Apache Cordova (PhoneGap) vs Ionic?

Hello Ionic Users.

What do you guys think about Apache Cordova / Phone Gap?

I know Ionic is based on Apache Cordova CLI… but two are not entirely same.
I feel that Apache Cordova is much lighter weight than Ionic.

Apache Cordova

  • Uses JQuery Mobile, Javascript, HTML5, CSS3 with lots of plugs available on https://cordova.apache.org/plugins/
  • Much lighter weight. Its project folder is barely few hundred kilobytes
  • However much less forum support


  • It has UI components built in with grid system
  • Heavier weight with lots of components and dependencies
  • Uses Angular 4, TypeScript, HTML5, CSS3 & SASS
  • Forum is very much alive
  • I feel its loading time is kinda slow…

If you were to build an offline app with just CSS3 UI, which one would be your choice?
I’m kinda curious because I think I can build an android app on both frameworks using 90% similar codes…
Please share your opinions!


Ionic is the equivalent to this part in your “Apache Cordova” section:

So you if you decide to use Ionic, you chose your “UI Framework” - a Angular based collection of UI components and APIs that can be built into an Apache Cordova app via the Ionic CLI.

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Silly comparison

Typescript is transpiled into javascript before making the build. Sass is similar to that respect to generate css.

Phonegap and ionic both use apache cordova to create native containers, but ionic adds ui sugar which phonegap does not (need) to have. They serve different purpose. Ionic could have chosen to use phonegap too.

If you want to conpare from your list, conpare jquery to angular. But that is about it. The rest is almost the same.

Thanks for your replies…
So is there any performance different between apps built on Phonegap and Ionic?
Both frameworks still exist and they both have lots of users.
If you were to build UI by yourself on CCS3, then an app built on PhoneGap will be just the same?
I wonder what’s benefit of building on Ionic then…

Sure, but that’s like saying, “So if you were to create all the functions and utility features you’d have jQuery. I wonder what the benefit of using jQuery is”.

The benefit is you have lots of pre-built components and functionality, so that you don’t have to re-invent the wheel.

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No. Phonegap is 100% Cordova plus a few external tools, no other differences but that it is a commercial distribution of Cordova.


Talking about Phonegap is irrelevant here as it is just a distribution (and the old name of, hence the confusion) of Cordova.

Performance difference between Cordova and Ionic?
Non as they are different things. You have to compare Ionic in Cordova with “whatever you build your app in” (jQuery, OnsenUI, …) in Cordova.

If you want to hand build your app with Javascript and CSS (HTML5), then you don’t need Ionic but can put it into a Cordova container directly.

UI components, application framework, APIs, plugin wrapper.


I see…

Thanks for your replies! Now that helps me understand what these are about… I was curious why so many frameworks exists for Cordova.
Cordova alone can still build an app so if you’re going to build your own UI based on CSS3, you don’t need anything beyond Apache Cordova.

Using UI frameworks made by someone else gives you a shortcut for sure.
Making your own CSS3 & SVG UI can work really well too. SVG and CSS3 turn out to be capable of building any responsive UI you imagine… although they need lots of study and practice.


Cordova is an open source mobile development framework. It is used by the developers for building cross-platform mobile applications. It has a unique code base. Cordova can be developed with the help of HTML5, JavaScript, and CSS.

Ionic is a framework which is a set of CSS classes and JavaScript library. It is built on the top of Cordova with the help of AngularJS.

PhoneGap is an Adobe product. It is powered by Cordova.