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According to recent studies, 74 percent of the top applications in the App Store are hybrid applications (Digiground). The position of React Native as the #1 Hybrid Development Technology was unbeatable until 2017 when Google introduced the new framework - Flutter. It significantly shook its domination but will it ever be able to throw React Native off the podium's top step? Will Google kill React Native? Or even will Google kill Flutter later on?
The demand for mobile application development spreads within industries and continues to rise. The diarchy in the smartphone and tablet platform world dictated the market conditions: whether to invest in two native apps or lose a significant part of customers. In 2015 Facebook announced the first hybrid framework - React Native, which became a game-changing option, especially for the SME sector.
The first Flutter version came out the same year as its popular predecessor. However, the final was released only in November 2023. In this framework, the Dart language is used for mobile app development. Learning on React Native experience Google equipped this cross-platform technology.
According to the latest Stackoverflow survey, both React Native and Flutter stand in the middle of a table of tools that have been used by professional developers over the last year and wanted to be used in the next one with 14,51% (React Native usage statistics) and 13,55% (Flutter usage statistics) respectively.
By its popularity and available features, it beats its ancestor PhoneGap, or its open-source version - Apache Cordova. Flutter and RN became strong Apache Cordova competitors, however, the benefits of the Google framework were convincing enough to start scrupulous Flutter - React Native comparison by developers, clients, and advanced users.
Which Is Better Flutter Or React Native?
Will Flutter replace React Native or it is just another “hype” technology? Let’s try to find out in our four-round RN vs Flutter battle.
The innovative technology that erased boundaries between Android and iOS on the development part solved the issues that often became insoluble and shut down even the most ambitious projects. Such difficulties included:
- Expensive development. Two platforms - two teams or a double-long creation process. Either way, all investments in a custom mobile solution should be multiplied by two if the business desires to be competitive in this market segment.
- Quality differences. Both platforms come with their advantages and limitations. To come up with identical native apps for each of them is impossible. That’s why each release implies complications and results in lower rates from certain device users.
- Prioritization complexity. If there’s no way around except a choice between two platforms it can be extremely hard to consider all the aspects to select the best suitable one for the initial purpose. In any event, a significant part of the potential users will be lost.
Once the hybrid technology efficiency was proven the variety of frameworks started to grow. Google Flutter vs React Native 2024 is the burning question the answer to which will shape up the future of mobile development. Let's go over the pros and cons of both to detect the best one together.
Round 1. Speed & Performance
According to Inverita research, the RN app and Flutter detect app killed the following numbers in GPU tests on Android OS:
However, it's crucial to take into account various common issues that could affect the performance of Flutter. Flutter provides users with recommendations aimed at assisting them in reaching their objectives. Some of these suggestions include:
- Enhancing performance through tree shaking and delayed loading.
- Improving performance with image placeholders, precaching, and disabling navigation transitions.
- Developing functional Flutter widgets.
It's important to highlight that Flutter doesn't surpass React Native in terms of performance. Nevertheless, a consensus among many developers is that Flutter offers a multitude of additional features, making it a compelling choice despite not excelling in raw performance.
Round 2. Development Cost
It is worth saying that the predominant portion of mobile app development costs often comprises personnel salaries or rates for offshore developers. If you are considering assembling a permanent team, the following charts offer an overview of the estimated salary ranges for Flutter and React Native developers around the world as of January 2024.
These figures are derived from research conducted on Flutter WTF. The provided chart illustrates the estimated hourly rates of Flutter and React Native developers according to their location. The information is sourced from Upwork - the biggest outsourcing platform in th world, categorizing developers into regions such as the USA, Asia, and Eastern Europe.
Overall, hiring a team of hybrid developers to build React Native application or Flutter app is a good cost saving option. There’s no need to decide what’s more valuable: time or money. 90 percent of the code is similar for both platforms which significantly reduces the development time. Additionally, as for other hybrid technologies expenses are cut down in comparison to the creation of native apps.
The simplification of the development process didn’t affect the quality of the result. Speed, size, UI, and other features of React Native apps are similar or even improved in comparison to the applications created specifically for Android or iOS.
Round 3. Debugging
Both Flutter usage statistics and React Native usage statistics prove that either the Flutter app kill event or the React Native kill app needs to be debugged. Flutter development tools integrated into Android Studio and Visual Studio significantly simplifies the debugging process in this technology. Developers can utilize DevTools (accessible from the Chrome browser) and OEM Debugger to identify and elucidate issues.
Additionally, the Inspector feature enables a closer examination of the app's visual layer, aiding in understanding the reasons behind its appearance. When launched, the Flutter debugger adds debugging tools to the VS Code interface. The following screenshot explains the purpose of the tool:
The so-called “hot-reload” feature of the Flutter framework is one of the reasons that allowed it to gain developers’ appreciation in such short terms. Being able to bring in changes immediately to the source files without any extra actions on the user's part opens new possibilities for mobile app development and support.
