Table of content

T

o succeed in a highly competitive market, all you need is to choose the perfectly suited technology. It sounds like a simple thing; the reality is that business owners can have a hard time. Choosing the best tool to build a product with the needed features for customers and business success is quite a challenging process. 

These days, the world is dominated by two solutions, and not everyone can quickly decide which one will be the best eventually. Therefore, now it's time for the tensest battle in the development world, which is Flutter vs React Native. Next, let's take a closer look at what projects each framework is suitable for, its strengths, and its development weaknesses.

Why mobile apps have become a sweet spot in the 2020s

Smartphones are, undoubtedly, one of the most popular devices in the world. Mobile users have almost doubled from 3.66 billion (2016) to 6.37 billion (2021) in just five years. Such a boom in the market has quite reasonably led to another interesting situation: the rapid growth of mobile applications and the global leadership of the mobile internet.

Worldwide consumer spending on mobile applications
Link: Worldwide consumer spending on mobile apps

Even a rough estimate of mobile apps' revenue in 2021 will be 693 billion; by 2023, these numbers will hit 935 billion. Isn't it the best time to get your mobile application and grow your business that way? According to the German company Statista, in 2020 alone, the global amount of downloaded apps reached an unbelievable 218 billion.

Flutter vs React Native: Why the doubts?

Despite the excellent opportunities, companies face the question of choosing a cost-effective and productive framework equally. What's the difficulty, some might wonder. 

Here is the answer: If you make a false move at this stage, redesigning and migrating the project to another platform will cost a pretty penny. Even the «big fish» can't always afford such a waste.

Some time ago, one of our clients asked for help with determining which technology would be better. He could not decide for a long time whether it would be Flutter or React Native. Therefore, we helped him. To keep the client's identity and product private, here we will call him Clark.

If you made the wrong decision, people soon uninstalled your product.

How often users uninstall apps
Link: Apps uninstall benchmarks

Clark contacted AVA.codes with such requests to build an app:

  • a particular budget for product development;
  • a time limit;
  • the project's flexibility;
  • ability to go on developing the product as needed.

Based on these general customer requests, both frameworks may be a suitable solution. Didn't they? 

Below, we will go through the same path that we once did with Clark. The most valuable thing you will get from this piece of content is to decide the winner in the battle of Flutter vs React Native for specific business needs.

A brief look at the history of two cross-platform technologies

There's a lot of buzz around these two mobile apps frameworks. However, few people have even the slightest idea of how they came to be and what they are for.

Let's find out!

Flutter is an open-source UI kit (or SDK, Software Development Kit), the first official version of which was presented to the world in May 2017. The creator of this technology is Google, who built this SDK based on the Dart programming language and partially on C++. The latest version is 2.5, and it was released at the beginning of September 2021.

Dart was at first positioned as a successor to JavaScript (JS). Theoretically, this solution was supposed to be the JS killer. Nevertheless, in 10 years, it failed to displace the earlier programming language out of the market.

The first stable version of the framework only allowed building products for devices running on the Android operating system. Later, Google added new features to the code. After the latest updates, versions 2.0 and 2.5 let you build applications for iOS, Windows, macOS, Linux, and Google Fuchsia (real-time operating system).

Flutter vs React Native: Hot Reload
Flutter vs React Native: Hot Reload

React Native (RN) is a cross-platform source code framework that was introduced to the world in March 2015. Its main purpose is to create a native-like application for multiple platforms:

  • Android;
  • iOS;
  • macOS;
  • Android TV;
  • Universal Windows Platform (UPW);
  • Apple tvOS

Since this framework's engine is written with JavaScript and TypeScript (TS), it provides the ready projects with more excellent stability. Furthermore, the TS greatly extends the capabilities of JS and gives coders more leeway in their tasks.

Flutter vs React Native: Size of the app
Flutter vs React Native: Size of the app

React Native has been around for a few years longer, so there are more ready-to-use solutions and a more active developer community. It means the main framework problems have long been fixed or are in the final solving stage.

If development timelines are on fire, the battle of Flutter vs React, Facebook's product will win. After all, if the team does not have time and resources to deal with roadblocks, choosing a stable tool is better.

What industries use these technologies and for which business needs

Moving on to the question of which tool is better Flutter or React Native, you need to know their uses. Unfortunately, there is still no perfect tool suitable for every task. That's why knowing the domain will let you, and anyone else, discard the lion's share of the various frameworks.

Flutter is currently only in its early formation stage and has not become widespread. Nevertheless, the number of areas for which it is used is still quite broad for such a young tool.

