Flutter vs React Native: Which one to choose in 2023?
Flutter and React Native are the two most prominent players in the market for cross-platform app development. You may have an idea for an app but can be confused when deciding between Flutter and React Native.
Whether you are interested in React Native app development or Flutter app development, both have their own advantages and disadvantages, and the choice depends on whether you prefer native app development or cross-platform app development.
In this blog we will delve into the key differences between Flutter and React Native so that you can make an informed decision.
What is Flutter?
Flutter is an open source framework developed and supported by Google. Front-end and full-stack developers use Flutter to build an application’s user interface (UI) for multiple platforms with a single codebase.
When Flutter was launched in 2018, it mainly supported mobile app development. But now Flutter supports application development on six platforms: iOS, Android, the web, Windows, MacOS, and Linux.
Flutter consists of two important parts:
- An SDK (Software Development Kit): A collection of tools that are going to help you develop your applications. This includes tools to compile your code into native machine code (code for iOS and Android).
- A Framework (UI Library based on widgets): A collection of reusable UI elements (buttons, text inputs, sliders, and so on) that you can personalise according to your own needs.
What is React Native?
Flutter vs React Native: A Comparison
The competition between Flutter and React Native has been a topic of discussion among mobile app developers for some time. Both frameworks have their strengths and weaknesses, and the choosing one between them depends on various factors.
Let’s take a closer look at both Flutter and React Native that can help you make an informed decision.
Let’s begin our comparison with industry demand or outlook for these two technologies. Flutter is the most popular cross-platform mobile framework used by global developers, according to a 2022 developer survey. Based on the survey, 46 percent of software developers used Flutter. Let’s look at the statistics:
In Flutter there is no interconnecting bridge for initiating interactions with the device’s native components. Hence, interactions with native components are faster, improving the overall performance of the application.
3. Programming Language
Dart as the Programming Language
That said, you also need to remember that it usually takes less time to write codes with Dart due to its object-oriented concept.
Even though React Native’s been around much longer than Flutter, Flutter’s documentation is more developed, in-depth, and easier to navigate
For example, in Flutter’s documentation, there are “get started” sections for developers with different technical backgrounds and levels of experience.
So React Native devs looking to start working with Flutter or web developers wanting to learn how to arrange components in a mobile application can easily find what they need.
React Native’s documentation lacks the same level of topical organisation and depth.
Pros and Cons of using Flutter and React Native
Let us explore the pros and cons if using Flutter and React Native
1. Native Performance
- Flutter is built using native C/C++ and Dart, which makes it suitable for creating high-performance apps.
- Flutter also supports many hardware acceleration features, such as Skia, which improve the app’s performance.
- React Native apps have native performance and are very fast and responsive. React Native uses native components (UI) to create the app’s user interface, providing more speed. And this UI ensures that the app performs smoothly and quickly.
- Flutter is still relatively new, and its performance is not as good as other native platforms. As with any cross-platform app, the performance may not be on par with a fully native app.
- Although React Native apps are fast and responsive, they are still not as fast and responsive as native apps. This is because React Native doesn’t always use native components, so they can’t fully use the device’s hardware.
2. App Size
- Flutter apps are relatively large compared to other cross-platform frameworks. And flutter apps use a single code base, saving space and making it easy to maintain.
- Flutter apps are still relatively large compared to fully native apps.
- While React Native apps are usually much smaller than native apps, they can still be prominent.
3. Minimal Required SDK Version
- Flutter has a minimum required SDK version of 16 and can be compiled into Android 4.1, making it compatible with many devices.
- React Native apps often require a lower minimum SDK version than others. As a result, react Native apps are usually more lightweight and need less code than others.
- The flutter minimum SDK version is lower than other mobile development platforms, making it less suitable for older or low-end devices.
- React Native requires a minimum SDK version of 21, which means it will not work on older versions of Android.
4. UI Development
- Flutter is based on the reactive programming paradigm, which is simpler and more efficient than traditional approaches. Additionally, Flutter provides various UI components and tools, making creating beautiful, interactive, dynamic user interfaces easy.
- React Native often allows for better UI development than other types of apps. This better UI development is because React Native uses a declarative programming style, making creating responsive UIs that look great on different devices easier.
- Flutter’s UI components must be more well-documented and supported than other mobile development platforms, making creating complex or custom UI elements more difficult.
- React Native’s UI development can be more complex and time-consuming than other frameworks, requiring knowledge of React and native UI components.
Which is Better Flutter or React Native?
The choice between Flutter and React Native depends on the specific needs and nature of the project. Regardless of the choice, both Flutter and React Native offer exciting possibilities for mobile app development and are likely to continue shaping the future of cross-platform development.
- Flutter uses Dart, which is less popular but has a more predictable performance and offers a strong, statically-typed language.
- User Interface: Flutter is more acceptable for rendering identical UI designs for the two popular mobile platforms – iOS and Android.
- Flutter has a widget-based architecture, allowing for highly customizable and consistent UI across platforms.
