TABLE OF CONTENTS

React JS vs Angular – Which One To Choose in 2021?

Chris Lojniewski
By Chris Lojniewski
React vs Angular

Introduction

If you are planning to build a web or mobile app, and you are facing the problem of choosing between React.js vs Angular, in this article I will guide you through the differences, similarities, and some of the best use cases for both, to help you make a final decision.

However, some people say you cannot really compare React to Angular, as Angular is a full-stack MVC framework, while React is just a view library.

However, I think you can and even should compare them, as they are both ready to deliver great apps, and both are perfect technologies to support the most demanding digital business objectives.

We will also go over the benefits of React.js and Angular, a few pros and cons, and we will also make a classic head-to-head comparison.

Not really in a mood for reading? Watch the video instead!

Youtube video on react vs angular comparison

What is React.js?

React.js is an open-source JavaScript library for building performant and visually attractive user interfaces. It combines development simplicity (thanks to small pieces of code called “components”) and a strong focus on user experience. React is the View layer of the MVC model, which gives you almost total freedom of choosing Model and Controller libraries.

Pros and cons of React.js

Now, let’s take a look at some advantages of React from a business perspective and its cons.

ProsCons
Cost-effectivenessHigh pace of development
Great UXIncompleteness
Popularity
Performance
SEO-friendliness
Shortened time to market


If you want to find out more, we prepared a detailed summary of React JS pros and cons.

Also, maybe there are other questions you would like to ask. Maybe you can find them in our React JS FAQ?

Companies using React.js

Facebook isn’t the only company taking advantage of React and its possibilities. There are a few more well-known brands, such as:

  • Airbnb
  • Instagram
  • Netflix
  • Pinterest
  • Slack
  • Udemy

However, it doesn’t mean that React is the right choice only for big brands – it’s on the contrary. You can use as little (or as much) of React as you need at the moment. For example, adding React to your website is literally a matter of one minute.

What is Angular?

Angular is an open-source framework created by Google for building web applications. While React is based on JavaScript, Angular is based on TypeScript. And unlike React, Angular is a full-fledged MVC framework so once you learn it well, you won’t need other solutions.

Angular is a result of rewriting AngularJS, which was the first version of Angular.

Important note: Google won’t support AngularJS after June 30, 2021.

Pros and cons of Angular

You already have learned about React.js pros and cons, so it’s time to find out why it’s a great idea to choose Angular (or not).

ProsCons
Better error handlingHuge size
Cleaner code than in vanilla JSLimited SEO options
Custom directivesPerformance
Higher performanceSteep learning curve
Material Design-like interface
Seamless updates thanks to Angular CLI

Companies using Angular

  • Forbes
  • General Motors
  • Nike
  • Paypal
  • Telegram
  • Upwork

React JS vs Angular: Head-to-head

React JSAngular
Developed byFacebookGoogle
Programming languageJavaScript/TypeScriptTypeScript
CompatibilityFull backward compatibilityUpdates needed
Data bindingBoth one-way and two-way bindingsBoth one-way and two-way bindings
DOMVirtual DOMReal DOM

React JS vs Angular: Comparison

React JS vs Angular – view library vs full stack framework

As I’ve mentioned at the beginning, some people say it’s not really a good way to compare React JS to Angular, as they are both slightly different things.

But does it really matter if both are able to build great apps?

It seems like Angular is a better option, as it’s a full stack MVC framework that doesn’t require any additional libraries to be complete.

On the other hand, React JS indeed requires other libraries, but it really depends on your project objectives if that’s a benefit or disadvantage. Being an independent view library, React gives you almost unlimited possibilities if it comes to building user experience, and what’s more, you can also be quite flexible to choose with which libraries you want to work.

React JS performance vs Angular performance

DOM

React JS is using a virtual DOM, which means it doesn’t have to update all the HTML. He is just looking for the differences between the current and the old HTML and updating it accordingly.

