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React Native

React Native is an open-source framework based on JavaScript that lets developers build native-like applications for Android and iOS much faster.

  • 2015
    Created in
  • 90%
    Code Reusability
  • Robust Performance
  • Supported by huge community
  • Super-fast rendering
VS

Flutter

Flutter is a free open-source Dart framework developed by Google. It allows developers to build cross-platform apps in an easy way.

  • 2017
    Created in
  • 90%
    Code Reusability
  • Requires 50% less testing
  • Support user-friendly designs
  • Faster app development

React Native vs Flutter 2024: What’s Better for a Cross-platform App?

React Native vs Flutter

Need expert’s advice to choose the best tech stack?

Introduction

The demand for mobile app cross-platform development is growing more than ever in recent years. As a React Native development engineer, I’ve seen a surge in comparing solutions like React Native vs Flutter. 

These frameworks enable developers to create apps for both iOS and Android using the same codebase. This means not having to double the time, effort, and resources for an app intended for two different operating systems. Among the various solutions, they have captured the most attention. Each platform, with its unique pros and cons, provides distinct advantages.

React Native’s longer presence in the market speaks to its maturity and the strong community it has nurtured. On the other hand, Flutter brings many blessings for the development of cross-platform mobile applications too, so without a doubt choosing between those two can be a tough one.

Continuing Demand for Cross-Platform Mobile Development

As I mentioned earlier, the demand for cross-platform app development is intensifying. Companies are increasingly seeking efficient ways to deploy mobile apps across multiple platforms. Why? Tapping into Android and iOS user bases simultaneously is essential for growth, bringing all of the benefits of cross-platform development.

Beneftis of building cross-platform apps
  • Cost Efficiency
    A consolidated development approach reduces the need for platform-specific mobile teams, and more importantly, results in reduced development cost.
  • Faster development
    Thanks to component-based architecture, components can be reused across different sections of the application. Such modular code makes it more structured too.
  • Swift scaling
    Thanks to its flexibility and faster development, it’s pretty easy to test features and iterate what influences the overall time of the development process and is crucial in the mobile app development industry.

The two technologies we’re discussing today, Flutter and React Native, are the most popular tools globally for developing cross-platform apps.

React Native by Facebook

React Native logo

React Native originally developed by Facebook and now championed by Meta is a lot more mature as compared to other choices such as Ionic, Xamarin, PhoneGap, etc. It has a strong community that provides solutions to all sorts of problems. This powerful Javascript framework is built using the React library which is dedicated to the web and native user interface.

Experts developing mobile applications actively use it all over the world and most of the organizations made it their premium choice for their digital solutions. But the funny thing is that Facebook started React Native as a hackathon project in 2013, to at least in 2015 it became public for the masses. This journey from a hackathon project to a widely used framework shows its adaptability and commitment to evolving with the times. For any developer or CTO looking at cross-platform app development, React Native is a strong contender, with its combination of maturity, innovation, and community support.

React Native in 2024: Stepping Up in the Cross-Platform Game

React Native has always been a key player in cross-platform mobile application development. The year 2023 was particularly notable, marked by significant updates and advancements, with the framework reaching version 0.73 by December. These updates, which included debugging improvements and stable symlink support, have further strengthened its capabilities, making it an even more powerful tool for developers. As we move into 2024, React Native continues to solidify its position at the forefront of mobile app development, backed by a strong commitment to innovation and user-focused shifts.

The Most Valuable Improvements of React Native in 2023:

New Architecture

The introduction of its New Architecture has marked its ongoing development. It boosts app performance and scalability, and, additionally streamlines the interaction between JavaScript and native threads, leading to more responsive and efficient applications.

TypeScript by Default

The big news is TypeScript in React Native 0.71. This means more structured and reliable code, a crucial factor for us developers who value efficiency and robustness in our app development processes. TypeScript declarations are included directly from the react-native package, eliminating the need for @types/react-native.

React Native adopting TypeScript as its default resonated with our approach at Pagepro. We’ve long favoured TypeScript for its clarity and maintainability in coding. This alignment has seamlessly fit into our workflow, especially beneficial for the kind of high-quality, scalable apps we’re committed to developing. It’s great to see our preferred tools becoming industry standards.

