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Home Guide How to test Native App vs Hybrid App vs Web App vs Progressive Web App (PWA)

How to test Native App vs Hybrid App vs Web App vs Progressive Web App (PWA)

By Neha Bharati, Community Contributor -

There are many types of apps one can build for mobile devices. Each type of app has its own advantages and disadvantages, which routes a team to choose depending on several factors like the Time to Market, the Functionality required, and Cost. Let’s check out the different types of Apps and how to test them in this article.

What are Web Apps?

Web apps are websites optimized for mobile browsers. Their functionality resides entirely on a server. They are written in JavaScript and HTML5. Some web apps are Trello, Netflix, Google Docs, etc.

What are Native Apps?

Native apps are smartphone apps specifically designed for a particular operating system—iOS or Android. Depending on the OS, the language used to build them is different. Java or Kotlin is used for Android, Swift is used for iOS. They can also be built using cross-platform frameworks like React Native. They are built using an operating system’s SDKs and have access to different resources on a device like a camera, GPS, phone or device storage, etc. Some native apps namely Whatsapp, Spotify, SoundCloud, etc.

What are Hybrid Apps?

Hybrid apps combine the features of web apps and native apps. Like web apps, they are written using HTML and JavaScript. Mostly, they are web pages wrapped in a mobile app using WebView. However, they also have access to the built-in capabilities of a device. They are built using cross-platform frameworks like React, Ionic Sencha, etc. Some hybrid apps namely Instagram, Discord, Evernote, etc.

What are Progressive Web Apps (PWA)?

Progressive Web Apps (PWA) are web applications designed to work on any web browser on both desktop and mobile devices. They are written in JavaScript, HTML, and CSS. They function like native mobile apps in that they use an app shell that allows for app-style gestures and navigations. Businesses using PWAs tend to have higher return visitors than other apps. They also have extra capabilities like offline access, push notifications, etc. Some PWAs namely Uber, MakeMyTrip, etc.


Native App vs Hybrid App vs Web App vs Progressive Web App: When to use which?

Let us understand the parameters to consider while deciding which type of app should be used for a business.

Business case

If you’re looking for a quick Time To Market and a large audience reach, then PWAs and web apps are the favorite choices because essentially PWAs are websites and web apps are available on both desktops and mobile devices.

If you’re looking to reach a larger audience. Native apps require dedicated development teams which costs a lot more than the other alternatives. If the app doesn’t have too complex features, then a Hybrid app is the best approach.


Web apps are the most cost-effective since it requires much fewer resources. On the other hand, Native apps and hybrid apps have high maintenance costs because they have to be compatible with different platforms (Cross Platform Compatible) and need dedicated teams. PWAs also cost less because it is essentially a web app designed to function like an app on any mobile, irrespective of the platform.

User Experience

Native apps provide the best user experience because it is specifically built for the respective platforms. Web apps, hybrid apps, and PWAs also provide a good experience, but unlike native apps, they cannot leverage the advanced features of smartphones, such as cameras or geofencing.


Web apps are not as secure compared to native apps, PWAs, and hybrid apps. It’s easier to use Multi-Factor Authentication in a native app than in a PWA, which is useful if an app has login functionality.

Local Device access

If your app requires local device features incorporated in it then native apps or hybrid apps are the best choices. Web apps and PWAs cannot leverage it as much.

How to test Web Apps and Progressive Web Apps (PWAs)?

It is essential to test these apps on mobile devices even though they may have been tested on desktops because:

  • Desktops and mobile devices have significantly different screen sizes
  • Mobile devices have less memory and storage space
  • Mobile devices have limited battery life
  • Mobile device uses cellular network while desktops use WiFi

It is suggested to run the following tests to efficiently check the app functionality:

Browser compatibility

There are many tools to check if the app is able to run on multiple browsers. Browserstack Live allows you to test your web apps on different browsers. Try now for Free.

Browser Compatibility Testing of Web Apps


In order to make sure the web app runs across different screen sizes, it needs to be responsive. BrowserStack Responsive makes this very easy by providing a range of operating systems, devices, and browsers to choose from.

Responsive Testing of Web Apps and PWAs

Speed of the Web App

It is important to check the speed of your website because web applications taking more time to render are a major put-off for the customer, leading to a drop in customer retention. SpeedLab allows testing the speed of your application by simply putting its URL.

Speed Testing of Web Apps


Make sure your PWA is easy to install.

App performance

The amount of memory and storage can vary between mobile devices and computers. So this should be tested properly across devices.

Visual UI testing

The app experience should be aesthetically pleasing. BrowserStack’s Percy is a good choice to run automated visual regression tests to maintain the aesthetic consistency of the application throughout.

Visual Regression Testing of Web Apps

Functional testing

It is essential to ensure that the website is functioning seamlessly as expected with Functional Testing. Run end-to-end tests to verify that the functionality is working as expected.

How to test Hybrid Apps and Native Apps?

Native and hybrid apps use different underlying technologies, but they are similar in the functionality they provide. Hence, the testing approach will be the same for both types of apps. For functional testing, the app’s features must work as expected. Important functional tests include:

  • Testing the app’s built-in device resources like camera, location access, etc
  • Test the app’s behavior for features like push notifications
  • Gesture testing – how smooth is the app with various natural gestures
  • Screen orientation testing i.e. testing in both landscape and portrait mode

Apart from that, there should also be compatibility testing to ensure that the apps work on the most popular devices. Also, test for connectivity testing by testing on different connections, and also on offline mode.

BrowserStack App Live provides access to real android and iOS devices through its secured real device cloud. BrowserStack App Automate allows QA to perform interactive testing with Test Automation. Using BrowserStack App Automate, you can run parallel tests and reduce testing time.

While Native mobile apps, web mobile apps, hybrid mobile apps, and progressive web apps each have distinct advantages and disadvantages, it is important to test them right to ensure high-end customer experience. No matter which app you choose for your business, testing it thoroughly is a must for better customer engagement and retention. Thus, testing on real devices is recommended over emulators and simulators, because it allows you to test your app under real user conditions. Hence, bottlenecks can be easily identified and resolved for a seamless user experience.

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