React Native vs. Flutter: Which Fits Your Needs?
Once you have settled on an app idea, you can begin the Mobile app development process. However, one of your first decisions can be whether to use React Native or Flutter, two of the most popular frameworks for creating cross-platform apps.
And that’s tricky! These juggernauts have the support of two of the biggest tech companies on the planet, Google and Meta.
So what is better, React Native or Flutter? Well, our in-depth comparison of Flutter vs. React Native's features, benefits, and drawbacks will help you choose the best platform for your next app or web development project. Let's look closely at the two tools and see how they differ.
What Is React Native?
Meta has published its architecture for making apps that function on several platforms (formerly Facebook). In 2015, we saw the release of React Native's first stable version.
Who Uses React Native
Many popular companies have chosen React Native, whether it’s because this cross-platform has been around longer or in the case of multi-platform giants needing dependable web support. Meta’s Facebook App is a prime example of a popular app developed using the React Native performance. Several more examples are as follows:
Instagram, the most widely used picture-sharing platform, opted to employ React Native to increase its development pace and use quick and live-to-reload capabilities. Instagram has been downloaded over a billion times.
The extremely popular Walmart app used the React Native framework for its construction so that it could share a single codebase across all of its platforms. The excellent animation capabilities of React Native come from its ability to transform source codes into platform-specific views before rendering.
Tesla Inc., the leading maker of electric vehicles, uses React Native to create its mobile applications for iOS and Android. The Tesla React Native app has been downloaded by over a million people from the Google Play Store.
Numerous rapidly expanding startups and a few large, well-established businesses are among React Native's user base.
Pros and Cons of React Native
Let’s discuss the positives and negatives of how React Native stacks up as a development framework.
Consider these arguments for using React Native for cross-platform app development rather than writing native codes.
The quick update of React Native is quite comparable to the hot reload of Flutter but still edges it out.
React 0.61 included support for a rapid refresh, which mixes live and hot reload. It makes it simple for a React Native developer to change the source code and see the result instantly. Also, you may go around the restrictions imposed by lazily loading native modules. This code splitting is when only the elements needed are reloaded rather than everything.
Developer Can Decide
The development process for an app written in React Native is very flexible. They get to decide which React Native components to utilize and which ones to create in the native setting.
Compared to Flutter, the React Native framework has been around much longer. The platform has improved with age. The React Native team and Meta have issued several stable upgrades and fixes to React Native. The platform allows programmers to create programs that are both lightweight and efficient.
When working on cross-platform development using React Native, you can access a wealth of resources, including tutorials, documentation, third-party libraries, and UI templates. Developers may include many external libraries in the coding and development process.
Libraries for web and Node developers are available for React Native projects, and exchanging information, knowledge, and solutions to challenges is an advantage every time.
Flat Learning Curve
The strongest argument for using React Native is that any Web app developer familiar with React can immediately pick up the basics and start utilizing React Native.
Half the Testing
There is no need to test on every possible platform since React Native works the same way regardless of the device used to access it. Instead, a shared characteristic between Flutter and React Native is that a single test may detect issues on either platform.
Cons of React Native
While there are certainly benefits to adopting React Native, it is not always the best option. Let's look at what we can't do with React Native.
Native Feeling Instead of Being Native
While an app created using React Native feels like a native one, and the simulation will be close to the original, there will be variations and some inefficiency in termination size, pace, and processing power.
Necessity for Customization
Some UI elements, like buttons to prompt for notifications and indications, may already be present when you utilize the native components and framework. However, React Native just provides the basic options. You'll have to be creative to make the best fit for your needs.
Requires a Decision
Depending on your needs, a React Native developer might choose to implement their app using React Native or to utilize just native components.
To get the most effective results, you will need to weigh each potential option's benefits, drawbacks, and performance to get the most effective results. Finding the business logic and performance comparison in React Native for each case would thus require more time and effort.
