Native VS Web VS Hybrid Apps – Spot The Difference

There is a whole world of apps out there, stretching from everything from news, to games, to dating. Fancy a piece of the action? Well your first step onto the road of app success is to decide what kind of app is right for you. This is a big decision and not one you should take lightly, so we highly advise you speak to a couple of experts (like our friendly team) before you get too attached to an idea.

But first things first, lets clear up the jargon and give you an idea of the general benefits and drawbacks of hybrid, native and mobile web apps.

Native App Web App Hybrid App
An app developed for a specific mobile device and a particular platform e.g. iOS or Android. The app is acquired through an online marketplace such as the App Store, or Google Play. A browser based application, running on JavaScript, HTML and CSS. They don’t have to be downloaded onto a person’s mobile device, they can be accessed purely via the internet. This combines elements of both Native and Web Applications. A Hybrid app is primarily built in using HTML and JavaScript and is then wrapped in Native code, enabling access to some of the device features.

  • A Native app is completely compatible with the devices hardware, so your app can take advantage of the devices functions, such as the camera.
  • Can be faster and more efficient.
  • Improved user interface, which is consistent across Native apps.
  • Your app appears reputable to customers as they can only get access through an app store.
  • Discoverability – if your app is sat in an app store, it is easier for your customers to find.
  • Offline access – the app doesn’t require internet access to operate.
  • Once the app is downloaded it stays on the users’ device.
  • Can have smoother graphics and animation.
  • The app store organises your revenue and commissions for you.

  • Works cross platform e.g. Windows, Android, iOS & Blackberry devices.
  • Updates happen automatically, so your user always has the latest version of your app.
  • No app store restrictions.
  • Cheaper to develop as one app works for every platform.

  • Usually quicker to build than Native Apps if you’re building for cross platform.
  • Uses a combination of web code and Native code in order to be able to access some of the devices functionalities.
  • Can be distributed through an app store – this makes it easier for your customer to find.
  • Can achieve more of a Native feel than Web apps.
  • Purchases can be managed by the app store

  • You have to create a different Native app for each platform, i.e. one for iOS and another for Android.
  • More expensive to develop for multiple platforms.
  • It has to be approved to be in the App Store and there can be a lot of hoops to jump through! You have to go through this process for every update you submit.
  • To publish apps to the Android and Apple app stores you have to pay a fee, and they take a cut from the user download fee.

  • You have to organise your own payment system for app purchases.
  • Can’t take advantage of all the functions on the device, such as the camera or accelerometer.
  • Not in the app store so arguably the app could be harder to discover.
  • Always runs in the browser.
  • Can’t achieve Native look or feel.

  • The apps performance is still dependant on the devices browser capabilities.
  • Can be slower than Native apps.
  • 3rd Party Reliance – you are dependant on the software that you build the phone in, if they disappear or stop updating, your app could be in trouble.
  • Have to wait for the 3rd party software to update to latest OS version.
  • This is still a relatively new concept, playing catch up with Native.


There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to mobile apps. Different requirements can bring out a whole range of  advantages and disadvantages that are entirely dependant on circumstance. Different apps thrive in different situations.

If you’re struggling in the search for the app for you, why not get in touch with our friendly bunch of developers, who will be more than happy to  help set you off on the path to success.

Nadine Forshaw