React Native vs Ionic and Cordova: Comparison – 2024 Updated

React Native vs Ionic vs Cordova


With the growth of mobile apps on the market, a number of people who need to choose the best tech stack to create one grows too. Each cross-platform app development framework has its own blend of features, performance metrics and development ecosystem, making the decision far from straightforward. Today we will compare React Native vs Ionic vs Cordova. And focus on aspects like performance, debugging capabilities, learning curve and current popularity. 

What is React Native?

rwact native icon

React Native, created by Facebook (now Meta), is one of the best examples of the mobile app framework done right (Yes, we’re fans!). It enables developers to create mobile applications for iOS and Android at the same time.

Right now,  it is one of the most popular mobile development frameworks. And many big players choose React Native for their mobile apps. 

React Native architecture, (which has recently, in 2023 been further improved) is designed for optimal performance, closely mimicking native app behaviour using native components. And this means, that React Native apps don’t only look and feel like native, but also perform as them. 

What is Ionic?

ionic icon

Ionic is a powerful open-source SDK that allows developers to build high-performance web and cross-platform applications using a single codebase. Many big companies use Ionic because Ionic integrates seamlessly with Angular, React.js, Vue or any other framework, making it incredibly versatile. 

Ionic has an extensive component library that covers all of the elements like buttons, lists slides and date pickers. That makes it a great choice for developers with different technology experience and expertise levels. 

What is Cordova?

cordova icon

Cordova is another mobile development platform that is open-source and free.

Standard web technologies such as HTML5, CSS3, or Javascript, etc are used to create cross-platform applications.

Usually, web applications do not have native functionalities such as an accelerometer, camera, GPS, etc but with Cordova, you can package web applications according to the format of the device.

All those developers who do not want to stick to single application development, usually prefer this platform.

Still not sure which platform suits you best?

Ionic vs React Native

react native icon vs ionic icon

Most of us think that all cross-platform frameworks work similarly and that we can achieve similar results from all of them. What you should know is that despite providing us with almost similar results their processes and functionalities are different from each other. 

Below mentioned are a few points that will help us to decide which platform provides a better approach.

Native vs Hybrid

While comparing Ionic and React Native for mobile app development, you need to understand, that they provide different final products. With React Native, you’re opting for an approach that allows for developing applications with a truly native experience. Essentially, this means you can develop native applications for both Android and iOS using just one codebase, ensuring your app seamlessly integrates with each platform’s unique features and design guidelines. 

Whereas Ionic app is a hybrid application that revolves around JavaScript, HTML, and CSS to develop applications that can be used on mobile, web, or different devices, it doesn’t have access to native features such as contacts, GPS, and camera. But of course, the Ionic app can gain access to native device features thank to the embrace of Capacitor, a cross-platform app runtime. 

Both of the frameworks are constantly evolving, so the differences between them are much more blurred now than in the beginning. 

But if you want to choose a winner, use React Native when high app performance is key for your business, you need complex device integration or prioritize user experience. 

And use Ionic if you want to cover more platforms with a single codebase, or if your app doesn’t require intensive use of device capabilities. 


As we mentioned earlier, React Native provides the look and complete native feel and works around the same building blocks which are used in native apps. It also provides higher performance and responsiveness, especially for apps that extensively use complex device integration. What’s more, recent React Native updates have focused on improving performance and user experience. The introduction of the Fast Refresh feature and the optimization of native device interactions, particularly through the use of the Hermes JavaScript engine, are notable improvements.

React Native development is also extremely performant because of the react native components that are reusable across projects. Better support from Expo and the introduction of Expo Application Services (EAS) have significantly improved capabilities and developer experience. Over-the-air (OTA) updates via Expo reduce the deployment time of feature updates and bug fixes. 

Ionic focuses on the look, feel, and UI interactions of an app, ensuring that users get a seamless experience across all platforms. It achieves this by providing a rich set of pre-styled and optimized mobile components that mimic the native look and feel of each platform. This approach not only accelerates the development process but also allows developers to focus on building unique features rather than worrying about the underlying platform specifics.

But please note, that Ionic, while offering significant benefits in terms of development speed and cross-platform compatibility, may not always match the performance levels of React Native, especially for apps with heavy UI interactions or that require intensive use of device capabilities. However, it’s important to note that Ionic’s performance is continually improving, and for many types of applications, especially those that are less complex, the difference in performance between Ionic and React Native might not be perceptible to users.

React Native and Ionic – Debugging

Debugging in React Native:

React Native offers a robust debugging environment that integrates with popular development tools to make the process as intuitive as possible. One of the key features is the React Developer Tools, which allow developers to inspect the React component hierarchy in the same way they would inspect a web DOM. This tool provides valuable insights into the props and state of each component.

React Native also supports hot reloading and live reloading, which significantly speeds up the development process by allowing developers to see changes in real time without rebuilding the app. Additionally, Flipper is a platform for debugging iOS and Android apps, providing a suite of tools for inspecting the app’s network traffic, viewing logs, and managing the app’s state.

