ALL ARTICLES
SHARE

Expo vs React Native CLI: Key Differences Explained

author-avatar
Development
10 min read
Contents
Contents

The app market is expected to show an annual growth rate of 8.83%, resulting in a projected market volume of $673.80 billion by 2027. This projected growth of the app market has increased the interest in popular mobile app development frameworks like Expo and React Native Command Line Interface (CLI). But what are the key differences between the two frameworks? 

Expo is a framework and platform that simplifies app development by abstracting away some of the complexities. It provides a streamlined development experience and eliminates the need for extensive native code setup. With Expo, you can quickly prototype and build React Native apps without diving deep into the underlying configuration.

React Native CLI, on the other hand, offers developers more flexibility and control over their projects. It allows you to have granular control over the build process and configuration. React Native CLI provides full access to native modules, giving you the freedom to integrate any third-party library or leverage low-level device features.

Now, let’s delve deeper into the specifics of each framework:

Key Takeaways:

  • Expo simplifies app development by abstracting away complexities and offering a streamlined experience.
  • React Native CLI provides developers with more flexibility and control over the project setup.
  • Expo is ideal for beginners or rapid prototyping, while React Native CLI appeals to developers who require extensive access to native modules.
  • Both Expo and React Native CLI have their advantages and disadvantages, so choose based on your specific needs and project requirements.

Understanding Expo

Expo is a powerful framework and platform for building React Native applications. It simplifies the development process by abstracting away the complexities of device-specific setup and native code dependencies. With Expo, you can focus on building your app without having to worry about platform-specific configurations.

Expo offers a wide range of features that enhance the development experience. Let’s take a closer look at some of the key features:

Expo Features:

  1. Expo Go: Expo Go is a mobile app that allows you to preview your Expo projects directly on your device. It provides a convenient way to test your app’s functionality and design in a real-time environment.
  2. Expo SDK: Expo provides a comprehensive SDK (Software Development Kit) that offers a set of pre-built libraries and APIs for common mobile functionality. This makes it easier and faster to implement features like camera access, push notifications, and geolocation in your app.
  3. Over-the-air Updates: Expo allows you to deploy updates to your app without requiring users to download and install a new version. This means you can fix bugs, add new features, or make improvements to your app instantly, without going through the app store approval process.
  4. Simplified Build Process: Expo streamlines the build process by eliminating the need to configure different build tools and dependencies. You can easily build and package your app for iOS and Android with just a few simple commands.
  5. Access to Pre-built Libraries: Expo provides a curated library of pre-built components and modules that you can use in your app. These libraries cover a wide range of functionality, from UI components to data storage and authentication.

With Expo, you can leverage these features to develop high-quality React Native apps more efficiently. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced developer, Expo offers a user-friendly development experience that accelerates the app development process.

Advantages of Expo

Expo offers several advantages that make it a popular choice for app development:

  1. Quick Start: Expo provides a streamlined development process, allowing you to quickly start building your app without the need for complex setup or configuration.
  2. Over-the-Air Updates: Expo allows for easy deployment of app updates without requiring users to manually update their installed version. This ensures that your users always have the latest features and bug fixes.
  3. Pre-built Libraries: Expo offers a wide range of pre-built libraries and components that provide additional functionality and save you valuable development time.
  4. Simplified Build Process: With Expo, the build process is simplified, removing the need to deal with platform-specific intricacies and dependencies. This allows you to focus more on developing your app’s features.
  5. EAS (Expo Application Services): The new EAS feature in Expo enables cloud-based building and deployment, making it easier to develop for iOS without requiring access to a Mac.
  6. Native Physical Device Testing: Expo allows you to test your app on a native physical device, ensuring that it performs well and behaves as expected in a real-world environment.

Overall, Expo provides a user-friendly development experience with features like quick start, over-the-air updates, pre-built libraries, a simplified build process, EAS, and the ability to test on a native physical device. These advantages make Expo a valuable framework for building high-quality, cross-platform mobile apps.

Cons of Expo

Despite its many advantages, Expo CLI does have a few limitations that developers should be aware of:

  1. Limited Native Modules: Expo restricts access to certain native modules, which can limit the integration of specific third-party libraries or low-level device features.
  2. Less Control over the Build: Compared to React Native CLI, Expo provides less control over the build configuration, making it more challenging to customize app performance, size, and behavior to meet specific requirements.
  3. Size and Performance: Expo apps tend to have larger bundle sizes, which can lead to longer download and loading times, especially for users with slower internet connections.
  4. Issues during Development: Some developers have reported encountering issues while developing with Expo, although the Expo team has been actively addressing and resolving many of these concerns.

Disadvantages of Expo

Impact

Limited Native Modules

Restricts access to certain third-party libraries and low-level device features.

Less Control over the Build

Difficulty in customizing app performance, size, and behavior.

Size and Performance

Larger bundle sizes may result in longer download and loading times.

Issues during Development

Potential challenges and bugs encountered during the development process.

