Reading time: 4 minutes
PUBLISH DATE: Dec 09 2020
UPD: Jun 17 2021
Reading time: 4 minutes

Progressive Web Apps vs Native: Which to Choose and When?

Cost-efficiency vs security, speed vs comfort, universality vs self-sufficiency

Today, you can witness the competition between mobile devices and desktops in their efforts to get users’ attention. It will not be an exaggeration if I say that the former firmly holds a championship belt. It is estimated that in 2023, global mobile app revenues will grow to more than 935 billion dollars. And these figures do not surprise me. I guess that they do not surprise you, too. Just think about how much time you spend on your phone compared to a desktop – this will be the explanation for such big numbers.

However, this situation does not mean that the only people benefiting from the growing mobile app market are native apps developers. For website owners, it is also a perfect chance to give their web platforms a second life. By letting users access their websites from mobile devices, they can not only expand their audience but also modernize their business and increase revenues. One of the ways to achieve these goals is to develop a progressive web app.

What Are Progressive Web Apps?

A PWA, which stands for a progressive web app, is an optimized web platform to be used on a mobile device. So to say, PWA is a quintessence of web and mobile application, a mobile site built with JavaScript frameworks. Such an app is downloaded directly from a website and opened in a browser – no matter what it is, Safari, Chrome, Firefox, or anything else.

For companies specializing in PWA development services, progressive web apps are known for numerous benefits. First of all, PWA offers a full-screen experience. Users download it and get rid of the annoying browser navigation panel. Second, progressive web apps are fast and simple in usage. Customers who prefer using products in the form of applications get the opportunity to view their favorite websites in the usual way.

Moreover, PWAs save space on the phone and increase engagement. You can check your blog and learn more about the strong sides of PWA and its potential in software development. However, the mentioned benefits do not point that progressive web apps are a universal and perfect solution. Read our review of PWA vs native app and find out when and why to choose progressive web apps and when and why not!

P.S. Nobody mentions the fact that…

There are also desktop PWAs, but they are much less popular than mobile PWAs. In fact, desktop progressive web apps offer little benefit over websites, so the development of such is a matter of personal preference. However, as this technology continues developing, it may open new opportunities and advantages, and, who knows, it might even become the future of desktop development.

What Is a Native App?

The native app is a regular mobile application, which the Keenethics professionals have been developing for many years. A native app is developed only for a specific platform or device. In the context of mobile, the two major platforms that native apps are built for include iOS (Apple) and Android (Google). 

Mobile application development is a growing field. However, building an app is not as easy and quick as it seems. If you decide to enter this market, be ready to do commendable and responsible work. Check our list of steps for building a mHealth app and get a better understanding of how the process unfolds. And let’s move to the discussion of the PWA vs Native!

PWA vs Native App: When to Choose PWA?

  • Limited Budget

If you are on a shoestring budget or if cost-efficiency is your first priority, choose PWA. Native app development requires a separate development process for each mobile platform. Keep in mind also that Android and iOS are the most popular but not the only mobile platforms available.

There are also Windows phones or Amazon devices with their own operating systems and stores. The Chinese market is slowly conquered by their own operating systems. When developing a native, you will always be limited to a certain market segment. When developing a PWA, you go global – you develop the app only once, and it is suitable for all platforms.

  • Deployment Difficulties

Since PWA is found and downloaded directly from a website, there is no need to be bothered with submitting your app to the store, following all the technical requirements and community guidelines of the OS, and waiting for confirmation. With the help of the PWA technology, implementing minor changes and updating the version is as easy as it just could be.

Furthermore, even if you manage to deploy your app, it does not guarantee that it will be visible to your users. If you open the App Store or Google Play, the top ten apps list will barely differ. It will certainly feature four Facebook apps (Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp), YouTube, Gmail, and Snapchat. With a native mobile app, you will have to fight for the chance to be seen. So, in terms of deployment, PWA wins our “progressive web apps vs native apps” contest.

  • Users’ attention

Here comes another reason to develop a PWA: the ability to gain users’ attention. Since any PWA is a website by its nature, it is SEO-optimized. Indeed, native apps are also optimized using ASO (App Store Optimization) techniques. However, ask any specialist in the field, and they will tell you: getting high SEO results is way easier than achieving something with ASO.

Moreover, Google highly values and prioritizes progressive web apps (PWA) over traditional websites or regular mobile applications. Respectively, users can easily come across it while googling, which greatly enhances the visibility of your software product.

