Technology

React Native vs Swift – Which is better? Which to choose?

Marlena Walburg

If you are facing the challenge of choosing the right technology for your iOS application project, you’ve come to the right place! You surely know that this case is not that trivial. Everything will depend on this decision – which team to complete, how quickly it will deliver the product, and how it will work. Many companies think about creating an application for their services that will become valuable and attractive for users. And this is what mobile apps developed in Swift or React Native can offer. The latter is the most popular technology recently because the development with it is apparently the cheapest and fastest. After all, one application is made at once for several platforms. However, Swift is the native language created by Apple for software developed for its systems, which may seem like a better solution.

But is it really so? Is Swift the best solution? The answer is not clear cut, because, as we always say, technology should be selected primarily for a specific project. Therefore, you need to know all the rules, the logic behind them and the benefits offered by both solutions. Find out if React Native or Swift will be a better solution for your project.

What’s Swift and React Native

React Native and Swift are two relatively new technologies for developing mobile applications for iOS devices. React Native is a JavaScript-based framework, and Swift is a completely new programming language that draws patterns from Objective-C. RN, however, allows you to create not only apps for Apple devices, but it is also a cross-platform framework, so by choosing it, you can immediately release an application for Android using the same code base. When it comes to creating iOS-only applications, here the problem of choosing between the two technologies may arise. Both offer a lot of advantages and benefits for both potential users and the business that will release the application to the market. Therefore, you should look at these technologies in detail and learn more about their pros and cons, which will facilitate making this decision, which is crucial for the success of the project.

What is Swift?

Swit is a general-purpose, multi-paradigm, compiled programming language. Apple Inc. created it as a replacement for Apple’s earlier programming language, Objective-C, and it is commonly used mainly for devices of this company. This previously used language had been mostly unchanged since the 1980s and without any lacked modern features, so Apple wanted Swift to support many of the core concepts from Objective-C. Mostly, they focused on dynamic sending, extensible programming and similar features, but in a more secure way that would make it easier to catch software bugs. Swift has quickly become one of the fastest-growing languages in history. Plainer writing of software, which is extremely fast and safe by definition, goes hand in hand with the high performance of the application, as well as the relative simplicity of learning this language.

Swift advantages:

  • Safe – it has a syntax that allows writing clean and consistent code. Swift has security features to prevent errors and improve readability. Development teams can use the various encryption technologies offered by Apple in the form of APIs or write their encryption code. Securing and encrypting sensitive application data is much easier using Swift.;
  • Fast and efficient – according to data on the official Apple website, Swift is more than 2x faster than Objective-C and 8x faster than Python. It is designed for high performance and simpler, faster coding, which is possible thanks to its syntax. Swift’s performance is almost the same as C ++, which is considered the fastest programming language.;
  • Easy to read and maintain code – Swift is one of the programming languages whose code is the easiest to read and write, and is much easier to manage than previously used by Apple Objective-C.

Swift disadvantages:

  • Only for iOS development – unlike React Native, Swift is not a cross-platform development language. If you want to release an Android version as well, you need to create it separately from a scratch;
  • Slower compilation speed – In Swift projects, the compilation is much slower because Swift is a more complex, feature-packed language.

When to Choose Swift

First of all, choose Swift if you plan to create an iOS-only app. It is a programming language dedicated to this operating system, created directly by Apple. Developers appreciate using Swift to build apps that take advantage of the native functions and APIs provided by iOS. Swift is one of the best technologies for creating applications with elaborate user interfaces. A mobile app that requires a lot of UI interactions and lots of resources will work best when native, which is why Swift is a great choice.

Popular apps built with Swift

These are of course applications or their versions available only on iOS:

Learn more about Swift from one of our related articles:

What is React Native?

React Native is a free, open-source framework launched in 2015 by Facebook. The company’s desire to build a universal application that will work on both iOS and Android was RN’s genesis. In a short time, the list of brands using React Native has grown enormously, and so it continues to do. React Native uses JavaScript and relies on the bridge concept, which is a way of communication between native and JS threads. Despite React Native already having a wide selection of elements and methods of iOS and Android, the bridge is a kind of tool that exports what the framework doesn’t have within itself.  Over the years Facebook has also taken care of the stability of the API, which is also important when choosing a framework.

