React Native vs Flutter Comparison: Which One is Better for You? [Infographic Included]

React Native vs Flutter Comparison: Which One is Better for You? [Infographic Included]

React Native vs Flutter debate seems to never cease. Both platforms are widely used and supported. The first one is backed by Facebook, the latter - by Google. Both are great, both have their limitations. 

Which of these frameworks should you learn? Which framework is best for your business? Find the answers to these questions and more in our latest and most comprehensive React vs Flutter review.   

react native vs flutter

What is React Native? 

React Native is a cross-platform mobile development framework that uses components to build an application bit by bit. With React Native developers can use JavaScript, one of the most popular and used languages. Supported by Facebook, React Native has a huge following and community. 

How Does React Native Work?

React Native apps have a UI thread for displaying elements, JS thread for dealing with logic, Native Modules thread for access to platform API, and Render thread (Android 5.0) for generating OpenGL commands to draw UI. These threads interact with one another and make the app run.  

To get started with React Native, follow this easy-to-follow React Native tutorial:
1. Make sure you have Node 10 LTS or greater installed
2. To run React Native, run the following command:

npm install -g expo-cli

3. To create your first React Native app, simply run:

expo init AwesomeProject
cd AwesomeProject
npm start #you can also use: expo start

If you wonder how to run a React Native app once you’ve deployed your React Native app, install Expo client and follow the instructions.  

What is React Native Used for?

React Native is the framework of choice for many developers who need a cross-platform mobile solution. React Native has been around for over 5 years and has been used for mobile development by Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and more.    

Pros of Using React Native

  • One codebase for two platforms
  • It uses JavaScript, a widely popular language
  • Maturity
  • Huge community
  • Easy to pick up

Cons of Using React Native

  • Very few features out of the box
  • Some no longer supported libraries
  • Apps are bigger than native ones

react native vs flutter

What is Flutter? 

Flutter is a toolkit that makes it easy for developers to design interfaces for a myriad of screen sizes and devices. It comes with plenty of built-in widgets to lay out any application. Flutter widgets let you layout app elements in rows and columns, stack and align them in any way possible, and whatnot.    

How Does Flutter Work?

Simply said, Flutter starts with a blank window and draws whatever needs to be rendered on the screen. With Flutter, you get access to numerous widgets that can be joined together like building blocks and customized to your needs. 

To install Flutter, follow this simple Flutter tutorial:

  1. Get the latest version of Flutter on their official website 
  2. Extract the zip file in the desired location  

What is Flutter Used for?

Flutter is used for cross-platform mobile app development. It’s used for a great variety of mobile applications in various industries from healthcare to entertainment. Alibaba, Tencent, and Google are just a few prominent examples. 

Pros of Using Flutter

  • Fast development
  • A single codebase for two platforms
  • Increased app performance
  • Reduced testing time

Cons of Using Flutter

  • Relatively humble community
  • Lack of support for CI platforms
  • Apps are bigger in size than native ones

React Native vs Flutter Showcase 

react native vs flutter

React Native vs Flutter for Developers: Which One to Learn? 

Every mobile application developer has to face this dilemma sooner or later in their career. Once you’ve delivered a knockout app to the iOS market, eventually you’ll receive a lot of these: “When is out on Android? When is it coming to Android?” Or vice versa. 

Feeling like a heavy hitter, you may, of course, do it the hard way and build a native app from scratch for another operating system. If you decide to follow that path, however, every update or bug fix would have you on the ropes. 

After all, maintaining two codebases in two separate languages is not a walk in the park. That’s a lot of work down the line; simply put, you’d end up doing double work. Or even more, considering you’d have to take care of a massive array of screen sizes and aspect ratios. Here’s where React Native and Flutter come in.

flutter vs react native comparison

React Native vs Flutter: Out of the Box Feature Set

React Native

React Native comes with a quite limited set of features. React Native UI rendering will let you display content on the screen of the device. With React Native you’ll also get solid access to various features of that physical device. For example, you’ll get a chance to access to the device’s camera or geolocation. For something more advanced like navigation or testing, you’d need to start reaching for third-party dependencies. That’s one of the reasons why React Native falls out of favor for many developers.   

