Flutter vs React Native: Which is Best for App Development?

Mobile

During the early days, developing mobile apps for multiple platforms meant maintaining two separate codebases for Android and iOS. The approach was time-consuming, expensive, and demanded more resources than other methods. At that time, it seemed impossible to deal with the issue and develop a single application for multiple platforms.

To tackle the issue, Facebook launched React Native to empower developers to build natively rendered mobile apps using the feature-rich React library. It gained immense popularity for enabling developers to deploy apps across both platforms after writing code once. It also delivered near-native performance.

On the other side, Google launched an open-source framework Flutter, solving the same problem with a different approach. Flutter used a single codebase written in Dart to create apps that could run across many platforms, including Android, iOS, etc.

Both technologies have resolved a troublesome issue. However, Flutter vs. React Native, which one to pick for development, has become a difficult choice even for experts. To make the choice easy for you, we have crafted this blog, primarily focusing on these two frameworks.

So here we are with the Flutter vs. React Native comparison. We will guide you to choose the framework that aligns best with your project’s unique requirements, development team’s expertise, and long-term vision.

What is Flutter?

Flutter works as an open-source UI (User Interface) software development framework developed and launched by Google. It helps design natively complied applications for multiple platforms like mobile, desktop, and web with a single codebase.

Flutter offers a rich and customizable user experience and supports rapid development with its innovative features. Flutter reduces development time and effort and eliminates the need for maintaining separate codebases.

Prime Features of Flutter

Flutter is a versatile open-source framework known for offering a wide range of features that make the app distinguishable and innovative. Here are some of its notable features:

Single Codebase for Multiple Platforms

Flutter allows programmers to create apps for various platforms with a single codebase. These cross-platform apps can be launched on iOS, web, Android, and desktop. It follows the “Write once, run anywhere” approach that cuts off development time and effort.

Hot Reload

It is a standout feature of Flutter, allowing developers to make changes to the code and view the real-time results in the app’s user interface. The feature speeds up the development process while encouraging experimentation and productivity.

Broad Range of Widgets

Flutter has a comprehensive library of widgets (customizable UI components) that allow developers to build interactive and aesthetic user interfaces. Flutter provides both Cupertino Widgets for iOS and Material Design widgets for iOS-style UI.

Native Features

Flutter apps have native ARM codes to improve performance with animations and faster load times within minimal frame drops. It also works as a bridge to native code, offering access to platform-specific features and APIs to programmers whenever needed.

Dart Programming Language

Flutter takes the support of Dart programming language. It is simple and efficient to use for development. In addition, its optional strong typing and Just-In-Time (JIT) compilation contribute to a smoother development experience.

Pros and Cons of Using Flutter

Flutter has numerous advantages that make the app more feature-rich and interactive. However, the cross-platform framework also comes with its own set of challenges. Following are the most important pros and cons of Flutter that you should evaluate before choosing it for the project.

Pros of Flutter

  • Flutter allows the creation of custom widgets or the modification of existing ones according to your requirements. You can make the changes that match your app design and functionalities.
  • Flutter’s theming and styling system supports app branding while maintaining the uniqueness of design across platforms.
  • The framework complies with native ARM code, encouraging better performance and faster execution. It reduces overhead by crossing bridges used in other frameworks.
  • Developers can create interactive user interfaces using customizable widgets and flexible UI frameworks.
  • Flutter is an open-source and free-to-use framework. Companies and developers can easily access it and seek guidance from its large community.

Cons of Flutter

  • Developers need to write platform-specific code and use platform channels because Flutter does not support the use of platform-specific or device-specific APIs. The writing of platform-specific code makes the development process more complex.
  • Flutter provides adequate support for integrated development environments like Visual Studio Code and Android Studio. However, the same IDE support is not provided for native development platforms.
  • It uses Dart as the programming language, and many developers are not familiar with it. They have to learn the language and learning a new language slows down the development process initially.
  • Flutter apps are usually large compared to native apps. They may be difficult to download and install for users having limited network bandwidth or storage capacity.

Which Organizations Have Used Flutter?

organizations that used flutter

Notable organizations and companies like Google, Groupon, Alibaba Group, Tencent, Dream 11, Sonos, Nubank, Emaar, etc., have used Flutter for cross-platform app development. These examples are only a few, but all adaptions of Flutter are hard to put in numbers. The framework’s creative native experience on multiple platforms from a single codebase has made it an amazing choice for many industries.

