One of the biggest debates that are continually going among mobile application developers is Flutter vs React Native. Considered to be the most powerful cross-platform application development technologies, both Flutter and React Native has garnered huge popularity in a short span.
In case you don’t know, Flutter and React Native allow you to write code for applications that can work on multiple platforms, such as Android and iOS. As a result, instead of developing applications natively for each platform (which is clearly going to consume a lot of time and resources), you can develop a single code base. Moreover, as there will be less coding work, you can create mobile applications quickly and that too on a low budget.
However, the 2 important questions that arise here are: what are the key differences between Flutter and React Native? and which one is better? Well, this article aims to provide you with the answers to these questions with clarification and help you decide the right cross-platform mobile application development technology for you. So, let’s not waste any more time and get started!
What is Flutter?
Developed by the tech giant Google, Flutter is a UI software development kit that is open-source and distributed under the New BSD license. It makes use of the Dart programming language to write source code for applications.
The best thing about Flutter is that you can use it to create applications for various platforms, including Android, iOS, Windows, macOS, and Linux. Also, Flutter has an extensive developer community that is working continuously to make it more powerful and feature-rich.
First Release – 2017
Developed Using – Dart, C, and C++
Latest Version (As of Sep 2021) – 2.2.3
What Popular Applications are made with Flutter?
This is probably the most common question that comes to the mind of most developers when getting familiar with Flutter. As Flutter is new, many of us want to get a good idea of its potential and there’s nothing better than to take a look at the popular applications created with Flutter.
Below is a list of Flutter applications that have marked their presence in the market and are known for performing exceptionally well:
- Google Ads
- Yandex Go
- Capital One
What is React Native?
Regarded as a UI software framework that is open-source and free to use, React Native allows you to develop applications for Windows, macOS, Android TV, and tvOS apart from Android and iOS. The best thing about React Native is that you can quickly learn it and start developing top-class mobile applications.
First Release – 2015
Latest Version (As of Sep 2021) – 0.65.1
What Popular Applications are made with React Native?
React Native has been adopted widely by several tech organizations across the world to create their applications. If you are wondering, what well-known applications have been created using this framework, here’s a list of popular React Native applications that you should check out:
Flutter Vs React Native: Head to Head Comparison
Flutter vs React Native seems to be a continual battle that is likely going to last for at least several years to come. As a developer, it is quite normal to be in a dilemma as to choose either Flutter or React Native to develop software, especially mobile applications.
Well, if you want to come to a decision, it would be helpful to know the difference between Flutter and React Native. In this section, we have prepared a table that highlights all the major differences between Flutter and React Native on the basics of various criteria. So, here it goes:
|It uses a Skia graphics engine and it has a layered architecture. . Also, the unidirectional data flow in Flutter is inspired by RefluxJS.
|Flutter makes use of the Dart programming language, which is also developed by Google.
|Installation and Setup
|Compared to React Native, the installation and setup process of Flutter is simple and fast.
|React Native misses out on being a quick-to-install framework. Thus, you need to be patient while setting up the React Native environment.
|Dart is not the easiest language to learn as a programmer, however, once you get familiar with it, working with Flutter will become smooth sailing.
|Flutter comes with native components that allow the applications to perform better.
|Time to Develop applications
|It comes with a hot reload feature (that allows developers to preview code changes in real-time) and built-in widgets that result in faster application development.
|The development time required to create cross-platform applications with React Native is also quite less, however, its hot reloading feature is not as smooth as that offered by Flutter.
|It’s quite easy to maintain the code of Flutter applications due to the simplicity of the code and the availability of external debugging tools.
|Debugging React Native applications isn’t easy. Making use of third-party libraries can cause compatibility issues that are hard to debug.
|The size of the Flutter community is not as large as React Native but still, the support they offer is quick and effective.
|React Native has a huge community that is highly active and eager to help React Native developers.
|Suitability for Complex applications
|Flutter isn’t yet capable of developing complex applications. As applications with extensive features and functionality require extensive customization, this cross-platform application development framework doesn’t emerge as a suitable choice.
