Cordova vs PhoneGap

The difference between two closely-related frameworks

difference between phonegap and cordova

The Apache & PhoneGap Connection

What is the difference between Apache Cordova and PhoneGap? Perhaps you searched that on Google only to find that there is not a clear answer. It is confusing. The two are closely linked. Understanding the past can help you wrap your mind around the current order of things. Here’s what happened:

  • Adobe Systems purchased Nitobi (original developer).
  • Adobe rebranded the Nitobi framework to PhoneGap.
  • Adobe contributed the PhoneGap code to the Apache Software Foundation.
  • PhoneGap was renamed Apache Callback.
  • Apache Callback was rebranded Apache Cordova.
  • Apache Cordova then created a free, open-source framework and called it PhoneGap.

A commonly-used comparison is that Apache Cordova (the former PhoneGap) is the engine powering the present-day PhoneGap, just like WebKit is the engine that powers Chrome or Safari. It’s as close to a mother-child relationship as you can find between frameworks.

Cordova is owned and maintained by Apache and will always be an open-source project. Cordova is a widely-used framework. Developers and programmers use Cordova to create mobile applications using HTML, CSS3 and JS, rather than depending on platform-related APIs. API/Plugins play a vital role in the Cordova development.

Currently, both PhoneGap and Cordova have a very similar API. PhoneGap is the most popular tool distributed by Cordova. As an HTML5 app platform it allows developers to author native applications using desktop and developer apps.

When to Use PhoneGap
PhoneGap is recommended for creating simple, mobile applications. It is not made for complex apps that require extensive use of the phone’s native features.

Example of a Project
Organize all of your trip details and travel plans into one streamlined itinerary. TripCase lets you manage flight itineraries, hotel bookings and rental car reservations in one app.

When to Use Cordova
At IT Hands we recommend going with Cordova unless you want to use additional PhoneGap build services.

Examples of a Project
Cordova Developer App by Progress is a testing utility for web designers and developers who are using Telerik Platform and Telerik AppBuilder to develop hybrid mobile apps.


PhoneGap and Cordova are not the same, Cordova is a toolchain that enhances PhoneGap project developments. If you’re looking into developing a native application, contact us today. We’ll draft a proposal for you. Reach out to the MobileApp Hands team at

MobileApp Hands is a division of IT Hands. IT Hands offers custom web and mobile development services to web companies and ad agencies. We provide quality, affordable software development services to more than 350 clients.