Flutter vs. React Native vs. Native: Performance Showdown (2024)

What is the Performance of Flutter vs. Native vs. React-Native?

Published datePublished: May 8, 2024 ViewsViews: 126
Deepak Sinha

Deepak Sinha

CTO
Deepak is a hands-on Technology Leader with expertise in designing software solutions for various successful projects for multinationals. He has total experience of 15+ years and has worked on all the phases of application development and has good experience in open source and mobile technologies. He is passionate on new Technologies and has strong interest on Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence etc.
What is the Performance of Flutter vs. Native vs. React-Native?

Choosing the best framework for your mobile app development requires constantly balancing development speed, feature richness, and performance. While native development provides unrivaled speed and access to platform-specific capabilities, it compromises code reuse.

Cross-platform frameworks like Flutter and React Native help bridge the gap by offering quicker development cycles and a uniform codebase. Still, questions remain: can they match native performance, and are there trade-offs to consider?

This post looks into the nitty-gritty of performance for Flutter, React Native, and native development, giving you the information you need to decide on your next project. 

Key Statistics

Based on a 2022 developer poll, Statista reports that Flutter is the most widely utilized cross-platform mobile framework worldwide.

According to Google Trends, Flutter is growing in popularity. Worldwide popularity trends for Flutter (red) and React Native (blue) (2019-2024).

Developers state that Flutter remains the preferred framework over React Native in the 2023 edition of the Stack Overflow Survey.

Performance Metrics

The ability of a mobile application to provide a seamless and prompt user experience is critical to its success. To assess this experience objectively, developers depend on measurable performance metrics. 

These metrics offer a methodology based on data to pinpoint areas that require improvement and guarantee that the application operates smoothly on various devices.

But before we start our discussion, let’s answer a critical question: Are there any specific scenarios where one framework outperforms others significantly?

Native development reigns supreme for games and highly demanding apps due to direct hardware access. Flutter balances performance with development speed, while React Native shines for simpler apps needing a quick turnaround.

Key performance metrics in mobile application development are as follows:

Startup Time

This metric quantifies the time required for an application to load and become operational after a user selects its icon. A lengthy initialization period may result in dissatisfaction and an unfavorable user experience.

UI Responsiveness

This metric assesses the application’s responsiveness to user inputs such as screen swipes and button presses. An instantaneous and fluid user interface promotes a favorable user experience. 

In this context, frame rate, quantified in frames per second (FPS), is vital. Apps should aim to sustain a consistent frame rate of 60 FPS to ensure a fluid and stutter-free user experience.

Memory Usage

Memory capacity is limited on mobile devices. Memory consumption monitors the amount of memory an application uses while in operation. Performance issues such as application crashes or sluggishness may result from excessive memory utilization, particularly on devices with limited RAM capacity.

CPU Usage

The device’s intelligence, the central processing unit (CPU), performs application instructions. CPU usage indicates the proportion of a program’s processing capacity. A high CPU load can deplete the battery and cause thermal problems.

Performance Comparison: Flutter

Flutter, a Google open-source UI SDK, has grown in popularity due to its high performance and expressive UI. Flutter uses Dart, a Google language, and has a hot reload functionality to show developers app updates in real time. Here is a Flutter performance comparison:

Flutter’s Performance Approach

Flutter boasts a unique architecture that impacts its performance characteristics. Here’s a breakdown of its core aspects and how they influence key metrics:

Dart and Skia

Flutter utilizes Dart, a performant object-oriented language, for code development. Dart code is pre-compiled ahead of time (AOT) into native machine code, offering near-native performance. 

Skia, a high-performance 2D graphics engine, is embedded within Flutter, enabling direct rendering on the device canvas without relying on platform-specific UI elements. This reduces overhead and contributes to a smooth UI experience.

Stateful Widgets & Hot Reload

Flutter employs a reactive programming model with stateful widgets. These widgets rebuild and update the UI efficiently when the underlying data changes. Additionally, Flutter’s hot reload feature allows for near-instantaneous updates during development, improving developer productivity without compromising performance.

Performance Metrics for Flutter

  • Resource Utilization: Flutter’s dependence on Dart and Skia can translate to higher CPU usage than native apps, especially for tasks demanding significant computational power. However, strategic optimizations and efficient coding practices can significantly reduce this impact.
  • UI Fluidity: Flutter shines in UI responsiveness thanks to its streamlined widget rendering and the power of Skia. Maintaining a consistent 60 FPS for a smooth user experience is achievable with proper optimization.
  • Launch Time: While AOT compilation grants Flutter apps a speed advantage over React Native when launching, native apps might still hold a slight lead due to their direct interaction with the native environment.
  • Memory Footprint: Although Flutter manages memory efficiently, intricate UIs or heavy reliance on third-party plugins can inflate memory consumption. Compared to native apps, Flutter’s virtualized rendering layer might lead to a slightly larger memory footprint.