What is React Native?

React Native is an open-source framework launched by Facebook for creating natively rendered apps. These apps are built for Android and iOS using React and JavaScript libraries. React Native supports cross-platform app development, allowing the use of a single codebase for developing apps for multiple platforms.

Prime Features of React Native

React Native has advanced features and a rich ecosystem to offer native-like performance in cross-platform apps. These features make it a preferable choice. Here are some of the most highlighted features:

Native-Like Performance

Unlike traditional hybrid frameworks, React Native does not rely heavily on web views but employs native components. The framework can deliver near-native performance. Its user interface and user experience facilitate Native-like interaction apps.

Hot Reloading

The feature enables developers to see the immediate effect of their code changes without recompiling the entire application. Hot Reloading increases the speed of the development process, improves performance, and reduces the wait time for making edits and analyzing their impacts.

Reusable Components

React Native has reusable UI components to help developers create libraries with custom components. Developers can use these reusable components across different application parts or share them between multiple projects. The reusability reduces bug occurrence, maintains flow and design consistency, and streamlines the development process.

Large Ecosystem

React Native has a wide range of libraries, tools, and plugins of the Node Package Manager (NPM). This extensive collection of resources simplifies the integration of various functionalities, ranging from maps and authentication to animations and state management.

Third-Party Plugin Integrations

React Native support third-party plugin and native module integrations, offering access to hardware features like GPS, sensors, and camera without leaving the environment. The framework mainly has plugins available for navigation, maps, authentication, state management, networking, payment processing, etc.

Simplified Testing

React Native has robust testing capabilities and allows developers to utilize advanced testing tools like Jest and testing libraries to test components effectively. It also integrates well with CI/CD pipelines and ensures automated testing for various devices and platforms.

Pros and Cons of Using React Native

React Native is a powerful and efficient cross-platform framework, but its suitability depends on specific project requirements. To make the best decisions, evaluate the below-listed pros and cons.

Pros of React Native

  • React Native uses JavaScript as a programming language, which is a basic language known to many developers. With React Native, programmers don’t need to learn a new language.
  • It helps program intricate and advanced mobile apps that other frameworks hardly support. The framework uses a component-based interface, permitting developers to plug and play with the interface elements to build innovative apps.
  • The technology supports Agile development, enabling companies to make changes and adjust the app according to market trends.
  • It allows developers to design modules of multiple features. These modules function as sections of code that can utilized and reused in other apps having similar features.
  • React Native provides easy access to other developers’ codes, and you can resume working from where they stopped. The feature is ideal for team collaboration and productivity.

Cons of React Native

  • React Native offers access to native modules and APIs, but it doesn’t support all native functionalities. If there is a need for platform-specific features, then developers will have to write custom native modules.
  • With React Native, hybrid apps may not achieve the same performance as fully native apps, especially when it comes to complex animations or intensive tasks. The bridge between native code and JavaScript may bring an overhead.
  • Profiling and debugging React Native apps are more challenging than their counterparts. It can be difficult to identify performance bottlenecks or track down issues spanning Native code and JavaScript.
  • React Native app’s file sizes are larger than fully native apps because they contain JavaScript runtime and native code for multiple platforms. The size may lead to extended download times and increased storage consumption.

Also read: 6 Mistakes to Avoid When Creating a React Native App

Which Organizations Have Used React Native?

organizations that used react native

Across the world, reputed organizations, including Facebook, Instagram, Bloomberg, Pinterest, Skype, Tesla, Uber, Walmart, Wlx.com, Artsy, Discord, Tencent QQ, Adidas Glitch, Baidu, CBS Sports, etc., have adopted React Native. These are just a few examples of organizations, and many other organizations have chosen React Native for cross-platform app development. React Native’s flexibility, efficiency, and ability have made it a popular choice for companies across different industries.

Also read: Why did Walmart and Skype Choose React Native for Their App?

Flutter vs React Native: Which One is Better?

According to the survey report of Statista, 30% of developers used Flutter in 2019, and the number increased to 46% by 2022. It is expected to increase more in the upcoming future. Whereas 42% of developers were using React Native in 2019, but the number fell to 32% in 2022.

flutter report of statista

However, there are various reasons for this change, and they do not indicate much about the popularity and usage of both frameworks. That’s why we will do an overview of Flutter vs. React Native to find out which is better than the other one.