Understanding React Native CLI

React Native CLI is the conventional method of building React Native apps. It is a command-line tool used for creating, building, and managing React Native projects. It provides developers with a set of commands to initialize new projects, run them on simulators or devices, bundle the JavaScript code, and handle other tasks related to the development workflow.

Advantages of React Native CLI

React Native CLI offers a range of advantages for React Native developers, providing maximum flexibility, customization options, and ecosystem compatibility. Let’s dive into the key benefits:

Full Native Module Support

With React Native CLI, you have access to full native module support. This means you can seamlessly integrate any native module available in the React Native ecosystem. Whether you need to leverage device-specific features or utilize third-party libraries, React Native CLI enables you to tap into the full power of native functionality.

Customization Options

When developing with React Native CLI, you have complete control over the build configuration. This allows for extensive customization of your app’s performance, size, and behavior. Tailoring your application to meet specific requirements becomes effortless, enabling you to deliver a high-quality user experience.

Ecosystem Compatibility

React Native CLI is fully compatible with the React Native ecosystem, including community libraries and tools. This compatibility ensures a smooth integration process, allowing you to leverage existing resources and benefit from a vibrant and supportive developer community.

Conclusion

When it comes to choosing between Expo and React Native CLI for your app development project, it’s important to consider your specific needs and requirements. Expo offers a simplified development experience, making it an excellent choice for beginners or for rapid prototyping. It abstracts away many of the complexities, allowing you to focus on building your app without having to worry about device-specific setups and native code dependencies.

On the other hand, if you are a developer who requires maximum flexibility and control over your project, React Native CLI might be the better option for you. It provides full native module support, giving you access to any native module available in the React Native ecosystem. This is particularly useful if you need to integrate complex third-party libraries or if you rely heavily on low-level device features.

Ultimately, the decision between Expo and React Native CLI depends on the specific requirements of your project and your familiarity with the underlying technologies. If you are just getting started with app development or need a simplified process, Expo can be a great choice. However, if you require more control and customization options, React Native CLI might be the better fit. 

FAQ

What are the key differences between Expo and React Native?

Expo provides a simplified development experience and abstracts away some of the complexities, while React Native CLI offers more flexibility and control over the project.

What features does Expo offer?

Expo offers over-the-air updates, a simplified build process, access to pre-built libraries, and a comprehensive SDK for common mobile functionality.

What are the advantages of using Expo?

Expo allows for quick start in development, over-the-air updates for easy deployment, access to pre-built libraries for additional functionality, a simplified build process, and the ability to test on a native physical device. It also offers the new EAS feature for cloud-based building and deployment.

What are the limitations of using Expo?

Expo has limited native modules, which may restrict certain third-party library integrations or low-level device features. It also provides less control over the build configuration compared to React Native CLI. Expo apps tend to have larger bundle sizes, which can impact download and loading times. Some developers have reported issues during development, although many of these have been addressed by the Expo team.

What is React Native CLI?

React Native CLI is the traditional approach for building React Native apps. It provides full native module support, allowing developers to integrate any native module available in the React Native ecosystem. React Native CLI offers customization options for fine-tuning app performance, size, and behavior.

What are the advantages of using React Native CLI?

React Native CLI offers maximum flexibility and control over the project setup and configuration. It provides full native module support, enabling access to any native module available in the React Native ecosystem. Developers have complete control over the build configuration, allowing for customization of app performance, size, and behavior. React Native CLI is fully compatible with the React Native ecosystem, including community libraries and tools.

Which framework should I choose between Expo and React Native CLI?

The choice between Expo and React Native CLI depends on your specific needs and requirements. Expo offers a simplified development experience and is ideal for beginners or rapid prototyping. React Native CLI provides maximum flexibility and control, making it suitable for developers who require extensive access to native modules or want to integrate complex third-party libraries.

React Native Development Experts

Elevate your mobile apps with Flatirons' React Native expertise for cross-platform solutions.

Learn more

React Native Development Experts

Elevate your mobile apps with Flatirons' React Native expertise for cross-platform solutions.

Learn more
author-avatar
More ideas.
Development

tRPC vs GraphQL: Which API Is Best for You?

Flatirons

May 15, 2024
Development

Choosing the Best Flutter IDE for App Development

Flatirons

May 14, 2024
Development

PWA vs. Native Apps: A Comparison

Flatirons

May 13, 2024
Development

The Key Roles in a Software Development Team

Flatirons

May 11, 2024
Development

How to Write Clean and Maintainable Code

Flatirons

May 10, 2024
Development

How to Hire an Offshore Developer

Flatirons

May 09, 2024
Development

tRPC vs GraphQL: Which API Is Best for You?

Flatirons

May 15, 2024
Development

Choosing the Best Flutter IDE for App Development

Flatirons

May 14, 2024
Development

PWA vs. Native Apps: A Comparison

Flatirons

May 13, 2024
Development

The Key Roles in a Software Development Team

Flatirons

May 11, 2024
Development

How to Write Clean and Maintainable Code

Flatirons

May 10, 2024
Development

How to Hire an Offshore Developer

Flatirons

May 09, 2024