Flutter vs. React Native - Side by Side Comparison: Which Software To Choose in 2021?

If Flutter vs. React Native is your burgeoning question for the year, you’re not alone. It’s natural to be worried about what software can lead your business to future growth. 

You don’t need statistics to figure out that mobile app usage is going up and up. But for the sake of credibility, note that in 2020 smartphone users in the United States spent approximately four hours a day on apps. This is more time than the average American spends watching live TV. 

Taking advantage of the mobile market now will be a clever and frankly financially lucrative decision. But you need the right software to get you started. Flutter or React Native could be just what you need. 

The following Flutter vs. React Native side-by-side comparison shows that Flutter outperforms React Native in several categories, including:

  1. Performance
  2. Language 
  3. UI Building 
  4. Ease of Installation
  5. Documentation
  6. Popularity 
  7. Community

Keep reading for an in-depth analysis of each of these categories and learn why Flutter vs. React Native is a hot topic for the year.

Flutter vs. React Native: Side-by-Side Comparison

Flutter and React Native are both top picks for building cross-platform mobile applications. Sometimes making the right decision comes down to a matter of perspective. This side-by-side just might help. 

Programming Language

Flutter uses Dart. And React Native uses JavaScript. JavaScript is a classic programming language with a memorable history of being the first language to enable dynamic web development

Dart is a much newer language that was only introduced in 2011. But its modernity might be its advantage. The language is up to two times faster than JavaScript with both an ahead-of-time (AOT) and just-in-time (JIT) compiler. 

These compiler types have the flexibility of interpreted languages but compile in the nick of time to gain the advantage of speed that traditional compiled languages offer. 

TLDR: The programming languages of Flutter vs. React Native both have integrity, but Flutter wins. 

UI Building

Skia for Flutter entrusts the framework with high portability cross-platform. React Native has a specific software from Facebook called Flux for building React components and uses JavaScript to bridge the connection to native modules. 

The bridge affects performance, if only slightly, whereas Flutter can manage without a bridge. 

TLDR: In Flutter vs. React Native for UI building, Flutter wins. 

Ease of Installation

React Native can be installed from the Node package manager (npm). Those who have a background in JavaScript should be able to figure this out easily enough. 

Flutter can be accrued from a small ZIP file. But then it needs to be added as a PATH variable from the command line. This makes things unnecessarily complicated. 

TLDR: When it comes to Flutter vs. React Native, it is much easier to install React Native than Flutter

Documentation

Both Flutter and React Native have guides to get you started. But React Native starts out with presumptions about what the developer already knows. There is little to no information about setup and command-line tools. And the documentation launches straight into getting your project started. 

On the other hand, Flutter has detailed information about setting up the platform and IDE for both iOS and Android. Even the command-line interface (CLI) comes with Flutter doctor, a tool to guide developers through the setup. 

TLDR: Flutter has more comprehensive documentation when compared to React Native in Flutter vs. React Native. 

Community

Developers tend to show a lot of community support for software they love. In the case of Flutter vs. React Native, each language is driven by an enthusiastic community. 

React Native has meetups and conferences around the world. And Flutter has many online events. That said, Flutter’s late release to the public sphere likely had an impact on community growth. In turn, React Native developers have shown up from the start. 

TLDR: React Native has more community support than Flutter. 

Learning Curve

The learning curve for these frameworks is almost completely dependent on your knowledge of their respective programming languages. 

Most developers have some sort of background in JavaScript making React Native a natural choice. But someone new to programming or a developer who has experimented with Dart might opt for Flutter.  

TLDR: The learning curves for Flutter vs. React Native are virtually the same.

Related reading: What Does a React Developer Do?

Popularity

React Native and Flutter have done a switch-a-roo. Only in 2019 and the years before, React Native was much more popular than Flutter. 

Now – at the beginning of 2021 – React Native has 92,800 stars on Github, and Flutter has 111,000. And a simple Google Trends comparison shows much more searches for Flutter than React Native. 

TLDR: Flutter takes the win for popularity in Flutter vs. React Native. 