Basic Comparison

flutter vs react native comparison

Performance Analysis

Flutter is written in Dart and complies directly with native ARM code. It has no interconnecting bridge to initiate interactions with native components. The feature boosts Flutter’s performance and lowers development time.

React Native uses JavaScript to connect with native components via a bridge. It affects React Native’s performance and development speed.

So, when it comes to performance, Flutter has an edge over React Native due to its complied-to-native code approach.

User Interface and Design

Flutter works with sets of highly customizable widgets to enable developers to create custom and complex UI designs. These widgets are regarded for their flexibility in achieving pixel-perfect designs. Moreover, Flutter uses its own rendering engine to create UI components that help achieve a consistent look and feel across different platforms and maintain a uniform user experience.

React Native utilizes native components that leverage the platform’s native UI elements, like UIViews on iOS and Views on Android. These components offer an authentic look and feel of native apps. Along with it, React Native allows you to access platform-specific customization options easily. You can also use its third-party libraries and UI component packages, enhancing the UI development process.

In this comparison, the victory of a framework is subjective to use cases. Choose Flutter if you want to build highly customized and consistent UI across platforms while maintaining design flexibility and don’t want to rely on platform-specific UI components.

Choose React Native if you need a highly authentic native look and feel or if your project requires strong integration with platform-specific UI elements and device features.

Development Speed

Flutter’s hot reload feature, single codebase approach, and availability of highly customizable widgets simplify and speed up development. Developers have to add different code files for iOS and Android systems if the app has complicated UI elements. The practice demands time and makes the development process lengthy.

So, compared to React Native, Flutter is slow in terms of speed. That’s because React Native has a vast ecosystem of third-party libraries, native modules, ready-to-use components, and many other resources to upsurge the speed of cross-platform app development. Its fast refresh feature reduces the time taken for testing and updation.

So, when it comes to speed, React Native is a clear winner. However, you can choose Flutter if there are fewer or no complications in your app.

Development Tools

Flutter has development tools that include a performance profiler, a network inspector, a widget inspector, etc. These tools are closely integrated with the framework and other powerful debugging tools and profiling capabilities, allowing developers to identify and resolve issues. Also, Flutter has a Hot Reload feature for rapid iteration during development and strong integration with officially integrated development environments (IDEs). These IDEs help with code completion, widget inspection, debugging, and user experience enhancement.

On the other side, React Native offers the support of Expo for rapid prototyping and to simplify the development process. It has a development environment of built-in features, including a development server, push notifications, etc.

Along with it, React Native’s Debugger is a prominent third-party tool that provides a dedicated environment for debugging React Native apps. It provides a technically advanced debugging environment using features like Reduc DevTools integration. React Native is compatible with integrated development environments (IDEs) like Visual Studio Code and facilitates extensions and plugins for these IDEs to simplify and streamline development.

Again, in this comparison, the choice is subjective to requirements and expertise. Both technologies have their limitations as well. You should choose the framework according to the project complexities, features, and expertise of your development team.

Documentation Process

Flutter follows a regimented, well-organized, comprehensive, and updated process for official documentation. It also provides detailed guides, API references, and tutorials and has a “Cookbook” section containing practical examples and solutions to common development challenges.

Whereas React Native documentation covers core concepts, it is disorganized, outdated, and clumsy. The process misses a lot of important factors that should have been covered properly.

Hence, Flutter is a better option for documentation.

Architecture

Flutter uses Skia, a graphics rendering library, and the Dart language VM in a platform-specific shell. It compiles Dart’s source code by creating native code. Its code is the ultimate solution as it integrates seamlessly with both Android and iOS.

React Native uses Flux architecture introduced by Facebook that requires integration of JS bridge. This drawback automatically makes people choose Flutter over React Native when it comes to good architecture.

Learning Curve

Flutter uses Dart as a programming language, which is new and unknown to many developers. It is easy to learn if developers know JavaScript and Java, but it demands experience. Moreover, Flutter’s UI is built with widgets, which are customizable building blocks and are different from traditional mobile app development. So, developers also need to learn to work with widgets. Flutter has a less extensive community for education compared to React Native.

React Native uses JavaScript and React for programming the app. Many developers are already familiar with these technologies. They don’t have to learn a different programming language to use the React Native framework. Also, React Native has a large and active community of experts and many online resources, tutorials, and libraries available for learning and problem-solving.

