How to Choose Between PWA and Native App?

23 Nov · 6 min read

How to Choose Between PWA and Native App?

Around 6.65 billion people use smartphones worldwide. That represents 86% of the world's people. In addition, mobile devices account for 62.06% of website visits.

The numbers on consumer mobile usage are conclusive. Mobile users offer businesses a fascinating opportunity to increase engagement and enhance customer experience. Consequently, companies are still determining whether to target mobile users. Instead, they squander time arguing about how to approach the situation.

Businesses had just two choices for mobile app development for a long time: continue with the website or develop a native app. Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) are now a third alternative available to them. 

PWAs, which promise easy and affordable app development with few drawbacks, is frequently hailed as the best way to establish a mobile presence

But are they as good as they appear? Let's find out in this comparison of Progressive Web Apps vs. Native Apps.

Progressive Web Apps and Native Apps – What Are They?

Progressive web apps are web apps that use service workers, web app manifests (JSON files), and other web-platform functionality with progressive enhancement to provide users with a native-like experience.

PWAs take up far less storage space on users' devices than native apps. PWAs even allow users to save the app to their device's home screen without having to download the app fully. In addition, the technology provides developers with numerous options for improving the app's user experience.

Google also describes Progressive Web Apps as "reliable, fast, and engaging." The tech titan provides a checklist to assist developers in taking a basic PWA and fully optimizing it to create an exemplary PWA.

Finally, PWAs allow developers to create apps for both Android and iOS without the need for two separate teams.

On the other hand, native applications are software programs designed to run on a specific device or platform. These apps can use the device's specific hardware and software because they are built for specific devices and operating systems.

Native apps' functions are fully optimized for their operating system, allowing them to utilize the system's framework and tools fully. This is also why native apps for different operating systems and devices are designed differently.

Moving forward, developers can incorporate the unique characteristics of the specific hardware to provide users with a personalized experience with their devices. For instance, a native Android app could be developed in Java, whereas an iOS app can also be developed in Objective C.

Both developed apps can later be available for download on the App Store and Google Play for iOS and Android. However, before deciding, you should review our developer's overview of the benefits and differences between PWA and Native apps.

PWAs vs. Native Apps

Progressive web apps and native apps have benefits and drawbacks. But which one should you create for your company? Here are some guidelines to help you decide whether to create a PWA or a native app:

App Development Cost

Creating a progressive web app is less costly than creating a native app. For the native app, you will need to learn the language and create a version for each platform. This means you'll need at least two iOS and Android versions and the resources to support and update each. This takes significant time and money, depending on the app's purpose and complexity.

A progressive web app is easier to develop and sustain. A single codebase can be used for various platforms rather than just the two most common. Rather than starting from scratch, you can use services like Google Lighthouse to customize your existing sites. With responsive design, you only need one app version, which will look the same on all devices.


With a native app, you must create distinct versions for each platform, publish them to various app stores, keep your app listed, and handle user feedback. Additionally, you must resubmit the updated version of a native app to the app stores for review each time you add new features to it. Then, your users must update to the new version.

The two most well-known options are the Apple App Store and Google Play, but there are other choices. The Windows Store and the Amazon App Store should also be considered. Depending on its function and platform, you can publish your program to additional app stores, including the Samsung Galaxy Store, Aptoide, and F-Droid. To be published, you must ensure that your app meets several requirements. 

You may be required to pay to register your developer account.

PWAs do not encounter any of these difficulties. Your users need only a web browser and your URL. This makes it much simpler for your app to reach more users. In addition, with a PWA, updates are instantaneous, so you can typically update and distribute your changes without needing your users' consent or additional installations. As a result, PWAs are easier to use for both you, the developer, and your users.


PWAs must need HTTPS to function, making them more secure than regular web apps.

These security procedures guarantee that no data between the client and the server is altered. As a result, customers can securely submit credit card numbers and personal information without worrying about being stolen.

Compared to PWA, a native app can incorporate many security features. For example, Multi-Factor Authentication can be used if your application requires a login. Additionally, certificate pinning can be utilized to make communication even more secure. Furthermore, since an app must pass the App Store's security requirements before publishing, people are more inclined to trust it than a URL.

Features and Functionality

A native app can offer more comprehensive features and functionalities than a progressive web app. For example, geofencing, NFC mobile payments, inter-app functionality, and smart sensor usage do not work well with a PWA.

Furthermore, using a PWA to deliver push notifications on iOS is impossible. That requires a native app. So, if you want to use push notifications or any of the above features, you should consider developing native apps.

Offline Accessibility

PWAs can ensure offline functioning by releasing portions of the web app at once. However, PWAs are constrained if the user requests any data (or feature) that isn't covered by the built-in caching system. You can view the app's static pages but only submit a form once connectivity has been restored.

On the other hand, native apps do far better in this area. This is because a native app will offer a consistent experience even if the user is not constantly online (information and offline functionality).

Final Thoughts

It would be best if you didn't rush your choice about mobile app development for your startup or company. Instead, before developing a native or progressive web app, you should weigh all the pros and cons.

A progressive web app is a way to go if your users are data-conscious and value their time because it doesn't require downloads. However, you should think about creating a native app if you need advanced features and want to be in the app store for brand credibility.

Read More: 7 Best Progressive Web App Frameworks for 2023

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