React Native V Flutter – which is best?

Engaging with customers, gathering rich consumer data and reaching new audiences – there are lots of reasons why you should invest in mobile app technology.

But to build a mobile app, where do you start with so many different frameworks to choose from? React Native and Flutter are two of the biggest players in this game, so we’ve analysed both to find out which one is the right option for your mobile app.

Why are React Native and Flutter so popular?

React Native and Flutter are open-source software frameworks that can be used to develop apps for iOS and Android. From the off, they’re a pretty even match.

They’re fairly similar in terms of what they achieve; one of the differences is that Flutter is an open source framework created by Google, while React Native is the brainchild of Jordan Walke, who was working on Facebook Ads when he started building UI elements for iOS.

While Flutter is the new kid on the block, it’s clear that both frameworks are very popular with developers; according to research from Statista, 42% of developers use React Native while 39% use Flutter.

But it’s not just the devs that favour this newer development platform. React Native and Flutter have been used by some of the biggest companies in the world. Flutter has been used to build the eBay Motors app, Xianyu by Alibaba (one of the biggest ecommerce companies in the world) and Groupon.

Meanwhile, React Native has been used to build household brands such as Facebook, Pinterest, Skype, Tesla and Wix.

Before we delve into the differences, here are some top level similarities when it comes to advantages, to keep in mind when it comes to your project:

  • Code reusability: Their codebase can be reused and shared across operating systems such as iOS, Android and Windows
  • Performance: They’re stable and reliable, so don’t expect lots of downtime on your mobile app in terms of performance speed
  • A consistent look: Your app will look near-identical across all platforms and in older operating systems on React Native and Flutter
  • Time to market: You can expect development time to be relatively quick for apps from React Native and Flutter; this is largely thanks to the 50% of time that’s saved on testing compared with other frameworks
  • Regular upgrades: From extra functionality to improving performance, updates are frequently released on both frameworks

The pros and cons of React Native

With such similar characteristics, it can be difficult to pick these apart and decide on the right one for your business. Some specific advantages of using React Native include:

  • Stability, as it’s been on the market for over five years
  • Some of the biggest companies in the world use the framework, so regular updates and features are pretty much guaranteed
  • Easy-to-learn technology
  • Tutorials and libraries from third parties, which makes development quick and easy
  • Code can be reused for web app and desktop app development
  • More complex apps can be built via this platform; Flutter is still a little more simplistic in what can be achieved
  • The language – React Native uses JavaScript, which is one of the most commonly used languages by developers as an example; at 6B, we use TypeScript (a sub superset of JavaScript) for our mobile apps because it has fewer bugs and provides great performance for an end product. This makes language a huge advantage over Flutter, which uses the Dart programming language (more below)

On the other hand, a few cons to consider:

  • Fewer out of the box components, which means greater reliance on third parties
  • Low quality packages are rife within React Native’s enormous libraries – you’ll need to find skilled developers that can identify them
  • It’s not really native; the UI experience and performance will be close to native apps, but not quite there yet

The pros and cons of Flutter

Now let’s turn to the newer addition to the market; advantages of this platform include:

  • It looks great, thanks to the widgets you can use on Flutter
  • It’s growing rapidly in popularity
  • Its community of developers is expanding quickly
  • The Flutter team provides strong support, making it easier for developers to start with the framework
  • It only uses one codebase across mobile and web platforms, which speeds up development

On the other hand:

  • The size of the developer community is an issue; although it’s expanding, it is still far smaller than with React Native and many other platforms.
  • React Native has a massive, long-standing (by tech standards) developer community, meaning more plugins to improve functionality and places to go for support if you need something more bespoke
  • Its libraries and support are impressive, but not as extensive as native development (again, due to the time it’s been on the market)
  • The size of the app itself – it has a limited set of tools compared to native apps and the apps are bigger than native ones, which can affect performance
  • The language – as we mentioned above, Flutter uses the Dart programming language that was originally created by Google. It’s not as well known, it’s more buggy (because it hasn’t been around that long by comparison), and so it’s harder to find great devs that work with it

So, which is best for you?

While Flutter is clearly one to keep an eye on, we have to give the edge here to React Native, purely because of its current lead in stability.

There’s more support available with React Native, which allows you to create mobile apps that drive greater user experiences and bespoke tech that will wow visitors to your app.

Its stability also means greater performance, reducing the number of potential bugs that could appear in your app.

Basically, it’s further along in its development as a platform – but as we mentioned above, Flutter does have its uses. For example, it’s ideal for prototypes and MVPs to bring in potential outside investment if you’re a start-up looking to create something quick and simple.

The important thing here is to find a technical partner that can assess what you’re looking to achieve, so you can find the solution, platform and build process that’s going to drive success.

Are you looking for mobile app specialists who can analyse your project, tell you the ideal platform, and deliver a user-friendly app that will drive results for your business?

We thoroughly research your business through our Discovery phase to find a mobile app solution that best suits your requirements.

Contact 6B today for advice on getting your mobile app project moving.

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