React Native vs Flutter: Cross-Platform App Development For Non-Tech Founders

React Native vs Flutter
Table of Contents

Everyone’s Doing Cross-Platform Development Now

According to recent industry reports, cross platform app development frameworks will experience a global 16.8% CAGR by the end of 2023.

Given the high entry of smaller players into the app space, cross-platform development’s ability to do ‘more with less’ is extremely appealing.

small budget of startups benefit from cross platform app development
The average tech startup budget.

Having decided on cross platform development, founders must likely decide between two of the most popular and widely-used frameworks for their project: React Native or Flutter. 

That’s what this post covers!

But first, let’s be clear on what cross-platform development means.

A Quick Overview of Cross-Platform Development

Essentially, cross-platform app development involves using frameworks with programming language that works across multiple platforms like Android, iOS, and Windows.

By far, the most compelling advantage of cross-platform app development is the time and cost saved – expenses can be half of what developing two native apps would cost.

stormtrooper clones as an example of what is cross platform app development
Sometimes you need one Jedi, sometimes you need a thousand Stormtroopers.

The bigger question is not whether or not to go cross-platform, but how to go cross-platform.

In other words, Flutter or React Native – which is better for your particular project?

React Native vs Flutter at a glance

Key DifferencesReact NativeFlutter
Language UsedJavaScriptDart
Community SupportEstablished with a bigger CommunityGrowing, but smaller compared to React Native
PerformanceSlightly lower compared to FlutterSuperior due to direct platform communication 
InstallationNode Package Manager (NPM)Binary download from source
UI ComponentsLess, depends on third-party librariesLots of widgets available for UI
Testing SupportLesser SupportExcellent, includes Widget testing
Framework MaturityMore Mature, Released in 2015Less Mature, Released in 2017

Overview of React Native 

React Native, created by Meta and released as an open source framework, is extremely established in the world of cross-platform app development.

It allows developers to construct high-performing applications using JavaScript.

The notable features such as Hot Reloading and a robust set of pre-developed components have only fueled the debate of Flutter vs React Native. 

Notable examples of apps built on React Native

Lots of popular apps run on React Native, and we’ve put together a list of our three favourite examples to showcase the framework’s versatility:

Facebook & Instagram

meta social media apps built using react native

These social networking giants use React Native to deliver consistent functionality and performance across their iOS and Android apps which receive high-volume traffic. 

Bloomberg 

bloomberg app built using react native

The global business and finance news giant uses the platform to deliver real-time updates and personalized content to its users.

UberEats

ubereats app built using react native

The ride-hailing giant is proof of how well React Native can manage real-time data logistics and facilitate seamless communication between customers, drivers, and restaurants. 

Overview of Flutter 

In comparison, Flutter comes from the tech-giant Google and uses a programming language called Missile (kidding, I know it’s Dart).

It offers developer-friendly features like Hot Reloading, vast widget catalogs, and excellent UI capabilities.

Notable examples of apps built on Flutter

Just as with React Native, plenty of popular apps use Flutter as their framework of choice, case in point the following list.

Google Ads 

google ads app built using flutter

Google Ads, one of the popular tools for running online advertising campaigns, has relied on Flutter for an excellent user interface and consistent performance across iOS and Android platforms. 

Alibaba 

alibaba app built using flutter

The world-renowned Chinese multinational conglomerate, Alibaba, employs Flutter in crafting a smooth, user-friendly shopping experience that runs efficiently on different operating systems. 

Hamilton Musical 

hamilton musical app built using flutter

Not exactly a household name, but perhaps the most cultured example on this list!

Hamilton Musical, a top-rated Broadway show and cultural phenomenon, utilized Flutter to create an application that could provide users with daily lucky draws, scheduling information, and cast / show details, accurately and promptly.

To many, the choice between React Native vs Flutter comes down to these key attributes. 

Flutter vs. React Native: Key Feature Comparison

Development environments & tools provided 

React Native leverages JavaScript, one of the most popular languages, and integrates well with widely used IDEs.

Conversely, Flutter uses Dart, a language less familiar to most developers, but offers a comprehensive set of widgets and tools to make visually appealing interfaces. 

Availability of libraries, plugins, & 3rd-party support 

Both React Native and Flutter boast vast ecosystems, hosting numerous libraries and plugins for a smoother development process.

While React Native has a slightly more mature community, Flutter is quickly catching up. 

Comparing Performance Benchmarks Between React Native and Flutter

An ideal cross-platform application should not compromise on performance or speed. React Native executes JavaScript at runtime, causing occasional performance bottlenecks.

Flutter, meanwhile, provides native-like performance thanks to its Dart and Skia graphics engine. 

Choosing the Right Cross Development Framework 

This ‘React Native vs Flutter battle’ has never actually been a battle.

Use one or the other – both are capable of supporting the development of a variety of apps, and are rarely ever the limiting factor.

It ultimately depends on your team’s expertise and the nature of your project.

apple suite of products favours native vs cross platform app development
And hey, your case may benefit from a native app after all.

Despite both being excellent choices for cross-platform app development, your choice between React Native and Flutter should be guided by your project’s unique requirements, the nature of the app, and your team’s expertise. 

When to choose React Native

  • you’re aiming to expand your existing project with multi-platform components.
  • the app will have an asynchronous make-up and visually striking UI
  • to craft streamlined, lightweight native apps
  • the app needs shared APIs immediately
  • you have a less restricted timeframe and budget

If this matches your requirements, check out our full guide to React Native for app development.

When to choose Flutter

  • If you want to have a single codebase with multi-platform support.
  • Need an application that executes between 60 FPS and 120 FPS.
  • Need a user-friendly and customized UI with widgets
  • If you are running out of budget and have a short timeframe to complete a project.
  • Need to publish your product soon and write code quickly.
  • If your app doesn’t need any native functionality.

If this matches your requirements, check out our post on FlutterFlow AI Gen, where we look at one of the top no code app builders running on Flutter.

Conclusion: Both Frameworks Are Effective

With insights into React Native and Flutter, you’re now better equipped to make an informed decision for your next project.

Remember, the best platform is the one that aligns with your vision the most.

So, dig deeper, scrutinize, and choose wisely! 

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