Flutter vs React Native – Decide What to Choose in 2024

31 May 2024
Paweł Ługowski
Paweł Ługowski
Android Developer
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Contents

  • Intro

In recent years, React Native and Flutter have grown to become the most popular frameworks preferred by developers to create cross-platform apps. Both tools have revolutionized the mobile app development industry in unique ways, allowing developers to create high-performing and visually appealing apps from a single code base. 

Flutter and React Native apps work seamlessly across various platforms and are almost on par as far as functionality and performance go. As a business looking for a suitable platform for your development needs or a developer trying to figure out which language to learn, you’ll need to thoroughly compare Flutter and React Native. 

In this guide, we’ll do a comprehensive analysis and comparison of Flutter vs React Native to determine which of these options is best for you. 

  • Flutter is an open-source UI development kit by Google designed for developing cross-platform mobile applications.
  • React Native is a mobile development framework developed by Meta (Facebook) based on JavaScript.
  • React Native and Flutter are both open-source cross-platform app development platforms renowned for their ease of use, great performance, and robust developer community. 
  • Flutter uses inbuilt widgets to deliver a potentially faster and more uniform experience, while React Native uses components for a more familiar JavaScript development experience.

Introduction to Flutter and React Native

What Is Flutter?

Flutter is an open-source User Interface development kit for developing cross-platform applications that run on mobile, Windows, Linux, and macOS devices. Developed by Google in 2017, Flutter has become one of the most popular options used by front-end and full-stack developers to build apps for multiple platforms on a single codebase.

The Flutter UI framework is easy to use. It is open source and offers quite an extensive library of pre-built widgets, a robust testing environment, integration APIs, and other tools that simplify the development process for cross-platform apps. Developers build on Flutter using the Dart programming language, which is easy to learn and use.

To learn more about Flutter and how it compares to native app development frameworks, read our Flutter vs Native comparison article. This article also contains more information about the pros and cons of Flutter. 

Examples of Flutter Apps

  • Alibaba
  • Philips Hue
  • Hamilton
  • Square
  • Groupon
  • CapitalOne

What Is React Native?

React Native is a mobile development framework based on JavaScript. This framework supports cross-platform development, allowing developers to build mobile, web, and desktop applications from a single code base. 

React Native is an open-source development toolkit created by Meta (formerly Facebook) in 2015. This development framework basically transforms JavaScript code into native components to create iOS and Android apps. React Native also supports external libraries in developing web and desktop applications. 

Examples of React Native Apps

  • Uber Eats
  • Skype
  • Tesla
  • Coinbase
  • Instagram
  • Salesforce

React Native vs Flutter: Key Similarities

React Native and Flutter are both open-source cross-platform development platforms that allow developers to build apps from a single code base. They also share a lot of features and similarities and are among the most popular frameworks adopted by professionals in the mobile app development industry. Before exploring their key differences, here are some of the similarities between both platforms. 

Ease of Use 

React Native and Flutter are both renowned for their ease of use. They offer robust tools that allow developers to build mobile apps faster and more effectively compared to native development. For instance, the Hot Reload feature in Flutter (known as live reload in React Native) allows developers to instantly see any changes they make in their code without restarting the app.

Community Support and Resources

React Native and Flutter have been around for quite a while. Over time, these two development frameworks have amassed strong developer communities and a wealth of resources. Developers interested in learning either framework will find several online forums, tutorials, blogs, and other dedicated resources for learning and troubleshooting issues. The fact that they’re both open source also means there are extensive libraries, plugins, and ready-made components that help extend their functionalities. 

Performance and Stability

Flutter helps developers build stable apps for both iOS and Android platforms from a single codebase. It uses Dart, which is a simple language suitable for developing high-performance native apps. The platform also comes with some native hardware accelerations that help improve app performance. 

On the other hand, React Native leverages native components and APIs to create apps with optimized interfaces and great performance. However, while Flutter’s Dart compiles directly to machine code, React Native needs a bridge between JavaScript and the native code to communicate with native components. This can introduce some lag or performance bottlenecks, making React a bit less performant than Flutter.

UI Component Libraries and Widgets 

Both platforms provide extensive libraries of pre-built native UI components that help developers build prototypes and apps quickly and effectively. Flutter relies mainly on customizable widgets built into the platform and optimized for both iOS and Android platforms. This allows developers to build apps with native-like visual appeal and performance

React Native on the other hand uses third-party libraries and community-maintained UI components. While these work slightly differently compared to Flutter’s inbuilt widgets, they still deliver similar levels of functionality and visual appeal.