  • Loading Speed

If the application is expected to be heavy in terms of data load and you do not want to compromise on the loading speed, you should go with PWA. When first downloading a PWA, the user does not download all the content of the app, as in the case of mobile applications. Respectively, progressive web apps use a tiny portion of the phone storage, which will definitely be appreciated by your users.

  • Users’ Affection and Loyalty

Among other benefits of progressive web apps, I can mention the capacity to gain users’ affection and loyalty. Sharing the application is as easy as sending a short URL. No need to look for the app in the App Store. No need to search for a website in the browser. A user just opens the link, saves the icon on the home screen, and accesses it anytime in a few simple taps.

Another feature users will definitely like is the absence of annoying updates. There is absolutely effort required on their part to keep the app up-to-date. In the case of PWA, simplicity is the key to success!

  • A Small Business

PWAs are an excellent option if you have a small business or a start-up. Since the development of progressive web apps is simpler, faster, and cheaper, it may be more affordable and suitable for your emerging business than launching a long-lasting and badly expensive mobile development process. 

At the same time, it does not mean that, as a medium-sized or large business, you should give up on this idea. Progressive web apps proved themselves to be effective for such tech giants as Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter since they offer a significant business development value.

  • Google’s Vision

Talking about Google, at their official web platform for developers, they have published a statement telling about the benefits of progressive web apps. According to Google, PWAs are reliable, fast, and engaging. The reliability consists in the fact that these apps load instantly even if a network connection is unstable. PWAs are fast because they are responsive, smooth, and seamlessly loading. They are engaging because they offer a full-screen experience with push notifications and a home screen icon to access it. 

Meanwhile, no such statement about PWAs has been issued by Apple. This tech giant allegedly supports the advancement of the PWA technology but pays little effort or attention towards actually developing it. Respectively, it is believed that iOS devices display progressive web apps not as good as Android.

PWA vs Native App: When to Choose Native?

  • Control

You should choose native when you want to keep everything under control. Not all the browsers on all the devices can display PWAs perfectly, and as a business owner, you will have absolutely no power to change it. Also, native applications offer more opportunities in terms of UI/UX than PWAs. For instance, PWAs do not support the function of 3D. 

  • Advanced Functionality

Developing a native application is what you should choose when the functionality of your future app is going to be quite complicated. Some functions of a phone are available for native mobile apps and unavailable for progressive web applications. For instance, a PWA cannot use Bluetooth, which is necessary for connecting with smart devices or using indoor geolocation.

  • Data Security

If you prioritize data security, you should go with native apps.  Web platforms have always been known to be more prone to a data breach than mobile applications. While PWAs are protected with security protocols, native apps still remain a safer and more hacker-resistant option.

  • No Website

If your business hasno website and you do not plan to develop one, choose native – there is no point for you to develop a PWA. The very idea of PWA is to communicate with your target users directly via the website. If you do not have a website, why would you need a progressive web app? In turn, native apps are more self-sufficient in a way that they can function without any additional web support.

  • GEO-Fencing

Another opportunity offered exceptionally by native apps offer is GEO-fencing. GEO-fencing is a technique that enables businesses to track the movement of people nearby and to act accordingly. For instance, stores can send notifications to a user when they come into close proximity to their physical location. In this way, they inform the customer about the store, draw their attention, and maybe give a discount or a special offer to encourage them to enter. Whereas PWAs can use the location feature to allocate the device, GEO-fencing is not available for this type of software.

To Wrap Up

“PWA vs Native” is a discussion, not a competition. The major difference between PWA and native is that a mobile app is written to run on a mobile device, while a progressive web app is written to run in a browser: the web page loads – the app is running.

You can find both the instances when progressive web apps are a better choice and the examples when native apps are more suitable. Similarly, choosing either PWA or native, you will see benefits and drawbacks of each solution. The main idea is to understand your business’s needs and find the best way to meet them. So, ask yourself four questions and make a final decision:


If you need to develop a self-sufficient application, choose native. If you need to develop an application supporting your website, choose PWA.


If you strive to keep everything under control, choose native. If you strive to accelerate, facilitate, and cheapen the development process, choose PWA.


If you prioritize the user’s safety and comfort, choose native. If you prioritize convenience and loading speed, choose PWA.


If you focus on developing apps for Android or for both Android and iOS, choose PWA. If you stick exclusively to Apple, choose native.

Are you able to answer these questions?

Do you want to find out more about PWA development? Do you have an idea for a progressive web app?

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