Over the past decade, mobile applications have become an indispensable part of our daily lives. Nowadays, there’s an app for almost everything—and if there isn’t, it’s probably being built.
Constant technological advancements and more people embracing modern tech push developers to be on top of their game when it comes to mobile app development. As the demand for top-quality apps that ‘flow smoothly’ increases, so does the need for new platforms, frameworks, and technologies that help implement fresh ideas into cross-platform mobile applications.
With so many developer tools and platforms at your fingertips, choosing the right framework for developing a mobile app can be difficult, especially if you’re not familiar with certain key elements and aspects that come with each tool. We always encourage founders to go for native as their first choice in developing their mobile product, but budget and time constraints may push them towards choosing a cross-platform development framework.
If you’re a founder in this position, we wanted to spare you the trouble of researching each framework possibility. So we narrowed it down to the two leading ones: Flutter and React Native.
Flutter vs React Native: an introduction
In 2020, Flutter and React Native are the two main cross-platform mobile app development frameworks, and they are competing against each other. Moreover, ‘React Native vs. Flutter’ is probably one of the most debated topics among app developers.
One of the fundamental pillars of the tech industry has become creating mobile apps in highly efficient ways, and that’s why cross-platform frameworks have become so important. These tools allow developers to create Android and iOS mobile apps using a single platform.
The two most powerful contenders in this field are Flutter and React Native, however, each framework comes with its own strengths and weaknesses. We wanted to create an objective, bias-free comparison of the two platforms, in order to see which would benefit you and your business the most. We selected 5 aspects that are crucial when it comes to developing a mobile app, to see how our two contenders fare for each one.
Flutter vs. React Native – 5 Crucial Things to Consider
Both platforms are highly powerful, feature-rich, and open-source frameworks. Before jumping into technical stuff, let’s look at a few popular apps created via React Native app development. These include Facebook, Instagram, Bloomberg and SoundCloud Pulse, to name just a few.
Flutter apps include Google Ads, the marketplace app Alibaba, the Hamilton Musical app, Coach Yourself, and more. Now let’s move on to the 5 main points of comparison between the two.
1. Company backing
React Native made its first public appearance during Facebook’s 2013 summer hackathon. The framework was open-sourced by the social media giant back in 2015. To this day, a dedicated team is working on improving the platform’s performance and is constantly adding notable enhancements. With Facebook’s direct involvement, the product gained immense popularity, as well as the trust of developers.
Flutter is supported by Google. The framework was launched in 2018, so it’s a bit younger than React Native. Flutter also provides an advanced software development kit to developers and stands behind the same concept: to create mobile apps using a single codebase. Google is heavily backing Flutter, and it’s heavily invested in making the framework one of the best solutions to build cross-platform apps.
Both React Native and Flutter are backed by corporate giants, and they won’t be losing this support anytime soon.
2. Programming language
There are two main frameworks used in building React Native apps, namely Flux and Redux. Flux is the one created by Facebook, while Redux is the community’s most popular option. These frameworks use unidirectional data flow and store your app’s state in a central place dubbed Store. You can also use the Context API, which is a new React feature.
As Flutter is a relatively new cross-platform framework, there’s a small amount of uncertainty about which architecture is best to implement while working with it. Google recommends BLoC, which is short for Business Logic Component. The BLoC pattern heavily relies on streams and RxDart (Reactive Dart), and it’s the most popular approach among developers. You can also use Redux for Flutter, but it tends to overcomplicate things, and it involves a lot more code than BLoC, so that’s something to keep in mind.
Again, React Native has a slight advantage due to being a matured product. The Flux/Redux architecture is also much more widely used than BLoC, which might take some time to get used to.
React Native supports Hot Reload, which speeds up the development process significantly. This allows developers to make quick UI changes that instantly show in the app. React Native provides developers with methods to quickly divide executed codes and styles into various classes.
Flutter also supports Hot Reload. Using the Dart programming language, developers can customize the UI layout of the app, which allows them to create structures, platforms, and widgets that can be easily reused. Furthermore, Flutter is easy to install and you can effortlessly run internal checks for issues.
Both React Native and Flutter are easy to code and support hot reloading, however, they follow different configuration processes, which can impact productivity and take more time.
Flutter wins this one, due to having its own native coding language and compiling in x86 native libraries. However, performance might not be your only concern while developing your mobile app, so you should take into account all the other aspects we covered above.
Still unsure of the differences between Flutter and React Native? Check out this table for a summarised comparison:
|Free and Open-Source
|Flux and Redux
|Facebook, Instagram, Tesla
|Google Ads, Alibaba
Is the future Flutter or React Native?
Although Flutter is still new, and its library isn’t as wide as React Native’s, the platform is continuously refining its features and processes. With its rapidly expanding community, it’s just a matter of time until it catches up to React Native. For now, React Native might have the upper hand, simply because it’s older, so it’s more stable and mature. But, if you’re up for a challenge, then you might give Flutter a try; just be aware that there’s a steeper learning curve involved.
React Native or Flutter – which one is best for your business?
Erika is a full-stack marketer passionate about the intersection between technology and social impact. She mixes research with content design and a human touch to help people and startups succeed in delivering value through their work. When not writing or talking to people, you’ll find her reading or quoting Hamilton for any life situation.