React Native advantages:

  • Code reuse and shorter development cycles React Native offers a Hot Reload feature which speeds up the development process, and a huge collection of libraries and other ready to use components that drastically shorten the time to market. Moreover, RN has very high code reusability for both web app and desktop app development.
  • Easy to learn as React Native uses a widely popular and loved JavaScript, it makes gathering or tutoring a React Native development team a bit easier. The way developers write applications using React Native is similar to building web pages with their primary language and CSS support, along with UI tags that look a lot like HTML.
  • React Native community – React Native boasts a large community of developers as it is already a quite long-existing tool. Some countless available tutorials or libraries give great support and make it much pleasant to implement among tech teams.

React Native disadvantages:

  • Problematic navigation – Using React Native requires more attention and developers’ experience. It utilizes many external libraries and has more complex architecture. Navigating the framework can be problematic for fresh developers, moreover, those characteristics are not very well described in the documentation.
  • A moderately complex UI – the framework has just UI rendering components and APIs for accessing the device features and for the rest, it needs to rely on third-party libraries. Sadly, React Native components can behave differently on various platforms. Such a complex UI can be hard to replicate in a React Native app and after every update of the operating system, app components may change in view.

When to Choose React Native

React Native will be a wonderful choice for large, more complex projects. Developers can count on the other users’ support and take advantage of extensive documentation. The development of applications for Android and iOS is done using one codebase, and the code of web and desktop applications can be reused later. React Native enables creating truly native apps and doesn’t impact the user experience.

For detailed information about React Native’s advantages and disadvantages read our related article:

Popular apps built with React Native

Apart from Facebook’s product, we will also find other, well-known brands that use React Native:

React Native vs Swift Comparison

There are tons of Swift and React Native benchmarks available online. We have summarized the results in several criteria that may be relevant to you when choosing a technology for your project.

Programming language


React Native uses JavaScript. It is one of the most popular programming languages among developers, which makes React Native easy to adapt and eventually very popular. 

Swift is a programming language in its own right, unlike the React Native framework that uses JavaScript. It is based on Objective-C, duplicates its effective functions, but also has many modern solutions to facilitate programming.

Performance comparison

React Native compared to Swift is slightly better at optimizing CPU usage. Applications written in RN allocate more memory than Swift applications, but the differences are not extreme. React Native, however, handles graphic effects worse.  It is a framework that helps to create applications with a native look and feel, offering tools, components and widgets. It also allows embedding native code in an application.

Despite the first thoughts that Swift is a native application development technology, and should work better than framework-based applications by default, the performance differences are slight. It all depends on the specific tasks performed on the compared applications, so it can be said that in this respect there is no better or worse choice.

User Interface

Swift is a native language for iOS, designed by Apple to create applications on this system, therefore there are no problems with integration with iOS design, proper implementation of UX principles. However, you have to bear in mind that creating applications with Swift is a native application coding from scratch, so each UI component requires separate programming and refinement. 

React Native uses the ReactJS library with UI elements and native UI components. It contains many ready-made modules to be used as building blocks. However, React Native only supports core ready-to-use components and unfortunately has to rely on third-party libraries. Using them may require additional effort and time from the developers.

Community

JavaScript is currently one of the most popular programming languages, and thus, it also has a huge community around it. React Native, which uses JavaScript, also has a great fan base and user base. Various channels for knowledge exchange and sharing of support are the norm for the Supervisory Board. However, this can sometimes make the solutions to problems too general and a little chaos, but it is nevertheless very involved.

The Swift community is smaller than the RN due to programming only for Apple systems. However, this is a dedicated group of people. Moreover, the problems with Swift are only related to iOS app development, so they’re narrower, and assuming you’re not looking for a solution to some extremely sophisticated challenge that has never existed before, finding a solution or help in the community can be much easier.

React Native vs Swift – which to choose?

Both Swift and React Native are great tools for creating mobile applications for iOS. To determine which one is better suited to your project, you need to focus primarily on the main features, establishments, and values ​​that you want to achieve with the technology used.

React Native offers cross-platform application development using only one codebase. As such, it is a cheaper technology than Swift. This does not mean, however, that we lose quality with lower financial outlays, on the contrary, RN enables the creation of high-quality applications. Only frequent updates of the framework and the lack of sufficient documentation may cause possible problems. Swift is a very clear and concise programming language, so it is more suited to large enterprise applications than React Native. Besides, it allows faster application development on iOS than in RN. However, if you plan to create a native Android application as well, you will need a lot more time and money, because you will not use the same code for it as with React Native.

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