Top 11 mobile app development frameworks

10 min read
April 18, 2023

The average time to create a decent app is between 7 and 12 months.

Seems long, doesn’t it?

Now, what if you need to create apps for both iOS and Android? You could imagine it would take much longer and be more expensive to develop.

Fortunately, you can shorten that time dramatically using suitable mobile app development frameworks.

These tools simplify building a cross-platform app by automating many of the processes or providing templates you can start with.

Here are 11 of these frameworks that you should look into.

Apache Cordova

Apache Cordova is an open-source framework that allows developers to create cross-platform apps using standard web technologies like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

It’s mainly targeted at web developers as an easy way to turn their web pages into a hybrid app while having features normally reserved for native apps.

That way, they don’t need to learn programming languages like Swift or Java to build iOS or Android apps.

For example, through API calls, a web app can access device features such as the camera, accelerometer, push notification, and file system access.

Here’s an overview of the Apache Cordova architecture:

Apache Cordova architecture

Source: Geeks for Geeks

But unlike a typical webview-based hybrid app, Apache Cordova packages the web assets into a binary file for each platform—just like native apps.

That means they can be submitted to app stores as normal for distribution.

Apache Cordova has gained popularity thanks to its ease of use, cross-platform compatibility, and accessibility to web developers.

Because of this, it has amassed a larger community, making it a fantastic cross-platform app development framework.


Flutter is an open-source framework by Google for creating cross-platform mobile apps.

It uses a proprietary programming language called Dart, which is automatically compiled ahead of time into each platform’s native code.

This helps speed up performance significantly over frameworks that require a bridge (such as React Native).

Flutter interface

Source: Android Authority

One of the best features of Flutter is hot reload. Essentially, it allows you to see changes to your code in real time while editing it—and all while maintaining the application’s state.

For instance, if your app requires a login, you don’t need to re-enter your credentials after each hot reload update. That’s an incredible time saver when debugging your code.

Flutter also provides many UI tools that make creating app designs consistent across platforms.

One example is Widgets, a reusable UI component derived from native iOS and Android UI libraries.

Lastly, Flutter allows you to mix native languages and APIs, such as Swift or Kotlin, together with Dart.

In short, Flutter is a great alternative to React Native that gives a much more near-native cross-platform app.


Framework7 is an open-source tool for creating cross-platform hybrid apps using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. With it, developers can design a mobile app as if they’re building a website.

Its most notable and useful feature is its collection of UI components allowing developers to assemble an app interface easily.

And the great thing is that these components sport a native look and feel.

You can see and demo these components on the Framework7 website.

Framework7 interface

Source: Framework7

Because of its powerful UI tools, Framework7 can be used as your primary UI framework.

You can then pair it with other tools like React Native or Cordova to handle other aspects of the development.

Framework7 is also fantastic for creating app prototypes or interactive wireframes.

Best of all, Framework7 is free to use. It’s certainly one of the best tools for rapidly creating app UIs.


Ionic is another open-source platform for creating mobile apps using Angular, a popular web development framework.

It also relies on another tool, Apache Cordova, to handle its native capabilities.

Because it’s based on web technology, one advantage of an Ionic app is that you can preview it on a standard web browser. This can help speed up development time.

Ionic development process

Source: Ukad

However, one disadvantage of Ionic is that it might not be compatible with some plugins, such as Deep Links or Firebase Analytics.

At most, you’ll need to tweak them heavily, which could be time-consuming.

Furthermore, the performance of Ionic apps isn’t as fast and responsive as some cross-platform apps like Flutter.

For this reason, Ionic is best suited for web-based apps that don’t involve complex UIs or features.

One example of this is the MarketWatch app, which is a good mobile port for the desktop website.

jQuery Mobile

jQuery Mobile is a framework for building mobile app UIs using JavaScript, HTML, and CSS.

That might make it similar to other frameworks like Apache Cordova and Ionic.

However, jQuery Mobile focuses more on the UI side of app development without giving access to the device hardware as Cordova does.

That makes it suitable for apps that only act as a “shell” where much of the processing happens on the server side.

One of the advantages of jQuery Mobile is that it provides a lot of pre-built UI components and widgets that can be quickly put together.

And they’re customizable. In fact, jQuery Mobile has a Theme Roller tool where you can edit your UI components’ font, color, shadow, and other attributes.

You then download it as a theme file, ready to be applied to your project.

jQuery Mobile interface

Source: jQuery Mobile

Thus, jQuery Mobile is fantastic for creating UI components that look uniform across platforms. It may not feel native, but at least it’s consistent.

The only drawback is that jQuery Mobile is a limited tool at best. Apps developed using the platform are also slower compared to other cross-platform frameworks.


NativeScript is a framework for creating cross-platform apps using JavaScript.

It’s similar to other JavaScript-centric tools like React Native and Angular. But the difference is that NativeScript is framework-agnostic.

In other words, you can use any JavaScript framework in NativeScript—be it React, Angular, Svelte, or Vue.

That makes it much more flexible to incorporate into existing projects that already use these tools.

NativeScript framework

Source: Third Rock Techkno

NativeScript is advantageous when you use a lot of third-party libraries like CocoaPods and Maven. That’s because you don’t need wrappers to use them, as you do with React Native.