At the same time, debugging in React Native can pose challenges, particularly when encountering exceptions or faults in the native components of your application. Issues in JS may originate from React Native itself or the application's code. Bugs can also emerge from React Native and third-party libraries on the native side. So, in terms of debugging, we need to give a point to Flutter.
Round 4. Community Support
Community is a significant part of any product. Facebook's leading enterprises quickly noticed the technology potential and applied it to their needs. Instagram, Bloomberg, Walmart, Wix, etc. never regretted their choice and their success is proof of that.
Being still a relatively new technology there are still a few sharp edges that need to be polished but the support for React Native rocks! Let’s dive deeper into the numbers to compare RN vs Flutter communities.
React Native has already become the most popular framework on Stack Overflow, Discord, Reddit, and Twitter, (Goldenowl). Flutter is a newer framework with a lower developer community. However, it is progressively being used by a growing number of developers. Let’s see the comparison in the table below:
Why is it so important to understand the size of the technology community? This becomes a crucial requirement for new developers seeking a multiplatform mobile framework or startups considering it for their application development.
A robust community implies that numerous issues may already have solutions, providing new developers with strong support in problem-solving and job opportunities. Companies can also gain valuable insights into the level of interest among developers in these tools, as well as assess the potential pool of candidates for hiring. In this round, React Native wins.
So, answering the question about choosing Flutter vs React Native 2024, we need to state that both platforms have pros and cons. All the cards are on the table. But still, it’s hard to choose one as a perfect fit for MVP or various projects overall without collecting additional data about the client requirements and test results that only time will show. Both technologies are still quite young that’s why comparisons like Flutter vs React Native speed-wise are kind of meaningless considering that they both can’t top native apps in this aspect so far.
Unlikely in the nearest time Google framework will be able to kill React Native ultimately. But this framework can soon release its potential to the fullest since more and more development companies offer and use Flutter for cross-platform mobile applications for customers from startups to corporations. At Springs, we have already built many mobile applications using both React Native and Flutter, and are ready to prove that both platforms are worth using in specific cases.
Challenges of Flutter and React Native
Let’s talk about Flutter vs React Native 2024 challenges. Comparing both platforms to native iOS Swift or Kotlin development, we may define the following issues Flutter and React Native may produce:
- Issues with distribution to Google Play Market and App Store.
- Native iOS or Android Restrictions
- SDK Compiling Challenges
One of the challenges of every project is to fit into the Google Store and App Store environment. In addition to the basic requirements to a mobile app, the Apple distribution platform limits dynamic code execution.
While deploying React Native CLI apps to the App Store and Google Play may initially appear intricate, adhering to detailed instructions will empower you to navigate the deployment process with confidence. It's crucial to meticulously follow the platform-specific guidelines and best practices to guarantee a seamless submission and release process.
Flutter applications for iOS have got that covered and use ahead-of-time compilation. Coming with a similar UI for both platforms, the Flutter app interface has a variety of looks, in general. Thanks to the ability to create custom widgets of different complexity there’s no need to rely just on the built-in Material Design and Cupertino sets that correspond with Android and iOS design respectively.
Despite that such approaches as the direct use of the Foundation library's methods for the interface creation found its application in other frameworks Flutter is still raw to outstrip any competitor. Some app functionality and integration restrictions are still present and they can be mitigated only if there is more time available for improving this SDK.
So, considering the above, another challenge lies in navigating the limitations imposed by the target platform on the design and functionality of the app. Simultaneously, it presents an opportunity to capitalize on the ease of incorporating features inherent to the platform.
Flutter vs React Native - Future
The IT world is changing day by day and it is hard to predict the future of some specific things. However, we may rely on some trends that have been already established. Let’s have a look at them and try to answer the question: “Will Flutter replace React Native?”
Hybrid App Dominance
Cross-platform frameworks like React Native and Flutter continued to be popular choices as businesses sought to develop apps for both iOS and Android platforms more efficiently.
Competition and Innovation
The competition between React Native and Flutter spurred innovation in both frameworks. Each update brought new features, improvements, and tools.
Adoption by Enterprises
Both React Native and Flutter were adopted by major companies for their mobile app development, showcasing the frameworks' enterprise readiness.
Regular updates and improvements from both communities indicated ongoing support and development efforts.
We may be confident that Flutter will not kill React Native in a big battle called “Flutter vs React Native 2024” but keep on thriving in the next years. Moreover, we can’t answer the question: “Will Flutter replace React Native” in the near future too.
The development teams consistently introduced improvements and new functionalities through 2023, and the same will surely happen in 2024-2027 years. Finally, we are waiting for the new features, improvements, and everything that may come in the future with React Native and Flutter.