For both platforms, the components are reusable across various platforms. However, you may have to adjust the look and feel of React Native components for individual platforms. Flutter components, on the other hand, are reusable across all platforms and completely independent of native components. This means they don’t require any adjustments when changes occur on the native side.

React Native vs Flutter: Key Differences

Programming Language

The coding language is the fundamental difference between Flutter and React Native. As explained above, Flutter uses the Dart programming language for developing mobile apps. This is a relatively modern language for cross-platform development. React Native on the other hand is written entirely in JavaScript using React. 

Generally, the Dart language is not as popular as JavaScript, which has been around for longer and has a large community built around it. Consequently, there are fewer Dart developers compared to JavaScript. You’ll also find it easier to find React Native documentation, resources and libraries for learning and troubleshooting issues while working on React Native app projects. Community support React Native is also more robust compared to that of Flutter.

Still, most people consider Dart easier to learn than JavaScript. The reason is that JavaScript has complex syntax and complicated concepts that can be difficult to learn and master. Dart on the other hand is a fun and convenient tool to work with, which is why many developers prefer it. 

Hot Reload

Although this is one of the features shared by both platforms, the Hot Reload feature in Flutter is more efficient than what you get in React Native. This feature makes it easier for developers to preview the changes they make to the application code without reloading the app manually. This simplifies the process of testing and debugging the app code. The Hot Reload feature in Flutter is rapid and efficient. While React Native has this feature as well, it is prone to glitches and is less seamless compared to Flutter. 

User Interface Components

In Flutter, developers build apps using the platform’s inbuilt collection of customizable widgets that provide a rich set of prebuilt User Interface components instead of native platform components. Not only does this provide flexibility in UI design, but it also makes it easier to keep the User Interface consistent across different platforms. 

React Native on the other hand is based on native components for individual platforms. To build React Native apps, developers use third-party libraries and kits to create beautiful User Interfaces. While this gives developers a wide range of options, the native dependency can cause variations and inconsistencies across different platforms. 

Flutter vs React Native Performance 

React Native is built with JavaScript and needs a bridge to connect to native components. While this is mostly efficient, it can also slow down development and runtime speed. In contrast, Flutter renders all components on its canvas. 

There’s no interconnecting bridge between the code and the device’s native components. This speeds up interactions, improving the overall performance of Flutter apps. Flutter is also known for its quick and efficient Dart runtime, which ensures that apps load and run relatively quickly. It uses an “Ahead-of-Time” (AOT) compilation mechanism which ensures that apps compile into native code, reducing the runtime and processing required to get apps to load. 

Platform Support

Flutter mainly supports development for iOS and Android devices. The framework delivers apps with native-like performance and user experience for these mobile platforms. Although Flutter does support application development for web and desktop applications, its functionalities might be limited.

This may change in the future as Flutter has ambitious plans for improvements. React Native currently supports development for all platforms from a single code base. This means you can build React Native apps for iOS, Android Windows, and macOS devices. 

Availability of Developers 

While the demand for React Native apps is quite high, it is sufficiently matched by supply. JavaScript is one of the most popular languages in the world. Consequently, there is no shortage of React Native developers with a good knowledge of how to use this framework to build mobile apps.

Dart, on the other hand, is a relatively new coding language. Unlike React Native, Flutter developers are fewer, which often leads to hiring problems for companies that choose to use this programming language as they struggle to hire and retain talents to work on their projects.

A Comprehensive Comparison of Flutter Apps and React Native Apps

So is React Native better than Flutter? In choosing the ideal framework for building quality apps, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Both Flutter and React Native development offer different pros and cons. They also differ in terms of their programming language, learning curve, performance, scalability, and development speed. The table below compares these two programming languages to help you choose the most ideal option for you.

What Will Be A Better Choice For Mobile App Development – Flutter or React Native?

When To Use Flutter?

Although it is relatively new, the Flutter development framework has become the first choice for many developers because it is more accessible, cost-effective, and user-friendly compared to alternatives. Flutter provides a unified development experience and has rapid iteration capabilities. This makes it the ideal tool for fast prototyping or MVP development. 

