Xamarin vs PhoneGap: Which One is the Best for Your Mobile App?

The meteoric rise of mobile applications in favor of app development for global e-commerce industries leaves us to no doubt about the inevitable necessity of mobile technology for transforming the lives of consumers at different levels. A study in the year 2015 revealed the increasing popularity of mobile eCommerce purchases that were declared to have surpassed the sales of desktop computers by statistical comparison. Mobile applications are so deeply ingrained in the sophisticated society of businesses from around the world that B2B customers rely heavily on apps for the use of comparing prices and features of products, as well as fidgeting shipping options prior to making a purchase decision. Similarly, B2B businesses maximize the latent potentiality of mobile apps to bring their products to global exposure through social media channels and draw-in the attentions of ideal potential customers.

In light of the rising popularity of mobile applications, big e-commerce brands are left to the decisions of whether to build cross-platform software (proprietary app) or remain focused on integrating one or more apps into their regular business operations.

Why cross-platform software?


Cross-platform app development software tools evince their inevitable necessity in the world of mobile development today. The novelty that it brings in creating flexible, native-like apps, featuring reusable, sharable code-bases, together with ensuring the seamless performance of the applications natively on a variety of platforms.  A slight hindrance here points out to the fact that native user experience without native app code may compromise applications in terms of app file size, cost, performance, and overhead.

In the situation of cross-platforms, building apps for each platform with respective updating versions is an inconveniency of sheer intricacy, not to mention the overall expenses and time it would exact for marketers. The cross-platform tool is a solution for creating applications using a single source code into native code. Thereby, it allowing the software to run on various operating systems. Commendable simplifications brought forth by cross-development tools have paved writing apps for all devices and systems and yielded advantages for tech support, employees and customers when they bring their own devices to work. Xamarin as a cross-platform tool features extraordinary capabilities for cross-development applications working natively on cross-platforms like Windows, Android and iOS devices.

The standard for mobile application involving Xamarin took a spike after the cross-platform tool was acquired by Microsoft in February of 2016. The inevitability of building native apps for each mobile OS is perceptible because the fragmented industry of smartphones into various devices and OS ecosystems inviting a golden chance for developers to use cross-platform development frameworks for building successful applications on every OS.

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Xamarin vs PhoneGap: Features Explained

5 Key Points When Building eCommerce Mobile App in 2016

Xamarin and PhoneGap are two of the most powerful mobile app technologies. The open-source cross-platform tool of the PhoneGap framework allows programmers to work with source code in a rather different set of technologies. The cross-platform tool of Xamarin allows programmers to build native apps targeting platform-oriented user-interfaces.


Acquired by Microsoft of late, Xamarin cross-platform mobile application development tool relies on its individual Integrated Development Environment (IDE), and programing language of C#, .NET framework. The distinction of this tool is that it is used to build native apps that feature platform-specific user interfaces (UI)s and is used for platforms like iOS, Android, Windows, Blackberry. Xamarin Form platform used by Xamarin allows sharing and converting the UIs of diverse platforms and supporting platforms, including Google Glass, Fire Phone and Android Wear. In spite of having some overhead, Xamarin’s innovative native experience and launch speed give it an edge.

Xamarin – Key Highlights:


  • Uses programming languages like C#, .NET framework.
  • Supported platforms are iOS, Android, Windows, Blackberry.
  • Fully access native capabilities.
  • Open-source.
  • Native User Interface.
  • MDM software is compatible.
  • Xamarin Studio (free) IDE. It also allows Visual Studio for development.
  • Features Xamarin.Forms library for creating native UIs, and Xamarin.Android library that supports Google Glass devices, Android Wear, and Fire Phone.
  • Supports design patterns like MVC, MVVM.
  • Brands that use Xamarin are GitHub, Foursquare, Microsoft.

Xamarin – Additional Details:

  • The notable feature of Xamarin.Forms allow programmers to render native-controlled user interface, thus permitting users to go through a totally native UI experience. Though regarded for novelty yet it has a drawback of having an enormous app file size.
  • Xamarin applications encounter no hassles when it comes to updating. Thus it offers an improved lifespan of applications.
  • When it comes to testing apps automatically, you can try Xamarin TestCloud. Once you are done with the development of the apps, you can test and monitor the same in the cloud as well.
  • Even though you are technically restricted in programming languages for native environments, Xamarin is not hard to learn for those familiar with C#.
  • What Xamarin essentially benefits developer is allowing them to build their apps in C# and share and compile code for each supported platform. As a result, eCommerce brands can gain speed development while getting native hardware acceleration and user interface features.

Results of Xamarin after its Acquisition by Microsoft

When Microsoft had acquired Xamarin, it unleashed the ripple effects, signaling the burgeoning importance of mobile marketing. By incorporating Visual Studio and the .NET’s productivity of Microsoft has bolstered the efficiency of Xamarin, allowing programmers to deliver innovative and performance-optimized mobile apps across diverse platforms. Hard efforts put forth by Microsoft in keeping abreast with the rat race of mobile development and now its acquisition of Xamarin leaves no doubt to conclude that building cross-platform apps, including Android, Apple and Google mobile platforms is more a streamlined process for developers.

