App Development

Flutter vs React Native: Which One is Better in 2021?

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AuthorPardip Bhatti
Published March 16, 2021
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“A comprehensive study of Flutter vs React Native for next cross-platform application development project in 2021.”

Introduction

Considering the current mobile market, Android and iOS are the two popular platforms winning the stage. Any business looking for expansion is seeking mobile app development for both of the mobile platforms. Gone are the days when developers need to exploit Android and iOS SDK separately to build applications. The cross-platform programming language is the new approach where a single codebase can work for both Android and iOS devices. That means developers need to code less, applications can be released faster and on a lower budget.

In this article, I shall perform a features review of two dominating cross-platform technologies, i.e., Flutter VS React Native. Additively, there will be a comparative analysis of two which will help you to choose the best technology in 2021.

Google Trends Report

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Source- Google Trends

So, what is the present market trend of Flutter and React Native’s popularity?

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As depicted in the graph, the market trend of React Native is higher than Flutter, accounting for 42% and 39% for 2020. However, the growth rate of Flutter is higher than the former one.

The market trend of Flutter has grown by 9% from 2019 to 2020, whereas it stays the same for React Native stays, with a zero percent rise. Even for the year 2018-2019, both Flutter’s popularity grew higher (by 4%) than of React Native (by 3%).

Let’s start with the introduction, pros & cons, and practical use cases of both React Native and Flutter app development frameworks.

What is React Native?

React Native, written in JavaScript, is an old player in bringing modern web techniques to mobile platforms. It consists of a set of components to develop a mobile application with native feel and look, for both Android and iOS. At the core, React Native builds a hierarchy of UI components to develop JS code. RN was released in 2015 and has experienced impressive growth since then.

On Stack Overflow and Github, React Native is one of the fastest-growing communities. The developers can easily connect with different groups of React Native developers on social media networks such as Twitter, Facebook, and others. With so many followers out there, we have numerous readily available plugins and solutions to develop apps (without any hassle).(without any hassle).

Each year, React Native comes up with version updates to fix its performance at the developer’s end, especially for cross-platform applications.

Pros

  • Faster development
  • Rich ecosystem
  • Native functionalities
  • Hot reload
  • Platform-specific code

Cons

  • Complex UI
  • Decimals not supported
  • Frictional navigation
  • Lesser third-party components
Practical Use Cases

To date, React Native has been successfully implemented in several applications. Below, I have created a list of app categories where developers can leverage React Native architecture for higher performance.

  • Swift prototype applications,
  • Simplified UI,
  • Native & responsive UX,
  • Reusable components,
  • And, synchronous APIs.

What is Flutter?

In contrast to React Native, Flutter is a new but promising platform. Specifically, Flutter is known for its support of cross-platform app development. Since its inception in 2017, Flutter has grabbed the attention of multiple large companies that have apps already running in the market. Flutter is Google’s UI toolkit to build captivating, natively compiled apps for web, mobile, and desktop via a single codebase.

To write Flutter, Google has introduced ‘Dart’ in combination with C and C++. This exclusive UI kit is often exploited by developers to develop fast and scalable applications for numerous operating systems including iOS, Android, Google, and Linux. However, there is one biggest challenge of learning a new language, i.e., Dart. Although it is not complex, developers need to learn and implement multiple new things.

If you’re a developer and are looking for some helpful tips to use Flutter in your next project, you must read our guide on how to use Flutter in an effective way.

Pros

  • Stateful Hot Reload
  • Layered Architecture
  • Flexible and Expressive UI
  • Native App Performance

Cons

  • Not so rich libraries & support
  • Friction with iOS
  • New to the market
  • Large and heavy apps
Practical Use Cases of Flutter

Flutter is a quite powerful technology, which holds numerous practical implementations in real-time applications. To name a few, I’ve mentioned in the pointers below:

  • MVP mobile applications,
  • Simple logic for advanced OS plugins,
  • Flexible UI possessing high-level widgets,
  • Materialistic designs,
  • And, highly performant applications.
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Comparison Chart for ‘React Native vs Flutter

Flutter vs React Native: A Detailed Comparative Analysis

Installation

The installation is the foremost step in every app development process. It should always be straightforward without any complications, so the developers can learn and get started with it easily.

