Mobile

React Native vs Flutter: Which one to choose

Nirmalsinh Rathod
Nirmalsinh Rathod
Sr. iOS Developer
20th January 2022 10 mins read

App development is a promising and growing field in the developer community. If we go by the numbers, according to Statista, thirty thousand mobile apps were released per month in 2020, just through the Apple app store.

Such a dynamic field requires developers to resort to cross-app development that reduces the cost of development without compromising the quality.

React Native and Flutter are popular cross-development technologies. Since both of them have substantial benefits, the React Native vs Flutter debate is imminent. But if you had to choose one, which one would you go for?

Well, if you need some assistance in answering that question for yourself, we have prepared a detailed summary and comparison for you.

What is Flutter- An Overview

Before we get started, let us quickly answer the question- what is Flutter?

Flutter is an open-source framework that uses a single codebase. In layman terms, you can use a single tool to develop varying applications for desktop, web, and mobile. This makes it affordable and the number one choice for students and companies with limited budgets. 

It was released in May 2017 by Google. The Google and Flutter community jointly contribute to its growth.

It uses Dart, which is a language also created by Google. Since Flutter provides the convenience to develop a flexible UI with native performance, it is considered to be exceptional in terms of navigation. Moreover, Flutter developers can also modify the UX.

Several businesses like Toyota, Supernova, Google Pay, Dream 11, eBay, etc., have built apps with Flutter.

What is React Native- An Overview

Similarly, what is react native?

React Native is a cross-platform development tool written in JavaScript. Its framework is such that you can create an application for several platforms with the same codebase. In other words, it allows code reuse between Android and iOS. 

It uses the same building blocks as iOS and Android apps but sheaths them together with the help of JavaScript and React. 

The apps built with React Native offer better quality, as compared to Hybrid apps. Moreover, they are faster to build as well as cheaper than Native apps. 

Since its inception in 2015 by Facebook as an open-source project, Native React has paved its way towards becoming one of the best solutions for mobile development. 

The users of React Native include big names like Facebook, Instagram, Discord, Skype, Vogue, etc.

flutter-vs-react-native

Performance Comparison

Let us begin with Flutter vs React Native performance comparison

When it comes to Flutter, performance will never be an issue for several reasons. 

For starters, Flutter is compiled into the native ARM or Intel machine code for iOS and Android. This enhances the app performance on all devices and guarantees speed. 

While React Native might require additional components for an amplified UX performance, Flutter does it easily due to the widgets. It handles the UX issues without altering the performance or speed. 

A whole lot of the performance depends on their scripting language. While Flutter uses Dart, JavasScript is being used by React Native. 

On its own, JavaScript might feel lighter and faster, and it is, as compared to other compiled languages like Java. However, it loses in front of Dart. 

React Native uses JavaScript to connect to native components with the help of a bridge. Flutter does not require such a bridge as it streamlines this process for native component interaction. This increases its overall speed.

So, Flutter takes the crown as far as the Flutter vs React Native performance is concerned.

Application Architecture

Let us understand the difference between Flutter and React Native in terms of application architecture. 

Flutter consists of a framework with a UI library with widgets and an SDK( Software development kit). 

The former one contains reusable UI elements that can be customized as per the requirements. The latter is a set of tools through which you can compile code into the native machine code for iOS and Android and develop applications. 

The hierarchy of React Native architecture goes like JavaScript Thread → Native Thread → Shadow Thread. 

The JavaScript thread is where the code is placed and compiled. It runs the bundle when the app is being started by a user. Native thread helps in the execution of native code. It handles seamless and uninterrupted communication with the JavaScript thread. The native modules will be bundled when the user requires access. Shadow thread is where all the calculations are done. 

If we consider the architecture, Flutter architecture has the upper hand as it does not require building any bridge with the native components, unlike React Native. This makes the apps more stable.

Suitability for Building Apps

Even though Flutter might seem to be a more feasible option for building apps, it might not work for complex applications. However, the fact remains that it is an efficient solution for making MVP for startups or small businesses. 

It will help you build visually appealing and revved-up apps according to your prerequisites. Moreover, it is an added advantage that you can build apps for Android as well as iOS. 

On the other hand, React Native does a satisfactory job in developing complex native apps for Android and iOS. Not only does it save you time and effort by reducing the codebase, but you also get open-source libraries for a faster app development process. 

So, if you are planning to build a complex app while maintaining its high speed and performance, we suggest you prefer React Native.

Ease of Testing

The entire purpose of testing is to detect and analyze any software errors, and to make the necessary corrections. Testing is only considered to be successful if the code works under all conditions, rather than only under specified conditions. 

When it comes to testing in Flutter, you get comprehensive support. The features provided with Dart allow you to test the apps at all levels- unit, widget, and integration. 