Too Many Outdated Resources
True, React Native has amassed a substantial collection of useful libraries over the years. However, this sea of materials is both a treasure trove and a sifter since many libraries inside it are long out of date. It's possible that using such libraries, repositories, and packages will be a waste of time.
The app's ui components will also reload if the OS maker deploys an update. As a result, the app's React Native components may become corrupted and useless. However, when comparing Flutter with React Native UI, Flutter comes out ahead since it can independently rebuild and reuse the app components after an OS upgrade.
Apps Require a Virtual Machine
What Is Flutter?
With Flutter, you can write applications for mobile devices, desktop computers, and the web, all from a single source of code.
Flutter is robust and dependable, providing many options for rapidly developing aesthetically pleasing apps. Flutter's functionality and architectural choices allow for a rapid development cycle, making it an excellent choice for developing both simple and complicated applications, games, and prototypes.
Who Uses Flutter?
Without knowing it, you've probably already used the apps made with Flutter. You've likely seen the outcome of Flutter's history so far. Companies like BMW, Beike, Google Pay, ByteDance, CrowdSource, eBay, Hamilton, Nubank, Push, Supernova, and Tencent are just a few of the industry leaders who have utilized Flutter to build their apps.
One can wonder about the motivations for a major corporation's adoption of a cross-platform technology like Flutter. Well, you can't deny how convenient it is. Sharing large portions of code across apps speeds up the process of making changes and deploying updates by orders of magnitude.
In addition, Flutter's beautiful user interface (UI) creates an almost native experience, so why not try it if your project team can save time and money doing the same thing?
Here are some of the most popular flutter apps with statistics of their success and what Flutter offered them over React Native or other competitors.
Alibaba is one of the most flexible applications for B2B purchasing and selling, with over 100 million downloads on the Google Play Store and over 500,000 reviews on Apple's App Store. Flutter was able to build fast and expressive UIs that, in turn, enabled Alibaba to feature expressive webpages with complex hero animations.
Official BMW App
BWM has opted to use Flutter to level the playing field between their customer-centric iOS and Android apps. Rather than seek a web-based development, BMW built a cross-platform application with a single codebase capable of updating all platforms at once.
The My BMW App is now present in 47 countries across five continents for both BMW and MINI car owners to use.
Google Pay is another well-known app rebuilt using Flutter. Initially, Google offered a Flutter add-on package but soon decided to rewrite the whole Google Pay system using Flutter instead.
The Android app version of Google Wallet for use with Google Pay has been downloaded by over 500 million people worldwide. It has maintained a rating of 4.0 stars, signifying excellence in performance, usefulness, and stability. There is a 4.3-star rating for the iOS version as well.
Pros and Cons of Flutter
Let’s take a look at the positives and negatives of Flutter.
Pros of Flutter
Here are a few good reasons to use the Flutter framework.
Streamlining the Experience
The ‘create’ run function removes the need for complex code to recreate new versions and possesses an in-depth end-to-end testing system.
Many of Flutter’s abilities rely on plugins that work to perform actions like fetching data. Thanks to Dart’s ability to communicate through platform channels with code native to the platform, Flutter doesn’t always require a plugin to implement native features into the Flutter app.
Quicker to Market
Flutter’s framework allows developers to create visuals without writing specific code for the platform, instead implementing 2D rendering UIs. Having to write less code means developers can get an app to market more quickly.
Native 2D Graphics Library
Flutter provides its own open-source 2D graphics library called Skia. Skia uses the graphics processing unit (GPU) for rendering to provide high performance and smoothness at frame rates of up to 60 fps.
Creating Great Designs
Developers working with Flutter have access to a wide range of pre-built components, allowing them to build and maintain unique widgets and designs without relying on native components. Flutter allows you to not only create your widgets from scratch but also modify those already available in the widgets catalog.
Flutter is capable of customizing anything on screen with many different systems and versions. As a result, you can manipulate all elements, such as shape or color, and alter them to very fine detail.