The trade-off is that NativeScript apps are generally slower because they access native APIs using only a single-thread approach.

Debugging is also much more difficult, as you need an emulator or device to test.

Onsen UI

Onsen UI is a UI design framework for creating adaptable interfaces using HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript.

The main selling point of Onsen UI are its ready-to-use UI components.

The platform uses automatic styling, which changes the look and feel of the UI to suit either iOS or Android Material design.

It also features robust animation and touch gestures, allowing you to implement page transitions or ripple effects.

These little touches can add to the authenticity of your UI, making it feel more native.

In other words, Onsen UI helps you achieve native cross-platform interfaces with just a single codebase.

Onsen UI interface

Source: Onsen UI

Because it’s primarily a UI tool, Onsen UI is designed to work well with other frameworks like Apache Cordova, Vue, and React Native.

Paired with its ease of use and helpful community, it’s a tool you can easily integrate into your existing workflow.

React Native

React Native is perhaps the most popular cross-platform framework out there and one of the pioneers of bringing web technologies to mobile app development.

It’s based on React, a JavaScript library for creating interactive web pages.

Using this framework, developers can bring near-native performance and feel to cross-platform apps using JS code.

Here’s how it works:

React Native ecosystem overview

Source: System Seed

React Native acts as a bridge between the app (which uses JS code) and the device, translating events and data between the two.

For example, if a user loads a page, React Native gets the app’s JavaScript code and translates it into a native command that the device can understand.

The biggest feature of React Native is its high code reusability. Evidence shows that 90% of your codebase can be successfully reused across platforms.

Thus, React Native can shorten your development times dramatically.

Moreover, React Native’s popularity means thousands of developers and resources can help you if you get stuck.

Sencha Ext JS

Sencha Ext JS is a powerful platform for building complex enterprise-ready mobile apps using JavaScript.

The biggest distinction of Sencha Ext JS over other JavaScript frameworks is that it’s much more advanced and comprehensive.

For one, Sencha Ext JS has robust data handling tools. You can gather data from various sources, such as XML and RESTful, just like any native app.

Plus, it also supports rich data visualization for creating graphs and charts.

Sencha Ext JS interface

Source: Sencha

Sencha Ext JS also has over 140+ components, allowing you to build apps with complicated features with relative ease.

Of course, the complexity comes at a price. Maximizing Ext JS requires an experienced developer.

Also, even simple tasks require several lines of code in Ext JS, which could quickly make the code unwieldy.

Nevertheless, Sencha Ext JS is your best bet for developing high-performance, business-grade applications.


Swiftic is a cloud-based platform that allows small businesses to build mobile apps with zero coding involved.

Instead, you build apps in Swiftic through a guided wizard, where you can select a layout, edit UI attributes, and import content.

You can also incorporate pre-built components to add functionality to your app, such as a delivery page or loyalty program.

Swiftic interface

Source: App Tool Tester

The biggest reason to use Swiftic is to have an app as cheaply and quickly as possible without hiring an expensive dev team.

The tool allows you to build monetization features such as a mobile storefront or scratch cards, which normally require custom software development.

However, Swiftic has a huge limitation. Its features are primarily geared toward creating a business or e-commerce app.

This narrow focus significantly hinders what you can do with the platform.

But if you want to build a revenue-generating business app on the cheap, Swiftic is a fantastic option.


Xamarin is basically Microsoft’s answer to Google’s Flutter.

It’s a cross-platform development tool that allows developers to create Android and iOS apps using C# and the .NET framework. And everything is built in the Visual Studio IDE.

Xamarin interface

Source: Microsoft

Xamarin is primarily aimed at .NET developers who want to create apps easily without learning another native programming language.

And there’s an advantage to doing this. You can leverage all of the robust development and debugging tools that Visual Studio has when developing Xamarin apps.

You can also use .NET libraries, which extend the functionality of your apps dramatically.

Furthermore, Xamarin code is compiled into its corresponding native binary file using platform-specific APIs.

That means a Xamarin app has the look, feel, and performance of a native iOS and Android app.

It also supports a wide range of hardware features while keeping compatibility issues at a minimum—an impressive feat.

The bottom line is that if you’re an existing .NET developer who wants to break into app development, Xamarin is the easiest path to get there.

Which framework should you use?

If you’re still confused as to which framework to use, that’s understandable.

It can be challenging to pick which of the numerous JavaScript frameworks is suitable for your project. That takes plenty of experience and skill.

So why not outsource that task to an app development agency like DECODE?

With dozens of successful app projects under our belt, we have the knowledge necessary to pick the right tools for your next app.

Interested? Get in touch with us today and schedule a FREE consultation.

Written by

Marko Strizic

Co-founder and CEO

Marko started DECODE with co-founders Peter and Mario, and a decade later, leads the company as CEO. His role is now almost entirely centred around business strategy, though his extensive background in software engineering makes sure he sees the future of the company from every angle. A graduate of the University of Zagreb’s Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing, he’s fascinated by the architecture of mobile apps and reactive programming, and a strong believer in life-long learning. Always ready for action. Or an impromptu skiing trip.

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