The Best JavaScript Frameworks for Mobile Development


JavaScript frameworks are great tools for building mobile apps. They’re efficient, lower development costs, and tend to have the security benefits that come with large, active communities of developers.

Deciding to use a framework is an easy choice. The harder question is, which framework fits the project at hand?

Here’s Concepta’s take on four of the best JavaScript frameworks for mobile development.

jQuery Mobile

This lightweight mobile framework is based on the popular jQuery library. Developers use jQuery Mobile for mobile website development as well as apps. It’s touch-optimized with a focus on broad compatibility (Android, iOS, Windows Phone, and Blackberry).

Eliminating cross-browser issues is one of jQuery Mobile’s biggest draws. The framework supports a huge variety of platforms, devices, display sizes, and screen resolutions. There’s no need to use a device-specific programming language. Instead, developers can use standards like JavaScript, HTML5, CSS3, or AJAX.

Designing is simplified with the ThemeRoller customization toolkit. ThemeRoller offers a lot of tools that make editing themes easy, including drag and drop color and component changes. There are plenty of options for manipulating page layouts, headers and footers, and other design details.


While jQuery Mobile makes it possible to perform complex scripting operations with little code, there are drawbacks. Performance varies by device. For example, jQuery Mobile apps lag noticeably on Android but run more smoothly on iOS.

Although the framework can outperform other mobile websites, it doesn’t outperform native apps. jQuery also lacks the full access to device features offered by other mobile app development tools.


NativeScript aims for a “write once, use everywhere” philosophy and comes very close. It’s an open-source framework for building Android, iOS, and Windows apps. With access to native API, it creates applications that behave like native apps on those platforms. Heavy code reuse between platform versions cuts the overall development time, too.

The framework supports the use of Angular, Vue.js, TypeScript, and Javascript. There are hundreds of NativeScript plugins, but developers aren’t limited to that toolset. They can integrate Node Package Manager, CocoaPods for iOS, and Gradle for Android.

Being open-source and free lowers the cost of working with NativeScript. Companies see extra savings through shorter development timelines.


NativeScript aims for native performance. In practice, though, users experience some lag when opening apps. Also, critics point out that there are many inefficiencies in the NativeScript core that make debugging unnecessarily complicated.

It’s worth noting that plugins aren’t 100% verified and vary widely in quality. An inexperienced developer could accidentally introduce a vulnerability if they aren’t careful to check every plugin before use.

React Native

Facebook created this cross-platform native app development tool for its own use before releasing it to the public in 2015. Like NativeScript it features heavy code reuse, though the philosophy here is “learn once, write everywhere”. Once the tools are learned they can be applied to any platform.

React Native provides the native performance missing with NativeScript. It renders native UI elements for a “true to platform” feel that appeals to device loyalists while being less expensive to develop than a native app.

Real-time reloading leads to a smoother, more responsive development process where users can get faster feedback on changes as they work. This is one of the developer-friendly aspect of React Native that attract its large, active community of developers.


Despite matching native apps in performance, React Native doesn’t fully support all native features yet. Users have to wait for Facebook to add those capabilities. There are generally fewer specialty and custom modules than some frameworks, as well.

The different design styles of Android and iOS will result in unpolished apps if a designer isn’t careful. Navigation is sometimes a little irregular regardless of skill.

Aside from technical considerations, some developers are wary of being totally reliant on Facebook. All signs point to a long future for React Native and Facebook is still putting resources into it, but the platform does still own the license and can theoretically revoke it.


PhoneGap is a hybrid app development framework that is open source version of Apache Cordova. Users can build for multiple platforms with a single codebase, writing in HTML, CSS or JavaScript. Apps built with PhoneGap have decent access to device hardware. There are allowances for offline capabilities as well.

PhoneGap has a healthy library and a robust backend that makes development fast and easy. Developers don’t need specialty skill sets to use it; web development skills will give them access to all the framework’s features. Those qualities combine to make it a great tool for rapid prototyping on a budget.


PhoneGap doesn’t offer a lot of UI widgets, but performance is far and away its biggest limitation. It suffers from noticeably lower performance than other frameworks.

Making the call

There’s no single framework that’s best in every case.

  • PhoneGap is great for rapid prototyping, but the performance issues may frustrate end users in the long run.
  • React Native and NativeScript take opposite approaches to cross-platform development which should factor into their choice for a specific project.
  • jQuery provides slightly lower performance but much wider compatibility, making it useful when end users can be expected to access the app through many kinds of devices.