Pros and Cons of Flutter
To make the most out of technology, it is important to learn both its strengths and weaknesses. The same stands true when it comes to Flutter. This technology too has some pros as well as cons that you must know if you want to work with it.
Also, while pros make you more confident about using Flutter in a particular scenario, having knowledge of cons makes it easier for you to decide when it’s time to step back and choose some alternative options.
So, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of Flutter one by one.
Pros of Flutter
- Creation of Stunning UIs with Flutter WidgSingle Codebase for Multiple Platforms: As you are already aware that Flutter allows the development of cross-platform applications, you can simply create a codebase that can work seamlessly on different platforms. Typically, the best use case is the development of a single codebase for developing two different applications for Android and iOS platforms. Also, while you can keep the UI of an application the same across Android and iOS, you also have the flexibility to introduce some changes to make the application easily different.
- Hot Reload: This is probably one of the most application-recited features of Flutter that is directly responsible for speeding up the process of development. With hot reloading, it becomes possible for changes made within the source code to reflect in the application in real-time.
Thus, whether you are developing an application right from scratch or adding new features to it, you can visualize the changes within the application on the fly. Also, this feature comes in handy when you are tracking and eliminating the bugs present in your Flutter application.
- Open-Source: Flutter is open-source and free. This means the changes introduced to its source code are fully visible. If you know the programming languages used in the development of Flutter, you can understand its working by analyzing its source code. Being freely available means that any individual and business – startup or full-fledged – can use Flutter for developing applications without the need to pay anything.
- Detailed Documentation: For any open-source technology, its documentation plays a crucial role for individuals to understand and leverage the features offered by the technology. When it comes to Flutter, its documentation proves to be beneficial due to the fact that it covers almost everything that you need to start building top-class Flutter applications.
Also, the Flutter community is active enough to post articles to share crucial information that may be missing in the documentation. Also, you will find various special use cases of Flutter shared through Git repositories.
- ets: Another key highlight of Flutter is its widgets catalog. It is a collection of several widgets that you can use in your applications. Also, there are various categories of widgets, including Accessibility, Animation and Motion, Interaction Models, Layout, Material Components, Scrolling, and Styling. It is quite easy to integrate these widgets and save a lot of time while developing stunning applications.
One more thing, you can create custom widgets or modify the existing widgets to give a personal touch to your applications. Moreover, as Flutter’s graphics engine is responsible for rendering these widgets, you can expect a fast loading time and superior application performance.
Cons of Flutter
- New Framework with Limited Libraries: One of the biggest drawbacks of Flutter is the fact that it is a new-age framework. Even the programming language that it uses, i.e Dart, is also quite young. As a result, many developers are reluctant to adopt Flutter as their primary choice for cross-platform application development.
Both Flutter and Dart have a long way to go for the majority of developers to trust them as trustworthy technologies. Also, the libraries that Flutter supports are limited in number with even many of them being not fully developed or stable. So, this will likely force developers to write functionalities right from scratch.
- Bulky applications: While the applications created with Flutter are fast and offer impressive performance, the bulky storage size of the applications remains a concern. Not only does it take more time to download these applications but also the large project size becomes a problem for developers.
- Difficulty in Maintaining Code: This is something that you as a developer may find quite frustrating. As Flutter, as well as Dart, are undergoing dynamic evolution, you will witness some updates that may hamper the functionality of your applications. Thus, you need to be extra attentive to identify and rectify any odd behavior of your Flutter applications after the release of a major update.
Pros and Cons of React Native
However, this doesn’t mean that React Native is perfect. Apart from having several impressive advantages, it too has some disadvantages that prompt many developers to avoid using it for building certain applications.
Below are the pros and cons of React Native that you need to know.
Pros of React Native
- Huge Community: React Native is open-source and free to use, and a huge developer community, that includes developers from Facebook, maintains it. Also, there are several online forums where developers can help each other and start productive discussions.