Daniel Nizynski, React Native Expert at Pagepro

Flexbox Gap for Easier Layouts

Responsive design in native mobile apps just got a whole lot easier. The introduction of Flexbox Gap is a relief for those of us who have struggled with layouts. It’s a game-changer for achieving that perfect look across different devices by initially supporting Flexbox gap properties (gap, rowGap, and columnGap), allowing developers to specify space between items in a Flexbox layout.

DevTools That Make a Difference

The upgraded DevTools in React Native are extremely useful in the everyday life of React Native developers. Improved debugging and streamlined UI development mean we spend less time fixing and more time creating.

More Intuitive Props and Styles

React Native has also introduced more web-like properties and style features (among others aria-* for accessibility and props for certain components), making the transition between web and mobile development smoother. This alignment with web standards is a welcome addition, especially for those of us who dabble in both.

Released in beta in 0.72 and stable in React Native 0.73. A top-requested feature in Metro, offering better support for mono repo setups and compatibility with package managers like pnpm, currently in beta.

Package Exports Support (Beta)

Introduces a modern alternative to the package.json “main” field, with support for the “react-native” community condition, improving cross-platform package compatibility.

Babel Package Updates in React Native 0.73

In a significant move, two Babel-related packages have been transferred from Metro to the React Native repository.

We’ve relocated two Babel-related packages out of Metro and into React Native’s repository and versioning scheme, enabling us to simplify maintenance and upgrades.

React Native documentation

Community and Support

The ever-growing React Native community is something I personally find invaluable. Whether it’s troubleshooting a tricky issue or exploring new features, the community support is unmatched.

Norbert Kamienski, React Native Expert at Pagepro

Ready to build your app with React Native?

Flutter by Google

Flutter logo

Flutter is a cross-platform framework that develops mobile apps by using the Dart programming language.

Both the language and framework are developed by Google and a lot of effort and time were invested so that desired applications can be created in the easiest way which serves their purpose completely.

In 2017, the initial alpha phase of Flutter was started which makes it a lot younger than React Native. Their latest version, Flutter 3.16, has some updates worth mentioning. They’ve switched to Material 3 as their default theme. It’s a sleek, modern look that I think you’ll love.

Material 3 as the Default Theme: Flutter’s version 3.16 marks a significant shift in UI design for iOS and Android apps, adopting Material 3 as the default theme. This change signifies Flutter’s commitment to staying abreast of the latest design trends, offering a fresh and modern UI out of the box.

Casual Games Toolkit and iOS Extensions: Flutter continues to diversify its capabilities beyond traditional app development. The updated Casual Games Toolkit, featuring new templates and recipes, underscores its suitability for game development. Additionally, the introduction of iOS app extensions broadens Flutter’s scope in creating comprehensive iOS applications.

Impeller Runtime and Layout Enhancements: The introduction of the Impeller runtime for Android and macOS highlights Flutter’s focus on advanced rendering capabilities. Coupled with a new layout and scrolling features, it positions Flutter as a more versatile and performance-oriented framework.

Comprehensive Updates and Debugging Improvements: Flutter’s continual updates, including wireless debugging and extensive documentation revisions, reflect its commitment to developer convenience and application robustness. These updates ensure that Flutter remains a competitive and evolving framework in the cross-platform environment.

Our friends also wrote an interesting blog article on how Flutter Mobile Development Will Completely Transform the Market that you may find useful.

React Native vs Flutter: Head-to-head Comparison

React NativeFlutter
Programming LanguageJavaScriptDart
Created byFacebookGoogle
Main StructureFlux and ReduxBLoC
Hot ReloadSupportedSupported
Release DateJan 2015May 2017
PerformanceNative-likeNative-like
Code ReusabilityUp to 90%Up to 90%
Major Use CasesFacebook
Pinterest
Instagram
Alibaba
Groupon
Google Ads

Pros and Cons of Flutter and React Native

We will be having a look on a few advantages and disadvantages which (I hope) allow you to make a wise and calculated decision.

Both the platforms are strong enough to be used, but there are certain features that may work better for you while others need to be considered before you will make your decision in that regard.