Performance

For the same reasons discussed earlier related to Skia and native bridging, Flutter faces far fewer issues where speed and performance are involved than does React Native. 

TLDR: Flutter performs better than React Native. 

Flutter vs. React Native: Side-by-Side Comparison

Flutter is the clear winner of this battle. But if you need a bit more context to make your final decision, you’ve come to the right place. You can learn more about Flutter and React Native right below. 

Other language comparisons that may interest you:

What Is Flutter?

Flutter is categorized as an open-source user interface (UI) software development kit (SDK). Using Flutter, not only can you develop mobile apps for iOS and Android, but you can develop software for computer operating systems (OSs) as well like Linux, Windows, Mac, and Fuchsia – a new OS in development from Google. 

The first iteration of Flutter was called Sky and developed by Google. The goal was to develop software that could render consistently at 120 frames per second (FPS).

Flutter's goal was to develop software that could render consistently at 120 FPS

Of course, part of the package is that Flutter developers must rely on Google’s very own software development language, Dart, to write code.

Because you can write all your code using Dart and release it on multiple platforms, Flutter is effectively a cross-platform framework. Flutter promises fast development, a native experience for users, and a layered architecture for building UIs. 

What Are the Advantages of Flutter?

To give you a better idea of how Flutter vs. React Native compare head-to-head, you should understand the unique advantages Flutter can provide. 

Productive 

Like with any cross-platform framework, being able to use just one codebase for both iOS and Android will save your developers an immense amount of time. Speeding up development means quicker time-to-market releases and more productivity overall. 

Performant

Dart compiles to native code, paving the way for native-like performance. With Flutter, you can utilize Dart Web to compile code into JavaScript or Dart Native where you can use either an AOT compiler or JIT compiler to produce native machine code. 

Fast

Hot reload is one fantastic feature of Flutter allowing developers to instantly view the changes they’ve made. This simplifies development to a great extent. 

Flutter also claims that its framework requires no prior programming experience to get started as long as you’re familiar with basic programming concepts and object-oriented programming principles. 

Portable

Aside from being cross-platform by definition alone, Flutter’s technology inspires a more expansive understanding of portability, that no other cross-platform framework has emulated as of yet. 

In other words, Flutter works with Skia, a popular graphic engine powering many of Google’s tools, to render UIs on virtually any platform. The result is fewer compatibility issues, less testing, and a genuinely cross-platform user experience. 

When Is the Use of Flutter Recommended?

Flutter should be used to build cross-platform mobile apps with near-native or native-like performance. But you can also use Flutter to build software for computers, whether that’s a Mac, Windows, or Linux. 

The layered architecture of Flutter combined with its unique collaboration with Skia permits the framework to stand out more than others like it. Developers who would rejoice at having features like these should use Flutter. 

What Companies Use Flutter?

Flutter vs. React Native is not a battle that can be won by big-name companies. Still, it’s important to have some comprehension of just what Flutter can do for you.

Companies Using Flutter

The New York Times

The renowned Ken Ken crossword puzzle courtesy of The New York Times runs with Flutter. Flutter helps Ken Ken become accessible to all crossword do-ers.

Rather than rewriting their puzzle apps for every different platform, they’re sharing codebases between iOS, Android, Mac, Windows, and Linux. 

Google Assistant 

Google Assistant is the voice that pops up every time you ask a question to the ether – that ether being your Android or iOS smart device, assuming you have the app installed. From your daily news and weather to your Google Home, Google Assistant works with Flutter to make it happen. 

Realtor.com

When it comes to housing, you need to be in the know always. With Flutter, Realtor.com can give you live updates to listings so you never miss a thing. 

What Is React Native?

React Native is yet another open-source framework for building mobile applications. Built by Facebook, the framework supports development for Android, Android TV, iOS, macOS, tvOS, Web, Windows, and Universal Windows Platform (UWP). 

Mark Zuckerberg pushed for the development of React Native after initially building Facebook’s mobile version using HTML5. This ultimately resulted in an unstable and slow application.  