Additionally, the community is highly active, which means that you do need to wait for a long time before someone jumps in to help you with your issue or listen to your improvement suggestions for React Native.
- Live (Hot) Reload: React Native offers a live reload feature that is equivalent to the hot reload feature in Flutter. With live reload, you can easily view the changes directly in the application without the need to rebuild the application.
Also, as you have already guessed, this feature speeds up the development process and also makes it easy to fix bugs.
Also, you have the option to use React Native for web and ReactXP libraries if you want to build web applications. In all, this framework allows developers to create fully functional applications in a short period.
- High-performance applications with Stunning UIs: The React Native code executes as fast as native code, so the applications can perform exceptionally well. While it’s true that when creating complex applications, the React Native code can become a little sluggish. However, you have the option to create and deploy some native modules to get rid of the performance issues.
Also, when it comes to the user interface or UI, React Native strongly supports the creation of UIs that are interactive and captivating.
Cons of React Native
- Large application Size Compared to Native Ones: While the applications created with React Native are likely to have a smaller storage size than the ones created with Flutter, they still have larger sizes compared to Native applications.
- Hard to Debug: React Native is still under development and thus there is a huge scope of improvement. When it comes to debugging, the tools that you can use are not up to the mark.
As a result, an experienced React Native developer might pull off the task of debugging an application successfully, but beginners are likely to find a lot of their time wasted in tracking the bugs.
Which One to Choose?
For technologies like Flutter and React Native that is developed by two of the world’s leading tech giants, i.e. Google and Facebook, respectively, picking a winner is not easy at all.
Also, while Flutter vs React Native becomes an extensive debate when it comes to cross-platform mobile development, both of them have something different to offer than the other.
Here we will discuss individually the scenarios in which Flutter or React Native makes more sense to you.
When to Choose Flutter?
- If you are familiar with Dart or eager to learn it, then going for Flutter can be a sound choice.
- To develop applications with an impressive user experience.
- If the applications need to perform exceptionally with little to no concern about their sizes.
- If you want to develop applications quickly with fewer customization requirements, Flutter widgets become quite useful.
- Flutter is ideal if you want to find and fix bugs quickly.
When to Choose React Native?
- If you are planning to reuse custom components across multiple applications.
- If the application that you want to create requires different designs for different platforms.
Both Flutter and React Native have emerged as the leading cross-platform application development frameworks. Despite the fact that both frameworks are new, developers are accepting them with open arms.
However, there’s also a battle going on between Flutter and React Native to prove their superiority. This article solely focuses on Flutter vs React Native and sheds light on various aspects to estimate which framework proves to be more beneficial.
Also, Flutter is catching up with React Native quickly. However, Facebook is also working continuously to improve the capability of its cross-platform development framework. So, we need to wait for some more years to conclude which technology wins the debate of React Native vs Flutter.
As per our experience, both Flutter and React Native are powerful, but their use cases are not exactly the same. There are several factors that impact your decision of choosing a particular framework.
For instance, if you want to quickly develop cross-platform mobile applications that are on par with the native applications in terms of performance, then Flutter is the ideal choice to go with. On the other hand, if developing complex mobile applications with lots of functionalities is your objective, you need not look further than React Native.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Is Flutter better than React Native?
A: Yes, Flutter is better than React Native, but only in certain aspects. For instance, Flutter applications offer better performance, have little compatibility issues, and are easy to develop. Nonetheless, there are several other aspects and conditions one needs to consider before making a pick.
Q: Will Flutter replace React Native?
A: Flutter is evolving continuously by integrating new features and addressing all its shortcomings. It can replace React Native in the future but the chances are low, as for now.
Q: Is Flutter the future?
A: Flutter does have some shortcomings that its community is trying to overcome. So, we can expect to be more powerful and error-free in the future, which is definitely going to help it emerge as the future of cross-platform application development.
Q: Is React Native still relevant in 2022?
A: As the mobile application developers are moving away from native Android and iOS development, cross-platform application development frameworks like React Native have become more relevant for developers in 2022 and at least some years to come.