Flutter offers various tools that can potentially speed up development. The platform’s Hot Reload feature, for instance, makes it easy to see changes in real time, simplifying the process of debugging apps. Flutter can also cut the QA workload and time by up to 50%. Consequently, if you need a development toolkit to build apps quickly, Flutter is an ideal choice for you. Flutter’s gentle learning curve also makes it easier for developers to jump on projects fast and makes it a faster alternative to native platforms. 

Businesses looking to build visually consistent applications across both iOS and Android from a single codebase may also consider hiring a Flutter app development company over the alternatives. Flutter’s rich native UI widgets make it easier to scale across different operating systems while keeping the UI components consistent. This allows you to build apps that look and feel beautiful regardless of the operating system. 

When to Use React Native?

React Native’s popularity has been consistent over the years. As one of the most popular frameworks for developing mobile applications, it has a large and active developer community and is used by major companies all over the world. This framework can be used for all customer-facing applications, especially those that do not rely heavily on OS-specific integrations and features, such as Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality apps. 

Also, due to the bridge structure of React Native, it is best used for apps that do not require complex designs or animations. React Native is particularly great for web app development. This framework offers web developers a robust set of tools and modules for building stable apps. Also, web apps built with React Native can be easily converted to React Native mobile apps. 

Future Predictions for Flutter and React Native

Persistence Market Research predicts that the cross-platform development framework market will hit a market size of $546.7 billion by 2033. React Native and Flutter will continue to enjoy a good share of this market size in the future as their popularity continues to grow.  

According to a recent Statista study, Flutter is currently the top cross-platform mobile development framework in terms of market share. It currently has a 42% market share compared to 38% for React Native. 

Flutter vs React Native Google trends also show that Flutter has been growing more popular in recent years. It remains one of the most sought-after tools for building high-performance mobile apps especially when you need to create apps quickly.

Google has continued to invest in the evolution of Flutter and the platform may very well maintain this lead over the next few years, with React Native following hot on its heels. Both platforms show excellent prospects, with React Native focusing on updates that help bridge the gap in the performance and speed of its apps. 

Either of these platforms will work great for your future projects, with React Native being the obvious choice if you want a large and active developer community. On the other hand, you may prefer Flutter if you want a high-performance and easy-to-learn development toolkit.

Build Your Cross-platform Apps with CrustLab!

So should you use React Native or Flutter? Ultimately, your choice between these two options depends on specific preferences and project requirements. Irrespective of your preferred framework for mobile application development, choosing the best software development company is an important factor that will determine the outcome of your development projects. 

At CrustLab, we specialize in mobile app development. With our custom app development services, we’ll help you choose the most suitable cross-platform frameworks and develop top-quality software to meet your development goals and elevate your brand’s recognition. 

Contact us now to discuss the details of your project!

FAQ

  • Should I start with React Native or Flutter?

    As a beginner, you’re probably asking questions like should I learn Flutter or React Native? Your choice between these two platforms depends largely on your background and the type of applications you intend to build. React Native is based on JavaScript. 

    If you know JavaScript already, React Native seems like the obvious choice. This framework also has a large community and several learning materials readily available online which makes it easier to learn or find help if you get stuck. 

    On the other hand, learning Flutter often means learning a relatively new but easy-to-learn programming language. Flutter is also great for creating mobile apps with greater complexity, highly customized UIs, and smooth performance. 

  • Is React Native still relevant in 2024?

    Yes. Having been around for several years, React Native is a mature framework with a long track record of success. Several developers have adopted this framework as their preferred tool for mobile app development. It’s a great alternative to native iOS and Android development. React Native still retains a vast and active community of developers. This makes it easier to find talents and also ensures the steady availability of tools and resources to navigate and resolve issues encountered during development.

  • How many people use Flutter vs React Native?

    It’s hard to estimate the exact number of developers using Flutter and React Native for their app development needs. While Flutter’s popularity has grown significantly over the past few years, React Native continues to maintain a larger ecosystem and stronger community support. However, in terms of overall adoption and popularity, it’s a close call between these two options.

  • Is Flutter replacing React Native?

    Flutter has grown rapidly over the years and has continued to evolve. However, we can’t say that it will completely replace React Native in the near future. React Native remains the most preferred framework for JavaScript developers. It’s safe to say that both frameworks will continue to maintain a huge share of the market for the next couple of years.

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