Ihor
Feoktistov

React Native vs. Flutter: Which to Choose for Cross-Platform Development?

#Tech label

Releasing an app on both App Store and Google Play is every business’s desire. But the trick is, before shipping a mobile application to the market, you have to choose a technology stack. Is it going to be React Native or Flutter? Do you know which one is worth your money, time, and effort?

In short, you should choose Flutter if your budget is limited or you need to make a simple application quickly. Also, you can make a Flutter application if UI is core for your app. But if your funding is sufficient and you want to create a complicated app, go with React Native. Keep reading to find out about the two app development frameworks and their most distinct features. 

React Native vs. Flutter in Development

Both Flutter and React Native are popular frameworks for cross-platform mobile app development. But each of them has its peculiarities. Let’s compare React Native and Flutter according to eight criteria:

  • Programming language
  • Architecture
  • Installation and initial configuration
  • Development tools and documentation
  • User interface (UI)
  • Developers’ productivity
  • Community support
  • Cl/CD support

Programming Language

React Native uses JavaScript. In particular, ReactJS – a JavaScript library for building user interfaces. For web developers, working with React Native comes easy. 

Another distinct advantage here is JavaScript’s solid popularity. According to Stack Overflow 2020 developers’ survey, JavaScript has been the most commonly used programming language for eight years in a row, so assembling or training a React Native development team will be easy.

List of 10 most popular programming languages
10 most popular programming languages / Source

With Flutter, you have to use Dart – a programming language created by Google. As a client-optimized language, Dart has many advantages. Take productive app development, for instance. 

Luckily, Dart resembles other popular OOP languages, such as Java and C++. If you are familiar with either of those, you’ll pick it up quickly. On top of that, according to Stack Overflow, Dart is more loved by developers than JavaScript.

List of 10 most loved programming languages
10 most loved programming languages / Source

Architecture

React Native enables the communication between JavaScript and the native language via the JavaScript bridge. Here’s how it works: the two sides communicate by sending JSON messages. The messaging is asynchronous, which means the app’s UI should be smooth. Still, there’s a chance of a lagging UI in the end because the bridge impacts the rendering speed.

In contrast, Flutter doesn’t require a bridge to communicate with native components. It has everything packed within itself, including frameworks like Cupertino and Material Design. Thanks to this Flutter advantage, apps are more stable and predictable on different platforms than React Native apps. 

Installation and Initial Configuration

React Native’s configuration process is simple. Basically, you install React-Native CLI globally through the command line. Keep in mind, you will also need NodeJS and Yarn installed as a package manager.

You can install Flutter by downloading the binary for a specific mobile platform. The next step is adding it to your PATH variable. Lucky for you, this can be done via the command line. With this additional setting, though, Flutter loses points to React Native. Its installation isn’t that straightforward. 

Why these 200 tech companies & startups outsource to Ukraine
Download the whitepaper

Development Tools and Documentation

React Native has decent documentation. Sadly, it’s more focused on mature web developers who are already familiar with JavaScript and has a few gaps. For instance, important features like navigation aren’t well-documented. Moreover, finding information about building native libraries can be troublesome.

Contrary to React Native, Flutter has rich documentation. It offers detailed guides accompanied by graphics and video tutorials. The cool thing is that Flutter has several tools to assist you in app development, including debugger and Flutter inspector

User Interface

Thanks to JavaScript bridge, React Native renders the native components for each platform. This feature allows for creating the look and feel of native Android and iOS applications. The prominent advantage is that React Native has lots of ready-made components to use as building blocks. 

Sadly, there are drawbacks as well. For instance, it’s hard to replicate complex UI in a React Native app. Also, the React Native components can behave differently on different platforms.

Flutter has UI widgets packaged within itself, which means creating native-like applications is easy. No need to search for third-party libraries – a large library of framework widgets is enough. Besides, Flutter apps are consistent across all platforms. 

Developers’ Productivity

React Native has very high code reusability across platforms. Even more, there are lots of libraries created by the devs community that can be used as building blocks to speed up development. On top of that, React Native has a hot reload feature that allows you to view changes in your app without recompiling it. 

Guess what? Flutter has a hot reload feature too, which means you can make any iterations quickly and receive feedback immediately. In addition, Flutter offers fast app compilation. 

Community Support

When it comes to an open-source development framework, having a large community of contributors matters. Remarkably, React Native has that. The framework was launched in 2015 by Facebook, rapidly gaining the support of many developers. You can find links to React Native community channels here.

