ReactJS vs. React Native: How They Compare

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With web and mobile apps now critical for most businesses, choosing the right frameworks for UI development has become crucial. ReactJS and React Native have quickly emerged as two leading options.

But how exactly do these two React-based solutions compare? Understanding the core differences between ReactJS and React Native is key for developers choosing a framework for a new project. While both enable declarative component-based UIs using JavaScript, ReactJS is tailored for the web and React Native for native mobile.

ReactJS offers a lightweight yet powerful way to create an interactive UI that feels snappy and responsive when building a web application. For mobile development, React Native brings the convenience of React while still providing the performance and native look-and-feel mobile users expect.


ReactJS is an open-source JavaScript library for building interactive user interfaces for web applications. It was created in 2011 and allows developers to build performance-optimized component-based web apps through a virtual DOM.

Meanwhile, React Native, which was released in 2015, extends ReactJS to enable native mobile app development for iOS and Android using JavaScript and React. Apps built with React Native are compiled into native app components, allowing access to platform APIs and faster mobile app performance.

Critical Differences

ReactJS is explicitly designed for building user interfaces for web applications and websites. It renders using HTML and browser APIs and is optimized for cross-browser compatibility. React Native, on the other hand, builds native mobile apps for iOS and Android platforms using native components and APIs.

ReactJS applications are written purely in JavaScript, incorporating JSX syntax extensions. React Native allows the intermixing of JavaScript with Swift and Java/Kotlin for platform-specific parts of a mobile app.

For UI components, ReactJS defines HTML-like component interfaces, while React Native components directly compile to fully native UI elements like View and Text. This results in UIs that feel ideally native on each mobile OS.

A critical architectural difference is that ReactJS uses a virtual DOM model for efficient updates and minimal re-rendering. React Native skips the virtual DOM and interacts directly with platform rendering APIs for maximum performance.

ReactJS can only access browser and web APIs, while React Native allows JavaScript to tap into native device capabilities like cameras, contacts and sensors through built-in bridges. This enables much richer mobile app functionality.

Due to the typical React architecture, React Native enables even greater code reuse across iOS, Android and the web than ReactJS. Over 90 percent of code can be shared between platforms.

Performance and Capabilities

Regarding performance, React Native can offer a more native user experience on mobile with smoother animations and faster load times. However, ReactJS provides excellent speed and interactivity for complex web apps.

React Native provides direct access to mobile hardware and OS capabilities like the camera, geolocation and local storage through built-in bridges to the native platforms. This allows React Native apps to provide a truly native experience. ReactJS does not have direct access to these device APIs and requires web APIs as middleware.

An area where ReactJS excels is SEO since it can render initial content on the server. This allows search engines to crawl and index the site content. In contrast, React Native apps are bundled with JavaScript that search engines can’t analyze directly for SEO purposes.

However, for developers already familiar with React and JavaScript, React Native offers an attractive option to expand into mobile development without learning an entirely new language and framework. The extensive React Native community provides ample learning resources to facilitate the transition.