React Native vs Flutter
Cross-platform mobile apps are on the minds of both consumers and developers. Software frameworks capable of building native-like apps without using Swift for iOS and Java for Android, have changed the playing field.
Frameworks like Flutter and React Native have taken the mobile development world by storm and are the two most used cross-platform frameworks in the market, according to Statista.
Both React Native and Flutter are similar, and give you cross-platform functionalities, all using one codebase, hot reloading, and the providing tools to build an excellent UI. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have their differences.
Let’s take a look at their similarities and differences, and explore what developers can do with them.
React Native Overview
Instead of using web components like “H1” or “div,” you can use JSX syntax components provided by the react-native library for mobile development. React Native also uses a virtual DOM, but instead of manipulating the DOM, you use it to communicate with the UI elements.
React Native Pros
- Easier to debug: React Native has intelligent error detection and debugging tools, which helps developers spend less time splatting bugs.
- Live reloading: This feature helps compile and read the file right from the point the developers made changes. This is helpful when developing states or app logic.
- Third-party plugins: Since it doesn’t require a high amount of memory to process third-party plugins in React Native, specific web functionalities can be linked to a plugin.
React Native Cons
- Difficult to update: Updating from one version to another can be a pain, and keeping up with the newest version is often costly.
- No custom modules: It’s not a secret that React Native still lacks some components, which is why you might need to use libraries or just build your own solution.
- Size of apps: While apps created using React Native are usually smaller than the same app created in Flutter, they are still pretty big when compared to other frameworks.
Created in 2011 by Google, Flutter is an open source mobile framework that works with another Google product, programming language Dart. Developers usually use Flutter as a UI toolkit to build cross-platform apps with a single codebase.
According to Github, the usage of Flutter as a framework has grown in 532% in the last year, which makes it a significant contender in the mobile frameworks space.
However, let’s not lose our heads yet. Flutter is growing, yes, but that doesn’t mean it’s perfect. Let’s analyze the pros and cons.
- Created and maintained by Google: The fact that a tech giant like Google vouches for Flutter makes it a reliable option for the time being.
- Fast development speeds: Like other frameworks, Flutter enables the reusing of components across platforms, which significantly speeds development times.
- Good for wireframing: Flutter is a good framework to get something up and running fast to start testing and validating
- Still an immature framework: While many developers are learning Flutter, the framework is still young and lacks the documentation of React Native.
- Apps can be large and heavy: Flutter apps are larger than React Native ones, which can be frustrating.
Comparing Flutter and React Native
With so many competing frameworks, it’s never easy to choose the best one for mobile development. Let’s take a look at how these two frameworks compare.
React Native performs almost as good as native languages like Java or Swift on the performance front but doesn't achieve the same performance levels. However, React patches those issues by enabling developers to add native code in the application. Flutter executes an experience that’s closer to native apps because Dart code is compiled into native code, which makes it faster than React Native.
Flux, React Native’s application architecture gives developers the tools to build client-side web apps following the MVC framework. In this case, React Native takes part of the view and Flux of the model. Inspired by Reflux.js architecture, Dart, Flutter’s architecture, implements a data flow composed of actions, stores, and storewatchers based on Flux but modified to be used in Flutter.
Despite being backed by Google, Flutter is still young when compared to React Native. Support for React Native abounds, and you can find plenty of information whereas with Flutter, support is still in its infancy, but as the platform user base grows, we will see more support.
Choosing Between Flutter and React Native
Like most things in life, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution here. You need to judge each framework on a case-basis and pick the one with the capabilities your project needs. Nevertheless, there are some cases where one framework is better than the other. Let’s explore them together.
Choose React Native If
- You are also building a web application
- Your app is light in animations and mostly made of content
- Your app doesn’t need to process a lot of data
Choose Flutter If
- You have mobile developers on your team
- You don’t need additional functionalities like AR/VR
- You want fluid animations
- You look for faster mobile performance.