React Native – ProsFlutter – Pros
Having a hot reload feature allows it to have fast coding.Having a hot reload feature allows it to have fast coding.
Large community – Extensive support and resourcesFast UI Rendering – Offers smooth, expressive UI
Strong performance – comparable to native appsCustomizable widgets – high degree of UI customization
Wide industry adoption – trusted by major companiesGoogle’s Support – continuous improvements and updates
Java-Script based – accessible to a wide range of developersGrowing community – increasing adoption and support
Native modules –  to access a native platform API that is not available by default in JavaScriptComprehensive documentation – well-documented for easy new developers adoption
React Native – ConsFlutter – Cons
Complex UI – may bring challenges in creating complex interfacesLarger app size – tends to have larger footprint
Navigation Complexity – less intuitive navigation in comparison to native appsLess Mature – younger than React Native with evolving components
Performance issues with heavy computations – can be less efficient than native apps for intensive tasksLimited native libraries – dependency on the third-party libraries for advanced functionalities

React Native or Flutter: Performance

As quite in every industry, in mobile app development frameworks’ world performance is a deciding factor. It’s what sets apart good apps from great ones, ensuring smooth, responsive user experiences that keep users engaged.

React Native and Flutter, as the most popular frameworks globally, stand out for enabling developers to create high-performance mobile apps. Their ability to deliver close-to-native performance while providing the benefits of cross-platform development makes them the top choices for developers and businesses alike. Let’s look into how these two frameworks compare in performance, given their latest updates and industry trends.

React Native Performance:

React Native has made noteworthy refinements in performance, especially with its 2023 updates. Focusing on optimizing app responsiveness and speed, React Native has improved its capability to handle complex applications on iOS and Android platforms more efficiently, making it a stronger competitor in the cross-platform domain.

  • New Threading Model: Its updates in 2023 included a new threading model, which influenced app responsiveness and rendering speed. This model allows for concurrent execution, which is crucial for a smoother app experience.
  • JavaScript Runtime Improvements: With improvements in the JavaScript runtime, React Native has seen a boost in its overall performance, making JavaScript code execution more efficient.
  • Hermes 2.0: The Hermes 2.0 JavaScript engine is specifically designed for Android apps, offering faster startup times and reduced memory usage.
  • Traditional Limitations: Despite these refinements, React Native’s architecture, which involves a bridge for communication between native modules and JavaScript code, can still be a bottleneck for highly interactive or complex apps.

Flutter Performance:

Flutter remains a frontrunner in performance, owing to its direct compilation of native machine code and continuous optimization efforts. These attributes make it especially powerful for graphics-intensive applications, setting a high bar for cross-platform app performance.

  • Performance Focus: Flutter’s focus on performance has been evident in its roadmap, with a strong emphasis on generating high-quality machine code and designing high-performance features.
  • Native Machine Code Compilation: One of Flutter’s key strengths is its ability to compile directly to native machine code. This capability is particularly beneficial for graphics-intensive applications, where it ensures superior performance and a fluid user experience.
  • Continuous Performance Optimization: Flutter consistently introduces performance optimizations, as seen in its latest updates, maintaining its edge in this area.

Winner

While Flutter generally leads in performance, particularly for graphics-intensive applications, due to its native machine code compilation and efficient rendering, React Native has made significant strides with its recent updates.

The progress in threading and JavaScript execution in React Native, complemented by the Hermes engine, has notably boosted its performance, making it highly competitive. This makes React Native a robust choice, particularly in scenarios where a blend of native capabilities and the flexibility of a JavaScript-based framework is desired.

Flutter vs React Native: UI and UX

UI and UX design in mobile app development process - comparing react native and flutter

The UI and UX of an app are critical to user satisfaction and engagement. In this comparison, we’ll see how React Native and Flutter have evolved in their approach to UI/UX, highlighting recent updates.

React Native UI/UX:

React Native continues to offer a near-native UI experience, thanks to its use of native components. With recent updates like TypeScript integration and the Flexbox Gap feature, it has strengthened its position in the UI/UX domain, offering more robust and flexible UI development capabilities.

TypeScript Integration: As a default setting, TypeScript offers stronger type-checking, improving code reliability and maintainability, which positively impacts UI development.

Flexbox Gap Feature: This feature refines UI design by simplifying the element layout, contributing to a better user experience.

Native Component Use: Provides a near-native UI experience, though design flexibility is somewhat dependent on the native components available on each platform.

Flutter UI/UX:

Flutter stands out with its highly customizable and versatile UI toolkit. The introduction of features like web embedding improvements and Material 3 integration has further solidified its position as a leader in UI/UX design capabilities and enabled to create of native UI components.

Changes in Web Embedding: Allows greater flexibility in UI design, especially in integrating Flutter web apps within existing web pages.

Material 3 Integration: The adoption of Material 3 brings modern and updated components and themes, significantly refreshing app visual design.

