ada in web development

PWA vs Native Mobile Apps – A Detailed Comparative Guide

By Joey Ricard - November 3, 2020


PWA vs native mobile app - a comparative guide banner

When it comes to mobile apps’ exceptional performance, stunning layouts, and advanced functionalities, iOS and Android native apps are widely popular. But, nowadays, more and more companies are opting for progressive web applications aka PWAs. And PWA vs native app- this has become a topic of discussion lately.

Are PWAs worth switching to, over the native mobile apps? Or is it that PWAs are only cheaper and offer no such major advantages over native apps?   

To know for sure whether you should stick to native apps or move on to PWAs for business benefits, let’s delve deeper into the native mobile app vs PWA comparison. 


PWA vs Native Mobile App – A Quick Glance


We are going to cover the pros and cons of both progressive web applications and native mobile apps in detail here along with its business benefits. But before that, here you can take a quick glance at the infographic on PWA vs native app comparison. 


PWA vs native mobile app - a comparative guide infographic


In case you’re not aware of what PWAs are or what makes them superior to native apps to many; the following PWAs vs native mobile apps discussion can help you out.


What Are Native Mobile Apps?


Native apps are applications that are built to operate on either iOS or the Android platform optimally. When developing a native app for a particular platform, it is written in a language that the concerned platform accepts. Therefore, such apps have access to full functionalities that a device has to offer.

To use a native app, a user first has to download it and then install it on their mobile device. In 2016, almost 87% of all mobile traffic was generated through native apps.


Pros Of Native Mobile Apps – Developer Analysis


Let’s take a look at some of the major advantages that native apps have to offer to the businesses as well as the users and customers:


  • Native apps guarantee superior user experience through their intuitive layouts, smooth scrolling, vivid animations, and many more great UI/UX features.
  • Since native apps are built and optimized for a specific platform, they offer high-level performance.
  • As they are directly installed on mobile devices, they allow the software to leverage the processing speed of the device. As a result of data being already stored on the device, native apps load faster.
  • In native apps, the software has full access to various built-in features of a mobile such as Bluetooth, camera, GPS, microphone, contact list, player, NFC, etc.
  • Connecting with third party services easily, native apps are capable of interacting with other apps. Example: authorization through Facebook.
  • Native apps function properly even when accessed offline as they have access to local storage as well as cloud synchronization.
  • In native apps vs PWAs, the former always offers better data security and protection as they have complete access to a device’s hardware components. Example: Two-factor authentication.


Cons Of Native Mobile Apps – Developer Analysis


The benefits of using native apps may seem to be hard-to-resist, but these apps aren’t free from flaws. Yes, native apps, too have certain cons at which we’ll take a quick look here:


  • Since native apps are developed specifically for one particular platform; you need to develop it separately again for a different platform which makes it costlier than developing PWAs.
  • Plus, native applications are not only complex and costlier than PWAs to develop but also costly to maintain. 
  • Unlike progressive web apps, you can’t start using native apps by just clicking on a link.
  • To start using a native app, one must first download it from the App Store, install it, and then use it. For most online shoppers or people in a hurry, this might feel like an extra time-consuming step.
  • The power of SEO doesn’t work for native mobile applications. So, to launch your business native app, you need to separately promote it on the App Store.
  • One of the major disadvantages of native apps is that they consume too much RAM space.
  • To get the native app updates you need to manually update it from time to time which will take up more RAM. Not updating the native apps can disrupt your smooth experience with the app.


What Are Progressive Web App (PWA)?


pwa vs native app pinterest example

Image Source: Hackernoon


Progressive web apps or PWAs are nothing but ultra optimized websites that act and feel like native mobile applications. Unlike native apps, PWAs operate on a browser that eliminates the need to download or install them on mobile devices. 


PWA vs Native app - Spotify example

Image Source: Hackernoon

PWAs can use some of the mobile hardware such as the geolocation or camera. Example: Despite having native apps for iOS and Android users, Spotify, Twitter, Instagram, etc. also offer their PWAs. 


