One of the biggest dilemma that CTOs and developers have to face when developing a cross-platform app is choosing the framework for their app.
Flutter vs React Native, the debate rages on, since both offer some of the best options for cross platform mobile development.
Here’s a definitive guide to help you choose between these two leading cross-platform development frameworks.
Flutter vs React Native: How to choose between the two
In 2020, both React Native and Flutter have come a long way from their initial launch in 2015 and 2018 respectively. With Facebook being the power behind React Native and Google propelling Flutter forward, both these platforms have a strong workforce backing them. There are number of successful enterprise level applications built on both these platforms.
You need to consider a myriad of factors, ranging from performance to interface, from development to support and testing before making that choice and we are here to aid you in making that decision.
In this guide we are going to compare both these frameworks along the following criteria:
1. Programming languages
2. User interface
4. Code structure
6. Development time
7. API capabilities
8. Hot reload
9. Community support
10. Testing and deployment
When it comes to designing and developing your own app, understanding which platform is right for you isn’t always an easy task. There are pros and cons to both these frameworks and taking a deep dive into them is crucial for you in the decision making process.
Let’s get started!
1. Programming Languages
Flutter, on the other hand, works on a relatively new programming language called Dart while which is not widely used outside of Google.
Even though the adoption rate of Dart in the industry is not very high, the subset of the developer community that has been working it has all good things to say about it. Dart has been designed in such a manner that it makes compiling of native code faster and it is simpler to customize widgets.
So it all comes down to personal preference.
On the other hand, if you or your team holds no prior technical expertise, the low learning curve that Dart offers makes Flutter a lucrative choice for you.
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2. User Interface
React Native utilizes native components both for Android and iOS. This means that the users will have the same experience using the hybrid iOS or Android app that they would have had in the native app.
The buttons, widgets etc all appear in the form of native components giving a very native-like look and feel for the user. With an update of the OS UI, the app components also get simultaneously updated at the same time.
React Native offers an extensive selection of external UI kits that surpasses Flutter, such as React Native Material Kit, React Native Elements and NativeBase. It also supports iOS-style components. This makes it simple to choose the UI kit that helps you create powerful user interfaces for your app.
Flutter, on the other hand, makes use of its proprietary visual, structural, platform, and interactive widgets. These widgets are built-in UI components that replace native components.
The UI is flexible thanks to its layered architecture, which makes it easy to render graphics quickly and customize the widgets.
Two of its widgets- material design and Cupertino let you imitate platform specific native components as well. The material design widget imitates the Google’s design while Cupertino design widget imitates the iOS design.
Furthermore, Flutter has pixel rendering which means that it manages every pixel on the screen ensuring that the UI appears the same irrespective of the device the app is installed on, reducing the support woes.
Flutter vs React Native Verdict: React Native offers a more native-like user experience for your app while Flutter gives you more flexibility in UI design.
When it comes to performance, Flutter takes the crown as it is much faster than React Native.
For instance, you can reach animation runtime speeds of 60 frames per second when using Flutter. It’s also useful for supporting reusing existing code.
However, you can easily share code when using React Native, whether you’re developing for an iOS or Android platform as well as use the vast libraries that can help you run animations at 60 frames per second.
The use of React Native for hybrid applications makes it a little complicated for developers to run the architect, the native components and the library without problems.
Flutter, on the other hand, makes it easy for developers to reuse existing code. The C ++ engine also supports the language, and that gives you reward points.
Since Flutter is compiled into the native ARM code for both Android and iOS, performance is the one issue that it would never face.
Flutter vs React Native Verdict: Flutter is the clear winner in case of app performance because of greater speed.
4. Code Structure
Flutter leaves out the need for the separation of templates, style or data. Instead, it enables developers to code everything from one central location and provides access to all the tools you need.
However, code sharing of applications built using Flutter is currently limited to just Android and iOS. While the long term vision comprises of the platform supporting development for mobile as well as web, it hasn’t materialized into the mainstream platform as of now.
The code structure in case of React Native is more complex than Flutter. However, there exist third party libraries that allow you to share the code not just across Android, iOS and windows OS, but in case of web apps as well.
Flutter vs React Native Verdict: Flutter has a well thought out and simplified code structure but React Native offers wider code sharing allowing the developer to focus on writing the code without having to worry about compatibility issues.
React Native offers general documentation you can use. But the framework also depends on external dev kits extensively. On the other hand, Flutter provides documentation that is easy to read thanks to its format and detailed content.
Flutter offers a regimented and efficiently smooth documentation, which indeed simplifies the job of the app developers.
So, undoubtedly, it proves better than React Native in documentation. On the contrary, the documentation of React Native is somewhat disorganized and clumsy.
Flutter’s community is not as strong as the one for React Native. But support provided by the Flutter Team at Google is really good.