Flutter – Hard installation and Easy setup/configuration

Flutter offers an impressive SDK (software development kit), which some developers may find hard to install. Because they need to download the binary from Github. If we are developing an app for macOS, we can add a ‘flutter.zip’ file as a PATH variable. The same can be done with the following command line:

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Unlike Flutter, React Native offers a simplified installation process by offering package managers that cut down the need for additional steps to fetch and add files in a project. Learn more about that in the following content.

React Native – Simple installation and Complex setup/configuration

To install React Native, developers need to use NPM (Node Package Manager). The developers with JavaScript knowledge might find the installation process easy and simple, whereas others may find it a bit difficult as they would require to get familiar with the node package manager or NPM. NPM holds the capacity to install the packages both locally and globally.

The only exception here is when developers are installing React Native on macOS. The developers need to use the ‘HomeBrew’package manager. The following command line is helpful in the same:

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From this command line, developers can access React Native.

NOTE –Just like React Native, Flutter needs to provide some sort of package manager such as YUM, MacPorts, etc. to enhance its installation method.

Programming Language

Flutter – Dart

Flutter uses Dart programming language. It is developed and owned by Google, a client-optimized language for apps on multiple platforms such as a server, mobile, web, desktop applications. It is a class-based, object-oriented language with C-style syntax. The developers can use it to compile either JavaScript or native code. Dart is quite a safe and expressive language to get started with.

React Native – JavaScript

On the contrary, React Native is a more familiarized technology as it harnesses the power of JavaScript. And, most of the developers are familiarized with JS. Because of this reason RN (React Native) is the most preferred cross-platform application development language in the market, till now. Moreover, JS is considered a default language for almost every browser, making React Native a winner out of React native vs Flutter.

User Interface

Flutter – Reusable platforms, widgets

As Dart Supports Flutter, so it is easy to customize the UI layout of the application. Its built-in UI widgets eradicate the need for third-party libraries. The developers can easily create reusable structures, platforms, and widgets. Besides, the consistency is not at all sacrificed across all platforms.

React Native – Native app experience

Due to JavaScript intervention, the developers can render the native components for each platform. Which facilitates a native app-like look and feel for both iOS and Android platforms. Plus, React Native offers numerous ready-made components for block building.

Both Flutter and React Native support Hot Reloading, which means developers can perform instant changes at the backend and the same will be reflected right away. There won’t be any need to save the file.

Security

Flutter – Best security practices

When it comes to security Flutter development team takes it seriously. There are minimal security loopholes that can be eliminated by following the best practices such as

  • Keep the app updated as per the latest Flutter security updates,
  • Upgrade Flutter’s package dependencies,
  • Routinely update your Flutter copy.

React Native – Tightened security norms

Just like Flutter, React Native offers the best security practices to comply with the regulatory authorities globally. However, the probability of a software’s failure or its exposure to security breaches turns higher when not supported by the developer’s efforts to protect against hackers.

Storing sensitive information wisely, performing authentication and deep linking, OAuth and Redirects, SSL Pinning, etc. are some of the recommended security practices as per React Native’s official docs.

Cross-platform Needs

Flutter – Increasing popularity

Flutter allows you to use a single codebase to work for multiple platforms (iOS and Android). To support cross-platform app development effectively, Flutter provides its own UI components which enhance the flexibility of customizing applications, without requiring 3rd party libraries.

React Native – Consistent choice

Undoubtedly, React Native has maintained its preference amongst developers as the leading cross-platform application development platform. The developers can utilize the Native elements for UI updates only. If they wish to enforce cross-platform capabilities, they need to rely on external third-party libraries.

If we talk about the cost of development, both are winners of the war named Flutter vs React Native, as they cost almost the same. Moreover, the reachability of an application depends on the framework and its UI components’ exploitation at the time of development.

