Choosing the right framework determines the functionality and productivity of an application. With the wrong one, development could be delayed, and functionality could be compromised. Flutter and React Native are two of the most sought-after cross-platform development frameworks, but both have their distinct advantages and drawbacks.
In the tech world, Flutter Vs. React Native is a never-ending debate. Flutter and React Native are two of the most popular cross-platform development frameworks. These two mobile frameworks provide great functionality, a large community of users, and an extensive collection of modules that can significantly accelerate your development.
The features and productivity of your future application rely heavily on the right framework. If your application is poorly designed, you’re sure to encounter malfunctions. With all the new frameworks being released and the promise of blistering speed, it is all too easy for developers to jump on the latest trends. This can often overwhelm clients with choices.
However, understanding the nuances and differences between Flutter and React Native is critical for properly building your project.
Want to know which is better React Native or Flutter? We’ve made it easy for you. Here’s everything you need to know about these frameworks.
Introduction to Flutter and React Native
Let’s start with the basic and essential information about both platforms before we dig deeper into which is better, React Native or Flutter.
What is Flutter?
Flutter was developed in 2017 by the tech giant Google. Due to Google’s influence, Flutter is widely acclaimed as one of the best open-source frameworks today. Ever since its inception, the framework has continued its upward trajectory and has become more popular with developers. Flutter uses the Dart programming language and can create cross-platform apps with a single codebase preventing developers from creating different apps for the desktop, mobile, and web.
What’s Flutter for?
The Flutter platform targets the desktop, mobile, and web platforms with one codebase. It comes with a Dart native compiler, enabling it to build hardware-optimized applications for ARM-based devices. The Flutter framework is also the main platform for the new Google operating system, Fuchsia, which is expected to replace Android in the near future.
This framework has a wide array of advantages, including hot reload functionality and a complete development system, while also being open source and free to use. On the downside, Flutter is characterized by a large size and relies heavily on native technology and tools.
Flutter’s features make it the top choice for numerous companies with a need for big frameworks such as Hamilton, OfflinePal, Topline, Hookle, and Alibaba, among others. Thanks to its blistering rendering speed and other advantages, Flutter is on track to replace React Native’s popularity.
What popular Apps are made with Flutter?
Flutter’s unique and feature-rich SDK has been used to build many modern applications, including:
- Google Ads
- Xianyu by Alibaba
Flutter’s capabilities can help speed up the development and growth of any app. Developers who haven’t tried Flutter yet are always blown away by what others have done with it and how Flutter can simplify and streamline the mobile application development process for everyone.
What is React Native?
What is React Native for?
A highly reliable open-source framework, React Native can provide easy integration of native UI components, platform-specific code, and hot reloading. It also boasts one of the largest UI communities. A plethora of plug-and-play modules makes it a breeze for developers.
Even so, there are some significant shortcomings to the framework. In particular, it has a more complex interface as it accesses most of its native modules through third-party libraries.
What popular Apps are made with React Native?
The capabilities of React native make it a top choice for many companies. Here is a list of some of the most prominent applications built with React Native:
- Facebook Ads Manager
Flutter — pros and cons
Pros of Flutter
Several features differentiate Flutter from its rivals. Due to the programming language and tools, Flutter is capable of solving many problems and overcoming many disadvantages that other technologies cannot. The primary advantages of Flutter include:
The programming language
Dart was optimized from the very beginning to be a user interface language and was designed to create client applications. Using this language means that there are no competing standards, lack of imposition of language tools by developers, lack of oddities present in various programming languages, no pile of totally incompatible design patterns, and there is no need for another tool catastrophe among the existing tools and functionality.
With Dart’s clean, extremely powerful syntax, you can create a clear architecture and design of your application and common standards, ensuring coherence between programmers, ease of maintenance, durability, and much more compared to most cross-platform development tools. If you have experience with Java, C#, and TypeScript, you should be able to switch to Dart easily.
Hot Reload and faster coding
One of the most acclaimed features of Flutter is that it offers faster and more dynamic app development. Changes can be made to the codebase in real-time and will be reflected in the application immediately. Hot reloading usually takes (milli-)seconds to show the changes.
