How good is Mono Touch in comparison to the IPhone SDK?

I'm new to IPhone development and have to decide on a suitable tool to develop my application in. Since I am know C# / .NET, but not objective C, Mono Touch seems appealing to me. But is it is worth spending the extra $400?

If have tried both, I'd be interested in your opinion.


Great podcast on this week's dotnetrocks about this.

One HUGE factor that would sway me is the fact that they are currently working on Monodroid and I guess that WinMo 7 will probably be supported through some moonlight magic.

Imagine targetting the top 3 mobile platforms with one language? Sweet....

I just posted about this at, but in short for me it was a case of divide and conquer. I have years of .NET experience and honestly found learning Objective-C frustrating. Having a new language plus a new set of tools reduced my productivity significantly, also having to deal with manual memory management after years of not (prior to 2001 when I started with .NET I was a Java guy since its inception, so it's been a while) was an extra layer of "been there, don't want to go back."

I've found the MonoTouch toolkit to be very worthwhile, and while I understand some of the objections and concerns, I'm someone for whom leveraging what I know (C#) allowed me to focus on what I didn't know (Interface Builder, the API, etc.). At this point now that I've built up a significant amount of familiarity with the Apple tools I'm nearing a point where if I wanted I could look at taking on Objective-C as a new language, given that I am a lot more comfortable, but for me learning a new language isn't as rewarding an accomplishment for me at this point in my career compared with learning a platform and getting quality applications out the door is. For other folks I know they enjoy delivering "as Apple intended", and I fully respect that. Also, if Apple had a Java toolkit, I would be all over that. But the conceptual distance between C# and Objective-C is more than I'm willing to invest at this point.

That's my 2 cents,


I've been using MonoTouch for 5 months, and really like it.

Take a look at my answer to a similar question here: MonoTouch - has anyone used this?

I am an iPhone developer, I have tried mono touch, but for me I would say NO, it's not worth the extra 400.

First of all several free frameworks exist that allow you to target multiple platforms at once using different (usually high level) languages, such as PhoneGap, there's even a Flex framework somewhere, without counting Unity3D which actually uses C# and even allows you to deploy on iPhone and Nintendo Wii.

Some of the Cons of using this third party frameworks are:

1- Extra software layer, which obviously increases the possibility of failure. Last year it happened with Unity3D. Somehow the applications developed with it started being rejected by Apple (official Unity announcement here) , Unity guys responded fast, and I think they fixed the issue with Apple in 3 days. But what if 3 days is too much for you, or even worse, what if the external framework that you are using to develop doesn't have that quality of support and the 3 days end up being weeks?... what if your applications got broken with an OS update ?

2- You totally loose Xcode debugging chances (loose the symbols), and you are kinda reduced to printf debug. Of course you can debug in the Mono IDE, but still, Xcode is a powerful beast and all the SDK Betas are delivered to the developers to be used with particular Xcode versions.

3- Binary size tends to be bigger in comparison to native Objective-C applications. ( 6 to 7Mb larger in average ), and remember that if your application is above 20 Mb it can't be downloaded from an iPhone using 3G or Edge, ( which is the most popular way to install apps ). So if that matters to you, it's another issue.

In conclusion:

If you want to use MonoTouch because you don't know Objective-C, go for it, but still I would really recommend you to take a bit of time to learn the Objective-C language and the official Apple API's. Here's a great point of view about this.

I would say no, because the biggest thing to learn about the iPhone SDK is not Objective-C, but the APIs instead. Even if you used Mono Touch, you would have to learn the API for the iPhone.

It never hurts to learn a new programming language.

(However, don't listen to me, because I am using Lua to write my iPhone applications...)

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