Performance

Flutter – Fast at coding

Flutter is written in Dart, C, and C++, each of these falls under the object-oriented programming language umbrella. Therefore, developers aren’t required to combine extra OS components while coding for a cross-platform project. This way they save a lot of time while coding and achieve smooth app performance.

React Native – Slower in comparison to Flutter

React Native is a combination of JavaScript and native languages. Therefore, the developers need to blend interactions with native ones such as notifications, events, and more. Therefore, React Native cross-platform app development is slower in comparison to Flutter.

Competitive Advantage

Flutter – Emerging community

With its rich widgets collection, Flutter applications are great in look and feel. As mentioned earlier in this article, Flutter cross-platform application development is rapidly growing every year. Also, it is well-supported by its team of developers via excellent documentation and verbal communication.

React Native – Stable community

It has been 5+ years since React Native is serving the market. Multiple prominent and successful brands are using this platform to develop and launch their apps on different platforms. Some core reasons behind its popularity include a vast and mature community, easy-to-learn, plenty of libraries and tutorials for quick deployment, code reusability for both desktop and web applications.

Flutter vs React Native – Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

Flutter

To start with, Dart language is the major USP of Flutter platform. Apparently, it is newer in comparison to JS. However, it is a modern programming language that is way faster than JavaScript. Dart also supports both strong and loose prototyping so it is more type-safe than JavaScript.

Apart from programming language, built-in UI rendering components, stateful management & loads of libraries, device API access, and other development APIs cut down the need for third-party libraries.

Last but not least, Flutter offers a great range of testing features at Unit, Widget, and Integration stage, accompanied by thorough testing documentation.

React Native

As we all know, React Native is written in JavaScript, dynamically-typed, and an old programming language in the market supporting multiple apps and browsers. There is a great percentage of developers who’ve already worked with JS, it is a competitive advantage of RN over Flutter.

Moving ahead, React Native supports third-party libraries. It is always an added advantage to any framework that capacitates 3rd party integrations. Although RN lacks built-in UI components and other features, there is room for great customization.

Last but not least, The installation process of React Native is easy and simple. The developers get NPM or Node Package Manager for installation, which is helpful especially for newbies. Learning and writing NPM commands to fetch binary is not that difficult for app developers.

Top Applications Built Over Flutter:
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Top Applications Built Over React Native:
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Predicting the Future: Flutter vs React Native

If we talk about the past 10 years, there were multiple cross-platform technologies in the race, like Cordova, PhoneGap, Xamarin, and more. Unfortunately, most of these are dead now or on the verge of getting abandoned by the developers. The major reason behind such discrimination is their limited or outdated capacities.

At present, only two technologies are trending for new cross-platform projects, i.e, Flutter and React Native. Both are giving each other hard competition in the React Native vs Flutter game. As shown above, in the Google Trends’ report, the growth of these two is nearly overlapping with each other. In comparison to JavaScript, Dart is a new language in the development field, making it hard for Flutter to win over developer’s hearts.

However, the modern and advanced cross-platform features and support of Flutter will soon unveil its hidden potential. Sooner or later, the app developers will shift to Flutter. But it doesn’t mean that React Native is going anywhere in the future. The most powerful temptation behind choosing React Native is ‘JavaScript’.

Final Words

So, who is the winner of React Native vs Flutter? Should you hire Flutter developers or React Native professionals?

In this post, I have provided you with an overview of both Flutter and React Native platforms along with a detailed analysis of Flutter vs React Native. Every cross-platform project requirement is different, so does the choice of development technology.

You can choose the most suitable cross-platform features and choose React Native or Flutter as per your requirements. At GPCODERS, we facilitate both Flutter development services and cross-platform app development with React Native. In case you’re looking for any of the services, book a free business consultation with us today.

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Pardip Bhatti

Pardip Bhatti is the founder and CEO of GPCODERS. He holds over ten years of proven experience in web and mobile app development services. In 2015, he founded GPCODERS intending to serve the clients with services, including mobile/web development and graphic designing. He is a technology geek who aspires to design and develop future business solutions with advanced technology. He follows a result-driven approach while implementing agile software solutions. When he is not coding, Pardip spends most of his time traveling, playing sports, and watching cricket matches.