Their documentation is thorough enough to help you and they address the questions posted within a reasonable time frame which help to get started with flutter with app development using Flutter.
Flutter vs React Native Verdict: Flutter is the clear winner as it offers seamless documentation process.
6. Development Time
The bunch of mobile app development companies that have emerged these days have demonstrated their excellence in the timely delivery of projects and React Native has remained one of the best partners for all these companies.
This framework reduces the time frame for mobile app development, adds more to the user interface and takes less time to develop projects.
In the comparison of react native vs flutter, Flutter is new and requires considerable time to develop projects and if we talk about this framework in this particular aspect. React Native has ready-to-use components that help accelerate the landscape of mobile application development without creating much problems for app developers.
Flutter also promises high-quality usability, but the framework for application development needs to get more recognition over react native.
Flutter vs React Native Verdict: React native is the winner with lesser development time among the two.
7. API Capabilities
If you require native interfaces for NFC payments, Wi-Fi and biometrics, then React Native is the framework for the job.
You’ll find application programming interfaces (APIs) to support geolocation, Bluetooth and other features. However, don’t count on React Native for customizing your graphics since it lacks this type of drawing tool.
Thanks to Dart, Flutter is easy to use with a variety of APIs. It also uses the Skia Graphics Library. Thanks to this, the UI is redrawn each time when a view changes. The graphics processing unit makes it faster for the application to load.
Flutter vs React Native Verdict: Flutter is the winner in terms of API capabilities as it offers more customisation.
8. Hot Reload
The idea behind hot reloading is to keep the app running and to inject new versions of the files that you edited at runtime. This way, you don’t lose any of your state which is especially useful if you are tweaking the UI.
Both Flutter and React Native support hot reloading which is blazing fast compared to how true native apps recompile in Android Studio and XCode. If your app encounters an error, you can typically fix the error and then continue on as if the error never happened.
You can make a change to a Flutter app while it is running, and it will reload the app’s code that has changed and let it continue from where you left off. Although React Native has Hot Reload, it is not as fast as Flutter.
Flutter vs React Native Verdict: Flutter is the winner because of faster hot reloading than React Native.
9. Community Support
From integrated development environment (IDE) support to community support, it’s critical to consider whether or not the cross-platform app framework you choose has what you need.
You can find support for almost every IDE when you use Reactive Native. However, this isn’t the case for Flutter since the framework is new. IDE support is currently limited to VS Code, IntelliJ IDEA and Android Studio.
React Native released as open source on GitHub in 2015 and is the most popular framework on Stack Overflow it is backed by a huge community.
It enjoys the support of a large community and is quite stable since its launch. Flutter is relatively new but is certainly growing strong in the recent times with markedly increased community engagement in the recent years.
Flutter vs React Native Verdict: React native wins this round as it’s been around for a longer time and has considerably more support. React Native is an already established platform with support from a huge community. Flutter needs time to reach that level of stability but it no doubt has an impressive future and can be used to create great apps.
10. Testing and Deployment
Third-party tools like Appium and Detox can be used for testing React Native apps but these are not officially supported.
Flutter provides a rich set of testing features to test apps at unit, widget and integration level. It also has great documentation on testing Flutter apps available for the development team which makes testing a seamless experience.
It also has robust documentation in place for building and releasing Android and iOS apps on the Play store and App store respectively. Additionally, Flutter has officially documented the deployment process as well.
React Native, on the other hand, has to rely on third-party libraries for build and release automation. The React Native official documentation doesn’t have any automated steps to deploy the iOS apps to App Store. It rather outlines the manual process of deploying the app through Xcode.
Flutter vs React Native Verdict: Flutter wins hands down owning to a seamless documentation in place for testing and deploying the apps.
Flutter or React Native: Which one should you pick?
If you plan to share the code between a web app as well and are looking for faster time-to market, you really shouldn’t look any further.
If you want a powerful cross platform app with amazing look and feel and strong documentation backing it, Flutter should be your framework of choice.
The widget powered customizable UI and widespread device support combined with fast development and stellar performance makes it an ideal framework for developing mobile apps. Flutter is also a great choice if you are looking to develop a MVP (minimum viable product).
Looking to Build A Cross Platform Mobile App? (React Native or Flutter)
At Arkenea, we have more than 9 years of experience in helping our clients build successful native and cross platform mobile apps (on React Native and Flutter).
Many of our clients have cross several million downloads, they’ve been featured on the App Stores in over 50 countries, featured in TechCrunch and even raised millions in venture funding.
For example, we helped build an iPad app that’s a surgical workflow platform for a startup who raised $1 million in venture funding just with their first pilot.
That’s a testimony to the quality of apps we build. If you’re looking to build an app, get in touch with us to learn more about what’s the best approach for your specific product idea, how much time would it take to build and launch the first iteration and what would it cost.