The refined Live Reloading feature has been a true workflow revolution. It allows us developers to compile and reload files with unprecedented efficiency. This improvements smooths out the iterative process of testing changes, making it almost seamless. It’s like having a real-time conversation with your codebase, where you can see the impact of your changes instantly.

Daniel Nizynski, React Native Expert

Debugging in Ionic:

Ionic apps, being hybrid, can be debugged in several ways depending on the platform and the stage of development. During development, since Ionic apps are built with web technologies, developers can use browser developer tools to inspect the app, debug JavaScript, and analyze performance, similar to how they would with any web page.

For debugging the app as a native package on emulators or real devices, Ionic integrates with Cordova and Capacitor plugins, which means developers can use native SDKs like Android Studio and Xcode for debugging. These tools offer more advanced debugging capabilities, including breakpoint setting, memory inspection, and performance profiling.

Ionic also benefits from Chrome DevTools when running in the browser or on a device, enabling detailed inspection and debugging of the WebView used by the app. Additionally, for performance analysis and to debug network requests, Ionic developers can utilize tools like Safari’s Web Inspector when running apps on iOS devices.

In summary, both React Native and Ionic provide comprehensive debugging tools tailored to their respective development environments. React Native offers a closer-to-native debugging experience with tools like React Developer Tools and Flipper, while Ionic leverages its web technology foundation, allowing for effective debugging with familiar web development tools and native SDKs for more detailed inspection on devices.

React Native vs Ionic Framework – Popularity 

According to Stack Overflow React Native stays much more popular than Ionic among developers: 

StackOverflow - React Native vs Ionic

Also, the information on StackShare shows up that 782 companies reportedly use Ionic in their tech stacks, including Accenture, doubleSlash, and

At the same time 2178 companies reportedly use React Native in their tech stacks, including Shopify, Instagram, and Delivery Hero. So from those number we can see the RN is more popular among big players. 

Also, on GitHub, RN has 114.1K GitHub stars and 24.2K GitHub forks and Ionic 50.1 stars and 13.8 forks. 

React Native vs Cordova 2020

During this article update in 2024, we decided not to change the part about React Native vs Cordova because interest in Cordova in the last few years decreased deeply and developers and businesses are looking into mobile app development frameworks like React Native that offer better performance and integration with modern mobile ecosystems. Additionally, in April 2022, Microsoft App Center deprecated Cordova support, which was a true sign of the waning popularity of the framework.
Also, Ionic, who previously relied heavily on Cordova for accessing native device features, transitioned towards using Capacitor, which was designed to offer a more modern and streamlined way to build hybrid applications. 
Given these observations, our focus will remain on technologies that align with current development practices and community momentum. We believe this approach will provide our readers with the most relevant and valuable content, reflecting the current state of mobile app development.

React Native logo vs Cordova logo

If we have to make a comparison between React Native and Cordova, then there are a few points that should be reviewed, so we can easily consider the platform which provides a better and more feasible solution.

Build Performance

If you compare against the builds then you might notice that Apache Cordova is better in terms of build time and it also produces smaller built packages.

React Native, on the other hand, takes more time to build performance and also produce large packages.

However, there are other benefits that give RN an edge over other platforms, for instance, it has a built-in camera while you need to add a plugin in Cordova to support native functionality.

App Performance

As we know that the foundation of the Cordova app is written according to standard web technologies due to which it takes a lot more time to render the application.

While in React Native mobile app UI components are linked with native UI views which allow it to render in a fast way.

Not only this but, React Native also utilizes multi-threading technology due to which a separate thread runs, this functionality does not exist in Cordova.

Debugging Capabilities

Cordova does not come with a pre-packaged debugging environment. You have to go through the documentation and prepare a local environment for debugging purpose.

While in React Native you can debug JavaScript code via Chrome Developer Tool. Now, there is a standalone application with which you can drill through the React Native projects.

There is also an extra menu for React Native developers which gives them access to the list of features to make their work a lot easier. Some features are:

  • Live Reloading
  • Hot Reloading
  • Performance Monitoring
  • Element Inspector
  • System Trace


As always, the decision to choose the best cross-platform framework and build apps in React Native or Ionic is tied to the unique demands of your project. Most of our clients opt for React Native. Mostly because they believe their mobile apps are an extension of their business but also the main part of their customer engagement strategy. React Native’s capability to deliver a native experience in both aesthetics and functionality, coupled with the ease of incorporating native code for optimized performance is just a better choice.

Ionic is a viable solution for projects with a broader focus, including rapid cross-platform development and deployments where top-tier performance isn’t the primary concern. However, given our clients’ tendency to prioritize mobile apps as a key component of their business model, requiring the utmost in performance and user experience, React Native aligns more closely with these strategic goals.

Ready to build your new React Native App?

Read more:

React Native vs Flutter

React Native vs Nativescript

The best React Native tech stack for a new mobile app in 2024

React Native vs Swift


Norbert Kamienski

Norbert is an Engineering Manager and React Native Expert at Pagepro, where his expertise and leadership have been pivotal for over eight years. Renowned for his professionalism and meticulous attention to detail, Norbert has a well-earned reputation for optimizing app performance to its peak. His technical insight and deep understanding of React Native have made him a trusted figure both within the team and among clients.

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