As for Flutter, its community of developers is smaller than React Native’s, but not for long. Introduced in 2017, Flutter is a relatively new framework that is gaining great popularity. Even more, its support is growing steadily as well. Check out these Flutter community resources.

CI/CD Support

React Native doesn’t have a CI/CD solution for App Store or Google Play delivery. Unfortunately, only manual deployment for Google Play is documented. And you won’t find any proper guide for deploying an app to the App Store. To automate your delivery and deployment, you must use a third-party solution, such as Fastlane or Bitrise.

By contrast, Flutter has a well-documented guide for building and deploying both iOS and Android apps. You can deploy your application simply by using CLI (command line interface). And if you need advanced automatization (e.g., automated screenshots), you can use third-party solutions.

So Who’s the Winner?

In the React Native vs. Flutter battle, there are no winners or losers. Each framework has strong and weak sides. And each one is a great solution but for different problems. 

FlutterReact Native
Programming languageDartJavaScript
For whom is it easier to startFor C# or Java engineersFor front-end (JavaScript) developers
ArchitectureUses its own widget library to display Flutter UITransferred to UI thread via the React Native bridge
Ready-made widgets and componentsHuge library of plugins and widgetsUses native UI components of the OS.
Development tools and documentationGreat documentation and starter toolkitExtensive documentation and tutorials. It’s not so easy to start development from scratch
Choose if UI is a key priority of your appYou want universal code for mobile, web and desktop
Do not choose ifYou app should be smaller than 4MBYou need great efficiency of calculation tasks

When to Choose React Native

React Native is a good tool for creating complicated cross-platform apps. If your project is expected to be large and deeply rooted, use React Native. It has stronger support and extensive documentation. Also, if you plan to reuse code for a web app and a desktop app, choose React Native. 

When to Choose Flutter

The built-in native components and hot reload feature make Flutter a perfect tool for iteration. If you need to create an MVP in a short period, go with Flutter. On top of that, it’s the best choice if your app is UI-centered. 

Want to build an app?

For the past 7 years, we've built 200+ apps and are ready for yours. Contact us to make a final decision and get a quote for your app.

Contact us

Try out React Native and Flutter Apps Yourself 

Want to know what cross-platform apps built with React Native or Flutter look like? Simply download a few and see for yourself.

Apps Built with React Native 

Chances are, you’re already familiar with React Native apps. You may be using them daily without even knowing it. Some of the most famous include:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Skype
  • Airbnb
  • Walmart
  • Pinterest
  • Tesla
Popular apps built with React Native
Popular apps built with React Native / Source

Apps Built with Flutter 

Since Flutter is a young framework, it doesn’t have many famous apps to showcase. Still, let’s look at the following:

  • Alibaba
  • Google ads
  • Reflectly
  • Hamilton Musical
  • My Leaf
  • Groupon
  • Topline
Popular apps built with Flutter
Popular apps built with Flutter / Source

Rates of React Native Developers vs. Flutter Developers

In Western Europe, React Native developers have an average yearly salary of $78,000. In the USA, the average React Native Developer rate is $61.54 per hour – a yearly salary of $120,000. 

The average annual salary of a React Native developer in the US
The average annual salary of a React Native developer in the US / Source

Luckily, hiring a React Native developer in Ukraine will not be as costly. Ukrainian mobile developers have an average annual salary of $30,000 a year.

Like React Native developers, Flutter developers are in high demand. Their wages are higher than those of other software developers. In the US, Flutter devs have an annual salary of $130,000. The good news is, in Western Europe and Ukraine, rates are considerably lower. 

UkraineUnited StatesWestern Europe
The average annual salary for a middle Flutter developer, USD30 000130 00061 000

How Relevant Can Help You With React Native or Flutter

At Relevant, we know a thing or two about mobile app development. Check out some of our projects:

  • 24onoff app is a time tracking and project management tool for construction companies.
  • FirstHomeCoach app assists UK homebuyers in purchasing property and handling legal documents, such as mortgage or insurance.
  • Össur’s two mobile apps facilitate ordering custom prostheses and non-invasive orthopedics equipment.
  • Momice’s iOS and Android native applications allow event managers to track attendance at events and check visitors in and out. 

If you are looking for Flutter or React Native developers or need assistance with your mobile app, don’t hesitate to contact Relevant. Our experts will consult you on all matters and leave you feeling confident about your development needs.

How to Choose a Software Development Company?
Download the ebook