Angular is using real DOM, which means it is going through the entire structure of HTML to find what there is to be changed and “mutate” the tree to apply changes.

React Concurrent Mode

According to official React’s website, “Concurrent Mode is a set of new features that help React apps stay responsive and adjust to the user’s device capabilities and network speed”.

However, they are still experimental and not a part of stable React release. Developers can try them in an experimental build.

To find out more, go to our article about React Concurrent Mode.

React Fiber

A while ago (with v16 version) React changed its engine elevating the speed from “just fast” to “blazingly fast”.

More than that, React Fiber enables the priority-based update system, so you can fine-tune your renderings to make sure the most critical updates are done first. Also, you can pause and start your work at will.

Angular Ivy

As some kind of response to React Fiber, Ivy is a complete rewrite of the compiler so Angular developers can:

  • Achieve faster build times
  • Get smaller build sizes
  • Unlock new features like lazy loading of components instead of modules

React JS vs Angular Data binding

Both React and Angular are using both one-way and two-way data bindings. Two-way data binding means that whenever you change any element of the interface, your model state changes automatically, too.

One way data binding, on the other hand, renders the change in the interface model only after the model state is updated first. And whenever you change the UI element, the model state stays the same with no changes.

So, in the case of data binding, it seems like a draw because one-way data binding is preferred.

Mobile app solutions: React Native vs Ionic

Choosing React JS allows you to use React Native to build truly native and cross-platform mobile applications. While RN uses a bit different syntax than React does, it’s relatively easy to learn it if you are already familiar with React. With React Native, you can create components and bind them in Objective-C, Java or Swift code.

Angular, on the other hand, uses Ionic, which is also a platform that allows developers to build high-performance cross-platform applications using a single codebase.

Applications created via Ionic can be also used on the web or any other device. This open-source framework provides friendly tools to the developers along with powered services. It also incorporates a rich library and building blocks which make things way easier for the developer.

When it comes to the performance of both applications, if they are well-written, the difference will be hard to notice.

To keep you inspired, we’ve listed more than 50 examples of great React Native apps from many different industries.

Learning curve

Since React is a lightweight UI library, it’s much easier to learn than Angular. A list of things you have to absorb is quite short: JSX, a router library and state management library. Also, it’s necessary to have knowledge of writing components, managing internal state and using props.

Angular is not a library – it’s a fully-fledged MVC framework. Because of that, a list of things to learn is much longer than in the case of React.js:

  • TypeScript
  • Components
  • Decorators
  • Dependency Injection
  • Modules
  • Pipes
  • Services
  • Templates

And that’s just a start.

React JS vs Angular Popularity

The popularity of any particular programming language or web technology can be a great source of information and insights. Looking at these stats will help you with gathering answers to questions like:

  • Is this technology a serious thing?
  • Is there (and will be) demand for this technology?
  • Will it be easy to find and hire developers?
  • How big is the community?
  • What kind of help can I expect from the community?

To determine the popularity of React and Angular, I checked sites like Github, Google Trends, Stack Overflow Trends, and Annual Survey.

Stack Overflow Trends

React vs angular comparison on stack overflow trends

Most Loved Web Frameworks according to Stack Overflow 2020 Survey

React vs Angular comparison of Most Loved Web Frameworks according to Stack Overflow 2020 Survey

Since 2019, React.js lost its first place to ASP.NET Core, but it’s still at the top. Angular, on the other hand, stayed in the middle.

React vs Angular comparison of Most Wanted Web Frameworks according to Stack Overflow 2020 Survey

React JS vs Angular on GitHub

React JS on GitHub

React on GitHub

Angular on GitHub

Angular on GitHub

Google Trends: Comparison between React JS vs Angular in the last 12 months and 5 years

React vs Angular Google trends comparison in last five years
React vs Angular Google trends comparison in last five years


Templates

HTML

Angular is using templates based on an extended version of HTML with Angular directives. You will also have to learn a specific syntax.