The unit test tests a single class, function, or method. The widget test tests a single widget. Lastly, an integration test tests the entirety of the app in question. 

When it comes to the testing of React Native app, you, as a developer, will have to rely on third-party apps for testing. 

At the same time, there are several React Native testing tools like Jest, Detox, etc. 

Jest is a JavaScript testing framework that solves the errors in the JavaScript codebase. It is well-documented and familiar. Moreover, this needs fewer configurations as well. 

Detox can be used to test the apps and automatically understand the users’ reactions to them. Since it does not use client-server architecture, it is considered to be faster than other third-party testing frameworks. 
All in all, Flutter takes the prize when it comes to the ease of testing with the support provided.

Pros and Cons of React Native

pros-and-cons-of-react-native

To make a clear comparison between React Native and Flutter, it is necessary to depict their best qualities. Let us begin with some of the best benefits of using React Native.

1. Large Community

With over 597,537 weekly downloads, it goes without saying that React Native has an established and large community of developers. 

Such a wide array of developers prefer React Native since it is easy to learn and use. It provides a standard set of APIs for building UI components. This allows developers to only write code once and run it on different platforms. 

Even if you are new to React Native, you can get a quick grasp, if you have knowledge of JavaScript, CSS, and HTML. 

Even if you find yourself stuck in a particular problem, you can turn to the developer community for support. The React Native tag in Stack Overflow will certainly help you bring closer to the answers. In this way, a developer shall never walk alone. They will always have the support of other developers.

2. Fast Coding

With React Native’s Hot-reloading feature, you can add new codes into a running app. This will facilitate you to notice the changes without the hassle of rebuilding the app. In other words, you do not lose any of your state while tweaking the UI. 

This feature speeds up the mobile app development process. 

In the 0.61 version of React Native, the “hot re-loading” and “live re-loading” features were unified to inculcate a new feature called “Fast Refresh.”

This additional feature recovers quickly after typos and errors and provides a full reload. With its incapability to perform invasive code transformations, this feature is trustworthy. 

All in all, the hot re-loading feature speeds up the development time by promoting your app to reload after every code change. It significantly decreases the waiting time on the app.

3. Cost-Effective

The reusability feature of React Native makes it a cost-effective option. The developers are saved from writing additional codes for different platforms. 

It is a highly affordable option for building an app. Furthermore, it lessens the burden on the developers with its no downtime feature. This allows them to toggle between platforms according to the requirements.

4. Testing Library

As a developer using React Native, you shall get several ready-made solutions that will help enhance your mobile app development. The React Native Testing Library is provided to write bug-free codes to enhance confidence and credibility. 

In addition to that, it also provides utility functions to encourage better testing practices. You can test the React components and refactor them with more ease. 

While React Native might seem flawless, it does have a few disadvantages:

1. Debugging Issues

The process of debugging might come off as a tedious task since React Native apps are built with JavaScript, Java, C/C++. If the developer isn’t proficient in these scripting languages, they might spend a lot of time troubleshooting.

2. Need of Native Developers

Even while building apps with React Native, developers require a native mobile experience. This shall help them implement more advanced features. 

To ace the complex features, you will also require a varied team of developers who carry expertise in React.js, iOS, and Android. Such a prerequisite might turn out to be costly, especially for startups.

3.  Lack of Multiprocessing Threading

With its single JavaScript thread, React native fails to support multiprocessing or parallel threading. 

For example, if A gives a task to B, B divides those tasks into several sub-tasks. Furthermore, these sub-tasks are executed parallelly to enhance the performance. 

Due to the lack of such a feature in React Native, the application might not be able to perform high-end tasks like live chat and video surfing at the same time.

4. Not Suitable for Apps with Complex Gestures

If you want your app to have animated transitions or interactions, React Native is not the best choice. 

But doesn’t React Native has a gesture responder system for that? 

Well, yes. It does help the app determine the user’s intention like scrolling, tapping, or sliding. 

At the same time, coders might find it cumbersome to develop apps with complicated gestures.

Pros and Cons of Flutter

pros-and-cons-of-flutter

The following are some of the most prominent benefits of Flutter.

1. Reduced Code Development Time

Flutter shares the hot re-loading feature with React Native. As mentioned earlier, this element allows the developers to see the changes instantly without losing the application state. 

This leads to a considerable increase in the overall development speed. 
But is Flutter easy to learn? Yes!

The widgets in Flutter deserve separate recognition. Basically, widgets are visual components that build and enhance the graphical interface. Since most of the widgets in Flutter are easy to customize, it saves your time in a high proportion. 

You can also learn more about Flutter widgets here.