Winner

While Flutter is generally recognized for its superior range of customizable widgets and consistent cross-platform interface capabilities, React Native remains a strong competitor. Its ability to provide a near-native experience and recent amendments in TypeScript integration and layout features ensure that it continues to be a viable and effective choice for UI/UX design in app development.

Flutter vs React Native in 2024: Learning Curve

The ease with which developers can adopt and become proficient in technology is crucial, especially since developing mobile apps lets businesses become more competitive. React Native and Flutter, each with their unique characteristics, offer different learning experiences. Let’s explore them.

React Native Learning Curve Details:

React Native, with its JavaScript foundation, presents a familiar environment for developers. Its growing community and rich ecosystem of resources have further smoothed the learning curve, making it more accessible for new developers.

Familiarity for JavaScript Developers: The use of JavaScript makes React Native an easy transition for those with web development experience.

Strong Community and Ecosystem: A large and active community, along with a wealth of libraries and tools, provides ample support and resources, streamlining the development process. The recent increase in community engagement and availability of learning resources has made React Native more approachable, potentially reducing the learning curve for newcomers. Weekly Downloads of React Native reach over 1 mln users every week.

Weekly Downloads of React Native accordingly to npm js

Flutter Learning Curve Details:

Flutter uses Dart language which is a little less popular, and offsets this with comprehensive documentation and a supportive community. The introduction of Material 3, though introducing a new learning aspect, brings with it modern UI components and design principles.

Dart Language: Dart may present a steeper learning curve for those not already familiar with it. However, it offers a structured and scalable language environment.

Comprehensive Documentation and Support: Flutter’s well-documented platform and active community aid in easing the learning process for new developers.

Material 3 as Default: The shift to Material 3 brings an updated visual style and new UI components, which might require some learning for developers transitioning from Material 2 or those new to Flutter.

Winner

React Native could be considered to have a slightly gentler learning curve, particularly for developers with a JavaScript background. However, this can vary based on individual experience and familiarity with JavaScript or Dart. Flutter developers have access to the comprehensive resources and intuitive widget-based framework, which becomes more approachable as developers familiarize themselves with Dart.

Code Reusability Between Web and Mobile – Flutter and React Native apps

Code reusability stands out as a pivotal factor for efficiency and consistency across platforms. And this is very important for many companies that reach customers using various channels. Both React Native and Flutter address this need, but with varying degrees of effectiveness. We’ll explore how these frameworks fare in enabling code reuse between web and mobile applications.

React Native Code Reusability:

React Native shines in the domain of code reusability, particularly between web and mobile applications. This framework allows developers to leverage a significant portion of their web-based React code for mobile app development, ensuring consistency and reducing development time.

Seamless Integration with React: React Native’s architecture and compatibility with React make it an ideal choice for projects aiming to maintain high code reusability. This is especially beneficial for businesses that already have a React-based web application and are looking to expand into mobile.

Efficient Development Process: The shared codebase between React for web and React Native for mobile significantly streamlines the development process, reducing the need for duplicate code and ensuring uniformity across platforms.

Flutter Code Reusability:

Flutter also offers code reusability, particularly with the introduction of Flutter Web. However, the extent of reusability is contingent on whether the web component of a project is developed using Flutter.

Flutter Web and Mobile Synergy: While Flutter allows for some code reuse between its web and mobile applications, the level of reusability may not be as high as with React Native, unless the entire project is developed within the Flutter ecosystem.

Project-Specific Considerations: For projects starting afresh with both web and mobile components, Flutter can provide a unified development experience. However, for existing web projects not built with Flutter, achieving high code reuse might involve additional complexities.

Winner

React Native emerges as the clear winner in the context of code reusability between web and mobile. Its seamless integration with React for the web provides a robust solution for businesses looking to maintain a consistent codebase across platforms. Flutter, while capable in its own right, may require a more Flutter-centric approach to achieve similar levels of code reuse.

Integration with Existing Native Apps

The ability to integrate new technologies into existing native apps is a critical factor for many development projects. Flutter and React Native both offer pathways for this integration but with varying degrees of ease and flexibility.

React Native Integration with Existing Native Apps:

React Native stands out as the more flexible and efficient option for integrating with existing native apps. Its compatibility with native codebase and ease of adding features make it the preferred choice for many developers looking to expand or update their native applications.

Ease of Integration: React Native design allows for smoother integration with existing native apps, offering a straightforward path for adding new features or transitioning to a hybrid model.