In the learning curve, React Native has the upper hand over Flutter. It is more easy to learn and access, whereas Flutter has a steep learning curve due to programming language and UI design.

Ecosystem and Community

Flutter was released in 2018 by Google and is a new framework compared to React Native. It has a wide collection of plugins and widgets available in the Flutter package repository, known as “pub.dev.” Its community has many high-quality resources, including tutorials, open-source projects, and documentation.

React Native was launched by Facebook in 2015. It has a stable ecosystem and resourceful libraries, packages, and third-party integrations available through npm (Node Package Manager). Along with it, the framework has a diverse and active community of developers to provide resources for learning, like blogs, forums, and Stack Overflow discussions. The community keeps the framework updated with the latest trends and technical advancements.

React Native has a mature community and ecosystem due to its early launch, whereas Flutter’s community is not as large as React Native. So React Native is the best choice here.

When to Use Flutter?

Choose Flutter to meet the below-mentioned requirements:

  • If your app requires a highly customized user interface that has to look identical across multiple platforms. Flutter’s widget-based approach will fulfill this requirement.
  • To develop high-end apps and games that demand smooth transitions and animations. Flutter’s architecture complies with native ARM code, and this arrangement will lead to better performance.
  • If you have a limited budget and time in hand to complete the project.
  • If you need an app that executes between 60 FPS and 120 FPS.
  • To maintain a single codebase targetting both Android and iOS platforms.

When to Use React Native?

Choose React Native to fulfill the following requirements:

  • If your development team is familiar with JavaScript and React. The knowledge will promote a seamless transition and adaptation.
  • If your project demands many third-party modules.
  • If your project relies heavily on third-party modules, React Native’s ecosystem can be advantageous.
  • Need to develop shared APIs out of the box.
  • If your app requires platform-specific features or deep integrations with native modules and libraries.

Final Verdict: Who is the Winner?

Flutter and React Native both frameworks have their strengths and weaknesses. The final choice should depend on your project requirements, the team’s existing skills, timeline, budget, tech stack, features, and other specific needs. Evaluate these factors and make the most suitable choice. If your choice is right, any framework from these two will do justice to your project.

How MindInventory can Help you Develop Your Project with the Best Framework?

Experts at MindInventory conduct a comprehensive analysis of your project requirements while considering technologies, platform preferences, features, development timelines, added features, and performance needs. Based on the research, they make well-informed recommendations and choose the best-fit framework.

Our development team will set up the initial project structure while following the best practices for code organization, naming conventions, and file structure. They customize the app and seamlessly integrate third-party libraries, plugins, and APIs while ensuring their synergy with the chosen framework.

MindInventory team develops a high-quality cross-platform app with proven strategies, an efficacious development process, and a framework that aligns perfectly with your project growth goals.

FAQs for Flutter vs React Native

Is Flutter a better choice than React Native?

The choice depends on your project requirements, budget, deadline, team’s skill set, tech stack, etc. Flutter facilitates quick development with extraordinary features, and React Native takes time but gives the authentic look and feel of native apps. Both have their pros and cons as well. You should analyze their factors before making the choice.

Is it a good idea to use React Native for cross-platfrom app development?

React Native is a good choice for cross-platform app development. The framework is known for its capabilities like a single codebase approach, native-like performance, hot reloading, code reusability, native modules, rapid prototyping, etc. If it fits your project requirements, go ahead with the choice.

How long does it take to develop an app with Flutter?

The time taken to develop with Flutter may vary according to several factors, such as project tech stack, app complexities, features, size, level of design, development team’s expertise, budget, and testing requirements. For exact time estimation, contact the MindInventory team and discuss your project. Experts will quote the deadline according to project needs.

How much does it cost to develop a cross-platform app?

The final cost is subjective to many factors like project tech stack, developers’s location, app features and complexities, programming language, deadline, design and testing requirements, etc. To get an accurate budget estimation, connect with the MindInventory team. Experts will tell you the exact amount required to build your project.

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Written by Pratik Patel

Pratik Patel is Sr. iPhone Developer at MindInventory, his personality and key interest falls in imaginative and strategic thinkers. He is managing projects from start to end, dealing with the project requirement and planning the resources. He is a master freak about Apple products.