Flutter 🏆

Once you have Flutter installed, you have everything to build an entire app. Just like React Native, Flutter comes with UI rendering and device API access. Flutter packages will also give you access to navigation, testing, state management, and Widget Library. Flutter software development tools provide you with everything you need. A lot of developers prefer Flutter for that matter because it’s a total package right off the bat.  

React Native vs Flutter Community Support      

React Native 🏆 

Ever since the launch, React Native became widely recognized and used. React Native conferences, workshops, and meetups have been taking place in almost every big city year after year. React Native EU 2019 conference held in Wroclaw, Poland, gathered over 300 attendees and 30 speakers from all over the world. Seasoned React Native developers and advocates gladly share their projects to React Native community on GitHub. 

Flutter  

Flutter mobile framework popularity has been growing exponentially since it was introduced to the public at Google I/O conference back in 2017. Flutter becomes used more, and more people want to talk about it. In a little while, Flutter enthusiasts will gather at Flutter Europe conference, an event taking place in Warsaw, Poland, on January 23-24. Although, it’s still hard to find answers to some basic problems, and decent Flutter development courses and resources are sparse, Flutter community promises to catch up. 

React Native vs Flutter Language Choice    

React Native 🏆

With React Native you have the option to use dynamically typed JavaScript, or statically typed TypeScript or JavaScript with Flow. To develop React Native applications, you have a wide choice of languages that are already familiar to most developers. 

Flutter 

The only language we can use to make Flutter applications is Dart. It uses C-like syntax and is statically typed. Flutter programming language, although rather similar to JavaScript and TypeScript, is still not used that much. However, with its short learning curve and high productivity, Dart promises to toss its hat into the ring in 2020. Some even call Dart ‘JavaScript killer’. Yikes. 

React Native vs Flutter Difficulty Curve

React Native

With React Native it’s fairly easy to begin. Building something simple is rather straightforward and not that challenging. However, as your project grows, it becomes more difficult to implement more advanced features, like navigation. To create more complex components, you’d have to wrap your head around multiple third-party libraries. Quite often, these libraries are developed as a side-project or a hobby and, therefore, are rough around the edges. Using third-party libraries will also bring about a fall in productivity: outdated documentation and countless unresolved issues will only slow development down.      

Flutter 🏆

With loads of documentation, built-in functionality, and numerous widgets and classes, Flutter may be difficult to pick up. Don’t forget about Dart - you’ll have to learn it as well. Obviously, Flutter’s learning curve is rather challenging, but once you’re past that stumbling block, things will become much easier. Having that many tools and repeating them over and over again make using Flutter for mobile development painless and enjoyable. At the beginning, you won’t be able to do much, but after you get a sense of Flutter, you’ll experience a long-lasting productivity boost.      

React Native vs Flutter State Management

React Native 🏆

In the React Native world, we get access to component level state which allows us to tie some data to each component rendering. With React Native you also get to work with Redux and Mobx. As a highly admired state container, Redux helps you create applications that can run in various environments (client, server, native) and behave consistently. MobX, a standalone library, provides a powerful addition to React Native.

Flutter

When it comes to state management in Flutter, by default you’ll get to work with Stateful Widgets. Unfortunately, stateful widgets are not that good to use in large applications. Solutions for large applications include Scoped Models, Redux, and BLOC Pattern. The problem here is that you’ll have to figure out which one of those solutions works for you. There’s really no consensus in the Flutter community on which state management tool is the best.    

React Native vs Flutter for Business Owners: Which One to Choose? 