Comparison with Native and React Native

  • Native Development: Native apps generally boast the best startup time and CPU usage due to their direct integration with the underlying platform. However, they require separate codebases for different platforms.
  • React Native: React Native offers a good balance between performance and development speed. Its startup time might be slower than Flutter, but UI responsiveness can be comparable. However, complex UI elements or native integrations can introduce performance overhead.

Performance Comparison: Native

Native app development is designing applications tailored to a certain platform, such as iOS or Android, utilizing the platform’s native programming languages and development tools. This method ensures peak speed, smooth interaction with device features, and adherence to platform-specific design principles, resulting in a refined user experience. 

Let’s have a Native app performance analysis in detail.

Native’s Performance Approach

Native app development entails the creation of applications tailored to a specific platform or operating system, such as Android or iOS, using platform-supplied development tools and programming languages. Swift or Objective-C is the programming language popular among iOS developers, whereas Java or Kotlin is the prevailing choice for Android.

Swift

Swift, introduced by Apple in 2014, is the recommended iOS development language due to its current syntax, safety features, and performance enhancements. It outperforms Objective-C in memory management, performance, and boilerplate code.

Objective-C

The original iOS development language, Objective-C, is still used for legacy codebases. Despite lacking Swift’s current capabilities, it’s a powerful language with a huge ecosystem of libraries and frameworks.

Java

Java has long been the main Android development language. It has a large library ecosystem, good compatibility, and rich documentation. However, it can be verbose and boilerplate.

Kotlin

After JetBrains announced Kotlin in 2011, Android development support came in 2017. It has succinct syntax, null safety, Java interoperability, and other modern language features. Kotlin’s productivity and safety are attracting developers.

Performance Metrics for Native Applications

  • Speed: Native apps are often faster because they are designed specifically for the hardware and software of the platform. This enhancement results in speedier response times and smoother animations.
  • Access to Device Features: Native apps have full access to device features such as GPS, camera, accelerometer, and others, allowing developers to construct more complex and functional applications.
  • Optimal Battery Consumption: Native apps can use device-specific optimizations to outperform cross-platform alternatives in terms of battery economy.
  • Security: Native apps can exploit the platform’s security capabilities, making them more safe than cross-platform equivalents.

Comparison to Flutter and React Native

  • Flutter: While Flutter provides exceptional performance and near-native UI responsiveness, native development still has a competitive advantage regarding launch speed and processing power. However, Flutter’s benefit is its uniform codebase and speedier development cycles.
  • React Native: React Native may have significantly slower launch times and UI rendering than native or Flutter due to the communication bridge between JavaScript and native code. However, for basic applications, the performance difference may be insignificant.

A question that arises here is: Is Flutter better than Native in terms of performance?

Flutter offers good performance close to native apps, but raw performance might favor native development in some cases. Flutter excels in development speed and maintains a good user experience for many applications.

Performance Comparison: React Native

The prominent cross-platform framework React Native enables programmers to construct mobile applications by integrating React with JavaScript. A communication “bridge” is employed to establish a connection between the JavaScript code and the native platform APIs, thereby allowing developers to exploit the capabilities of native user interface components.

React Native provides a compelling trade-off between development speed and performance despite the additional complexity introduced by this interface.

React Native’s Performance Approach

React Native optimizes efficiency by combining JavaScript for app functionality with a native rendering for UI components. React Native combines platform integration with development speed using JavaScriptCore for logic execution and a bridge for native modules. Its declarative UI paradigm and virtual DOM reduce needless UI updates, improving efficiency.

JavaScript Core and Native Modules

React Native executes the app’s logic using JavaScriptCore, a high-performance JavaScript engine. However, native functionalities are accessed by native modules written in platform-specific languages. This can result in some overhead as compared to completely native apps.

Declarative UI with Virtual DOM

React Native uses a declarative UI approach in which developers define the intended UI state. The framework then efficiently refreshes the native UI components in response to changes in the underlying data. This virtual DOM method optimizes UI rendering.

Performance Metrics for React Native

  • Speed: Due to the overhead of JavaScript bridge communication between JavaScript code and native modules, React Native applications may execute slightly slower than native apps. However, the efficiency of React Native has improved dramatically over time, particularly with recent version optimizations.
  • Community Support: React Native has a huge and active community that contributes to creating libraries, tools, and resources to help in React Native development.
  • User Experience: React Native strives to create a native-like user experience by leveraging native components and APIs. While it may not equal native programs’ performance and responsiveness, it frequently provides a decent user experience, particularly for less performance-critical applications.
  • Development Time: React Native enables faster development times than native app development because developers can write a single codebase for both iOS and Android, reducing duplication of effort.