This feature enables teams to experiment with new ideas, add features, and fix bugs instantly. The Hot Reload feature is also beneficial when collaborating with developers.
A single UI Design
With Flutter, you can create impressive designs for both iOS and Android applications. One codebase can support two platforms, and you can use the same interface for both. This will save you time and costs.
A Flutter app usually follows the principles of Material Design with slight modifications for different platforms (which the framework typically handles automatically). Using the Flutter Framework, you can also create an interface that is truly personalized, utilizing the elements borrowed from Android and iOS.
The visualization and graphics engine built into C/C++ is used to compile Flutter apps into machine code, making applications fast and high-performance. On most devices, they can deliver 60 frames per second, and on devices using Flutter, they can provide 120 frames per second.
As compared with other cross-platform technologies, Flutter has a noticeable increase in productivity. For many developers, this sped up their transition to Flutter. On top of that, Flutter has a distinct advantage over its competitors when it comes to visualization and performance in cross-platform technologies, but it is unrealistic to achieve such superiority in native apps.
Flutter supports hot reloading, which allows for instant updates without requiring plugins. With a hot reload, you can also see updates in real-time. The framework lets you fix errors and keep using the code without having to restart the application.
The hot reload technique can enhance your productivity and assist with rapid iterations by eliminating lengthy delays and allowing experimentation.
Cons of Flutter
Flutter has its own shortcomings as well. Flutter technology is still in its infancy, so there is a lot of room for growth, expansion, and improvement.
Flutter is, in fact, lagging behind React Native. Whenever a new tool is developed, it takes time to educate the audience and gain experience.
Massive file sizes
Flutter applications are larger than native ones. The large file size of apps developed in Flutter is a major weakness that cannot be ignored. In some cases, the file sizes can be a significant issue, causing a developer to opt for an alternative development tool.
Limited number of tools and libraries
Flutter is a new cross-platform framework for developing apps. There are many functions in Flutter that are still in alpha and beta testing. In some cases, you may not be able to get the necessary functions from the current library because the platform is still under development. Creating the necessary tools, developing the community, and expanding functionality in Flutter will take some time.
Despite Flutter being open source, Google pulling support for the project would spell disaster. Flutter has been gaining momentum since Google released the Beta version, as evident from its prominent position during Google IO ’19, as well as the Flutter Live event.
Insufficient iOS support
As a Google product, Flutter offers inferior support for iOS applications. The SDK functions work correctly on Android but not on iOS. Photographs taken on Apple devices, for instance, do not have EXIF data. This results in an incorrect photo orientation with no location, date, and an inaccurate gamma. Currently, special iOS features (Guided Access, VoiceOver, Audio Description, and Captioning) are not implemented.
React Native — pros and cons
Pros of React Native
Some of React’s best features are inherited by React Native. Similar to Flutter, React Native offers particular functionality and capabilities that help it stand out from the rest. Some of its main advantages include:
This means that businesses have access to a large pool of specialists. A developer with experience in React and JS can quickly pick up RN essentials and switch between web and mobile development.
A similar feature to Flutter. The Hot Reload development tool accelerates the development process by enabling developers to insert new code directly into an app that is already running. This allows developers to see the changes without having to rebuild the app.
Moreover, Hot Reload preserves the application’s state to avoid losing it during a full reload and accelerates the application development process.
In version 0.61, a new feature called fast refresh was added to the framework, which combines live reloading with hot reloading. The new versions are more resistant to mistakes and typos than the previous ones.
One framework for various platforms
The React Native framework allows you to reuse the codebase (or parts of it) between Android and iOS. The degree to which you can develop a cross-platform app depends on how many native modules your program uses.
Although such solutions don’t have great stability, the ability to share non-UI-dependent code might still be of benefit. As a result, your app’s logic may be more consistent across all platforms, helping to shorten development time.
The core of React Native is creating a mobile UI. A sequence of actions needs to be created in native development. RN employs a declarative programming approach, so an order of implementation is not needed. Due to this, it is easier to spot bugs on user paths.
