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Pablo Díaz
Pablo Díaz

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React Native without Expo


I took an old react native project that I started long ago to finally finish it. I created a fresh start new react native project with create-react-native-app. I found out that now that Expo is the default option when creating a default app. I made some changes, integrated NativeBase and Redux (using some boilerplate) and I wanted to test the compilation process. I found out that now Expo can compile your code in their cloud and just download the compiled file to test it on the phone. I thought this was great until I saw the file size: 25 mb 😱 and I read that for iOS is around 30 mb. I just could not believe it. After reading some docs, Expo claims that they include multiple libraries so when a new library is needed, it is already in the user's phone and only the JS code is pushed over the cloud. I can't afford it, it is too many space for what I'm doing, so I decided I needed to detach 🤷.


There are two detach possibles: ExpoKit and React Native. So, I tested first the ExpoKit. To test it I copied the folder because you can't go back after detaching it. The command created an android and ios folder. I don't know ios, so I only tested with Android, so I created the debug APK and the size was 30mb 😱 even bigger than the Expo cloud compilation. So, after multiple optimizations that included the minify, shrink, separateCPUbuilds, proGuard and I deleted most of the dependencies that includes and only got to reduce it at 15 mb 😕. It took me two days to make this, I had a lot of errors, I had to upgrade to latest Gradle because of my java version, added some repositories and I felt disappointed.

React Native

I didn't give up, so I created another folder and ejected the app to pure React Native. At first, I had the same problems with the Gradle, I had to updated it, clean and build it again. The Expo parts didn't worked anymore. I had a splash screen, app icon and fonts/icons with Expo that were not compatible, so that will be more work. I left the splash screen pending and fixed the fonts/icons installing react-native-icons. After that I compiled the APK and guess what? 7.5 mb with only the proGuard option enabled 🔥. It can be reduced even more with SeparteCPUBuilds.


Expo has really cool (but not necessarily) API's integrated, a Mac is not needed to compile to iOS, can update JS code without downloading app from store but the drawback of the size is too big, in my opinion. I still have to explore the iOS part.

Top comments (3)

skptricks profile image

I have found similar article related to react native, hope this will be helpful to create first reactapp :

akkinenirajesh profile image

Thanks for the article. I was just wondering to use Expo or not. Your article gave some info to consider.

Thank you

anesabml profile image
Anes Abismail

Can you explain how did you detach to pure react native please?