Mobile has become part and parcel of daily lives, and with it, the demand for mobile apps has considerably increased as businesses have realized the importance of apps in creating a more personal experience for customers. Until recently, developing mobile apps for a new business segment involved time-consuming coding, but now, cross-platform development using robust technology makes the whole process quick, efficient and straightforward. When it comes to deciding on which platform to use, the choices are between Flutter vs React Native.
React Native, which is supported by Facebook, is the older of the two technologies and was launched in 2015, whereas Flutter is a relative newbie that Google introduced in 2017. Both the platforms have their advantages and disadvantages, which makes it essential to understand the differences between React Native vs Flutter before deciding which to use for cross-platform mobile app development.
Flutter vs React Native – Technical Aspects
Since React Native uses native components, when it comes to customization of the user interface, Flutter is preferable as it has proprietary widget sets that make customized UI design dynamic and more exciting. However, on the downside, the app may lack a few components, which take away from the user experience. On the other hand, React Native provides a more dynamic framework that makes it easy to enhance user experience.
React or React Native applications employ two main patterns during builds – Flux and Redux. While the former is the one created by Facebook, the latter is more popular among developers. Both these frameworks follow a unidirectional pattern of data flow during the development process and provide for the storage of the application’s state in a central ‘Store’, making the app components stateless. Additionally, one can use React’s new feature, Context API, to manage the state.
When comparing Flutter vs React Native, although Flutter has a few architectures that are popular among the developer community, since the platform is relatively new, it comes with uncertainty regarding the most suitable one to use for implementing an app.
Developers prefer to use React Native because it is more efficient and reduces the build time, besides providing a better user interface. Although Flutter offers the prospect of customization and better usability, it cannot match the quick and straightforward ready-to-use components, which shorten the development process of a React Native app.
For a mobile app to work flawlessly, it needs to be stable. When comparing Flutter vs React Native in terms of stability, the latter is preferred by the developer community as it is well established, reliable and offers more features. As a new entrant, Flutter is still working towards improving stability. The Alpha version is not stable enough for large projects. Flutter beta 2 version, which was recently launched, has many impressive features, but it will be a while before developers adopt it in place of React Native as it needs to prove its stability.
As an established framework for mobile app development, React Native is well known for the big names that have adopted it for their business. Besides Facebook and Instagram, Walmart, Airbnb and Skype are among the companies that use React Native. Another advantage of React Native is that it is suitable for projects of all sizes.
As a late entrant, Flutter is still trying to establish itself in the industry, and it will be a few years before it creates a notable client base. However, it has made an excellent start with Alibaba, Hamilton Music, Ten Cent, JD Finance and Abbey Road Studios using Flutter to develop their mobile apps.
Usually, documentation is one of the most time-consuming aspects of development, but Flutter makes life easier for developers by providing thorough documentation to help them through the process. The only disadvantage is that it is a bit difficult to comprehend for developers who don’t have much experience. While React Native’s documentation is simple to understand it is not as organized as Flutter’s.
Flutter vs React Native – Similarities
Flutter and React Native have several similarities:
(i) They both offer app development across multiple platforms, including iOS, Android and UWP. Although Flutter is backed by Google, it supports iOS as well.
(ii) Each framework has the backing of a tech giant – React Native is supported by Facebook, while Google offers Flutter as an open-source SDK for mobile app development.
(iii) Both React Native and Flutter are open-source frameworks with free SDKs that allow developers to build apps with native performance.
(iv) In terms of documentation of Flutter vs React Native, both communities are striving to provide up-to-date documentation, including API references and extensive resources.
(v) While both the frameworks provide excellent UI support and native experience for the iOS and Android platforms, React Native utilizes fundamental UI build elements, whereas Flutter uses widgets to offer a native experience.
(vi) Hot Reloading is an invaluable feature in mobile app development as it allows developers to run modifications in the existing app state without having to recompile the entire code from the start, thereby improving the efficiency and increasing the speed of the development process. Both React Native and Flutter support this feature. In the case of Flutter, it is called ‘Stateful Hot Reloading’.
Pros and Cons – Flutter vs React Native
In terms of the merits and demerits of React Native vs Flutter, each framework has some advantages over the other.
Since it has been around for a longer time, React Native has a marginal lead over Flutter despite the latest stable release by the latter.
With an extensive set of widgets, Flutter makes it easier to customize features to deliver a better user experience.
In React Native, developers can access third-party libraries and ready to use components to create apps. Flutter app development time is shortened due to the availability of customized and an extensive range of widgets that can be used to create an app.
In terms of performance, React Native offers a superior user experience, but Flutter has the advantage of simplicity.
After analyzing the various aspects of Flutter vs React Native, which one should you use for your mobile app development? The decision depends on factors such as the time-to-market, budget and features. At TechAhead, our team includes experts in React Native as well as Flutter. We work with clients to get an insight into their specific requirements before suggesting the framework which one is better suited for their app, Flutter App Development or React Native App Development.