Reduced Development Effort: Given its compatibility with native components, React Native reduces the effort and complexity typically associated with integrating new technologies into established apps.

Flutter Integration Integration with Existing Native Apps:

While Flutter supports integration with native applications, it generally requires more effort and a deeper understanding of Dart, making it less straightforward compared to React Native.

Integration Capabilities: Flutter offers integration into existing native applications, but the process is typically more complex than with React Native.

Dart Proficiency Needed: Teams not already versed in Dart may face additional challenges, increasing the effort required for successful integration.

Winner

If this is about the code reusability between web and mobile, React Native takes the lead as the preferred choice. Its seamless integration with React for the web offers a powerful solution for businesses aiming to keep a unified codebase across platforms. On the other hand, Flutter, although capable, may necessitate a more Flutter-focused approach to attain comparable levels of code reuse.

Immediate Updates with Over-The-Air (OTA) Updates

The agility to push immediate updates is crucial in today’s fast-paced app market. React Native’s capability in this area is a key characteristic, especially compared to Flutter.

React Native OTA Update Details:

RN support for OTA updates allows for immediate, hassle-free deployment of app changes, setting it apart from Flutter.

Streamlined Update Process: The framework’s OTA update feature enables developers to bypass traditional app store update cycles, quickly addressing bugs or making improvements.

Better User Experience: This capability ensures that users always have the most current version of the app, influencing satisfaction and engagement.

Flutter OTA Update Details:

In contrast, Flutter’s lack of native OTA update support is a notable limitation. While there are workarounds, they do not match the efficiency and ease of React Native’s OTA capabilities.

No Native Support for OTA: Flutter app requires more complex solutions to achieve similar OTA update functionalities.

Additional Effort for Implementation: These workarounds can be less efficient and require more development time, contrasting with React Native’s more straightforward approach.

Winner

React Native is the clear leader when it comes to OTA update capabilities. Flutter doesn’t support them which may be a big limitation for the immediate updates in cross-platform apps.

React Native vs Flutter – A Balanced Comparison

Nowadays, both React Native and Flutter stand out as leading contenders, each with distinct strengths and capabilities. Choosing between these two robust frameworks requires a nuanced understanding of their features and how they align with an organization’s specific needs.

React Native vs Flutter: The Winner

For our specific needs and goals, React Native is the winner. Its synergy with React JS, efficient OTA updates, the utility of Expo, and rich community support, combined with our long-standing use and expertise in React Native, make it the most efficient and strategic choice for us. However, this does not diminish Flutter’s capabilities, which continue to make it a strong contender in the cross-platform app development arena.

React Native’s Strengths:

  • React Native has always been a key player in cross-platform mobile application development. The introduction of TypeScript by default in version 0.71, the addition of the Flexbox Gap for easier layouts, and new architecture improvements have reinforced its position in the market.
  • The community support and resources available for React Native are invaluable for troubleshooting and exploring new features.
  • Debugging: React Native offers robust debugging tools, making it easier for developers to identify and fix issues in their applications.
  • Writing apps in React Native is reminiscent of web development, making it more accessible to those who have experience with JavaScript in web development, such as React or Next.js. This familiarity can significantly lower the entry barrier for web developers transitioning to mobile app development.

Flutter’s Capabilities

Flutter, developed by Google, stands as a strong competitor with its customizable UI toolkit and performance-oriented architecture. The framework’s adoption of Material 3 as the default visual style, along with changes like the Casual Games Toolkit and iOS Extensions, shows its commitment to modern design and functionality.

Flutter’s Impeller Runtime and layout adjustments further highlight its focus on advanced rendering capabilities and developer convenience.

Flutter’s Strengths:

  • Flutter’s unique approach to UI/UX design with its extensive widget library and the latest Material 3 integration offers developers a modern and refreshed visual design for apps.
  • Despite using Dart, which may present a learning curve, Flutter’s well-documented platform and active community support make it increasingly accessible to developers.
  • So choose Flutter for apps that have very complex designs with many different elements – here it may be better than React Native 

Making the Right Choice for Your Organization

The decision between React Native and Flutter ultimately depends on your organization’s specific requirements, technical stack, and strategic objectives. Both frameworks have their strengths and can be the right choice in different scenarios. It’s about aligning a framework’s capabilities with your project’s needs and your team’s expertise.

Check out our deep guide across cross-platform app development frameworks.

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