Cons of React Native
Along with the advantages, React Native also has certain disadvantages. Here are its main cons:
The UI manages UI components, renders views, and listens to user input. React Native bridges these two threads, which are also referred to as shadow threads. On the JS side, the shadow thread calculates the layout, which passes the results to the native side, which generates the view.
JS and UI threads may exhibit remarkable performance, but the bridge creates "traffic jams," the biggest limitation of React Native. Animated and touchscreen interactions are especially susceptible to performance issues.
Some missing custom modules
Although React Native is mature, certain features are still missing. Meanwhile, other features remain undeveloped. It is possible that you will need to build your solution from the ground up or hack an existing one. Your custom modules might end up with three codebases (iOS, Android, and RN) instead of one. The behavior and appearance of each codebase can also differ.
Applications are bigger than Native ones
Problems with upgrades
From what developers have to say about React Native, updating between versions is one of its biggest challenges. Nonetheless, you should still update due to various reasons, such as getting performance improvements, security patches, and bug fixes, accessing new features and APIs, adding compatibility between the native and JS sides, and staying on top of breaking changes.
It is strongly recommended to upgrade the RN applications to the latest release. However, it takes much effort and time, depending on the changelog. Leaving out just one step may lead to hours of debugging.
You’ll still need Native developers
It is essential to understand the specifics of the platform in order to implement some native features. Developing with React Native used to be difficult due to the lack of support for many native app functions like push notifications.
Growing communities provide easy access to native platform features through open-source libraries. Still, some more sophisticated features might require the expertise of Android and iOS developers.
You should bargain for their input when starting with React Native, as it will depend on your project's complexity. For small teams without native mobile experience, this might be an issue.
In weighing the pros and cons of React Native, it’s important to keep in mind that the platform is most suitable for apps that can benefit from its plug-and-play modules and strong developer community.
Flutter vs. React Native
Choosing between Flutter and React Native requires a thorough understanding of the features and the difference between these frameworks. Here are some points to consider.
Dart-based programming is said to be faster than React Native-based programming. Dart’s syntax is hard to fault. Its object-oriented concepts, however, are difficult to learn. That means fewer developers know how to use it. When it comes to ease of programming language use, Flutter loses to React Native.
Skia and the Dart language VM are used in a platform-specific shell in Flutter. The native code is created by compiling Dart’s source code in advance. This is crucial. The code is elegant and fast and can be easily integrated into iOS and Android devices.
Things run without the help of complicated programming bridges. If we compare React Native and Flutter based solely on the elegance of their design, Flutter clearly wins.
Depending on the platform you choose, you will need to download Flutter’s binary package from GitHub. Additionally, if you’re installing on Mac, you need to download a .zip file and add it as a Path variable. The Flutter installation process is also more challenging.
Both these frameworks lack one-line installations and native package managers for OS. Therefore, neither is ideal. However, Flutter installation requires an extra step, so React Native wins in this regard.
UI and development API
Flutter relies heavily on its own custom development language. UI development with Flutter or React Native differs drastically.
Flutter is fully customized, using its own widgets. Probably the key advantage of this framework over React Native is that it is automatically consistent with Cupertino for Apple and Material Design for Google. You don’t need any custom components or third-party apps. Its seamless compatibility with Google is one of its main selling points.
Developers are less familiar with Dart. Although most people love this framework’s hot reloading feature, many IDEs and text editors do not support it, making the development process longer.
Developers are free to use any text editor or IDE. React Native is certainly faster in terms of development speed.
The reusability of code is a big point of comparison between React Native and Flutter. Dart is much more reusable. UI widget trees can be defined simply and reused by developers. Having an elegant interface makes Flutter the clear winner of this comparison.
React Native allows you to write code once and use it across multiple platforms. The problem is that compatibility isn’t always guaranteed across all mobile platforms, requiring developers to load different components to get their apps working.
React Native app development can be hampered by these modifications. We hope that the framework will eventually address code reusability. In terms of React Vs. Flutter code reusability, Flutter wins.
Flutter also comes with several integrated quality-control test features like other Google programs. It allows testing of individual widgets as well as integration tests. The documentation is also quite detailed. The framework, in this respect, is more consistent with the trends of 2023 and more elegant in general.
