Flutter and React Native are among the most popular frameworks for cross-application mobile development. With Flutter, React Native, released in 2015, has gained a strong competitor. What is the comparison between these frameworks? Which framework is better suited for the implementation of your app project? You can discover it in the following article.
Cross-platform development with React Native and Flutter
As we explained in "A guide to choosing between native and hybrid apps", frameworks like Flutter and React Native allow for so-called cross-platform development, where almost native apps can be developed on more platforms with only one code base. The advantage here lies in the fact that multiplatform apps significantly reduce development efforts and costs thanks to a common code base, and they feel like native apps. Flutter and React are the most widely used cross-platform mobile frameworks worldwide; according to Statista, in 2022, 46% of developers worldwide used Flutter and 32% used React Native.
Rendering applications that rely heavily on the core functions of operating systems accessible on multiple platforms is associated with a high development effort for native apps, which have to be developed independently for each desired operating system. A remedy could be hybrid development or web applications; in this case, a single code can be reproduced on several operating systems like iOS, Android, or desktop. However, both app types can access native functions only to a limited extent, and they also have worse performance. This can be sufficient for simple, informative apps, but it does not satisfy the requirements of a complex app.
- "Hot Reload" ensures a quick update of the preview and thus faster development.
- Flutter applications also function as web applications.
- Numerous customisation options and fast rendering thanks to multi-layer architecture
- Depends on the community, as plug-ins have to be developed by the community.
- Flutter applications are rather large and 'heavy' in the beginning. They take longer to download and update.
- The appearance does not correspond to the native solution and this can make the user confused by the app's behaviour.
- The framework, like the Dart language, changes regularly and this makes maintenance problematic
Known Flutter applications: Xianyu (Alibaba), Google Ads, Phillips Hue
The React Native library has only a few ready-to-use widgets compared to Flutter, which means that more time needs to be spent on development, but there is also much more design freedom than in Flutter. Further development is supported by some large companies such as Meta, Microsoft, Discord, and Shopify, which makes React Native a reliable tool for web and app development.
- One team - two platforms: Cross-platform development ensures that the team is smaller, costs are lower and the project is easier to manage. The team is smaller, costs are lower and the project is easier to manage.
- 100% native user interface: the user interface consists of native components that are the hallmark of platforms. For this reason, even native developers can hardly distinguish RN apps from native solutions.
- Performance: React Native apps often suffer a strong performance loss
- Dependence on Facebook and few third-party components
- Need for native developers: some of the problems described above can be solved by using native modules. However, the implementation requires expertise in Java/Objective-C/Swift. Therefore, the help of native developers is occasionally needed.
- Functionality backlog: New functionality from Google or Apple must be implemented in React Native and this often takes time.
Known React Native applications: Facebook, Instagram, Tesla, Wix, Skype
Flutter or React Native?
Flutter and React Native are powerful technologies for cross-platform app development. The result are modern apps with a native appeal that, unlike hybrid development, can access most of the native functions of the end device.
Functional and less custom apps can be developed faster with Flutter, while more complex UI elements are better implemented with React Native, also thanks to the large React Native community, as the framework is a bit older than Flutter. Overall, Flutter is excellent for the rapid development of small apps and MVPs for the produc validation, while React Native can be considered a reliable technology for larger, long-term projects.
To get the most out of your app project, we will be happy to provide you with a non-binding and free consultation. Contact us today to start exploring the best options and strategies available for your project's success. We are here to help you bring your vision to life.