Comparison with Flutter and Native

  • Flutter: Flutter and React Native have comparable performance in many areas, with Flutter perhaps having an advantage in UI fluidity. However, the faster development time and wider community of React Native can be beneficial.
  • Native Development: Native apps surpass React Native regarding launch time and raw CPU use. However, React Native’s ability to share a large amount of code across platforms makes it an appealing option for projects targeting both Android and iOS.

Here is an illustration of the overall comparison of Flutter, Native, and React Native.

Comparative Performance Study: Flutter, Native, React Native

Let’s compare the performance metrics React Native vs Flutter performance vs Native Development:

Speed and Responsiveness

Native: Offers the highest level of speed and responsiveness as apps are optimized for specific platforms, utilizing platform-specific APIs and native code.

Flutter: Provides excellent performance with its compiled language (Dart) and custom rendering engine, resulting in smooth animations and fast UI rendering.

React Native: Slightly lags behind native and Flutter due to JavaScript bridge communication for accessing native modules, but improvements in optimization have narrowed the gap.

User Experience

Native: Delivers the most polished user experience with seamless integration with platform-specific design guidelines and native UI components.

Flutter: Offers a high-quality user experience with its customizable UI widgets and support for pixel-perfect designs, though some subtle platform-specific differences may be noticeable.

React Native: Aims for a native-like experience but may not fully match the exact look and feel of native apps, especially in terms of animations and gestures.

Access to Device Features

Native: Provides full access to device features and APIs, allowing developers to leverage hardware capabilities efficiently.

Flutter: Offers extensive access to device features through platform channels and plugins, though the availability of plugins for specific functionalities may vary.

React Native: Provides access to device features through native modules and third-party libraries, with a wide range of plugins available. However, some platform-specific functionalities may require writing custom native code.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Each platform has distinctive strengths and weaknesses; recognizing these distinctions is critical. Here’s a breakdown:

Flutter’s Strengths

  • Fast launch times due to AOT compilation.
  • Excellent UI responsiveness and frame rates.
  • Efficient widget rendering with Skia.
  • Unified codebase for both Android and iOS.

Flutter’s Weaknesses

  • Slightly higher memory footprint compared to native apps.
  • Potentially higher CPU usage for computationally intensive tasks.
  • Smaller developer community compared to React Native.

React Native’s Strengths

  • Faster development cycles compared to native development.
  • Large and active developer community.
  • Ability to share some code across platforms.
  • Good balance between performance and development speed.

React Native’s Weaknesses

  • Slower launch time than native apps or Flutter.
  • Complex elements or native modules can impact UI performance.
  • JavaScript bridge introduces some overhead compared to native development.

Native Development Strengths

  • Fastest launch times and UI responsiveness.
  • Most efficient CPU usage for demanding tasks.
  • Direct access to device hardware for optimal performance.
  • Highly customizable and platform-specific features.

Native Development Weaknesses

  • Requires separate codebases for Android and iOS (increased development time).
  • Higher maintenance overhead for multiple codebases.
  • Limited code reusability across platforms.

Development Speed vs Runtime Performance

In the world of mobile app development, there is an ongoing tug-of-war between development speed and runtime performance. On the one hand, developers aim to create apps fast and efficiently to capitalize on market possibilities and customer demands. 

On the other hand, providing a seamless and responsive user experience is critical for user engagement and long-term success. Understanding the trade-off between these two aspects is critical when deciding on a framework for your project. Before we understand the trade-off, let’s address a critical question first: Can performance issues be mitigated through optimization techniques in each framework?

All frameworks offer optimization techniques. You can improve performance in Flutter, React Native, and native apps by techniques like code optimization, memory management, and leveraging efficient UI components.

Native Development

Native development has the potential for top performance by using the sheer power of the device’s hardware, but it comes at the expense of development speed.

Each platform (Android and iOS) has its own codebase, which increases development time and maintenance costs. This can be a significant challenge for initiatives with short timelines or limited resources.

React Native

React Native closes the gap by allowing developers to use a single codebase for JavaScript and React. This approach streamlines development, resulting in faster development cycles than native development. 

However, relying on a JavaScript bridge to communicate with native capabilities adds complexity that might affect runtime speed. While React Native can run well when properly optimized, it may not always match the raw power of native apps, particularly for computationally heavy activities. 

Let’s figure out: How does React Native’s performance compare to Flutter and Native?

React Native lands between Flutter and native development. It offers faster development than native apps, but its performance might be slightly behind Flutter due to the JavaScript bridge. Both can achieve a good user experience with proper optimization.

