Due to the soaring popularity of mobile apps, new solutions are required to keep up and reduce the consumption of time and effort for development. Furthermore, developing an app on both Google Play store and Apple App store is every developer’s dream come true.
Today, React Native and Flutter are two among the best cross-platforming development frameworks. These juggernauts are used by world-renowned tech companies – Facebook and Google, respectively.
Both the solutions possess a variety of features, open-source frameworks, and the power to create nearly any application and UI through native widgets while sharing their codebase across different platforms. But the question still stands, which framework is best suited for your business?
Let’s go through the comparison of both frameworks’ pros and cons and discover why exactly they are so highly sought after.
Why is mobile app development so popular?
The use of mobile apps have been increasingly popular throughout the decade. Be it traveling between places, buying clothes and food, or obtaining general information, apps can be used to satisfy such tasks. You are able to find just any apps for different uses and everyone has a phone or two in their pockets.
Ultimately, you have 2 main choices of developing an app. Either through a native framework by using official programming languages such as Swift or Kotlin, or through a cross-platform framework in which, typically, React Native or Flutter is used.
Under normal circumstances, native developers enjoy using Xcode and Swift to build iOS apps, and Android Studio and Kotlin for Android apps. Moreover, these tools are compatible with cross-platform uses.
Overview of React Native vs Flutter
|First Release||January 2015||May 2017|
|Type||Software Development Kit (SDK)||Software Framework|
|Time-to-Market||Comparatively Slower||Comparatively Faster|
|Architecture||Flux and Redux||BLoC|
|Learning Curve||Comparatively easier||Comparatively more difficult|
Introduction to React Native vs Flutter
What is React Native?
- Cross platform app development
- Developing iOS and Android apps with a single codebase
Here are some of the most popular apps created with React Native:
Earlier this year, Facebook has made some notable enhancements to the framework and announced the release of React Native v0.68, offering opt-in assistance to the new React Native architecture using the new and improved:
- Turbomodules. re-architecture of Native Modules, also using JSI interface; For better native module handling.
React Native Fabric Renderer. UI layer re-architecture, to take full advantage of the React architecture’s concurrency, React Native server-side rendering, and integration of React suspense.
What is Flutter?
It is a cross-platforming mobile development framework powered by Google that uses the Dart programming language. Similar to React Native, Flutter is also an open-source app software development kit (SDK).
One of Flutter’s most appealing aspects definitely lies in its ability to create cross-platforming applications with a single codebase. For instance, unlike traditional frameworks where you’ll need:
- A web developer specialist that uses React to create the website
- A second developer to create a desktop version using Java and C#
- Another mobile developer to create iOS and Android apps using Kotlin and Swift
- Tons of meetings, time, money, and effort
Flutter only needs one developer to manage the development process using a single codebase, which saves a huge amount of resources.
Here are some of the most popular apps created with Flutter:
After Flutter 3 went live in May 2022, developers are now able to create applications across six platforms using a single codebase, including:
- and mobile and web browsers.
The new update also supports macOS with Universal Binary- an executable file type that works with both Apple silicon and Intel-based Mac systems. Besides that, Canonical and Google collaborated to provide a flawlessly integrated development environment for the Linux platform.
Flutter 3 encourages developers to take use of cross-platform advantages and share as much UI and logic as possible between different platforms. Additionally, there is now a Casual Games Toolkit and improved Firebase support for game developers.
What are the differences? Let’s dive deeper.
You may have heard from your acquaintances that both frameworks are just as good, or one of them is easier to grasp. Truth be told, they both hold multiple similarities and can be used to achieve great results.
However, we should first understand the key differences and similarities in features between these two frameworks before we go through the advantages and disadvantages of each.
Programming languages (static vs dynamic)
When it boils down to programming languages, Flutter and React Native walk on different paths.
On the other hand, Flutter uses the Dart language that was developed by Google along with the framework itself. Dart is very much like Kotlin/Java for Android, which makes it easier for programmers coming from the native mobile development side.
Many claim that Dart makes their programming process a little faster than React Native, especially when compiling codes. However, it has a higher learning curve compared to the latter. Consequently, there are also fewer developers who have mastered Flutter programming as a whole.
Despite being more user-friendly, React Native’s documentation relies largely on community-developed dependent libraries, as well as being less-organized compared to Flutter’s. React Native Developers may sometimes find themselves searching for third-party sources to handle their documentation.
Flutter’s documentation is easier to read as it is more structured and detailed, which makes transitioning from another framework or improving a project easier. Moreover, developers can have access to helpful images and videos within the Flutter framework.
There are two popular architecture design patterns in React Native:
- Flux, developed by its creator Facebook,
- Redux, which is the community’s top option.
These frameworks focus on one-way data flow and centrally storing your application’s state in a location called the Store. Additionally, they render the components of your project as stateless as possible. The Context API – a new React feature for state management, is another option.