- React Native uses native components for UI, which can provide a more native look and feel but might require more effort for complex customizations.
- Performance: When it comes to performance, Flutter has an edge over React Native due to its complied-to-native code approach.
- Flutter has the advantage of compiling to native code, resulting in high performance and smooth animations.
- React Native uses a bridge to communicate with native modules, which can introduce some performance overhead.
- Community and Ecosystem: Both frameworks continue to evolve due to extensive community support and industry-wide adoption.
- React Native has been around longer and has a larger community and a vast library of third-party packages and plugins.
- Flutter’s ecosystem is growing rapidly but is still smaller in comparison. However, it’s backed by Google and has been gaining popularity.
- Development Time: 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.
- Flutter’s “hot reload” feature allows for faster development and debugging, making it easier to see changes in real-time.
- React Native also has a fast refresh feature, but it may not be as seamless as Flutter’s hot reload.
- Cross-Platform Support:
- Both Flutter and React Native aim to provide true cross-platform development, but there may still be platform-specific code and tweaks required for some features.
- Popularity and Adoption: React Native has gained significant adoption and is currently a more popular mobile app development framework as compared to Flutter.
- React Native has a longer history and is widely adopted by many companies, including Facebook, Instagram, Airbnb, and Uber.
- Flutter is growing in popularity and has been adopted by companies like Google Ads, Alibaba, and eBay.
When to use Flutter?
Flutter is your best choice for app development if you don’t need very complex interaction with native elements or device hardware and you want to minimise cost and development time.
So, consider this tool if you want to build: • Healthcare app; • Ecommerce and retail apps; • Travel and booking app; • On-demand app.
- Startups: Flutter is a good choice for startups because it is free and easy to use. It also has good tooling and libraries, so you can create a high-quality app without spending much money.
- Quick MVP Development: Flutter excels in rapid development scenarios, making it an excellent choice for building Minimum Viable Products (MVPs) and simple mobile apps. Its hot reload feature and single-codebase approach enable faster development, reducing time-to-market and development costs.
- Cost and Time Savings for Cross-Platform Apps: When you aim to target multiple mobile platforms (iOS and Android), Flutter can lead to significant cost and time savings. Instead of building separate native apps, you can use a single codebase to develop for both platforms, which streamlines development efforts.
- Native Code Integration: While Flutter allows you to create cross-platform apps, it’s also flexible enough to incorporate native code when necessary. This can be beneficial when you have specific platform-dependent requirements or need to leverage native APIs or features.
- Complexity and Development Time: If your app requires complex platform-specific integrations or a high level of native code, the development time and cost savings of Flutter may be less pronounced. In such cases, you may spend more time on platform-specific development.
When to use React Native?
React Native can help build solutions for a wide range of projects and problems in the mobile application development space. Some of the most common use cases for React Native include:
- Cross-platform development: React Native is a great choice for building cross-platform applications, as it allows developers to write a single codebase that runs on both iOS and Android. This can significantly reduce the time and resources required for development and maintenance.
- Cost-effectiveness: React Native allows for faster and more efficient development, which can result in cost savings compared to traditional native app development. This is due to the ability to reuse code across platforms and the ease of development provided by the React framework.
- Faster time-to-market: React Native can help you get your app to market faster than traditional native development, as it requires less time to develop, test, and launch. This can be especially important for start-ups and businesses that need to quickly validate their ideas and gain traction.
- Iterative development: React Native allows for iterative development, meaning that developers can build, test, and iterate on their apps more quickly and easily than with traditional native development methods.
- Native functionality: React Native provides access to native APIs and platform-specific features, so developers can build apps that look and feel like traditional native apps while still taking advantage of the benefits of a single codebase.
Both frameworks are excellent for building apps across multiple target platforms, and it is difficult to choose any of these as superior in the contest of Flutter vs React Native in 2023.
Flutter has the advantage of being developed by Google and having excellent documentation. However, the React-based framework has a more established community and wider talent pool.
React Native and Flutter both have their own pros and cons depending on the use case, and app types, which you should consider carefully before choosing.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Is Flutter a better choice than React Native?
The choice between Flutter and React Native depends on your project requirements as both have their own strengths and weaknesses. Assess your specific needs, including UI customization, performance, and your team’s expertise, to determine which is a better fit for your project.
Q: Is it a good idea to use React Native for cross-platform app development?
Yes, React Native is a popular choice for cross-platform app development due to its ability to share code between different platforms, resulting in cost and time savings. It offers a good balance between native-like performance and development efficiency.
Q: How long does it take to develop an app with Flutter?
The time required to develop an app with Flutter can vary widely based on factors like project complexity, features, design, and team expertise. It’s best to discuss your specific project with your development team to get a more accurate time estimate.
Q: How much does it cost to develop a cross-platform app?
The cost of developing a cross-platform app depends on several factors, including the complexity of the app, the development team’s location, the features you require, design and testing needs, and more. To get an accurate cost estimate, you should consult with a development team or agency.