Building a native app is a very complicated and, let’s be honest, expensive process. Developing native applications requires a lot of work from developers, resulting from the need to prepare separate solutions for different operating systems. To simplify this process, cross-platform solutions have been developed, which allow you to create applications that run simultaneously (and equally well!) on iOS and Android.

Flutter vs. React Native – which solution to choose in 2021?

Cross-platform technologies have already become a permanent part of the mobile software development landscape. In 2021, the main players in the market are Flutter and React Native. Both of the presented solutions carry numerous benefits:

  1. Minimizing costs – development of a multi-platform application from the financial point of view is much more beneficial than the native application, because it does not require the involvement of separate teams of developers to prepare its different versions.
  2. Flexibility – cross-platform application is one universal code, which can be successfully used on different platforms. Moreover, once developed, the code base is reusable.
  3. Ease of updating and maintenance – all, future changes to the application will be made only once. There is no need to make separate modifications for each version of the application.
  4. Increased number of users – due to the fact that a multi-platform application is available simultaneously in all distribution channels, you can reach a maximum wide group of users.

Despite the numerous commonalities, there are a number of important differences between Flutter and React Native. Before deciding on a particular framework, it’s worth considering which one it will be:  

  • more effectively implement the objectives of a given project, 
  • Ensures the shortest time-to-market, 
  • makes the application stable and user-friendly.

So let’s take a look at how the two most popular mobile app development frameworks differ from each other.

Flutter – framework from Google

Flutter was created in 2017 and developed by Google, which has put a lot of focus on its development in 2019. As a result, the rate at which apps developed in Flutter are published on Google Play continues to grow. Google platforms (Google Ads, Google Assistant), the Alibaba app, eBay Motors, the New York Times app, or the largest neobank in Brazil, Nubank, are built on Flutter. Using Flutter can be a very pleasant experience, as this framework has many advantages:

  • One code. Flutter supports Android and iOS mobile platforms, and because it renders everything on its own, it allows you to run your app from a single base code. That’s a big time saver.
  • Friendly interfaces – Flutter lets you create beautiful, expressive user interfaces using widgets, layers, and interactive assets. Two separate sets of widgets are available to the developer: Material Design, which follows Google’s design guidelines, and Cupertino, which follows Apple’s guidelines for the iOS device interface.
  • Same look on newer and older devices – Flutter manages every pixel of the screen, so apps look the same on any mobile device (even older ones). Essentially, this feature removes potential issues with apps running on different devices. This in turn allows you to create amazing looking interfaces that look exactly the same on Android and iOS devices. And all this is based on just one code!
  • Faster development with hot reloading – This is one of Flutter’s strongest features. The hot reloading feature allows you to preview all the changes you make as you develop them, which greatly speeds up the app development process.

As you can see, choosing Flutter is all about saving time. Moreover, it not only saves you time and brings your app to market faster, but also allows you to easily test your business and product ideas and get quick feedback from users. These features make it a very attractive platform for mobile app creation and development. 

FLUTTER – disadvantages

Unfortunately, Flutter is not without its drawbacks. First of all, despite the fact that it is easy to learn, an application developer will need experience in native application development. Without this knowledge, it will be impossible to build a functional cross-platform application.  Additionally, Flutter is severely limited in its ability to render UIs on native platforms (e.g., video on Apple TV or Android TV). At the same time, newly added features in native iOS and Android, will naturally be introduced in Flutter later than in their native versions.  It’s also worth noting that Dart, the programming language that Flutter uses, is not yet as popular as JavaScript, on which the second most popular cross-platform application development framework is based. 

React Native – competitor from facebook

In React Native, JavaScript is the primary programming language. Applications written in React Native are practically indistinguishable from traditional native applications. Currently, apart from Facebook, this framework is used by Skype, Instagram, Discord, Pinterest, Shopify, or Tesla. What advantages does React Native have?

  • Popular JavaScript – React Native uses JavaScript, a programming language that many developers are very familiar with. Developers who prefer programming languages with static types can even use TypeScript, a subset of JavaScript.
  • Fast refreshing – React Native has the same properties as Flutter when it comes to refreshing. Any change to JavaScript can be previewed almost instantly on the phone, which speeds up development a lot.
  • Relative stability – The official release of React Native was over 5 years ago, so the Facebook team has had plenty of time to stabilize the API and focus on fixing and resolving issues. Currently, Facebook is working on some additional improvements, including reducing the size of the app.
  • Ease of learning – Developers who have experience in web development and are already using popular React solutions can get started with React Native very easily. This framework will not require learning new languages. You can also use the same tools and patterns.

REACT NATIVE – disadvantages

Although it’s easier to achieve a “native feel” using React Native than using Flutter, it still won’t be a native application. The user interface or performance will not be the same. React Native also has fewer base widgets than Flutter and supports only basic components. Of course, there are external repositories with many additional components for React Native that a developer can use in a project, but this requires extra effort and time. However, one of the main drawbacks of React Native is the need to choose a navigation package. At the same time, a developer creating a new project has to decide on the choice of application state management. Understanding the key features of each solution and choosing the best one for a particular project can take a lot of time.

Flutter vs. React Native – which framework to choose?

Considering the trends in mobile app development across multiple platforms, you can see that the popularity of both frameworks over the past five years is similar. However, in 2020, internet users’ interest in Flutter has grown and continues to grow.
Cross-platform frameworks are growing and gaining popularity. Solutions that enable near-native application development are definitely pushing out the hybrid ones, offering better performance and native application design and behavior. Flutter and React Native seem to be the most important cross-platform competitors. Solutions that enable native-like app development are definitely pushing out the hybrid ones, offering better performance and native app look and behavior. Trends clearly depict that interest in Flutter and React Native is growing at the expense of other popular frameworks such as Cordova and Xamarin:

 Both frameworks build views in a declarative way. They introduce analogous concepts of Component and Widget, which are the basic building blocks of an application. Each of them also offers the hot reloading feature allowing to quickly reload a running application and check the introduced changes. At their core, both technologies are quite similar. They use a declarative style of UI building and are quite flexible, allowing the developer to use different techniques to manage the application state.  React Native, as an open source framework relies more on the community. This can be both a disadvantage and an advantage. Flutter remains under more control of its authors, who provide access to more ready-made solutions. At the same time, they work with a growing community that provides missing tools, such as database support. 

Our recommendations

As a younger framework, Flutter is inevitably less popular. React Native, which uses JavaScript and is built on top of React, may be more attractive for web developers. However, the final decision should be made after a thorough needs analysis.  If the application is to be built quickly, using native UI components then React Native is probably the best choice. However, in case the developers care about building user experience and application performance, they should opt for Flutter.  If you still have problems with technology selection or you are looking for developers – contact us and we will be happy to help you bring your project to success!


February 17, 2021 Uncategorized
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