Are you trying to choose between React Native vs Xamarin for your mobile app?
Both React Native and Xamarin are popular cross platform mobile app development frameworks and it’s sometimes hard to know which is best for you.
In this React Native vs Xamarin comparison, we are going to look at the similarities and differences between these popular platforms.
Check out my other React Native vs Flutter development environment comparison.
By the end of this article you’ll be able to decide which platform is best for building your mobile app.
But before we get into the subtle differences and similarities between these two amazing platforms…
…let’s begin by defining what exactly React Native and Xamarin platforms are.
React Native is a popular open source mobile app development framework developed and maintained by Facebook for the purpose of cross platform mobile app development.
It is also important to note that even though React Native claims to deliver native performance, true native performance is only possible through Objective C, Swift, Java & Kotlin.
React Native is different from React. Find the differences in this React Native vs ReactJS comparison.
Xamarin is an open source mobile application development framework developed by Microsoft for developing mobile apps for Windows, iOS and Android platforms.
Released on May, 2011, Xamarin framework is based on the C# programming and .NET framework.
It is also important to note that there is Xamarin Native framework and Xamarin Forms.
Now that we already know what these platforms are…
Let’s now dive in and look into what makes these two framework similar or different.
After reading this article you’ll have the information you need to decide which platform between React Native and Xamarin is best for you.
React Native vs Xamarin: Performance
React Native allows you to build high performance mobile apps that offer near native performance.
Even though the official React Native site claims that it offers native performance, real native performance can only be achieved through native languages like Java and Swift.
It also lags behind Xamarin because it doesn’t support 64-bit mode on Android and gives less than impressive GUI performance for iOS apps.
Xamarin on the other hand enables you to build high performance mobile applications as well through the use of platform specific hardware acceleration.
With Xamarin native you can still be able to build a great app that has near native performance, but just like React Native, real native performance is only achieved through native languages.
You’ll also be able to run faster code in Xamarin because it fully supports 64-bit mode while also delivering faster and native-feel UI.
React Native vs Xamarin: Technology Used
Check out my other review of the best React Native courses to get you started learning React today.
Xamarin framework on the other hand is based on the C# programming language, which is also a very robust and popular programming language.
Because C# is widely used in game development, AR & web development, there is also a huge pool of skilled C# developers with skills in Xamarin.
However, I think Xamarin is more of a classical tool as it’s lacking in modern development capabilities like hot reload and instant updates.
React Native vs Xamarin: Development Environment
React Native does not have a specific development environment(IDE), so you have a huge pool of text editors like Sublime Text, Vim or Atom to choose from.
Not all of these IDEs or text editors are great, so you’ll still have to try and find the one that works best for you.
Worse still, React Native only lets you debug your app using the Android Emulator which is still very buggy at the moment as other developers have noted.
Xamarin, however, does not give you this illusion of choice. You have to develop all of your mobile apps within Visual Studio.
Now before you think it’s a bad idea, I use VS everyday and I can assure I don’t want to use anything else. Heck, I even use it when developing React Native apps.
Better yet, as opposed to React Native, Xamarin lets you do UI testing for both platforms, including debugging in the XCode simulator for iOS.
React Native vs Xamarin: Development Speed
React Native doesn’t take a ton of work to get started developing because you could get started with any IDE of your choice in under 3 hours.
You’ll also be able to code faster because React Native has a hot reload feature that enables you to see instant changes in your code without having to recompile it.
There are also many other pre-built components that are available in React Native that help you to develop faster.
Xamarin installation takes longer because you first have to install Visual Studio and then download components that usually take hours.
However, after installation, I find that Visual Studio makes development in Xamarin much faster and effortless because of the readily available controls and layouts.
Contrary to React Native where you often need to code most things, you don’t need to even modify the controls in Xamarin as they are usually well tested and robust.
React Native vs Xamarin: Popularity
I couldn’t find any hard download numbers for either of these frameworks from the internet to use to gauge their popularity.
However, according to a survey conducted by Stackoverflow in 2018, both Xamarin and React Native were among the top 10 most used frameworks.
But this survey included both React Native and Reactjs together, which I believe really skewed these stats as Reactjs is for the web.
From this Stackoverflow survey, it also came out clearly that React was 3 times more used than Xamarin. Again not great for a Xamarin vs React Native comparison as “React” included both React Native and Reactjs.
React Native is used by many big tech companies like Facebook, Instagram, Skype & Pinterest.
Xamarin on the other hand also has the love of big tech and is used by great companies and startups like Honeywell, Slack, Cognizant & Siemens.
React Native vs Xamarin: Community Support
Great community support is key for any successful open source project, or any project for that matter.
I tried to find out the amount of community support available for either of these frameworks through activity of their users on GitHub and Stackoverflow.
From this I found that React Native has twice the number of repositories, users, contributors and commits as compared to Xamarin, according to GitHub.
React Native has great community support as there are a lot of learning materials available on the web in the form of online courses, tutorials and blog posts.
Xamarin too has an equally great amount of learning materials for picking up these skills through Xamarin online courses, YouTube video tutorials and blog articles.
Both Xamarin and React Native have a great and active users base or community on the QA site, Stackoverflow, to answer any of your questions.
So in this regard I think both did great for this Xamarin vs React Native comparison.
What are the similarities between React Native and Xamarin?
Although Xamarin vs React Native are two completely different platforms, they also share some striking similarities.
Here are 5 similarities between React Native and Xamarin that you should know.
1. Both React Native and Xamarin Offer Cross Platform Development
As we have already seen earlier, Xamarin enables you to build mobile applications that run on both iOS and Android, just like React Native.
So by learning either of these platforms you’ll be able to build cross platform apps.
2. Both React Native and Xamarin Offer Near Native Performance
Developing your mobile applications in Xamarin enables you to access native device hardware and functionality just like React Native.
This enables you to get near native performance from both Xamarin and React Native apps even though true native performance is only achieved through native languages.
3. Both React Native and Xamarin Use Two Popular Languages
4. Both React Native and Xamarin Are Supported By Big Tech Companies
Even though both React Native and Xamarin are free and open source frameworks, they are both developed and maintained by big tech giants.
While React Native is development and maintained by Facebook, Xamarin is developed by Microsoft, an equally big tech company today.
5. Both React Native and Xamarin Are Used By Popular Tech Companies.
When a software is used by a brand that you can recognize you get the feeling that it’s a robust platform.
Some of the companies that use React Native are Facebook, Bloomberg, AirBnB, Instagram and UberEats.
Xamarin on the other hand is being used by other companies like The World Bank, Siemens, Pinterest, Oslo and Fox Sports.
Which one should you choose between Xamarin and React Native?
Even though both React Native and Xamarin frameworks have their strengths and weaknesses, I believe they are both equally great platforms that you must try.
However, if you have to choose one then…
Choose Xamarin if you already have skills in C# programming because you’ll cut short the learning curve and get productive faster.
This way you’ll get to start developing your app as fast as possible and see for yourself which one between React Native vs Xamarin works best for you.
I love C#, I use Xamarin.
Cross platform mobile app development using React Native and Xamarin frameworks has become very popular lately.
With the right information you should be able to choose which one between Xamarin and React Native is the best for your app.
Both of these platforms are under constant development and new features are released everyday.
I hope this Xamarin vs React Native comparison has helped you make a choice.
What has been your experience with React Native and Xamarin mobile development platforms?
Please share your thoughts in the comments below.