React Native vs Flutter: Two of the best frameworks to develop cross-platform mobile applications today. Techies all around the world love talking about the frameworks, their differences, and which one is better than the other. And why not? Mobile development is a huge industry with over 6 billion active mobile users worldwide. And according to Statista, 42% of the developers pick React Native vs Flutter over other conventional frameworks. Comparably, Cordova, the 3rd most popular mobile framework, is only preferred by 16% of developers.
React Native vs Flutter has been a massive success ever since their parent companies launched them- Facebook and Google, respectively, two of the largest tech conglomerates in the world. According to reports from Comscore, Users spend up to 87% of their time using apps daily, and smartphone app usage is constantly growing. The market is cutthroat, and every company wants to grab a piece of this pie, including startups and developers building their applications to enter the market.
This article will discuss the two most popular frameworks these app developers and companies use- React Native vs Flutter, and how they compete. Let’s start with a general introduction to each.
What is React Native?
React Native is a popular mobile app development framework as it develops native-like apps for multiple platforms with a single codebase. It helps in rapid development and testing. Developers don’t have to write different codes for different platforms and only test one code before incorporating it into the supposed platforms.
Some popular React-Native apps include Instagram, Facebook, Bloomberg, Walmart, and Airbnb(Recently changed to Native app)
Importance of React Native
React Native gets easily connected to the operating systems which makes it easier to work with the native components, generate codes, connect to Native APIs and data binding. The process is easy, stable and rapid, giving an optimal performance.
Vast Community of Developers
React-Native framework is available for free for developers and can reuse the code for other platforms; therefore, you don’t have to hire separate developers and designers for each platform. This results in reducing the operational, maintenance and design cost of mobile app development.
What is Flutter?
Google developed the Flutter cross-platform user interface framework. Since its original release in May 2017, Flutter’s popularity has continuously increased. With Flutter, businesses just need to maintain one codebase when developing apps for many platforms. As a result, the amount of time and resources involved in developing and maintaining software is greatly decreased.
Flutter is the SDK (Software Development Kit) by Google built using their programming language called “DART ” that provides a fast and expressive way for developers to build apps on all platforms such as Android, IOS and Windows devices, even websites. The first version of Flutter was known by the codename “Sky”. There are 200 million+ users of Flutter made apps with more than 3,00,000+ developers who use Flutter for app development.
Some popular Flutter apps include Google Ads, Alibaba, Hamilton and KlasterMe.
Importance of Flutter
Flutter is also a cross-platform application like React Native where you can have one codebase for two applications. Flutter can also be developed for the Fuchsia platform, an operating system that is currently in development at Google, which is claimed to replace Android. Besides mobile apps, Flutter can also be used to develop web and desktop apps.
Ideal for MVP
A Flutter app development time is less, and it can be built to look like a Native app on both IOS and Android, allowing you to showcase your app to your investors within a short span.
Flexibility And Stability
Flutter is easy to access and integrate that intensifies flexibility and scalability, developers are constantly amazed by the improvement seen in the customized widgets and features with every release.
Rich in Components
Flutter framework is bundled with UI rendering components, device API access, navigation, testing, stateful management and loads of libraries. This rich set of components removes the need to use third-party libraries. If you get the Flutter framework, it means you will have everything needed for developing mobile apps. Flutter also has widgets for Material Design and Cupertino that allow developers to render the UI on both iOS and Android platforms at ease.
Flutter engine has most of the Native components in the framework itself, and it doesn’t always need a bridge to communicate with the Native components.
What is The Main Difference Between Flutter and React Native?
Because of that, component updates (to, for example, iOS 16) don’t have any impact on Flutter apps but do on React Native apps. Depending on where you’re standing, this can be a good or bad thing.
For example, if you want your components to stay exactly the way you want them to, Flutter’s approach will satisfy you. But if you want your app to “catch up” with the latest native component designs, then React Native isthe way to go — in React Native this update happens automatically and is free. Also, if you don’t want your components in a React Native app to follow the new iOS design (because you want to retain the style, for example), you can turn the automatic component update off.
But to include the latest native components in Flutter, you have to update the app manually.
When we compare React Native vs Flutter, we find they are quite different in a handful of key ways. Some key differences are:
React Native vs Flutter Popularity
React Native: React Native is widely adopted and is a more popular app development framework than Flutter. React developers can quickly develop react native mobile apps, which encourages more developers to use this framework.
Flutter: Flutter is relatively new, and though it has gained some attention lately, it is still way behind in developer count. Since Dart is a new language, the adoption rate among developers is slightly lower.
