If you know AngularJS you’re going to love Ionic and it will find your way around easily. Now in this text I didn’t wanted to talk about how to make apps using Ionic but on the subject how it actually works. I did some research and this is what I found.
Cordova ,formerly called as Phone Gap is a platform to build Native Mobile applications. In acts as a container for running a web application. Typically Web applications cannot use the native device functionality like Camera, GPS, Accelerometer , Contacts etc. But with Cordova we can very much achieve this and package the web app in the device installer format. The user Interface of a Cordova app is a WebView that is in full-screen and runs in the native Container. So it’s the same WebView used by the Native OS.
So in the and my conclusion is that Ionic provides the front-end components and the Cordova takes care of packaging your HTML5 app as a native app.