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PhoneGap is a rebranded version of the mobile application development framework. It was later released as an open-source version of the software termed as Apache Cordova. The basic feature of it is that it allows software programmers not to rely on platform-specific APIs such as android, windows phone or iOS devices and instead enables the programmers to build mobile apps using CSS3, HTML5, and JavaScript programming languages. PhoneGap framework does not warrant the need for applying a multitude of codebases but rather can be handled using one code base using a different set of technologies.

This open-source and cross-platform tool involves the application of HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and Web APIs, together with frameworks such as jQuery Mobile, Backbone.js, or Ionic when it comes to building applications. You can understand the concept of PhoneGap that it is basically a bunch of HTML pages inside of a native app only to be pushed out to native platforms through native APIs.

To make it more understandable in the given technical context – PhoneGap exercises a variety of technologies for cross-platform applications by executing apps within the web browser of the platform. A standard API is used by developers across multiple platforms, including Blackberry and Firefox OS while the building code is based on the use of web languages, such as Web languages JavaScript, HTML5 and CSS.

Though the novelty of JavaScript is restricted to building a large and productive app because the libraries and global integrations that the programming language (JS) entail a variety of shortcomings inconsistent with cross-development processes. If developers reuse coding across platforms, the process consequently affects user interfaces, something not experienced with those built-in Xamarin.

Is PhoneGap a platform?

If we dive into the history of PhoneGap, we come to know that it was created by Nitobi which was later purchased by Adobe Systems, which eventually launched an open-source version of the software called Apache Cordova. So basically, PhoneGap is not a platform.

PhoneGap – Key Highlights


  • Uses HTML5, CSS, JavaScript programming languages.
  • Supports platforms like iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Blackberry.
  • It has a web user interface.
  • Can’t add native features to the web UI without the requisite knowledge of Java/Swift.
  • An enterprise-level platform for building robust apps.
  • Brands that use PhoneGap are Sony, Mozilla, Intel, IBM, SworkIt, TripCase, and Untappd.

PhoneGap – Additional Details

  • It allows direct access to the library of Cordova plugins. Add on code allows programmers to make the most use of native components like Geolocation, file transfer and push notifications.
  • SDK plugins, supported by PhoneGap allow programmers to add native components directly without any code.
  • Phonegap comes featured with a paired desktop and mobile app setup. The featured template of this setup allows you to make changes and work locally by eliminating the necessity for a command line.
  • The robust backend system of PhoneGap exceedingly speeds up the development process for developers and beginners.
  • Being an Open Source License, the PhoneGap framework allows developers to get the best for free like new codes and modules compiled by its PhoneGap community.
  • No serious efforts required when it comes to developing mobile apps using PhoneGap due to great flexibility of this framework. Also, the basic familiarity of HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript can help you get started with this framework.
  • With maintainable uniformity, PhoneGap is compatible with multiple platforms.

Xamarin vs PhoneGap Comparison


Relative Factors Xamarin PhoneGap
Native performance Stable performance on iOS, Android, and Windows devices Slow performance but acceptable for older Android devices and iPhone4
Native User Interface Allows creating individual UI for multi-platforms General UI, lacks native UI for multi-platforms
Native Features Supports all native features implementable without additional skills. Native features are written as native languages
Data Amount A large quantum of data can be displayed Difficult to show the large quantum of enlisted data
Launch Time Allows high-speed launching It does not support the high-speed launching of an app on a device.
Platform supports iOS, WathOS, tvOS, Mac OS, Android Wear/TV, Windows, UWP iOS, Android, Windows Phone 7
Language supports C# HTML5, CSS, JAVASCRIPT
Open Source Yes Yes
User Interface (UI) Fully native Web UI
Device API access Full Limited
Stability Solid and efficient Random issues
Components The highly curated component store Not curated
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Wrapping it up


The relative comparison between Xamarin and PhoneGap though gives perceptible advantages to Xamarin due to its apparent ergonomic capabilities. However, it also boils down to your requirement of which framework can serve your application development purpose in terms of usability and ergonomics. PhoneGap is the fastest framework than Xamarin. But it is limited to its UI feature, functionality and native code integration; Xamarin, on the other hand, is entirely a native app featuring cross-platform benefits and reliable stability over PhoneGap. But it requires an extensive learning curve.

Still, in our conclusive analysis between Xamarin and PhoneGap, the former has an unmistakable edge over the latter. Due to its chock-full of features, the Xamarin framework is a “top-prioritized” choice for marketers.

Author-Image-Pranay-AgarwalThis article is written by Pranay Agrawal. Pranay works as a technical lead at MobileCoderz Technologies. He shares deep knowledge and interests in the latest technologies & tools for mobile app development. He loves sharing interesting posts to inform readers about the latest updates. Follow him: Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn.

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Souvik BanerjeeWeb Developer & SEO Specialist with 15+ years of experience in Open Source Web Development specialized in Joomla & WordPress development. He is also the moderator of this blog "RS Web Solutions".