React Native vs Flutter Performance
It’s difficult to say whether a React Native vs Flutter mobile app performs better. There are numerous aspects to take into account, like the type of app, codebase, animations, transitions, app size, layout, data passing, the end user’s phone, and more. Therefore, it won’t be the same for every app. Both frameworks use hot reloading, which speeds up development by allowing you to see changes immediately.
With the help of their developer and user communities, Flutter and React Native both continually enhance their performance. But, overall, Flutter narrowly prevails.
React Native vs Flutter Programming Language
Flutter uses a language called Dart, which is older and not widely used. Dart has an object-oriented, class-based system.
React Native vs Flutter Libraries and Packages
React Native’s ecosystem is huge, much bigger than Flutter’s. This is mainly thanks to the node package manager (npm), a repository of packages. There are over 1.8 million packages hosted on npm.
Flutter/Dart’s pub-dev repository is a dynamically growing repository, but one that’s still young and without as many ready-made solutions.
However, when we look for repos on Github, a quick search reveals that the ecosystems of both technologies are similar in size.
As of February 2023, Flutter has 487,428 repository results and React Native UI library stands at 355,832. For Flutter, this number has almost doubled as in 2022 there were “only” 241,632 against React Native’s 232,168.
React Native vs Flutter Documentation
Both Flutter and React Native have high quality documentation materials. This makes if simple for programmers to develop mobile apps.
React Native’s documentation is a bit messier because it also includes community-developed dependent libraries.
Flutter has documentation that is well produced, organized, and comprehensive. In contrast, React Native’s documentation requires some explanation.
React Native vs Flutter User Interface
React Native: React Native is based more on native components for both Android and iOS devices. It offers an extensive collection of external UI kits that helps in creating beautiful user interfaces for your applications.
Flutter: Flutter uses proprietary visual, structural, platform, and interactive widgets. These widgets are built-in UI components that replace native platform components.
React Native vs Flutter Project Size
React Native vs Flutter Backend
For Flutter, one popular backend option is Firebase. Firebase is a mobile and web application development platform that provides developers with various tools and services, including real-time database, authentication, hosting, and more. With Firebase, developers can quickly build cloud-powered mobile and web applications that are scalable, reliable, and secure. And some other backend options for Flutter include AWS Amplify, Google Cloud Platform, and Parse Server.
Ultimately, the backend technology choice will depend on your application’s specific needs and your preferences as a developer.
React Native vs Flutter Cross-platform capacity
React Native lets devs build apps for iOS and Android, and the web via React. Recently, Microsoft has unveiled a great project where desktop apps can be written in React Native (for both macOS and Windows).
With React Native version 0.71 (which initially had some troubles), the team is focusing on improving the cross-platform developer experience with TypeScript by default, new architecture updates, and layout management via Flexbox Gap. This release also delivers web-inspired props for styles and accessibility to align RN’s API across platforms.
With Flutter, you can develop apps for web, macOS, Windows, Linux, Android, iOS, and embedded systems (e.g., infotainment systems in cars).
Flutter 3 came with a promise of a truly cross-platform development capability, with the SDK letting developers share code between all compatible platforms. In fact, Flutter 4 will be focusing on the desktop app development. On the other hand, Flutter’s latest release, Flutter 3.7, boosts performance with a new rendering engine on iOS and background processing improvements, among other updates to developer tooling and internationalization and Material 3 support.
React Native vs Flutter Community
Both the React Native vs Flutter communities are thriving, with numerous conferences, hackathons, and events every year.
It’s impossible to overstate the breadth of the community and available communication avenues where you can interact with professionals and get help with your development-related questions.
Over the years, the Flutter community has expanded more than the React Native community. This is significant since it indicates that more problems are being actively fixed by Flutter developers. By looking at closed GitHub issues, you can get a sense of the speed and attentiveness with which the community handles unresolved issues.
React Native vs Flutter Salary
Salaries of developers depend on several factors including location, number of years of experience, company, and project and may vary on various other factors.
There is not much difference between the salary of React Native vs Flutter.
Average salary of a Flutter developer is $92,933 per annum according to Indeed.
Average salary of a React Native developer is $96,016 per annum according to Glassdoor.
React Native vs Flutter vs Kotlin
Unlike Flutter and React Native, Kotlin is a cross-platform programming language. Launched by JetBrains, Kotlin is an open-source, statically typed, and general-purpose single language designed to interoperate with Java. Being an indispensable part of Android app development, it’s used by 60% of professional Android developers.
It’s also estimated that 80% of the top 1,000 Android apps used Kotlin code, including over 60 Google apps. Moreover, PYPL ranked Kotlin as the 12th most popular programming language in the world. Besides Android, its multi-platform capabilities allow programmers to share code, logic, and data across several platforms such as iOS, Web, and more.