JSX

With React, on the other hand, all you need is JavaScript knowledge. A JSX is a genius component made from markup and JavaScript logic in the same file. Thanks to the use of XML-like language, you can write your markup in your JavaScript code, so everything is in one place, and the code completion works better.

Testing

React uses Jest (sometimes together with Enzyme – JavaScript testing utility). Jest has a powerful mocking library, doesn’t require any configuration and is included in every React project. However, nowadays using react-testing-library is more common and practised.

Angular uses Jasmine, which outcome is considered by many as one of the hardest to read and too complicated.

React JS vs Angular FAQ – hard to answer

Many times, our clients are also asking quite interesting questions, that are truly hard to answer.

Some of them you can find below:

React JS vs Angular: Time to market

Is it faster to build an app with React or Angular?

The answer is hard for two reasons.

One – it really depends on too many factors. Like the skill of a developer, the competences of the entire team, the level of communication, team work flow, etc.

Second – even if you take a perfectly the same skilled developer and put him in a perfectly the same project with perfectly the same conditions, it’s still going to be hard to say, as the delivery time may be pretty much similar.

React JS vs Angular: Scalability

Is it going to be easier to scale an app in React or Angular?

And again, I don’t have a definite answer.

Both Angular and React have their pros and cons if it comes to scalability, but taken into account that React is better off with bigger apps, if you plan to make your app really big in the future, maybe it’s better to think about the React from the beginning.

React JS vs Angular: How easy it is to start?

Is it going to be easier to start a project with React or Angular?

And again, no clear answer here.

If you take Angular – it has a lot of great ready-to-use tools and functionalities out of the box, which makes it extremely easy to start.

However, although React doesn’t have that many ready-to-use options, it has also great, clear, and rich documentation that will guide you through and help you build the project from the scratch. It also has a great community ready to help anytime.

Conclusion and final thoughts

In general, there is no definite answer to which one is better React JS or Angular, as they both are able to build great apps.

Yet we can see slightly more advantages in using React, and we choose it, as we have to face projects with performance challenges more often. On top of that, we are appreciating the possibility to have total frontend freedom a lot.

We also recommend you to have a look on our 2020 React Development Survey and Report, where many leaders shared their thoughts about using React in their companies.

What are your thoughts? Which one is better for you? Let me know what I’ve missed!

Still hesitating between React JS and Angular?

comments

  • Bojan

    Posted on

    Min bundle size in 2020 (with Ivy enabled) is way smaller. Make sure to update that.

  • Miro

    Posted on

    There are too many mistakes and strong opinions in this text to mention. Please check your resources again.

    Angular supports both one-way and two-way bindings. The recommended one is one-way, actually.

    Equivalent to ReactNative is NativeScript by Progress.
    Ionic exists both for React and Angular and gives you PWA on top of the mobile. And it’s using Capacitor now, not Cordova.

    Angular does not compare full real DOM as stated but compiles templates to instructions for almost surgical DOM replacements (more insights on inDepth.dev). This actually gives it an edge over React, since Virtual DOM has known limitations (you can watch talks by Rich Harris and Evan You on the topic). Since mentioning React Fibre, you could have mentioned also Angular Ivy.

    There are several pros for React over Angular (in certain projects). Sadly, you missed most of them.

    • Tomasz Grabski

      Posted on

      Thanks a lot for your comment, it’s highly appreciated. Actually, we are in the middle of updating some of our articles, and this one is on the top of the list. While doing so, we will take into account what you wrote. Thanks again 🙂

  • Anon

    Posted on

    Performance and size in Angular is not an issue anymore as of December 2020. Also react has full backward compatibility? Are you sure there’s no breaking changes where “update is needed” between version upgrades? Their documentations here https://reactjs.org/blog/2020/08/10/react-v17-rc.html doesn’t say so.

  • Tomasz Grabski

    Posted on

    Guys, thanks a lot for all the comments. I’ve just released the updated version with all your remarks taken into account. Thanks for staying tuned!

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