

From the programming language to development tools to different operating systems, various factors can make one app type a better option than the other. Carefully compare the following aspects of a web and native app with your end product goal. Selecting the right app type is crucial in ensuring successful, progressive web apps.


Often, but not always, native apps are faster than web apps. A native app is already downloaded, so many functions that the app needs to run are readily accessible. Meanwhile, a web-based app has to rely on the internet browser to access static and dynamic content. This can slow down app speed.

This issue is overcomable, and it’s not unheard of to come across web apps that are faster than native apps. Still, the design of a native app lends itself to a quicker application.

Additionally, native apps may not always require an active internet connection to function while web apps typically do. This can definitely affect a seamless user experience and determine the preferred development method. 


A native app has access to all of the mobile device’s hardware. This includes device features like accessing GPS information, taking photos, and making phone calls. Accessing hardware can change the way an app functions entirely and decide on an app type for you. For example, the native-built app Pokémon GO requires a mobile device’s GPS to play the game, and without these native features, the app could not function as intended. This is a great example of an app that had to be built native.


Budget is by far the biggest constraint in any app project. It’s important to consider that native development is typically more expensive than web-based app development. This impacts a business’s ability to feasibly fund the scaling of an app at a later date. Consider first the overall budget when considering future updates and which app type to build.

A native app may need to have advanced features approved by the hosting store before implementation. A web app is under no such constraints. Additionally, a web app only requires one update to scale. If you’ve created a native app for each major platform, then each app must be scaled simultaneously.

App Store Issues

It’s challenging to get a native mobile app approved by the app store. Some projects will go from inception to completion only to be denied app store approval. It’s necessary to carefully consider whether your app concept is likely to be approved by the app store before deciding to create a native app. Consider the following factors:

  • Is your app ‘useful’ to App Store users?
  • Can you make your app simplistic for initial approval and update functions at a later date?
  • Does your app have a stated Quality Assurance process?
  • Can you wait and send your completed app for approval (aka no sending beta’s)?
  • Can you stringently follow Apple’s App Store Directive?

Consider also that web apps are internet-enabled applications, and they don’t require a download or the App store to function.

Overall Web App vs Native App Considerations

There is no true best platform to build an app and there’s no foolproof software development kit. While using a platform like React Native to build a hybrid app is also possible; this decision comes with a plethora of other conditions and stipulations. Needs and user requirements vary between projects, and what works for one app isn’t feasible for another. See the chart below for a quick overview of the top considerations to keep in mind when selecting between a native-based vs a web-based app.

Working with a Top Developer

Regardless of whether you need to build a native or web app, it’s vital to get support from top app developers. The right developer can ensure a successful project that will serve you well into the future. Consider the following benefits of hiring a top mobile applications developer.

First, a developer can set you on the right path when choosing between building a native or a web-based app. They can provide insight into your exact project’s stipulations and future requirements. They can also give you an idea of pricing and address any budgetary constraints.

Second, a good developer should either have in-house design and content services or excellent references for design and content services. Developing an app is about more than just code. The flow of the app, the overall design, and the language used all heavily impact user experience, user interface, and overall functionality.

Third, your developer can make tough decisions easier by providing creative problem-solving and keeping you keyed in through every development step. Building an app is stressful regardless of whether you decide to build a native app or a web-based app. A good developer is a solid partner and will help lessen the load and stress of app creation.

At Elevato Digital, we strive to develop stunning applications that match our client’s vision and goals. Reach out today for a free consultation. We would love to learn all about your project.