On the other hand, because Flutter is relatively new, developers may be unsure about the approach of this framework.
That said, Google showed the BLoC architecture in 2018 and suggested that business logic should be placed in business logic components. Streams and RxDart (Reactive Dart) are frequently used in BLoC.
The framework also offers suggestions that assist in achieving client’s desired results, including:
- Tree shaker and deferred loading to optimize performance and UX
- Improving perceived performance with image placeholders, precaching, and disabled navigation transitions.
- Making functional flutter widgets
- Limit widgets, build costs, and effects; only use them when it’s absolutely necessary
- Building and showing frames in 16ms
All in all, despite not being a leader in the market, Flutter has the upper hand in terms of overall performance in comparison with React Native.
UI & Development
React Native only offers UI rendering and device access APIs, meaning it primarily relies on third party sources to access native modules or custom components. Some developers find this annoying as it creates a patchwork effect in the results.
In contrast, Flutter offers way more widgets and UI elements to assist developers in creating apps and designing UI on both iOS and Android. The framework comes with UI rendering components, navigation, libraries, API access, and many more to ease your progress.
However, Flutter has a comparatively slower development time than React Native. Although their hot reload feature is well-loved, the framework is yet to be familiarized by many and it lacks the support for a lot of text editors and IDEs.
Community & Ecosystem
Today, it has a community of over 10,000, a sizable teaching database online, and its own international developer conferences.
Although still fresh in the market, Flutter has certainly made its name and piqued the interest of developers globally, and it’s still growing rapidly thanks to Google’s ongoing commitment and the framework’s active community! That said, React Native is still the front-runner in its ecosystem as it has way more packages available.
Pros and Cons of both frameworks
✅ Pros of React Native
- Hot reload = Fast coding
- A single codebase to create apps for iOS and Android. There are also other libraries for you to simultaneously create apps on other platforms including web and desktop apps, for example:
- ReactXp. A layer on top of React and React Native developed by Skype to support iOS, Android, and web. It also works on Windows 10 (UWP)
- React Native for Web. supports iOS, Android, and web.
- React-native-windows. supports everything that Windows 10 supports ( PCs, tablets, Xbox, Mixed reality devices, and more.)
- Codes can be reused
- It has a massively active community of developers
- Incredible performance and development time
- Freedom for developers. They can decide on how to store their codes, write their own UI library or use custom-made ones, how to manage their data and more.
- Higher maturity. It has been 7 years since React Native was released, and the Facebook team has the time advantage to stabilize the API, fix bugs, and bring more improvements.
- Up to 50% less testing time
- Lower learning curve
❎ Cons of React Native
- Not entirely Native. Although it may feel or seem like it, React Native’s performance and UI are not the same as Native.
- Limited out of box components. There are only the very basic out of box components like sliders, buttons etc.
- Limited choices. After starting a new project, developers have to choose and employ the right navigation package and global state management, which can be very effort-consuming to learn through each solution.
- Abandoned packages everywhere. Having many libraries to offer also means there are many low-quality or abandoned packages.
- The UI is pretty breakable. This happens rarely, but everytime after an OS UI update, your app’s native components will be upgraded as well, leading to a possibility for them to break.
✅ Pros of Flutter
- Hot reload = Fast coding (essentially similar to React Native)
- Well-structured documentation.
- One codebase, multiple platforms. Covering both iOS and Android, developers can create similar applications across different platforms without the need of writing two codes. Google has also released Flutter 2 which allows developers to create apps for the web.
- Up to 50% less testing time
- Smooth and quick apps. Most of the Flutter work is done on GPU and delivers at 60fps (frames per second).
- Wide variety of widgets. Flutter does not use native components, meaning they come with their own set of custom widgets which are managed by their own framework’s graphic engine.
- User-friendly UI. Developers are allowed to create custom widgets freely, or customize the existing widgets.
- UI will look the same even on older iOS and Android devices.
- Community and growing rapidly.
❎ Cons of Flutter
- Smaller community. Even though the Flutter family is growing, it is ultimately smaller than React Native’s, which also means there are fewer developers out there who are actually familiar with the framework.
- Flutter applications are bigger than native ones. That said, the Flutter team is working on minimizing the size of the apps made with their framework.
- Compared to native apps, Flutter still has limited selection of tools and libraries.
The Future of React Native vs Flutter
Both frameworks have undergone significant upgrades as of 2022, mostly thanks to the advancements made in 2019 and 2020.
The recent release of Flutter 3.0 was a good case in point, introducing several interesting features including a stronger support for macOS and Linux, universal binaries by default on macOS, foldable phone support and more.
Some industry experts have predicted a brighter future for Flutter due to the elegance and strength of its design, which puts its performance on the pedestal in each feature comparison. Which is also why many developers now see Flutter development as a trend that will overtake React Native in the near future.