People used this solution to build mobile applications for the following industries:

  • financial;
  • e-commerce;
  • automotive;
  • media;
  • entertainment.

Although Flutter's treasure box contains some popular apps, it's not all so simple. Not every application in the industries listed above will fit this solution.

Which business needs it suits?

  1. SPAs (Single Page Applications)
  2. MVPs (Minimum Viable Products)
Flutter is only a few years existing and is used by a limited range of companies. According to Stackshare, more than 350 firms and brands utilize this technology.
Flutter vs React Naive: Nection Case Study
Flutter vs React Naive: Nection case study

In the few years that React Native has been running successfully around the world, programmers have noted its convenience and stability. Exactly these characteristics allow devs to use the tool for many tasks.

Industries where use RN to build their mobile apps:

  • IT;
  • e-commerce;
  • social media;
  • automotive;
  • media;
  • internet;
  • fintech;
  • retail;
  • entertainment, etc.

In theory, you can use the capabilities of RN for game development. The toolkit is enough to build even a mobile game. The result will be pretty functional, colorful, and fast. Fortunately, there is no sense to reinvent the wheel. We have something as good as Unity or Unreal Engine

Almost 1700 well-known companies use React Native, according to Stackshare. If we were evaluating frameworks only by this parameter, RN would win hands down.

Which business needs it suits?

  1. SPAs (Single Page Applications)
  2. MVPs (Minimum Viable Products)
  3. MPAs (Multiple Page Applications)
  4. Social Media Services
  5. Content Services
  6. Promo Apps
  7. Niche Applications

Although the UI kit of this framework is poorer than Flutter's, there is no doubt that it does not stop covering business needs. A bonus for you and the programmers is a sea of ready-made solutions for this tool. You don't have to puzzle over many things.

Flutter vs React Native: Examples of well-known technology-based applications

Flutter vs React Native: Technology-based apps
Flutter vs React Native: Technology-based apps
Popular App Store categories
Link: Popular App Store categories

Flutter vs React Native: Flutter's advantages and disadvantages

For ages, it has been possible to argue on the purposes that a particular tool is suitable for. Still, nothing demonstrates a framework's strengths and weaknesses better than a list with Pros and Cons. It was the in-depth Flutter capability assessment that was the next step in our conversation with Clark. Our client was struggling to make a clear-cut choice of technology.

Pros

More opportunities for UI: Since this solution is the SDK, this point is obvious. During the online Engage in March 2021, the dev team demonstrated many new effects that programmers can implement. Around the 20th minute of the presentation, you can see great UIs that can make your project stand out from the rest.

Good performance: Unlike RN, there are no bridges to interact with native components. Imagine that you are on the riverbank, and you need to get to the other side. What do you have to do? Build a bridge and cross the river! That's what many other frameworks do to connect with the native components. Flutter takes a different path; it doesn't need a bridge to get across because it can use the boat and have continuous access to such components. What do we end up with? Google's development provides mobile apps with better animations, widgets and doesn't compromise performance.

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Simple code structure: This feature has already been mentioned above. The unique characteristic of this tool is that the programmer can write one code and use it for different platforms. Practically, it's impossible, and some developers' comments support this fact.

So, why do we still put it as a pros feature? The technology is still developing; the Google team is releasing updates and is trying to improve the product. Perhaps in the future, you will be able to use the code's cross-platform structure for various purposes, after all.

Seamless documentation: After the release, programmers were very vocal about how horrible and messy the SDK documentation was. As each new improvement was made, this disadvantage became a plus. It is now much easier for coders to achieve a clear documentation organization. More and more people note that the framework has logical documentation for testing and deploying the app.

Suitable for building small apps: Since it is the new SDK with enormous possibilities for UI design, it is ideally suited for applications with a few pages or a basic set of functions. If you don't plan to scale your project up in any serious way and want to present an MVP, it's the right choice.

It is difficult to say how this framework will perform as the program grows. Regardless of the positive experience of big companies, you cannot be sure that in your case, the project development won't cause many bugs and cost overpayments to developers. According to Talent.com, the annual salary of a Flutter programmer in the U.S. varies from $95,000 to $174,725.

Ability to create PWAs (Progressive Web Applications): Some companies have been using this tool to develop PWAs. The unique feature of such projects is their capability to combine functions of a desktop and web application. If you need to create exactly this type of program, the tool is the right solution. Yet, you should be aware that not all browsers have full support for PWAs on smartphones. Now, many browsers only partially support such apps or do not support them at all. So, in the context of this article, such an option does not give Google's product any extra advantages.

