Xamarin Native vs. Xamarin.Forms: How to Choose

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Xamarin Native vs. Xamarin.Forms: How to Choose

Find the right toolkit for cross-platform mobile app development.

· Web Dev Zone ·
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As Android and iOS continue to dominate the mobile market, businesses need to develop applications that meet the diverse requirements of each operating system. Launching native mobile applications for Apple App Store and Google Play Store is going to be a long and expensive process. Not every business has adequate time and funds for developing native mobile applications. That is why cross-platform app frameworks have been rising to popularity.

Choosing cross-platform mobile app development services enables organizations to add their presence to both Android and iOS markets. Xamarin, recently acquired by Microsoft, is one of the best frameworks for cross-platform mobile app development. Rich features, agility, and cost-effectiveness make it an ideal choice for building cross-platform apps.

If you are new to Xamarin mobile app development, then it is quite possible to get stuck in a dilemma of choosing between Xamarin.Forms and Xamarin Native for your mobile app development. There are several factors that you need to consider before making the right choice. In this blog post, we will be taking a brief look at the features of Xamarin Native and Xamarin.Forms.


Xamarin.Android and Xamarin.iOS are often referred to as Xamarin.Native or Xamarin Traditional. It is a cross-platform toolkit that allows developers to create mobile applications using C# and .NET framework. Platform-independent code of the Xamarin Native applications is stored either in a Portable Class Library (PCL) or a shared project. Tools such as Xamarin.Mac, Xamarin.iOS, and Xamarin.Android help in implementing platform-specific functionalities and native user experience.

Xamarin.Forms is an advanced version of Xamarin Native that allows a single XAML to be written for targeting multiple platforms at once. Applications developed using Xamarin.Forms inherit all the functionalities and features of the Xamarin platform. With Xamarin.Forms, developers can write business logic in C#, and UI can either be defined in code or in XAML format, so that it can be shared between all platforms.

Development Time

Xamarin allows working with a single, shared C# codebase, thereby cutting down development time significantly. Xamarin platform let developers create and share app logic for input validation, database interactions, web service calls, backend integrations, and other functionalities; UI code is written using MVVM frameworks for each platform separately. When you use Xamarin Native, the level of code sharing is only up to 75%.

With the Xamarin.Forms, the level of code sharing increases to 95%. Unlike Xamarin Native, Xamarin.Forms allows developers to create and share a single UI code for all platforms. As a result, the development cycle is faster with Xamarin.Forms.

Development Costs

The cost of mobile app development is always a crucial factor for business enterprises. Choosing cross-platform mobile app development is itself a cost-effective choice, as it negates the need for building native applications for Android and iOS platforms simultaneously. In the case of Xamarin native, you will need a developer with expertise in native UI views specific to all the existing platforms. With Xamarin.Forms, the learning curve and development effort is minimal, as the app logic and UI code is shared between platforms. 

App Functionalities and User Experience

Xamarin framework provides access to an extensive array of controls, plugins, and APIs for iOS and Android that let you take advantage of platform-specific functionality. However, in many cases, applications may need access to a device’s native features, and the single code base of Xamarin.Forms may not prove useful. However, Xamarin Native can ensure access to device-specific features and functionalities in these instances.

Xamarin is equipped with a UI design environment for Xamarin Studio and Visual Studio, which makes it easier for developers to create flawless UI and UX solutions. If your application demands a complicated and intensive graphical user interface, then Xamarin Native is the right framework for you.

Xamarin Native allows its developers to create platform-specific user experience for its application. As mentioned earlier, Xamarin.Forms allows users to share UI code across multiple platforms. This would set certain limitations to the complexity of UI that can be shared. Since Xamarin Native allows creating complex and intense graphic UI for each platform, it is recommended for apps delivering high levels of functionality and customized user experience.

Updates and Maintenance

Maintaining an app is always a tricky task, especially when it is launched on multiple platforms. Every minor update has to be communicated and implemented across the platforms. When you opt for Xamarin app development, you gain a definite advantage in this aspect, as a shared codebase helps in maintaining, debugging, and updating the app logic faster.

Updates and maintenance of Xamarin apps are easier, as developers only need to update a single source file. Since Xamarin apps share code across multiple platforms, it also reduces the number of lines of code in an application, thereby cutting down on the opportunity for errors or bugs to be introduced into the application.

With Xamarin Native, developers need to work on the base code and then the platform-specific UI code. However, Xamarin.Forms offers a consolidated approach in this regard, as all updates can be performed on a single codebase. If you are developing a mobile application that requires frequent updates, then Xamarin.Forms may be what you need.


Thus, after going through these specifications, it becomes clear that both Xamarin Native and Xamarin.Forms have their pros and cons. Choosing a cross-platform mobile app development framework is purely based on your app requirements and budget limits. If you are developing a mobile application that requires little platform-specific functionality, where code sharing is more important than custom UI, then go for Xamarin Forms. On the other hand, if you are planning to create a cross-platform app with intricate designs, specialized user interactions, and platform-specific APIs, then its better to use Xamarin Native. 

.net, c#, cross platform app development, mobile app development, web dev, xamarin, xamarin forms, xaml

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