Cons of Flutter
Despite its numerous strengths, Flutter is not a universal solution. Depending on your project's specifics, there may be certain drawbacks. For instance:
Smaller Dev Community
Over the last several years, however, this number is changing, and although they currently have fewer people programming in Dart, that will no doubt change in the future. Consequently, the developer community is also gaining momentum.
Dart Programming Language
Dart and Flutter can’t be separated from each other, and this causes some of the programs with the framework.
It is still a young framework and has only been out since 2013. For now, Dart’s large file size and smaller community can be a disadvantage.
When apps are released for iOS or Android, they may experience a delay for the same update to be released through Flutter. This means Flutter clients may have options like dark mode only become available after a release delay.
Larger App Size
Like React Native, but still, a disadvantage Flutter applications packaged with their associated tools and widgets are often much larger than the app user may be willing to download. This can prevent the creation of apps with very small footprints and hinder what Flutter is used for.
Now that we're familiar with the two frameworks and understand their advantages and drawbacks, it's time to compare them directly.
Difference Between Flutter and React Native
Developers coming to Flutter from other environments, such as Android, iOS, React Native, or the Web, will find plenty of documentation for Flutter. Still, it’s less technical and plentiful than what’s available for React Native.
Learning Flutter does not need prior experience with mobile, web, or desktop programming. Studying flutter documentation should be a breeze if you have expertise designing apps for other platforms.
Flutter requires at least 2 GB of free space on your hard drive, ideally 4 GB (500 MB for the integrated development environment (IDE) plus 1.5 GB for the Android SDK and the emulator system image). Flutter always had this issue because of the extra files and other requirements.
React Native is often chosen as a preferred framework for mobile app development of instant apps or those that have a tight, small footprint since it can reduce an app's size from 26.1 MB to 3.1 MB.
At the same time, React Native has the ability to share code between the React.js app and Node servers, making it possible to send code between all the teams in the company that require it.
The Future of Both Development Platforms
We can learn a lot about the future of both frameworks by looking at the current React Native and Flutter trends. In the three years between 2019 and 2021, Flutter has eclipsed React Native as the favored cross-platform mobile application framework among developers.
Google has been encouraging an active community to maintain Flutter and provide stable updates regularly. Since Flutter 3 was released, the number of applications built using the framework has increased to over 500,000.
The third version of Flutter includes several significant enhancements, such as:
- Support for desktop platforms
- Support for international text inputs
- Universal binaries on macOS
- Support for foldable phones
- The variable refresh rate for iOS
- Faster image decoding on the Web version
However, new features included in React Native 0.69 are as follows:
- Enhanced compatibility with M1 users
- Newest status bar API
- Hotkeys on the iOS app debug menu
- Compatibility with C++17
The Meta community has been toiling away at all hours to provide significant updates and enhancements to React Native. Since this is the case, React Native should not be falling too far behind Flutter anytime soon.
Summing It Up, Flutter vs. React Native
It is possible to create high-quality applications with native-like performance and visuals using React Native and Flutter in the hands of experienced developers. Both are excellent frameworks.
Despite this, when deciding between the two technologies, you need to consider more than simply their relative levels of popularity or technological advantages and disadvantages. What about the actual build?
Flutter is popular and exciting, but it’s new, and Dart is a very obscure programming language. It hasn’t built the developer base that React Native has.
In contrast, React Native has a low entry barrier, and the framework's extensive documentation, simplicity, and shareability make it an excellent choice for projects that need rapid developer onboarding.
Here are some points to help you make that choice for technical issues: React Native vs. Flutter.
When to Use Flutter
- The app is larger and requires greater performance.
- You want to reduce the time to market.
- The app requires a lot of customization or specific tasks.
When to Use React Native
- The app needs to be lower cost and lower maintenance.
- The app requires more interactions with the OS.
- The app has to be lightweight.
These are just a few factors you must consider when choosing Flutter vs. React Native, which is not an easy task.