A major weakness of React Native is the lack of built-in unit testing features. Developers can, however, generally bridge this gap using third-party frameworks such as Detox and Jest. The add-on isn’t too difficult to integrate.
As far as quality assurance goes, React Native and Flutter are almost equal. In their own ways, they are both effective.
Flutter will lose every time if compared to React Native on ecosystem size. But the Flutter community of developers is growing rapidly.
There are significant differences between React Native and Flutter. In this comparison, React Native wins.
Flutter’s animation standard is set at 60 frames per second, which demonstrates its speed. Moreover, Flutter’s performance and speed are enhanced by the fact that it is compiled directly into native ARM code for both iOS and Android.
Despite its speed, this version is also much larger and more complex. Before making a decision, you have to weigh this point. Fortunately, this framework offers extensive documentation on minimizing file sizes.
Due to the elegance and power of Flutter’s design, the Flutter vs. React Native performance comparison will always favor Flutter. Having this advantage is one of the reasons why many developers now consider Flutter to be a future-proof trend.
Flutter’s official documentation supports both fast Lane deployment and releases to iOS and Android. On top of that, it now has out-of-the-box CI support from Bitrise. Even better, you can deploy your Flutter apps from the command line.
The release process for React Native is fairly standard, however, it is entirely manual. For any automatic deployment, you would need to use third-party tools. The result is a more labor-intensive release process, which delays development.
In contrast to React Native, Flutter has better documentation. Flutter has invested heavily in native documentation for its Dart language. Their documentation guides make it easy to transition from another framework or optimize existing projects. Developers can access videos and graphics directly from the framework.
Upon closer inspection, you will probably find React Native's onboard documentation sloppy. In fact, developers often rely on third-party sources to get the documentation they need. When it comes to documentation, React native has a major flaw.
React Native and Flutter have switched places. Until 2019, React Native was more popular. However, Flutter had 111,000 stars on Github at the beginning of 2021, while React Native had 92,800. According to Google Trends, Flutter has many more searches than React Native. Thus, Flutter wins over React Native for popularity.
Flutter is better suited to bigger apps and apps requiring native programming.
The 2020 Developer Survey from StackOverflow provides some interesting insights into a number of industry trends. In the survey, more developers who use Flutter than React Native (68.8% to 57.9%) would like to continue using it. In terms of React Native Vs. Flutter Industry trends, Flutter is in a better position.
Sponsors should take that into consideration since higher developer satisfaction rates are likely to affect productivity and retention rates. In addition, the pool of future talent available for hire is probably one of the biggest issues facing the development talent market.
Flutter does boast a higher developer love, but this does not in any way disregard React Native’s popularity. It is still a highly sought-after technology.
The future of Flutter and React Native
In web and mobile application development, delivering apps on time is a crucial factor. The cross-platform nature of these tools, combined with prebuilt components and tools from third parties, makes them easy to use.
Flutter and React Native can both help save on project expenses. However, which solution can be built faster? Which is more suitable for the project?
Considering that each application is unique, you should evaluate them both on the basis of their own merits. When it comes to cross-platform development, it is always a good idea to discuss your project with a team of professional developers who can recommend the best approach.
There is no universally accepted framework when it comes to React Native Vs. Flutter. Projects vary greatly. In choosing a framework, the project’s parameters must be carefully considered, along with the business needs it must satisfy.
In the most general sense, Flutter is better suited for bigger apps and apps requiring native programming. In weighing the pros and cons of React Native, it’s important to keep in mind that the platform is most suitable for apps that can benefit from its plug-and-play modules and strong developer community.
Fit issues are also to be considered. Flutter, for instance, does not support 3D. Additionally, Flutter should not be used for applications that require multiple interactions with an OS or those that require obscure native libraries.
There are also some disadvantages to using React Native. This framework is not recommended if your app needs to manage very specific or less common tasks in the background. Additionally, it’s not suitable if you want to develop an app solely for Android or if your project needs custom communication through Bluetooth. When deciding on Flutter or React Native you’d be wise to consider all these factors carefully.