Web App vs Mobile App, What is the Difference?

Are you pondering around questions like what are the main elements that make a difference between mobile and web apps? That is a question we get very frequently here at Wiredelta. That is why we made this list of contrasts between these two types of applications. For example, how does development look like for a web app vs a mobile app, or how does the cost of building web and mobile apps differentiate.


If you are split between developing a web app or a mobile app, this article can help you make the best choice for your business.


1. Development

Developing web and mobile apps differentiates in terms of design and functionality. Mobile apps are usually faster and more advanced to implement, where on the other hand, web apps are usually quicker and easier to build. Let’s look more into both and find out the biggest differences between web and mobile app development.

The first step in developing web apps is the architecture, how the database is set up, and how data flows between the application and the database. A Database Management System (DBMS) provides consistent APIs to create, update and delete data based on user requests. Furthermore, DBMS allows you to read and write data to databases with secure access, by providing leveled access to different areas and functions. For web apps, the most commonly used database technology is SQL like MySQL or Document Database like MongoDb. 

Next up is to build the frontend. The visual element of the web app is important in order to achieve a great user experience. The frontend is usually developed with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

In comparison, mobile apps are constrained by the features of mobile devices. The large benefit of that is that mobile apps can use native components (camera, GPS, accelerometer, face ID/fingerprint, etc), where web apps cannot by default. Moreover, mobile developers have to be aware of a wide array of screen sizes, hardware specifications, and configurations because of intense competition in the mobile industry and changes within each of the platforms. However, thanks to cross-platform development, mobile apps can be built in the same technologies as web apps, yet still run native code (Objective-C, Java, etc.), and therefore they are able to operate on different mobile operating systems like Android and iOS.


2. Connectivity and Speed

What is the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about a great experience using web apps or mobile apps? Most people would say connectivity and speed. To most, nothing is more annoying than using an app and suddenly lose connection because of poor WiFi or lack of signal. Fortunately, there is a solution to be able to use your favorite apps even without an internet connection. 

There are mobile apps that allow us to have access at any time and almost anywhere. Connectivity goes hand in hand with an operation speed and mobile apps usually perform 1.5 times faster than web apps. It’s caused by their functionality being integrated into the devices’ features as well as storing data locally on the device.

On the other hand, web apps work slowly because they need a web server to manage requests from a client. Additionally, they require an application server to perform those required tasks, and finally a database to store information. Web apps are not able to work without an internet connection because they are being read from a browser, and that can be the difference between a good and a bad user experience if the user has poor connectivity.


3. Security

No one on the internet is immune to cybersecurity risks! If the NSA can be hacked, so can you. Therefore, the highest standards of security should be a key highlight of any web or mobile app, to avoid cataclysmic security failures. Effective security measures should be taken right from the start of the development process. If your web or mobile application is not tested or validated against security threats right from the initial stages of development, it can cause a failure of valuable corporate data and resources from malicious attacks. How is it with mobile and web apps? Are they secure enough?

Since mobile apps have to be downloaded from an app store, it assures that an app has been through Google’s or Apple’s screening and hence is secured and compatible with a device. For developers, the process of getting a mobile app approved by an app store can be long and sometimes not successful, due to sometimes rigorous yet necessary screening to protect the end-user. 

On the contrary, web apps are loaded from the internet browser which means that safety and security are not guaranteed. Users do not have to download a web app into their devices and worry about its updates. Moreover, web apps can adapt and be responsive to any device. So opening a web app from your mobile device doesn’t look pixelated or low quality if the website is optimized for mobile and hence mobile-friendly.


web and mobile app


4. Cost

According to Gartner, worldwide spending on technology will reach $4 trillion by the end of 2019. The fastest growth rate has happened within enterprise software, IT consultancy, and data-center spending. For instance, a poorly managed computer can cost up to $5000 per year. In addition, thinking of all the associated networks (servers, routers, printers, etc.), the final cost can turn into $8500 per PC annually. But rest assured, you can always find a solution if you remember things that can limit your cost of development. And how is it with web and mobile apps’ development costs? 

Developing a mobile app is quite expensive. Depending on the features, you should expect a starting price somewhere around $10000. Therefore, in the beginning, you should clearly identify what type of app you want to build, because if you start adding features that will change anyway, the cost of an app will spiral out of control. 

Moreover, maintenance costs are also high where a key factor is a platform you choose to develop on. For instance, when developing a mobile app for each phone platform (Android, iPhone, BlackBerry, etc.), maintenance costs will depend on further updates and fixes because you will have to do it for each phone platform separately like Android and iPhone. Again, cross-platform development is really a helping hand that can save your budget. 

On the other side, developing a web app is more cost-effective. The basic web app cost can start at $3000, and from this point rapidly increase, again depending on project complexity. The list of factors can be very different and not exhaustive, as every project is unique. Usually, the maintenance cost of a web app is about 15 to 20 percent of the original development costs. So you know what buffer you should keep aside every year.



To sum up, every digital solution has its pros and cons. In order to make the best decision, be sure to have a crystal clear idea of what type of app will support your business best. Deciding whether to build a mobile app or web app, is a choice made up by what your target audience is, what platforms they use, and how they are most likely to look for your business.

This article has provided four key takeaways, which should help you to make a better decision:

  • Importance of speed and performance
  • Access (Internet-enabled)
  • Support for multiple platforms or not
  • Budget and estimated cost of app development, maintenance cost


If you are not sure about your choice, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team! We are here to help you to make the right decision.


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