Cons

Based on Dart: This programming language's creators set themselves the goal to provide the world with a flexible, structured, and easy-to-understand tool for web programming. Google partly succeeded in what they wanted, since Dart has many pluses. Nevertheless, it is relatively new, not widespread, and even a niche. Not so many companies use it as a basis for development. That is the main disadvantage of Flutter compared to others. 

A small community of devs: The previous points led to the fact the framework still has a small community. Few young professionals find jobs available, so they start to learn and use other instruments. The small number of fans causes the Google team to find out about critical bugs, flaws, and weaknesses not so quickly. As a result, it takes longer to fix them.

More time and effort for development: The first two cons combined make building mobile apps from scratch more difficult. If you have to implement solutions that go beyond the basics, then the result is considerably delayed.

Not so many libraries: It would be best to accept that you would have few programming libraries at your service. With no helpful collection of programs, you have to build some objects yourself. The question is exceptionally sharp with UX elements.

Some risks: There remains a risk that Google will stop supporting the product. Although the Google crew is actively working now, there is no guarantee that anything will go wrong. We share a link to the Google cemetery for those who don't believe the team will quit. The list includes projects that have been worked on for 10 years or so. If suddenly the mobile programming framework happens to be unnecessary, it is likely to be found here, too.

Abandoned packages: It is vital to check the packages more carefully so that they are not «left». This point is directly related to the fact that the community is small.

Real people comments about Flutter
Sources: 1, 2

Flutter vs React Native: RN's advantages and disadvantages

Now that we've dealt with all the features of Google's SDK, it's time to do the same with RN.

Pros

Many native-like UX components: React Native may not offer a record number of widgets; on the other hand, it has something more essential. The framework implements plenty of native-like UX for an app. You can build a project for any platform that will look the same as the native one and be used with the same experience.

Based on JavaScript: This programming language has been around for almost 30 years, is constantly being updated, and is handy for millions of developers. JS is a stable technology that successfully used in thousands of projects.

Many talented devs: Finding a good developer is easier because JS is widespread. It means there's a ton of hands-on experience for coders, excellent community support, and so much information related to JavaScript. As mobile apps become more popular, the number of RN programmers has increased. Now, the process of finding, testing, and hiring a great team member won't be as exhausting for you as recruiting somebody with knowledge of Dart or Flutter.

Incredible flexibility and scalability: RN allows you to create small and big applications thanks to its flexibility. The architecture will enable you to add new features to your project at any time.

Faster development process: Even though RN uses bridges to interact with the native components, it helps create products at record speed. Some parts can be repeated when writing source code, which simplifies the process as a whole. The most incredible story in the industry is the development of the mobile app for Bloomberg. Using React Native, programmers were able to complete the work in six months.

Faster testing: The same goes for testing. Due to its unique structure and capabilities, the framework allows you to test products as quickly as possible. 

Using the same design as React: This structure is another feature that allows you to hire a qualified specialist without extra effort. React, and RN have some differences; however, they are not huge. Many React programmers can figure out the principles of RN in a few days. The benefit helps you to recruit one person to run two projects.

Continuous improvements: The Facebook team is improving the RN to make it more convenient for users and developers. Things are unlikely to change in years to come.

Cons

More complex code structure: Flutter is created in a way that makes it simple to learn. The SDK is based on a language that many people believe is similar to Java. That's why it can be challenging for people who haven't experienced JavaScript before to understand how React Native works.

No official framework for testing: RN does not have official frameworks that help it to be tested. Professionals have to use a third-party solution, which is not always handy and time-saving.

Additional check: It is worth checking the sources more carefully, despite the plenty of libraries and packages. As with Flutter, some of them may be abandoned.

Still, Flutter or React Native? 

Now let's summarize everything we've found out about these two super-popular technologies and summarize the Flutter vs React Native battle.

Flutter vs React Native summary
Flutter vs React Native summary

As you can see, at the moment, RN has more advantages for those who want to create a functional and stable mobile app. Unless you plan to enhance the MVP or focus on the visual part, Flutter is the way to go. However, in developing a solid and stable project, it will be better to choose a time-tested tool. 

What did Clark end up choosing?

AVA.codes client decision
AVA.codes client decision

The short chat explains more than any numbers why Facebook's framework wins the Flutter vs React Native battle. Do you want to create a competitive project using new concepts? Email viktoria.buchenko@ava.codes for a consultation and free evaluation of our work!


Posted 
October 5, 2021
 in 
Angular & React
 category

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