Choosing what’s best for your business may be not so easy. Mobile app development may be a costly and time-consuming process if done with the wrong tools and by the wrong people. To decide which cross-platform development tool, Flutter or React Native, you should opt for, let’s look at these frameworks from the business owner’s perspective.  

compare flutter to react native

React Native vs Flutter Platform Support

React Native 🏆

React Native is used to build applications for Android, iOS, Web Apps. You can also get early access to React for Windows. There are quite a few experimental macOS forks and extensions targeting desktop platforms. React Native offers stable support for mobile and web development, although, some limitations are still present in web dev.  

Flutter

Flutter supports Android (ARM devices) and iOS starting from iPhone S4. Early access is granted to web and macOS projects. Support for Windows and Linux is currently under development. Flutter is expected to catch up with React Native in terms of platform coverage in a couple of years.   

React Native vs Flutter Development Speed

React Native

React Native’s fast refresh feature lets developers inject new code snippets directly into a running application. With the fast refresh, developers can see how the app changes without having to rebuild it. The latest version of React Native’s fast refresh unifies hot and live reload and makes development faster with resilience to mistakes and typos. React Native also uses native and bridge components which may slow down development.    

Flutter 🏆

Flutter makes coding fast with hot reload which helps with showcasing instant changes, fixing bugs, adding new features, and experimenting with multiple solutions. Skia Graphics library ensures that UI is redrawn quickly at 60 frames per second. Since Flutter is widget-based, Flutter app development is usually smooth and swift. Using Flutter for cross-platform development for that matter might be a better choice.    

React Native vs Flutter Development Cost

React Native and Flutter 🏆

Both platforms are open-source, which means development cost will depend mostly on the team, any additional resources they might use, project size, etc. Contact us for a detailed project estimation on the platform of your choice.   

By and large,  

both Flutter and React Native come with their own advantages and disadvantages. Platforms like Flutter or React Native are developed with an issue or inconvenience to be resolved in mind. Flutter and React Native are similar and different at the same time. Each of them solves a specific problem set at a certain cost. None of the frameworks is perfect per se, but either of them can be the ultimate solution for multiple businesses.     

Frequently Asked Questions

Q:
What is the difference between React Native and React?
A:
React is a declarative Javascript library, supporting front-end development for building user interfaces, a hierarchy of UI components and web applications. It might be used for constructing a high performing UI layer and is mainly focused on Web Development. React Native is React's extension, niched on mobile development, that covers both iOS and Android. React Native is an entire platform allowing you to build native, cross-platform mobile apps. React Native doesn’t use CSS.
Q:
How does React Native achieve native performance for some of its animations?
A:
When it comes to React Native, everything about the animation can be made by means of native performance before even an application release. React Native allows the native code to perform the animation on the UI thread without having to go through the bridge on every frame. That’s a very useful feature to run animation smoothly, despite JS thread blocking.
Q:
What is Dart?
A:
Dart is an easy-to-learn, programming language optimized for building user interfaces, containing event-driven code, paired with isolate-based currency. It was initially specialized for UI development around the needs of users, moreover, you can see the result instantly in your running app. Dart is a very powerful tool for writing a backend code using AOT compile for short-lived “serverless” jobs where startup time is critical.
Q:
What are Flutter widgets?
A:
Flutter widgets are twofold: Container widgets, that hold other ones inside and widgets doing a minimal job like “Text”, “Buttons” or “Screen Layouts Widgets”. Generally, they are arranged in a hierarchical order to be displayed onto the screen.
Q:
Why Flutter will change mobile development for the best?
A:
Have you ever heard about Hot Reload? Everything in Futter was made to be flexible. In developer’s language, Flutter means faster, more dynamic mobile app development. You can make changes in the code and see them straight away in the app. This see-through approach helps teams add features, fix bugs and experiment with code effectively and takes only milliseconds.
Q:
What are the benefits of using React Native for building mobile applications?
A:
First of all, React Native is a great solution for converting web application into mobile apps easily, smoothly and effectively without any headache. Secondly, it covers cross-platform development support. So you would be able to create the same application for both platforms at the same time, although there would be some complications. But the React Native team is working on it regularly to provide the best experience to their users.
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