Flutter

Flutter provides a unique combination of development speed and performance. It employs Dart, a performant language pre-compiled into native machine code, resulting in near-native performance. 

Furthermore, it uses a single codebase for Android and iOS development, considerably decreasing development time compared to native development. 

While Flutter may not always surpass native apps in every metric, the gap is closing, making it an appealing option for organizations looking to compromise development efficiency and a pleasant user experience. 

Here’s an important thing that needs to be understood: What factors affect the performance of mobile apps developed with Flutter?

Flutter app performance is influenced by code complexity, widget usage, and device capabilities, impacting metrics like launch time, frame rate, and memory usage.

Real-world Flutter, Native, and React Native App Performance Examples

Theoretical benchmarks are useful, but knowing how these frameworks transfer into real-world performance is even more revealing. Let’s look at some popular apps made using each approach:

Flutter

  • Alibaba: The e-commerce giant uses Flutter for its Xianyu app, a popular platform for buying and selling second-hand items. The app features a visually appealing UI with smooth animations and quick loading times, demonstrating Flutter’s potential to provide a high-quality user experience on a broad scale.
  • Reflectly: This self-improvement program focuses on regular journaling and habit tracking. Reflectly, developed with Flutter, offers a sleek and responsive UI that makes it easy for users to access features and record their experiences.

Native Development

  • Instagram: Instagram prioritizes a responsive and engaging user experience. Native programming for both Android and iOS ensures that features such as photo editing, story authoring, and smooth scrolling work seamlessly.
  • PUBG Mobile: This demanding game requires top-tier performance for fast-paced action and competitive gameplay. PUBG Mobile’s native development enables it to deliver excellent graphics, responsive controls, and lag-free gameplay.

React Native

  • Facebook: The social media behemoth uses React Native for various features in its mobile app. Newsfeed updates, messaging capabilities, and group interactions benefit from React Native’s combination of development speed and performance.
  • Skype: The fundamental capabilities of this popular video calling program are built with React Native. React Native contributes to a smooth and responsive experience during video calls, ensuring seamless communication across platforms.

From Idea to Reality: Build Your Dream App with TechAhead

Choosing the right framework for your mobile app might be a difficult decision. Don’t worry! TechAhead, a top Flutter App Development Company, is here to guide you through this essential phase. 

With vast expertise in designing high-performance apps for all platforms (native, Flutter, and React Native), our team of professionals can walk you through the benefits and drawbacks of each method based on your individual project needs. 

Whether you value lightning-fast speed or rapid development cycles, we’ll help you select the framework that best fits your vision. Don’t hesitate to contact TechAhead today and make your creative app idea a reality!

Summary

The best framework for your project is determined by its requirements. If raw performance is your primary priority and development time is not an issue, native development is still the best option. However, for applications with short deadlines or a need for rapid iteration, React Native and Flutter are appealing options. 

Both frameworks enable developers to use a unified codebase and benefit from faster development cycles while maintaining good runtime performance through adequate optimization and attention to detail. 

Ultimately, the ideal option depends on carefully considering your project’s needs, team competence, and the desired balance of development speed and runtime performance. The mobile app development landscape is constantly evolving. We can expect advancements in all three frameworks, with a continued focus on bridging the gap between development speed and peak performance.

FAQ’s

How important is performance when choosing Flutter, Native, and React Native?

Performance is crucial but not the only factor. Consider your project’s needs – prioritize speed. Choose Flutter/React Native. Need top performance? Choose native, but accept slower development.

What are some common misconceptions about the performance of these frameworks?

Common myths: 

1. Flutter is always slow. (Not true; it can be close to native). 

2. React Native is terrible for performance. (It can achieve good results with optimization). 

3. Native is always the best. (While powerful, it can be slower to develop).

How frequently do developers need to reassess the performance of their apps as frameworks evolve?

The frequency of assessment varies according to project requirements and framework advancement. Some developers might check for updates every few months, but others may do it less regularly, depending on the stability of their project and the maturity of the framework used. There is no specific schedule, but remaining informed about updates is critical.

Are any performance benchmarking tools available to compare Flutter, Native, and React Native apps?

Yes, several tools exist for performance benchmarking across mobile frameworks. Examples include Flutter’s DevTools, Google’s Perfetto, and platform-specific profiling tools like Android Studio Profiler and Xcode Instruments.

How do updates and patches affect the performance of apps developed with these frameworks over time?

Updates and patches can have a two-sided effect: optimizations might boost performance, while new functionality may add overhead. Careful monitoring and testing are essential to ensure that changes improve, do not degrade, and improve app performance in Flutter, React Native, and native apps.

back to top