Some Popular apps that use Kotlin are Slack, Evernote, Tinder, Netflix, Airbnb, and Pinterest.
In terms of popularity, React Native, Flutter, and Kotlin are highly popular among mobile app developers. React Native is the third most widely used framework among the top US apps, directly after Kotlin. React Native is still popular in the US because over 14.84% of the top 500 apps are built using this framework.
Kotlin enjoys an impressive 15.99% market share. It has been used in the development of more than 131,000 various apps and boasts more than 298 billion downloads worldwide.
The significance of Kotlin will only grow more in 2023. One of the main reasons for this growth is full interchangeability with Java. Kotlin aims to eliminate the “narrow places” in Java, which makes life much easier for programmers.
The level of Kotlin benefits overshadows its weaker points. However, it can still be seen as an option for senior players in the application development market. The high maintenance costs and talent crunch make it a risky investment for start-ups.
Kotlin, after all, is better when:
- You start a new project for the Android
- You need to make quick adjustments to the existing project
- You do any kind of development, be it server-side or client-side web, and Android
React Native vs Flutter vs Native Apps
A Native app is a smartphone application built explicitly for a single operating system like Android or iOS in their respective officially accepted coding languages, such as Java or Kotlin for Android and Objective-C or Swift for iOS.
Few popular Native apps are Google pay (formerly known as Tez), WhatsApp, LinkedIn, Telegram, Spotify, Netflix and Truecaller.
You may already know that, but I thought I should spell it out anyway: top-of-the-line, truly immersive user experiences are only possible with a native mobile development approach. That’s why the mobile applications from the top charts in the App Store and Google Play are built natively. That’s why Google doesn’t transfer YouTube or Gmail to Flutter.
Only with native apps, you get all the advantages and platform-specific features of iOS and Android. Even such advanced cross-platform tools as React Native and Flutter will always play a catch-up game with Swift and Kotlin.
Does it mean that mobile apps developed with Flutter or React Native suck? Of course not. At the end of the day, a decision to go with either tool is driven by the development budget. How much can you pour into realizing your business idea? Are you an early-stage startup looking for investors?
Should I Learn Flutter or React Native in 2023?
So which one is easier to learn React Native vs Flutter 2023?
From a developer’s perspective, Flutter is easier to learn than React Native.
Then there’s React Native as a framework itself. It’s not to say React Native is a bad framework — in fact, lots of great apps have it in their stacks. But without being familiar with some nuances, you can waste long hours trying to solve problems when configuring the developer environment.
React Native vs Flutter Future
For a long time, CTOs asked why React Native is better than Flutter, but the parameters of that question have shifted a while ago. In skilled hands, both React Native and Flutter can be used to build great apps with close-to-native performance and feel. However, Flutter has been increasingly used more by businesses and professional developers, and this trend is continuing globally.
Still, when choosing either technology, you’ve got to look at it from a wider perspective than just popularity or technical benefits and drawbacks.
Flutter’s gentle learning curve is an invaluable asset — when you need developers to jump into a project fast, Flutter’s documentation paired with relatively easy Dart will definitely help.
When Is React Native The Best Choice?
Here are some cases when I’d recommend going with React Native:
- When you have an existing web application written in React and want to make it available as a natively built app with some additional options.
- When the time to market is essential, and you’re ready to sacrifice or compromise on some functionality by using third-party libraries.
- When you plan to proceed with a web app development right after releasing mobile solutions and want to reuse the code for the web.
- When you expect to quickly find an answer to any problem you run into during development. An established developer community is one of the most distinct advantages of React Native.
- When your primary audience is on the iPhone
When Is Flutter The Best Choice?
How about Flutter? Here’s when I think it’s a good idea to choose Flutter over React Native:
- When you have talented Dart developers on your team.
- When you expect your application to include many complex animations and calculation-intensive algorithms.
- When you don’t plan to reuse code for an accompanying web app (good luck finding decent Dart web developers)
- When you want to be a hip kid on the block
- When your primary audience is on Android, Flutter and React Native vs. Native Development
As customers, we don’t really care whether an app works on React Native vs Flutter. Instead, we highly value the user experience that the mobile product provides. Do transitions between screens and other animations feel fluid? Does the app load fast? Can we use familiar gestures to navigate around the app? Combined, these small things can easily make us fall in love with a mobile product or prompt us to remove it.
If you want to consult regarding your mobile development project, you can contact us. Optymize provides top 3% of the best mobile app developers expert in Flutter, React Native and even native Android and iOS frameworks. Book a session now.