What Is React Native? A Beginner’s Guide

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

React Native is a software development framework specific to application development. Learn more about this in-demand skill and ways to get started.

[Featured Image] Two React Native developers plan a project on a whiteboard.

Studies suggest plenty of opportunities for those interested in mobile application development. The global revenue from mobile applications is expected to reach about £270 billion by 2025 [1]. Whether you want to develop an application in your spare time or become employed as a developer, learning about React Native is an excellent starting point. Use the article below to know what it is and how to use it. 

What is React Native?

In software development, a framework serves as a platform for developing applications. React Native is an open-source framework, meaning it’s free for public use. It contains resources like pre-built components, libraries, and reference material. Like the framework of a home, React Native provides the basic structure of an application. Developers can then customise it to suit their needs rather than building the application from the ground up. 

What does ‘native’ mean in React Native?

When an application or software is native, it’s written for the computer’s natural operating system (OS). For example, a Playstation 5 game can be run natively on a Playstation 5 because it was designed for that specific device and OS. Native-run applications and native code typically perform better and faster because they were created to suit their particular platforms. React Native enables you to render applications natively. In other words, your application will use the same programming platform as a native application despite not being specially created for that device. 

React Native vs React

React is a JavaScript library. It’s also referred to as ReactJS or React.js. Like React Native, it provides developers with building blocks for development, such as pre-written code and configurations. Unlike React Native, those building blocks are web components rather than


React Native

JavaScript library

JavaScript-based framework

Used for front-end web development

Used for mobile application development

Developed by the Facebook engineering team

Developed by the Facebook engineering team

A virtual representation of the user interface (UI) renders to the browser’s programming interface. This representation is also known as a virtual document object model (VDOM).

The UI renders to the native platform’s programming interface rather than creating a web-based view.

React Native is most famous for its cross-platform development capabilities. Cross-platform development refers to the process of building software that is compatible with more than one type of device and OS. With React Native, developers can create platform-specific versions of components. Instead of building applications natively for each platform, developers can develop their codebase just once and use it for both iOS and Android applications. Additional React Native features include

  • App performance: React Native enables applications to behave like native applications, which run faster and more efficiently than their non-native counterparts. 

  • Code reusability: Code reusability is a key advantage of React Native. In addition to cost efficiency, reusing large amounts of code allows for faster development overall. 

Examples of applications built with React Native

React Native is among developers' most used frameworks worldwide [2]. The list below compiles a few of the most popular applications that use React Native:

  • Facebook

  • Pinterest

  • Oculus

  • Salesforce

  • Airbnb

  • Coinbase

  • Shopify

Working with React Native

Thanks to React Native's open-source nature, anyone can use it to develop mobile applications. However, you can also seek employment as a React Native developer. React Native developers are software developers specialising in using the React Native framework to build mobile apps. 

A mobile app developer’s typical day will likely involve writing and reviewing code, troubleshooting bugs and defects, and designing user interfaces (UIs). React Native developers typically focus on front-end development but may also work with other development teams to ensure quality across the entire application.

Salary for React Native developers

The average base pay for a React Native developer in the UK is £48,191 annually [3]. However, individual salaries will vary depending on location, experience, job responsibilities, and company.

Learn React Native development with Coursera.

Learn programming fundamentals and skills for developing mobile apps from the experts at Meta with the Meta React Native Specialisation on Coursera. To gain more in-depth web development skills, consider additional offerings on Coursera, such as the IBM Full Stack Software Developer Professional Certificate.

Article sources


Statista. “Revenue of mobile apps worldwide 2017-2025, by segment, https://www.statista.com/forecasts/1262892/mobile-app-revenue-worldwide-by-segment.” Accessed June 5, 2024. 

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