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Absolute Design
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PhoneGap Vs Native

Posted by: Clare Rose

Starting an app project and unsure whether to develop with Native or PhoneGap? Hopefully this article will steer you in the right direction. With positives and negatives to both avenues of development, we review the best method for your app project.

Speed & cost

Without a doubt, PhoneGap accelerates development. There are a wide range of pre-existing plugins available to bring in everything from mobile advertising to barcode scanning, which makes it easier and faster to develop and deploy. PhoneGap requires the app to be built only once before submitting to all platforms – iPhone, Android, Windows Phone – removing the need to build multiple times for the Native programming language of each platform. This saves time, and of course, time is money.

The developers at Absolute recently built the app, Find My Double, which enables people to find their doppelgänger from anywhere in the world. We used the Amazon Ads plugin for PhoneGap to display ads, and used the built-in PhoneGap APIs to easily allow users to take and upload photos. The main benefit of using PhoneGap to build the app is that we managed to do it so quickly and for multiple devices (iOS & Android).

Our developers built an app for Brompton Bike Hire, the sister company of iconic Brompton Bicycles. Our developers  were able to build one application reusing the same code results in a near-identical looking app that is available for both Android and iOS. Brompton Bike Hire needed a simple but effective app, which allows users to reserve a bike from their phone, find their docks and review their reservation history. The app was created using PhoneGap, and is completely in sync with their website backend, which we created in conjunction with the app. The app is data driven, which allows us to pull down data from Brompton’s datastore making the app easy to use and manage.

Which is more maintainable?

If you choose Native you have to manage two code bases, iOS and Android. That means every bug fix, every feature added and every change would have to be done twice. PhoneGap is much more maintainable as it allows you to manage a single code base

So why not always use PhoneGap?

PhoneGap is quicker and cheaper but it can be limiting for complex apps. Users may experience frame loading delays with overly complex applications. Multifaceted Native apps provide a better user experience overall and users can navigate these apps more efficiently and experience faster performance. Also, if developers use PhoneGap they are limited to the app development framework, its capabilities and provided features when building the app. Also, graphically, PhoneGap is quite limiting. For example if you’re creating a game, it’d be in your interests to develop a Native app in order to produce engaging imagery.

Having said that, many high-profile apps have been built the hybrid way including the successful  BBC Sport app, which offers a multitude of benefits to users including the latest sports news, live action, scores and highlights.


As you can see, there are drawbacks to both Native and PhoneGap development. It’s always best to analyse cost, time and the maintainability of your app before proceeding with a chosen development method. So, to summarise, you might choose to use PhoneGap when the same app is required for both Android and iOS. It’s also proven to be very useful when a quick turnaround is needed. And if your app is largely data driven, instead of graphically intense, PhoneGap will come in handy as it simply pulls down data from an API or datastore. Native on the other hand is perfect for when third party functionality is required. Native allows for flexibility and creativity for graphics, producing an all-round engaging app.