Are you an Android or iOS user? Does your laptop use Windows, macOS, or Linux-based operating systems? You may want to capture every potential customer, but the modern market has devices with different operating systems.
Having a platform that can be used to develop cross-platform apps can save you a lot in terms of development time and resources.
Flutter and React Native are some of the biggest names in the cross-platform development market. However, if presented with these two options, you may not know which one to choose.
Why use Cross-platform solutions over native solutions?
Building a functional app can be time-consuming. If you want to build an app that serves iOS and Android users, you don’t have to create a different codebase for each.
Saves development and maintenance costs
Paying developers to create different apps for different users can be expensive. The cost of running these apps is also high, depending on the number of users. A cross-platform development setting makes it possible to use the same developers to code for different applications.
The only distinction occurs during shipping. Maintenance also becomes cheaper as you just need to update one codebase, and the changes are effected on all platforms.
Native apps are created specifically for a certain operating system. Native applications are known for their high performance.
However, some cross-platform solutions such as React Native and Flutter produce apps whose performance is near that of native apps, such that the average users may not even note the difference.
In this Flutter Vs. React Native article, we will explore their features, differences, similarities, and performance to help you make an informed decision.
What is Flutter?
Flutter is an open-source Dart framework created by Google. Flutter allows developers to use the same codebase to create Android, iOS, desktop, and web versions of applications.
These are some benefits of using Flutter:
Single codebase for all platforms: You can roll out Android, iOS, desktop, and web versions of your app from the same codebase.
Based on a compiled language: Flutter is a Dart framework. Dart is a compiled language that converts its code to machine-readable code before execution, making Flutter fast.
Native-like performance: Flutter does not rely on intermediary code representations or interpreters as it uses the Skia engine. This feature allows Flutter apps to have near-native performance.
What is React Native?
React Native is loved by developers for these reasons;
Code reusability: React Native has a component-based architecture. Thus you can reuse code blocks across your application and reduce development time.
Availability of 3rd party libraries and frameworks: React Native has a big community, libraries, and frameworks. For instance, you can use libraries such as Redux for state management in your application.
Live reload: You can see the changes in your application as you build it. You can also opt to reload only a certain of your code and save on compilation time.
Native feel: React Native uses the underlying components of the operating systems (iOS and Android), giving its apps a native feel.
Flutter vs. React Native: Quick Comparison
Meta (formerly Facebook)
Big and active
Small but growing
Examples of apps
Wix, Soundcloud Pulse, Facebook and Facebook Ads
Alibaba, eBay, BMW, Crowdsource
3rd party libraries
Few but growing
Through Context API and various libraries
Through various packages/ libraries
React Native Rendering Library
Flutter vs. React Native: Deep-Dive Comparison
Even though Flutter and React Native are used to create cross-platform applications, they differ in various ways.
Flutter and React Native are frameworks for different programming languages.
Flutter is a Dart framework. Dart is object-oriented and is used in various Google-maintained products such as Flutter Engine, Flutter framework, and AngularDart. In the same survey, only 6.54% of the respondents preferred working with Dart.
#2. Components and Rendering
How a framework renders, its components influences the performance of its apps.
React Native UI components are built from native platform components (Android and iOS). As a result, these components are responsive and fast. React Native has various components such as “View”, “Image”, “Text”, “ScrollView”, “Touchable” and “TextInput”.
React Native apps on different platforms may have a varying appearance as it uses the underlying OS’s UI components.
Flutter uses a UI component library that Google maintains. These components are built using the Skia graphics engine, making them fast and flexible. Some popular Flutter UI components are Cupertino widgets and Material Design widgets.
Users can also create custom widgets by rewriting existing ones or creating some from scratch.
Apps created using Flutter have a consistent UI/UX, irrespective of the operating system.
Both frameworks have done a good job in UI components. The choice between the two lies with the developer’s experience, taste, and preferences.
#3. Libraries and community support
The availability of libraries and community support are factors that cannot be overlooked in the development space.
Flutter is based on Dart, a programming language with less than 10% popularity. However, the platform has a budding community that always creates new libraries. Dart was launched in 2011. All Dart and Flutter packages are on the pub.dev repository.
React Native is the winner in the availability of libraries and community support.
Modern users care so much about the performance of various apps.
Flutter is a Dart framework (a compiled language). A compiled language converts the code to machine-readable code before execution.
Flutter wins on the performance feature, built on a compiled language. However, the difference in performance may not be notable in apps with minimal features.
#5. State management
State management is the patterns or techniques you can use to manage the state of an application. For instance, when a user logins into an application and inputs data, the state changes and needs to be managed.
There exist several approaches to managing state in React Native applications. The first approach is through “Context”, a built-in API that allows sharing states between different components. Context is suitable for small and medium-sized applications. For big apps, you can use state management libraries such as MobX and Redux.
Flutter uses a combination of approaches to manage state. If your application is still small, you can use packages such as Riverpod and Provider to manage state.
Flutter also uses Business Logic Component (BLoC pattern) for state management. This approach separates the business logic from the presentation layer. Streams and events are used in state management on this approach.
Both React Native and Flutter have awesome approaches for state management, and there is no winner. You can also use Redux to manage the state in both.
#6. Learning curve
Knowing how easy it is or how much time you are likely to spend learning a new framework is an important consideration for beginners and experienced developers. Even though learning capabilities differ from one person to another, some languages/ frameworks are easier to learn than others.
Flutter uses Dart. Flutter was launched in 2017 and is not that popular. Even though it is easy to learn Dart/ Flutter, you may not come across many resources on Dart as it is a niche language. Flutter has over 25k forks on GitHub.
Well-known Brands using Flutter
Flutter has been used to build various Google mobile apps. This framework is also used by other brands such as;
Abbey Road Studios
4 Pics 1 Word
Brands using React Native
React Native has been used by many big brands for their Android and iOS apps. Some of the big names are;
Facebook Ads Manager
Microsoft apps (Microsoft Office, Skype, Microsoft Teams, and Xbox Game Pass)
Cross-platform development platforms like Flutter and React Native can save a lot of development resources and time. However, these platforms are not ideal for all applications. These are some unfavorable instances of the two platforms;
The app needs to use some features of the underlying operating system: Your app may need to use features like a microphone native to a certain operating system.
You want a highly performant app: A cross-platform development solution might not be a good option if you want a highly responsive and high-performance application.
If you want to create a fast app, Flutter will be your best bet. However, if you want to create an app based on a language with a big community, React Native should be your pick.
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