RELATED READ: Top 5 Hybrid App Development Frameworks to Know in 2020


Pros Of Progressive Web Applications (PWAs) – Developer Analysis


Spotify PWA example

Image Source: Hackernoon


Let’s check out the benefits that make progressive web apps popular and make more and more people choose PWAs for taking their business online.


  • Unlike native apps that require separate developments for iOS and Android, PWAs are developed only once which saves both time and money.
  • Though there is an ‘app’ in the name, PWAs are still websites, developing which again costs lower than developing native apps.
  • No need to submit a progressive web app to App Stores, as PWAs can be accessed from a web browser.
  • Accessing the contents of a PWA is much faster as one doesn’t have to download all the content before using it. It can be accessed and shared instantly via URL.


PWA vs native app - Spotify PWA example

Image Source: Hackernoon


  • Since these apps don’t require to be downloaded or installed, they hardly take up much space in the phone memory.
  • PWAs come with some SEO benefits such as being websites that don’t require marketing campaigns. Plus, because of the mobile-first indexation policy of Google PWAs automatically receives a higher ranking.
  • When registered by the users in their favorites, icons for the PWAs appear on the home screen just like native apps. 
  • Though they are more like a tweaked website, PWAs use push notifications to keep the users engaged on the web.
  • Unlike native apps here users get the updates automatically without having to click any button.


Cons of PWAs – Developer Analysis


Yes, progressive web apps do come with several advantages over the native apps; but they do have some limitations as well. Here, check out the disadvantages of PWAs as it can help you make a more informed decision about which type of app to go with.


  • Since these apps run on technologies that are not specifically made for the mobile environment and need internet access, they tend to drain the battery pretty fast.
  • Being the ‘brainchild’ of Google, not all features of PWAs are su[poirted by iOS.
  • When it comes to the hardware and software access to mobile devices, progressive web apps have limitations. There are many features that they can’t access such as calendars, browser bookmarks, alarms, contacts, etc. which makes their functionalities rather limited.
  • Since PWAs are more Android-centric apps, they don’t operate on all web browsers such as Safari.
  • Unlike native apps, PWAs have no access to consumer data such as their social profile or contacts.
  • The push notifications for customer engagement are only available on Android and not for iOS.

Native Vs. Progressive Web Apps – Which App Type is the Best?


instagram pwa example

Image Source: Hackernoon


Well, neither native apps nor PWAs replace each other as they both have different sets of pros and cons. Also, which type of application would be the best choice for your business depends a lot on the business requirements and priorities. 

If you are looking forward to reaching out to a larger audience within a limited budget, having push notifications aren’t a priority to you as you have other solutions to keep your audience engaged or your app functionalities do not comply with that of the policies of App Store, then PWAs can work pretty good for you.

But, if your application needs proper integration with mobile hardware elements, or you need push notifications for both iOS and Android, or it’s an AR solution or game app you’re planning to launch, then a native app is what you need. 


RELATED READ: Native or React Native App Development – Which is Better?


Wrapping Up


The detailed comparative discussion between native app vs PWA clearly shows that both have their perks and drawbacks. And it is based on your business requirements that you should choose between the two.

Need help with developing a native mobile app or a PWA for your business? You can connect with us, at Klizo Solutions

Our team of experienced and professional developers is proficient in creating different mobile applications. Even if you need help with designing your website, then too, we got you covered, thanks to our team of expert tech professionals.

If you are having great business ideas but unable to determine how to proceed or which type of application will work best for your brand and business, reach us; we are here to guide you at every step.

Author Joey Ricard

Joey Ricard

Klizo Solutions was founded by Joseph Ricard, a serial entrepreneur from America who has spent over ten years working in India, developing innovative tech solutions, building good teams, and admirable processes. And today, he has a team of over 50 super-talented people with him and various high-level technologies developed in multiple frameworks to his credit.