Try not to go into a project with a favorite framework in mind. Look at the specific needs of the app, consider its purpose and who the end users will be, and discuss options with an experienced developer.

The wrong framework can lead to a frustrating, “square peg in a round hole” development process. The right one saves enough time and money to make it worth a little extra forethought.

Mobile Development Company in Orlando

As one of Orlando’s most renowned mobile development agencies, Concepta has a collection of clients who need fast, economical development.

Our developers stay on top of emerging JavaScript frameworks to be sure they have the right tool for any job, whether it’s building a client-facing app for The Learning Company or a sales portal for Anago.

Getting ready to build your next mobile app? Concepta has more than a decade’s experiences building dynamic enterprise apps for everyone from state-wide chains to national celebrities. We can guide you through the JavaScript frameworks that will help you meet- and beat- this year’s business goals. Reserve your free consultation today!

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NativeScript: Choosing a Mobile App Framework


NativeScript is a modern mobile open source framework for building native apps.

NativeScript is a Mobile Framework, or a customizable “skeleton” that contains a common selection of features necessary for building mobile apps.

What problem does NativeScript solve?

Developers can use JS, Angular, XML, and CSS-like languages to develop apps while employing native APIs for each platform instead of using web views to render each UI.

Benefits of NativeScript

  • Open source
  • Extensible
  • Platform-agnostic
  • Native API Reflection
  • Uses native UI components from the native OS (fully native apps, not packaged via browser)
  • Standards-compliant ECMAScript Javascript code
  • CSS standard-compliant declaration
  • Hot reload functionality

Strengths of NativeScript

Although it’s a relatively new tool NativeScript is backed by Telerik, a subsidiary of Progress. Progress has a reputation for backing dependable developer tools for enterprise.

It has an enthusiastic community who appreciate how easy it is for Angular fans to learn NativeScript.

Users can actually build native applications in Angular 2 as well as use CSS animations.

Cross platform functionality is essential, and NativeScript is well poised to ensure it.

The framework offers native performance on both iOS and Android. The whole stack is available for both platforms.

NativeScript espouses a “write once, adapt everywhere” philosophy: developers can adapt code between web and mobile. It also provides 0-day support for new OS releases.

Intellectual Property headaches can be bypassed with an open source program like NativeScript.

Its core is licensed under Apache 2.0 which allows users to use, modify, license, and distribute their software without having to classify their use as personal or commercial.

There are only very minimal requirements to leave a disclaimer and copyright notice in place.

NativeScript includes great tooling for productivity and developer consistency.

Implementation is noticeably faster compared to mobile.

Also, developers can integrate CSS animations into their NativeScript projects.

Weaknesses of NativeScript

Most of NativeScript’s weaknesses arise from being relatively new.

For example, there aren’t as yet many official plug-ins.

NativeScript has vocally loyal and active users, but it’s not as big as ReactNative’s community.

Developers can’t use React with NativeScript yet. Only their “Core”, an MVVM style of building applications, is available.

However, Angular 2 is also has first class support and there are strongly indications that Vue will be implemented as well.

Performance has historically not been as seamless on Android as on iOS.

A recent update ironed out many of the problems, but some issues remain.



Xamarin is very similar to NativeScript in terms of underlying technology.

Though NativeScript doesn’t have as many available plug-ins as Xamarin, it has an edge in code recompilation. Changing code in Xamarin means recompiling and restarting the computer.

NativeScript is positioned for automatic instant recompiling, which is part of how it drives faster development.


Both ReactNative and NativeScript are cross-platform JavaScript frameworks for mobile development.

The key difference is in their ultimate goals: ReactNative is working towards being able to learn one tool and write for every platform while NativeScript wants to achieve shared code.


Ionic tends to emphasize performance over cross-platform compatibility.

The concern with this is that ReactNative can match it in performance (at least for iOS, and nearly for Android) with a much gentler learning curve after updates.

Real-life application

NativeScript is used by well-known companies such as Verizon, Deliotte Digital, Bitpoints Wallet, and Daily Nanny.

One notably complex application is ShoutOutPlay: This app lets users record personal messages and embed them within tracks in a Spotify playlist.

NativeScript was used when developing for different platforms as it let the developers write both iOS and Android UIs with one concise XML language.


NativeScript has two core strengths: speed of development and cross-platform optimization.

If those are the core priorities for your project, it will be a powerful tool to aid in mobile app development.

If you need highly experienced mobile app developers, share with us your challenges and we’ll help come up with the right solution tailored to fit your needs.

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