2. Sharable Codebase and UI

Since Flutter is a cross-platform framework, you get the added benefit of sharing codebase between the platforms. However, you also get the liberty to share the UI code. 

This feature simplifies the app development process. Moreover, it eliminates the possibility of UI inconsistencies across different platforms. 

This feature not only saves time and effort but also provides a qualitative end product.

3. Large Community

According to Statista, approximately 42% of software developers used Flutter in 2019-2021. These numbers are promising as you can be a part of a large community of Flutter developers. 

As compared to React Native, it is easier to learn and use Flutter. It is a breeze, right from the installation process. 

Additionally, the widgets feature makes it easier for developers to build applications, even if they are a beginner. 

As long as you learn its language-Dart, you’ll be good to go! If you are stuck somewhere, you can easily find somebody to guide you through, owing to their large community of developers.

4. Rendering Engine

Flutter comes off as unique due to its rendering engine, known as Skia. It is written in C++. 

Skia is used for launching the UI built in Flutter on any virtual platform. This saves you from adjusting the UI before transferring it to any given platform. 

In simpler words, it provides common APIs that function on several software platforms. 

On the other hand, the following are some of its drawbacks:

1. Large Application Size

The applications written in Flutter are larger in size compared to the ones written in React Native. Even though the apps might provide improved functionality and performance, users might not want to dedicate a huge amount of memory space to a particular application.

2. Limited Library and Support

Since the Flutter community is not as established as React Native, you might find it difficult to get third-party libraries. This might end up being burdensome for developers as they will have to build the functionalities on their own. 

However, the Google support for Flutter is noteworthy and we shall notice a solution to these issues in the near future.

3. Growing iOS Features…But Not Yet Established

Since Flutter is developed by Google, there is always a sense of doubt amongst developers regarding the support for iOS features. 

While building Android apps might be a smooth sail, it might be difficult for iOS apps. 

However, the upcoming updates on Flutter will be focused heavily on iOS support.

Who’s the Winner?

Well, the answer to the question: React Native vs Flutter is quite subjective. React Native and Flutter have their set of advantages and disadvantages, and it all comes down to your app requirements. 

But to make things easier for you, we have prepared a sort of checklist for you to choose the best one for your app development.

When to Choose React Native?

when-to-choose-react-native

Choose React Native if you want the following:

  1. For creating cross-platform mobile app development
  2. For achieving qualitative results within your budgetary and time constraints.
  3. For benefitting from real-time code changes.
  4. For larger projects.
  5. For re-using the codes for desktop and web applications.
  6. For creating applications that perform at the speed of 60 FPS.

Note: It is also easier to find work as a React Native developer as compared to a Flutter developer. Also, if you are planning to make an app, you’ll find it easier to look for a React Native developer with several years of experience.

When to Choose Flutter?

when-to-choose-flutter

Choose flutter if you want the following:

  1. For ease of development with widgets.
  2. For seeing faster changes in the UI along with a significant reduction in the waiting time.
  3. For faster bug-spotting and making the necessary changes.
  4. For creating an MVP in a limited time frame.
  5. For creating applications that perform at the speed of 60-120 FPS and 120 Hz refresh rate.

Flutter vs React Native: In a Nutshell

Now that we have covered the majority of the aspects of the React Native vs Flutter dilemma, it is time for a quick comparison. 

By choosing React Native, you shall be able to build complex applications. At the same time, they might not be able to perform complex animations and transitions. 

Hence, it all comes down to what you require in your apps? 

Do you want to build a team of developers without any hassle? If yes, choose React Native since you will find several developers with JavaScript knowledge. 

Are you able to find developers familiar with Dart? Using Flutter will turn out to be the logical choice. 

Are you building projects surrounding social media, eCommerce, or daily activities tracker? React Native is a favorable choice, by a long shot.

Are you building projects that boast complex animations, transitions, and calculations? Look no further than Flutter. 

While it might come off as a daunting task, once you understand both sides of the React Native vs Flutter argument, you’ll be in the position to make an informed decision. 

In our opinion, both- React Native and Flutter are strong warriors but in different battlegrounds. Simply define your application goals and act accordingly!

Conclusion

After hours of deliberation and research for the React Native vs Flutter comparison, we concluded that we need not compare them, at least not till you are aware of their differences. 

Even though React Native is likely to remain a tough competitor to beat, Flutter has immense backing from Google. 

If you want to upgrade your business with a mobile application- be it through Flutter or React Native, we can undoubtedly help you. Contact us today and help us scale your company with the best technological support.

Nirmalsinh Rathod
Nirmalsinh Rathod
Sr. iOS Developer Head of iOS development at Creole Studios, and a thoroughbred Gujarati who loves food, and values family above all else.

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