React Native is based on the more generalized React, another JavaScript library. However, React Native is specialized for mobile app development. The main advantage of using React Native is cross-platform development. 

The motto, “Learn once, write anywhere”, is a reflection of React Native’s purpose. Since all code is written in JavaScript and can be shared among multiple platforms, this saves time and money for developers and businesses alike. 

What Are the Advantages of React Native?

Maybe knowing the specific advantages of React Native can help you better evaluate Flutter vs. React Native. Here are a couple of React Native’s best assets. 

Modular

Through modular programming, program functions can be separated into interchangeable blocks known as modules. This technique allows for flexibility and intuition. And developers can update apps quickly and easily. 

Stable

React Native simplifies the process of data binding. Data flows from the owner or parent to the child. For most developers, this makes code easier to understand and promotes stability. As opposed to two-way data binding, this is called one-way data binding. 

Simple

Besides data binding, React Native offers similar features to Flutter when it comes to development. React Native extends what’s called Fast Refresh. Fast Refresh gives you near-instant feedback on your changes. 

Fast

Cross-platform frameworks and languages are often considered to be the opposite of native languages. The assumption is that veering from a native language like Java or Swift will naturally mean a drop in performance. 

One developer, John Calderaio, decided to put this assumption to the test. He found React Native ran nearly as fast as Swift — the official language for Apple products — and in some instances, faster. 

When Is the Use of React Native Recommended?

React Native’s approach to cross-platform development involves using actual native UI building blocks. These are assembled with JavaScript. Given that the building blocks are quite literally native, your React Native apps will have the same look and feel as those coded in Swift, Java, or Objective-C. 

Developers can also write and embed custom native code in order to mix native and React functions. Native appearance is still maintained. 

What Companies Use React Native?

React Native is quite popular. The framework is being used in a variety of applications. Whether this gives React Native an edge in Flutter vs. React Native is up to you.

Companies Using React Native

Instagram

Instagram is owned by Facebook, so it’s no surprise that it relies on React Native too. Not long after React Native’s initial release, Instagram implemented the framework into its tech stack. Developers were able to share over 90% of their codebase between platforms for several features. 

Discord 

Discord is a gamer favorite utilizing Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology to connect users to one another via voice chat, instant messages, and video. 

At first, Discord simply wanted to use React Native to improve the FPS of their app. But the results were much better, including the likes of fluid gesture interaction, a better developer experience, and shaving two seconds off the initial load time. 

Pinterest

Pinterest is another social network of sorts. But the network is based on sharing a certain aesthetic, rather than merely images or text. The company noted an increase in “developer velocity” by being able to share codebases. 

Conclusion

Flutter and React Native offer a close comparison. The technologies both have special features such as live refreshing or building graphic UIs with adaptable software. These similar features make any competition even more difficult. 

Having said that, Flutter still comes out on top for almost every side-to-side Flutter vs. React Native comparison. But if you want to enjoy the perks of the React Native framework, nobody will blame you. JavaScript is just tradition. And there’ll be a community to back you up.

In fact, Trio developers also have a stake in the community and want to make sure your project gets done right. To learn more about hiring React Native or other JavaScript-based developers, talk with Trio today

 

 

 

 

 

Cordenne Brewster

Content Writer

About

A tech enthusiast whose ardor is best expressed through the written word.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you’re looking for some information, but can’t find it here, please contact us.

Go to FAQ Arrow Left

Flutter is categorized as an open-source user interface (UI) software development kit (SDK). Using Flutter, not only can you develop mobile apps for iOS and Android, but you can develop software for computer operating systems as well like Linux, Windows, Mac, and Fuchsia – a new OS in development from Google.

React Native is yet another open-source framework for building mobile applications. Built by Facebook, the framework supports development for Android, Android TV, iOS, macOS, tvOS, Web, Windows, and Universal Windows Platform (UWP).

Some big name companies using Flutter are The New York Times, Google Assistant, and Realtor.com.

Major companies using React Native include Instagram, Discord, and Pinterest.