Joanna Bobrowicz

Product Owner | Partnerships Coordinator

React Native vs. Flutter: Comparing mobile app design frameworks

Technology

Developers use multi-platform frameworks like React Native and Flutter to cut down on the time and cost of building an app.

Which of these two popular options work best for your project? It’s time for a head-to-head comparison. A mobile application is often the best way to target contemporary clients who use smartphones as their main devices to connect with the world.

However, creating a native application is a an expensive project; until very recently, it required individual solutions dedicated to various operating systems. To simplify that process, multi-platform applications that can run on both iOS and Android have been developed.

There are numerous frameworks available that allow the creation of complex applications. Two of the most popular are React Native and Flutter. Both solutions offer many benefits, including:

 Lower production costs: Multi-platform applications are much less expensive to develop because one team of programmers can serve all the selected platforms.

 One reusable code base: Instead of creating applications dedicated to various systems, one universal code may be developed and easily adjusted to meet the requirements of individual platforms.

 Customer base extension: Simultaneous application implementation across all distribution channels makes the app available to a wider audience.

 Simple maintenance: During application updates, most changes and fixes are made just once.

Flutter and React Native have a lot in common, but there are some significant differences between them. Your optimal platform choice depends on the actual purposes of the application.

React Native

React Native is an open source framework for creating mobile applications in JavaScript. It was developed by Facebook and originally released in 2015. It translates the created code into dedicated installation packages. From the end-user's point of view, the result looks just like a typical native application.

What are the strengths of React Native?

Native user interface

The React Native environment implements a set of native UI components that ensure its applications look like native applications.

Ready-made solutions and libraries

React Native has a variety of tools and libraries for automating and supporting most standard processes. This makes it easier for programmers to solve mundane problems; as a result, they can use the saved time to deal with more complex issues or to refine the product.

Market standard

Many third-party companies have developed API interfaces and plug-ins for React Native applications. These facilitate the integration of external solutions (e.g. payment systems, maps, location systems, etc.) with the app.

Fast Refresh

React Native enables nearly instant feedback on modifications, particularly for components. It allows programmers to view the changes they have made to the code as soon as the changes have been saved.

Moreover, React Native makes it possible to add new code to an operating application; this reduces the risk of losing some functionalities while restarting or redesigning the app.

Facebook's Support

Although React Native is based on open-source licences, Facebook is still actively involved in its development.

Flutter

Developed by Google, Flutter is another framework for creating mobile applications. It is an advanced SDK (Software Development Kit) that’s also based on open source licences. Like React Native, Flutter helps developers design mobile applications for iOS and Android using one source codebase. Unlike Reactive Native, it uses the Dart programming language.

Flutter comprises two vital elements:

 SDK: A set of tools helping programmers develop applications and code compilations in the native code.

 User interface libraries: Widget-based files of user interface elements can be customized by programmers for the applications they create.

What are Flutter's strengths?

Efficiency

Thanks to Dart, Flutter allows for indirect communication between the application and the native platform (unlike React Native). This allows the development of complex applications without affecting their efficiency and starting time.

Hot reloading

Flutter facilitates the immediate implementation of changes in the application backend. Moreover, the results of these changes can be checked on an ongoing basis without having to compile the application from scratch each time; this significantly shortens lead time.

Widgets

Widgets are one of Flutter’s most important elements; their easy customization speeds up the development process and helps developers focus on delivering the best user experience. Flutter has two sets of widgets:

 Material Design, which follows Google's design guidelines.

 Cupertino, which uses Apple's iOS user interface standards.

Skia engine

Flutter employs the Skia engine, a 2D open-source graphics library, to render an embedded library of platform user interface components.

Ready-made libraries

Flutter also has many ready-made libraries that help developers create applications and use native phone functions (e.g. push notifications, geolocation, camera).

What are the differences between React Native and Flutter?

Programming language

React Native is based on JavaScript, one of the most popular programming languages for designing mobile applications. Additionally, it is considered a default language for most online browsers. On the other hand, Flutter uses Google's original language, Dart, which was created specifically for mobile applications and focuses particularly on good design and customer experience.

Efficiency

Most applications designed with React Native have an efficiency comparable to native applications. Yet, such an application requires native languages to be combined with JavaScript, which means using external libraries and integrating many operating system components.

On the other hand, Flutter allows developers to create a typical native application, so employing native functions usually does not require any intermediary solutions. As a result, apps developed in Flutter are more efficient than those developed in React Native.

User interface

React Native's user interface is similar to HTML syntax without a CSS skeleton. This allows the creation of applications by employing native components of particular systems (e.g. camera, biometrics, etc.).

Flutter also allows the use of device-native functions, but Google's widget-based framework ensures a high degree of flexibility and customization for user interfaces.

Application lead time

In most cases, React Native's external libraries significantly shorten the app development process. Flutter’s widgets can actually accelerate development, but some situations may arise where separate code files for Android and iOS platforms are required. This can noticeably extend lead time.

Which solution is better for your application?

Both React Native and Flutter are highly efficient multi-platform solutions which may significantly cut mobile applications' launch time. So, which platform can best address your company’s needs? The answer depends on the specific business goals your application should help to achieve.

If your company primarily wants to develop their application quickly and with an uncomplicated flow incorporating native user interface components, React Native is the best choice. If user experience and application efficiency are top priorities, Flutter is often the better option.

 
React Native
Flutter
Support and development Facebook + Social Google + Social
Programming language JavaScript Dart
Efficiency High Very High
Native phone functions support Yes Yes
Hot reloading Yes Yes (Fast Refresh)
User interface Designing the application using native components Based on widgets to ensure UI customization and flexibility
Libraries Very many Many
Sample application Facebook, Tesla, Walmart Alibaba, GoogleAds, Tencent

The choice of the right framework is conditioned by actors such as using native phone functions or application complexity. Thus, before making the final decision, we recommend discussing the project with an experienced technological partner. Be sure to choose one that has expertise in various frameworks and can understand the needs and requirements of your organization.