Flutter Vs. React Native - What to Choose for a Startup

React Native is popular. Flutter is hyping. Who will win in the end? We have reviewed the main advantages of both tools to help you choose the best cross-platform app development framework for your project!

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One of the most discussed topics in app development right now is Flutter vs. React Native comparison. The established React Native library faces a young but truly prospective rival in Flutter. Who’ll win in the end? Nobody knows, but the battle will be interesting!   

There are multiple approaches to the creation of mobile applications. Cross-platform app development is constantly competing with the native approach. There’s no clear winner in this competition yet, but the companies can choose the technologies that fit their needs most. As for 2019, React Native and Flutter are two popular tools for a cross-platform approach.

Why do we stand for cross-platform development? Based on our experience, this is a reasonable choice as it enables the creation of native-like applications for all platforms with a single technology stack. Basically, you only have to hire one team that is responsible for the development and support of your software for all operating systems.

We have to admit, that cross-platform apps lack performance when compared to native ones. But this compromise is acceptable for most projects, as it enables to significantly reduce the development time and costs.

Cross-platform app development tools: React native vs. Flutter

Tools for cross-platform development

Few technologies are worth your attention if you are considering cross-platform approach:

Our articles comparing the other tools will be released soon. In this post, we’re going to focus on React Native vs. Flutter comparison.

What is React Native? Basic info

React native advantages and disadvantages

React Native is a library for cross-platform app development created and supported by Facebook. It’s elder brother is React - one of the most popular frontend development frameworks.

React Native is a JavaScript framework that makes it extremely easy to learn for web programmers. However, there is a significant difference when compared to frontend development: React Native doesn’t use HTML and CSS, but rather uses JSX and CSS-like polyfiles. This means, that developers can create various components as with React, but they will be rendered to native controllers depending on the operating system. As a result, the user can enjoy an experience that is close to native.

Why we love React Native?

The fact that React native is currently the number one cross-platform development technology is not unfounded. These are the main reasons:

  • Use of web technologies for mobile app development
    React Native has a low learning curve, enabling web developers to build mobile applications with less effort. So, if you have already created a website for your product, you can involve the same team for mobile app development as well. Fewer expenses for recruiting and onboarding and shorter time-to-market are a definite advantage of using this library.

  • Use of native components
    React Native enables you to employ the same components that are used in the development of native applications. This means, that the application interface (including buttons, transitions, etc.) will be completely familiar to the end user.

  • Hot reload
    All the changes a developer makes in code can be followed immediately, which makes
    the development and bug-fixing process faster and more efficient.

  • Community and documentation
    React Native is currently the leader, and thousands of developers use it to build cross-platform apps from scratch. It’s hard to overestimate the communication within the community. In addition, the available documentation is comprehensive and helpful. So, you always receive the answer to any of your questions concerning app development with React Native.

Yes, this framework is cool. But there are still some disadvantages you should be aware of:

Possible issues with React Native

  • Security issues
    In the case of security-demanding software (such as banking software, or any other apps processing sensitive user data), you will have to consider additional protection.

  • JavaScript bridge
    This is the main reason why React Native can’t beat a native app’s performance: communication with native components occurs with the help of a JavaScript bridge. An additional layer causes slight delays in app loading. In most cases, this delay is too insignificant to notice, but some performance-critical functionality will make the difference crucial.

  • Need for third-party components
    This tool has some built-in modules for iOS and Android, but in most cases, these are not enough to build a well-performing app. The number of third-party components for development with React Native remains limited. The powerful community gives us much hope that this number will increase over time.

A few examples with React Native

Mobile versions of Facebook and Instagram were among the first applications to be developed using React Native. So, if you doubt the performance of a cross-platform app, just take a look at how sophisticated and powerful such an application can be. Of course, the company has invested many resources to create these apps. But they have proven that with the right approach even a cross-platform application can become a pasterpiece.

Are you going to build a mobile application to reach thousands of users?

React Native is a great tool to start. Discuss your project requirements with our expert

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See this showcase of React Native applications for more inspiring examples. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Skype, Bloomberg, and Tesla are companies that have entrusted the experience of their mobile users to React Native. Sound like a nice club to join, right?

What is Flutter? Basic info

Flutter advantages and disadvantages

At the end of 2018, developers received access to a brand new cross-platform app development SDK - Google launched its Flutter.

Flutter is based on Dart, a programming language that was initially used internally by Google. It is also the language used for the company’s new operating system, Fuchsia OS. So, clearly, Google wants Dart to go mainstream. This is an OOP programming language that will be easy for Java and C++ developers to learn.

The use of Dart has several advantages, but we’re not going into detail now. There is one thing worth mentioning: Dart compiles directly into native code without the need for bridges (like React Native). As a result, applications built with Dart are faster.

What Flutter has to offer?

  • Execution speed
    The fact that this SDK doesn’t use JavaScript as a bridge enables Flutter to achieve performance comparable to native applications written with Java/Kotlin or Swift/Objective-C. At the same time, the main feature of cross-platform app development - the use of a single technology stack for all platforms - remains a great advantage.

  • Its own graphics engine
    Flutter doesn’t use native components, so there’s no need for additional layers, which affect the speed. Instead, all components are created with the tool’s own graphics engine, ensuring fast rendering.

  • Hot reload
    Similar to React Native, Flutter has a hot reload feature. A built-in JIT-compiler enables fast reflection of changes in code and easy bug fixing. As a result, app development with this tool is fast and less buggy.

  • Supported platforms
    Flutter uses a single codebase that is directly compiled for three platforms: iOS, Android and Fuchsia.

Google is working on Fuchsia for a few years now and we still don't know what exactly this OS should be used for. Rumor has it that Fuchsia will be a universal operating systems bringing under one hood all types of hardware, including PCs, laptops, smartphones, tablets, smart speakers, IoT devices, etc.

The fact that Flutter supports Fuchsia OS before the official release proves that Google is quite serious about the new platform. So, choosing Flutter you are ready for possible shift in the technology world!

However, choosing the newest technologies for your project development is always a certain risk.

Possible issues with Flutter

  • Big installation package size
    Along with the SDK itself, you’ll have to download the Dart virtual machines needed for compilation depending on your target platforms.

  • Instability
    The tool is newly released, and some features are still unstable. However, now is the perfect time to experiment with new and prospective technology.

  • Fewer libraries
    In the case of native app development, there are more libraries to choose from. However, the Flutter community is continuing to grow, and the number of third-party tools is increasing.

Apps developed with Flutter

Although Flutter was officially released just a few months ago, many companies started using it in beta. Therefore, some applications based on Flutter are already available in app stores. The stories of their development are worth reading:

Flutter and React Native performance comparison

As you can see, the two libraries have much in common, but some differences may be critical in making the right choice for you. This table may be helpful:

 

 

React Native

Flutter

Company

Facebook

Google

Programming language

JavaScript

Dart

Supported platforms

iOS, Android

iOS, Android, Fuchsia OS

Costs

Open-source, free

Open-source, free

Bridge usage affecting app performance

Yes, uses JavaScript as a bridge to communicate with native components, which affects speed and performance.

No bridge needed, so the app is faster and more powerful.

Hot reload

Yes

Yes

Learning curve

Low for web developers since React Native uses mostly JavaScript.

Low learning curve even if you have never heard of Dart. Especially easy to learn for Java and C developers.

 

The main difference between the two frameworks is app performance. Flutter apps are more powerful and in most cases indistinguishable from native applications. But the novelty of this solution still frightens some development teams and they choose to go the well-known path.

When to use React Native

When to use React Native?

We’ve finally approached the main section of this article. Find your case below:

  • You’re limited in time
    React Native is extremely popular among developers, so hiring a team is not difficult. Consider using this technology if you need to start development ASAP and you don’t have time to look for Dart programmers or learn this language by yourself.

  • You’re not ready to risk
    We’re not saying that Flutter is a risky choice. But let’s face it, new technologies need time to become 100% reliable. If stability and flexibility is your number one priority, then React Native is a good match. The library has been on the market for several years with timely releases and updates. Flutter is young and its high time is still ahead. Currently, we expect a lot of experiments from Flutter creators, so consider carefully if you are ready to be a part of it.

We have been developing React Native apps for a few years now and believe that this technology is one of the best solutions to create a mobile app so far.

When to use Flutter?

But don’t make quick decisions. Being new on the market, Flutter is still a good option. Especially in these cases:

  • Performance is your priority
    Flutter is an ultimate choice to reach native-like user experience. The performance and speed of applications built with Dart are better as it doesn’t use a JavaScript layer to communicate with native components

  • You aim to minimize time-to-market
    Flutter offers a clear, convenient, and fast development process, enabling the programmer to do everything within a single environment and a single programming language. Extreme code reusability enables you to reduce your development budget and time-to-market.

  • You want to follow the latest trends
    Flutter is currently the only SDK enabling app development for Fuchsia OS. We still don’t know the official release date of the brand new operating system. However, by creating an app using Flutter now you will be able to adapt it for Fuchsia in a matter of days. Your application will be among the first ones on the platform, and not one of the millions currently available in Android and iOS app stores.

If you are looking for fast app development and impressive native performance, then Flutter is your choice. However, reserve some time to learn Dart. Also, be ready for some experiments with the framework. It is young, the community isn’t powerful enough, so some issues in the development process may occur.

Will Flutter replace React Native? It’s hard to say yet, but we believe that the prospects for this SDK are bright. Our team has already started experimenting with the new technology and the possibilities are impressive!  

Conclusion

If you are considering cross-platform app development as an option for your project - congratulations! You have found the best price-performance relationship. Your efforts will result in a solid native-like application, but the development and support will be much easier and cheaper than native development.

When looking for the right technical partner, make sure to choose a team with relevant background. There are certain issues that need to be considered for cross-platform app development.

The choice between Flutter and React Native is still too hard for you?

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